Arachnophonia : Bon Iver “Bon Iver”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Claire (class of 2020) and features indie folk band Bon Iver’s second album. Thanks, Claire!

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Last semester, I had the chance to attend a Bon Iver concert, after being an avid fan of the band for more than six years. The concert exceeded my expectations. Since the concert, I have frequently listened to Bon Iver’s second studio album, cleverly titled Bon Iver. This album is a departure from the band’s first album, which was self-recorded in an isolated cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. Bon Iver won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2012, and the song “Holocene” was nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year, breaking into the alternative music scene in a bold and recognizable way. My favorite song on this album is, by far, “Holocene.” The name of the song is shared with geological epoch which translates to “The Age of Man.” The album also features titles of tracks with names of places, such as Hinnom, TX and Lisbon, OH, which seem to have little to do with the songs themselves. The experience of listening to this album from start to finish is difficult to describe in words, yet it brings about an intense emotional response, allowing listeners to question their own human condition in this “Holocene” we are currently living in.

Bon Iver - Holocene

Arachnophonia : The Smiths “The Queen Is Dead”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Aly (class of 2018) and features a classic 1986 album by the British group The Smiths. Thanks, Aly!

The Smiths

The Queen Is Dead

Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

One of The Smiths’ most well-known albums, The Queen is Dead, is the quintessential album for anyone looking to get into this quirky indie rock band. The album, released in 1986 and re-released as a collector’s edition in 2017, has been unanimously praised, and even considered the “greatest album of all time” by major British music publication NME. The lyrics, sung by the famous now-solo Morrissey, are filled with clever imagery and sharp social commentary. Track 9, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” was featured in the classic rom-com 500 Days of Summer and remains one of the most famous Smiths songs. This album is full of songs that take a few listens to really absorb all of the witty lyric details that often hint at social unrest, emotional struggles, and even anarchy. For someone looking to indulge in some of the best vintage fight-the-power music with hints of satire, this album is definitely worth the listen.

Smiths - Queen Is Dead poster

Arachnophonia : Maroon 5 “Live: Friday The 13th”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Mary (class of 2018) and features a 2005 CD/DVD release by the band Maroon 5. Thanks, Mary!

Maroon 5
“Live: Friday the 13th”

Maroon 5 Live Friday the 13th

This is a live DVD and CD release by Maroon 5, and it was recorded on May 13, 2005 in Santa Barbara, California at the Santa Barbara Bowl. The live concert is a performance of all their songs and the CD contains the same tracks. I chose this one because Maroon 5 is one of my favorite artists and this CD contains one of my favorite tracks called “Sunday Morning.” “Sunday Morning” is often described as blue-eyed soul or jazz-fusion. This is one of my go-to songs when I’m driving in a nice weather. When the weather gets warm and the sky looks nice outside, I just want to drive and listen to this song. This is the kind of a song that you want to listen to when you had a lazy day, slept in on a weekend and are going to a nice brunch place on a warm nice day in April or May. The lyrics are very sweet as well as it describes someone who is all the songwriter sees when life gets hard to do. I highly recommend this song to those of you who haven’t heard it yet as the weather is warming up now!

Maroon 5

New CDs added in March!

New CDs for March 2018

Concertos, Chamber and Orchestral Music

Francois Devienne – Flute Concertos Nos. 9-12
Jennifer Higdon – All Things Majestic / Viola Concerto / Oboe Concerto
Jennifer Higdon – Piano Trio / Voices / Impressions

Higdon - All Things Majestic

Sheku Kanneh-Mason – Inspiration

Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Inspiration

Jeffrey LaDeur – Debussy & Rameau: The Unbroken Line
Alon Sariel – Telemandolin

Alon Sariel - Telemandolin

Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartets 2 & 4 / Gringolts Quartet
Kai Schumacher – Beauty in Simplicity

Kai Schumacher - Beauty in Simplicity

Jazz

Behn Gillece – Walk of Fire
Aaron Goldberg – The Now

Justin Kauflin – Dedication
Jimmy McGriff – The Best of the Sue Years, 1962-1965

Jimmy McGriff

Thelonious Monk – Solo Monk
Mostly Other People Do The Killing – Red Hot
Oneness of Juju – Space Jungle Luv

Oneness of JuJu - Space Jungle Luv

Gregory Porter – Nat “King” Cole & Me
Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet – Intents and Purposes

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet

Opera, Opera Excerpts and Art Songs

Daron Hagen – After Words : 21st-Century Song Cycles

Daron Hagen 21st Century Song Cycles

Choral Music

Benjamin Britten – A Ceremony of Carols / Friday Afternoons / Three Two-Part Songs
Luminos – In Lucem
John Turner – Christmas Card Carols

Luminos - In Lucem

Folk and World Music

The James Connolly Songs of Freedom Band – Songs of Freedom
Various Artists – Andina, the Sound of the Peruvian Andes : Huyano, Carnaval & Cumbia, 1968 to 1978

Andina

Popular Music

Various Artists – Caribbean in America, 1915-1962
Steven Wright-Mark – My Plastic World …

Caribbean in America

Arachnophonia: David Bowie “Blackstar”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Gabi (class of 2020), and features Blackstar , the 25th and final album from English musician, David Bowie. Thanks, Gabi!

