Something We Heard Before

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John Williams is renowned for composing very warm and familial themes for various films (see most of the Harry Potter soundtrack, for instance), and that’s a trend continued here – to an extent. Though childish and carefree in its overtones, this piece carries a distinctly eerie vibe. Not enough to be uncomfortable, but enough to make you reflect quizzically upon it when hearing it.

The normally expansive string and brass sections are subtle, gentle and inquisitive, leaving it to almost spar with the electronic motifs repeated throughout the piece. These motifs inject a sense of otherworldliness into the mix, a stab at portraying a future ruled by technology that is currently unfeasible. In fact, they almost seem to recall the classic Looney Tunes shorts that made references to robots or futuristic hardware: a plink-plonk scattering of unresolved notes, played to introduce discourse and highlight the non-natural aspect of the action or character. For those who have not seen the film, it fits quite perfectly into the scenes showing David, a human analogue in the form of an android, attempting to integrate itself into its new household by mirroring the expected behaviour of a child.

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In my years as a wee lad, I was fairly well acclimated with the work of composer John Williams: given the steady diet of films from Messrs Spielberg and Lucas, it was somewhat inevitable. I then grew up a little bit and scoffed at the perceived ‘sameyness’ of Williams’ output. “All his stuff sounds the same!”, I’d shout at people, most of whom would go on to dislike me, for some weird reason. I then grew up a lot and realised that achieving the aural and compositional flair of Williams’ work was an utterly incredible feat. This rather divine enlightenment hit once I cottoned onto the fact that, despite that earlier, ill-conceived notion of ‘sameyness’, I could distinctly recount and name a whole bunch of the various themes he’s composed over his extensive career.

As such, this week we celebrate the iconic output of Mr. John Williams! Like our other theme weeks, this is all about giving you, dear reader, a delectable taste of what the artist is all about – so it ain’t no ‘best of’ week. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the work of one of the most talented composers working today.

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I really ought to do a Foo Fighters week at some point in the future. There is something endearing about Dave Grohl and co., and their output is incredibly solid, classically-styled rock and roll. I’m not really sure who else is making this kind of stadium-driven rock these days, and I don’t really care: these guys knock it out of the park every single time.

I am most excited for their new album, Sonic Highways, which is due out in November. Three tracks have emerged from the album so far, and they are all a darn good, back-slapping time. This one has shades of 70s hard rock and punk, which is a most delectable flavour – I cannot wait to hear it live!

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James Brown, man. I need not say more! If, for some reason, you’ve never heard any funk before, you’re about to get a friggin’ masterclass in it, so prepare to groove the heck on out. Yes, it’s a little repetitive, but this is the quintessential song for getting you off your butt, even if you’re sleeping off an almighty night out on the turps. Not that I am, mind you!

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Despite its status as a generic surname, “Smith” seems to be an indicator of supreme quality in the world of music. Patti Smith, Elliott Smith, The Smiths… having said that, I bet that if I included Smith in my own band name, I’d instantaneously ruin the streak.

What on earth can I say about Patti Smith that hasn’t been said in a far more intelligent manner elsewhere? Not much, unfortunately! Patti Smith is, of course, a music powerhouse, and while I’d like to know more about her, it will be abundantly clear that I know nothing if I continue to write. As such, allow me to introduce this rather wild and randy blues track from her second album: just let it play and ignore the drivel I have written!

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You may or may not be surprised to find out that I put in next to no effort anytime I post on this here website. Yet, it’s still a difficult job! I mean, I have to find a song we haven’t posted about yet (we’ve done over 900 posts, which leaves only 2.5 billion potential song choices), and then I have to tell you about it! Sheer torture, I tell you. As such, sometimes I outsource the job of finding music to my minions. I mean friends.

Today’s song comes to us courtesy of my friend, Mani, and it is quite a stunning piece of music. Coeur De Pirate is the stage name of Canandian singer Béatrice Martin. While she’s yet to make a huge impact outside of her native country, it’s hard to see that becoming a tradition with this song, a cover of the Bon Iver track. Soaring, hauntingly beautiful, and elegantly simple.

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Funkalicious! It is most certainly the only word that will pop into your head as soon as the brass of this tune pop in. Yes, it is time for some funky, cool jazz, the kind that all you hepcats out there will no doubt dig.

As evidenced by my use of the word ‘hepcat’ there, it’s clear that I am not exactly clued in on the world of jazz. My research tells me that the Japanese-born Takuya Kuroda calls Brooklyn in the good ol’ US of A home, and has performed with many prominent jazz artists. Rising Son, off the album of the same name, is as smooth and slick as you’d want jazz to be, but also carries a hint of urban/street style swagger.

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Oh my goodness, a lot of great music has dropped into my inbox lately. I am not worthy of such delightfulness. But I’ll sure as heck take it anyway!

Angela Moyra has the kind of voice and compositional qualities that will just make your heart melt into a pile of pure, unadulterated, sugary delight. Draw a Picture carries a folky-pop aesthetic, with an utterly wonderful chorus – something about those chords and melody and the way they pop in when they do makes me giddy. Couple that with some very pretty lyrics, and you’ve got a recipe for certified gold.

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Ah, the 60s. What an era! I grew up with the sounds of the 60s, but being a child of the 90s meant I didn’t grow up with the, uh, culture of the 60s. Being a child of the 90s meant I had no idea who actually performed this song (for the longest while, I thought it was Rod Stewart because the vocals sounded sort of similar), and also meant that I had to endure the inevitably atrocious cover.

Nothing screams psychedelica more than that groovy flange effect used in the bridges. In fact, it’s this particular effect (and the name of the song) that stuck in my mind more so than the less than child-friendly lyrics, thankfully.

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Sundays are for STARING AHEAD WITH ABJECT HORROR AT THE NEWS THAT A NEW WEEK IS ABOUT TO START! IT NEVER ENDS! IT LOOPS BACK AROUND IN A TWISTED NIGHTMARE OF CRUSHED HOPES AND DREAMS! IT-ok, that’s enough of that.

Christian Punk Band are a self-described loud rock band that hail from Toronto. And, just to make their name even more literal, the Christian bit comes from frontman Christian Turner. Clever! Superdown is a fine road-tripping song: great beat, fuzzy guitars and catchy hooks aplenty. They even manage to squeeze in some do-wop in the backup vocals as well, which I quite adore.

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