As an young man, I gravitated more to heavier music, in the vein of Slayer, Pantera, Cannibal Corpse, and the like. As I got older though, I discover all different types of sounds, and unless you want to remain stagnant and stuck in one spot, you have to give everything a chance. One of those early albums was the Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” Before this record they had been known more for “ She don’t use Jelly,” but by this point they had changed their sound in favor of a more experimental, dreamy, lush landscape. Before Pink Robots, they had proven themselves to be a band unique to themselves with albums like “ Clouds Taste Metallic,” “Zaireeka,” and the “ the Soft Bulletin,” among others. This is a band that is constantly producing results. Check out “ Race for the Prize” off of Bulletin, it’s one of the best alternative songs of the last thirty years.
The album opens with a type of reverb, almost like giant robots being called into action. I imagine a giant factory of Pink Robots being assembled, and finally, the day for war has come. Some of the lyrics suggest my theory, but when you’re dealing with this band, I find it better just to enjoy the overall chemistry of the song and just let it flow. Much in the same way Muse did back in the day, the band, composed of just three dudes from Oklahoma manage to craft a sound that sounds like it’s at least 2 more members. Wayne Coyne, the leader and head weirdo in this outfit, brilliantly weaves in and out of this first song. The overall album, while not a concept album, has the general feel of a proper concept album.
The whole album has this otherworldly feel to it. Especially on the second track “ One More Robot, Sympathy 3000 – 21.” I picture this happening on some very clean space ship floating through the galaxies, most likely after the destruction of our precious planet, either by Pink Robots or politicians ( Seriously, can’t you imagine the government sending out Pink Robots to control the masses?)
Anyway, the first song that’s pure sing along comes when the third song “ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part I” arrives, but it quickly enters part two amid explosions in the musical sense. It’s very upbeat, immediate, and quite terrifying. This album is fucking visual from start to finish, at least for me. The album is one of the best and most beautiful albums I’ve ever heard, and it’s genius still continues to build. This just isn’t the type of album you come across very often, and that should be celebrated. It’s even more of a feat that while this was going on, band member Steven Drozd was apparently in the slums of a matter Heroin addiction. This of course no one outside of the band's inner circle was even aware of.
One of the best songs of the entire album is without a doubt “ Are you a Hypnotist??” The drum beat, the texture of the background, and the amount of vocals all roll into one to create another mind blowing song. It’s not often that the second half of the album is better than the first, but this is an exception to that rule. If you listen to the track, it’s downtrodden sure, but the struggling vocals by Coyne and the epicness of the last minute of the song really drive the emotion home.
As a rule, you should always play the song “ It’s Summertime” during, you guessed it, the summer. It’s amazing to lay down in a field, and close your eyes. For a moment, all can be right. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to forget your problems and to think of all the beautiful wonders this world offers, even if it’s for a short time. This plays into the next song also. That song is “ Do You Realize?” Now, this song is equal parts hopeful and melancholy. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard in my life. I found myself playing this song a lot around the time my Grandmother left this world. It’s important to replace those sad,lonely feelings with one more joy filled. I highly doubt people who have died would want their loved ones to only think about how they were in the end. They’d rather you think about them how they were in their prime, not how everyone is near the end.
The album continues in this way of thought with “All We Have is Now.” It’s true. For a fruitful life you have to take everything in stride. Closing out the album is more of a free jam type song, and honestly it works wonders. This can be a heavy album to take in, topic wise, but if you open up your mind and are willing to go for the ride, it has bountiful rewards.
For many, the fourteenth of February is a dreadful day. Whether you’re not in a relationship, or in one you wish you could get out of, the day is the worst day to be single. But thankfully there are many people who are awesome, and also may be “alone.” Even more great is there are bitter songs for the people the day who wish the day would just go away. Today’s entry is a list of not so love songs. Some don’t even discuss love in a romantic way. Some of these are on the sweeter side, some are darker, and some remind us that life is too short. Hope you enjoy
the Flaming Lips, Do You Realize??, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The song has now become a huge hit, but truthfully, it’s a damn good song. It’s one that is able to capture the warmth that love brings about, but also the honesty that everyone’s time on Earth will eventually end. The track has a slight science fiction vibe to it(similar to other tracks on the record), but it also feels extremely human. The way the bells and effects come bursting through the song really make it seem like a new and wondrous world has landed at your feet, and Coyne’s voice is scratchy and beautiful in a way only his is capable of. This song changed the trajectory of the band upon it’s release, and it’s well deserved. One of the most honest, and beautiful songs of our time, it’s a song that is loved far and wide.
