Music Mondays: The Cast In Bronze Edition

Today was the quintessential shitty Monday. Everything that could have gone wrong…well, the rest is pretty obvious, I think. That’s why I picked a musician for today I’m extremely fond of, that I haven’t listened to nearly enough of in recent months.

Cast In Bronze is all about the musician’s instrument of choice: the carillon. I had never heard of Cast In Bronze, nor did I have any idea of what a carillon was, until I met one of the only people on this planet who might be as evil as me. For those of you not sprinting to Google, a carillon is an instrument made up of twenty-three bells connected to a large keyboard of sorts that is operated by the hands and feet. They are typically built into structures, as they are understandably both massive and quite heavy (an understatement, as I believe these instruments often weight upwards of one ton).

Cast In Bronze is the world’s only traveling carillon. You read that right. It’s a several-ton instrument that goes on tour. I actually had the distinct pleasure of seeing Cast In Bronze perform at a Renaissance festival, and I loved every second of it. Hearing the music in person–actually feeling every note fill the air around me–was probably one of the most fantastic experiences of my adult life. No hyperbole or irony there, folks.

Before I dive into what I love about the music of Cast In Bronze, it’s worth noting that the actual musician is pretty amazing. Frank Della Penna acts as the spirit of the bells, wearing a mask and making the performance all about the carillon and the beautiful music made possible by this instrument. Without his dream, however, this wouldn’t be a reality, and so spirit of the bells or not Frank Della Penna has done something amazing.

Onto the actual music. Cast In Bronze has music with accompaniment from other instruments as well as tracks that are just the bells (hardly a “just” there, as those are some of the best tracks). CD-wise, I would recommend Bells Only and Spirit of the Bells as an introduction to the carillon’s music. “Leaving St Amand” may be one of my favorite tracks of all. It has a certain frenzied energy to it that makes for excellent driving music. “Drunken Sailor” is a delight (another carillon-only track), and I imagine it would be great fun to enjoy with a round or two of drinks. Naturally, I couldn’t talk about music that predominantly features bells without mentioning how Cast In Bronze’s take on “Carol of the Bells” is really beautiful stuff.

I would go so far as to say my words aren’t sufficient to convey how amazing Cast In Bronze’s music is, and so I’ve managed to find “Leaving St Amand”, a song that has inspired some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever written (and some I’ve only mapped out), on YouTube.

If you enjoyed that, I’d strongly recommend heading over to the Cast In Bronze store and picking up a CD or two. 

To risk sounding overly fanboy-ish, I refuse to assign an arbitrary rating to Cast In Bronze’s music. I am not worthy (I’m only joking a little there).

Happy (not actually) Bastille Day!

Happy Monday, fellow misadventurers! It’s another godforsaken Monday, and boy did I feel like death. I was the sickliest sick that ever drank Pepto Bismol earlier, but now I feel so much better. Fortunately for everyone who reads this, I’m not going to talk about that any further.

I picked Bastille today because it’s the first artist I’m not giving five out of five arbitrary scoring point-things. I love Bastille, and we’ll get to the reason for this choice soonish.

Somehow, through some stroke of luck, I happened upon “Pompeii” on YouTube. It had me hooked instantly. iTunes was opened, I searched for Bastille, and then cursed everything because the full album wasn’t available. There was, however, a four-song EP titled Haunt. If this were any indication to me, based on “Haunt” and “Pompeii”, as to how good their upcoming CD would be, I knew I would be hooked.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t entirely correct there. I did, of course, buy the Deluxe Preorder Whatever-The-Hell version, which featured a few extra tracks (one of the albums redeeming qualities). Haunt set the bar very high in terms of what I should expect, and a few of the tracks let me down a bit by comparison.

“Pompeii”, while one of my favorite songs by Bastille, is also enough of an earworm that having it stuck in my head for weeks at a time negates some of its greatness. Having to skip tracks after giving the whole CD a chance makes it a bit more disappointing, as I’m usually able to take a liking to entire CDs over time (usually being the operative word here).

Overall, Bastille’s vocals and catchy tunes still defeat any doubts I have about Haunt and Bad Blood and more. Overall arbitrary rating of four out of five golden wossname-thingums.

Lazy, continuation Tuesday

Let’s talk more about Metric. This will be the part where I say which songs I’m particularly fond of, ending with the same arbitrary rating I used last week.

Also, I seem to be developing the dreaded man-cold, and so I feel miserable and unpleasant. Moving on.

Black Sheep

I loved this song in Scott Pilgrim Versus The World, and I loved it once I gave Metric a chance. Like with all of Metric’s songs, the lyrics are fun to listen to and kept me hooked from the first listen to the thousandth listen. There may be hyperbole afoot there.

Speed the Collapse

The energy in this song is fantastic. It’s in the lyrics, the instruments, etc. Everything about this song is energy. This is great driving music.

Clone

Also great driving music, but it’s also quite relaxing…so maybe not the best night-driving music.

Satellite Mind

One of the first songs I really got into by Metric. I’m willing to forgive how this gets stuck in my brain occasionally because it’s delightful.

