With Jonah & Charlie
The 7/19 Edition
The Sunshine // Manchester Orchestra
- Strolling down the street
- Driving to the beach
I do not make Beatles comparisons lightly. But when I heard Manchester Orchestra’s “The Sunshine,” my immediate reaction was “Man, this sounds like the Beatles if they got to record with today’s tech.” I’m well-aware of what a bold comparison this is, and how downright blasphemous it may feel to some people, but I stand by it. No one’s saying Manchester Orchestra is as good a band, but look — just listen for yourself before you bring out the pitchforks.
The song, structured into a verse, chorus, second verse, longer chorus, and an outro, has a bread-and-butter simplicity. There is a distinction between verse and chorus, but in a way, the whole song sounds — or feels — like the chorus. The energy level, instrumentation, and melodic ideas are consistent throughout the song. “The Sunshine” doesn’t traverse great distances, it immediately establishes and settles into its comfort zone and doesn’t ask you to leave it.
A mandolin/banjo-like instrument plucks a bright melody, evoking the iconic “Here Comes The Sun.” Also like those of the Beatles, Manchester Orchestra’s vocals are generously layered, sounding like one man singing in ten voices and giving them a sweet, velvety feel. But whereas the Beatles sang with a cheerful gusto, Manchester Orchestra’s vocals are softer, with a dash of tenderness and a hint of melancholy.
The Beatles comparison applies past mere instrumentation. “The Sunshine” has the same upbeat, breezy, sunny (ha ha!) je ne sais quois that Here Comes The Sun is practically a dictionary definition for now. Maybe what’s most Beatles-y about this song, then, is just the feeling. It’s simply-constructed classic rock with an upbeat inflection and an easy, breezy, laid-back groove. It just makes me want to stroll down a sunny street and wave jovially at everyone I pass. That’s a very Beatles-y emotion to me, and a hard one to pin down, but Manchester Orchestra nails it here.
Count to Nine // The Japanese House
- pushing the boundaries of genre
- anyone feeling like all the music they hear sounds the same
I’m all about weird music. The zanier, bolder, and more unpredictable a song can be (while still sounding good), the more I’m probably going to dig it. The Japanese House was introduced to me through Spotify recommendations based on Bon Iver, but “Count To Nine” is, uh… well, it’s not folk music. I can say that confidently. What kind of music it IS, however, I don’t know how to express. Alternative, electronic, indie, and pop all leave their footprints on the song, but “Count To Nine” is almost genre-transcendent — not because it has no genre, but rather it has so many. The Japanese House splices genre elements together like a mad scientist, with an utterly singular, novel, and captivating result.
What “Count To Nine” is able to express by melding and mangling so many styles far exceeds what could be done with any one style. Experimentation is thrilling just for its own sake, but The Japanese House is neither gratuitous nor indulgent with the pieces it chooses: each element is placed with intention and care, forming the most jagged jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together effortlessly.
In a clever, almost mischievous feat of composition, “Count To Nine”’s runtime is — you guessed it — exactly nine minutes. It should be noted that any song that can last nine minutes and not feel like a nine-minute song is a feat all of its own. “Count To Nine” features many different sections, sounds, and energies, so it continues to evolve over the runtime. The Japanese House doesn’t just use up fresh ideas and toss them in the trash like tissues in an effort to reach that nine minute mark. Themes, sounds, and ideas are repeated throughout the song, giving it the cohesion and consistency that a nine-minute conveyor belt of unrelated, unrevisited musical ideas would lack. It’s nine minutes, and that’s cool, but what’s cooler is how fun those nine minutes are.
Sweet Adeline // Avriel & the Sequoias
- Driving around on a summer night
- A chill hangout with friends
For those who have read one or two of my articles before, you might know that I’ve recently been turned off from a lot of mainstream country music. The start of the Bro-Country movement in the industry began around the same time as folk-pop became popular. So if you missed the guitars and banjos in popular country music, folk bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers began making their ways on the pop charts. And one of my picks this week comes from that folky, white guys in man-buns chanting “Hey!” while playing acoustic guitar time period. (That was only three or four years ago, feels like much longer right?)
Even though I like to poke fun at the genre, I do love folk music, and Sweet Adeline has many of the things that makes me love the genre. I’ve always loved the raw sound that comes with lots of folk music, and hearing the banjo roll alongside mandolin never fails to put a smile on my face. None of the instrumental parts are too complex, but the song is still a nice easy listen for anyone who needs a pick-me-up.
The lyrics aren’t too revolutionary, a sweet folky love song to a girl named Adeline. But that’s not why I really dig this song. What makes me love this song is laid-back use of traditional folk instruments into that more modern sound, while still keeping a great, clean sound.
California // Tyler Lyle
- Riding off into the sunset
- Drinking alone on the beach
Yea if you can’t tell I’ve been on a folk binge this week. This particular song has been making its way on my playlist for a few years now for two reasons. The first would be because it has relatively simple instrumental parts, with a touch of tasteful mandolin and banjo. The second, is the actual lyrics of the song.
Tyler Lyle uses the idea of headed out west and starting a new life in order to leave a bad relationship.
“I'm going to California- by myself , The next time you see me I'll be someone else
There ain't no gates around heaven, Ain't no gates round hell
Just the sunset in the distance, and the dark on it's tail”
It might just be the fact that I’m from the southwest, but I’ve always loved the idea of riding off into the sunset in the west, leaving everything behind and starting new. This song plays into that love of mine. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns over the years, and I can’t tell you the number of times that the thought of getting in my vehicle and driving out west has crossed my mind. For those of us who have that little bit of western love in us, here is our song.
A great song to sing loud in your car after a long day, relaxing while walking the dog, or even sitting around with friends, thinking back on old times. Also, an added bonus to this song is that it’s simple enough to learn on guitar, so if you’re the type of person who brings an acoustic guitar to a party, this might be your new song to learn!
“So this is it- this is the last song that you get,
A little sad, but we move on
Soon I'll sing someone else's song”
Why iii Love The Moon // Phony Ppl
- Your 420 Playlist
- Late night drives with friends
I’m gonna be honest, I love listening to music which is hard to classify, and even though songs like these are hard to talk about I decided to throw this song onto this list purely because it’s a song that I think everyone should listen to at least once. Why iii Love The Moon is a really difficult song to describe, mostly because there are so many different things happening at the same time. The whole song has a dream-like aura to it throughout, often playing with reverb and delays as well as other effects that keep that type of sound going throughout. The song starts with heavy reverb on a piano riff, and really picks up once the beat drops. However, this song is not about the beat, staying relatively simple throughout the whole piece allows for you to be able to focus on the other parts of the music.
The song works as both something dissect musically to really listen to each individual part, but also works as a casual listening chill song for your kickbacks with your friends. Containing everything from multiple beautiful piano riffs, a kickass rap throughout, an extremely catchy hook, and a production quality that I just think is super cool. Whether you’re driving down the freeway into the sunset, or chilling with your friends, take a look at this song that I can’t ever seem to get out of my head.