Earworms #5 – Aliens, Separation, and Controversial Covers

As finals draw ever closer (and my time at Oxford comes to an end), I am spending more and more time in the library. Thus, a great way to procrastinate is to browse Spotify/YouTube to look for new music. The best thing is that I can justify it as doing “work”…

Arrival by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Now, at this year’s Academy Awards, Arrival suffered probably the most notable snub, when Amy Adams wasn’t nominated for Best Actress. However, another one in my opinion would be Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score to the film; a Stockhausian take on film music, using vocal loops and electronica to create a totally alien sound world. In my opinion, one of the top three scores from 2016, and how it didn’t get nominated is beyond me.

Big Day in a Small Town by Brandy Clark

A genre of music I know little to nothing about is country. However, I have recently been exposed to a lot more through my university work, and over the past couple of weeks. Brandy Clark’s sophomore album is one such work, and it is a beautiful piece of storytelling through song. Tracks like “Girl Next Door”, “Love Can Go to Hell”, “Homecoming Queen”, and “Since You’ve Gone to Heaven” are so poetic and emotional in so many different ways, with really varied instrumentals that I didn’t at all expect from a country artist. If I had heard Big Day in a Small Town when it came out last year, it probably would have made my favourite albums of 2016.

Original Score to Game of Thrones: Season 6 by Ramin Djawadi

I know everyone knows the theme tune to Game of Thrones. I know that season 6 came out over half a year ago. But who cares when the music is this good?!? A lot of words have been expended waxing lyrically about “Light of the Seven” and how it perfectly created tension through new sounds we haven’t heard before in Westeros and with no hints of previous themes from the rest of the music and both of these things are true; in my opinion, it is one of the best pieces of TV music ever. But the rest of this season’s score is also great: “Hold the Door” is tense, scary, and heart-wrenching, “Blood of my Blood” is somewhat inspiring with hints of ultimate menace, and “Needle” has a brilliant sense of anticipation for what is to come. I highly recommend the music from the entire show, but Djawadi really outdid himself this time.

Songs of Separation by Songs of Separation

This is a wonderfully inventive folk album, from a collection of Scottish and English artists. The fusion of the two styles works incredibly well on songs like “Soil and Soul”, with the Scottish style become much stronger on the tracks in Gaelic.  “Sea King” is a personal favourite of mine, with incredibly evocative lyrics and setting that even has hints of Debussy within it (who would have thought it?). I highly recommend this album if you are looking for some good quality folk.

Comfortably Numb by Scissor Sisters

This is going to be a controversial choice for some people. Now, if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I really like synth-pop. I also think that Pink Floyd are one of the most influential bands ever, and to many, any cover of their songs is tantamount to blasphemy. But, I genuinely think that this cover of Comfortably Numb is brilliant. The synth beat numbs the ears and does inject more energy into it, but that isn’t a bad thing. Jake Shears (the lead singer) does a great job with the vocals, sounding numb yet engaged, but still conveying David Gilmour and Roger Water’s excellent writing. This cover was endorsed by Gilmour and Nick Mason, so give it a chance; it’s really fabulous.

Hope you enjoy my picks for this post. It’s probably now time to stop procrastinating and revise…

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