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Sometimes when life get’s you down, the only thing to bring you back up is listening to music. The moment when you lie down on your bed and put those cushiony head phones on with the Ipod volume turned to 90%, nothing could be better than that. It’s a magical escape only music can provide. There have been a plethora of moments over the past few weeks that have stressed me out and prompted some quiet time. The Casey Anthony trial has been plaguing our airwaves for a long time now, and her trial alone has been a catalyst for much of that ill will. It’s times like those that I can’t stand people and the media, so there are some things that I need to do in order to lower my blood pressure before I slip into a manic anger attack. Here is some music that I listen to when I’m getting the blues, the sorrowful blues of trying to escape the lunacy of entertainment court trials. For the second edition of Weekend Download Recommendations , here’s my picks:
Throughout the late 1960’s, early 70’s, The Fifth Dimension were one of the leading pop acts in the world. With over 20 members changing in and out of the group since the beginning, nothing has stuck out to fans more than the smash hit “Age of Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In),” with their original line-up of Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., LaMonte McLemore, and Ron Townson. Delving into astrology and the enlightenment we can achieve from Jupiter and Mars aligning, they sang about some fairly wacked out stuff, but damnit do I love this song. Nothing speaks inner happiness and peace like “Let the Sunshine In.” Sure, the track might be about some medieval beliefs about the stars and planets guiding us through our personal lives, but it's still a great song to escape from the madness of real life. Maybe this tune is perfect for the folks who want to believe in pseudo-religious type orders, like the ones who have obviously gotten ‘obsessed’ with this Casey Anthony trial, but for me it’s an escape. It’s my escape into the 7th house, where peace will guide the planet.
Neutral Milk Hotel “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”
Neutral Milk Hotel is one of those bands that ended way too early. The group just released their most successful record with In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, and had a popular indie rock hit with the late 90’s “Eponymous”. As one of the first groups that joined the Elephant 6 label in Athens, Georgia, they were not making their music for the fame, nor were they making their music for the money, they were making art. Simple as that. As the listener is thrust into this world of harmonious guitar strumming and singer Jeff Mangum belting out his emotional lyrics to a depressing horn that reminds the audience that life and happiness can be sustained, it's easy to see why so many fell in love with this track. “In the Aeroplane” is such a powerful song if I would listen to it with my headphones, it would force me to view picturesque images of the past as my life moved on from who I was at 14 years of age to now. Sometimes I like to think if more people would have, so-called transcendental experiences, with their lives, they'd understand that happiness is not what binds us to life, but what’s inside every single one of us. Music doesn’t do this for everybody. Most people won’t understand how powerful a song like “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea,” can be, but I will say this: if more people were to have a powerful understanding of what music can do for the soul, then maybe we would have left Casey Anthony trial alone, knowing that there are more important things in life. Like going to the beach and just admiring the sea.
Frank Zappa “Willie The Pimp”
Frank Zappa was a man who seriously could make any type of music he wanted. The albums he made ranged from eccentric to way ahead of its time. In fact, a lot of crazy things he did were eventually made popular by other artists decades later once the world caught up. One of those styles he created, which was thought of as “weird” at the time is now call Jazz Fusion. In the late 60’s Zappa started working on his second solo album Hot Rots which was supposed to feature his unique extended guitar solos in an ensemble of jazz music created by himself and multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. After the album was made, music critics alike praised the record for its unique spin on jazz, which was unlike any other made to date. “Willie the Pimp” was the song that made his career famous, showcasing his amazing talent at soloing on a guitar with heated extortion and Captain Beefheart’s growling voice singing about pimping. It’s an epic masterpiece that should be listened to by any Jazz Fusion aficionado, or even the rock junky in most of us who enjoys a good guitar shredding. How does this song relate to my disgust with Casey Anthony and the whole trial that absorbed America for weeks on end? Well, there doesn’t have to be a reason, it’s just a rocking tune.
It might seem odd that with all the music I listen to the one band that I hold closest to my heart and will always listen to when I need some old school Shaolin mentoring is Wu-Tang Clan. Not only does this group rap about the mysteries of chess boxing, or how awesome kung-fu movies are, they also gave us the unbeatable commentary “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” Blending together hardcore hip-hop, kung-fun montages, and lush lyrics filled with imagery and the hyper real confessions of a group who understands life in a pessimistic view, this album kicks ass all the way through. I am not a pessimistic person, but when I am transported into the world of the Wu-Tang Clan, their sprawling poetry helps to make sense of a life that is as confusing to them as to the listener. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is an album that should be experienced by everyone, and when the first moment of gangster mythology is opened for the audience to revel in, nearly everyone gets hooked. Since the Casey Anthony ordeal I have been trying to think why people are so obsessed with pain and suffering, because watching a trial about a women who allegedly killed her daughter is sickening to watch. I guess the RZA was correct when he said: “So after the laughter, I guess comes the tears.”
The Beatles The White Album
The Beatles are one of the most widely known artists in the world. They are in fact so well known, if there was ever a nuclear holocaust and it took hundreds of years to re-create society as we know it today, their music will be one of the select few things remembered by remaining survivors. The Beatles self titled album, known as The White Album, is a record that I can seriously listen to over and over again. Clocking in at 93 minutes, the album shows the band in one of their last efforts to really showcase their talent as musicians and song writers. Bringing together a plethora of influences and genres, mashing together rock and roll, psychedelic rock, blues, folks, and musique concrete, this record showcases the band at their best. With 30 spectacular songs, each surprisingly different from the next, is the best compilation of Beatles songs that can make any music fan fall for this British rock group. Each tune is as infectious as the other, tying in together the nearly 6 years of work they made together in an album which is undeniably their opus. I will always to listen to the Beatles when I am down, and there is no cure more potent for a case of the blues than John, Paul, George, and Ringo doing what they do best.
The Black Keys Attack & Release
Have you ever been a fan of The White Strips? Well, since their demise, The Black Keys grabbed the mantle as the next blues rock duo to sweep the nation. The record that brought this band to success was the Danger Mouse produced Attack & Release. Danger Mouse is known for helping produce some of the most successful albums of the past 10 years like Demon Days by Gorillaz and St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley. But what makes Attack & Release so special is the unique spin he puts on this blues duo's music. Instead of the gritty, blues based records the Black Keys were known for creating, Danger Mouse helped them tap into their creative sub-conscience to make one of the best Alternative Rock albums of the past 10 years. On their fifth effort, singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach belts out his songs about psychotic women (Casey Anthony?) and how things ain't like they used to be. If you haven’t listened to this record yet, than what the hell are you doing? Are you rewatching the Casey Anthony trial on TV? If you are, then get off your obsessive butt and listen this record. It’ll help you attack those immediate urges that want you to see this trial play out, and it’ll also help release the anger which most people have over this case.
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