Apparently music writing is something that cannot be taught. Well at least that’s what I read in a review of a book titled “How to Write About Music” which was edited by the same person that wrote the review.
We all understand that the digital landscape has changed things significantly, to the point that anyone with 7 bucks a month and an internet connection can speak their mind, and literally anyone can stumble onto their work. That’s both a terrifying and fascinating prospect.
But the lady who wrote the article makes some good points, and I enjoyed it, so I want to write about my take on what she shared.
So what did I learn from this article? Some good things in fact.
- Listen to music normally before you approach it critically. That makes sense, you can’t really discuss an album until you’ve experienced it.
- Put it on repeat, but don’t get trapped in your seat. If you over-think it, you’ll probably give a false impression of how you really feel. However, if you listen one time you might not appreciate hidden details.
- R&D is everything, just ask Batman. By researching you learn what the music is about, what the perception in the media is, and how you feel about it all.
- People like stories and storytelling is easier. Well potentially. But if you do come up with a framework, you can progress along quicker.
- Embrace the darkness. Err, I mean editing. Embrace the editing. What, another Batman reference? You are going to spend a lot of your time reading and rereading what you’ve written, moreso than writing. But more than that, you will be rewriting your work.
- Do not succumb to timeline pressures. Writers aren’t going to have much of an advantage over anyone at this time, because of downloads and the like. Write a thoughtful evaluation because its useful, not because you need to be first.
Now that I have those tips and tricks under my belt, I think its time to tackle my first album review. Because I can, dear readers, and because I think its time to start expanding my reach and my breadth.
July Talk – July Talk
released October 15, 2012
I like Peter Dreimanis’ voice. Its distinct and also reminiscent of Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Americana, and whiskey. All things that I love in equal proportions.
Incidentally, and while doing a little research, I learned that he didn’t used to sing when he played. In fact, he only began to embrace that musical ability after he decided to form July Talk with Leah Fay (co-frontman, frontwoman?), Ian Docherty, Josh Warburton, and Danny Miles back in 2012.
What makes July Talk even more distinct is the pairing of Peter’s vocals with Leah’s vocals right beside him. She carries an angelic weight so slight that if you were to reach out for it, it would disappear.
I’m not one to fawn over an album too often, but when I like a musical act, I find generally that the tracks will work together. July Talk doesn’t easily give me that comfortable satisfaction though.
It seems with every track I have to work and listen through it very carefully because while their “vision” is familiar throughout, the content shifts ever so subtly. With lyrics like “if you want money in your coffee, if you want secrets in your tea” it is hard not to smile at the whimsy they offer up so quickly in Paper Girl. Then they’ll switch gears and jump into a track like My Neck – A track that has amazing chords woven into it’s chorus and feels like it’s ripped out of a bad TV show from the 70s, hints of sexuality and tired violence. But its oh so captivating.
And have you watched any of the music videos for their singles? Go do it now! They refuse to put colour into any of the videos, and it makes them more special for it. It reminds me of painting as a teenager, so much angst and emotion, but you don’t need colour to appreciate it.
You’ve probably heard Headsick at this point in history though right? That’s another one of my favourite tracks. I think it combines a nice mix of their indie, garage, punk, and pop sensibilities all in one place. And have I mentioned their voices… So good!
You should also consider visiting Leah on twitter she is pretty fun to follow @whiskeyandcake
If you ever have an opportunity to check them out live. I highly recommend that experience as well. I personally saw them this past July and rank it among my favourite live acts. Convenient and poetic right? Also it was one of the first dates I took my current belle on, and I think that’s pretty neat.
So what did you think? I hope you enjoyed my post. I look forward to hearing your feedback. My goal here is to share music that is currently in my queue or whatever is hot off the presses and on the top of my mind. For instance, I may just be giving some feedback on EODM next week, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.
And that’s all the theories I’ve got this week.