Friday, February 12, 2021

“Things Are Different” by Picture This – A Song Feature


     The pandemic and the resulting sheltering in place have been the motivation behind many singles and playlists. Enter “shelter in place” into the search field of Spotify and the search results of playlists seem endless. Despite the heavy competition, last week marked a change at the top of our favorite COVID-inspired songs. The change occurred when Picture This released “Things Are Different.”
 
     The lyrics establish one draw to “Things Are Different.” The lyrics, which are a mix of harsh reality and positivity, are at the bottom of this post. The mix is clearest in the lines “Some will take their last breath / While others breathe new life.” Are the following lines a slightly veiled reference to George Floyd’s knee-on-throat death in Minnesota - “And though they’re standing on our necks / We’ve still the will the fight.” The band’s explanation of the song will follow.
 
     Ultimately, the lyrics are encouraging. It makes sense that the song is upbeat and energizing. The press materials include the apt description: “Cinematic synths coast over rapturous guitars and a stadium-size beat. Everything culminates with an affirmation appropriate for the moment on the chorus, ‘Just cause things are different don’t mean anything has changed.’”
 
     For many listeners of “Things Are Different,” the vocals are the most powerful draw. The songs of Picture This are characterized by the resonance in the lead vocals of Ryan Hennessey (guitar), and the strength of the backing vocals of Jimmy Rainsford (percussion), Owen Cardiff (lead guitar), and Cliff Deane (bass). The power of the vocals is on full display during a brief a cappella sector around the 1:13 mark. That sector without instruments stands out, since it is sandwiched between percussion-heavy sectors.
 
     In explaining the song, Ryan Hennessy said:
  “‘Things Are Different’ is a song that I may never have written if it wasn’t for the chaos that was going on in the world around me. Normally I write love songs about people who have been in my life and who I have been in relationships with and this too is a love song. However, this time it is a love song to the world.
   A lot of things are different in the world we live in right now but what will never change no matter what the circumstances are our morals, our passions, our beliefs and who we are as people. We now as a civilization have to pick up where we left off and step into a new world with love and compassion in our hearts, both for ourselves and for those around us.”
 
     “Things Are Different” by Picture This



Lyrics of “Things Are Different” by Picture This
Some of us will drift apart
While others stay together
Some will step in from the rain
While others face the weather
Some will take their last breath
While others breathe new life
And though they’re standing on our necks
We’ve still the will the fight
 
Just cause things are different
Don’t mean anything has changed
And I know the world’s on fire
But there’s beauty in the flame
And we don’t know how much longer
But we know we’re gonna come back stronger
Just cause things are different
Don’t mean anything, anything has changed
 
Some of us will lose ourselves
While others rediscover
That love is in the innocence
A baby to its mother
And some will grasp it in their hands
While others lose control
Yeah we’ve gotta leave our fingerprints
So that the future know
 
Just cause things are different
Don’t mean anything has changed
And I know the worlds on fire
But there’s beauty in the flame
And we don’t know how much longer
But we know we’re gonna come back stronger
Just cause things are different
Don’t mean anything, anything has changed
 
I’ll be the light
If you follow me I will be everything, you need
I’ll be the leader
If you want it I promise that I will set you free
 
Just cause things are different
Don’t mean anything has changed
And though the world’s on fire
There’s a beauty in the flame
And we don’t know how much longer
But we know we’re gonna come back stronger
Just cause things are different
Don’t mean anything, anything has changed
 
I’ll be the light
If you follow me I will be everything you need
I’ll be the leader
If you want it I promise that I will set you free
[Repeat]

Thursday, February 4, 2021

“We Could Be Love” by Silver Strands – A Song Feature

      Silver Strands is the project of multi-instrumentalist Nathan Beale. He is based in Los Angeles. The most recent release is “We Could Be Love,” a single that has a deceptively slow start. The drums and guitar soon up the tempo, with the vocals following their lead. The drummer is Paul Doyle.