David Bowie

Blackstar

David Bowie - Blackstar

On what would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday, an HBO original documentary titled, David Bowie: The Last Five Years premiered on the channel. The film explores the end of Bowie’s career, ranging from his last ever live performance in 2004, to the release of his final album, Blackstar, and corresponding music videos. The film revealed a new side of Bowie to me, and as a longtime fan, I was intrigued by the processes behind his later work, which he kept so concealed from the public–until now. It has inspired me to write about Bowie’s final album, his swan song, Blackstar.

HBO Doc promo

Blackstar came out when I was a senior in high school. I had listened to Bowie’s complete discography throughout my teenage years and was caught by surprise when he released a full-length album in 2016. Upon first listen, the album is very unique compared to his others, which says a great deal considering every one of Bowie’s albums represents a different stylistic era of Bowie. The album is concise, featuring only 7 tracks and a running time of 41 minutes. A new influence of jazz is also noticeable throughout the record, especially on track 4: “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)“. This track featured collaborators like Maria Schneider, a notable jazz musician and composer. Bowie even cited Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp a Butterfly, an album that fuses hip-hop and jazz, as an inspiration for this choice.

This jazz influence overtakes that of rock’n’roll, which many would associate as Bowie’s main style. There is also something distinctly darker and ominous in the sound of Bowie’s voice on this album as compared to others. This, paired with the mix of new, experimental styles, made the listen of Blackstar a unique one for a Bowie fan. What would he do next? Did Blackstar mark a definite new era in Bowie’s sonic exploration?

Two days after the album’s release, before having much time to process or interpret this new sound, David Bowie passed away from liver cancer. The world was heartbroken, as the disease had been kept a secret from the public since its inception. It was not until his passing, however, that the public uncovered the true genius behind Blackstar: it is encrypted with secret messages that allude to Bowie’s death.

In the title track, Bowie sings,

“Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)”

Bowie - astronaut

Throughout his career, Bowie sung about space in a myriad of ways. On the song “Star”, from his 1973 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, he calls himself a rock n roll star, but now, he has faded to black. In the music video for Blackstar, we even see a nod to Major Tom himself in the opening shot, as a man in a space suit looks up at a gigantic, black star.

Track 3, “Lazarus“, opens with the lines,

“Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now”

Here, Bowie is literally calling to his listeners from the afterlife, reflecting on his time as a public figure. The corresponding music video features Bowie lying tensely in a hospital bed, and eventually he is dragged into a dark closet, almost like he was dragged away from life into death.

Tony Visconti, longtime producer, collaborator, and friend of Bowie, said that this album was Bowie’s “parting gift” to his fans. Two years after his death, the gift still resonates, and the musical risks he took throughout the project are reminders that even in his weakest days, Bowie was an innovator, and will always be remembered as one.

avid Bowie - Blackstar portrait

Arachnophonia: Amy Winehouse “Back to Black”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Eve (class of 2020) and features English singer songwriter Amy Winehouse’s second and final studio album Back to Black. Thanks, Eve!

Amy Winehouse

Back to Black

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Amy Winehouse is famed for her distinctive voice and mastery of jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul, and the English singer-songwriter’s second album Back to Black reflects the impressive vocals and originality that brought her to fame. The album was released in 2006 and earned Winehouse five Grammy Awards, the 2007 Best British Female Artist Brit Award, and world-wide recognition.

Amy Winehouse - Rolling Stone Cover 2007

Winehouse on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, June 2007

Yet in many ways, Back to Black reflects the unhappy circumstances that surrounded Winehouse’s life and led to her untimely death at the age of 27. For example, songs such as “Back to Black” and “Rehab” reveal themes of depression and substance addiction struggles, while “Love is a Losing Game” speaks to the toxic nature of Winehouse’s romantic relationships. Still, darker elements of the album are balanced by upbeat tracks, and song such as “Tears Dry On Their Own” provide a refreshing message of self-confidence and perspective. If viewed through the lens of Amy Winehouse’s life, the honesty and rawness of Back to Black is moving, yet tracks also stand on their own for listener interpretation. In this way, Back to Black can be heard as a musical feat, tribute to Winehouse and medium for artistic contemplation.

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Arachnophonia: Jack Johnson “In Between Dreams”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker,Emma (class of 2021) and features In Between Dreams a Jack Johnson album from 2005. Thanks, Emma!

