Last week I saw a band name that caught my eye: The Steel Wheels. I listened to a few live performances of songs from their album Red Wing, and promptly decided I needed to buy the album. The best way I can think to describe their music is to say it sounds old. Not in a bad way, like old folk and old country, good Americana music. Acoustic guitars, an upright bass, a violin, a mandolin, a banjo, vocal harmonies. Good, good stuff.
Here is the first video I saw, Dance Me Around the Room.
I followed it up with Red Wing.
And I had to buy the album.
It turns out the band members are Mennonites. Considering their ties with Harrisonburg, Virginia I suspect I know people they know.
I love finding new bands to listen to.
This afternoon I became aware of the indie music duo Pomplamoose. The two members are Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. Conte started something called VideoSongs, the criteria he established were:
- What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).
- If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).
Jack has his own Youtube channel, as does Dawn, but their collaborative work is released under the name Pomplamoose (derived from the French word pamplemousse, which means grapefruit). Both members are excellent musicians and vocalists. I find the videos they produce to be quite fascinating. They use many different instruments–and unique techniques and effects–so getting to see video footage of the song being performed is very interesting.
Check out their video for Beat the Horse.
In addition to their original songs, Pomplamoose also has recorded covers of songs from many musical genres. Each cover has considerable originality in it.
Nataly has a beautiful voice, somewhat reminiscent of Norah Jones. On her solo channel at YouTube she has original songs and covers posted. It was through the song Dying to Live that I found out about her and Pomplamoose.
While Jack does not supply many lead vocals on the Pomplamoose tracks, he is certainly capable of doing so. Check out Flavors, which has an abundance of layers (note the acoustic guitar with a sponge tucked under the strings to give it a muted sound that starts around 0:15 on the video, sweet).
When I watch Jack and Nataly’s VideoSongs I feel like a kid in a candy store. I keep re-watching them to pick up all the subtle percussive elements, the overlapped vocals, the unique instruments, and the varied uses of the acoustic guitars. Creatively and musically these two are doing something special.
Bravo, I say, bravo.
A few weeks ago I happened to be listening to classical music on YouTube and I stumbled upon a few videos made with the Music Animation Machine. I found the clips to be strangely compelling.
Here are a few samples:
Before I found these videos I would sometimes picture similar animations in my head as I listened to music. So when I saw these videos they really resonated with me.
In 1990 I watched a television program that was a tribute to Greg LeMond winning the Tour de France (I can’t remember at what point it was in the year, so I’m not sure if it was regarding his 1989 win or the 1990 win). After interviewing Greg and other athletes, the program ended with a series of highlights from the Tour de France with a song playing.
When I heard the song the chorus stuck in my head right away. I had no idea who sang it or what it was called. As the years passed the melody of the chorus did not fade. The only lyrics that stuck with me were “. . . higher and higher.” Not much to work with.
Over time I began to wonder if the song even existed. I suspected Bryan Adams might be the artist, based upon songs that sounded similar to my memory. I thought maybe I had invented the melody that was so familiar yet so far away.
Tonight I watched part of the History Channel WWII in HD series. During a commercial break I engaged in some channel surfing, landing on VH1 during a program of one hit wonders from the 1980s. And I heard my mystery song.
John Parr, St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion). When John Parr busted into the chorus and I heard that melody in real life for the first time in 19 years I was amazed at how accurate my mental recollection of it was. I’m very happy to have identified this song. I estimate I spent roughly 10 hours actively trying to identify it in the past (Googling lyrics, searching Bryan Adams songs, looking up Greg LeMond highlights, etc), not to mention countless hours on nights with insomnia trying to remember lyrics or some other identifying aspect of it. Ah, sweet resolution.
Filed under General, Music
Today I was listening to my Ben’s Mix I Pandora radio station when Tal Bachman’s song She’s So High came on. It had been a long time since I’d heard that song. It occurred to me that She’s So High is the only Tal Bachman song I’ve ever heard.
She’s So High – Tal Bachman (Unfortunately I can’t embed the video, but this link will open in a new window.)
I had never seen the music video before, I’m glad Sony has posted it to YouTube. I think I want to find a girl who steals balloons from random clowns. That seems like a noble attribute.
Getting back to the one song idea. There are very few instances of this occurring for me. Most times when I hear a song I like I explore additional tracks by the artist. Do you like a song that is the only song you’ve heard by a particular artist?
I plan to check out more of Tal’s music, so I’m not sure that I’ll have anyone left on my list.
Filed under Music, Thoughts