Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know

Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know,” is becoming increasingly popular and it seems like everyone is talking about it, so I should talk about now before it ends up getting over played or too obvious of a song to talk about. For those of you not heard yet Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” is a really good song.

Gotye, if that is his real name, (it is not, Wouter De Backer) is a Belgian born Australian gentlemen who writes music with all sorts of instruments. He has become rather popular recently for a variety reasons. The less relevant though interesting reasons include the fact he has some resemblance to the great Robert Plant, and his singing voice is somewhat like Peter Gabriel or Sting. More importantly Gotye is doing his small part to push music forward in a different and very good direction.

Like many people I did not discover Gotye until his huge hit “Somebody That I Used To Know,” however he did have some measure of success prior to his recent stardom, and songs like “Hearts a Mess,” are very good. However nothing in Gotye’s life would have predicted the world wide popularity of his recent hit “Somebody I used to Know.” In fact I think he says it better than I can in this interview;

"It hasn’t been by conscious construction to fit the current mould of pop music. It’s taken me by surprise; I really didn’t think this song to be a pop cross over song.” - Gotye 

It does seem random at times why some songs become so popular and others do not, but in this example I think there is a very simple explanation; “Somebody That I Used To Know,” is that damn good. People cannot ignore how good of a song it is and it is just that much better than his previous work so it is getting just that much more attention. Just enough extra attention as is necessary to make a great leap up the charts and into pop radio.

Also I really like the part about him talking about “Hearts a Mess,” in the interview. I found it very amusing that some women were brought to tears when he forgot to play his, at the time, biggest hit at the 2008 Laneway festival. I do not find joy in the fact that some girls were so upset, but rather I find it awesome that they were able to feel such powerful emotions connected to a song. That is what music is all about, the way it moves us.

As for the song itself, other than the fact it is really good, it is a song about not letting go of the past. It is bitter referring to someone as “Somebody That I Used To Know;” Gotye reduces that person to a pawn of the past, yet at the same time he resents it himself. There is a duality when letting go of someone, it is easy to end up hating them as much as you love them. That is, after all, the way of things and Gotye captures that well. But there is a perfect added touch that Gotye himself was aware was necessary, another perspective.

Australian pop singer Brambi sings the second chorus in “Somebody I used to Know,” and wow... just wow... what a difference she makes. A second perspective of someone new unable to love the person unable to let go of their past, that just says so much. Heartbreak is like a poison that spreads; it comes from one ruined relationship and can just as easily haunt and destroy the next. And the line “I don’t want to live that way,” that carries a lot of weight to me, I look around myself all the time, and all the burdens I have adopted in the hope of making things better and sometimes all I can think is, “I don’t want to live this way.”

When I first heard “Somebody That I Used To Know,” it was with my brother watching the video on youtube, I thought it was good until Brambi showed up, then I thought it was great, but.... there is one thing that is missing. As soon as Brambi finished her chorus I was on the edge of my seat thinking “oh man this is going to be awesome when they sing over top of one another!” and then they didn’t, and they don’t. Now I’m just some guy who listens to a lot of music, but if me sitting on a coach can figure this out why can’t the producers? I’ll forgive the song writer Gotye, he has already done so much and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to nitpick little ideas to make slight improvements, that’s what a producer is supposed to be able to do. So why didn’t they sing overtop of one another as the conclusion to the song, and you all know after hearing the song that I am right that is the logically conclusion and a fantastic idea. Oh well I guess I just know a lot about music... obviously.

So like me, you might as well start enjoying Gotye now before he wins a bunch of awards and gets the radio play six months from now that he deserves right now.

And until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sara Quin - A Love Letter

Image taken from apparently.
There are some bands where it is only a question of time before I get into them. Like gravity all it takes is a little push and I fall. Well I never thought I would fall as hard as I have for Tegan and Sara.

I always liked Tegan and Sara, every song of theirs I heard on the radio I enjoyed, but I never bothered to get any of their CDs or download any of their music. Then one random day wanting something new to add to my winamp list I decided it was time to give those Calgarian girls their fair chance. After a few YouTube videos I was sold on Tegan and Sara. They were solid, with an impressive list of songs I could really enjoy, but there was something else drawing me to them.

