(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Random notes

Let's get random again, like we did last summer, Baby.

Interstellar Overdrive - Pink Floyd (Piper at the Gates of Dawn)

This is possibly my favorite Pink Floyd instrumental. The first time I heard that slipped-hand opening guitar chord followed by the throbbing repetition of bass and guitar setting up the motif, I got chills, waiting to see where it would take me. The opening section that just explores the main theme is plenty interesting. But the magic comes as the song develops into a free flowing jam. I had been playing guitar for four or five years when I heard this, but I couldn't conceive of how one creates this kind of loose energy that evolves from section to section, transforming the sound radically away from that start. Still, each part reverberates with the space theme to create a narrative feel. When the song eventually comes back to the original motif, it's a revelation.

Clap Your Hands - Greyhounds (¡No Mas!)

Years ago, I caught the Greyhounds when they opened for the Eric McFadden Trio. I liked them well enough to pick up their CD. After Interstellar Overdrive, the loose funky soul of Clap Your Hands is heavily grounded in a more human groove. The organ adds a retro touch that recalls old school bands like Sir Douglas Quintet. The choppy guitar repetition, drum syncopation, and testifying vocals slide together like a carefully constructed puzzle.

Randy Newman's "Theme From 'Sea Buiscuit'" - Paul and Storm (Opening Band)

Paul and Storm are a musical comedy duo that started with the a capella band DaVinci's Notebook. They've contributed a lot of songs to The Bob and Tom Show (among others) and they regularly tour with Jonathan Coulton. This particular track is one of a series of Randy Newman parodies on the album. The running joke is that all of Randy Newman's soundtrack songs sound more or less the same. The music is a great tip of the hat to Newman's Short People and the vocal parody is spot on. The idea of Randy Newman writing themes for Sea Biscuit, The Passion of the Christ, Scarface, and others is pretty funny. Especially since the tune is the same for each of these songs.

Reunion - Collective Soul (Collective Soul)

Collective Soul hit the mainstream with Shine and the rough demo album that spawned it (Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid). Their eponymous second album was a better produced follow up. Reunion has a sweet simplicity as the guitar line gradually accrues accompaniment from keys, backing vocals, and a rhythm section. It's a short track, but I like the sweet harmonies and reflective sound that provides a good soundtrack for a homecoming. The slide solo promises that everything is going to work out just fine.

Hot Meat - The Sugarcubes (Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!)

Ahh, Björk before her solo career. The Sugarcubes had such a cool, outsider vibe that I really enjoyed back in the late '80s. Björk and Einar Örn Benediktsson's chemistry in the Sugarcubes was like the B-52s filtered through warped, tinted glass. Hot Meat is a slower, vaguely country Western rework of Cold Sweat from their first album, Life's Too Good. After the post punk, heavy darkness of the original, this is a whimsical reinvention.

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