Aside from AC-DC and Jet, how many well known bands from Australia can you name? Name me one more that’s called Silverchair and you really have hit the wall. I’m sure there are plenty of awesome acts, but for some reason Americans tend to mostly like things from this country. Same reason Blur is giant in the U.K. but not really a big deal here. Anyway, around the year 2010, a musician from Perth started to get a little bit noticed in various other parts of our massive world. His name is Kevin Parker, and while he has a full backing band that tours with him, he has always remained the most vital and key component of what is Tame Impala. Look at him as sort of a Trent Reznor esque entity. Writing and recording everything himself, he only requires other people once it’s time to hit the stage.
Something about the music is transcendental and moving, like a drug fueled haze on a gorgeous sunny day in the field. When I listen to this band, I genuinely feel that the world is mine. Released in 2010, the band’s first proper record, “Innerspeaker,” emerged dragging itself from Mad Max country, and slowly but surely the band has risen in the world of alternative rock and given us albums that have pushed the limits of what can be considered popular, but also have played in the game of bringing psychedelic back to the forefront.
“Innerspeaker” has plenty of good tracks, but the first thing you notice about the band is more than likely Parker’s similarity in voice to a well known Beatle. I can tell that it’s there, sure, but for me it’s a simple coincidence and I leave it at that. The music is good enough to stand on it’s own. ‘Alter Ego” whirls like a toilet bowl full of various colored waters that then make a tie dyed t shirt, while album opener “It’s not meant to be” transports us to a beautiful, serene world where anything can happen, even if things aren’t always golden and perfect.
The album can be trippy and slowed down at times, but they also turn it up in a way that makes the Flaming Lips look like passerby’s of the scene. That sounds like a slight towards the Lips, but honestly, they never made consistently brilliant albums, and aside from maybe four or so, much of it is hit or miss. Tame Impala on the other hand, so far has three records that only get better. On tracks like “Lucidity” and “Solitude is Bliss” they rock it in lo-fi wonder and present the 60’s in a whole new way. “Lucidity” is a great mid album track, but nothing get’s better on “Innerspeaker” than “Solitude.” The song simply kills it, and you can’t help but find yourself smiling and bouncing while the euphoria takes over.
Album two, titled “Lonerism” came into the world two years after the debut, and quite frankly surpassed all expectations. From slow, pulsating album opener “Be Above it,” to more immediate and anthemic songs like “Apocalypse Dreams,” this record isn’t only the next logical step for a band on the rise, but it showcases how much Parker’s approach to songwriting had improved in a relatively short amount of time. With the new ears getting connected to the band and their pulse, they were able to make an album so good that most bands could never hope to do something so great.
For real, this album rocked my world from the moment i heard it, and up until I became obsessed with the newest album(We’ll get to that in a minute), this was one of my go to records for years. So many of the songs are life affirming and thoughtful, while still being able to rock incessantly, especially a song like “It’s Feels Like We’re Only Going Backwards.” To me it’s a song about realizing all the mistakes you make as an average person, and the inability you have to make those wrongs right. Much of the band’s lyrics can be explained through emotions and energy. Take a song like “Mind Mischief.” It’s eye opening and somewhat autobiographical, but when Parker is singing “She remembered my name,” you’re right there with him experiencing the joy of that moment, and how invincible you feel.
But of all the stellar tracks on the album, the most intense funky and jamming one is “Elephant.” None of the other tracks are even as close to as intense as that song is, and from beginning to end it thumps, slams into shit, and makes its force known, you know, like an “Elephant.” Parker’s melody and vocal stylings on the song are also magical, but the real winner is the rhythm section and how the drums and bass keep the churning going.
Soon after the release of “Lonerism,” the band was beginning to get noticed. Solid sets at Bonnaroo and Coachella paved the way for the band to triumph in all places, and of course, the brilliance of the record helped to land them on multiple Year end albums list. But of course, as an artist trying to make his mark with meaningful material, you are never satisfied, and consistently try to bridge the gap between what you see in your mind and trying to bring it to the outside world.
