One of the joys of running a longterm blog is to explore, in the open, different topics always wondered about, or even to work through various issues – both yours and mine.
One of those issues to work through is to try to nail why we like some songs, some music, and yet within the same genre, there are others we don’t – is it the riffs, the monotony, the singer him or herself?
There are three main genres at the top of my list – Baroque or early music, early jazz and revival, plus this one this evening which I’m finding terribly difficult to nail.
Sure I like southern rock, some country, certainly 50s rock ‘n roll, dancing music, tango, many different genres and styles, but there’s one I like more than the others and there’ve been posts passim on this – I’ve tried to pin the factors down.
For me, liking this style began with The Byrds and their jingle jangle melodic loudness, but listening again to The Bells of Rhymney, I don’t know – there’s just something a bit ‘twee’ and ‘safe’ about it all, it does not venture beyond harmonies, does not soar and swoop, does not build as our first song [above] this evening does.
The reason I prefer the 90s jangle is that it had more unpredictability and menace, more inventiveness – I love melodic but it needs to make you feel you don’t know exactly what it has in store, where it’s going – the song needs to carry you on a rhythmic journey, with enough variation and danger to make it interesting.
The Yardbirds did that, especially with I’m A Man but what lost it for me were the guitar-egos involved, they were ‘showing off’, Clapton and Beck, Page, and I don’t like that. There’s a tall, female saxophonist whose name escapes me, much feted, but she leaves me cold – it’s just various squawkings in a row and I find that, along with modern jazz and Glenn Miller super-smoothness, a total bore. Plus in her case, she believes her own publicity.
I don’t like piano bar music either, with off-key singers – Girl from Ipamena is one of the worst songs ever. If you like, you could call it too sophisticated and soulless, too grown-up and world-weary. I’d rather raw early Nazareth or Yardbirds.
It’s that boring ‘adultness’ once you’ve put childish things like Heart and Soul aside and have entered the dreaded world of one’s 30s and 40s – the world of dinner parties and sexual innuendo at the table – that’s what makes me run a mile to get away. Aaaaagggghhhh.
The readers at this blog have an edginess which I personally find refreshing and invigorating, we don’t seem to have too many formulaic commenters here – good analogy.
So yes, my third genre must have drive and carry you away, it can be discordant and distorted if it wants but at the same time, tied to a melodic frame, and it must reach some intensity – what I didn’t like about Ipamena is it never went anywhere – it’s late night piano bar music.
I was listening to some Athens, Georgia bands and some of them began inventively, seemed to be loud-melodic, all was well and then they just seemed to lose all form and somehow, they must have thought this meant edgy, tough, manly. Ride over here were like that too and it’s a really male thing – don’t know why guys think that that’s pleasant to hear.
The Pale Saints song above is like that – it builds, it’s loud but melodic hard pop – the bassline and voice lifts it quite substantially.
Instrument-wise, well each of these songs must have an adept bassline, the bassist must know what he’s doing, there must be something leading and taking it through the roof and back again, suddenly pausing – can be one instrument, can be the singer, doesn’t matter.
I particularly like delayed ends to bars, i.e. the singer stops but the bar has still not been completed, also creating a drone effect – love that, it’s a sort of bare branch melancholy which I find relaxing, being an Iceman.
This one not so much but it does have some elements:
The singer needs to be either unusual or insignificant … but never egotistical.
Therefore, Elvis or Sinatra don’t cut it for me, Pale Saints do, Deano is a bore but the singer in the first song tonight is good, even though not perhaps possessing the best voice in the world – it fits the song. I like simple, honest, slightly amateurish in feel although consummate in playing ability – don’t want much, eh?
I do like girls’ singing voices but they always soften a number unless they’re horrible people, SJW druggies, the boys though tend to have a naturally uncontrolled, raw edginess the girls don’t, the blend of the two can be nice.
Finally, all those elements together in the hands of masters: