Welcome to Detours Picks!
Here’s what we’ve been listening to this month!
My pick for February is Glass Animals latest contribution, Dreamland, more specifically, Tangerine. This album was big, the production value, the direction and depth, as well as just creating what can only be described as a vibe. Tangerine has made me feel all different kinds of things. I also believe it’s taken Glass Animals to new levels.
On the first couple listens, it’s a happy, warm, summer time bop. The thing is, it is and it isn’t. The instrumentation and childhood laughter (which is actually neighbourhood kids from Glass Animals home town) in the background creates this sense of innocence and “Dream like” quality, fitting the “Dreamland” title of the album.
Though, once you start really listening, you hear the story of old love that has changed, broken down, and become commercial. It’s become a social media obsessed “picture perfect” filter of what it once was. It makes you wonder if this is about a romantic relationship or a reflection on the bands growing success in recent years. Going from a hipster’s hidden gem, to mainstream indie.
The other thing that I find interesting about this song is the heavy kick drum. It drives the track almost undisturbed the entire song. It sets the tone and makes the listener immediately feel that grove I mentioned. When this is accompanied by Bayleys very layered almost synth sounding vocals it creates the dance feel that I find has made this song so successful. The greatest part still being, that it’s misery and reminiscence, is hiding under that driving dance.
To top it off, instead of going to what might be a conventional bridge or breakdown section, they hit the chorus an extra time. It’s an awesome moment. The song dips into a sub space that makes you feel like you’re at a house party, in the next room hearing it bleed through the wall. This not only creates more of a world for the mood of the song, but also manages to fit the hook in just a couple extra progressions. In case it wasn’t stuck in your head, it definitely is now.
I chose Give Life Back To Music by Daft Punk for this months’ song roundup. It seemed like a good time to talk about what Daft Punk means to me since they won’t be releasing anything like that album, or anything else for that matter, ever again.
This track opens up the whole album, Random Access Memories, their ode to the 70’s funk and 80’s disco records that made their early careers, Discovery and Homework being constructed mainly of samples. From the huge sounding interludes with sweeping sequenced synths to the groove that makes up the bulk of the song, one thing that strings it all together is the amazing rhythm guitar of Nile Rodgers. His picking pattern does most of the heavy lifting to create the funk, but don’t sleep on the rest of the studio band. Drums and bass lay it down under some of the simplest lyrics, but done in the robots vocoders they fit perfectly.
Give Life Back To Music is a perfect opener for Daft Punk’s final full length LP, and an amazing funk tune in and of itself. I love the attention to detail that the duo have, and the perfectionism in the recording and mixing of the album really shine here, and I often use this song to test headphones. The sound they’re able to get, totally funky and 70’s but with clinically perfect execution and sonic control is out of this world. I love this track and I love this album. Long live the robots.
Throughout the lockdown I’ve had lots of time to sit and listen to my records. Earlier this month I pulled out Marquee Moon by Television and remembered just how awesome it was. How many small details there are, how many cool riffs, and just how epic the guitar work is. The title track contains one of the best guitar solos of all time, and that is why I have chosen it for my pick this month.
Marquee Moon begins with just a single repeating guitar part, and from there starts layering in the other instruments. Each part is it’s own riff, with nothing being doubled or repeated. These parts bounce off each other, fit into each other, and compliment each other so well. This interlocking machine-like groove is the base for the song and gets expanded upon during the course of the tune.
After the second chorus, we are treated with an epic guitar solo section. It begins with just the regular verse groove and the lead guitar starts up with some single notes, testing the water before developing meandering melodies. But as the guitar solo begins to ramp up, and become more complex, the drums pick up and extra guitar parts are added. The section quickly builds to a crescendo, the lead guitar playing a frantic chordal riff that leads into the final shots section, before returning back to the verse.
The guitar solo on its own is especially awesome, never relying on tried and true licks, it outlines the chords and produces catchy melodic motifs. The combination of the amazing layers and the exceptional guitar solo makes this a must listen for any guitar player or song-writer alike.
The Song I’d like to highlight this month is Bling (Confession of A King) by The Killers, from their 2006 album, Sam’s Town. This track showcases the prominent, 80’s-style synths and distinctive vocals that the band is known for, but also features a driving, almost galloping acoustic guitar rhythm and bass section that lend the song a “Western” feel. To that end, the instrumentation and lyrics of this tune paint a picture of barren highways and the windswept Nevada desert, quite fitting imagery for the Las Vegas band. Lead singer Brandon Flowers’ unmistakable vocal style needs to be mentioned too. He’s described the album as something of a personal origin story, and his singing reflects that, adding an emotional, vulnerable tone to the song that I think suits it perfectly.
A major part of what appeals to me about this song, and has made it stick in my memory, is an aspect of its production that runs consistent through the entirety of Sam’s Town: The larger-than-life feel of the music, created by the band’s use of layered synths and effects that combine to create a great fullness of sound, and give this track what I can best describe as a real presence, and a theatrical quality.