Sara is my kind of girl,
a rock star
I know their identical twins, and you know me starting a sentence off like that means I’m about to say something stupid; anyway, I know their identical twins, but there is something about Sara I just find adorable. It’s her smile, or maybe the fact she smiles more often, or maybe the slight slenderness of her face, or maybe something intangible, but I think Sara Quin is just so cute. I explained this to a friend of mine and he was quick to say that he thought the same thing only about Tegan. It was agreed then and there that if we ever met Tegan and Sara, he would hit on Tegan and I would hit on Sara. We shook on it. So I would like to pre-emptively apologize to the Quin sisters if we ever happen to meet you.

Now the average person might look upon this conversation and think we’re idiots because Tegan and Sara are lesbians, so what could we possible hope to accomplish by hitting on them? First of all, I would like to point out an even greater hurdle to overcome; we don’t know them. Thinking you are just going to pick up a rock star is fairly unrealistic, don’t you think? Them being lesbians is irrelevant if we have never met, having said that, yes, them being lesbians does make this far away fantasy rather impossible. I am sure if I ever do meet the lovely Sara Quin I will probably just shower her with very flattering compliments and nothing more. The real problem here is I don’t know Tegan and Sara, and yet it feels like I do.

Sara is my kind of girl,
Tomboyish but girly.
The Quin sisters have an amazing ability to make their songs very personal and relatable. It would almost feel like they are are airing out the dirty laundry of their lives if not for their sense of poetry keeping details as general as possible. I often say when writing “less is more.” I used to write long winded music in reviews until I learned “less is more.” In poetry and song lyrics, it is almost always better to say general things without providing all the details. Let the audience fill in the blanks for themselves. Tegan and Sara are exceptionally good at this.

As time went on, I couldn’t get Sara Quin out of my head, and I know the exact moment she stormed her way into my heart. Tegan and Sara were doing an interview on Q-Radio for their 2009 album Sainthood, when Sara had a little speech about relationships. She explained how we, as a society, put too much emphasize on relationships in our lives. Society treats people like they have failed in life if you fail in your romantic life, when really one’s life is composed of so much more than just romance. There are our careers, our spiritual well being, our friendships, families, and creative satisfaction that also fill up our lives. Sara Quin went on to explain that she was starting to think she wasn’t made out for romance and love, it just didn’t suit her, and maybe she was destined to be happy alone, but that wasn’t a sad thing, or a failure in any way. She was just a strange animal too unique to truly be compatible with any other person.

Tegan and Sara on QTV talking about Sainthood:

These were sentiments I had been saying to myself for some time, and I could not help but feel a kinship with Sara. I too had failed in love, and I had begun to refuse to believe that made me a failure in life. I had come to realize I was a strange animal too unique for any ordinary person to appreciate. We were alike insofar that both of us had found the strength within to see past society’s silly expectations. It only takes one soul to be one’s self.

In that moment, Sara Quin strung all my heart strings and I knew immediately I loved her. I am twenty-eight years of age and I know full well how foolish my feelings are. This was the first time in my life I had formed a crush on someone I had never met face to face. It was the first time for me that a relationship of fan and artist has grown in this manner. I respect and admire many musicians, some of them lovely women, but never has this admiration grown to something so emotional.

I don’t know Sara Quin, I could be projecting my feelings upon her, I could be reading between the lines of her songs, and her interviews searching for hints to suggest we share more in common than we really do. Was I being unreasonable to think I found someone who was a kindred spirit? Had Sara Quin succeeded so brilliantly in expressing herself she had reached every corner of my iron heart?

Sara is bueatiful and
utterly unobtainable,
the perfect woman.
Then I remember just how productive and strong I was when I was in love with my favourite girl in the whole world. I recalled all the little things I used to do to impress her even when she was not present, or even when I knew she would not care, and I liked what I was then. So I thought for a while and I realized that I am no fool, at least not so foolish to contrive unrealistic expectations of what might be. There is a great distance between fan and artist that is not easily breached, preventing me from ever even trying something foolish. Then I thought what am I fighting against here? Sara’s smiling face always seems to make me smile. Her sentimental tunes brightened my days. Is it foolish to admire someone? As dark and lonely as I have become, it is nice to take a moment and remind myself, that yes; I can love.

