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: 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

Arachnophonia: Simon & Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

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 Colin (class of 2021) and features Bridge Over Troubled Water a classic Simon & Garfunkel album first released in January 1970. Thanks, Colin!

Simon & Garfunkel

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled Water is Simon & Garfunkel’s fifth and final studio album and widely regarded as their best work. Bridge Over Troubled Water hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 in March 1970 and remained there for 10 weeks, sold over 8 million records in the United States, and also earned a Grammy award for Album of the Year in 1971.

Bridge Over Troubled Water is described as the duo’s “‘most effortless album and their most ambitious.’” The album is an eclectic mix of multiple genres, such as rock, jazz, R&B, and gospel, which formed a unique “individual” sound that was met with both acclaim and criticism. Riding the enormous success of their previous album, Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel established themselves as one of the greatest rock duos in the world at the time, before splitting up shortly after the album’s release.

Baby Driver / The Boxer 45

The album has two notable songs that I particularly like and recommend. “The Boxer” is a folk rock selection, and is a narrative, first-person lament that outlines the character of a boxer. The song describes the singer’s struggle to overcome poverty and loneliness, before crafting the boxer character as a metaphor for his life, exhibited in the lyrics “I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains.” “The Boxer” was popularized in the instrumental world due to Drum Corps International’s premier corps, the Bluecoats, and their 2008 production entitled “The Knockout,” in which the corps plays and sings excerpts of “The Boxer.” The Bluecoats’s interpretation of the song is widely recognized as one of the most popular segments of any DCI show in history, and is frequently performed by the corps while they tour over the summer.

The second song I recommend is entitled “Baby Driver.” This song played no part in the naming of 2017’s hit movie Baby Driver, but it was featured in the film. The song features an upbeat, rock vibe that sounds quite similar to The Beach Boys, and “Baby Driver” is sure to stick in your head hours after listening to it.

Arachnophonia: Sam Smith “In The Lonely Hour”

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 the debut 2014 album In The Lonely Hour by British singer Sam Smith.
Thanks, Mary!

Sam Smith

In The Lonely Hour

Sam Smith -  In the Lonely Hour

I chose Sam Smith’s album titled In the Lonely Hour because he is one of my favorite artists, and one of the songs in this album called “I’m Not the Only One” was the first music of Sam Smith that I was introduced to. I actually found out about Sam Smith’s music a lot later than everyone else because my friend recommended his music to me in the winter of 2014 although this album came out in May. I fell in love with Sam Smith’s music the minute I listened to this song because I loved the unique blend of classic soul, gospel choruses and acoustic instruments which made his music both soft and powerful at the same time. One of my few hobbies is to drive around and listen to music which I especially enjoy doing at night, and Sam Smith is definitely my go-to music on a chilly, wintry night. From this album, “Stay With Me” “Lay Me Down” and “Latch (Acoustic)” are also all my favorites. As the weather is gradually getting colder in Richmond as well, if you are stressed for any reason and are looking for a way to just relax and listen to good music, I recommend this album. It will be a good de-stressing moment.

Sam Smith Stay With Me Video SNL

Arachnophonia: Beck “Morning Phase”

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 Colin (class of 2021) and features the Grammy award winning ninth studio album by Beck. Thanks, Colin!

Beck

Morning Phase

Beck - Morning Phase

Released in 2014, Beck’s Morning Phase was a highly anticipated album after years of rumors surrounding its creation, and after news struck that Beck had signed with the incredibly famous Capitol Records. Morning Phase has been noted to sound very similar to Beck’s previous album, Sea Change, as both offer a melancholy and detached sound that Beck feared would drag on listeners’ ears. However, Morning Phase found itself to be widely regarded as Beck’s finest work, and the album earned the coveted Album of the Year Award at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

Beck

Morning Phase is essentially a commentary on what is black and white in the world, and what one should do when the world seems to be crumbling down. The album offers bright guitar playing, beautiful orchestral arrangements, layered vocals, and masterful percussion, all which culminate in each song to create a grand experience that meet many critics’ praise. Particularly interesting on this album is the song “Wave,” which features many of the elements previously stated of the album, and is a wonderful piece to listen to when one just needs to chill out.

Arachnophonia: Anita Baker “Giving You The Best That I Got”

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, Nancy (class of 2018) and features a classic 1988 album from R&B singer Anita Baker. Thanks, Nancy!

Anita Baker

Giving You The Best That I Got

Anita Baker -  Giving You The Best That I Got

Anita Baker is a soulful jazz, gospel, and R&B songstress from Ohio. Growing up in a household with musically inclined individuals, there was always a song being played. The most frequent artist I heard on a daily basis was Ms. Anita Baker. Her smooth and rich contralto voice eluded love and romance. She has had many classic love songs, but one of my favorites is “Giving You the Best That I Got” from her 1988 album of the same name. The song is about two people who have unconditional love for one another. It is sung in a rhythmic way and as you listen closely you can find different contextual expressions she adds to this piece. She paints one vivid picture of what love should really be not only in this song, but in all of her albums. Anita Baker has inspired my own original music and the way I structure my songs. Listening to her music soothes my soul and makes me reminisce on childhood memories.