That need and want is represented on the band’s third record, “Currents.” Now, we still have a few months to go, but so far this has been the big record for me this year. The making of the album was difficult from accounts I’ve read, but it paid off big dividends. Recoding in a small room with only Parker present, “Currents” is what happens with a psychedelic rock star sets out and succeeds in making one of the better R&B records of the decade. Just listen to it, and tell me this isn’t a slow groove type of record. The first time I heard it is was like what would happen if Tame Impala and Frank Ocean made a baby.
From the first track and lead single “Let it Happen,” the record flows in and out, ebbing it’s way to musical salvation. “Let it Happen” also showcases how jam oriented the band can be, bringing us through a nearly eight minute track that for the majority is just electronic beats going in a gradual manner.
I simply can’t get enough of the album. Parker has described the album as not a breakup record, but the meaning and purpose of a breakup is written subconsciously all over “Currents.” I myself am still going through emotions following the dissolution of a very long relationship, and when Kevin sings “There’s no future left for you and me,” on “ Yes I’m Changing” you feel the pain in his heart, and if you’ve gone through something similar, those feelings are right there with you. Another gem comes to us by the all too brief “Disciples.” It’s under two minutes, and more or less acts as a quick interlude in execution, but it’s just plain marvelous. It’s one of the best tracks on the record, and desperately leaves you wanting more.
All in all though, “Currents” not only stands up to the other records, but it very likely defeats them in terms of balance, the thought that went into it, and also sheer talent. Parker is getting better at writing songs, and if each album keeps going the way they have been, who knows how much more awesome they could get. Thanks for reading, see you Monday!
Nirvana is easily one of the best and most important band of the 90’s Alternative wave. The sound inspired millions and helped to shape music in a way that only a handful of bands are capable of. Today we discuss the band’s top ten songs. As a warning I feel like you should be aware that almost no hits make this list. I just don’t want people expecting “Lithium,” “heart Shaped Box,” or that other well known song about “Teen Spirit.” Enjoy!
10. Negative Creep, Bleach
The drums are the first thing you hear, but soon the dissonance of the crunch guitar are there to overtake the track, but Cobain’s voice is right there with the rest of the elements to make it a song worth rocking out to. The overall tone of the track speaks to the alienation that’s prevalent in many of the bands works, but here it’s almost less evolved than what would come next. You could list production quality among the reasons for that, but i think the real cause is that the band matured to the darker side with subsequent releases. Even so, “Negative Creep” is probably their best track from Bleach.
9. Pennyroyal Tea, In Utero
One of the tracks that I always considered high water marks on their studio swan song, “Pennyroyal Tea” hums like a haze over a gorgeous day, but it’s lyrics are surprisingly off kilter and rambling. Usually Nirvana’s lyrics speak to depression and uncomfortable situations, but this song has always struck me as being outside of that box. I have no idea what the title means, but the song is a wonderful track that sees all of the musicians working in force to provide a great overall song.
8. Scentless Apprentice, In Utero
The number two track on the band’s last studio recording, doesn’t exactly surprise you with it’s intensity, but rather pummels you even you probably expected a rough song. “Scentless Apprentice” opens with a solid drum beat, but swiftly after that a sorta lo fi guitar and bass come in. Cobain’s muffled, sometimes hard to translate lyrics reflect the pain and state of chaos he was in, and honestly, i feel bad him. His death was probably the earliest thought I had of what mental illness and addiction can do to a person, and I’m reminded of that whenever I hear the song.
7. Something in the Way, Nevermind
Another incredibly dark recording finds us at Number seven on the Top Ten Nirvana songs. “Something in the Way,” which closes the breakout juggernaut that was “Nevermind” fills the void in which heavy, rough songs just don’t fit into it. It’s one of the only instances where you get genuine singing, and it’s quite breathtaking. It’s also genuine and honest in a way that not all music can be. For me, it’s always more terrifying when someone is calming expressing their disapproval rather than screaming and reacting. It’s more detached, and ultimately more terrifying. “Something in the Way” is the musical example of that to me.
6. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, In Utero
When I was thirteen or so my dad brought me to Nirvana live. This was the opening song of their headlining set, and since then it’s been one of my favorite tracks from the band. Once again, the song has plenty of self loathing and resentment, but the real majesty of the song is Kurt’s wordplay. It’s utterly brilliant and poetic, even in an unsettling way. Gems like “Bipolar opposites attract” and “afterbirth of our nation” are just a few of the references made, but all in all, it’s a distorted chaos fueled ride that really deserves more attention.
