Sunday, February 3, 2013

"Hey, I've Got Issues!" - Blue October, Lovestreams and Bipolar Sunshine,

     A friend (Jim K.) and his wife are both musicians with insights as to the struggles of bands.  One of Jim’s interesting theories is an explanation of why bands with successful first albums don’t come close to repeating that success in subsequent albums.  The theory is that in the struggle toward that first album, the songwriting member (or members) of the band goes through a range of motivations and emotions.  Additionally, the band travels with other bands with their own difficulties.  While it is far from ideal, it provides the material, the emotions, and the opportunities for writing songs that connect with listeners.  However, after the success of the first album, people cater to the members of the band.  Moreover, there are fewer interactions with out-of-sorts people who provide a basis for new songs.  Listeners don’t relate to songs about having to suffer through the difficulties of being a rock star.

     So, from a songwriter’s perspective, there’s a major benefit to having inherent emotional difficulties.  Inspiration isn't dependent upon external experiences and the inspiration exists regardless of the songwriter's position in life.  Fairly or not, Blue October comes immediately to mind.  During a 2012 concert at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, Justin Furstenfeld freely gave credit to his past conditions when talking out the band’s songs.  Maybe the best example is “Hate Me.”

     We don’t know anything about the lives to the two artists below, but the Blue October concert is remembered, with a smile, when we pay attention to either of the songs.

     First, there’s a song by Lovestreams, which is a solo project by Will Sheff.  Sheff was/is the frontman of Okkervil River.   The guy is based in Brooklyn and he has a knack of maximizing the number of words into his music – a high ratio of words to notes.  The album is scheduled for release later this year, but the single is currently offered for free.  As explained by Sheff, “When I finished the album I decided I’d give some of the songs away for free since it cost almost nothing to make.”  So, it's Free, Legal and Recommeded.
     We love the guitar that starts at the 1:33 mark and like the stop-and-start at the 3:20 mark.  Maybe the stop is to permit the full effect of the previous dark statements:
“I’m the light from a star that deserved to implode, 
and did, six million years ago.
I’m the Orange Crush can, crumpled in the woods, 
when the kid who tossed it is going through his third divorce.”

     Bipolar sunshine is also a solo side project (assuming that the band isn’t finished).  Adio Marchant was formally with the Manchester, England collective Kid Britsh (not a typo). They have three songs thus far, and  two can be streamed below.  But "Fire" is the track that fits the theme of this post.
     “Fire” can easily be divided into three sections, both musically and emotionally.  The first section takes advantage of Adio’s voice as he establishes the couple’s situation.  The second section includes the man and woman exchanging hurtful words.  Then, the final section starts at 3:40 as an interplay between Adio’s voice and the chorus, which sounds like “Lion King” with an edge.     


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