For almost two years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
The Beatles are on Spotify (finally), so Spencer celebrated by sharing his favorite of their records.
Let me start with the lowlights. I’ve never really liked Taxman or Dr. Robert. I like the vocal performances and the drawn out bridge section of Dr. Robert, but the songs seems rather repetitive. And Here, There and Everywhere is ok, but I’m also ok without it.
Eleanor Rigby holds a special place in my heart. The band Scott and I were in covered it after our English teacher (we were in high school, remember?) gave our classes an assignment to write our own lyrics to the tune as part of a unit on poetry. Probably that song because to kids who had never written lyrics, that song provides a very simple structure. But to us who had written lyrics to a dozen more complex songs, it was just a fun way to get to perform. I don’t even remember any of the alternative lyrics we came up with. It was figuring out how to play the song that taught me to appreciate its musical qualities, simple though they may be.
Got to Get You into My Life isn’t perfect (the mixing on the horns seems especially odd), but I really love it. Mostly I like the jazzier chords in the bridge and the overall arrangement.
But my favorite song on the album is Good Day Sunshine. There’s just something about it
Yellow Submarine is a classic. And I think it’s interesting that the song has become more of a children’s tune than a “serious” rock and roll song. Not that it’s misunderstood. I think in context it was supposed to be more trippy like Tomorrow Never Knows, but because they played the music more straightforward, the lyrics cross the line into something from a daydream (as opposed to something from a drug-induced hallucination). Love You To, Tomorrow Never Knows and the other Indian-influenced Beatles songs are, to me, the epitome of psychedelia. It’s not something I would ever come up with on my own and there are certainly things (mostly in the background) I don’t like, but it’s an intriguing sound.
I used to think And Your Bird Can Sing was a kind of throwaway song. But over the years I’ve heard a lot covers (some really good, some just meh) and realized I prefer the original for its relative simplicity. Plus the harmonies. I’m a sucker for great harmony. I feel similarly about For No One.
I think this and Rubber Soul are better than their early stuff or their way trippy Sgt. Pepper’s/Magical Mystery era stuff. But I still prefer their last stuff. Still a 4/5.
The XX – XX (2009)
This is something I would have expected Chris to share. It’s dreamy and electronic. But no, it came from Scott.
Well, really he just shared Intro. It’s a groovy little piece, and something about the guitar reminds me of James Bond or Mission: Impossible. I like it. 4/5
But I couldn’t just listen to that song. Musically, they’re pretty simple. A little repetitive, but not bad. And they’ve got some interesting ideas. Between the two vocalists, I prefer the dude’s voice. She seems breathy. And kind of early ’90s.
I think VCR is the strongest tune on the album. Partly because it has more momentum than anything else. Crystalised and Islands were alright, too. Although I’m a little bothered that it isn’t “Crystallized,” but that’s just the editor in me. Night Time grew on me. It started of a 2/5, but it built itself up a bit.
Shelter was the weakest tune on the album for me. It started out a little boring, but as it built up I started liking it more. And then, when they should have let it all loose … they got more conservative. Bummer. I know they’re a totally different style, but Reel Big Fish have the opposite problem. They go crazy when they shouldn’t and ruin a perfectly good groove. I’ve wanted to cover a RBF song for a long time and tame it down a little, and now I want to cover this and rock it out more on the chorus. Do it “right”.
Basic Space I just didn’t like.
This album mostly isn’t my thing. I like simple, but this was mostly downright sparse. I think it could use more musical meat and a little more energy. But that’s just me. 3/5
Brave Saint Saturn – The Light of Things Hoped For (2003)
Part way through Christian ska band Five Iron Frenzy‘s career, some of them decided to do something other than ska, and created this side project. It’s mostly straight forward rock with prog influences (specifically Electric Light Orchestra), but don’t expect anything too crazy. Reese Roper, lead singer and songwriter for both groups, wanted to use Brave Saint Saturn as an outlet for more serious subjects like loneliness and abandonment. So they turned to space metaphors and sometimes use NASA recordings and electronic samples.
This is the second of a trilogy of concept albums, although this one is looser in sticking with the story. I’m not sharing the first album because it’s just alright. On this album the crew (the band) of the U.S.S. Gloria continue their study of the moons of Saturn. They receive the command to return home, but complications arise. Gases are emitted from the ship, sending them careening into the eclipse of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Communications cut out, and all seems to be lost. The crew reflects on what had happened and what they had lost, drawing the comparison of being away from the light of Christ (this is a Christian rock band, remember). The album ends in a series of radio transmissions between the Gloria and Mission Control, and the ship emerges from the shadow of Titan and into the light, once again drawing the comparison between the sun, Christ, and the light He brings.
For all that, I never feel like they’re “preachy” Christian rock. Actually, the label thought they weren’t Christian enough and edited out “pissed” and “Hell” on a couple of the songs. Spotify has the “clean” ones.
If you only listen to one song, please make it the last one (unless you count the hidden track), Daylight.
It’s rather emotional (although he does get a little screamy on the last few words). You don’t know it (because you haven’t heard the first album), but they are actually building on the first album’s closing song, Gloria, and quote it a few times. That’ll be important later.
Partly this is just a prep for next week, because I didn’t really expect anyone to be listening much this week. But Spencer did, and here’s what he thought:
“This was a bit disappointing, I liked the idea, the story, but the music didn’t really capture me. It just sounded like so much other rock I’ve heard. I got halfway through as second listen and it seemed better, but still kind of meh.” 3.5/5 – Spencer
Please leave your own thoughts on The Beatles, XX, or Brave Saint Saturn in the comments.