Scores For Scriveners: Three Kingdoms

One of the things that people have said they’d enjoy reading from me is more about music. For a very long time, I ran a regular feature on this blog, which I called Friday Music — I shared stuff that I’d been listening to recently. I may do so again, but I thought it might be interesting to also devote some time to cover the sort of music that I listen to far more than anything else: Soundtracks.

When I write, it is accompanied by scores. Usually (although not exclusively) instrumental, and taken from film, television, video games, what-have-you. I have a frankly ridiculous library to select from, and I almost always begin a project by creating a playlist, designed to evoke the “feel” of what I’m trying to write. These playlists grow as I find new, evocative material, until they are many hours and, in some cases, days long.

Yeah. I might have a problem.

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Friday Music

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but I’ve managed to squeeze some time during work to listen to some music, and so here we go with another installment of Friday Music!

Most of the time, I’m discovering new music via my “Discovery Weekly” curated playlist on Spotify — so it occurs to me: would it be useful for you folks if, in addition to these blog entries, I also put together a “Friday Music” playlist on Spotify, regularly updated, with the link shared here? Are enough of you even using Spotify to make that worth doing?

Drop into the comments and let me know.

OK — this week’s music: The album cover up there is from our first selection, a London-based 80s-influenced electro-artpop quartet called Artificial Pleasure, whose debut album, The Bitter End, is now available. I read a review that described the band as “If ‘Let’s Dance’-era David Bowie fronted Talking Heads.” Throw in a bit of Georgio Moroder & Bryan Ferry…but they manage to do it without sounding like a pastiche. Seriously, this is SO GOOD. Artificial Pleasure – “Wound Up Tight.”

I haven’t shared any hip-hop since relaunching Friday Music, and thankfully, this week I get to remedy that. Long time readers will recall that I’m into the less-commercial stuff. This is an excellent example — a stomping amalgam of Jamaican dancehall and Brooklyn beats by way of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Apparently, this track was also featured on the TV show “How To Get Away With Murder,” so it looks like an alternative hip-hop act might be getting some attention. LLgL TNDR – “Enormous.”

And now, a drastic shift in gear. Charlotte Gainsbourg is the daughter of British actress Jane Birkin and legendary French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, and has followed in both her parent’s footsteps. She’s an actress (several Lars Von Trier films, among others) and a singer with five albums — this track is from her most recent album, Rest, which was released late last year. I love the disco-house bassline mixing with Gainsbourg’s breathy vocals and the unexpected rhythm of those vocals. I put this one on repeat for a few times when I first heard it. Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Deadly Valentine.”

Another shift in genre — this time into a more folk-country-tinged Indie track from the Canadian band Carmanah. The quintet from Victoria, British Columbia refer to their sound as “West Coast Soul.” Canadian music critics have called lead singer Laura Mina Mitic “the Stevie Nicks of our generation.” High praise — and honestly? Well-deserved. Carmanah – “Roots.”

And lastly, also from Canada, but from the other coast, an excellent example of what some of my friends call “Beep Boop Music.” Richard Aucoin is from Nova Scotia and creates alternative electronic music, mixing in experimental sounds and a pop sensibility. When this track began, I thought Spotify had given me some avant-garde electronic, but it graduatually shifted, blending those sounds into a pop structure, and I fell in love with it. Richard Aucoin – “Release.”

There you go, folks. I hope you enjoy them!

See you again next week.


Friday Music

Another week done, and another Friday Music!

Got an interesting assortment for you this week — most of which was sourced from my “Discovery Weekly” playlist on Spotify — stuff from acts I’d never heard before, new stuff from classic acts, you name it.

First up, though, in honor of my parents’ 50th Anniversary, a special tune — a close family friend, who has always pretty much been one of my uncles, wrote an original Wedding March for their ceremony back in ’68, which he based on this track. Procol Harum – “A Whiter Shade Of Pale.” Happy Anniversary!

This is an L.A.-based band called Dorothy, which, like “Blondie” is the name of the whole band. The lead singer of the band is named Dorothy Martin, though — and her voice reached through the speakers and just smacked me around. She’s got a powerful belt which reminds me a lot of Florence Welch (from Florence + The Machine), but fronting a more rock-oriented band. Also: This is not the similarly-titled Thorogood song. Dorothy – “Who Do You Love.”

Robert Finley spent the early 70s working as a semi-pro musician, but then gave it up and became a carpenter. In 2015, as a senior citizen, he was declared legally blind and had to stop working as a carpenter, so he started busking…and he was discovered. His debut album Age Don’t Mean A Thing came out in 2016, and his second, GOIN’ PLATINUM! was released late last year. This is a track from that album: Robert Finley – “Get It While You Can.”

A couple of my favorite bands from the 80s have new music out — the first is Blancmange, who, after releasing three studio albums in the early-to-mid 80s, re-formed and started releasing albums again in 2011. This track is from their latest album, Unfurnished Rooms, which came out last year. Blancmange – “What’s The Time?”

The second is Gene Loves Jezebel — well, one of them, at least. The twin brothers who founded the band had a falling out, and now both have their own versions of the band, one in the US, and one in the UK. Each have the right to the name, but when in the other’s territory they are called “[Brother’s Name]’s Gene Loves Jezebel.” It’s sad, really. Anyway, this is Jay Aston’s (UK) version of the band. Gene Loves Jezebel – “Izitme.”

Dipping into the prog side a bit here, with Tauk, a 4-piece instrumental rock fusion 4-piece band from NYC. I’ll admit that the title was the first thing that intrigued me, but the more I listened to the track, the more I really got into it. Tauk – “Space Ghost.”

…and we’ll close with this: A band doing what it calls Carnatic Progressive Rock — a mix of prog with the traditional carnatic music of Southern India. You know that I’m all about genre mash-ups, and this is really interesting stuff. Agam – “Subrahmanyena Rakshitoham (Onwards & Upwards).”

There you go — hope that you enjoyed this week’s selections. Drop me a note to tell me what you thought, or to request any musical genres you’d like to hear me dip into in the future.

Have a great weekend!