5. Breed, Nevermind
If ever they had a song that made someone want to just bounce up and dance and thrash about, it would easily be the underrated “Breed.” Every instrument is used exquisitely, and on top of everything, the chorus is one of my favorite’s in the band’s entire catalog. “We could plant a house, we could build a tree,” is just randomly awesome in a way that no other band could be. The number five track on Nirvana’s top ten songs, “Breed,” matches the vocal intensity with musical courage that truly makes the song whole and rocking.
4. Territorial Pissings, Nevermind
When they performed this crazy, intense, gut wrenchingly awesome song on MTV, I think it was one of the earliest memories of me simply falling in love with a band. The entire room was going crazy, and the band, along with a purple haired Kurt, really stole the moment for me. It’s still one of my favorite songs( as you should be able to tell by it’s placing on the list). At the end of the day though, it’s the wild nature and quick delivery that really makes the song stand out among their angriest songs.
3. Drain You, From the Muddy Banks of the Whiskah
While this song really is great on “Nevermind,” for some reason the live version has always hit me in a much more profound way. Perhaps it’s picturing the song in a live setting, or maybe it’s something about the unbridled passion the band seems to be delivering. Everything presented on the track pummels into submission, but it’s the drums by Grohl and Cobain’s screeching and howling voice that make the song so potent. Let’s also not neglect to mention the buildup and eventual onslaught that takes us over the bridge into the climactic explosion of this unbelievable track.
2. All Apologies, In Utero
Easily one of the bands best known songs, and for fucking good reason, “All Apologies” lands at number two. The Unplugged version is great of course, but the album version really shines through as the best part of “In Utero.” The song has always struck me as a glass half full song. He’s broken because of his views towards the world, and he can’t shake them, but “in the sun he feels as one” speaks to me as being somewhat comfortable in the position. Again, the word play is next level brilliant, and really showcase just how special he was as a lyricist. But, then again, he wasn’t the only important part of Nirvana. Grohl and Novoselic both inspire musicians to push the limits, and at the end of the day, the three of them stand as an incredibly important.
1.Where did you Sleep last Night, Unplugged
Of all the time’s I’ve done top ten lists, this is the very first time I’ve ever included a cover as a selection, and wouldn’t you know it, said cover lands at number one. Beyond the reflective, and utterly sad reminder of what came next, “Unplugged in New york” stands as one of the most prominent pieces the band ever took part in. All the songs were picked very methodically, but it’s this song, the set’s last, which has the most impact. “Where did you Sleep last Night,” which began and has gone by several different names, is a song so rich in texture and depth that you’d be surprised to find out this isn’t an original track by the band. It really just flows with their entire catalog, and the rendition performed on the live recording is hauntingly beautiful and distant. The girl, sick of life, sick of trying, is going to a place where “the sun don’t ever shine.” Perhaps she’ll never find the peace she craves, but at least she’ll be alone, away from the burdens of the world, and maybe one day she’ll return to us as a full being, and not the person who wanted to go “where the cold wind blows.”
Thanks for reading.
Ohio's’ The National had been making soberingly cold music for more than a couple records by the time they released the classic “High Violet.” They were one of the best new bands around but with “Violet” the band elevated themselves not only into my heart, but also many many other hearts. Today’s addition to the “Albums of my Life” series, 2010’s “High Violet.
It’s difficult when an album starts so crazy strong, but with this one it really does drop like an atom band on a person’s thoughts and psyche. “Terrible Love,” which currently stands as my favorite song by the band, creaks open like a door after a funeral march, where the participants are left wondering what happened, and why life can’t always be perfect and beautiful. Berninger’s distant but full voice sails under the thickness of the track in an effortless way, but what makes the song so great for me is the incredible drumming by Bryan Devendorf. It’s purposeful and dominant, but the way the track is mixed manages to make it all empty into the whirlwind wonderfully and really helps to make the track even more thick and plentiful.
