Straight Talk Sunday: In Pursuit of the Different

Straight Talk Sunday
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Straight Talk Sunday (in fact this is the first one of 2012), and I think part of that is because I haven’t had much time, but most of it is because there hasn’t been that much to say. Being creative around the clock is hard…and when there’s nothing to say, I don’t want to force anything, because that wouldn’t be any fun for you guys to read. But today, there’s something to say. And what better time to say it than now.

I’ve been struggling a bit in the past couple weeks with the concept of maintaining this beloved blog that I’ve been running for over three years. My life seems to get crazier by the day, and juggling a full-time job, the commute to and from work every day, social gatherings, and just having time to myself here and there gets difficult. Finding time to put in blogging gets really hard, and like I said before, I don’t ever want to force anything.

I’ve thought a bit about quitting, you know…about letting go of the blog. It’s fucking sad to say, and it even makes me squirm when I type it here. This thing has been my obsession for the past three years, and to think about discontinuing it tears at my heartstrings. But I’ve just found that it’s really hard to manage with so many other things on my plate.

But today I’m here to say that I’m not giving up. Nope. Not me, not today. There are a lot of distractors, but then all of the sudden I come across something so beautiful, so different, so moving, that it reminds me once again what the point of this blog is. It reminds me why it’s WORTH taking time out of my life to maintain this blog and to share with you guys what I find to really be life-altering. It was beautiful music that got this started, and it is beautiful music that will keep it going.

Today I came across some of this music, and I’m here to share it with you guys.

I get really excited when I hear a song that sounds, for lack of a better description, a little different. Listening to so much new music every day can be tiring. A lot of it starts to sound the same, and it starts to blur in my mind a bit. What’s funny is that at times I’ll hear songs that don’t fit to a typical song structure (you know…chorus, three verses, a bridge), and I’ll immediately put it off as the works of people poorly versed in the study of music. But then some songs come along that don’t follow this structure and I praise their existence. But perhaps what’s more important than just the structure of the song is the sound of how it was put together.

A great example of this is a song off of Bowerbirds’ new album, called “In The Yard.” When I listen to this track, there are things that I hear and wonder if they intended to make it sound funny like that at times. I ask myself why it sounds a little off, or why the tempo changes so unexpectedly. And then I realize that they’re doing this completely on purpose. These guys have a mastery of the art of making music. And by doing these quirky things in their song, they’re keeping my attention the entire time. It’s creative, and by god it works. This song right here inspired this post, and it is something like this that inspires me to keep going.

MP3: “In The Yard” – Bowerbirds

Another great example of music that moved me today and reminded me why I love doing this so much is a song by Django Django called “Default.” Tell me this isn’t one of the more unique songs you’ve heard in a while. Is it electronic? Is it rock and roll? But wait. It’s folky, it’s twangy, and if it isn’t one of the catchier songs you’ve heard in a while, you might be crazy. I absolutely love it. Are these guys modern-day Fatboy Slim?

And lastly a video I received today of a live recording of The Barr Brothers performing their popular song, “Beggar in the Morning.” This one struck me as unique because of the visual experience. I can listen to a song like “Beggar in the Morning” and be mystified at the noises and the beauty of it, but it’s hard to really conceptualize what it took to put these noises together. In a session they did with KEXP, The Barr Brothers recreated the song, and we get to see all of the parts that form the whole. It’s truly beautiful, and without these visuals, I’m not sure I would have been able to appreciate this song to the same extent that I will now.

And to sum it up, thank you guys for being here to read what the Sunset Family has to say every day. If it weren’t for you guys, we’d have nothing to work for. So thank you, thank you.

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Live: Bowerbirds (100Bands #57)

What’s Left: 89 Days. 43 Bands.

Band: Bowerbirds

When/Where: Sunday, June 5, 2011, Motorco Music Hall, Durham, NC

Expectations: I came out to see Mt. Moriah, the opener, more so than Bowerbirds, but I’m excited to see what kind of show they put on.

Concert: I knew I was in for a treat when I saw how many instruments Bowerbirds brought out with them. Included in their set was an acoustic guitar, keys, drums, some sort of floating marimba, an accordion, two sets of drums, a violin, and some small shaker instruments that I don’t even know the name of. It might be fair to say they had me at hello.

They opened their set with a song that features main singer Phil Moore singing and plucking his acoustic guitar, with light music in the background. It was a great way to start the show off by isolating the beauty of his voice before integrating their wide range of instruments and musical talents. The thing that impressed me most about both this show and the band in general was the diverse musical knowledge among all of the band members. Four of the five artists were singing on microphones over the course of the night, and nearly everybody got up and switched instruments at some point in the set. It was an incredibly impressive display of talent.

Being a local band, they kept the show very personal and intimate, despite the amount of people in the room. Something about their friendly demeanor tells me that they would continue to do this even if they were performing on a stage as large as one at Coachella, which is a major plus. They played one song where Phil Moore continuously sang the words “There is no one more beautiful than you,” and it felt as though he could have been speaking to me directly. I’m sure every girl in the room felt the same way, but the ability to make the music not only heard but felt is a feat that not many bands accomplish with me at first try. Rumor has it, though, lead singer Phil Moore and wingwoman Beth Tacular are in a relationship. Whatever type of relationship it may be, some sort of passion was obvious when Beth got a chance to take the lead mic and Phil stepped back, watched Beth sing, and smiled. It nearly gave me the chills, which again says a lot about how personal their performance was.

Bowerbirds seem to be reminiscent of both Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Balmorhea, if the two bands made tender love and produced offspring in the form of a 5-person band. As the set went on, their music became faster and louder, to the point where all the sudden a large chunk of the room was singing and dancing along.

Concert Afterglow: Perhaps the one thing that struck me most about Bowerbirds is their ability to marry the instrumentals the vocals/lyrics perfectly. At times they had me wondering if their music was about one more than the other, because of its strength in nature, but my wavering opinion made me believe that they truly have mastered the art of both.

SongMP3: “House of Diamonds” – Bowerbirds

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