Where STARS shine brightest

September 26, 2007

Some say brilliance is the ability to take two entirely unrelated things and put them together seamlessly. Love and war, for instance. I know you are reminding yourself that the last thing you need are more songs about love and politically driven songs about war – as if their aren’t enough of those floating around the atmosphere these days. What about love as war?

If any of you have gotten a chance to catch the new HBO series, “Tell Me YouLoveMe“, the Stars lyrical content relates appropriately to Palek and Carolyn, the professional, beautiful, and perpetually frustrated 30 something couple.

Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan weave around eachother, taking stabs and hugging one another’s lyrical creations, all within the confines of three to five minute baroque pop songs. If it doesn’t make sense – good. It isn’t supposed to. Love cares not for feelings, past or present, nor does war. In between these two seemingly contrasting subjects lies the beauty in the ugly, the prettiest of voices singing the ugliest of words – and the Stars music hits, poignantly, right where it belongs.

Be sure to check out “In Our Bedroom After the War”, by Stars.

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10 Reasons You Should Listen to Ani DiFranco

September 14, 2007

If any one hasn’t heard of her, you are missing out. Ani DiFranco rebukes the tendencies of traditional singer songwriters and brings out the beauty in the ugly.  I was just recently introduced to Ani’s style and found it was exactly what people made it out to be…”right from the start, [I] identified with her deeply personal songs about the dynamics of romance, the politics of family life, the choices she watched her friends make and the state of things from her neighborhood to the planet as a whole…

1.  Her voice wraps around your ears, drops like a pin and reverberates like an atom bomb when you least expect it.

2. She is a wordsmith – creating concrete, provocative images evoking emotion and producing tears and rage, with equal honesty.

3. DiFranco plays guitar like a mad-woman – precusive and rampant fingerpicking followed by slow, droning strums – allowing for a soundscape to be created without much use of any effects. 

4. Alternate tunings? -More than Jimmy Paige.

5.  Dynamics are her specialty – soft, loud, groovy, mean – they all fall into one another to pull emotion out of the listener.

6. Her use of onomatopeia, irony, sarcasm, simile, and the all important metaphor is masterful.

7. No major labels, no radio air play, no help from the majors.

8.  She believes what she sings – you don’t need to see a live   performance to understand where she is coming from – you feel her.

9.  In the truest sense, she is self made. If part of being American is working hard for success and achievement – than she defines our Country’s founding ideals.

10.  In a time of hatred, obsession, 24/7 media attention – her music takes time to notice the smallest things and launch them to the fore front – providing a break from depression, if not opening an eye or two on the way.


West Graduates, but Isn’t Going Anywhere

September 13, 2007

Mr. West eschews his now atypical sped up soul and gospel samples for a more synthesized, newer and fresher reverberation on his new album, Graduation. Instead of taking an up and center roll, the likes of Laura Nyro and Labi Siffre sit in the back of Kanye’s groove machine and sing out from the back – noticeable but not as overpowering as their contemporaries are on Late Registration’s “Gold Digger” or College Dropout’s break out, “Through the Wire”; they are layered farther down, almost muffled behind the Steely Dan riffs and whip-like snares that are accentuated throughout the record.

Kanye lacks the freshness and insight he had on his previous chart topping smashes. He, much like Eminem on his Marshall Mathers LP, is entranced and dismayed by finally becoming what he had always dreamt about. The two bare similarity in their well documented rises to the top, but the problem lies in the question asked by all whom own the coveted number one position – “Where to now?” Eminem, after achieving his goal, lashed out at the fame he worked so hard for and, in looking outside himself – found that his battle like rhyme style was fun and sharp – but eventually the warrior had to hang up his sword and shield – Kanye is more obsessed with himself, and over half of his songs on Graduation focus on his own likeness, which is not unusual for the genre; but what makes ‘ye unique though, is his ability and honesty to own up to his own weakness. Although he has reached his goal, he is still out to change the world, one rhyme at a time. He does not take up any one’s charity but his own – his fame and perfection has been driven by insecurity and that insecurity doesn’t seem like its going anywhere soon.