Anita Baker - Giving You The Best That I Got (single)

Arachnophonia: Simon & Garfunkel “Bookends”

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 Simon & Garfunkel’s fourth studio album released in 1968, Bookends. Thanks, Aly!

Simon & Garfunkel

Bookends

Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends

I was re-shelving CDs recently while working a slow evening shift at the music library when I came across a Simon and Garfunkel CD. It immediately brought me back to a few years ago, when I went through a “phase” of folk rock, listening to the iconic duo, as well as a few other legends such as Cat Stevens. I then browsed our collection of Simon and Garfunkel selections, and soon discovered that the library offers almost their entire discography.

My all-time favorite album of theirs is Bookends. In my opinion, the 1968 album was released right in the “sweet spot” of Simon and Garfunkel’s musical career. It featured the quirky, iconic single we all know love, “Mrs. Robinson“, from the 1967 movie The Graduate. Some more of the duo’s greatest hits would come later, such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water“, arguably their best-known song. (Fun fact: “The Boxer” would also come in their following album, and Mumford and Sons has a great modern cover of this piece.)

The Graduate soundtrack

My personal favorite off the album is “Old Friends“, which sounds the best when listened to immediately before the closing theme of the album, “Bookends“, since the two songs seamlessly flow into each other. Appropriately, the album starts and ends with this theme, featuring simple harmonies and rich major-7 acoustic runs that could lull you into a peaceful relaxation.

Arachnophonia: The Postal Service “Give Up”

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, Cole (class of 2021) and features a 2003 album of the American indie rock supergroup The Postal Service. Thanks, Cole!

The Postal Service

Give Up

The Postal Service - Give Up

The only album ever released by early 2000’s indie pop/electronica supergroup The Postal Service, Give Up remains a staple of indie music and a testament to musical collaboration. The Postal Service consisted of electronic artist Jimmy Tamborello (also known as Dntel) and Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard, featuring additional vocals provided by Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis and Seattle-based indie rocker Jen Wood. Work on the album began in late 2001, and was accomplished by Tamborello and Gibbard sending CDs of the project back and forth through the mail (hence the band’s name) for just under a year. The Postal Service was always considered to be a side project by its members – during production Gibbard was also working on Death Cab for Cutie’s greatest album to date: Transatlanticism – which is why the collaboration’s quality and subsequent success are so profound. Give Up was released on February 19, 2003 through Sub Pop records, receiving near-universal praise and peaking at 45 on the US Billboard 200. The group toured in support of the album from April to August of the same year.

Gibbard and Tamborella

Gibbard and Tamborella circa 2003

While Give Up enjoyed moderate success in and around the year of 2003, it truly took on a second life once the group’s members returned to their primary acts. The album received platinum certification (signifying 1,000,000 units sold) in 2012, nearly a decade after its release. It was the second-ever release by Sub Pop (and currently is still their second-best selling effort) to achieve the status, coming after Nirvana’s 1989 album Bleach.

Many people believe Give Up to be Ben Gibbard’s greatest work, which only further salts the wound of The Postal Service being an entirely temporary and long gone affair. The Death Cab for Cutie front man’s voice arguably fits Tamborella’s 80’s inspired synths better than the four piece rock instrumentation of his main band. Lyrically too, Gibbard seems to have peaked with the intensely autobiographical songs featured on this album. One of my personal favorite excerpts from the first track, “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” follows:

It seems so out of context
In this gaudy apartment complex.
A stranger with your door key
Explaining that “I’m just visiting”.
I am finally seeing
That I was the one worth leaving.

The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Or this excerpt from “Nothing Better,” in which Ben Gibbard trades verses with Jen Wood, together playing their role as a feuding couple. This verse arrives just as Gibbard’s character has just pleaded with his lover to stay with him. Wood’s response follows:

I feel I must interject here
You’re getting carried away feeling sorry for yourself
With these revisions and gaps in history
So let me help you remember
I’ve made charts and graphs that should finally make it clear
Prepared a lecture
On why I have to leave

While judging from those two excerpts it may appear that Give Up is entirely ruminations on doomed relationships, thematically a lot of ground is covered, including friendship, memories, and happy relationships. In fact, the most popular song off of the album, “Such Great Heights,” opens with:

I am thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images and when
We kiss they’re perfectly aligned

The album’s impressive persistence post-release prompted The Postal Service to release a 10th anniversary edition of Give Up in 2013, accompanied by a supporting tour. Despite rumors of a second album in the works, Ben Gibbard announced in early August of that year that the group’s performance in Chicago on August 5th would be their last ever, and the group has since formally disbanded. Although saddened by the destruction of all prospect of a sophomore effort from The Postal Service, I can’t help but feel the ‘one-and-done’ nature of Give Up has helped elevate it into a mythical status within indie rock. It will forever be a personal favorite.