A new project/regular feature on the blog (I hope)! Two things made this arise: firstly, I like music, and I like discovering new music. Secondly, I am kind of fascinated with how reticent people normally are when they’re asked what kind of music they like; you’ll note that people give wishy-washy answers like “Oh, you know, a bit of everything…”. So what am I doing with those things?
Well, I’ve asked my friend Katie Campbell (who has appeared on this blog before, as our resident swearing expert) to send me five of her most favourite songs, and I’ve done the same to her. We’ve listened to each other’s songs and given short reviews of what we thought. Below are the results of this experiment. Katie’s reviews (my songs) are in blue, whilst my reviews of hers are red.
Ben Folds Five – Underground
Despite having known about Ben Folds Five for years, I’ve never really bothered to listen to them, as I am lazy and stupid. The latter more so, because I enjoyed Underground more than I was expecting to. I fondly remember my teenage years (which ended about a month ago, hence my ability to remember them), and spending most of those years as a massive social outcast, so the song resonates with me. Overall, I liked it. I’ll make a good attempt to get into Ben Folds Five, promise.
I’ll Be That Girl – Barenaked Ladies
I’ve known about BnL (and been a fan) for a very long time, but I haven’t heard a great deal of their music; this was one of the songs that had passed me by. Nevertheless, I went in with a certain level of expectation, and they were certainly met. I really liked this classic bit of BnL, and I found myself humming along by the second chorus, despite never having heard it before. Always a good sign.
The National – Without Permission
Matt Berninger has the most wonderful voice; a deep, full baritone that’s perfect for sad, sort-of love songs like Without Permission. Without Permission is quiet and full of longing, which and The National’s quiet, longing songs are always the best ones.
Country Death Song – Violent Femmes
By contrast to the last BnL one, I know almost nothing about Violent Femmes. I enjoyed this song’s slightly twisted style, as set out by the perfectly literal title. The song is very country, which I don’t normally enjoy lots, but given the title I’d be interested as to how different the rest of the Violent Femmes catalogue is to this. Not bad, though not my thing.
Amanda Palmer – Leeds United
I don’t get Amanda Palmer. I’ve never got Amanda Palmer, I doubt I’ll ever get Amanda Palmer, and this hasn’t done anything to change how I feel about Amanda Palmer (although I do have a soft spot for her eyebrows, I must admit). The song itself is fine – the music is good, but I can’t say I’m a fan of Palmer’s voice. She appears to spend most of the song screeching pop culture references. I feel like I’ve missed something here.
New Chevrolet in Flames – the Mountain Goats
John Green, a big hero of mine, absolutely raves about the Mountain Goats, and just one week before this Music Exchange I listened to their music (at random I picked Tallahassee) and loved it to bits. Still a novice to them, I listened to this song with a growing joy. The lyrics are so very clever and tell a brilliant story. The music is catchy and colourful; a total contrast to the song that came before. God, I loved it.
I Am Kloot – Same Shoes
Reading the title, I hoped this would be a scathing and sarcastic reply to The View’s Same Jeans, but unfortunately, it’s not. Same Shoes is an exceptionally lovely song, and John Bramwell’s voice is a delight to listen to. Guy Garvey and Craig Potter from Elbow produced the song, and you can feel their influence oozing from every orifice (which is not as terrible as it sounds. Especially if you like Elbow. I like Elbow).
Games For Days – Julian Plenti
Not bad at all. Certainly enjoyed it more halfway through; the first half didn’t catch my attention in quite the same way as the rest. Was not entirely satisfied with the ending, though I feel that might have been the point. Didn’t quite win me over, but could’ve been a lot worse too.
Ben Folds – Annie Waits
Annie Waits is…fine. It’s just fine. It’s not that I didn’t care for it, I just thought it was fine. Ben Folds’ voice was nice, and the piano was nice, and the lyrics were nice and it was…fine. Really, intensely fine. Like, really – I don’t think I can quite convey to you how fine this song was. I don’t have the verbal capacity to describe the absolute fineness of this song.
Like Herod – Mogwai
Play-by-play reproduction of my thoughts:
0:05 – Wait, this song is almost TWELVE MINUTES? Godammit, Katie.
0:50 – Oh, look, a variation. I like the playing. No words yet. I guess it’s an instrumental song.
2:06 – It feels like it’s getting lower. I’m waiting for something to happen.
2:44 – Nothing’s happened yet. Except it getting lower.
2:59 – JESUS CHRIST.
3:09 – I’m pretty sure they wanted people to turn up their volume to hear the quiet bit, only for…jeez. Okay, now something’s happened.
4:08 – Okay, we can safely call that a crescendo. Why are there still seven minutes of this song?
4:55 – Aaaand we’re back to where we were. My guard is up now, though.
5:39 – Why is it called “Like Herod”? Is it because Herod, like Katie is an evil bastard for picking this song?
6:16 – See, I saw it coming this time. Up down up down.
7:40 – Bored now. I think I get the point, but I’ll keep listening.
8:53 – Hey, look, it’s going down again. I wonder what will happen this time.
10:15 – Instead of going up, it went wibble. I’d give it credit, but the wibble hurts my ears.
11:19 – Is it done yet?
11:40 – Yes. Thank god.
Okay, er. I don’t quite see the value beyond playing a horrible joke on your so-called friends, but then again it’s not really my genre. Whatever genre it is.
And finally, here are rankings of each song.
1) Without Permission – The National
2) Same Shoes – I am Kloot
3) Underground – Ben Folds Five
4) Annie Waits – Ben Folds
5) Leeds United – Amanda Palmer
1) New Chevrolet In Flames – The Mountain Goats
2) I’ll Be That Girl – Barenaked Ladies
3) Games For Days – Julian Plenti
4) Country Death Song – Violent Femmes
5) Like Herod – Mogwai
We hope you enjoyed The Music Exchange; if you want to do it, please let me know, because I want to try it with as many different people as possible. Also, feel free to listen to our chosen songs via the Spotify playlist below, and let us know what you thought in the comments!