March Into the Sea EP and Untitled EP – Pelican

These two Pelican EPs may be the first EPs I’ve ever purchased. I’m not sure I get the whole EP thing. The bottom line is that I want to own the whole Pelican catalogue and these had tunes on them that I didn’t already have. Pelican, in case you haven’t heard me prop them up, is an instrumental heavy metal band. Four guys, three guitars, one drum set, and no words.

I’m somewhat addicted to the stuff. I actually listen to it a lot when I’m working. If I’m working to music, it’s usually classical music or Pelican. I can’t work to songs with words.

It was a long and circuitous route to Pelican for me. Here it is:

  1. Saw Friday Night Lights (movie, not TV show)
  2. Purchased Friday Night Lights soundtrack
  3. Signed up for Pandora
  4. Created Explosions in the Sky channel in Pandora
  5. Noticed that I liked a few songs by Pelican when playing Pandora
  6. Purchased The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
  7. Listened to it occasionally for a year or so but never got into it
  8. Forgot I even owned a CD by Pelican
  9. Read article in The Reader about thriving heavy metal scene in Chicago entitled The Man Behind the Metal
  10. Decided to give Pelican another chance, purchased What We All Come to Need
  11. Fell in love with The Creeper…then fell in love with whole album
  12. Purchased Australasia and City of Echoes
  13. Saw Pelican at Do Division Street in June 2010
  14. Bought these two EPs

So there you have it, a veritable Pelican trail, resulting in all of their studio albums and unadulterated Pelican love today.

It’s heavy stuff, certainly not for everybody. I played it for my college buddies last year thinking that some of them may find it interesting. They didn’t. To a man they hated it. Oh well.

I find it very melodic. The songs are long with several distinctive guitar combinations in each. Sometimes the songs come at you right out of the box and other times you get a long intro that builds into a ferocious guitar frenzy. I’ll buy anything new that comes out from these guys from now until I can’t hear anymore.


The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

I bought this mostly because the Grammy Awards were coming up. Plus, it was only $7.99 on iTunes. That seems less expensive than usual, especially for 16 songs with decent lengths. And finally, they’re Canadian, like The RAA. So it had a lot of things going for it.

I’m not quite sure why the last two full albums I’ve purchased are by primarily Canadian bands with similar themes. With titles like Hometowns and The Suburbs I could be convinced that ruminating about urban, suburban, and prairie landscapes in a melancholic manner is common amongst our northern neighbors. I joke, there are plenty of differences between these two groups. Namely, while The RAA is only three people, Arcade Fire has at least seven people and they throw in a wider range of stringed instruments and keyboards. And while my feeble brain classifies both groups in the rock/alt-rock genre, many critics give Arcade Fire the further classification of art-rock.

I’m on board with that art-rock thing. If you saw Month of May and Ready to Start at the Grammy Awards you probably noticed the multiple drummers, varied background vocals, violins, and a bullhorn. Lotta stuff going on. Both tracks are loud and fast-paced, more so, I think, than most of the other 14 songs on the album. Ready to Start is their hit and it’s a great tune.

The title track, The Suburbs, is filled with a lot of teen angst, especially if you pair it with the video. Seems like Spike Jonze collaborated on the video or just made it and used their music. Not sure. But for the lyrics, this isn’t a bad song. I say so because I’m a little past lyrics with angst; I much prefer anger. But I like the clear vocals and the keyboards and the chorus.

There are a couple songs with primarily female vocals that are good. Empty Room is a short song that has a short, repetitive, male/female duet (mostly female). Sprawl II is the longest song with an 80s pop-style (Blondie-ish) feel and a little electronica tossed in.

Also with an 80s feel, but more rock-like, is City With No Children, which has some heavy background guitar and a mellow male lead. Modern Man has the same type of mellow male lead vocals. Is that even a music description? Regardless, they’re both good songs and don’t feel very alternative.

They seem to mix up the genres a lot. There is one song, Suburban War, that starts out with a 70s style guitar riff that stays there for the first third. Then it transitions into more standard, modern alt-rock, then back again. It’s really cool.

I like the album. I’ll listen to it a lot this year I think. It’s big, 16 big songs, with a lot of variability in style and a bunch of different instruments. I’ve talked myself into liking this album for more reasons than one. It makes sense that they rocked the Grammy Awards. Fire up!


