June Music Challenge 2020

Week 22

The White Stripes – Elephant

I kind of came at this with the worst foot forward. I pretty much expected this to be the band that did the football (soccer) hooligan song. And let’s face it – Seven Nation Army might be a king among the one hit wonders. It is a fantastic song, but it might be so good that it actively disincentivizes you from listening to anything else from the White Stripes. It is a song so good that if this group had literally done nothing else ever they would still be lauded. That’s not nothing.

But I gave this album a whirl and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a lot going on here. Some of the songs were typical grunge, but it was nice to hear things that had a little more blues influence. I was pleasantly pleased to hear that Meg Whites sings on a song as well. Dynamic albums are good.

But here is the thing – while the songs were good, there was nothing on here that didn’t just make me say ‘Yea, I’d rather just listen to Seven Nation Army again.’ And that is what I really mean when I say that The White Stripes have been kneecapped by their own success.

 

Week 23

Jimi Hendricks – Are You Experienced

Jimi was good at what he did. That is undeniable.

I am not so ignorant of music that I had never heard of Jimi Hendricks. But I had never listened to an actual album. So I picked this up to see what the people of the 60s were getting when went to the record shop.

Well, I liked all the songs I already knew. The ones that I didn’t know where not all that memorable, and after many repeat listens I cant even remember most of them. The selection process that gives us the historic hits seems to be working pretty well. It seems odd to say this of  a person who has been dead for nearly 50 years, but listening to this I didn’t think Jimi was bring all that much to the table with this album.

But then again, it did have a lot of hits on it.

 

Week 24

Gorillaz – Demon Dayz

The last time I listened to a Gorillaz album it was a massive surprise. I really liked the sheer quirkiness of it, particularly with the sort of oddball tracks like ‘Left handed Suzuki Method’ and ‘Double Bass’. I really took a shine to it.

For the most part, I was happy with what I got here. But not entirely. I don’t know if i can describe the sensation with words. It was like this album felt so much… album-y. And that kind of wasn’t what I wanted from Gorillaz. I kind like the randomness of the first album.

But this one had some winners too, and I was super pleased to find a track with MF Doom. So, I don’t know. I will keep it on my phone for a bit.

 

Week 25

Lucio Dalla – Come è profondo il mare

Italian music is different from music in English. I have a hare-brained idea about this. Italian has five vowels. English has closer to 25 (depending on how you count – it’s a tricky subject. Also, to native English speakers who think English has five vowels. English has five vowel symbols- the letters we write. But the sounds themselves are more numerous. Think of the difference between ‘apple’ and ‘lawyer’. Same letter, different sound). Italian also has a much more regular syllable structure within its words.

Effectively, this means that rhyme and rhythm are much more natural in Italian, which is why non-italians think it sounds like singing when they hear it (I don’t hear Italian like that when I listen to it, and I have no idea if other native speakers do). Thus in Italian music rhythm and rhyme is just not as impressive as it is in other languages.

My brother once commented that rap just isn’t as good in Italian as it is in English. I think  he is spot on, and I think the above explains why. So when Italians make music, they have to focus on something else. I think this can be seen in that fact that Italian has so many musicians that fall into the category of cantautore, the singer-songwriter. Getting a sense of narrative into your work become a little more paramount, because at the end of the day just putting the words together poetically isn’t impressing anyone.

Lucio Dalla is a very famous singer-song write from the 1970’s. He is wildly popular with people of a certain age, and I remember encountering a lot of Greeks who were very big fans of his music. He comes to his music with an amazing amount of pathos and emotion. I think it is safe to say that his music can be appreciated even if you don’t speak the language.

I knew many of his songs before coming to this album, but as I have now said ad nauseum on these posts, I wanted to know what one of the albums was like. For the most part, I thought it was pretty damn good. I was even impressed by a song or two that hadn’t made the Greatest Hits collection I had encountered previous to this. Ialso think I heard something in this album that likely influenced Vinicio Capossela, another very prominent Italian cantautore, in this. That was cool, and I always like learning about artistic genealogies.

This album may be a keeper.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s