Someone once said that talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Or they may have said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture — the first page of a Google search was inconclusive on the matter, and this page creeped me out so I stopped* researching it. Either way, as I understand the saying (which is sometimes attributed to Elvis Costello), it suggests that analyzing music with language is pointless, just a marriage of two unrelated and abstract concepts. Well, I happen to be of the opinion that mixing abstract concepts is super fun, and I was reminded of how fun it can be with five awesome words — “alien Motown in the snow.” That’s how a friend (the same person who recommended Jesca Hoop) described the title track off Swedish electronic band Little Dragon’s 2011 album Ritual Union. Who could resist a description like that? As I was putting my earphones in, I remembered that I’d heard the song a few times, and I mentally played back the section where the vocals first come in, but as soon as I hit play, all I heard was 100% alien Motown in the snow. “Ritual Union” is now impossible to forget. The description is just so apt, and the song so enjoyable when keeping it in mind, that I’m not even going to ascribe my own adjectives to it. Just hit play below to see (well, ya know… hear) for yourself. If you want to hear some more of that good ol’ fashioned a.M.i.t.s., just click here and buy Ritual Union on iTunes.
Little Dragon — “Ritual Union”
*Though I did find this, which seems to come pretty damn close to bringing the “dancing about architecture” part of the saying to life.
I was in New York City for a wedding this past (long) weekend, and had a super fun, action packed few days — I ate at some amazing restaurants, visited a museum exhibit that included a working slide from the 4th floor to the 2nd, conducted an unscientific study on regional differences in transactional conversation (saying “Thank you!” enthusiastically to store owners and waiters to see if they return a “You’re welcome” — they usually don’t, which I know isn’t considered to be rude, but it’s still fun to try) and saw an amazing band that I didn’t even know I’d be seeing. Saturday’s wedding reception was packed with great music, thanks in large part to the fact that the couple of the hour answered “Both” to that age old question, “Band or DJ?” The DJ provided an excellent chronological progression from Motown to “Otis,” deftly managing the inverse relationship between time and mean age, but it was the band, Brooklyn-based Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, that totally blew me away, playing a short set of dynamite soul songs that packed a serious punch. It can’t be easy to come into that environment and get people dancing with original music, but Sister Sparrow, fronted by Arleigh Kincheloe’s booming yet feminine voice and bolstered by a 4-man horn section (I think it was 4, but don’t hold me to that — the Brooklyn Lager was a-flowin’), did just that, playing tunes off their self-titled album alongside a few covers, and everything just worked. The horns were great, the vocals were great, the lead guitar was great, the harmonica was great — to paraphrase our good friend Thom Yorke, everything was in its right place, and I eagerly found the album on Spotify so I could preview it on the train ride back home to Richmond. Check out a full stream of their album below, and buy it on iTunes here.
Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds – Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds