Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brad Sweitzer

Whenever I try to get people to appreciate "classical" music, I always tell them to approach it the way I learned: follow the melody actively, consciously, trace the contour as it moves along, and if the lines don't seem to resolve when you think they should, hang on a little longer until you're able to make the connection; but above all, chew the phrases. Some music needs a chance to sink in before you decide what you think of it. So it is with Brad's words. In one song he might pull in a half dozen seemingly disparate themes, and despite the actual phonetics having a music of their own--despite making connections of my own--I can't help but often wonder, "What makes this song a cohesive whole?"  "What's tying this together?"

These are both questions I'm happy not to answer. The takeaway is this:  There is always something in Brad's words just beyond what you can readily grasp; there's something intangible about each song, but it's in these in-between spaces that the lyrics really come alive. The "reveal" is always subtle, often obscure, and this lack of concrete message brings with it a sense of longing--something you don't quite get to take with you.  For a minute, you might have it, but you can't quite keep it.  It's good stuff.

Take "Olive" for example.  (I've included it as one of the sample tracks.) You're going to hear romance, self-calumny, Christ, betrayal, and for those of you who doubt the sexual innuendo--even after "suck on me beneath a tree"--I'll ask you this: What is a "sting"? What is "honey"? And who is this Olive anyway?  I think even without nailing down every last question you'll still get something great out of giving this track a serious listen.

But before we get to "Olive," check out these two others (one of them is fairly short).  I'll let them speak for themselves.




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur

If you want to know the truth, I listen mostly to my friends. Now right away we can ask, "Is this because somehow by knowing these people personally I'm able to connect with some 'extra' meaning in the music they produce?" You know what--I won't try to deny that this element may be present, but I have to maintain that a huge part, probably the main part, of the appeal is that I just happen to know a bunch of really talented folks. So I'm not about to pull my hair out wondering if some "added context" accounts for the allure of the music. I really don't think that's the case; besides, when do we ever completely remove the context from the music we listen to? I'd argue that we can't, and insofar as we really get into a particular artist we often "know" them to some degree. Right?

The upshot is this: After a hiatus, I'm back at it again. But expect a change in format. Expect also, that you will hearing some of the best stuff yet.