Song after song on HV has that ability. The album, which was produced by the band and mixed by Peter Katis sort of shuffles over and under the water in the heart of the ocean. Sometimes it’s clear and poignant, but other times it's full of murkiness and dread. Actually most of it is full of dread and melancholy. Who am I kidding, we’re talking about the National here.
Track two, “Sorrow” follows the tradition of super heartfelt lyrics that everyone who’s ever loved can relate to, and it manages to keep the figurative tears going after the conclusion of the first track. It’s wonderful and sad, but it continues to show the strength of the band. Track four though, ‘Little Faith,” is a remarkable song that unfortunately is rarely played live. The chaos and thickness of the opening falls right into an almost still like orchestral piece, and Matt’s voice paints a picture of a character walking through “New York and the rain’s coming down.” It’s never really takes off musically the way you think it might, but that’s where the charm of the song lies. Once again the drums are on point, but the instrumentation mvp on the track really belongs to Dessner brother’s. What Aaron and Bryce do here is elevate the emotional in the musical sense while allowing Berninger and company to put forth energy that improves the track. It’s one of the better tracks on “High Violet,” and it’s well placed in the structure and order of the record.
I’ve said this before, but the midsection of an album is where either a good album becomes amazing or where you decide to only love the first four songs. Here though, the National not only step it up to where it needs to go, but the make all the right choices on the bridge from beginning to end. “Afraid of Everyone” speaks to the loneliness and hesitancy of being in a world so cold and how you don’t want to pass over your resistance or your self alienation to your children. When Matt talks about having his “Kid on my shoulders,” I believe he’s attempting to witness the world through the eyes of his child in hopes of realizing that the world is in fact a beautiful place. From there we get the percussion based first single “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” followed by the quiet and misleading “Lemonworld.” Apparently the track is named about a drink that was created by Berninger and his sister, but it’s actually a really pretty song slightly bringing out more positive vibes in places you might not normally find them. It’s still not super chipper, but it’s closer than most of their songs.
As we head closer to the finale of the record, we’re treated to a succession of vividly deep tracks. I mean honestly these last four continue to the raise the bar of the album. Sometimes you get the impression that bands’ put the weakest tracks at the end, but in the case of this album it couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Runaway” is a lullaby for the depressed lyrically, eclipsed only by the courtly and demure horns and textures, while “Conversation 16” glistens in the sun underneath the coldness of winter. It’s a song made for oppressive cold and being forced to be outside and face your demons head on. It also speaks to me on levels of abandonment and the struggles of relationships. As someone who recently had to pick up the pieces after a breakup, this song reminds me of the struggle to put faith in the other people. Not only because it’s dangerous and difficult to trust, but also because you don’t always trust yourself to be the good person you hope to be.
“England,” the penultimate track is probably the perfect track right before the conclusion. It’s layered splendidly, and Berninger’s trademark Baritone vocals give the song a nice pop that it needs. I don't mean pop as in makes the song more upbeat and happy, but rather it adds the crucial element to a song that was one step away from being realized and seen in it’s true potential. The final track though, is just mind blowing and spectacular. “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” isn’t just the only track that could close the record, but it’s very nearly the best song on the entire record.
The chords opening the track speak to disillusionment and regret, and the vocals only continue to propel the song in the area of dismay. Berninger wins the day with the lyrics, which masterfully paint a pictures of debauchery committed only so people can truly live for a moment in time. Also the reference to the geeks always makes me think of the horrible nature of the stars of Katherine Dunn’s “Geek Love.” The image “hanging from chandeliers” tells of the nature of people hell bent on destruction, while the chorus which features the lyrical gem of “As the water’s arising there’s still no surprising you.” That lyric has stayed with me for years, and it likely will continue to.
Over the course of eleven purposely done and mastered tracks the National had not only proved that they could make an album that some would argue is their best work, but the also became a band that i Will love for a long long time, especially is the music keeps on being as good as it is on “High Violet.” Thanks for reading, see you Wednesday
After all is said and done, you get ready for a night out. Music is most important in these situations because it helps set the mood for future adventures into the darkness. These five tracks encompass various types of nights, but they all can be part of something special. Enjoy!
