IN HONOR of the completion of the third and final debate, today we’re going to be offering three tracks of the week instead of the usual plus five. Don’t let any more depression or concern enter into your hard and tiring lives, just trip your way through these long rambling words and you’ll probably feel alright. There’s a stunning centerpiece to my little weekly musical discovery journey and it’s easily worth the absence of two other badly written synopses. Before we get to the music:
A firm and oh so loving reminder to the rock group formerly known as Coldplay—If you’re going to hype up a long-coming remix with the living master of rap, give your fans something that’s actually worth listening to. The musical refuse that emerged on the interwebs Thursday afternoon sounds like something Jay-Z brushed off his shoulders after a short night in the studio. The song is identical to the original with a small little tacked on verse from Hova right before the unsatisfying conclusion. I looked at my screen and audibly asked, “Is that really it?”
So, dear Christopher Anthony John Martin, thank you for once again for disappointing those fans that may have maintained a modicum of hope and inspiration in what little musical gifts still hover over your unbelievably lucky head. It’s a talent that few other performers could even hope to rival in the musical spectrum and seems to share a counterpart only in the monumental meltdown of the Republican Party in recent weeks.
Right, on that happy note …
Sleep Station, “Blood of our Fathers”
Stop reading, and download this album right now.
This may be one of the best ways that you could possibly spend your Friday morning. Sleep Station makes gorgeous, slow, heartbreaking music that creeps into your emotional consciousness and pulls you down into whatever story lead singer Dave Debiak might be telling. Offered as a free download, “Blood of our Fathers” is a powerful tale of a soldier returning to a nation idolizing sacrifice but failing to comprehend its gravity and sorrow.
Everclear may release over-hyped, over-produced singles that try to speak to the “issues of our times” but “Blood of our Fathers” follows more truly in the veins of “protest art.” It’s hardly a sympathetic or compromising vision of our current existence, but Debiak’s lyrical and musical vision manages to delve into the issues facing our society without becoming chained by those same realities. Good art speaks to more than just a narrowly sectioned out fragment of time, and “Blood of our Fathers” critiques society in an artistic way that allows the music to remain accessible and relevant, even after Bush leaves office and the “War on Terror” gets renamed.
We don't know how much they take/ it's all just little leaps of faith to save ourselves from enemies we've made/When it's a little at a time you won't realize you were blind and gave away everything you owned/ But today the bells will ring and the choirs will all sing and the light above will come to fill your heart/ and you'll send your boy to die for your freedom and way of life/ to become a man so he can do his part but America will leave him in the dark. (America)
The album is a beautiful sampling of styles and speeds as the slow folksy bitterness of something like America is contrasted perfectly against the sliding piano of Leads Back Home. Debiak’s greatest strength is as a storyteller and the coherence and focused vision of “Bloods of Our Father” may be his best efforts yet. The tortured soul of this unnamed soldier is displayed in a way that’s avoids oversimplification or generalities. He cries for what he’s seen, cries for what he’s done, cries for a nation that seems absolutely lost and cries out to an absent and silent deity, in this case the Virgin Mary.
Few songs highlight this tortured existence more than the string laden, “I’ve Been Blind Enough to See.” It’s a slow heartbreaking ballad, it’s one of the finest pieces that Debiak has ever penned and the album is worth downloading just for that song.
I take pills with my wine well I'm no saint but I'm no liar, there's a fire that burns a hole in me/So save me God, take my soul, if I believed in you I'd go, to where the burning sun will meet, the burning sun will meet, the burning sun will meet the sea.
There’s no hope, no redemption, no salvation for this forgotten fighter—only the silent letdown of frustration and wasted time. This album transcends the passing political specifics of our current time, and stands alone as a coherent fictional masterpiece in Debiak’s life. This is the best album that Sleep Station has ever released, and since it’s being thrown online for free, the least you can do is promise to participate in the election, and listen to this quietly stunning story.
Download: Blood of Our Fathers
Aqualung, “7 Keys”
This is the best song that Matt Hales has ever written, and it just won’t move past repeat on my computer. Starting off the new “Words & Music,” the perfect opener showcases sweeping horns giving way to classic tentative Aqualung piano, and a hesitant bass line that accentuates Hales gorgeous vocals. The simple love song is so genuine and un-forced that it would border on blasphemous to call any of the lines cliché.
The slow start is matched in the perfect lyrical background of a soul torn and stepped on by love, but a soul that somehow discovers something beautiful.
It wasn't open/But somehow you let yourself in/Closed off and broken/I never wanted to go there again.
With the discovery of this beautiful love, the song builds with the lyrics to a gorgeous climax complete with running piano triplets, background chorus and perfectly orchestrated brass section. I don’t know if I’ve heard a better love song in quite possibly forever. It’s the type of song that deserves to be showcased in a slow black and white montage, complete with careful subtle directing, slow dancing, and the dramatic kiss closing out the final fade to black.
Darling believeYou're closer than anyone has even beenOh baby don't leave me alone
I'm yours for eternityYou hold the seven keys to my soul.
It’s the type of song that doesn’t seem to fit our time period at all. It feels like it belongs to an era that’s purer, simpler, a place you’d find in a book. It’s a place that you’d read about, and even though it feels a little bit distant, it’s a song that you want to reach out and take for yourself. It’s the ideal love, taken from the abstract and applied to your life. It’s the story of someone who doesn’t believe in love, who doesn’t deserve it, but someone who finds it anyway. It’s a position that we all understand, and it’s a place where we all want to be.
Download: 7 Keys
Girlyman, “Everything’s Easy” and “Storms were Mine”
This band just about made me reverse my position on buying music from iTunes. Firmly in possession of one of the worst names in the music scene today, Girlyman tells some of most peaceful harmonic stories in the world right now. At the place where I’m interning, I write stand-alone after stand-alone, trying to extract humor and creativity from incredibly boring and ill-named bands. I always click over to their Myspace to try and get a feel for what I’m supposed to write about, (knowing what you’re writing about, such a novel idea) Girlyman was one of the first bands that just made me stop what I was doing, and completely focus on what was coming out of my ear buds. You can’t find mp3’s from these guys online, but the perfectly constructed three part folk harmonies will make you find some way of possessing these songs. Everything’s Easy is a lighthearted song building to a dramatic and serious climax while Storms were Mine is slow and dark but breaks open oh so nicely. It’s slow and sweet, but still sounds original and genuine. It’s definitely enough to make even me consider buying the much hated DRM protected files. Or maybe I’ll just order a copy of the album…now there’s a novel idea.
Nathan Martin is Patrol's Washington, D.C. music editor.
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