So, a new year has begun. The droopy and rather sad looking tree has been triumphantly thrown out, the decorations torn down with relish and the familiar routine of one’s dreary life is now back in full swing. Joy to the world.
For those of you lucky enough to have never met me, I play guitar. I’ve always loved it and it brings me joy. However, the beginning of 2017 seems to have brought a problem of mine to a head: I’ve lost a fair amount of interest in playing the stupid guitar, an exceedingly frustrating and mildly terrifying feeling. Previous excitement has been replaced with indifference, the urge to craft a new song booted out by a lackadaisical attitude stifling creativity. As I reflect on it, writer’s block and feeling bereft of inspiration may be a key contributor to my troubles. What can one do? It’s been far too many months now of regrettably picking up a guitar.
My solution, one which I will relentlessly use until the good times return, is a combination of bulking up my music collection and thoroughly scouring it for hidden gems, in the hope it stirs my brain and thus translates to my fingers. Without further ado, this is what has been piquing my interest…..
I need to send The Math-Rock News a Christmas card this year, for they have delivered to me Sauna, an Argentinian group that I have instantly fallen for. Let’s be clear, I would not consider this to be a math-rock band; it is pleasantly written, smile inducing and very accessible nu-jazz, incorporating world music and Latin leanings with the twists and turns of what has become known as ‘math-rock’. Corazón de Manzana, the opening track of their debut self titled album, is on constant repeat in our household. From the opening tinkling of the ivories, gradually gaining pace with support from the bass until the drums roll in, the loveliness is all encompassing. Though not the first time to be used during the song, the guitar playing in unison at 1.14 is a deft touch and accentuates the passage wonderfully. The nod to the world of math would be the 7/8 outro from 2.24. And perhaps best of all, it rounds off at a very short 2.54 minutes, therefore leaving no excuse to give it a whirl in its entirety. If you couldn’t already tell, I’m in love.
The folk musings of Dory Previn, complete with strings, swaying melody and brilliant lyrics (hand crocheted!) on The Lady With The Braid, is something I’m very glad I stumbled upon in the depths of music passed on by friends. A story to be listened to, preferably while sinking into your favourite chair.
From soothing to crushing in one fail swoop, we have Burnt By The Sun. Deep down in everyone’s soul lies an innate appreciation for metalcore, you just know it’s true. Any other type of singing just wouldn’t fit with such abrasive music; it therefore works very well for what it is trying to achieve. Even if you look past the vocals, Soundtrack To The Worst Movie Ever has what all heavy instrumentation needs: riffs x 100 and impeccable, high energy drumming. Straight from the off, we’re chugging along (and not in the crappy gallop of Iron Maiden I hasten to add), moving to an almighty breakdown at 0.51 with accompanying harmonics. From 1.10, it becomes really juicy, with the fleeting glimpse of 1.19 to 1.24 being the ultimate riff for an all out living room circle pit. 2.09 is the icing on the cake, a menacing and stalking section which brings the exhilarating experience to a close.
To close, we have Strobes. Essentially a super group of polymath heads, it’s confusingly charming. The product of Three Trapped Tigers, Troyka and Squarepusher’s band, catch them live at The Old Blue Last in February to work out how on earth they create such an off-kilter sound of funky guitars, frenetic keyboards and limb defying drumming on stage.
After this, I hope to gain some enjoyment from my wooden stringed thing……….enjoy!