Crystal Castles, Vanished, Crystal Castles
Imagine a night where anything is possible and you set out for a night that holds no barriers. Fro me this song represents the perfect example of what a fantastic night could be. Maybe it’s because I saw this performed at 1 A.M. at Bonnaroo and the electricity in the air was palpable, but it’s got this magnetic force to it. The beat is infectious, and while the vocals remind me of something you’d only here in another wise cheesy song, it works here. What Ethan and Alice manage to do is spectacular, and it’s a damn shame they aren’t a band anymore.
Deadboy & the Elephantman, How Long the Night Was, We Are NightSky
This track off the highly underrated release from nearly a decade ago had stayed with me so much, and there’s a reason for it. The guitar strumming is elegant yet mysterious, and Dax’s voice is straight out of the swamp if I ever heard one. The thumping picks up and it’s a rocking track that doesn’t let up until the conclusion. This band never got the recognition they deserved, but in my book this guy will always be a legend of local Louisiana music and how to do is right and not get caught in the bullshit.
Fever Ray, If I Had a Heart, Fever Ray
The snow is falling slowly on a pitch black night. The only reason you see it is the headlights glowing into the darkness as you venture down a curvy yet lonely world. That’s more or less how I imagine this world. Maybe it’s also the Swedish connection but I never don’t imagine this song in the highly superior world David Fincher brings to life in “A Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It’s a slow burn of a track, and it’s mysteriousness is ominous and foreboding in the same way the film is. It’s a perfect companion piece that loosely ties in with the film, and for me it works wonders.
Queens of the Stone Age, You’ve got a Killer Scene There, Man, Lullabies to Paralyze
Queens is a band that can fit into any late night view, but this track totally belongs in a smoky, New Orleans dive bar at four in the morning. You can just imagine Homme strutting through the wreckage of what’s left as the night veers into early dawn. The smoothness of the song itself is what makes it so irresistible, and his vocals wind in and out while the music keeps a steady pace and never once buckles under the pressure. This album is one of the bands better ones, and if you’re ever in the mood for something calm and driven, look no further than this one.
Tool, Reflection, Triad
I rarely write about Tool because it’s slightly difficult to explain in depth how methodical they can be as a band, but this song, off one of the best albums of the last twenty years belongs on the list. It’s a meandering track that serves it’s purpose and brings the wonderful view of a clear night worshipping the sky to existence. Keenan’s vocals here for so thoughtful and poignant, but the also help to paint the perfect picture to bring us closer to the end of this record. At over eleven minutes, it’s not a quick listen, but it’s so amazing and all encompassing that you rarely think about it’s length. This is easily the band’s best album to date, and this track, and the journey it takes us on is one of the many reasons.
See you next time!
It's a lovely day outside, birds are chirping, and the sky is full of visionary blue colors that might make you think of Miyazaki movies while you gradually drink and eat up on delicious cooked meat. Hope you enjoy this varied list of the perfect afternoon songs.
Butthole Surfers, Pepper, Electriclarryland
Much has been made of this extremely weird Austin band in their home city, but sadly they never really took off. “Pepper,” their biggest hit, is a whirlwind track that speaks most to the abandones of youth and how not only chaotic it can be, but also how fun it can be. I pick this song for the “Afternoon” sessions because it simmers in the heat of a bright day, where anything can happen, and if you’re lucky, they’ll be memories you have for years to come.
El-P, the Full Retard, Cancer for Cure
To me there’s no better music than rap music for a barbeque, and besides someone named West, El-P is without a doubt the most important hip hop artist of the last ten years, except you wouldn’t know it though because all the hip hop channels rap stations don’t really go for thought provoking music. Anyway, this track, off his spectacular third album, has the wiggle of a loose day turning into a long night, and his rhymes go killer hard with the bounce of his insatiable beats. It all just works in a seamless way, and trust me, you want to be knowing this guy, especially if you’re into thinking man’s music.
Feist, I Feel it All, the Reminder, the Reminder
Who doesn’t love a nice mid day bike ride? I regularly go out on adventures with my bike, and this song graced my headphones a little while ago during a fun and carefree ride through the sun in New Orleans. The song itself is one of many brilliant tracks on Feist’s smash solo album, but what is has that makes it stand out, at least to me is the realization of wrongdoings and that it doesn’t have to be the end all. The charm in the song lies not in the vocal arrangement, but the joyfulness of the instrumentation. It’s a fine line to juxtapose truthful and hurtful lyrics with upbeat music, but Leslie Feist kills it here.
