Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wounded Rhymes

I used to listen to the radio and watch MTV a lot in high school, like a good little teen. Right around college, I lost interest in the radio and mostly listened to Japanese music. After college, I still wasn’t listening to the radio, so it’s a wonder how I got into new music. Then I discovered Last.fm when I was bored at work and wanted to find a way to listen to new music that wasn’t the radio. Things really took off from there.

Lykke Li (another Swede – do I really listen to that many?) was one of my Last.fm discoveries. I was really into her sound, and though I was so overwhelmed by the amount of music discoveries, I went with her first album, Youth Novels. I enjoyed it, but only a few tracks stood out. I kept meaning to give her second album a try, but I didn’t get around to it until a few years later – last week, specifically.

What took me so long?! Wounded Rhymes is a fantastic album! Where Youth Novels is quiet and quirky, Wounded Rhymes is big and primal. It’s like putting a sugar glider next to a gorilla. I think back on the songs I liked on Last.fm and I realize that most of them came from this second album. So why didn’t I get that one first? Well, I have this weird compulsion where I like to buy albums in the chronological order of their release. I rarely break it. I like to think I’m discovering the evolution of the artist or something. I don’t know.

Anyway, let’s start with the song you’re most likely to have heard, if you have heard a Lykke Li song and perhaps didn’t realize it (probably on a TV show):

This song is not about sex. Really, even Li herself said so. I find that songs that are about sex tend to be more poetic about it, whereas songs that are not about sex tend to use it as a metaphor. And so Li lays it on extra thick in the lyrics and the video. I actually find the song rather empowering. Which is kind of what the song is about. It’s about having power over men by virtue of being a woman. Ever notice how a guy will call a woman a slut if she’s sleeping with anyone BUT him? To me this song is what it feels like to reclaim that word.

The album follows a mostly dark and primal theme. Just listen to “I Follow Rivers.” It’s got a very jungle-y ambiance. You can hear the plaintive desperation and obsession in her voice. Same with “Jerome.” She occasionally takes a break from the sound (but not the theme) on tracks like the almost minimal, Youth Novels-sounding “Unrequited Love” and on “Sadness Is a Blessing,” which reminds me of the debut album in another way. Specifically, it reminds me of “Let It Fall,” which is a happy-sounding song about being sad. In any case, both of the songs serve as Lykke Li’s interpretation of the quintessential American 1960’s girl group.

“I Know Places” is a nice, quiet track. It’s got this sort of musical epilogue attached to it, where you almost think it’s another song. To me, it sounds like the “place” where Lykke Li wants to take whomever she’s singing to. It’s a bit of an aural landscape, and I do love those. I also really like the heavy, almost industrial-sounding “Silent My Song.” It’s haunting, and the howling chorus is (yet again) plaintive and heavy, but in an appealing way.

I guess overall, Wounded Rhymes is kind of emo. In a weird, Swedish way. I don’t know if that will make sense to anyone who doesn’t listen to Swedish artists.

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Happy

Hey, everyone! Sorry I had to skip a post last week. I had some personal stuff going on, but it’s all good now! Promise I won’t make this a regular occurrence.

So this week I want to talk about a certain Oscar-nominated song. No, not the Oscar-winning “Let It Go,” although as an aside, I do have to say “I told you so!” about certain press as of late. Let the record show I called it a long time ago.

No, this week I want to talk about Pharrell’s “Happy,” featured in Despicable Me 2. I just want to say right off the bat that it does a great job of living up to its simple name. This song just makes me want to dance through the streets and share my happiness with everyone around me, just like Gru does in the movie. It’s hard to not feel happy when you hear the song.

Sure, the lyrics are just as simple as the name, and repetitive to boot, but that’s what makes it such a successful pop song. Yes, I realize it doesn’t fall in the GENRE of pop per se, but I mean pop as a descriptor, as in popular music. Because this did become a popular song in several countries, according to the charts. A good pop song is catchy, so “Happy” does the job.

I love that the music video features a diverse range of people of all sizes, shapes and colors (and Minions too, of course) dancing along to the song in their own way. Also, it was all filmed in LA (I recognized those streets and buildings almost instantly), which gets bonus points with me. Apparently they made a 24 hour music video too. Cool concept! (On my fourth watch I got somebody in a chicken suit. Awesome.)

If you don’t like the song, maybe you’re just not in the mood for it. Understandable. Or maybe you hate joy. In which case there is no hope for you! (Kidding.)

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hunting for pearls

Well, it finally dropped. It was a day late, but even nearly a week later I couldn’t let it go unaddressed on this blog. So here is is!

My first thought upon finishing it was “I don’t love it more than ‘fountain.'” And yet I bought the single and have been listening to it pretty frequently. There were even points where “fountain” would come up and I’d go “Nah, I wanna hear “hunting for pearls.”

It’s definitely a more danceable, engaging song. It’s more upbeat, but it doesn’t lose that dreamy, ethereal quality. Again, I’m reminded of 80’s fantasy movies. I hear more of a Depeche Mode-like sound in this one. So far, the songs have had a pretty consistent musical theme, the most consistent I’ve heard from them so far. Yet they still manage to make each song distinct from the next (again, so far). I feel like previous albums/projects have had a bigger hodge-podge of sounds — not that that’s a bad thing! I just see how it could be jarring for someone who was just hearing/watching them for the first time. (Especially with bounty, haha.) What I’m saying is if you’re tuning in to iamamiwhoami for the first time, you’ve picked the right moment!

The video features more fantastic scenery, but this time it’s with an element of danger, as Jonna flees from her faceless, featureless pursuers. In case you’re wondering what that box she’s holding so tightly is, it’s the embodiment of her last album kin. (You’d have to see how the final track/video of the album/project ends, but essentially…it’s a black cube.)

Oh, by the way, I neglected to mention that box was featured burning in a fire in her previous video, “fountain,” which you may or may not have noticed (or remembered, haha). So how does she have it wholly intact at the beginning of this video? I’ve seen a theory floating around that the videos so far are chapters of a new story being told backwards, from the end to the beginning. I wouldn’t put it past them, and it’s kind of making sense so far.

I think I can tentatively say that this is looking like a new album/project. They’re already lining up the singles on their website, and it looks like we’ll have another one to look forward to soon, maybe in a month. I wasn’t sure what the “GENERATE” thing was about at first, but I’m beginning to think it’s their own version of a Kickstarter campaign. From what I know about them, for as long as I’ve been following them, it looks like they’re putting the power in their fans’ hands. I’ve read that they create these videos and songs in real time, meaning they only start making the next one once they’re finished the one before it. So perhaps the timeliness, quality, and story of the next chapter depends on how much and how soon the fans contribute. Who can say for sure? iamamiwhoami still manages to maintain a shroud of mystery around them. I remember being worried that they wouldn’t be able to do that after kin had finished, when Jonna finally came out and started giving real interviews about the band/collective/project. I’m so pleased to be proven wrong.

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