35 Day Music Challenge – Day 5

A Song That Makes Me Feel Hopeful: Maor Levi – ‘Reflect’

You probably wouldn’t have seen this coming. I went through a huge Trance phrase in my early teens and Maor Levi was just making a name for himself at the time.

The Israeli-born producer has become renowned for his choppy, almost mythical sounding vocal effects such as those used in ‘Reflect’ and ‘Shapes’. They create quite an uplifting vibe in this but, in my opinion, they don’t let you get too high. When I listen to ‘Reflect’ it’s normally because I am actually having a moment of reflection. I tend to listen to it after work, when I’ve been pushed to the limit in terms of stress and I just need an escape.

The era of Trance music that gave birth to tunes like this was one of the best, as far as I’m concerned. This track belongs among the elite from that time. ‘A Song That Makes Me Feel Hopeful’ is a bit cringeworthy for my liking and I wouldn’t normally bother using it, but I needed to pad out my challenge a bit and I guess this piece of music helps relieve any stresses I have and makes me hope that the following day won’t be quite so disastrous.

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35 Day Music Challenge – Day 4

A Song That Is Often Stuck In My Head: Shack – ‘Mood Of The Morning’

I did say that it was likely Shack would feature heavily throughout this challenge! Two in a row now, but the whole point of this challenge is to be honest, I suppose.

‘Mood of the Morning’ is another track off of Waterpistol. Like ‘Walter’s Song’, it’s very simplistic, melodically. I don’t really know what it’s about, but if I had to guess I’d probably say it’s about a girlfriend who never shuts down, most likely the partying type and quite the eyecatcher. She’s probably a bit of a nutter as well, as Mick’s repeatedly telling us throughout that ‘My baby loves Happy Mondays’ and I’ve always been of the opinion that nobody who likes the Happy Mondays is totally sane…

The main part that sticks in my head – aside from the guitar melody – is what I would class as the main chorus of the song. Rising up from the calmer tones of the first two verses, Mick Head gears up and belts out ‘My baby, baby’s into the mood of the mornin’!’ and I can’t help but get goosebumps when I hear it. There aren’t enough tunes on which he gives it the beans, but he sounds fantastic on this.

35 Day Music Challenge – Day 3

A Song That Calms Me Down: Shack – ‘Walter’s Song’

It’s highly likely that Shack will feature on a grand scale as this challenge goes on.

Trawling through Google’s archives for articles entitled something similar to ‘best underrated britpop songs’ at the start of 2017, I came across a track called ‘Mr. Appointment’ from Shack’s second album, Waterpistol. It wasn’t the best song I’d ever heard, but the article proclaimed it as one of the better songs that fell beneath the vast majority’s radar. Curious, due to the fact that Mick Head’s style reminded me ever so slightly of The La’s, I tracked down the rest of the tracks from that album and I wasn’t disappointed. My new favourite band had been discovered.

Two tunes stood out when I started listening to Waterpistol from start to finish – album opener ‘Sgt Major’ and track 6, ‘Walter’s Song’. The latter being my selection here. Melodically, it’s quite repetitive, but that’s fine. It’s part of its charm. It’s extremely catchy and the vocals and lyrics are calming straight from the outset: ‘Hush little one, hush. Hush my little one, hush.’
One of the major selling points for me when I bought the album was how great the vocals sound on every track. They’re enhanced with reverb, which lends them a haunting echo throughout. They fit with the jangly Love/Byrds-like guitars beautifully.
Shack were voracious advocates of the use of acoustic guitars in almost all of their songs, and on Waterpistol there is plenty of evidence for this. However, on this song, we also find a cello sweeping behind the guitars and exchanging the lead with them at various points. It really helps the tune flow wonderfully.

All in all, it’s just an extremely relaxing and catchy song. It’s also a bit of a mood lifter in my opinion. I don’t know how anyone could not find a song relaxing when it sounds like this does, and it contains lyrics such as ‘Morning soon will, light your pillow. Birds will sing beyond the willow’.

I implore anyone with an interest in British alternative rock and britpop to seek this album out. You deserve to hear it and considering Mick Head is one of the best songwriters we’ve had, he deserves to have his music heard too. It was only a number of disasters that occurred in 1991 following the recording of this album that prevented him, his brother [John, later of Cast], and the rest of the band from being household names.

