This is the penultimate weekend of August, and to observe the almost-passing of this eighth month of 2017, we're bringing together the Firstpost Playlist.
What will you find on it this week? A cover of Sia's 'Chandelier', some thrash metal from Machine Head, and Alt-J's take on emotionally abusive relationships.
Not at all. Just tune in, and tune out.
'Meridian' by Intervals
Intervals was probably one of the best progressive bands in the field, always keeping it fresh and ambient with their music. Until they decided to hire a vocalist. This clearly had fans and the band members themselves really divided. So what is the state of the band now? Guitarist Aaron Marshall now runs the one-member band that is Intervals. Also did I forget to mention that Aaron had heart surgery recently? One would expect that Aaron would embrace the metal side over the progressive side of the 'band'. But what the guitarist has progressed to do is entirely different and 'Meridian' is an indication of this direction. The whole album is a gorgeous instrumental journey that justifies Aaron ditching the whole band's lineup. This jazzy, upbeat album has just the refreshing tunes that you need to make the most of this weekend.
— Siddhi Desai
'Is There Anybody Out There?' by Machine Head
Where do you go when you've achieved the pinnacle of an art form? This latest offering from Bay Area thrash metal band Machine Head shows you just where.
After 2007's The Blackening and 2011's Unto The Locust, it was widely accepted that not only had Machine Head become the modern day masters of thrash metal, but also that the band had fine-tuned the form to near perfection. So why change the style? Why not sit contentedly on your throne?
Well, because that's just not Machine Head or frontman Robb Flynn's way.
For a band that's transitioned from thrash to groove metal to rap metal to nu metal and then back to thrash, taking a chance that could potentially alienate a large chunk of your fanbase is nothing new. And that's where Is There Anybody Out There enters the picture. A crossover track (as Flynn has himself admitted), this song brings the band's pop sensibilities to the fore. You heard that right, Machine Head dabbling with pop. It seems almost as outrageous as KISS doing a disco album or KoRn embracing dubstep, but guess what? This experiment works.
Aside from being a sharp slap in the face of Down and Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo and his 'white power' incident, and racism in general, the track is (in Flynn's own words, but I tend to agree) 'catchy as f**k'. Flynn and fellow guitarist Phil Demmel step out of the spotlight in a sense, eschewing their guitar solos for tight driving rhythms. On the rhythm side of things, drummer Dave McClain's drums seem subdued in the mix, but the song doesn't suffer on this account. Not one little bit.
Now go listen. Come on! Come on! Come on!
— Karan Pradhan
'Chandelier' (cover) by Sara Bareilles
Sia's Chandelier is one of my favourite pop songs. It's the best (drunken) karaoke number, it's the best song to listen to in the shower, it's the best song to jam to with your friends. It's just the best, period. It embodies everything (or the rare few things) that is good about pop music: smooth on the ears, uplifting, grand.
Sara Bareilles, however, in her cover of the song, tones it down and makes it her own, and isn't that the best part of any cover? If I had to hear a replica of the same song, I'd just hear the original. Sara uses a ukulele which gives the song a rustic touch, and when she hits the high notes, she quivers a bit, making it real.
This is one of those covers you'll wish you'd done, even if you can't sing.
— Swetha Ramakrishnan
'Hu' by Junun
Calling all Radiohead fans!
If you haven't seen the documentary Junun starring Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and his collaboration with Indian ensemble The Rajasthan Express, stream it online now! The documentary by Paul Thomas Anderson also has an album of the same name, featuring the joint collaborations seen in the film.
The songs are composed by Shye Ben Tzur. Tzur explains the film's title: The ‘heat’ and the garam music, he says, happens when artists are passionately in pursuit, which is evident from this song.
— Ankita Maneck
'Breezeblocks' by Alt-J
It takes at least three listenings to realise the depth and meaning of this song. Alt-J is a progressive rock band known for songs with lyrics and music videos layered with meaning, keeping them open to multiple interpretations.
Inspired heavily from Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s book Where The Wild Things Are, the song is about a man’s unhealthy obsession with his lover. If you have a faint heart, stay away from this mesmerising music video that showcases how ugly abuse can get, while simultaneously appearing poetic thanks to the fact that the whole video plays out in reverse.
Speaking to Interview magazine, vocalist Joe Newman explains that “The song is about liking someone who you want so much that you want to hurt yourself and them, as well.” Come to think of it, this song would be pretty accurate metaphor for the Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship. In the music video, we see a cinder block or breezeblock being used as a visual metaphor that symbolises the cycle of abuse that some people unknowingly get caught in. The lyrics meanwhile, are more direct, with Newman crooning in the opening line: "She may contain the urge to run away but hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks".
— Aishwarya Ramesh