FIONA APPLE – EVERY SINGLE NIGHT/PERIPHERY
Have you ever experienced a panic attack? It is quite simply the feeling of your mind attacking your body’s state of peace. Like a dog broken from its leash as a rabbit hops hurriedly in the distance, your mind races away and you have nothing to do but watch in fear. Then your brain becomes an antagonistic foreign entity, uncomfortably sitting on the top of your head… kind of like a dead octopus sitting on your crown, with its long cold tentacles sliding across your cheeks, and you would do anything to just get it off. In Fiona Apple’s song Every Single Night from the new album The Idler Wheel… she describes it so perfectly:
Every single night
I endure the flight
Of little wings of white-flamed
Butterflies in my brain
These ideas of mine
Percolate the mind
Trickle down the spine
Swarm the belly, swelling to a blaze
That’s when the pain comes in
Like a second skeleton
Trying to fit beneath the skin
I can’t fit the feelins in…
Every single night’s a fight with my brain
The music mirrors the stress as her trembling voice juxtaposes eerily with the lullaby xylophone. Eventually the fear hits a pinnacle as her voice raises to a haunting tribal chant every time she hits the word “brain”, and a held low piano note looms overtop forecasting impending doom. It is a creepy little insight into the off-kilter mind of Ms. Apple.
And check out Periphery just for fun
FIONA APPLE – WEREWOLF
My girlfriend and I share tastes when it comes to music. Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, The National, Frightened Rabbit, LCD Soundsystem, Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, are just some of our mutual favourites (I know, she’s pretty damn cool). But we have been at odds over one artist for some time now. Musical phenom and emotional powerhouse Fiona Apple is somebody I respect greatly for talent. Receiving a Grammy at nineteen is no small feat. But my favourite songs have all needed a cohesive melody or beat, no matter how experimental. Apple, like the jazz artists I could never get into, has a disjointed and loose nature to her music. She does have exceptions, and I have been known to listen to songs like Extraordinary Machine without the influence of my better half. Werewolf also falls into that elite group of songs. The lyrics are brilliant and revealing, the piano work is excellent, and best of all your patience is paid off with an element rarely associated with Apple – catchiness. “Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key” is an melodic line that gets stuck in your head with ease. It is also a beautiful way of expressing that sometimes things aren’t always perfect, in fact, sometimes things are far from it, and that’s okay. Leave it to Apple to find peace in sadness. I really was surprised I enjoyed this song as much as I did. Even more surprising, not too long ago my girlfriend played the Tidal album for me as I was relaxing on the couch. I don’t know if the planets had all aligned perfectly at that very moment, or if Apple’s music is best listened to in a state of great relaxation, but I loved it. I guess we do agree on everything.
WOODPIGEON – PIANO PIECES FOR ADULT BEGINNERS
Calgary = conservatives, cowboys, cold… and culture? My hometown of Calgary was named one of the cultural capitals of Canada in 2012. That made me, and everyone I know tilt our heads to the side and say “Really?” For myself and other Calgarians, this city is one that demolishes its heritage buildings, spans its bland suburbia into infinity, and finds art only in how it supes up its pick-up trucks. I know, however, that is a naive way of thinking. No matter where you are, there is a creative soul to be found. It’s just harder to see it in your own backyard sometimes. If I look close enough, I can see a thriving music scene in Cowtown. From Chad VanGaalen to Tegan and Sara to Twenty Centuries of Stony Sleep, talent is coming out of the woodwork. Which brings me to Woodpigeon. Although they have been releasing albums since 2006, I only first heard them a few weeks ago. The song Piano Pieces for Adult Beginners was playing on the radio during a drive home. Its jaunty piano and cynical lyrics felt like a sped up and more melodic track from Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine. Although the entire song is enjoyable, it is the one line that hooks into you and festers – “good things come to those you hate”. It sets a jaded and guarded mood to the song that only switches with the vulnerable last line – “I just want you to know, I don’t want you to go”. The juxtaposition makes an affecting balance, and a truly enjoyable listen. It was a pleasant surprise to discover these guys were from Calgary. The more I realize great art can be created in this western prairie sprawl, the more I think we may have sense of culture worth acknowledging.