Husbands and wives tend to make pretty good music together. See: Sony and Cher, Wings, Sonic Youth, Mates of State, Arcade Fire and about a million other acts, including Cedar Avenue. The Twin Cities band is led by Jessie and Derrin Mathews who, along with their bandmates, craft plaintive and ethereal indie pop. 7 Years unfurls with a tambourine rattle, lapping acoustic guitars and the charming back and forth of boy-girl harmonies. Electric guitars, pounding tambourines and pummeled drums ratchet up the urgency on Up North, while a scattershot beat picks up the pace on Tuesday. The diaphanous After All acts as a panacea to those hot flashes, smoothing over ruffled emotions with sailing falsettos, ebbing guitars and the treacle of a glockenspiel. Once you’ve heard the dreamy and dynamic melodies of Cedar Avenue, you’ll be a fan till death do you part.
In the age of the playlist, everyone has access to collections of songs hacked together due to arbitrary similarities. But what does that accomplish other than aid our forever shortening attention span, while making the idea of an album obsolete? SoundTrax is here to provide you with playlists that are more thought out, but still provide you with that instant gratification.
As much as we love music’s belters and crooners, I often feel that not nearly enough attention is given to instrumental pieces, at least in the mainstream industry. In the classical world, instrumental music is viewed as the highest art form there is. But this playlist focuses on instrumental music for an entirely different reason; sleep. I find it increasingly difficult to fall asleep to music with vocals, especially if I happen to know the lyrics. My mind latches on to certain words, and even when I try to concentrate on sleeping, I inadvertently find myself humming the hook a few minutes later. So, for this weeks edition of SoundTrax, we’ve picked eight instrumental tracks that will help slow your breathing, calm your heart rate and shut your eyes. Don’t let the bed bugs bite, kids.
It’s 1972. The Godfather is inaugurating America’s obsession with the inner lives of Mafiosi. Hunter S. Thompson chronicles the dreams of the ’60s turning sour in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, over in England, Ian Anderson and his chums in Jethro Tull are cementing their status as prog-rock legends by following the previous year’s Aqualung album with the conceptual meisterwerk that is Thick As A Brick. According to Anderson, who is currently preparing for a multi-tiered celebration of the latter milestone’s fortieth birthday, TAAB was actually conceived mostly as a satirical response to the media’s rampant misinterpretations of Aqualung as a concept album. “I thought it would be fun to do a concept album that was such a huge step into the improbable,” says Anderson, “a slightly surreal and satirical look at concept albums, so that’s what I did.”
Prog rock was in full flower at the time”1971 had seen the release of such watershed albums as Yes‘s Fragile and Genesis‘s Nursery Cryme”but Anderson was never one to remove his tongue entirely from his cheek. “Yes or early Genesis or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, I suppose those would be the classic examples of our peers who, in a way, I was gently lampooning,” he says of his concept-rock satire, “But it was just a fashionable period of time for concept albums. By ’72 I think quite a few people were at it, doing that kind of grand-scale work, and I just thought I’d try to take it a step further.” Of course, Thick As A Brick represented much more than just the Spinal Tap of its day”containing one continuous, album-length piece of music, the record is a full-fledged song suite, full of fascinating changes in mood, mode, tempo and time signature, with an evocative and coherent lyrical narrative running throughout. “Like anything that has some parody or satire, it also has an element of seriousness that lies behind it,” Anderson agrees, “I think that’s one of the important things you try to do if you’re a writer or a composer, you try to give it some other layers of meaning than the obvious one.”
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As reported by Gawker, Snoop Dogg, a.k.a. DJ Snoopadelic, has generated a lot of buzz over his Soundcloud account the last few days. The budding DJ has been releasing an enormous collection of free mixes, and even posting some unfinished cuts from studio sessions.
But the most surprising mix Snoop has posted is his Tekno Euro Mixx. Broken beat lovers beware, this is four-on-the-floor madness start to finish. The music is so far from anything previously attached to his name that it is bound to surprise even the most diehard Doggs. We’ll give Snoopadelic a pass on his misinformed use of the term “techno” since his track selection is so stellar (although his mixing skills could probably use a little work).
Snoop’s put together an hour and ten minute set of buttery, soulful, funky, slinky, disco-house for your listening pleasure, wherein his heavy-lidded persona finds a way to shine even without his signature stoner flow.
Make sure to check out the rest of Snoop’s Soundcloud – there is no denying the man has impeccable taste in music. With influences ranging from funk and hip-hop to jazz and electro, DJ Snoopadelic is one groovy guy. And judging by the rate that he’s posting music to his account, you won’t hit the bottom of his record crate anytime soon.