The Path of Thorns


Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere.

by on Jan.06, 2010, under human emotions, love, music, nature

In an age of advanced electronic music, that stems from techno to house to jungle, it’s all too easy to get caught up in gadgets and vocoders, and miss out on the whole purpose of music, which is of course to reflect emotion, thought and personality.  Key word; person.

Owl City’s ‘Ocean Eyes’ is a remarkable and respectable take on emotional electronic music.  “Fireflies” is their biggest hit, discussing the rotation of our world, the colorful symphony of millions of fireflies and how he’s kept them before.  Its music video and lyrics combined paint the image of the imagination of what used to thrill us as children.  I will argue that it is damn hard to bring a refreshing take to nostalgia in a song, but they pulled it off this time.

To me, that’s just one of the many peaks of this album.  The album continues to show an exciting, visual take on the world that we take for granted, and again one that hasn’t been done over and over again.  You would think these guys lay under a skyline all night every night, and let their minds explode.  “I am floating away in a silent ballet” is one of the several brilliant lyrics on the album that just provide an excellent summation of the scenery they show such passion for.   Meteors, stars, the whole non-luminescence we all take for granted.  They connect such nature to love in one of my favorites, “Vanilla Twilight”, as well as on “If My Heart Was A House”, where he dances and embraces under a sun held from a string. Adam Young, the sole member, makes his voice almost as visual as the words sung out of it, as he allows it to travel and echo and carry with the many harmonies he creates on each song, in a perfect order.

I won’t dissect albums track-by-track, because it makes an album all to microscopic.  The best albums are defined as a whole scope, and this album fits that bill when it comes to electronic music.  Again, what makes Own City so unique and outstanding is that they take the largest departure from ‘natural’ sounds in my opinion, that being synthesizers/keyboards, and combine that with the most natural things in the world; our sky, daisies, islands, and insecurity coming down like a tidal wave that myself and many others understand all too well.

It’s music that has very much to do with personal taste more than the quality of the music, so I could see how Owl City could be hated; the bizarreness of their band name, the whole electronic sound, the lack of machismo.  Who knows.  But in my opinion, the album creates a scene that envisions a combat to my anxiety, and brings me to a place where I actually feel relaxed.

I, too, got lost in this silent ballet.

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If the King loves music, it is well with the land.

by on Aug.03, 2009, under human emotions, music

I don’t know what will end the human race first; our own greed for power, or our ability to let music be as pathetic as it is today.

Fifty years ago, music didn’t even have the ability to screw up.  Music that was considered garbage back then is held close to the hearts of most of the world; Buddy Holly and Elvis being the best examples of that.  After that, the Beatles, the Byrds, the Stones and the rest of the British invasion, that continued through Black Sabbath and the ultimate band the critics LOVED to hate, Led Zeppelin.  I can’t begin to tell you how many sources I’ve red, those of credible journalists and writers and critics, that called that music garbage, crap and a waste of studio space.  Can you believe that?  Can you believe those same artists that were considered the dregs of American music are heralded as the brilliant young musicians of a generation?

Music today, for the most part, makes you want to scream “IS THIS ALL YOU’VE GOT?!?!?!”  It’s unbelievable.  We have enough people who are celebrities that shouldn’t be – Kim Kardashian, John & Kate, Paris Hilton, to name a few – but there are as many, or more, people in music that don’t deserve what’s usually only given to the very best, the ones who fight tooth and nail to sign the dotted line.  Who?  Lady Gaga.  Jamie Foxx.  Pitbull.  Diddy.  Kanye West.  Lil Wayne.  People who are making millions because their fans don’t know any better.  People who make $80 million a year for talking into  a microphone with music a friend of mine can make in an hour on his Mac.  You’re being fooled, people.

Before there was Amy Winehouse, there was Janis Joplin.  Before there was The Jonas Brothers, there was the Osmonds or the Monkees.  Before there were Fergie and Diddy there was, oh, I don’t know, no one because no one flaunted themselves like buffoons to their level of self-important magnitude.  Kanye West calls himself the ‘King of Pop’ like an idiot – and yes, to give him credit, so did Michael Jackson – but at least Jackson backed it up with a decade’s worth of some of the best pop music in history.  Kanye walks around with sunglasses the size of his forearm, a faux-hawk and I ask myself if he even DOES music.  I can’t name a single song of his, ten years into his career.

My blog’s dealt with human emotion, understanding and trials thus far.  To reflect that, I will not entirely blame the people I’ve named, and those similar to them, for their careers.  They make piss-poor music and troll around like fools because we let them.  If we didn’t want to see these people, they wouldn’t be so well seen.  If we didn’t want them making music, the record companies would have no reason to invest in them.

The purpose of music, the sole purpose, is to better the soul, heal the soul, make us think, make us feel, make use use the words and sounds of music to help us illustrate and explain our hearts and minds.  It’s the universal language, and the only language that doesn’t need its own slang to explain itself.  And that’s where we get fooled.

Life is very serious, and very dark these days.  When you come home, you don’t see sitcoms or comedians working their tails off to make you laugh and breathe  a little bit.  You see overly dramatic mumbo jumbo like ‘Lost’, ‘Heroes’ and the trillion cop shows where you can basically see what the deepest, darkest parts of human action is.  If I want to hear about a woman’s rape, or someone overdosing on heroin, I can turn to most of the major networks.  If I want to laugh, or watch something that’s easier to swallow at the end of a long day, I have to channel surf.

Perhaps its that darkness we let ourselves take in that, combined with how hard so many of us work and how many of us are struggling, we allow garbage music to be played like it is.  So many of us are counting the hours until we get our direct deposits that we don’t listen around us anymore, and we accept how poor music is today – we have enough to worry about, why would we care if Lil Wayne’s sneering with his big platinum teeth like he’s a human trophy?  We’re all living paycheck to paycheck, counting our pennies and not our CD’s.

I’m not saying that all of today’s music is crap, either – Imogen Heap, ADELE, Bon Iver, John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne are all brilliant and well beloved to those that know them.  They’re few of many, however, who don’t rely on charts and big numbers anymore – because they can’t.  Because art is all too hard to find.

However, it’s mind-blowing that those who were successful 20, 3o, 40 years ago are still topping the charts and the venues today – Elton John, Aerosmith, Metallica, The ROLLING STONES are still light years more successful and talented than most anything that’s come since.  It’s like they’re waiting to hand the torch down, with no one there to reach it.  No one’s blowing our minds anymore.  Jim Morrison isn’t here to test our minds, Jerry Garcia isn’t here to teach us all how to relax, and Jimi Hendrix isn’t here to show us just how a show’s supposed to be done.  And if they were, they’d be here to pass the torch too.

Music is doing one thing well that it always has, though; it’s defining our generation where we like it or not.  In a world where we’re all fighting, struggling, letting ourselves be overly sensitive while tapping such small amounts of our own dignity and humanity, music is defining that.  It’s defining it by being as crappy as too many of us feel.

Once we let ourselves heal, and if we ever stand up and let ourselves take in a little more life, music should hopefully be back to the brilliance it can be.  Because right now, music isn’t the work of art it used to be considered to the masses; it’s merely flash-in-the-pan entertainment.  And that’s the darkest aspect of all.

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