All but one of the CDs – not the aforementioned came from my new source: As mentioned in my first post, the Lotus Formula One team is giving out CDs quite often now to journalists and any other takers and interested people in the paddock, as they have some kind of a sponsorship deal with Columbia Records. So at the last three races – Spain, Monaco and Canada I picked up the new crop. At the glitzy, glamorous Monaco Grand Prix the big deal was that Daft Punk had shown up for the race, and it was their new CD – surprise, surprise – that was being handed out. I’m talking about Random Access Memories, which has been busting the charts all over the place and selling like as if they were the latest whatever.
In fact, one of the things that I found interesting about this CD is how incredibly it sounds at once like something from the 1990s AND something from today. I’ve never been a Daft Punk fan, but I’ve never been against them either. But listening to this CD while doing my morning exercises was a good experience from the point of view of how it lends itself perfectly to the exercise needs and experience: There was no real need to listen to the warped vocals and the rhythm and the beat inspired me on to ever more rapid sit-ups. 😉 At the same time, I had heard some of the songs on the car radio already – as who hasn’t – such as “Get Lucky,” or “Lose Yourself to Dance.”
The CD, as everyone knows, has an amazing line up of contributing musicians as well, like Pharrell Williams, Paul Williams and Nile Rodgers – to say nothing of Julian Casablancas, Chilly Gonzales and Giorgio Moroder. Of course, this is a French band that I think must have invented that electronic voice manipulation thing not to sound really cool but to hide their French accented English. Whatever…. there are clearly some catchy, classic melodies and lyrics on this album, and there is little I can say about it except that Daft Punk is far from a spent force, and far from Daft….
If Bob Dylan can’t write songs like Bob Dylan anymore Bruce Springsteen certainly can still write like Bruce Springsteen….
In my last morning exercise music talk post I said this thing about how if Bob Dylan can’t write songs like Bob Dylan anymore then what chance do the rest of us have? Well, interestingly enough, inspiringly enough, this latest crop of morning exercise music consisted of the latest Springsteen album that was handed out at the Spanish Grand Prix, as well as the No. 1 classis Springsteen album, the best of them all, “Born to Run,” which came out in 1975 and that was handed out for reasons beyond my understanding at the Canadian Grand Prix. But I sought not to understand. I simply wanted to listen to the album again, so wonderful is it. But the experience of listening to Born to Run again and then listening to the latest effort of the 63-year-old-going-on-40, is monumental. I’m talking about “Wrecking Ball,” of course.
From the first song with its amazing, interesting rhythms to the title song and beyond, this album shows how Springsteen continues to find strong, original songs and music and has lost hardly anything of his vocal powers. I mean, the new album is just really vital and really Springsteen – of course, he has been inspired by dark times, and he seems to need and love that.
But the real clincher for me as to the strength and power of this rock classic – some of whose songs are on a level with Dylan, and most of which are entertaining – came to me when I listened to the final Columbia offering from Canada: MS MR’s first full album, “Secondhand Rapture.” The first time I listened to this American Indie band’s album I said, “Huh? Wait, is this on the same record label as the Springsteen and Dylan????” (Of course, there are only around three record companies that remain, so what the hell….) My first listening made me feel as if this new Indie band that barely existed three years ago and that has had a very rapid rise to public awareness was doing nothing but create elevator music.
Compare the melodies and vocal powers to those of Springsteen and I felt that some people can write great songs that we all end up having as the soundtracks to our lives – a cliché, yes – and other people write Musak. Maybe, in fact, that’s why one of their songs was used in a promotional video for Game of Thrones…. Not too much character to upstage the product…. But then… but then… since although I have no intention of being a music critic and these occasional posts are really just about my impressions of my morning exercise music, but since obviously I CANNOT AVOID being critical if I don’t like or understand something, I decided that I HAD to be fair to whatever I listen to. That meant not jumping to quick conclusions.
MSMR and All That Shit You Put Me Through
So THAT meant listening to MS MR again. In fact, I had not entirely made up my mind about the album anyway. I was immediately struck with how, like Daft Punk, even like Springsteen, this band MSMR did not entirely sound like today to me. It sounded like the 1980s/90s electro music. They have been compared to Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Rey. But for me the latter, at least, had catchier melodies. UNTIL… suddenly, on my second listen to the album one song in particular – as I searched for a potential hit to stick out of the wallpaper – jumped out at me for both its melody and its lyrics.
I stopped my exercises, began reading the lyrics, and later, after exercising, when it was time to eat breakfast, I listened again to that song. Today, tonight, I have listen yet again. I love the song, I think it is really catchy, it is different, it is now. I don’t know if it can ever be a big hit on the radio everywhere because the language is the kind that we use every day but that cannot be used in the mainstream media. Here are the wonderful lyrics of the chorus that we can all identify with:
I still think of you
And all the shit you put me through
And I know you were wrong
I still think of you
And all the shit you put me through
And I know now
I know you were wrong
A wonderful song, really moves, bounces, has great catchy melody and memorable, simple lyrics – called “Think of You.” I began to realize also that this apparently soft-voiced and subtle singer actually has a strong voice that she seems almost to be holding back with, but it is very effective. I’m talking about the MS of the duo, Lizzy Plapinger, the MR being the producer Max Hershenow.
So ANYWAY… MS MR is really quite interesting, even if the whole album does not stand out like a Springsteen – but such, I realized, is the price of something new, sometimes. It sometimes takes time to absorb its newness – having said that, I loved Born to Run the first time I heard it in the 70s.
Paris Expat John Redford’s First Effort
Last week when I hosted that open mic one of the singers who signed up was a guy I have seen play for a couple of years now regularly at the Paris open mics, mostly at the now defunct Ptit Bonheur la Chance. This was John Redford, who is from England and works in Paris as some kind of engineer. He plays music in his spare time, and just came out with his first CD of his own songs. So I bought a copy of it last week at the open mic, and decided that despite having heard him playing week after week for so long, that I would listen to him as part of my morning exercise routine. It was well worth it to hear how musician can sound different with a full-fledged – or even “partially fledged” – band, after you’ve heard them only with a guitar and vocals for so long. In total he used about five other musicians with drums, keyboards, bass, backing vocals and guitars. It also shows what you can do by recording in your own apartment – as he points out on the liner notes.