Friday, December 28, 2007

Multimedia Friday: Stereophonics

In an effort to bring a little structure to this blog, I'm going to make Fridays a day for multimedia, whether it's an interesting Youtube video (the lazy way) or a music rec.

This Friday, it'll be music. I'm banking on my tastes being eclectic enough that every once in a while, at least, I can share a gem of a song or artist/band that someone will find listen-worthy. I make no promises as to the quality of my tastes; I only know that I like what I like.

First off is a band whose music I've only gotten into recently, Stereophonics. When I fall for new music, though, I can fall hard, and these guys are skyrocketing up my charts. Genre-wise, they're indie rock or indie pop or the ever-ambiguous "alternative." What does that mean? A groovy, laid-back sound. I think what first drew me in were the vocals; singer Kelly Jones has an incredible voice, with just enough rasp and emotion in it to send shivers down my spine. When I listen to their music, the vibe I get is either a small blues club or coffee house, an intimate, laid-back setting, or a free-ranging road trip. It's moody and melancholy, but not negative or self-indulgently emo.

Admittedly, I only have one album of theirs right now, You Gotta Go There to Come Back, but it's a solid album, lyrically, musically, and whatever else constitutes a damn good album. The track that drew me in was "Maybe Tomorrow." It has potential to be gloomy ("I've been down / and I'm wondering why / these little black clouds / keep walking around / with me"), but the refrain has hope in it, "So maybe tomorrow / I'll find my way home." I mentioned the vocals earlier; I'll mention them again because they affect the delivery greatly. These lyrics look flat as I type them out, but they sound beautifully world-weary in the song. "Nothing Precious at All" is another atmospheric song; "I been people watching again / I think they watch me too / There's a new girl at the coffee house" opens the song, and the music makes you feel like you're there.

The album has a few pleasant surprises, too. "Madame Helga" opens with a neat little guitar riff; "Jealousy" has what sounds like a... gospel choir. Don't knock it; it worked for symphonic metal group Nightwish in "Meadows of Heaven," and it works for Stereophonics, too.

My favorite song was originally "Maybe Tomorrow," but in subsequent listens, I've fallen for title track "I'm Alright (You Gotta Go There to Come Back)" and the following song, "Rainbows and Pots of Gold":

Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

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