Band Appreciation Friday – Foals

Oh I know you’re still with me, you’re my compass and my sea 

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About two years ago, I came across a song called “Spanish Sahara.” The slow tempo was gorgeous and the singer’s soulful voice delicately chants out haunting lyrics (“Spanish Sahara/ place that you’d want to/ leave the horror here”) while soft guitar is overlapped on top. The song then slowly crescendos into an explosive, emotional piece, and takes a whole new direction. I watched the music video and reveled at the stark white and barren landscape that served as the perfect backdrop to this beautifully crafted song. “Spanish Sahara” from their second album Total Life Forever is truly one of the most beautiful songs I have had the pleasure of listening to, and the moment I first heard it began my love affair with Foals.

220px-FoalsantidotescoverNeedless to say, I was intrigued and continued to listen to their other songs. Total Life Forever really took a step and a jump from Foal’s 2008 debut album Antidotes,  where the songs were a bit more breathy and shaky like “Cassius” and light and airy like “Olympic Airways.” It took a more punk approach than their later albums, and matched the band’s ages and personalities during that time period. However, it did have an alternative side, and the lyrics were, for the most part, understandable. “Electric Bloom,”  “Two Steps, Twice,” and “Hummer” shows off their instrumental chops, and proves that despite their age, they can pull off those impressive licks. “Mathletics” is the perfect little closer, and encapsulates everything great – unbeatable instrumentals, energetic, quirky vocals – that this particular album had to offer. Overall, Antidotes is raw, unrefined, and grating, but in the absolute best way possible. It was the start to a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

foals-total-life-foreverSpanish Sahara was from Foals’ second album, Total Life Forever, which contains gems like “Blue Blood”, a simple yet stunning melody paired with amazing lyrics, and “After Glow”, a more complex, energetic, and outspoken ballad. “Miami” is one of my absolute favorites from Total Life Forever and from Foals in general because the guitar riffs that dominate the song make me feel absolutely invincible, which is a quality that I crave with their music. What makes Foals so amazing in my opinion is the extreme commitment and dedication to the music. They know their strong points and they’re well aware of their weaknesses. The lyrics are deep, meaningful, and smart, all while being remarkably simple. Yannis Philippakis, frontman and lead singer, makes clear that these lyrics are deeply personal. While I can’t say at all that I’ve been through the same hardships that Yannis has had, I like to think that I really do understand the feelings being so clearly conveyed in his songs. I’ve read interview after interview where he basically pours out his heart and soul, and he is genuine, refined, and it really shows in his music. His lyrics have changed my life in a positive way and he does it all because he’s not afraid of showing his true emotions and experiences. I honestly wish I had the same attitude he does. However, it doesn’t stop there. I love each and every member of this band – Yannis Philippakis (vocals and guitar), Jack Bevan (drums), Jimmy Smith (guitar), Walter Gervers (bass guitar), and Edwin Congreave (keyboard). They goof around and laugh at each other like the best friends they are and get serious when it comes to the music.

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Their third album, Holy Fire, truly changed my life. I remember hearing one of the singles, “Bad Habit” and instantly thinking that this album was going to be their most raw and aggressive album yet. I’ve read from other reviews that this album closely resembles what they are like live and in person, and the songs are heavier, deeper than their other songs. I mentioned before that there are vulnerable songs, masterpieces like “Out of the Woods”, “Inhaler”, and “Late Night”, along with more upbeat, dance songs like “My Number”, in which guitars and vocals battle for dominance. I can’t even count the number of times I turned up my favorite track off the album, “Milk and Black Spiders”, to the highest possible volume and screamed along to it. It’s my favorite simply because of the lovely, meaningful lyrics and because of the fact that I can feel the emotion and almost feel Yannis next to me, belting out these words. These songs are a release. A release of stress, of pain, of someone who honestly feels like they have kept everything in way too long and are about to explode. And while that may seem like a bad thing, I assure you it is not. The best bands and the best songs go both ways ; they always make you feel happy when you are fortunate enough to be, and sad when you need someone to understand your feelings. Songs and lyrics like these remind me how lucky I am to feel music so deeply and personally.

It’s funny because each of their albums has it’s own personality – Antidotes was more post-punk, Total Life Forever is smooth and mature, and Holy Fire is this aggressive, yet vulnerable masterpeice – but somehow they all flow together so nicely. This is what makes Foals such a force in the music world, and its a force that begs to constantly be rediscovered.

 

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The National – “Fireproof” (Song of the Week 1/30/2014)

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This week I’ve chosen the National’s “Fireproof.” It’s definitely one of my favorites by The National, whom I’ve been a fan of for the past year or so. With it’s mesmerizing guitar melody with the addition Matt Berninger’s deep, gorgeous voice, it truly is a song that can be played on repeat while driving for miles and miles with no distinct destination. Their new album, Trouble Will Find Me, was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Please give them a listen.

 

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Going Back to the Start

One of my earliest memories that I remember is hearing music from my older brother’s room. We were born pretty far apart (thirteen years, to be exact) so we never really got to experience that amazing music together, but rather it was as if he passed that wonderful musical taste down to me, as if it were a rite of passage- you reach a certain age, you are made aware of what’s out there in the world- and it always stuck. Of all the bands that came out of that small room filled with stereos and records and giant headphones (the Smiths, Billy Joel, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, U2, etc.), nothing really struck me harder than Depeche Mode. The moment I heard that three tone intro and Dave Gahan’s mesmerizing voice in Enjoy the Silence, I was in love. No, love is too weak a word. I was entranced, mystified. The music itself was telling a story. And while I may have been too young at the time to understand the lyrics, I would soon grow up to cherish them, to understand them deeper now that I had gone through experiences in my life that would require therapy with music. Every time I hear the lyrics all “I ever wanted/all I ever needed/ was here in my arms” I get chills and fall in love all over again. I see my childhood in my eyes and it brings back such good memories, as I’m sure many other people can relate to. Depeche Mode truly was the start of my musical journey, as I started to develop more of my own taste. That song will forever be one of my favorites, mainly because of all the wonderful memories that my brother and I had with it (I even played it at his wedding) and will continue to have.

I actually got the chance to see them live at Austin City Limits last year and it was truly one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Even though Dave and Martin have aged, the music certainly hasn’t.

If you have not heard of Depeche Mode, I highly recommend them. My favorites are Enjoy the Silence, Condemnation, Personal Jesus, Strangelove, and Policy of Truth.

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Welcome!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand-spanking new music blog. I love everything about music and it’s probably the one thing I know best. I like to think that I am the person everyone turns to for music advice (with the exception of my two best friends) and I have been commended numerous times for my music taste and my ability to pick out new and amazing musicians from the vast sea of  the music world.

My dream is to one day work where my musical and writing skills will be appreciated. Somewhere along the likes of npr, kexp, rolling stone, pitchfork, etc. I believe I have something new and different to share with the world and that’s what this blog is hoping to showcase. If I show one person a band that they absolutely love, or if I brighten their day with an amazing new song, then I consider that a job well done.

What you’ll see on this blog:  music I find myself listening to over and over again, new up and coming artists, opinions, recommendations, music videos, pictures, and overall musical discussion. As for the genre of music, it’s all over the place. I love all kinds of music but I do tend to lean towards indie and alternative artists.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog and if you stick with me, I promise not to disappoint.

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