echo train

I want to get down to why 'Shaking Hand' is such a fucking perfect track. I guess first you need to know a little about where it sits - at the top end of Women's debut LP Women, which itself is an almost perfect album. Exactly half an hour, 10 songs, a few of them sort of ambient interstitials, the whole thing just seamlessly sequenced and sewn together even though it crosses an array of styles - it is the perfect example of concise synthesis and I wish more and more bands would start making records like this. Stop fucking around with shitloads of songs and length and just get to it.

Elementally, it's all tape recorder grot, fuzzy textures that seem very Chad Vangaalen influenced (dude recorded them), lot of wooden-sounding percussion that loops in interesting ways around the guitars which are kind of shitty-sounding but in a good way. The whole thing is very rickety and knife-edge but in a totally feel good pop way.

So anyway, I think Women's song-making ethos is informed by this kind of very straightforward attempt to shave off the extraneous but to still keep complexity and repetition within songs that might last only one minute. But 'Shaking Hand' goes for like a full 4.44. But it's an album unto itself. So, here goes:

You've just heard the kind of sunny-folky 'Transport Hall' which is one of those songs that goes for literally a minute, and it's all handclaps and tambo and strummed chorus that quietly builds to somewhere, and they've fit the chorus in twice by the time it gets to 1.06:
Soon we will be laughing
Out there on the landing
Now it's too bright
Dancing through ash
You made other plans

The last three lines are sung with an echo with this guy who don't sing normally and has a kind of raspier quality that pits off nice. Then it all winds up with this kind of amazing break for about two seconds after the glockenspiel stops and just at the very right beat, in come the guitars of 'Shaking Hand'.

So these guitars, this song, are a bit of a counterpoint to the whole album really. They come in real urgent, kind of barbed and almost with a kind of hardcore riff that you might get from say And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead. I'm thinking they might be arpeggio too.

They're soon joined by this brilliant stuttered, hollowed beat that kind of trips back on itself, and then in between these guitars and this drum a kind of full blown, 3D fucking circle of music emerges where every little inch of space within the song spectrum is taken up but only by two guitars and a drum beat. And they play off each other in this intricate way but it's not entirely intricate and it’s not really - but almost - prog or anything, because it's all going around like every five seconds and then starting all over again but not missing a beat. And it's cavernous and reverberates but whilst still being all treble and scratched tapes and moss.

Then the guitars cut and just this bom-bom-bom-bom beat comes in as "I saw it hit the ground / While no one was around" which then becomes another gorgeous arpeggio and one of them slurs some awesome sounding chorus that ends with "as you / as you" at each couplet. Then back to first cycle, then something about "bloody watches" and another set of complex drum paradiddles - this whole fucking song is just like an exercise in revolutions that pile up on another. It's this constant repetition that nevertheless builds on previous ones like some kind of crazy spiral that lends 'Shaking Hand' its amazing sense of progression and momentum. This song is all forward motion, and by the time it hits up with tom drum and tambourine-atop-snare double beat the whole thing has just got your head moving uncontrollably up-down-up-down.

It's like structure becomes form returns to structure then somehow finds pop. Artifice, precision, urgency.

The whole thing has an energy behind it that is so tightly wound that it always feels like it's just about to kind of somehow find itself stepping a little bit past real-time, like quicker than light, and with that tipping into politics. Like a serpent's head pop through the scrub.

Anyway, just buy the album. There's much more to find yourself dissected by.

Women – ‘Shaking Hand’


meaningful folky song ad

Are you the marketing exec for a technology/car/entertainment brand? At a loss as to what sound to put behind your latest concept ad? Do you enjoy ads w/ people 'doing normal things' but also being kind of 'original' and 'authentic' at the same time? Are you are fan of slow-motion, drifty editing techniques? Do you like to 'empower' your customers? Do you prefer not even to call yr customers that, rather "partners in happiness maximisation"?

You've come to the right place: introducing, the latest genre of music/commercials - the meaningful, quiet/effusive folky song ad! It almost requisite has to be sung by a girl, or at the very least someone with a quiet, unassuming, airy voice. There's got to be hand claps, plinky percussion (glockenspiel more or less requisite), piano is good (very earnest, not too earnest like a violin tho), etc. etc.

Furthermore, the entire hook/melody to the song must be instantly graspable within 30 seconds (pref. 15sec) and the lyrics cannot mean anything. But they have to be seeming meaningful, like you know, like they really meant this song to be on this ad, and we're not really selling you anything, hey - in fact, why don't you even have this song for free?

Because, it seems, companies are getting nicer! No more harsh, shiny edges with electric guitar peels or thundering drums, or some kind of pseudo-futuristic synthy music (see most all shampoo adverts) - no, today's modern entertainment/car company cares about its customers. This care is expressed in their provision of dainty little songs for dainty little ads! It's all so happy and carefree. Kind of romantic actually.

