Friday, August 19, 2011

Hot Love Around the Bend

I stated that I would be writing a review on one of the songs I briefly mentioned in passing in a previous post, and that had been a song called 'Around the Bend.' Well, here it is. I've gotten into listening to it a few times now, properly, so here I write.

In terms of discovery, it was through a commercial. I'm sure that's how everyone discovered it, because otherwise, the band itself isn't a hugely mainstream, widely-known outfit. If it weren't for that commercial, I'm sure I wouldn't be the only person who hadn't heard it or the band before.

It was an iPod commercial. Those are usually colorful ads, and on this occasion they used pretty good music. Usually all I hear though is "If you had an iPod" (or iPhone, etc) or "does your iPhone/Pod do..."

Instantly, it was the horns that got me. A trumpet and sax. That, and the basic sound of the music surrounding it, the guitar and bass.

I'd only hear it on the commercial. Though I would also hear a small portion of it on an episode of Chuck (I don't know what episode, I wasn't really watching the TV but the scene was a convention setting).

In 2009, while with my cousins and camping on Grand Lake in Algonquin Park, one of them brought their iPod and speakers on the beach and put music on. This song was part of their playlist.

I was filming little clips on my digital camera, and made sure to get bits of the song floating in and out of the audio so I'd have some of it to hear when watching the clips later. I didn't bother asking my cousin who had the iPod what the song was until later through e-mail, because the high-pitched female voice kind of got me a bit. I liked the music but I wasn't that into the voice, or the fact that I admittedly found a song on my cousins' iPod that I actually liked - I felt weird always having a negative approach to what they listened to, and then suddenly I'm all enthusiastic about one recent song. What would they think of that? I was probably a little self-conscious.

My cousin Olesia would tell me the name of the song and the band, Asteroid Galaxy Tour, but I wouldn't go looking for it on YouTube for the reasons stated above. Eventually my maternal grandpa inadvertently deleted every one of my e-mails when I forgot to log out on his computer, so I would not have any way of figuring it out again.

A few days ago, I finally decided to look it up on YouTube by simply searching the title. I quickly found it and, with the volume really low (I still had a bit of difficultly expecting high-pitched voices and things, I know, it's weird) I properly listened to it.

Hearing it normally, I found more elements of the song that worked. There's a guitar that's kind of quiet, like it's in the background, and it works perfectly. The horns sound as good as ever. The bass has a good tune to it. I used to think it was kind of similar to 'Summer Breeze' by Seals and Croft, during the verses, but while it is kind of similar it isn't identical. It's also very similar to the bass during the chorus of 'Alive' by Pearl Jam - except in this song it starts on F# instead E, and ends on B instead of A. It's one tone higher than 'Alive.' And it ends on a high B while 'Alive' ends on a low E (during the chorus).

The big musical players in this song to me are the horns, bass and guitar. The drums have an easy, though mildly interesting, beat to them. Sometimes the snare is struck a few times in quick succession at the end of a measure. There's also a keyboard but it isn't that easy to hear and I think it only plays bit parts.

The band, I have read, only really consists of a female vocalist and a producer, and they come from Denmark. However, they must employ a few session musicians for the other instruments (their music is definitely not computer/keyboards-only based) and they use all these other musicians, a trumpeter and sax player, bassist, drummer, etc. in their live shows.

This song is one of those few in which I really like the guitar. It doesn't sound aggressively loud and leading - it's actually kind of just a piece of the song that fills up the sound but is essential. It makes it complete without having to be the most prominent instrument.
It gives me the image of me standing in the background of some sort of event I am at first cynical of, but everything pulls off nicely and I am appreciative and pleasantly surprised, which is the sound of the guitar in the song to me - being happy and appreciative and liking something you might have thought wouldn't have worked at first. From the background. This guitar riff continues throughout the entire song, including verses (often you'll hear something like that just in the choruses). It's a rough yellow to me (and produces that pleasant image/feeling/setting).

I very quickly got used to the vocals. At first they were a bit cringing to listen to, as they got very high-pitched near the end ("I'll stay fooorreeeeever!") but generally they actually sound inviting and amiable, even kind of loving. Granted, at first you get the idea that an eight-year-old girl is singing it, and with a trace of lust in her voice (certain words sound that way) but you end up getting what sounds like a teen who really wants the best time of her life in a positive and memorable way.
I think that original image is what made me keep my distance from the song at first.

What I like the most about the voices is that other voices come and go in the song, and while they might sound a bit silly or unnecessary, they actually provide this feeling or atmosphere for who or what the song is directed at, perhaps what kind of listener it's directed towards. I get the feeling the voices are like the ones of the singer's friends or posse - and they're eager to be curious and playful. It's kind of cute in a way, particularly how they sound sometimes. I even see a bit of childhood innocence in the way they sound at some points. To me, with the vocalist and her replying murmurs and voices, it's like the song is about wanting a good time, particularly with friends, and 'around the bend.' Good times, friendly love, endless days of childlike discovery of the world, and ultimate warm-heartedness to the ones you know. The words "I'll stay forever with you" seem to imply that this state of loving friendship and good times should never end and won't.

If I were a guy (well, I am) and she were singing to me, I would probably wonder if she had romantic intentions after hearing the full song, like every other guy would no doubt wonder. It does imply that as well - 'hot hot love around the bend' - but I like to think that it's all in the name of friendly love, which I think sounds better because it then involves everyone else in this 'group' the other voices in the song depict. And for some reason it sounds sweeter to me. I'm saying this without consciously trying to avoid being selfish.

In the end I actually really do like the voice, though I hope it's not because it sounds young. Largely it's because of the way she sings and pronounces, inflects her words. A lot of feeling and implication is embedded in her tone, which really sounds nice.

I won't go into the music video because the one I found is not one I am sure of. I do not really believe there is an actual music video to the song. The one I found might be it, but I am not sure because the song sounds like it's being played live and stuff.

The voice and song in general make me think of a several people, all girls, particularly one I knew in high school. Largely for the similarities in what the song is about or what and how the singer sings about it.

It's a really good song if you can get over the voice at first (it's not that bad). The bass uses a great sound that's not unfamiliar and fun/optimistic, the guitar is perfect, the horns are a nice touch, and the singer really carries the message and want that it has. It's almost profound.

Music: A-
Lyrics: B +

By the way, the voice fits the exact illustration of the girl in the screenshot. I hear it and I see a blonde girl with long hair and soft features and the girl there appears to have them perfectly (she has blonde hair in the other video I saw just to prove it).

Justin C.

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