Kanye West featuring T-Pain, Good Life, Graduation
This is very nearly a cliche hip hop song. It feels very much like it could have been a video filmed on a yacht in a blue ocean, but it’s the depth of the vision that makes it an actual classic, even among his best tracks. It’s a feel good track from start to finish, and for that reason it’s the perfect song for the sunshine. Even T-Pain who i think is usually quite forgettable adds flavor, even more than “popping champagne on a plane.” It’s a wonderful track that stinks of loving the world we’re in, and having no regrets.
the Strokes, the Modern Age, Is This It?
This seems like an odd choice, even to me, but for some reason the track off their colossal breakthrough found it’s way onto the list. The band has always seemed to not care about perceptions and what was expected of them, and that’s one of the best things going for them. That’s why it works so well. It’s their form of order and control in the art they chose to release into the world, and for me, afternoons, especially weekend afternoons are where stories are made and lives changed. If this seems rambling and off center I’m sorry but carefree fun doesn’t always have to make sense. I pity anyone who never gets weekends off, because that’s where the fun starts.
See you in the night time.
Throughout the day, music can be a vital part of keeping your sanity. It helps set a tone and a pace for what hopefully is a pleasurable day. In my opinion, music for the morning needs to be chill, more laid back, and should be there to bring out maximum relaxation, especially on weekends. This list includes some of my vital go to morning jams. Hope you enjoy
Beck, Morning, Morning Phase
When Beck returned with this companion piece to “Sea Change,” no one quite knew what to expect. However, after realizing that it was actually brilliant, the listener is able to relax and drift across wondrous pools of water and imagine the world as it should be. Peaceful, and full of laughter and joy. “Morning” is both a lyrical and instrumental powerhouse, while still being able to gently ease into the world. The chorus especially evokes images of a pink sky coming out of the darkness of the night, and the hope for another beautiful, perfect day.
Bon Iver, Holocene, Bon Iver
The gentle guitar strums over a quiet lake, early in the morn. This is one of the best qualities Justin Vernon is able to employ in his role as Bon Iver. Many songs have this similar element and feeling to it, but “Holocene,” off his brilliant second album, stands out among his best. His passionate, soft spoken voice is able to bring all the pain and honesty through with little effort, but the song just get’s better as it progresses and more instruments show up to add layers. It’s a reminder of how much the song is beautiful thing, as also how everything has a purpose and a pace to it.
Deftones, Teenager, White Pony
Maybe the most unlike Deftones song ever, but it’s place in the flow of “White Pony” is brilliant and poignant. It’s a track full of internal struggle that slowly leaks out into the world, Chino’s voice is able to be gorgeous and patient, which is in certain contrast to the other side of him that can scream and howl with the best of the “metal community.” This song also works so well because it’s out of left field. Not to say much of this masterfully perfect album isn’t different than what came from them previously, but this track especially stands out.
Grizzly Bear, Sun In Your Eyes, Shields
Grizzly Bear is a band that been making progressively better records for awhile now, but with 2012’s “Shields” they man an album so worthy of accolade that I barely met anyone who didn't fall in love with its sounds. As the final glimpse into the world of “Shields,” “Sun In Your Eyes” is a triumph, and fits perfectly in the theme of a slow morning where you need purpose, but it might just be lacking. The vocals are verbose, especially for a band like GB that has shied away from that more often times than not, but it’s the music and it’s slow towering effect on the listener that really makes it a special track.
M83, You, Appearing, Saturdays = Youth
For me this song starts at night, and emerges more and more as blues and purples creep into the atmosphere. It’s a song full of hazy fog over a crowded forest, where the smell in the air is unlike anything you’ve ever been a part of. Texturally the song is gorgeous, and the why the vocals show themselves only help to add another layer to a perfect song for late nights that turn into inspiring mornings, in which love is all around us, and the promise of a fun day is ever present and faithful.
Thanks for reading, see you in the afternoon
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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