Share the love ppl! Just don't think about the fact that your social life is so atomised you now need a mobile phn to contact separate friends/family for xmas!

It was all started by those trailblazers of uber-cool and urban and progressive lifestyles/products - Apple. Remember this ad? Although it would take a little while longer before things got more meaningful, seemed less product-focused:

(Extra dope bonus track/ad: the new NanoChromaticiPodCommercialElevatorMuzakQuirkyFemaleVocalHookAd)

Who provides this kind of music? Well, thankfully, there's a whole stable of obscure local and not-local indie bands that make folky quiet or folky happy songs for your backing track. All you need is someone with the 'inside knowledge' to hunt out these little 'gems'! Already taken: Whitley and Sia:

WARNING: MEANINGFULNESS OVERLOAD!!!!!! 2 meaningful can b 2 much!

Their categories of meaning are not directly meaningful, but they really sound or feel meaningful - the test is this: if you had this on your iPod and were looking out of a car window, would everything just seem really evocative/interesting/meaningful? But not too meaningful? Because only meaningful if you have the meaningful or useful product to go w/ your meaningful song.

Also, doesn't this song/ad/product just make you feel like it's time to have a good time with yr friends? But only through listening to and using this meaningful brand! In a fun way, too - there's a good chance the beach will be involved:

Wow, it's like a short film! So much meaning in such a little space!

In fact, it's all so meaningful that its a bit magic - isn't it? But only really in a whimsical way, nothing too heavy. Just remember what great fun this is - bouncing along in slo-mo and being carefree:

Talk about a techno-bubble LOL!!! Never mind, we've got our phone caps and lisa mitchell to make us feel meaningful and 'connected'

How long will it take before major financial institutions realise the awesome power of the alternative meaningful folky ad song? As soon as they roll these out it will end th 'credit crunch' in an overwhelming sea of goodwill and custom and community:

Bendigo Bank report that their profits and 'customer satisfication' rose 399% directly as a result of airing this commercial!!!

Like all great styles, there are many subgenres to the meaningful folky ad song - the 'old, unknown-til-now blues singer' brand is quite popular:

SAMPLE YOUTUBE COMMENT: "OMFG !!! u have no idea how long ive been trying to find this song and to find out wat add it was cos ive been lookn for ages and i eventually saw the add"
PS - This short/scruffy-hair guy is v. popular w/ Vodafone execs; someone in marketing is ttly crushin'

It's not like we even really made this music, says the companies, because our products are so meaningful to yr personal life that they just fit so well with already meaningful music, right? Well, that's the problem I guess - whaa happens when this genre becomes so codified that companies learn they don't have to find this shit anymore but they can just make it!

(Wait til the last 15sec!)
"For the Honda "Jazz Comes to Town" advertisement, original music was composed by Jamie Masters and Stephen Patmanby at Adelphoi Music, London, with producer Greg Moore. Vocalist was Jo Coombes. Sound was mixed by Paul Baxter at Risk Sound with producer Kath Momsen."

Becoz we all know that no one listens to radio or reads magazines or any other boring old media crap like that anymore - but neither does anyone even bother with last.fm or myspace or whatever antiquated 'social networking tool' you used to find music on. No, now advertisements tell us what to buy and what to listen to at the same time! What a relief! It was getting sooooo annoying trying to find new folkly girly singer songs! But, then, the problem is that these fucking companies don't list the song on the ad itself! Never mind, we are resourceful enough to GOOGLE IT for the lyrics - or ask on the YouTube page or whatever.

Like some resourceful laddy or lass did for the Honda Jazz ad!

"Harls said...
Is there anywhere I can download this song. Its a very good song. Reminds me of Kate Nash, if you've heard of her.
Its a great ad though.
I'd buy the car."

Anonymous - bless him - provided the perfect reply to complete the circle of the evolution of the meaningful folky song ad:
"Anonymous said...
i think its from feist .. the reminder."

From Feist to 'Jamie Masters and Stephen Patmanby at Adelphoi Music' - these meaningful songs have come a long way!

I can't wait for the next installment tho, I have no idea what to listen to atm!

Finally, seems things are getting a bit more sporty/rocky in the meaningful folky song/ad - are we witnessing the transition into the future with this Yves Mitsubishi Blue jam?

Deerhunter - Microcastle (/Weird Era Cont.)

Take out the 'c', replace it with an 'a' and rearrange the letters and you actually get 'mariocastle'. Which is itself quite profound, but what I really just want to get down is this little tidbit:

There's nothing particularly amazing about Microcastle, and yet that is precisely why it is so brilliant.

I can't be bothered explaining that, but Deerhunter have never been particularly inventive, to say the least. Their genius lies elsewhere, and I think on this album they've hit onto it perfect-like.

PSSSSSSSSS : Bradford sez:
"I wanna make songs that, like, a wider, younger audience can get behind. You know? A kid who just now is getting over My Chemical Romance or something. Or like, just now thinking, like, 'I wanna hear something a little more experimental.'"