Tag Archives: Music

Victory’s Contagious – Lorde for Throwback Thursday

Interesting to think back on the earlier days of Lorde, now with her second album out. Enjoy this next Throwback Thursday from when I was trying, so hard, to understand music


You’ve probably heard of her. Award winning new artist. Young. New Zealander. Lorde.

I found her through Pandora, when it started working Royals into my playlists. But I’ll get back to Royals. It’s what I’ve encountered in the rest of her music that makes me want to talk about her.

She’s swept music by storm, and I have a few thoughts about why. If I were to sum it up at first here, it’s because the music is so smart. No, there’s a better word. It’s wise. Wise beyond her years. She’s 17. And at the age, she has the potential to become to voice of a generation – or to become the next fallen icon. But let’s take some time getting there!

Maybe the Internet Raised Us…

In preparing for this post, and listening to Lorde’s Pure Heroine a whole bunch of times, I’ve been trying to think of a term to describe her. And maybe the term is conscious innocence. As in, she knows she’s young. Knows that things are going to get more “real” (whatever that really means…) in the future, but that for now, the simple life is hers. 

She sings a lot about bruises, dreams, and clean, white teeth. Simpler sorts of observations, about life, about people. She’s drinking orange juice. It’s childhood and adolescence. But it’s like she’s got the age and wisdom to be reflecting back on it and reminiscing, while also being right in the thick of it.

There’s also the talk of fame. There’s plenty of times where she calls out the rich, the powerful, the famous. She speaks truth to power. The ridiculousness of modern stars. Their excesses. 

However, she juxtaposes this with talk of her own rising fame and stardom. She talks about her impending first plane ride, about how she still likes hotels – something she recognizes may well change as she starts to travel and perform. 

Here’s some of her lyrics, to show what I mean:

Lorde Lyrics

Her songs describe the cusp of stardom, the end of adolescence and innocence, and do so in a way that expresses such self-understanding that it’s easy to see why she has captured the imagination.

All Work and No Play…

However, is that all it is? I wonder. Do people just love her because she’s saying things that not only sound true, but feel true?

Or, when she’s calling out the powerful and the famous, are some of these people waiting for the hypocrisy?

We see so many young stars who end up falling into the worst habits of stardom: the drugs and alcohol, the stupid stunts to prove they’re someone else other than the young star we once knew and loved. Think in recent years of Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber. Okay, maybe not loved with these stars, at least not for me… but you get the point. They fall apart.

Are we watching Lorde because we’re waiting for her to fall? Or at least, are some people? Is the media, maybe, especially?

And after singing so much about it, wouldn’t Lorde’s fall just be that much the worse? But the thing is, it seems like she sees it. She sees the risk, the danger. It’s there in the lyrics. Will she change? Will she give in to it?

I don’t have the answers. Listening to the music, I don’t think Lorde knows. I guess it’s wait and see.

We’re Bigger Than We Ever Dreamed…

So we’re back to Royals, I think. This song encapsulates all that I’ve said, the simplicity of the life that Lorde is coming from, and the life of luxury of the stars whose ranks she’s joining. It encapsulates everything she’s saying, and thus was a perfect first single.

It has all the features of a one-hit-wonder, as well. Catchy tune, memorable chorus – the sort that you work on trying to memorize and figure out, so you can sing along. And different in sound from other songs on the album.

If this is all you’ve heard of Lorde, you’re missing out. There’s more. And it’s good. I really hope this is an artist we’ll be listening to for many, many years to come – that she holds to her ideals, that she keeps being wise beyond her years. 

I definitely recommend checking out her award-winning album, Pure Heroine! But what do you think about Lorde? Let me know in the comments below!

There’s a Drumming Noise Inside My Head That Starts When You’re Around – Florence & the Machine for Throwback Thursday

Next up in the old Listening to Music Without Understanding It series is this post, on Florence & the Machine. Unlike some of the others, this one deserves at least one update: their album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful had not yet come out, and would be a great introduction to this band. That album is just fantastic, making it 3/3 great albums from this band. Also worth noting, the Deluxe and B-Sides sorts of albums for them are great too; basically, they just make good music.


I’ve recommended a few other bands so far in my series on music, like The Lumineers and The Black Keys. Both of those bands have a simpler sort of sound, from a folk origin like with the former, or from just being two musicians with the latter. So how about a different sort of band?

Florence & the Machine. It sounds even from the name like it’s a large thing. The sort of band where you might expect a song called Cosmic LoveTheirs can be both a large sound, and can focus in and be all about the haunting vocals of the lead singer, Florence Welch. Also, they have a harp.

Florence & the Machine

I thought I would share a bit of the fun of this band, and a few of their songs. The recent news is that they are working on a third studio album, but along with the first two, there are also deluxe editions and B-sides and live albums galore to choose from while you wait – plenty to check out!

Great Lyrics and Intensity

What the songs are about, the lyrics and images and ideas, are part of what is so great. Some songs are full of images, full of ideas and things we would understand. Full of love and emotion and feeling.

Florence_JohnSimm

Okay, and not Doctor Who references. Well, maybe… They are British…

I found that image a while ago on Tumblr, and lost the original provenance from where I found it, but it stuck with me. I love her intensity in the image used – it combines well with the lyrics and the song. I think intensity is a good word – thinking of songs like Kiss With a Fist or Girl With One Eye.

Along with strong images and intense songs, however, they also work with a lot of metaphorical and poetical language. I love it. And, as is fitting with the name of my series, I don’t understand it much at all.

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5 Ways to Find New Music – Throwback Thursday

Continuing on with my “Listening to Music Without Understanding It” series, this time with a more practical post!


I’ve been recommending music so far here and it’s been a lot of fun to talk to people about music. And while some people have known some of my recommendations, not everyone knows all of them, which is good! I hope that keeps up in a good way. I know I have already made music purchases based on recommendations I’ve gotten from others!

So of course from the title you know, I’d like to suggest a few of the places where I’ve found new music over the years. All of this excludes the most obvious ones, I suppose, which are recommendations from friends or, say, bloggers!

I’d love to know some of your recommended places or ways to find new music as well, so make sure to add to the conversation in the comments below!

The Radio

Yes, yes, that’s what it’s for. Music radio is there to sell you music, at least in part. This is one of the most direct ways to find music, but not necessarily the best way to find the best music.

I say that because the radio tends to only play singles. And while many singles are great, 

often, other songs on albums are a lot musicnotebetter. And, many albums are best listened to whole – hearing one song just doesn’t give you a good sense of it. Also, focusing on singles might have you looking at singles only when you buy music – something iTunes lets you do, fair enough, but that doesn’t help you find very much music, or at least not very quickly!

However, I feel the need to mention this method, because it is on the radio that I heard “Two Against One” from the album Rome, sung by Jack White (which caught my interest) and produced by Danger Mouse – which, finding this out led me down a road which has led to many of my favorite music purchases – certainly my favorites of the last several years!

So some of the secret is finding a radio station you really like, or that does a good job of playing a lot of music. For instance, in Denver I listened to channel 93.3, and it’s great. Oh, and thanks to the Internet age, and services like iHeartRadio, you can listen to channels like this anywhere! Which I do.

Guitar Hero and Rock Band!

I don’t think they’re making these games as much as they were for a period of time, but there are others like them as well – dance ones or whatever. I found a lot of bands I didn’t know about, or had missed, through Guitar Hero. Rather than just focusing on singles, they were focused also on songs that had good music, good solos or skillful playing. 

That means it was great for finding what a band sounds like, what they are aiming for with their sound. It’s also a way to find a variety of music, by artists you may never have heard of. I think also that “playing” the songs is a good way to connect with them, guitarheroto enjoy them more. I have a soft spot for many songs from those games, and when I hear them play, it reminds me of good times, spent with friends.

One trap they laid with some of the later games was the ability to buy more songs, individually or in packages of, say, songs by an artist. Some of the problem with this is that if you’re spending more and extra money on the content, you’re likely only going to get music you know and know you’ll like – so it doesn’t help you learn new music! Just an observation!

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I thought long and hard ’bout what I should say… When I was through it just came out this way! – The Black Keys for Throwback Thursday

Another week, another Listening to Music Without Understanding it post! The Black Keys haven’t released a new album since then, so it’s still pretty accurate in that regard…


Hello and welcome again for another post in my Listening to Music Without Understanding It series. It’s time for another in-depth look at some music, and this week, it’s The Black Keys. 

I was hoping to write something up with them earlier on, in advance of their new album coming out. Then their new album came out a week earlier than I was expecting, and there went that plan! With it out, I wanted to give it some time, check it out, and then report my thoughts. I think we’ve made it to that point!

I also just read the interview of Jack White in Rolling Stone the other day. In it, he kind of called out The Black Keys for riding in on his coat-tails – a fellow two-person rock and blues combo band, coming to popularity after The White Stripes. And I have to admit, I started listening to The Black Keys after listening to Jack White and his many projects. However, the reason I really explored them, and really started to pay attention, is different, and so I will share a bit of an introduction to the band, to why I like them, and hopefully I will leave you interested in them for their own sake!

I’m a Lonely Boy… 

If you look at The Black Keys as starting with their hit album El Camino, then yes, maybe they are just a recently-popular band without a history. After all, you probably know them from this:

And oh man, is that a catchy dance. A catchy song. It’s fantastic, and a great way to start an album. From there, I would actually describe El Camino as a musical. I can almost see it, as the album goes on. Lonely Boy is the opening act, and then it moves on from there, song by song, a narrator telling his stories, moving through a town. Interesting to think of it all as the same characters in the songs, really, as well.

This was not where I first came across The Black Keys, however. That was with their prior album, Brothers. Continue reading

Vocal Duos in Music – Throwback Thursday

Following up from last week, here’s the next in my “Listening to Music Without Understanding It” series! This one originally sparked some good recommendations, and I’ve found some new ones since. But if you have more recommendations, definitely pass them along!


Recently we went to see The Manhattan Transfer in concert. Not a band I had known, but we took the opportunity to go see some live music! It was a great concert, and they definitely still have their skills.

Early on in the concert, they introduced harmony, and how it works, demonstrating as they added one each to the combination. It made me think about harmony, and groups with multiple singers, and how maybe that was something that there used to be a lot more of – but for a while there wasn’t as much. And I feel like it’s coming back.

I really like bands that have multiple people singing, and am really enjoying some of the groups doing more of this. Not like the boy bands or girl bands, where maybe they each do some singing, just to highlight each of them and show them as a personality – to try to spin off solo careers. No, no. The bands where the point is that there’s more than one singer. And the best, in my opinion, is when a man and a woman are both singing, back and forth.

The Raconteurs

I think the band where I really picked up on this and noticed it, and noticed that I really liked it, was with The Raconteurs. This band was made up of a number of artists pulling together to make a band that only lasted two albums. Most notable were the two lead singers, Jack White – formerly of the White Stripes – and Brendan Benson. These two, before and since, have done quite a bit of music, and I like their solo work. But this was my introduction to both of them.

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