Archive | 11:15 pm

Miles Davis: Blue Moods

25 Jun

Blue Moods is a beautiful album. It’s absolutely perfect for after a stressful day, cutting effortlessly through the knot of your tension – not like Alexander with a series of vicious chops, but peacefully. Very, very peacefully. Don’t get me wrong: peaceful as it may be, Blue Moods is not an album that can dismissed as just ‘easy listening’. What’s important to understand here is the fact that while its four tracks are restrained, it doesn’t mean that the songs are shallow or uncomplicated in any way.

Blue Moods is a quintessential cool jazz album by Miles. It’s full of those slow ballads that he liked, and the sound is like fat, iridescent bubbles rising in a smoky room and then popping, one by one. While Miles completely overshadows his supporting cast in this album, both Charles Mingus (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) do wonderfully in a much more relaxed setting than they were used to. Mingus has a couple of nice solos as well, but these merely serve as breaks from Miles’ playing. This is his album; and despite the greatness of his supporting cast, one really cannot overstate that at all.

The first track “Nature Boy” in particular is wonderfully  slow and relaxed; it’s easily the best song on this album. In fact,  put “Nature Boy” in any album ever, and it alone would be enough justification to pick that album up.  However, the languidness of the song makes the albums’ transition into the more active “Alone Together” rather dissonant. (And it doesn’t help that “Alone Together” is probably the weakest track of the album either.) However, a nice vibraphone does a lot to save it. The two standout compositions, “Nature Boy” and “Easy Living” are weakened by their surrounding of merely good tracks. However, if a couple of tracks set an impossibly high bar, we should not complain that the rest fall short.

Verdict: This is not an album that must be picked up. Really, one would do just fine with “Nature Boy” and nothing more, but these are all rewarding tracks, and if you are looking for some relaxing cool jazz, this is as good a place as any other.

– Nikhil

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Beach House: “Myth”

25 Jun

For a few years now, Baltimore duo Beach House have been the sort of indie heavyweights that fight in an arena filled with Arcade Fire, M83 and other darling ambient pop bands. The release of their critically-acclaimed Teen Dream further cemented their position as such: Pitchfork went gaga, then Pitchfork readers went gaga soon after, proving for one and all that this band made good music. (That’s how it works, right?) Point being, Beach House is a very good band, no doubt. Their brand of gauzy dreampop, laced with a peculiarly pretty gloom, lends their music a certain sad beauty that transcends most of their contemporaries. Teen Dream soared and bloomed with the naïve, introspective, perpetually lovelorn intensity of, well, teenaged dreams. The music on Teen Dream was succulent, but more often than not, the lyrics were the kind of self-important first-world problems that gives the hipster world (and first-world countries) a bad name.

“Myth”, the prettiest song from May 2012’s Bloom, is no different. The music is a lush sonic meadow: it’s as climactic, cinematic and charismatic as we’ve come to expect from Beach House. Spectacularly beautiful, haunting and repetitive floods of music lull you into musical contentment as Victoria Legrand beseeches you to help her make it. But make what? It’s unclear. Probably some ambiguously hipster thing, like tragically failed love or intense personal drama, which of course normal people never go through, right?

Verdict: Block out the words and enjoy the music. You won’t wince at the pretentiousness, and you get some insanely sweet music out of it. Win-win!  

-Neeharika

Passion Pit: “I’ll Be Alright”

25 Jun

Sufficiently hipster

Apparently, a passion pit is a slang term for drive-in theatres, traditionally known as old-school make-out spots for still-in-school lusty American youth. Massachusetts-based glitchy indie rock/synthpop band Passion Pit is already well known for creating the kind of atmosphere as their band name’s etymology. It’s no different on “I’ll Be Alright”, a full-bodied synthpop track that blips and pounds along much like most of their critically acclaimed Manners.  (On a side note, check out “Sleepyhead” and “To Kingdom Come”; you’ve probably heard their music already though, since most of the songs on Manners were used in some commercial or the other.)

On first listen, the music sounds exactly like an electronic version of Phoenix’s happy-go-lucky, tousled-hair, fashionably-dressed indie rock. The intro dazzles, the chorus swoons, and the bridge is funky like nobody’s business. But what you don’t immediately notice is the intensely dark lyrics, created by a passive-aggressive soul with self-esteem that’s excavating below Rock Bottom. “You should go, if you want to, yeah go if you want to/ I’ll be alright” sings Michael Angelakos, seemingly alright with yet another of his “many messes”. However, even before the verse hits the chorus, he changes his mind: “I won’t let you go unless I’ll be alright,” he croons, the anachronistically upbeat music giving his lyrics a maddened tinge. And so it goes, back and forth, for the entire song. It’s fascinating, really.

“I’ll Be Alright”, released on June 12th, is the second single off of Passion Pit’s upcoming album Gossamer.

Verdict: If you like MGMT (edible magic), Animal Collective (electronic genius) or Foster the People (cleverly-masked melancholy), give this track a listen. And then listen to Manners!

– Neeharika

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