Bon Iver, Skinny Love, For Emma, Forever Ago
The lonely guitar strumming a despondent cord, this song is one that captures pain in a naked, unmistakable way. Vernon’s voice shows signs of remorse, and of not having the patience. He’s begging a person for someone who can’t help anymore. The metaphor of “I’ll be Holding all the tickets and you’ll holding all the finds” is brilliant. He’s giving his all to the subject matter, but she’s not giving anything in return. This song is off of an album full of real world truths about the complexities of a relationship, but it’s still one of the prettiest tracks I’ve ever heard.
Death Cab for Cutie, I Will Follow you into the Dark, Plans
It takes a lot of love to venture to unknown parts of another human being and share the dirty, painful details. Anyone who has been in any kind of relationship undoubtedly knows it. This track is an example of not only being aware of the complications, but also going full speed into the fear that is the “heart of love.” This is Death Cab at their most enduring, and also their most painstakingly honest track. I presume a partner in crime is vanishing to the next world, but the remaining partner is all too willing to give up his heart and soul to accompany her into the next world. When I hear this song, I think of undeniable companionship and of never wanting that special person to be alone.
the Killers, My List, Sam’s Town
From the first time I was exposed to this there was something about it. The Killers are known for a few things, but profound songwriters of meaningful songs aren’t really one of them. I happen to think they’re an awesome band, but many many people can’t stand them. Either way, this song is an accurate portrayal of mistakes everyone makes. The soaring qualities of the music, as well as Flowers’ often epic voice pulls the song to a wonderful place that’s full of reassurance and positivity that eventually make the song a worthy but often overlooked song about redemption, and of love.
Lykke Li, Sadness is a Blessing, Wounded Rhymes
If she wasn’t put on Earth to remind us about the wrongs that replay in relationships, I don’t know why she’s here. Her voice is able to be so downright depressing and full of soul that many times you don’t even need to know what she’s saying. Her tone counts for so so much, and it’s even more noteworthy here than normal. This is a song welcoming the pain of mistakes, and hoping somehow they will be corrected. The music though, full of chamber music qualities, brings the sadness to another lesson. It’s true, “Sadness is a Blessing,” especially since we not have been gifted with this amazing talent if not for ultimate despair.
Nine Inch Nails, Various Methods of Escape, Hesitation Marks
What happens when you need to get out, but something, or perhaps someone isn’t willing to give you your reprieve. That’s what we’re confronted with in this song. Reznor’s voice in the chorus is one of desperation. He simply has no idea how to escape, and his requests keep going unanswered. The beats and backgrounds slowly glide underneath the vocals, and it never really hits the same dynamic that other tracks do, but it also doesn’t have to. It reminds me very much of the work he did on the “Gone Girl” score, and if you think in terms of context between the film and the lyrics of the song, you’ll find it’s very similar in some instances. One of my favorite songs on the new album, and an all around great atmosphere building track.
Portishead, Roads, Dummy
I suspect anyone reading this might agree that this song is easily the best they've ever written. It's a really sad song, but it's pain is also it's beauty. The whole feel of the song is dreary, but sometimes those are the songs that can bring the most beauty. Pain, and sadness are a part of this world, and understanding that makes the happy moments worth fighting for. To this day the plot, and utter hopelessness of the song, and the pain behind Beth's voice still bring tears to my eyes. Without sadness, and loss, nothing would be special. I'm reminded of listening to this with my grandmother, Audrey. She quite liked this song one time she heard it played in my car, and that always has stayed with me. She left this world, but at least the memory will never escape. That's the ultimate message I get from this song. Memories last forever.
Thanks for reading, Sorry for the delay on this. Mardi Gras is occurring here in New Orleans, and it’s been a busy one. There will be more this week, but regular posts will start next Monday.
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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