Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Florence and the Machine - Dog Days Are Over

“Happiness, hit her like a train on a track, 
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back,
She hid around corners and she hid under beds,
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled,
With every bubble she sank with a drink,
And washed it away down the kitchen sink.”

I never really appreciated the meaning of the song “Dog Days” until I typed up those lyrics. Running away from happiness is a rather poignant thread of thought in today’s society. Things have never been better and yet we just refuse to be happy. I know it a recession people, but let us be honest with ourselves things are better now than they have ever been, and things are always getting better. Anyway I’m getting off topic; Florence and the Machine are great.

Earlier this year I talked about the Grammys, and how it was satisfying that Arcade Fire won album of the year with “The Suburbs.” I always meant to revisit the Grammys for further discussion and I think it’s time to revisit this topic. For those who did not already know and for those did not guess Florence and the Machine won the best new artist.

Last year was a good year for music, I think I’ve said that a few times now, but it bears repeating, 2010 was a great year for music. More often than not, it is usually bands that are already established that catch my attention. Since I know to pay attention to bands I like, I know to look for their new music when it comes out. New bands often take time to warm up to me, and not just me, but everyone; did you know Kings of Leon have five studio albums now? Most of you probably didn’t. I sure didn’t. Catching a good new band is hard, so when I really like more than one new band in one year, it means something has gone right.

What is there to say about Florence and the Machine? They are good, but they are indicative of the times, as in they are the typical style of music that is popular right now, the only thing making them stand out, at least to me, is quality. Florence and the Machine are good modern music, capturing all the right elements of current pop music, add a touch of unique character that supplies plenty of charm and you have Florence and the Machine. As it stands now, Florence and the Machine have a few good songs and a decent pair of albums, but we should all know that a lot of bands start strong, run out of ideas, or run out of things to say, and either fall apart or stagnate. It always people who are interesting that manage to avoid stagnation. John Lennon had a lot to say, and he could have written good music forever. David Bowie is a very fascinating person and has successfully written great music for decades. I have always gotten the impression that Andrew Lloyd Webber was a really weird guy, and you see where I’m going with this.

There is something obviously interesting about Florence, if that is her real name (it is). She has allowed various other artist provide her voice with music, thus the machine part of the band name, at least I presume that’s where the “machine,” part comes from. When you have a strong vocalist, especially one that is as unhinged as Florence Welch, it is a good idea to leave open the possibility of mass experimentation. Allowing her voice to adopt different musical styles in the future may be the key to future success for her, or other words, variety is the key to success.

Still, far be it for me to suggest what creative advice any musician should follow, or try to predict what Florence Welch might do in the near future.

There have been many wailing, flailing, crazy singers in the past, and many of them women, but like any of the good intense crazy, flailing, wailing female vocalist before her, Florence Welch has managed to make herself stand out as different, or should I say strange.

Yes, strange, that is the best way of describing her, strange. I really like “Dog Days Are Over,” good song, powerful vocals, but to really drive the point home about Florence Welch I think a viewing of her 2011 video of “Dog Days Are Over,” is a good idea. The video is little more than Welch dressed in a variety of strange outfits singer her powerhouse vocals while flailing about like a crazy person, all the while various odd people perform in the all white background now and then. It would be a very simple video, if not for Welch’s presence, her mere presence demands a deep interest in the viewer. Seeing her flail and wail about like the strange person she is, is very captivating. Not since Kylie Minogue writhing around half naked on a blanket have I been so entertained by just watching a woman sing in front of the camera, though clearly Kylie captured my attention for different reasons. Florence Welch does not draw a listener in with sex appeal; no it defiantly is not that, she draws us in with her aura of the unusual, because she herself is unusual, one of music’s new prototypes. I do not know what to make of her, maybe she is in fact a crazy or eccentric person, or perhaps she has just the right amount of offbeat creativity to perfectly entertain us. Either way, we have a fantastic singer here and one that is fun to boot.

So that’s how I feel about that. Florence and the Machine are strange, and I like it.

Until later this month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

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