Jhameel – Collision

I originally started writing this post with a solid paragraph about the events that unraveled at my alma mater (PennState) last week. I thought I would spare the read, knowing that Ian has already summarized my thoughts ever so clearly in his post, and also knowing that if you wanted to hear about it even more you would simply turn your television to CNN. I must say, however, the victims (the young boys who are now young men (those are the only victims in this entire scandal)) are in my thoughts.

It’s difficult to then find a solid transition to music so this is my failed attempt to do just that.

You may recall I introduced the fun dancy stylings of Jhameel with his track The Human Condition a few months ago. Well, he’s back! He has a new series entitled WAVES which entails 5 weeks of Tuesdays where he will release a new track which will also be available to stream or download entirely free. You read right, free! His track, Collision, was featured last week. You can check him out every Tuesday on his Facebook and Soundcloud pages.

Until next Monday, catchya later tricks!
Collision by jhameel

Jinja Safari – Mermaids

Jinja Safari

When inundated with darkness, shine a light.

I have the habit of listening to music that reflects my feelings. This can lead to a vicious, potentially never-ending cycle of being caught up in a certain type of music–this week was pretty dark. With this cycle spiraling into a session with Johnny Cash as the featured singer, it’s important for me to reset and counteract it with new music. Basically, I have to force myself to go listen something happy. My friends have suggested a bunch of new music that I should catch up on and fortunately, some of it has been really upbeat. Jessie is all about Tennis and the new single is awesome and helped. The mailbox has quite a few tracks that I like. And Jess from New Music Collaborative (she got her own domain, she’s official!) knows my love of Australian pop and suggested Jinja Safari, which leads to this post.

Jinja Safari’s new album Locked by Land is a cycle-busting record of happiness. The Australian duo of Marcus Azon and Cameron ‘Pepa’ Knight are joined by Joe Citizen, Stral Roach, and Jacob Borg for live shows. Their dream folk is slightly reminiscent of my friends Anton Franc, skewing to the happier side though. For me, Jinja Safari is just another reason to love the music from Down Under.

Like them on Facebook and enjoy Mermaids!

The Makings of a Mix

I’ve been pretty absent from the online world for the past week or so. I was out in the real world, doing real world things and in the process put hundreds of miles on my car. The benefit of being stuck in my car for so long is listening to lots and lots of great music. While driving along Interstate 80 somewhere in the heart of Pennsylvania a few of my favorite songs came on. Ok, well, they “came on” because I hit the play button on my iPhone, but still, they came on at what seemed to be the most scenic part of the drive. These are songs that I have really loved for quite a while but at that moment they seemed like the perfect soundtrack for an autumn day.

The first track is “Journey of the Featherless” by Cloud Cult off of their 2008 album Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes). This is probably the most lighthearted track from the album and while it may have some lyrics that seem a bit silly (“don’t sell my stuff on ebay”, anyone?), when Craig Minowa sings it I totally buy into the cheesiness. I don’t know, this song just feels like fall to me. Is it the imagery portrayed in the lyrics? The strings and vocals?  Whatever it is, I can’t break from the autumnal feel this song has given me.

The next track is “Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers from the 2007 album Ongiara. Now, based on the lyrics of this song one could possibly say, “Oh no no! This song is totally winter. Come on! He sings about glaciers!”. To this imaginary naysayer, I would simply say, “No sir, you are wrong!” because they would totally be wrong. It has a banjo! We all know banjos equal fall! Ok, maybe this is a completely invalid argument, but you listen to this track and tell me that it doesn’t make you want to put on a sweater, grab a chai latte, and go look at the leaves changing colors.

I used to be really huge into making mixtapes (yes, tapes!) and if I were putting one together for the fall both of these songs would definitely be on there. Now, I haven’t gone all High Fidelity and thought about where these songs would fall (see what I did there) on the the playlist or what this particular mix would be called, but I was never really good at that part. What I think I do pretty well is finding songs that I love and relating them to that particular moment in my life – for me right now, that’s enjoying the change of the seasons.

Cloud Cult – Journey of the Featherless

Great Lake Swimmers – Your Rocky Spine

Victoria Bond – Molly ManyBloom: Yes

James Joyce’s Ulysses (aside from everything else it is) is one of the most musical novels ever written. The novel references hundreds of songs, deals with the characters’ thoughts on music, and even creates a unique kind of music with the sound of its words. Molly Bloom (despite laying in bed all day) is a driving force of the novel. Many characters spend the much of the novel thinking and talking about – even obsessing over – her. Joyce only gives Molly a voice in the final episode, a nearly punctuation-less ever-flowing stream of her thoughts on a wide variety of topics.

Classical composer Victoria Bond has taken on an amazing (and daunting) project by setting this fantastic book to music, starting with the last episode first. Molly ManyBloom: Yes is the operatic setting of Molly’s episode, commonly referred to as “Penelope.” Bond’s choice of a solo female operatic voice with string quartet accompaniment makes sense, considering Molly is a well-known opera singer in the Dublin of the novel. To encapsulate all the mercurial emotions and jumps in chronology and subject in “Penelope,” Bond composed a piece featuring elements from classical, opera, folk, and pop music styles. Bond quotes from many of the same musical pieces Joyce quoted from in the text. Bond’s piece also beautifully follows the excitement and rhythm of Molly’s monologue with many changes in tempo and dynamics. Molly is famous for being a very dirty girl, and Bond does a wonderful job capturing the sexuality of Molly’s thoughts with high, loud climaxes in the vocal line as well. And Bond’s use of polyphony is very appropriate to represent Joyce’s writing style. The novel often features multiple events unfolding at once, both in action and in characters’ thoughts. Bond uses a single voice and interweaves melodic lines from the string accompaniment effectively to emulate Joyce’s polyphonic writing style.

Because the entire composition is about 45 minutes long, I will leave you with just a taste of this piece.

Molly ManyBloom