I listened to some really good music — some longtime favorites, some new-to-me tunes — in the month of July. Let’s get into it.
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.
I really cannot believe that it’s taken me this long to listen to The Dark Side of the Moon from beginning to end, but here I am. I have a Pink Floyd greatest hits compilation (which has most of the songs from The Dark Side of the Moon), The Wall and Wish You Were Here, but the Pink Floyd discography just hit the Amazon Prime music library.
I have three things I want to say about The Dark Side of the Moon as an album. First, I am hard pressed to think of another album that is so masterfully layered in both theme and sounds. Most of the lyrical content centers around the passing of time and parsing out life purpose, and it has always tapped so deeply and profoundly into my thoughts and feelings. Once you hear the cash machine loop of “Money” and the ringing clocks of “Time,” you wonder how you ever lived your life without hearing this music.
Secondly, if I had access to a time machine, I would travel back to 1972 to hear this album for the first time with the rest of the world and see it performed live — I want to know what that felt like. Thirdly, I would just like to thank the universe for inspiring Pink Floyd to write and record “Time.”
If you have never listened to Pink Floyd, I won’t judge you — just start with The Dark Side of the Moon. My favorite songs, which are some of my favorite songs ever, are “Time,” “Money” and “Brain Damage.” You’ll thank me.
Florence and the Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.
My life during the year of 2010 basically consisted of three things: Gothic literature, tights-and-oxfords combos and Florence and the Machine. I had a group of friends (extremely cool girls from journalism class) who turned me on to Florence Welch. We were all pretty obsessed with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and Lungs was the perfect soundtrack. (Welch is pretty fearless, and the overwhelming string presence probably had something to do with it.) I’m mostly speaking from my own view, but I think we all liked Florence and the Machine because Welch was unapologetically a woman, and wasn’t afraid to express authentic emotion. If you hark back to the sounds of 2010, Florence and the Machine weren’t like any other popular artist or group at the time.
Six years later, I rediscovered her music via How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful via an episode of Haim’s “Haim Time” on Beats 1, and I’m mad at myself for not being on top of this album when it first came out. I love the imagination of the lyrics, and how it makes me feel:
And every city was a gift
And every skyline was like a kiss upon the lips
You can interpret a lot of the lyrics of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful to be about the tumultuous relationship between a pair of lovers, but I think it’s also about one’s relationship with the world. It’s scary and mystifying, but it’s incredible and awesome. And as I’ve grown up, so has Florence and the Machine — to me, Welch’s observations and lyrical composition has evolved between Lungs and this album.
The other comparison that I couldn’t help but make is between Welch and women like Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush. I can definitely see Welch and a band like Haim taking up the mantle for artist-goddesses, and that makes me feel pretty dang good about the future.
If you listen to this album, definitely pay attention to “Ship to Wreck,” “What Kind of Man,” “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” “Queen of Peace,” and “Third Eye.” If you like Florence and the Machine, listen to Haim’s Days are Gone.
Allah-Las are one of my favorite bands that no one really knows about, and I’ve had both of their LPs on heavy rotation for the past month. It’s pretty easy listening, and makes for really good work music.
What makes Allah-Las so good is that they’ve been able to take the essence of 1960s surf music and dial it back and down for the alternative rock audience. They share a lot of the same themes with the Beach Boys — communication breakdown, beach days — but they make it sound a lot cooler for kids who think the Beach Boys is dad music (I am not one of those kids, by the way. I will never get over “California Girls.”) When I’m stuck indoors, their music is a surefire way to mentally transport me to the beach. If Allah-Las were a band when Joan Didion was in her youth, I can totally imagine her listening to this in her white Corvette on Pacific Coast Highway and going home to work on The White Album.
My favorite songs are “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)” and “Catamaran” from Allah-Las, and “Buffalo Nickel” and “Every Girl” from Worship the Sun. Allah-Las are also masters at instrumentals, and I love “Ela Navega” and “Sacred Sands” from Allah-Las, and “Ferus Gallery” from Worship the Sun.
What have you been listening to lately? Tell me in the comments.