      “We Could Be Love” by Silver Strands



Lyrics of “We Could Be Love” by Silver Strands
Caught your eye trying to hide
From my mind or from your past
We could be always or we could be never
The time to decide won't last
 
Cause every now and then, the ground it shakes
And we all might drown here, but it never rains in LA
For the depths of your soul my breath I'd hold
Forever, we could be love
 
We could be love
We could be love
We could be love
If we want to
[Repeat]
 
I'll pretend not to notice
If you'll pretend that you care
If all we are is water
Then why are we so scared
 
We could be love
We could be love
We could be love
If we want to
[Repeating]
 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

“Cigarettes" by Douglas – A Song Feature

 

     “Cigarettes" lowers the drawbridge over the moot that too often is used as the reason guitar-enthusiasts do not approach the Kingdom of Techno-pop. Yes, there are many examples of guitars taking residence in an Electro-Pop environment. But the guitar and bass in “Cigarettes" own their section of  the environment and materially contribute to the sophistication of the single, rather than merely taking deferential roles.
 
     The song from Douglas showcases power synth and attention-gripping vocals that are set to Pop sensibilities. Creatively, the start of “Cigarettes" has the feel of a Theremin, an instrument that is interesting if used briefly. The Theremin-like intro quickly and seamlessly transitions to a melodic synth riff and a kickdrum beat. “Good” gets much better when the vocals and guitar enter 30 seconds into the song. Then, “better” gets best at 1:06, as a skillfully played guitar hook makes its first sonic appearance.
 
     The voice and synth in “Cigarettes" belong to LA-based Douglas, which is the performance name of Amy Douglas White. Her voice is often overdubbed to increase the power and beauty of the vocals. The other crucial contributors are guitarist Jonathan Bates (Big Black Delta), bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen (NIN, Beck), and drummer Kris Persson (Gunnar Gehl).
 
     The lyrics of “Cigarettes” are included at the bottom of this post. Douglas explains that “the song depicts a woman grappling with a crumbling relationship and finally realizing that her happiness lies in her freedom.” Interestingly, the lyrics include contrary possibilities that show the internal difficulties in sorting through the situation, similar to R.E.M.’s hit “Losing My Religion.” In “Cigarettes,” the protagonist says, “Maybe I tried too hard; Maybe I didn’t try hard enough.” In comparison, the R.E.M. song about unrequited love proclaims “Oh no I've said too much; I haven't said enough.”
    
     The bio of Douglas notes: 
  Raised by American parents in Spain, Amy Douglas White always felt a little caught between worlds. “I felt like I never really belonged in the States or in Spain,” says the keyboardist and singer, who has performed with artists as varied as M83, West Indian Girl, and indie electronic duo Linus and Amy. “But also very open to both cultures.”
    
     Ashes,” the debut album of Douglas, is scheduled for release in April 2021. The singer has been involved with the music industry for more than 15 years, but “Ashes” is the first album that’s wholly her own.
 
     “Cigarettes" by Douglas



Lyrics of “Cigarettes" by Douglas
Falling into our same old ways
Sitting around as days go by
Waiting for something else
The clothes have a smell of cigarettes
The scent lingers on as I try to forget
You don’t even want to hide it
 
The sound of your keys as they hit the floor
The shell of a man left at my door
Just another insult baby
Maybe I tried too hard
Maybe I didn’t try hard enough
Where did our love go?
 
And every time I wish you’d see me
No matter what you say it’s not me
Blinded by the look in your eyes
And every time I wish you’d see me
No matter what you say it’s not me
Blinded by the look in your eyes
 
Just another insult, baby
And I don’t want to hear your lies
You’re lying about your lies
I don’t want to hear your lies
 
And every time you say you love me
And every time you say you’re sorry
I only want to say goodbye
And every time I wish you’d see me
No matter what you say it’s not me
Blinded by the look in your eyes
 
And every time you say you love me
And every time you say you’re sorry
I only want to say goodbye
I only want to say goodbye
I only want to say goodbye