Ultimately, I can’t recommend Metric highly enough. It’s a fantastic band all around, and for me to pick one CD is far too difficult.

Also, I need sleep.

Ninety-one days remaining.

Blargh, I am dying.

It’s a good week for some Metric

It’s already Monday again, which means I’ll be suffering through another goddamn episode of The Bachelor soon. Also: Music Mondays! One of the rare rays of sunshine on this otherwise gloomy, disappointment-filled day.

Let’s talk Metric. I feel a little guilty approaching this with a headache that sounds like a thousand horses galloping through my skull cavity, but the post must go on.

Fun fact: I actually really didn’t like Metric at first. I only knew their music existed because I had heard “Help, I’m Alive” on the radio a few times (and thought it was the most repetitive, awful song ever) and because the song “Black Sheep”, which was featured in Scott Pilgrim, is also one of theirs. And then I didn’t think anything of Metric again for a couple years.

While living alone, during my last year or so at Edinboro, things got a bit lonely. I know, bit of a drama-bomb to drop on this post. It’s relevant, though. I swear. My chosen method of dealing with being cooped up in my apartment a lot was checking out different music on iTunes. During this time, I found a lot of music that would help me get through what ended up being some particularly rough, unhappy days (even if I don’t listen to all of it anymore).

I couldn’t say exactly which song I found that got me interested in Metric. It certainly wasn’t “Help, I’m Alive”. Sorry. The short version: I listened to one CD worth of Metric songs. I Googled them, then listened to a few more on YouTube.

And then I bought their entire discography, plus everything else Emily Haines that is available on iTunes. I’m not even kidding. If I had to condense just how good Emily Haines’ vocals are into a single sentence, it would be “One CD with her vocals was enough to sell me on all of her work ever”.

I feel lazy about how I’m half-assing this, but I’m sorry to say my focus is elsewhere and Metric will have to receive more love tomorrow. Two-parter. Sure.

I am a giant monster of laziness and self-imposed guilt.

And now for Music Mondays

Better known as day one of me deliberately finding ways to create horrible, cheesy alliterative titles for each day’s over-arching theme. That was the compromise I made with myself to help justify any sort of set organizational system. The more you know?

This is the first of many Mondays in One Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0, and the first of many Music Mondays. This was actually one of the first idea-bits that inspired me to revisit this horrible, painful experience.

Right. Moving along.

Jonathan Coulton is to thank or blame for the inspiration that gradually evolved into this first post. I found myself in need of a new CD in my car. I threw together an assortment of songs from my iTunes library, popped a CD in my laptop, and almost forgot to retrieve it before I left for work.

It turned out to be the antithesis of what I was hoping to end up with, so that’s unfortunate. At least that’s how I felt about it until I got to one track in particular. “Nobody Loves You Like Me” from Jonathan Coulton’s CD Artificial Heart. I’m one of many people who were introduced to Coulton’s music thanks to “Still Alive” at the ending of Portal. I could probably go on about why I think his music, overall, is spectacular, but I really want to focus on Artificial Heart. First: if you’ve not listened to Artificial Heart before, I’d suggest taking a moment to buy it, listen to it, and probably fall in love with it. Continue reading

An off-day day off

Today was a monster, and so I’m recovering by doing some cleaning (yes, recovering by doing some cleaning; that’s a bit sad). I know I should do some creative writing, but my brain is a stagnant pool of disappointment. There is some good news, however, in the form of having a super-huge, super-secret project…that I can’t talk about because it’s a secret. It is, however, related to tomorrow’s planned post about making gifts out of creative stuff (writing, drawings, whatever). Serious business. Tonight, however, can be a small failure, no thanks to my mood and my laptop being an uncooperative assclown. Alternatively, I budgeted for days like this in my Hundred Days of Blogging madness.

Instead of enjoying my writing (hey, I can hope), here’s some music that helps me along as I write (and through life in general). Naturally, I claim no ownership of any of this music. It just helps keep me sane on days like today (when the internet apparently only works on devices I DON’T NEED THE INTERNET TO WORK ON; I’m looking at you, Wheatley, you lazy piece of circuitry). Anyway, onto the good stuff.

Coldplay – Viva la Vida

St. Vincent – Psychopath

Metric – Speed the Collapse

MSMR – Fantasy

(This one’s a bit trippy, but I love the song all the same.)

Delerium – Stargazing

 

Fifty days in, and fifty to go

Has it really been fifty days already? Because it feels like it’s been about a thousand. While I may not have created a fully-fledged blog post for each day, I’m still breaking my brain for content that isn’t entirely recycled and stale.

This was not an easy challenge, and I think I’m going to need to sit myself down and have a long, very serious monologue in my own general direction about why this would’ve probably been a hair easier if it were planned out a little more. It has definitely had its fun moments, though, and this has been enough hard work to make me appreciate the fact that I need to keep moving as a writer no matter how lazy or tired I’m feeling. Even if it’s just a little bit of work for the day, I still end up feeling better than I would had I just done absolutely nothing.

Standard warning: this is a very introspective post, which no doubt happened because I’ve had too much time alone with my thoughts (and they’re treacherous little bastards).  Continue reading