Shuffle Lessons, Vol. 11

You can find the previous Shuffle Lessons here.

1. “Back Broke” – The Swell Season, Strict Joy

This is one of my sad favorites off of the Swell Season’s follow up to the smash hit Once soundtrack. It’s a gorgeous song, but I think it can serve as a weird warning signal to the Swell Season’s future. Marketa Irglova is almost nowhere to be found on this particular song. It’s mainly just Glen Hansard’s hushed vocals on top of a spare instrumental arrangement. He’s playing a mournful chord progression on his guitar that is just so softly complemented by a haunting combination of piano riffs, string accompaniments, and a restrained second guitar part. There is a whisper of vocal harmony, but rather than a clear harmony part sung by Irglova, it’s more a chorus of soft voices singing behind Hansard. The musical component definitely leads towards Hansard’s solo record. Lyrically though, this is right in the Swell Season’s wheelhouse. A song of a broken relationship that the singer can’t leave. Sad stuff, and it’s couched in a pretty depressing little musical tune. Incredibly beautiful.

2. “The Line” – D’Angelo, Voodoo

A powerful song from Voodoo; it reads very much like D’s manifesto coming off of the success of his debut album Brown Sugar. D’ had been working on Voodoo for nearly 4 years, and the pressure was on from his record company, the music industry, and his fanbase to release a follow up that was worth the hype. This song sounds like a response to that adversity. He lays all of his fears and trepidations on “the line” and says no one can judge him but God. I wonder if this was a therapeutic song to write and record, because its essentially a defense of his artistic method. Musically, this track is sparse, but the interplay between what you can hear is awesome. I’d hesitate to even say there’s a dedicated chord progression in this song. The one time the main chord changes is when the bass dips down for one bar right before the 5 minute mark, then it’s back to business as normal.

3. “Touch It / Technologic” – Daft Punk, Alive 2007

This is kind of a tough one because it’s a mash-up of two songs I’m either not crazy about or don’t really know. Alive 2007 is best listened in one straight shot, because the album is really faithful to the Daft Punk concert experience. Tracks change without you even knowing, so really, the entire album is like one giant mash-up track of lots of Daft Punk songs, not unlike a Girl Talk album. I will say that I certainly enjoy these songs spliced together more than I like either one on its own. It’s got a much better tempo than the originals, and when the song morphs from “Touch It” into “Technologic,” it really starts to pick up. The Nile Rodgers-esque guitar riff that comes in softly just after the 3:00 minute mark is a great transitional bridge between the two songs. Because at 3:42, the song really pops. This is a classic example of Daft Punk taking an album release and making it much better live. Makes you wonder what they would do with all of the awesome stuff on Random Access Memories.

4. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” – Eagles, Eagles

You know how you might have heard a song a hundred times in your life and then one day you hear it for what seems like the first time? I heard this song for the “first” time in March of 2013, cruising on a yacht in the Pacific ocean off Miami. I wouldn’t have thought to put Eagles on, but thankfully Chet did and I think we all immediately chilled out. Even though we were on the wrong coast, it just fit the moment, and we all immediately felt lighter. Lots of Eagles music has the tendency to make me feel light as a feather, probably because they are the musical equivalent of light as a feather. There’s so very little that’s complicated with Eagles, and this song is a perfect reflection of that. Soothing strummed acoustic guitars, a clean electric solo with a bit of twang, and a simple drum/bass complement that evokes a cool breeze. A perfect song for sailin’.

5. “I’d Rather Dance With You” – Kings Of Convenience, Riot On An Empty Street

If you’ve never heard Kings Of Convenience, this isn’t actually the most representative song they’ve got. It’s a great tune, to be sure, but it stands out from the rest of their songs as probably the most movement-based thing they’ve ever done. What I mean by that is that it might not be the most fast-paced song they’ve got, but it’s got more going on than any others. There is an actual, noticeable drum rhythm, which is rare for these guys. You’ve got the interplay between strings and keys and guitar, which is a hallmark of their style, but this particular tune is such a unique blend of these three and when laid on top of the drum track, makes this one an actually radio-friendly(ish) tune. It’s a lot of fun, although ironically, probably not the best song to dance to.

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1 Comment

Filed under Music

One response to “Shuffle Lessons, Vol. 11

  1. yessssss. PFE on the boat! nice. this feels like one of your more eclectic SLs ever.

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