‘Walter’s Song’ can be listened to at 21:24 in the video below.

35 Day Music Challenge – Day 2

A Song That Reminds Me Of My Parents – Oasis – ‘Married With Children’

There aren’t many songs to choose from for this entry; I don’t tend to think of my parents when listening to music. That said, I’m vaguely reminded of my mum whenever I hear Sade – ‘Fear’ or ‘Pearls’, because I can just about remember her singing quite softly around the house when I was little. She had a nice voice actually, or so I seem to remember.

You can tell that I’m clutching at straws with this one, because my mum and stepdad aren’t actually married and they haven’t brought any children into the world while they’ve been together. Neither of them are massive fans of Oasis either, though my stepdad doesn’t mind them. He owns almost all of their albums after all, but he’s more of a U2 fan – something which would split a lot of opinion these days as it’s fashionable to hate them. I actually quite like them, but I can’t just pick a random U2 song for the sake of this entry. The song needs to mean something and needs to be relevant, which ‘Married With Children’ is.

As a child, I was a little bastard, both literally and in terms of behaviour. I was very argumentative, which led to my parents putting a magnet on their fridge which read ‘Teenagers! Get out now while you know everything!’ It’s not abnormal for teenagers to think they know everything but that magnet is perfectly in line with a lyric from the song: ‘I hate the way that even though you know you’re wrong, you say you’re right’.

Other lines such as ‘I hate the books you read and all your friends, your music’s shite, it keeps me up all night, up all night’ are particularly pertinent. Especially when you consider that I went through a lengthy Trance phase. I can hardly blame him if indeed he did think that was shite. It was often too loud anyway…

‘Married With Children’ is the final somg on Oasis’ debut album, Definitely Maybe. It’s entirely acoustic and many people have pointed out that the chord structure is identical to that of ‘Lithium’ by Nirvana. I’ve never personally noticed this. It tends to be a track that I skip, but it serves as a solid reminder of how much my parents must have despaired at how much of a burden I was at times.

35 Day Music Challenge – Day 1

A Song From My Childhood: Travis – ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’

For someone so utterly obsessed with music now, I was almost completely oblivious to it as a child. It wasn’t until I hit the age of 15 or so that I started actually listening to music by choice. Even then, my taste was shocking. Nowadays, I’d like to think it’s pretty damn good.

The one song that stands out from my childhood is ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ by Travis.

Why?

Well, I’m not entirely sure where I first heard it. Probably at home. It was released in 1999 – when I was 7 years of age – so I reckon I could probably be forgiven. But it sticks with me so easily because it somehow provokes nostalgic thoughts. In my opinion, the 1990s gave birth to perhaps the most naturally emotional pop music ever. I don’t know whether particular chords were rife at the time or whatever, but in hindsight every band seemed to have a catalogue of songs that summed up that ’90s sound’. The lyrics were powerful and often relatable; the subjects poignant and representative of young peoples attitudes at the time.

When I think of ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ I’m always transported to a time before the song was even released. Once that bouncy guitar intro starts, I can immediately remember being sat in my pushchair as a toddler, being pushed along by my mum on a rainy East Notts afternoon with a transparent weathershield covering me and brushing against my feet as we headed down towards the village centre. The song was released the year after I saw my dad for the very last time and I suppose I must subconsciously relate it to my parents break-up and my mum moving on – possibly wondering how to explain everything to me once I reached a certain age.

Most of all, it’s a ‘why is everything going against me?’ kind of song, and I often related it to my confusion of why my dad was never interested in forming any kind of relationship with me. But now, I just see it as one of the best songs of the 90s, which it is. Fran Healy’s vocals are the most perfect I’ve ever heard on any song ever recorded. They’re inimitable and it’d be a crime for any band to even attempt to cover it, in my view. It’s a song that can enhance any mood. Sometimes it makes you want to laugh, sometimes it makes you want to cry – either through sadness or the sheer adrenaline it evokes. I guess that’s why it was always a festival favourite. It means so much to so many people.

My favourite lines would have to be:

  • ‘Sunny days, where have you gone? I get the strangest feeling you belong’
  • ‘Even when the sun is shining, I can’t avoid the lightning’

I’ve always had a love for melancholic songs and ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ is arguably the most beautiful mainstream example of melancholy from music’s finest era.