Sara Quin sometimes tries to tell a story about her first time falling in love. I say she tries to tell the story as she is often interrupted by her sister Tegan, but I believe I was able to piece together the point of her story. She was in love with someone who was not a lesbian; it was an impossible love, an unrequited love. This event in her youth set a standard she has found difficult to escape. Sara often talks about unrequited love and how it is addictive, well, she’s right, believe me I know, at first I thought it was unlike me to let myself get carried away by a lesbian rock star, but the more I think about the more it completely suits me.

The Quin sisters are very talented, amazing, beautiful people. I do not like them, for that is too mild an emotion, I love them. I love Sara Quin.

Keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

Friday, February 3, 2012

HIM - One Last Time

In July of 2007 I reviewed HIM – Right Here in My Arms. It was the seventh music in review ever did, and HIM was a band I was really excited about.

HIM - Right Here in My Arms review:

I was always concerned that HIM may have been a band I was getting into just because it was the right music at the right time. HIM is a band with one narrative message consistent throughout all their albums, love and death, and haunting combinations thereof. I got into HIM when I was twenty-two, or so, and like any young man I was thinking a lot about girls/love and of course death; of course. So HIM really reached me, but I was concerned that I might one day look back upon 2007 with some reproach. I thought perhaps one day I would out grow HIM.

Change is in the air always and forever. Fortunately I never did grow tired of HIM, and truthful I cannot imagine myself ever growing tired of HIM, just as I cannot imagine myself ever tiring of the two most prominent themes in all human creativity; love, the prelude to the happiness and creation, and death, the end. However there is cold comfort that forms in time with familiar things and sounds, and I am certain I have grown desensitized to the things that made HIM once so powerful a metal group.

When it began the HIM song the really won me over was “One Last Time,” a softer metal song, and one of HIM’s songs that full under the love category. Also “One Last Time,” struck a chord with me... well perhaps it is more appropriate to say “One Last Time” struck a slide with me since the song is almost entirely composed of slides. Regardless, the chorus lyric, “oh at least you could try,” about sums up my entire love life. One sentence, one lyric, pretty much says everything I need to say to every girl I have ever loved. This is not a complaint or a criticism, but a statement of understanding, there is no malice in my words, I understand. But understand this, no one has tried, and it seems to me that that is the least someone could have done.

Five years ago when I was really into HIM I wanted to do a review on “One Last Time,” but I made myself a promise not to do the same band more than once, so quickly or rapidly. Obviously with the double music in review per month I have been doing as of late that opinion is somewhat changed, and I feel it is time to revisit HIM.

Around their sixth HIM album I decided I had heard enough of their new stuff. The creative spark that made HIM special had burned out, and the raw emotion of their early years is unlikely to return. They can still make good music but they appear unable to make anything truly new anymore. Also I look at myself five years ago and some of the passion... some of the bitterness and dismay has faded in me. The song “One Last Time,” is still very beautiful to me, and I think it says a lot about a lot of people in a highly poetic way, but I feel the precipice of change, and my “One Last Time,” has either passed, or become indefinite and I am not sure which it is yet, and before that changes, or before I do, I want to sing this song to open skies, and I want you to know why.

It’s hard not to get personal when I think about songs like “One Last Time.” The song is a timepiece that captures an entire part of my life. I should be rambling about the slides in the song. I should be talking about how it’s one of HIM’s songs where Ville’s echoing voice is used perfectly accompanying those slides. I should be talking about the lighter themes of loss and death that the song hints at, and how this one song plays a part in the bigger art piece that is the rest of the album “Razorblade Romance.” I should probably mention that “Razorblade Romance,” is like the most badass name possible for an album about love and death. When a song makes me forget about the many attributes and parts that make up its whole and drags me inward into my soul leaving me struggling to say anything, as I am lost in the emotions I usually prefer to hide... there is something beautiful about that. It is such a simple request, “at least you could try,” do I really ask too much? It still gets to me.

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

- Colin Kelly