Jack Johnson

In Between Dreams

Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams

This CD was released in 2005, though the music on it is timeless. Jack Johnson’s songs are relaxing, beachy, and easy to listen to. They remind me of a summer day but yet I play them all year round. This album was his third studio release, and many of his most popular songs are on it. Some of my favorites are “Banana Pancakes” (the name says it all), “Breakdown“, “Better Together,” and “Constellations.” I remember first hearing his music on the soundtrack to the Curious George movie when I was little, and ever since then Jack Johnson has been one of my go-to favorites. I’ve never met someone who didn’t like his songs! I hope he releases some new music soon!

Jack Johnson  - Bonnaroo 2005

New CDs added in January & February

New CDs for January & February 2018

Concertos and Chamber Music

Ludwig van Beethoven- Sonatas – Andrew Rangell Piano
Carl Fruhling – Clarinet Trios
David Rakowski – Etudes
David Rakowski – Stolen Moments

Rakowski - Stolen Moments

Jazz

Ceclie McLorin Salvant – Dreams and Daggers

Salvant - Dreams and Daggers

Art Songs

Virgil Thomson – Three Pictures

Thomson - Three Pictures

Choral Music

Claudio Monteverdi – Eternal Monteverdi: Vespro Della Beata Vergine 1650

Monteverdi - Vespro 1650

World Music

Brooklyn Raga Massive – Terry Riley In C

Brooklyn Raga Massive

Arachnophonia: “Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard’s The Dark Knight: A Film Score Guide”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Abby (class of 2021) and features an analysis of the score from the 2008 film The Dark Knight. Thanks, Abby!
Han Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s The Dark Knight : A Film Score Guide by Vasco Hexel

Are you a fan of Batman? Do you love learning about how movie soundtracks impact movies, even having the power to completely change emotion and perception? Or maybe you’re taking a music theory class and want to read something that won’t put you to sleep on the first page? Then this, my friend, is the book for you: Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s The Dark Knight: A Film Score Guide by Vasco Hexel. It’s a long title but hear me out. This book tracks Zimmer’s process in the making of The Dark Night film score, as the name suggests. But not only that, it provides in depth analysis of the characters Batman and the Joker, describing how the music was designed to reflect the psychology of each character.

For mega-fans and theorists, it’s a musical, analytical wonderland. And for those who need help in figuring out how to make a Grammy award-winning soundtrack, or who just need a break from Beethoven, this is the place to start!

Arachnophonia: Adele “21”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Diego (class of 2021) and features English singer-songwriter Adele’s 2011 studio album 21. Thanks, Diego!

Adele

21

Valentine’s Day was this month, and with that there are usually two types of people, those who have reason to celebrate the holiday, and those who celebrate the day afterwards, when all the candy is marked 50 percent off at the store. That being said, I think we can all agree on the fact that there is music that can be listened to in order to enjoy the holiday to its finest. It is hard to call out a certain artist for making love songs, as there are a lot, a lot, A LOT of love songs that have been made throughout history, just like there are a lot for us lonely people as well. However, without any regret, we can take a look at Adele for the sake of love/breakup songs. Specifically, we can look at 21, one of her most famous albums to date.

Released in 2011, 21 was a way for Adele to tell her story about an unsuccessful relationship that she experienced. Having released 19 just two years prior, Adele had already begun to build a very devoted fan base that rushed to pre-order and buy her album. Little did anyone know that this would be one of the best sold albums in history. The album itself was widely praised both by professional critics and the general population. It peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and had singles that remained on the US album charts for 24 weeks. 21 ended up becoming the bestselling album of both 2011 and 2012.

Adele 21

Moving on to the songs on the album, as you listen to some of the songs, you notice that she seems to go through all of the themes everyone attributes to after a breakup, from anger to loneliness, regrets, and finally the acceptance of what has happened. For example, the song “Rumor Has It” is in response to all the rumors that surrounded the breakup of Adele and her partner at the time. “Rolling in the Deep” was written to insult Adele’s ex-lover for making negative remarks about her after the break-up. As a whole, her entire album tells different aspects of Adele’s relationship, and its subsequent failure. While it does give off a solemn vibe, the album as a whole makes it sound like the opening of a new door in Adele’s life, and after taking the hard road of coping with the breakup, and the fallout from it, she is ready to move on to someone new. The song “Someone Like You” is one of the last songs in the album, a song which Adele describes as one that made her feel free and liberated.

I had to write it to feel OK with myself and OK with the two years I spent with him. And when I did it, I felt so freed.

And that’s what this album is about! It is about being able to make it past a breakup and coming out stronger because of it, it is about learning to forgive those who have hurt you, and it is about cherishing what you have before it’s gone. Adele’s 21 isn’t just for those who have gone through a bitter breakup, or those who miss what they once had, but instead it’s a reminder that there is a such thing as happiness out there, and maybe you already have it, or maybe it’s out there looking for you.

Adele - Rolling in the Deep music video still