22 December 2010

Top 5 songs this time of year

For maximum effect, play these songs over this video :)

I love holiday music, I really do. Primo examples of my favorites and why they deserve a place by your hearth this Yule.

1. Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Carol of the Bells.mp3
A powerful, joyous song in a minor chord. Too short for me... love it so much I always have to listen twice!

2. Vince Guaraldi Trio - Greensleeves.mp3
Just a beautiful, classic carol I love. The 1960's jazz musician Vince Guaraldi helped bring the genre into the mainstream by soundtracking the classic Peanuts flick "A Charlie Brown Christmas." In this track, they simply and beautifully muse on the theme with just piano, upright bass, and soft drums. Perfect mood music for more serene moments during the holidaze.

3. Boston Pops - Sleigh Ride.mp3
This song is all about the percussion. Like 19th Century Russian composer Modest Mussorgky's pieces such as "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Pictures at an Exhibition", The song is an example of literal story-telling, using the sounds to paint a picture. (modern example: Sufjan Stevens does this in The BQE.) The woodblock is the horse's feet, the bells jingling in time to the brisk pace in a flurry of snow. Listen for the whipcraks, and the trumpet's neigh at the end.

4. Barenaked Ladies - Auld Lang Syne.mp3
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought t' mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

It's basically Scottish for "Let's drink for old time's sake." Can't argue with that logic.

5. Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling.mp3
This tender carol, according to Wikipedia, is "a German Christmas carol from the 19th century. The lyrics were written by Karl Enslin (1814–1875) to a traditional German folk tune." Translated as " Ring, Little Bell, Ring-a-ling-a-ling,"it uses German onomatopœia to tell the story of an angel that lights the way for children as they go door to door around the village. At each door, they ring bells and are invited in where they are given small toys and warm sweets. (Sounds fun!)
Some decades later, they popularized the Christmas tree, keeping the kids at home for the Christmas eve visit from the local pastor, and carols like this all but vanished. This was one of my favorites to sing as a kid, and I still love it now.

(FYI... Sufjan's "Songs For Christmas, Vol. VI: Gloria!" was just leaked! You can get the whole thing here. Here's hoping Vol. VII will eventually leak so all our collections can be completed.)

12 December 2010

Top 5 genre-bending, pre-Adz songs you probably wouldn't guess were by Sufjan

"I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin'... I'm not sayin'. Know what I'm sayin?"

In the Words of the Governor.mp3
I would call this Punk if Sufjan weren't trying so hard to rap.

Movement IV: Traffic Shock.mp3
Maybe it's because I've watched the BQE a lot this year, but the music playfully illustrates the movement of traffic along the BQE at night, from different POV's. A fun blend of the synthetic and the organic, the old and the new, the human and the machine weaves classical orchestra through electronica.

Siamese Twins.mp3
I have no explanation for this brief, distorted spoken word piece.

Satan's Saxophones.mp3
This is on the same album (his first, A Sun Came!) as the previous track. Sounds like "4:22" has competition in the avant-garde category. (Subcategory: "Can I really listen through all the way without skipping or adjusting the volume?")

Holy Holy Holy.mp3
Holy unpeggable soundscape, Batman! The guy releases a fucking HYMN, and no one bats an eye for content because it's simply a gorgeous sound. Is there anything he CAN'T do?