Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Urinals - "Black Hole" (1979)

How far-reaching is this? Expanded diatonicism by the use of all major chords, just like a garage band circa 1967. Clever (and very beautiful) use of vocal harmonies at the ends of lines in both the verses AND the chorus. All of this presented within a compositional and arrangement context that had its closest parallel with the New York no wave bands.

"Black Hole" on Lala.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wire - "Outdoor Miner" (1978)

Really nice how this plays around with the descending vi-V-IV chord progression.

Verses each have a pair of rhyming phrases. The first phrase has less of a functional feel, starting on the IV chord and then going up to vi, from which it descends along the vi-V-IV. The precedent of going from IV to vi at the beginning of that phrase, though, sets up the next line. By ending the first line on the IV, they can move to the vi again and start the second phrase on that chord. That second phrase, then, is just vi-V-IV, a more recognizable, functional harmonic formula and the phrase that finally leads to the tonic chord that begins the chorus. (Note also that the more recognizable harmonic line is where they bring in the vocal harmonies.)

Last part of the song, the single verse with the different melodic lines and the abbreviated conclusion, is all quite pleasant.

"Outdoor Miner" on Lala.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

R.E.M. - "Moral Kiosk" (1983)

Never realized before how big of a difference there is between the production on Chronic Town and Murmur. Maybe a big part of the appeal of Murmur is just how wet it is and yet how clear it is at the same time. On this track, the guitars are wet enough that they become a little obscured when the background vocals come in, but they're so crisp and clear on the verses and the two-line refrain.

Great example also of how R.E.M. were successfully blending things that were a little more harmonically abstract (the verses) with real power pop-oriented harmonic richness (the refrain).

"Moral Kiosk" on Lala.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pink Floyd - "The Gnome" (1967)

Nice how the simple statement about nature ("Look at the sky/Look at the river/Isn't it good?"), a seeming non-sequitur, occurs in this charming song about elementals.

"The Gnome" on Lala.