Welcome to today’s discussion on Varmints by Anna Meredith, the Scottish composer most recently known for drifting between contemporary classical and electro-pop. Varmints flexes her composers’ muscles and takes her “maximalist” sensibilities just a step further, but how big of a step? Let’s find out together! And of course, check out [1:59:02] to hear a self-analytical discussion on our practice of podcast “pre-listens”, i.e., a group run-through. If we assume that tastes are contingent on whatever we’re exposed to, then what about the people we listen to music with? Do friends and colleagues affect our enjoyment of music, like a contagious wave of laughter? You tell us!
Today we’re tackling No No No by Beirut. Negative much? With an album called No No No, that might be a required state of mind going in. Then again, the music seems to conflict with that idea. Confused yet? Don’t be. I’m just the show notes, what do I know? Press play already! As for the topic, head to 1:15:11 for a discussion on the foreground/background nature of lyrics. Do they slap you in the face or fade into the instrumentation? Does the music steer the message or does the message steer the music? We even grapple with the nature of the subliminal, and much, much more in today’s episode of the Crash Chords Podcast.
A special album and a special guest, today we welcome Joe Benjamin (from Joe Benjamin and a Mighty Handful). Steeped in the larger-than-life sounds of big band & swing, the 11-piece ensemble performs the work of the German-born singer, composer, and conductor Joe Benjamin. Listen for some samples of his work, an exclusive interview with the man himself, and finally for the album he brought to place under our microscope (starting at 37:22). That album is called Amour t’es là?, the 2013 release by another massive ensemble, Banda Magda (fronted by Greek native and French speaker Magda Giannikou). More samples from Joe and a Mighty Handful throughout, so listen through!
Described as indie folk, indie rock, and baroque pop, most genres fail to capture the plethora of avenues used by The Decemberists to spin fanciful yarns to their devoted fans. Often celebrating antediluvian themes with modern sensibilities, The Decemberists have become the paradigm for making the old-timey “à la mode”. Let’s take a trip through their latest work, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World for today’s much-awaited analysis. Also stick around for a chat on what it means to employ research in the course of band-diving. Should the discography of a band be calling the shots?
And then the orchestra met the synthesizer… and it was good. Today we feature a special fan-chosen album for our weekly analysis, courtesy of Heather S. (@wildflowerfever). The album is called In Conflict, by the composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, Owen Pallett. Then we take some time to discuss the particulars of an upper echelon rating system. Why are things harder to rate the closer they come to true exceptionalism?
Never at a loss for notes, Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond is at it again, this time with a brazen tell-all album called This Is My Hand. Join us as we pick apart the nuances of this latest work in our weekly review. After this musical onslaught, we took some time to discuss the impact of “person” in an album. Whether invited to place oneself in someone else’s shoes, or to accept a foreign narrative, this simple literary choice guides our experience of the tale… but does it ever affect the intensity of the experience?
Time for one of our favorite things: another cosmic ballet between traditional composition and pop songwriting. This week we find it in the band Arc Iris, fronted by the highly animated vocalist, Jocie Adams (formerly of the Low Anthem). With the help of her poetic flair, their self-titled debut packs a wallop. Let’s hope we do it justice. Also stick around for an interesting discussion on musical identity and personality, and whether they’re at all linked with staying power.
This week we dive into a review of Break It Yourself by Andrew Bird. Then we talk a bit about our emotional connections with music, what we seek to gain, and the implications we ascribe to certain styles and genres.