What We're Listening To This Week 10/22/17
Peanuts Greatest Hits by Vince Guaraldi Trio
If the Vince Guaraldi Trio doesn’t get you in the mood to throw on a sweater and a scarf, and take a walk in the crisp autumn air while admiring the changing leaves, I don’t know what will. Peanuts Greatest Hits is a childhood favorite of mine, and I grew up watching the animated holiday shorts with my family, all cozied up under a blanket with a mug of warm apple cider. Listening to it now as a student in college, I am instantly brought back to the good ol’ days with mom’s homemade cooking and helping dad rake the leaves in the yard. This classic album explores many artful and themes including change, friendship, and happiness, and these ideas are evoked clearly and effectively through the trio's motifs, themes, and impeccable musicality.
The masterful technique and musicality of pianist Vince Guaraldi is comparable to the compositional brilliance of John Williams or the electric prowess of Jimi Hendrix. In one second, we are wrapped up in our daily affairs and worries, and the next, transported to an animated dimension of jazzy politics and a meddlesome dog. With just three people, the Trio has the range of an entire orchestra and the finesse of a single soloist. Their ability to cultivate an atmospheric mood is unequivocally exquisite, as is their interpretation of the classic 1950s comic strip series.
So if you want an additional spice to your pumpkin latte, grab a pair of headphones and immerse yourself in this seasonally provoking artistry! ~Spencer Schaffer
"Dum Surfer" by King Krule
“Dum Surfer,” one of the highlights from Archy Marshall’s second album as King Krule, The OOZ, chronicles a night of partying gone horribly wrong. Through an alcohol and marijuana-induced haze, Marshall recalls a series of regrettable incidents including sidewalk vomit, a car crash, and various other forms of "getting lashed by all the gods," as he nicely puts it near the end of the first verse. There is no trace of pleasure in Marshall’s voice as recounts the night, all his previous hedonism having been replaced by feelings of shame and guilt. The simple melody that carries along his expert storytelling has a repetitive, almost sing-song quality to it that evokes the half-conscious state of the narrator, while the jazzy guitar riff and groovy drum pattern that underpin the lyrics keep the mood from getting too dark. In fact, "Dum Surfer" is perhaps one of the catchiest and most immediately rewarding tracks on the album, in spite of its grim subject matter, and it has proven to be more enjoyable with every subsequent listen. ~Steven Norwalk
“It’s the Hard Knock Life” by Andrea McArdle
Recently, I revisited the original broadway recording of the musical Annie, and, barring a few standout tracks, found the album slightly underwhelming. However, a definite highlight is the classic, “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” whose elaborate vocal arrangements and stellar piano accompaniment remain fantastic over 40 years after the musical's initial release. In addition, what keeps this song a timeless artifact in musical culture is the its reaffirmation of the musical's central theme: life will get you down but you have to keep going. The attitude of the poor kids in this composition evokes something greater than the constraints of the musical that it was written for, especially considering how perfectly the lyrics pair with the melody. The words have even more meaning with the hard hitting instrumentation which is important in a musical that rests on such expressions to further the causes of the characters, and I think it still holds up after 40 years. This is definitely a tune you don’t want to skip. ~Jordan Pytosh