Monday, January 23, 2012

Bond


Four hot chicks playing classical music to a dance beat.  How can you go wrong with that?!  Let me answer that for you: You can't.

"Duel" (Live)

I have to say that this whole "electric classical" thing wouldn't really work if they were amateurs, but the four women are professionally trained classical musicians.

I don't really remember how or why I started listening to this band, but I did... and as a classical music fan, I will admit to loving this music.  There really is no reason why classical numbers shouldn't be transformed like this, and I only wish there were more bands like Bond.

"Victory"

Most of their songs are re-workings of classical pieces, a lot of which are very familiar to most people.  There are also a few oddities that the average listener wouldn't recognize, and then there's a few based on a bit more current music and some classic rock songs.

"Kashmir"

In all, it's not your typical music and kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in my music collection, which is probably why I honed in on them when I got to the "B" selection of my list.  It certainly makes for good late-night background music when I'm up fixing computers or whatnot.

"Allegretto"

If you enjoy classical music or stringed instruments or dance-pop by any means, you should definitely check out Bond.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And Also The Trees


"The senile sea numbers each single
Slim silvered stone."

One day while browsing whatever online music store came before Amazon came around and bought them out, I stumbled upon an album I bought merely because the name of the band was interesting.  The name And Also The Trees struck me as one of the greatest things I had ever heard... How could a band be even remotely bad with a name like that?  If anything, it was bound to be interesting.

I guess you could say I was "intrigued"... So I bought the one album I saw by them, "Angelfish," and I waited for it to arrive.  A few weeks later (this was the mid-90's), my first And Also The Trees disc arrived (arrove?), and I put it into my player only to be struck by this:

"Brother Fear"

Well boy howdy!  If that wasn't just the neatest thing... and it only got better with every song.  I tend to describe it as "Kids In The Hall music, with Jim Morrison on vocals."  Kind of an odd description, but it fits.

So, as I tend to do, I looked up more music by this sort-of "surf-goth" band.  I bought a few more albums and scoured the still-forming internet for information on their history.  Turns out, they've been around for a long, long time.

A British band formed in 1979, they actually toured with The Cure early on in both of their careers.  I don't remember where I read it, but I recall an interview with Robert Smith saying that And Also The Trees was his inspiration for The Cure's change towards writing "darker" music... and anyone who is familiar with the earliest (happy pop music) era of The Cure, this explains a lot.

In fact, the first few And Also The Trees albums (having been produced by some Cure band members), do sound rather similar musically to post-"Boys Don't Cry" Cure.  I suppose you could call the "contemporaries" in the Darkwave scene, if you really felt so inclined.

"Midnight Garden"

Most of the earlier work was fairly typical of the 80's gothic sound, filled with airy synth, twangy guitars, rumbling bass, and melancholy vocals...

"Red Valentino"

In the late 90's with the "Angelfish" album and followed by "Silver Soul", the band veered towards a sound sometimes described as "Brittan's view of Americana." Something fresh out of a David Lynch film.

"Rose-Marie's Leaving"

Over the past decade or so, they've released a few more albums, which are always a pain to find. Usually I have to import them through Amazon, but occasionally I can find them in indie record shops... but every so often, I check up to see if there's anything new from them. (Such as a new album coming in March, apparently!)

"The Beautiful Silence"

And Also The Trees is definitely one of my favourite bands, and it still makes me laugh that it was an impulse buy.  When you have no clue what you're in for and buy an album based solely on the band name, it's going to be either hit or miss, and this was definitely a massive hit.

Monday, January 09, 2012

16 Horsepower


Alright, here we are with the first post of the year, and instead of starting with the letter A, I decided to do what any psychotic moron would do and start with numbers.

So anyone who knows me well enough knows I have a thing for what's lovingly known as "Southern Gothic Americana"... such as the likes of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.  Well, it came as a shock to me when a new (at the time) friend of mine told me about a band called 16 Horsepower (written with the number, not spelled out... us fans are rather picky about that) and it was basically "my type of music" through and through.

In fact, to be even more ironic, this new-found band had actually toured with The Bad Seeds, as well as a few other bands I know and love.  Upon hearing the music and reading the Wikipedia page for 16 Horsepower, my initial response to the poor girl that told me about them was "Why the hell didn't you tell me about this band before?!"  Sure, I didn't care that I had just recently met her.  That didn't matter.  Someone should have told me about them long before.

"That road I seen the devil stalking
Dealin' only with the dyin'"

16 Horsepower blends together fragments of traditional bluegrass with Gypsy folk music and then smashes it through your ears with a distortion of electric country.  That's about the best I can do to describe it... I like to say that it evokes a mental image of dust bowl era America, only a bit more violent and electric.

"Haw"

I am not going to go too into detail on the band's history... Mostly because I don't know a whole lot, and partly because I don't think there's all that much to know.  Lead vocalist / songwriter David Eugene Edwards seems to have been the main driving force behind not only the band, but much of the sound as well.  Raised by his grandfather, a Nazarene preacher, Edwards' lyrics tended to steer towards a dark and rather menacing form of religious outlook, not too far from what you'd have heard at an early 1900's big tent revival.  While some people would say this would make them a "Christian band," 16 Horsepower never made any deal out of it, and I doubt most people even noticed.

"Coal Black Horses"

Musically, the band made an extravagant use of a wide variety of instruments, from electric guitars and keyboards, to banjos, mandolins, and even an old-fashioned squeezebox.

"American Wheeze" (Live)

I truly don't know how to properly categorize this band... especially their earlier work.  Some might say "Gypsy rock" but I think that actually is too narrow a definition.  As time went on though, folk and gospel music began to take over a bit more.  Their last few albums were quite a bit more mellow, but the band still had their uniquely addictive sound and style.

"Wayfaring Stranger"

After four studio albums and a couple compilations, the band officially disbanded, Edwards and a few other members going on to form a very similar band called Woven Hand, who have recently toured with yet another favourite band of mine, Tool.

"The wind blows like the devil when it blows
An' a boy grows up an' like the wind he goes
."

16 Horsepower is one of those rare bands... Unlike any other and not really fitting in with what most people would consider "popular."  Unknown and under-appreciated, I guess it's truly what you'd call "underground."

"Black Soul Choir"

I really doubt many people will ever even hear of this band, but I find it hard to believe that anyone who does hear them could ever dislike them.  They're just too addictive and brilliant to dismiss.