Jar of Hearts (single) – Christina Perri

I’m under the full realization that my media consumption is very male-centric. Most of the authors, lead singers, directors, and main characters of stuff I like are guys. I’m not sure what this says about me. But I’m trying to branch out.

However, when I branch out with stuff like Alanis Morrissette, Grafton/Millhone, and Salander, I notice that the women are usually pretty angry and/or independent. So, digging a little deeper, what does that say about me? It sounds like I’m afraid to go full blast into the Lifetime Network and Oprah. Or maybe I’m just normal. Heck, maybe this thought exercise is occurring because I’m just generally uncomfortable with the fact that this haunting melody (cliche alert!) by Christina Perri was purchased on the heels of another single by a female artist.

Well, let’s get off that and move on to the tune. Not sure who this woman is and where she came from. I heard this song on the same stretch of I-20 in Georgia that I mentioned in Moment 4 Life and I bought it when I got home. I actually purchased it while sitting in our kitchen doing some DJ while Gail cooked (which I helps me get out of doing dishes if I spin some good tunes). I sense some anger in this woman and I like that. Sounds like she’s mad at some dude who dumped her. She says, “Don’t come back at all.” It’s a pretty spare song, mostly vocals and piano, with some background strings or electric keyboards of some sort. Pretty cool. No risk of me getting album though.


Moment 4 Life (single) – Nicki Minaj & Drake

Kanye has some pivotal stuff on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with Nicki Minaj and it’s pretty cool (she goes nuts in the song Monster, wow). So I was a little familiar with her music, but I never really entertained grabbing any of her stuff. Then I heard this song.

Let me digress for a moment, some of my best music discovery occurs during long car drives when I’m by myself. I just scan through the channels and try and find songs I like. There has been one particular region of the country that has been especially bountiful because I have to travel there for work, it’s the stretch of  I-20 between Atlanta, GA and Augusta, GA (130 miles). In fact, one of the most pivotal music experiences of my life happend there – I heard Paranoid by Kanye West, which led to 808s and Heartbreaks, which led to Kanye’s whole catalog, which led to a more-than-passing interest in hip-hop and wrap. Go figure.

It was on this same stretch of road a few weeks that I heard Moment 4 Life by Nicki Minaj and Drake and I really liked it. Her opening stanza is an awesome, profanity-free, motivational poem that ends with, “greatness is what we on the brink of.” After the chorus, Drake chimes in with standard male wrap stuff, plenty of the n-word and f-word. It’s not bad. He ends his portion with, “everybody dies but not everybody lives” before Minaj kicks in with the chorus.

It’s on Minaj’s album Pink, which I’m batting around getting, but I’m not ready to take the leap.


Hometowns – The Rural Alberta Advantage

I bought this based on a tweet from Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross. Not sure why I did this, other than it made me feel cool. And I’m happy I did, because it’s great stuff and has dominated my music listening for January and early Feb.

RAA (as they call themselves) is a three person (one woman, two men) band based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. However, their lyrics mostly talk about the province of Alberta, as you may have guessed. A few songs have Alberta city names in the title, like Frank, Lethbridge, and Edmonton. I would describe it as rock or alt-rock I guess. Dare I say, Indie rock, just don’t put me up there with Indie rock fans, I’m not nearly that cool.

It’s drums and guitars with some keyboards and some other stringed instrument occasionally. The lead is mostly male and he has a kind of twang in his voice. Hometowns was released in 2008. They have a new one that will be released in 2011. I’ll grab when it hits iTunes, for sure.

I’ve been singing In the Summertime, the last song on the album, in my head a lot lately. It’s a moderately paced love song ballad with some female vocals tossed in at the end. Drain the Blood is also great. It’s faster and the vocals are stronger. It seems to be about tortured love of some sort. I need to spend more time with the lyrics.

My favorite song is probably Edmonton. Not sure why. It’s the longest song on the album at 3:54, maybe that’s it. All the songs are short, nothing venturing over four minutes. Edmonton could be about leaving small town life for life in the big city. It starts out, best I can tell, with:

What’ll I do if you never want to come back
Sittin’ in a city that is always on the attack

Or it could actually be about leaving Edmonton for Toronto or someplace, and not about the small town/big town thing. I’ll have to listen to it about 600 more times to get it.

I may not have the tools for music critique. Oh well, I’ll keep at it. I can tell I like this album thought because I’ve listened to the whole album about eight times in three weeks. That’s a lot for me.