No Surrender by Taproot - The Episodes was conceived as a concept album, and the challenge is how does one create individually worthy songs while maintaining the thread of the overall storyline. When it works like in Queensryche’s Operation:Mindcrime or Pink Floyd’s The Wall, it is sheer brilliance. When it doesn’t pan out, the result is a disjointed album with a few solid tunes rounded out by filler.
Taproot is pretty much falls in the middle of the scale. The irony is that the songs themselves are pretty strong, but are undercut by the annoying robot voice that cuts through half of the songs. No Surrender is no exception, but the song itself is so good, it overcomes the shortcomings of the robot. I really dig the chorus as well:
These are the days you can’t forget These are the times you can’t regret This is your time for no surrender, surrender This is your chance to do or die This is your path so run or hide This is your time for no surrender, surrender
For Pat Grossi of Active Child, the last two years have been nothing short of enriching. Musically, Pat has worked within and appropriated a number of styles into his sound, from his early days singing with that heavenly voice as a choir boy to his more recent forays into laptopassisted indie-pop made in his bedroom, best exemplified on 2010’s acclaimed Curtis Lane EP. His sound is so wide-ranging that he has found himself touring with many notable acts of differing genres, including dubstep producer James Blake, dreamy synth-pop of School of Seven Bells, and the indie-rock bands White Lies and White Rabbits.
Woke up to an email and this was in my inbox and I’m glad I took the time to listen to this. I remember the first time I saw Active Child, it was at Lincoln Hall and he was opening up for School of Seven Bells (?), maybe. I forget. Regardless, I didn’t even know who/how he was since he was just singing in his falsetto like voice with his harp. I said to my friend
“Who is this guy? He’s like brother of Passion Pit but sitting down with harp. He’s fucking good.”
To be honest, at first, I didn’t even like the guy. Everything just didn’t make sense but somehow later on after two tracks within the show, I was captivated by his music. I couldn’t help myself but just admire his music more and more as he sang these ballads he creates. This remix though, CFCF took it up a notch (somewhat) and made this remix into this late 80’s new age disco track. No, it’s not fast.
It’s a slow ballad that makes you want to close your eyes and drift wherever the water drifts you.
I mean really, doesn’t it? CFCF did a good rework of this and I’m impressed. Thanks PR email of the day. You got me sucked into this dreamy track and now I must share. Active Child has a lot of material out and I recommend. Especially this one…
About a year ago, around the time I started recording this album, I took a strange job giving tours of a museum in Massachusetts. Strange, because the museum, which was really just an old house once occupied by a wealthy family, was (and is) falling apart: lead paint peals from the walls, mold creeps up the corners, spiders and moths cover the windows, and the whole things slants dramatically to the north.
The work itself also had its fair share of absurd moments: orchestrating elaborate tea parties for elderly locals; getting accosted by ghost hunters and condescending history buffs; guilting local businesses into donating pastries to our events. Add to that the sense of always performing—repeating the same partially-fabricated history to visitor after visitor, telling stories about a family as though it were my own—and you might begin to imagine how daily life there could sometimes feel like an elaborate farce. I got to know a lot of local eccentrics in the process, but they didn’t get to know me.
In reality, though, most of my time at the museum was actually spent alone, wandering through the house or around the grounds, trying to make sense of the changes that were happening in my ‘real’ life. Which brings me to the second half of the story, and the part that certainly covers more familiar territory: My time at the museum corresponded pretty much directly with the end of a four-year relationship. Or, with the beginning of the end, so to speak. She was leaving for the other coast, and I wasn’t following her, and we knew, for months, that the end was coming. I began to treat my time at work as practice for being alone. I wrote lyrics there, and I even tried recording my voice in the empty rooms once or twice, half-imagining that I’d hear the sounds the ghost hunters claimed turned up on their hidden tape recorders.
Many of the songs on this album were begun far before that end came into sight, but all were arranged and completed at some point during our protracted stumble toward closure. Few songs were intended to be as big and complexly orchestrated as they are now, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself from pushing each and every one toward a breaking point. As my job petered out and then ceased entirely, writing and recording became an increasingly desperate act of filling time—hence the name Pastimer, at first a sort of dark joke made to myself. And as I moved from subletted room to subletted room in the months afterward, that feeling of being alone in a space that wasn’t my own, and of rewriting history (in this case, through song), stayed with me.
This email got real long, real quick. Hope you made it through. At any rate, as I mentioned above, the Bandcamp has made the rounds with friends, but a post would constitute a premier for any of our songs—in fact, it’d be a premier for the band itself. Please know that I appreciate you taking the time to read and listen. Thanks again.
Set Yourself on Fire - Ben Gibbard (demo version) originally by Stars
Originally recorded for Do You Trust Your Friends?, a 2007 remix/cover record of songs from the 2004 Stars record, Set Yourself on Fire. This demo version was tweeted this morning by Mr. Gibbard himself.
Metric - Wet Blanket - Old World Underground (2003)
We’re about a week away from the release of Metric’s latest album Synthetica (pre-order it here).
In preparation, I’m immersing myself in every Metric album to date — starting, of course, with Old World Underground. It’s hard to believe that this was released in 2003 (feels like yesterday…) It’s an album that has stood the test of time.
“Falling for the creep the body leech here he comes Vicious hypnosis, a clenched fist saying it’s wrong To want more than a folk song Underneath the shaker knit he’s a brick wall She keep falling for the trick vegetariate sing-along Give a little kick with your fine thigh high…”