Friday, October 24, 2008

Various Stages


I was chatting with a friend who was feeling down today, and I realized that I have a favourite song for melancholy days: Various Stages by the Great Lake Swimmers (graciously offered free on their label's download page). It's not a pick-me-up tune, but not really wallowing in gloom either -- perhaps just more reflective. Although I haven't gotten into the rest of their songs the same way, this one is a keeper, especially for a cold, grey October mood.

Update: One song is pretty skimpy for a music post. Two more songs I love with a similar vibe and some subtle banjo goodness:
  • Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory -- Coyotes Song -- this is actually one of our family's favourite songs, perhaps despite the melancholia. At just before the two-minute mark, an instrumental section soars and makes the whole song more hopeful somehow. Beautiful.
  • The Pirate's Gospel by Alela Diane (excellent video here). This is a more recent discovery for me, but I've grown to love her music very quickly -- great soulful voice, and quirky, rootsy accompaniment that's sometimes dark, but never miserable. This pirate song is actually full-on playful, I think...check out The Rifle (video here) for something a little darker. It's lacking banjo, but is probably a better companion to Various Stages. Plus her main publicity photo (see above) includes a late-'70s Chevy Nova...how could I resist?

10 comments:

Garth said...

The instrumentation reminds me of Neil Young - almost wanted to hear him croon the track but it could be that Neil's voice was still fresh in my head from hearing him live last week! Good tune!

Jeremy said...

Glad you liked it. I have too many friends who consider it blasphemy to say how I really feel about Neil Young. I've tried...I've really tried. He's right at the top of my growing list of music I'm apparently supposed to love.

Andrew said...

That's nothing short of blasphemy, Jeremy, especially in indie circles! I don't think it's a strange reaction to Young, though. One of the few artists that is more of an acquired taste than Young is Dylan -- I'm a big fan, but I can count the people that agree with me on one hand, missing a few fingers.

Jeremy said...

I know, I know. I've already said enough to be alienated in certain musical circles. I should have just kept the focus on this great song! Sadly, I can't like Dylan either, but I seem to take less flack for that one.

Elizabeth said...

So pretty... it's like a little anthem for change. Thanks Jer.

Jeremy said...

Oh, so glad you liked it, Elizabeth. You've given me some wonderful recommendations over the years...

BobbyRisigliano said...

You know me Jer when it comes to opinions on music: Each to his own. As for the growing list of music that i'm supposed to like, Roxy Music?

Jeremy said...

Good point, Richard. It just seems like there are lots of these "if you like this, you should love this" bands...but they don't often seem to apply. The online recommendation systems like Jango are hopeless this way, regularly recommending stuff I strongly dislike. Like they all think Wilco should be my favourite band, no matter how many times I skip them or rate them down.

Why did anyone think you should like Roxy Music? I just went to find one song and it was awful.

Garth said...

I have to respond to your Neil Young dilemma - I do admit I'm a little surprised you haven't connected with him - especially during Pearl Jam's days with him. I will say I prefer his acoustic stuff more than his more thrashy jam stuff. Harvest Moon would be the album I recommend to people who haven't connected to him yet.

I just saw Dylan and was expecting him to mumble his way through songs but I got lucky and listened to a legend in top form. Dylan is acquired taste but my recommendation is Oh Mercy to get into him.

Jeremy said...

Sorry to say, but for me Pearl Jam jumped the shark when they went on their Neil Young-worshipping journey. It was like Eddie Vedder suddenly forgot that it was ok to belt out his vocals in tune, with a bit of growl if necessary. Suddenly, only alcoholic slurring with no melodies was cool, and the guitarists forgot that we liked them because of the driving riffs and musical intensity...strum, strum, strum. Sigh.

To grossly generalize my musical tastes: I'm not actually that big on lyrics as long as they're not intrusively bad, but I love a big, high-quality sound, particularly an overall sound that strikes me as somewhat original. A melody is nice too, but maybe most importantly I can't tolerate a singer who can't sing in tune at least some of the time. That last one is why the Dylan/Young thing has never happened for me...and why so much of the new indie music strikes me as total, complete garbage. I'm so tired of great-sounding bands with terrible singers.