Category Archives: Friday Refrain

The Mother We Share

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The electro-pop of Scottish Chvrches is just too catchy to pass up. Ever since learning that they might be playing at Bonnaroo this coming year I’ve become addicted to their stylized hooks and melodies. They’ve gone from being a band that I always passed over – I have a thing against bands that try to seem cool by swapping letters around – to being one of the acts I’m most looking forward to.

Just shows that you can’t judge a band by its… cover?

Space Oddity

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There’s not much more to be said about David Bowie and “Space Oddity” that hasn’t been said already. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy seeing the original 1969 video to the smash hit. It’s amazing to look at it, in all its vintage glory, and then compare that to modern music videos. It is remarkable how far the genre of music videos has come.

This video also provides a great insight into the creative process that goes behind making singles. If this version doesn’t sound familiar to you, it is because the song would later undergo multiple revisions to eventually become the “Space Oddity” that most people know and love today.

For reference, here is the better known 1972 “Space Oddity.”

Eminem Is a “Rap God”

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The second single from Eminem’s recent album, MMLP2, “Rap God” hit YouTube around a month ago at this point. Living up to its name, the song proves that Eminem is a “Rap God.” Old school fans of Eminem approaching this, hoping for another “Lose Yourself,” may well be disappointed; however, anyone wanting to see a new Eminem at the top of his game needs to look no further.

“Rap God” brings a mix of everything that made Eminem a sensation in the first place, with a new sense of maturity and energy. Tied to all of this is a very real knowledge of the need for Eminem to solidify his legacy, as well as pointing out the failures of rap today. Whereas Eminem was  “a product of Rakim/Lakim Shabazz, 2Pac, N-W-A., Cube, hey, Doc, Ren/Yella, Eazy, thank you, they got Slim,” modern rappers appear as being as “pointless as Rapunzel/With fucking cornrows/You’re write normal, fuck being normal.” Then, in classic Eminem fashion, he goes on to mention how he brought a ray gun from the future.

Eminem was never a rapper to shy away from controversy, or unique rhymes and themes. “Rap God” shows him at the top of his game in terms of this. Whether he’s playing with the puns of slap boxing not being that hard in the bridge, or talking about his blueprint for success from his younger years, Eminem is all action in this song. It shows, too. At over six minutes in length, “Rap God” is an opus from Eminem, it is a legacy builder.

Aside from the content of the verses, the real standout from the track is Eminem’s impressive mastering of different speeds, timing, and flow. Effortlessly he seems to transition from one time signature to another, resembling more the mastery of rappers like Gift of Gab, than any mainstream rappers you see today. And there you have the crux of Eminem’s piece.

He seemingly laments the state of the music and art he loves, and so, through “Rap God,” he’s hoping to set the bar high and challenge other rappers to even come close to challenging his stature.

Sufjan Stevens – Chicago

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Some days you just have to sit back and listen to some Sufjan Stevens. As the Polar Vortex in the North East is finally starting to subside, and the weather is getting warmer – even if almost imperceptibly slowly – Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago fits the mood perfectly. Perhaps it’s partially because of the viral photos circulating of Chicago covered in ice earlier this week that this song has been on my mind. In any case, when the weather is this cold, it’s good to remember that “all things go, all things grow.”

Chicago in Ice

For more incredibly images of Chicago frozen over, head on over to this Huffington Post article.

Photo Credit: Akasped

Sixteen Military Wives

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With all the diplomacy going on with the possible drumming up of war, or the drumming up of diplomacy, over Syria this video only seemed appropriate for a Friday Refrain. I can’t think of anyone who does a better job of mocking the U.N. and US foreign policy than this video for Sixteen Military Wives by The Decemberists. Plus, well, it’s just enjoyable.

As one of the top commenters on YouTube said, the video really is like a Wes Anderson film. Awesome.

Robot Hell

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In honor of the final season of Futurama (again), here is one of my favorite songs from the series. Although I generally prefer to post videos, I couldn’t find any video of high enough quality to share. So, audio only today!

The Perfect Soundtrack to a 90s Child

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To anyone born in the ’90s, do you remember growing up playing Nintendo? Or maybe you watched Cartoon Network’s Toonami, which was heavily dominated by anime classics like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z. Maybe you weren’t quite that nerdy. Maybe, instead, you were the cool kid in elementary school and had the largest collection of tamagotchis in your class.

Continue reading The Perfect Soundtrack to a 90s Child

Take Your Time (Coming Home)

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Well, here we go. The last post you’ll have from me (this run) from outside of America, or scheduled from the past. I hope everyone is ready, because I will be back home in four days.

I guess I really did take my time coming home. So it goes, I’m ready for sushi… Although I’m sure I will find it very hard to leave the beaches of Dubrovnik. Goodbye, King’s Landing, goodbye.

Aqualung

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I’m in Budapest, now. Did you know that Jethro Tull has a song called Budapest? Neither did I, but I love “Aqualung” so here we are. I imagine by this point in my trip too, after three weeks of back-packing through hostels, that I’ll match the description of having greasy fingers and shabby clothes… Though certainly without the whole eyeing little girls with bad intent part, though.

60 Revolutions

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In keeping with the theme of travel, and Gogol Bordello, and Eastern Europe, I give you 60 Revolutions (Per Minute) direct from Krakow! I guess this song would really be more fitting for if I was in Ukraine or Russia… But Poland is close enough, and it has experienced it’s fair share of revolutions.

Anyway, yeah, Eastern Europe! I imagine that by this point I’m really excited to see Bonobo live in concert tomorrow –  I would hope I’m still excited to see him, at least.

Wonderlust King

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Greetings from the future!… Or actually, I suppose it would be the past. I always feel weird scheduling posts, especially when it comes to music. These Friday Refrains are supposed to reflect how the past week has been treating me, so it is a little hard to foresee what they should be.

“Wonderlust King” just seems fitting, though. By the time this gets posted I should be on my way from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coasts to Sarajevo, Bosnia. From here I’ll wind my way through Eastern Europe, before finally returning to Newark via Istanbul. It will be a wild ride, for sure.

So, because of that, Gogol Bordello!