Five Songs To Get You Through The Night
By Devin Bambrick
So let’s say, hypothetically, you find yourself locked back in the library, another masochistic deadline staring down at you, its chops bloodied and its fingers quivering in anticipation. Your newborn word count is minimal, pathetic, looking to you for some kind of help. Scads of half-formed thoughts surround you, scribbled on notebooks and matchbooks. A beat throbs from outside your window, an alcohol-fueled thumping of collective rumpus calling you out like so many Student Union sirens. But there will be no dancing tonight. There will be no fun. Brave warrior, you must plug up your ears with your headphones. To quell the nagging sense of panic in your belly, you shuffle together some nice, consistent study tunes. This time you aren’t thinking a frenzied all-nighter—no, this is a slow-burn marathon, and you need to keep pace.
*Godspeed You! Black Emperor: “Storm.” First of all, this track is twenty-two minutes long, an honest-to-God opus with little movements and quiet stretches of beautiful tension. It’s pretty clear that these kids had a bunch of music lessons. The length ought to keep you at your desk and focused for a while, but the track is no waffling walk through rose gardens. Watch as your typing quickens with the tempo and your fingers punch the keys a bit harder with the marching drum crescendos. If you’re alone and like me [and you’re alone like me] you’ll most likely do one of those little fist pumps and whisper “Yeah” every few minutes. “Yeah.”
*Bell Orchestre: “Salvatore Amato.” Another orchestral-influenced jam from a Montreal band, this one’s poppier and cheerier, the kind of thing you can really do some sweet underlining to. Composed of a few Arcade Fire members, Bell Orchestre’s has the same kind of moody, grand, and indulgent feel as their more notable mates—but none of the lyrics to distract you from the task at hand. Oh, and stop leaving the library to smoke those cigarettes.
*múm: “I Can’t Feel My Hand Any More. It’s Alright, Sleep Tight.” There probably is no way to talk about múm without sounding like a pretentious dick. They’re from Iceland, they mix electronic glitch beats with chamber instruments, and their name is all in lower-case. But for atmospheric, slightly unnerving, textured soundscapes, they do a sweet job. Fuck. Alright, let’s try that again. It sounds like the naptime music they will inevitably play in a robot-run nursery to be set up by Miranda July in 2045.
*Electrelane: “Tram 21.” Alright, wake back up, kids. And stop checking your Facebook, even if that dude from high school keeps poking you. From their t’riffic 2006 release, this track’s got swirling organ, cooing vocals, and a washed-out electric guitar, hitting a mix that will make you feel like you’re hanging out in some swank underground club in Albuquerque rather than trying to deconstruct the deconstructionists next to some Physics major wearing sweatpants. Hey! Again with the Facebook. Stop it. How is it going to change your life that your former lab partner saw Monkey Trouble on cable this week and ironically added it to her favorite movies?
*Serge Gainsbourg: “Melody.” Alright, so, on the surface, this song is about a guy hitting a teenage girl on her bike and then seducing her. But Serge is French, and so this is artistic, like putting elephant poop in an art gallery. Now, this is one of those cases where a song is pretty influential (try to listen to Beck’s “Paper Tiger” without hearing this song) but also righteously awesome, matching its raspy folk vocals with full orchestra and electric guitar. And the last lines are worth the price of admission: “Melody Nelson a des cheveux rouges. Et c’est leur couleur naturelle.”
Alright, keep your head down and that word count up. Next week we’ll take a look at Queen, Prince, and Kings of Convenience.