Posts Tagged ‘indie rock’

It breaks my heart

Either Pandora doesn’t realize that Regina Spektor has written more than one song, or it doesn’t think I’d like any of her other songs. The one song it keeps giving me of hers (mostly from my indie rock stations– Metric, Stars, the Ting Tings… are the TTs “indie” anymore?) is FIDELITY.

Now, anyone who knows anything about Ms. Spektor can tell me that Fidelity is her most overplayed song by far, and likely not her best. I cannot help but continually apply my palm to my forehead over the fact that of all the songs Pandora could beat me senseless with, it could “Fidelity.” It breaks my heart.

Other things that bemuse me include bands that used to be mainstream and have since gone Christian. Not that I have a problem with Christian rock, I can actually name several Christian rock artists I like to listen to (though, I admit I would’ve never been introduced to them without my mother’s side of the family. My Dad’s side? We just do the Hora. And then listen to Hendrix). Said Christian rock artists include Nichole Nordeman, Natalie Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Granted, Chapman can get kind of preachy, but Nordeman is one of the most talented song writer’s I’ve had the pleasure of coming across. Many of her songs do not actually refer to God or Jesus specifically and that leaves them open for interpretation to those who aren’t otherwise aware it’s all God-talk. Of course, most of Nichole Nordeman songs are about people, not religion. Songs I suggest checking out by her include, “Gratitude” (though this one obviously addresses God, I think it has an excellent message and this song has been known to make me cry on occassion) and “Wide Eyed” (which does refer to Jesus, though not by name– what is with my examples?– but is about the hypocrisy of dismissing outcasts even though Jesus himself was one).

Considering that many Christian Rock songs don’t refer to God directly, it’s easy to see how a Pop Rock group could make a seamless transition– it’s just that now all the “he”s in the song are about God and not that cute boy with the locker next to yours.

Who remembers the movie “She’s All That”? Folks in my age range (d.o.b. 1985) probably will, despite the fact that there were a thousand other teen movies out at the same with roughly the same premises. Cool guy takes a bet that he can make awkward girl the prom queen and they eventually fall in love. Now, if you know what movie I’m talking about, I’m sure the song “Kiss Me” pops to mind. What band did that song again? That’s right, Sixpence None the Richer.

Since there hay-day of “Kiss Me” and “There She Goes,” Sixpence broke up, got back together and put out the album “Divine Discontent,” that includes more than a few Godly references. Not that I’m criticizing the band decision to go Christian, just wondering why? I know Jewel originally wanted to do Christian Rock, and I hear tell that Avril Lavigne wanted to be a country star before she became the punk princess, but why change genres mid-career? Especially to move from a broader genre to a much more exclusive one?

Well, after all this I think I need a change from indie rock for a while. I’m feeling… Pink Floyd.

Your Ex-Lover is Dead

I love rock bands that use alternative instrumentation– almost as much as I love clever and multi-faceted lyrics. This single by Stars includes both, not to mention the gorgeous video that accompanies it. (Stars: Indie-rock group formed in 2001 in Ontario, Canada; 3 representative albums to date.)

I found out about Stars via Pandora and my love for Metric. Go figure, Emily Haines (lead singer of Metric) formed one of her first bands with classmate Amy Millan. Together, Haines and Millan formed Stars, though I’ve found no evidence of Haines in the groups recent work. Either way, it should come as no surprise that great musicians run together.

Now, it should be noted that I am extremely picky about music videos. This elitism comes from a concieted place in which I do believe I could do a significantly better job than most of the hacks out there. I have vision and talent with a lens.

That having been said, I’ve only seen two Stars music videos to date and they’ve both blown me away. The music video for “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” is SO good, it’s actually supplanted my own image for the song in my mind. This is a first.

So why is this video so fantastic? Well, a great video starts with a great song. As previously mentioned, “Ex-lover” also features alternative instrumentation (violin, trombone, french horn). Like many of Stars’s songs, “Ex-lover” features a strong baseline and a brilliant build-up. “Ex-lover” has not one, but two great peaks, both featuring some of my all-time favorite lyrics.

To wit, they are:

“Live through this and you won’t look back”

and

“I’m not sorry I met you,
I’m not sorry it’s over,
I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save.”

Now for the video itself… The image of a frozen pond is perfect for this song– so perfect that I’m practically kicking myself for not having come up with it. The song, as you may have guessed, is about an ex-lover. Specifically, it’s about running into an ex-lover and marveling at the lack of regret. But what better image for long-dead flames than ice? Especially juxtaposed with the opening image of a room on fire.

Which brings us to the song’s opening quote, “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to confirm the origins of this quote. What I do know is that the speaker on the album is the father of lead vocalist, Torquil Campbell. Additionally, the quote is reminiscent of Jan Palach’s 1969 suicide in the former Czechoslovakia.

But, all the brilliant images in the world would be rather useless without someone competent holding the camera. The cinematography in this video is yet another note-worthy achievement. For one, having all the musicians lie on their backs and be filmed from above while snow falls on them… simply beautiful. The shots of ice skaters in front of a bright light? Also beautiful. What truly impresses me, though, are the shots in which the camera spins. The cuts in this video aren’t too quick (a common problem in music video today) and the cinematographer managed to make this gorgeous, spinning shots without making the viewer want to hurl. Clearly, someone learned something from the debacle that was the Blair Witch Project. The camera work, like everything else in this video, is gracefully executed.

And so, without further delay, I give you “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” by Stars: