Song Of The Day: Elbow – Golden Slumbers

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Having already released the Little Fictions album back in February, Elbow have just recently released their second album this year, a Best Of collection.

It’s a time honoured tradition and singer Guy Garvey has noted that “Best Ofs are a good way of introducing new fans to a big back catalogue.” I have to wonder though who exactly it is that they’re hoping to introduce to their catalogue through The Best OF Elbow. Other than completists, longtime fans surely have pretty much everything already and as for new fans, well, they’ve all got the internet and all of the streaming services and/or illegal means to obtain said recordings available at their fingertips. So who is this for? Considering that the main draw on this release is the band’s version of The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers,” newly recorded for UK department store chain John Lewis’ latest Christmas ad, it’s likely that they’re making a play for the stocking stuffer set with this one. And the completists.

While I may question the need for Best Of/Greatest Hits style collections in today’s music market, there’s no question that Elbow have done the Fab Four justice with their take on the Abbey Road classic. The band have just released a video to accompany the song featuring footage from the Michel Gondry-directed ad along with some behind the scenes stuff. Check it out:

“The Best Of” tracklist:

Standard Version:
Grounds for Divorce
Magnificent (She Says)
Lippy Kids
One Day Like This
The Bones of You
My Sad Captains
Leaders of the Free World
Mirrorball
Fugitive Motel
New York Morning
Great Expectations
The Birds
Scattered Black and Whites
bonus track
Golden Slumbers

Deluxe Version (bonus tracks):

Any Day Now
Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
Weather to Fly
Station Approach
Switching Off
Little Fictions
This Blue World
Kindling (Fickle Flame) featuring John Grant
Newborn
Puncture Repair
The Night Will Always Win
Starlings
The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
Dear Friends

Song Of The Day: Snail Mail – Thinning

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The end of the year is the time when everyone starts compiling their lists of all the best stuff that came out over the past 12 months, but it’s also a great time to catch up on all the stuff you didn’t hear and to delve deeper into things that you heard but never quite took the time to get into. Snail Mail is one such band.

As far as I know, the band, led by 18 year old Lindsey Jordan, didn’t even release anything this year (their Habit EP came out in 2016) but this year is when they first caught my attention, having seen them opening for Priests back in February and catching a song or two in passing during SXSW last March. While they definitely impressed with their live show, I sort of forgot about them for awhile and was only reminded of the band recently via the Tiny Desk Concert they filmed back in September.

“Thinning” is a standout track from the band, exuding a sort of youthful energy while simultaneously sounding kind of bored (I mean that as the best kind of compliment, of course). At times, Jordan bring to mind Land Of Talk’s Liz Powell as well as Mary Timony (of Helium/Wild Flag/Ex hex fame and also Johnson’s guitar teacher). That’s definitely some good company to be in.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Baroque Bouquet – Plant Music (1975, Amherst Records)

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Liner notes. They can get pretty weird sometimes. And there are perhaps none weirder than those of Plant Music, a collection of “Music to keep your plants Healthy and Happy.” Yes, apparently the great scientific minds of yesteryear (or possibly just a couple of stoned botanists) decided to dedicate their efforts to finding out exactly the right mix of instrumental music to soothe your savage plants. I guess it probably checks out – just look at the great effects of music on the growth of Audrey II. I can’t help but question their expertise though after seeing them refer to acid rock as an “extremely simple musical form.” Not cool, man. Not cool. Also, what the hell is up with that bit where they casually mention the “sacrificing of animal life” being used as the stimulus in one earlier experiment? That’s pretty messed up. Maybe Audrey II really was involved in these experiments …

Anyways, check out the liner notes:

That music has profound effect upon life forms has been intuitively felt since antiquity. The effect of music upon plant growth has been studied at least since 1906. Bose (1906) suggested that plants may nearly be deaf. However one of his followers, Singh (1965), states that plants excited by pure notes of high frequency give direct responses and that under musical irradiation certain plants have improved both in yield and quality.

Weinberger (1968) reports that exposing wheat seeds and growing plants to high pitched sound can triple their growth.

Backster (1968) observed plant responses by means of a polygraph. Though not specifically referring to music as a stimulus to plant response he was led to the hypothesis that plants posess an “undefined primary perception” capability. He reports that such perception was indirectly demonstrated by the polygraph to which the plants were connected. The sacrificing of animal life in an adjacent room was the stimulus.

It seems to us (Boyles/Shannon) that to the degree in which Backster’s hypothesis is true, plants show this facility to “primarily perceive” music stimuli and possibly to respond selectively to contrasting types of music. 

This was part of the basis for our interest in the question: Do growing plants respond to energy sources in the form of musical sound, and if so, what generalizations can be made regarding the “types” of musical sound to which plants may selectively respond?

We reviewed the descriptions of existing experimentation done in the past and found that both strong positive and negative (stem slant) existed in experiments in terms of music varieties. The plants in all the experiments, in which we  were able to read the results, appeared as if a wind had blown plant stems uniformly away from one “type” of musical sound source and uniformly toward a musical sound source of another “kind”. We also found an accelerated deterioration of plant life quality ending in nearly 100% mortality after days of such exposure. The method of experimentation are all fairly alike: Environmental chambers were used, like plants were used in as many types of music as were being tested. Equal light sources were used as well as circulating fans. Temperatures of the chamber were also equal, and humidity factors were the same. The variable, of course, in all experiments was the types of music. After the experiments the plants were measured for life and growth in many ways.

A. Degree of slant of the stems both to and from the sound source.
B. Amount of root growth as contrasted to the other members of the studies.
C. Amount of new foliage.
D. Overall height and width of the plants

Within the limitations we have described, it appears that growing plants respond both toward and away from contrasting sound energies introduced into their environments.

Response to Bach and Shankar musical forms is evident in all experiments we have read. response away from percussion, and also from non-mathematical and extremely simple musical forms (acid rock) is equally evident.

We conclude that some presently unknown plant response mechanism may operate in sonic manipulated environments or that some known mechanism may respond in some unknown manner in such environments.

Song Of The Day: Lankum – The Granite Gaze

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Photo by Aidan Kelly Murphy

The stark, haunting sound of self-described “Dublin Folk Miscreants” Lankum somehow seems fitting for a cold winter day. “The Granite Gaze” is hardly an uplifting number, with singer Radie Peat delivering lines such as “they draw the marrow from our very bones and we in turn turned on our own,” “we queued up to eat the dirt,” and “the future’s farther day by day,” yet it’s an oddly compelling song that grabbed my attention from the first moment I heard it.

The song’s lyrics are matched perfectly by the slowly building music, which blends traditional sounds with a range of other influences – the band cites everything from from “American old-timey music, krautrock, ambient techno and psychedelic folk, to black metal, drone, punk and rock n’ roll” in their bio.

Lankum’s Between The Earth And The Sky is out now on Rough Trade Records.

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