Welcome to the first edition of Detours Picks!
Every month each one of us will pick a song to feature and talk about. This is our way of sharing the music that inspires us, let us know if it inspires you too!
For my pick I chose It Might Be Time by Tame Impala. Tame Impala is an artist that I really appreciate, and always am eager to see what he does next. Kevin Parker is always evolving the sound and style of the music, leading to new and interesting places with every release. With his 2020 release, The Slow Rush, Parker introduced elements of dance music, and blended them with Tame Imapala’s Pysch-Rock style.
It Might Be Time stands out to me because it has so many really cool sounds, from the Kill Bill-esque sirens in the chorus, the pumping wurlitzer in the verses, to the compressed and gritty drums. These unique tones have really inspired me to experiment with different sounds and techniques during The Detours recording/writing process. Taking cues from Parker, on one of the new songs we’re working on I’ve implemented an unconventional drum miking technique, as well as applying some more unconventional processing.
My pick would have to be Vital Signs by Rush, The closing track from their 1981 album Moving Pictures. It may have been written 40 years ago, but I couldn’t think of a tune that’s a better example of my music-listening experience in 2020: Revisiting classic albums, and discovering lesser known gems that don’t always receive the same attention as the singles. Despite not being as famous as some of the other tracks it shares the album with, this song is a shining example of the powerful rhythm and atmospheric guitar riffs that combine to form the unmistakable prog rock sound that drew me to Rush in the first place.
Unsurprisingly though, it was Geddy Lee’s Bass line that really set this track apart for me: Bold and busy, following the pattern of the synth line that kicked off the song, it’s active without being obtrusive. The bass syncs up with Alex Lifeson’s psychedelic guitar tones and Neil Peart’s clever drums to create an almost trance-like verse, breaking into a driving chorus, and closing with a beautiful, understated solo by Lee that perfectly sums up why this band has had such a strong stylistic influence on me. It’s a sound I hope to emulate in my own music.
My pick for the January song wrap-up is Tailwhip by Men I Trust. It was released in 2017 by the Montreal based band as part of a string of singles in between LP releases. Tailwhip is like the perfect melancholy pop song with a secret weapon, the groove. I tend to lean towards a lot of synth-forward tunes, stuff that really knows how to blend pads with guitars, and really rhythmically interesting bass lines. In a lot of pop, the drums are simply the backbone of the mix, four on the floor holding it down so everyone else can fill in the space.
Tailwhip is chock full of rhythmic hooks and really cool melodic ear candy, and the close-mics on the drums makes everything feel really tight and clean. Each layer comes in exactly when it needs to, and the different instrument tracks don’t crowd each other. One bit I really feel ties the sections of the songs together are the instrumental interludes after the choruses. I think that one of the best spots in a pop song to really show creativity and give the ear some really nice change to grab on to is the transition from the first chorus to the second verse. There’s so much an evolved version of a verse can bring to a composition, it’s where the rubber meets the road musically. This tune lent a lot of inspiration while composing our new songs, and brings to attention the importance of not trying to force too many things work at once, and letting the song kinda take you on the journey it wants to go on.
Selecting a single song was hard. During this time, like everybody else, I’ve been listening to a lot of music to help cope. I came across an old Chris Isaak track from 89 which felt so close to how I was feeling. It captured the expression of this new song I’d started working on and really helped me get an idea for the tones and feel The Detours could add to it. I’ve loved this song for a long time, here’s my two cents on what might spark something in someone else too.
Wicked games sets a mood, I think every good song should do that, or at least take you somewhere. From the start it feels like your looking out across a vast landscape. It’s western styled instrumentals and lustful lyrics take you into the story. It’s heartbreaking to hear the perspective of someone who now has such a cynical view on love, not ever wanting to feel it again. Chris Isaak’s vocal control and tone rolls out with such velvet smoothness it’s hard to not find yourself getting lost. I think almost every song falls under an umbrella of love; needing it, getting it, or hating it. Isaak is able to say so much, crossing between all three. Listening to this track has summed up a lot of emotions of this year. Lusting for the future and sometimes battling to keep your head above water.
“What a wicked game you play, to make me feel this way.”