Laying Down the Beat

September 2, 2011 § 6 Comments

I admit I can grow a bit obsessive about music. I’m perfectly happy playing a song five-six-seven times in a row as I try to pick out what each instrument is doing, how the vocals and lyrics relate, and what exactly grabs my attention. Songs that catch me off guard, that make me play on repeat for days are the songs with interesting percussion, that make me want to tap my feet, clap my hands, and add to the rhythm around me.

1. Local Natives is one of my favorite bands for a.) their stunning Fleet Foxes-esque harmonies (though I should really stop comparing them to Fleet Foxes. With their debut album picking up international acclaim last year, The Local Natives have certainly come into their own) and b.) their interesting percussion of course, at times described as “hyperactive drumming.” Listen to “Wide Eyes” below, which includes some great close-ups on those drumsticks.

2. Lia Ices‘ song “Grown Unknown” was used with this stunning choreography on SYTYCD. I admire the creative ways people find to move their body to different beats and how they manage to move so fluidly and so staccato-ish to different parts of the song. (The center rose is a little cheesy, but otherwise the dancers, costumes, and choreography are gorgeous.) The sudden jig-like burst in the middle only adds to this fun song (listen to it in full here).

3. Sharon Van Etten’s cover of “Like a Diamond” by Glass Ghost would have been lovely in any form just because this classy Brooklyn-ite is singing it. But the fun percussion only takes it up a notch (a beat?). You can download it for FREE here!

4. Iron and Wine envisioned a more Spanish dance for his song, “Boy With a Coin.” Samuel Beam’s beautiful and soft voice can quiet you to sleep or compel a driving intensity from these dancers. I love this video for its bits of magical realism as the master dancer takes to the floor and the unexplainable happens.

What are you listening to today?


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§ 6 Responses to Laying Down the Beat

  • e says:

    Squarepusher. I think this song is the musical equivalent of how my mind thinks:

    I like this Mice Parade song:

    And last night I definitely listened to Don’t Stop Believin’ from Glee season 1 more than once.

  • Steven Grahmann says:

    Love these music one, Abi, it fills up my iPod nicely and makes me look like I listen to more than just Owl City and movie soundtracks. Which I do, after you put out these music-themed posts!

  • Leah says:

    I’ve heard that Iron & Wine so many times and never once thought of castanets (which I always wanted to call canastas, which makes me think of cannolis…). I love that he could hear that, envision that.

    And I love that when the women are dancing, they are stunning. Otherworldly. Captivating. I was like, “How did he find such beautiful women?” But, when they are standing against the wall, they look normal. Lovely but normal. Something in the way that they move. It was the same transformation, but in reverse, for the master dancer. Nice but then, “Oh my lands!”

    That SYTYCD routine was nice in its own right, but even nicer because they so often do these pieces that are heavy, pieces that are increasingly sexualized or angry or grief stricken or hard. And it managed to be delightful without being slight or annoying.

    Great choices all the way through, sister-friend!

    • I love your description of the Iron & Wine women! I hadn’t articulated it in that way, but you are completely right. And I agree with you on the SYTYCD routine–it’s a very light and airy piece and sometimes they have so much drama packed into one 2min routine.

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