Friday, July 29, 2005

Six Feet Under Vol. 2 - Everything Ends



There's a scene in a recent episode of Family Guy where Brian, the dog, is afflicted with tapeworms. The camera switches to an internal view of his stomach where two worms are sitting around a table apparently waiting for dinner. One of the worms says to the other, "You know, I've only been alive for a few hours and all I know about the world is the inside of this dog's stomach but even I think Six Feet Under is pretenious."

I haven't seen an episode of Six Feet Under since the end of the second season and that's why I'm not going to talk about the show, but, rather the second compliation put out by the music producers of the show. Still, it's worth noting that not many TV shows put out CD's "Inspired" by their show.

The first comp was perfect mood music for a rainy day, mostly electronic work delving into the darker side of relationships. Lamb's gorgeous "Heaven", Zero 7's "Distractions" and The Devlin's "Waiting" were highlights. It was as if the producers picked the most promising songs of the time (about three years ago), laminated them, put them on display, and said, "Here is good music."

Well, they've done it again, this time responding to the mainstream's embrace of indie rock and finding in it the perfect tools for examining reality at the moment. And they won't be confined to any single genre, either! The CD starts with a short intro track entitled, "Feelin' Good" by Jazz great Nina Simone. It's an uplifting eruption to start off a storm.

Continuing the theme is Jem's "Amazing Life," which sounds a little like Dido as seen through the eyes of Theievery Corporation, which as you can imagine, is a winning combination and Phoenix's "Everything is Everything," an addicting little song by a band that should just release singles every couple years and put them on out-of-the-way-soundtracks (see: "Too Young" from the OST to Lost in Translation) and they'll continue to have a perfectly viable - and proftiable! - career.

Finally, after what seems like the beginning of a album devoted to some bright, happy, show like, say, Arrested Development, a darker mood clouds over the horizon, ushered in by Coldplay's hypnotic and brilliant "A Rush of Blood to the Head." Now, I should say, I object - on a purely rational level - to the existence of Coldplay. They are Radiohead-lite, with similiar-looking band members and sound, and yet, damn it to hell!, they come up with some damn good songs every once in a while. I wanted to shoot myself everytime the radio played "Yellow" every five minutes a few years ago, but then I heard the extremely affecting "The Scientist" and thought, "Wow. Well, everyone deserves one good song." Now, there's this one (which is, in fact, old, but new to me) and it's damn good. It fits the tambre of the show, themetically and musically, and is a defining track for the album as a whole.

Next up is a double-punch of the previously-unknown-to-me Sia's "Breathe Me," a wonderful song that has just the right amount of subtlety and bombast and Radiohead's OK Computer-era classic, "Lucky," a song that is so huge and big and destructive, it feels slightly out of place here. I think other Radiohead possibilites may have "fit in" better, like the classic "Exit Music For a Film" or the somber "Scatterbrain" from Hail To The Thief. Still, these two songs plus the aided weight of Coldplay's contribution makes this the heavy emotional center of this tootsie-roll. But it's not all tears. The joy of listening to this CD is the experts' ears of the guys who put it together. You know they're life-long music fans who understand that music has no limitations and great ambition is worh celebrating.

The album gets a little muddy at this point. A couple tracks not worth mentioning - a fun but unnessecary cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" and then a few songs that gained a little of attention for this comp. New, exclusive, songs from two of the biggest names in indie rock, Interpol and The Arcade Fire. Unfortanetly, their songs - while solid - are definitely in the B-side category and don't stroke the fires of expectation for next releases from either artist. Interpol's "Direction" is mostly instrumental, with a classic-but-done-to-death-already Interpol bassline, syncopated guitars, and whispered lyrics. In another life, tt would be a transitional song at the backend of an Interpol EP. As for The Arcade Fire's "Cold Wind," it's the better of the two. Mainly because my ears have heard too little Arcade Fire after my year of daily Funeral visits and so the hushed vocals of Win Butler and the airy guitar maneuvers sound fresh and exciting. Still, it's a song that underachieves and doesn't have the staying power of anything from Funeral or the self-titled EP.

Finally, the album ends with a magnificant song called "Tranatlanticism" by Death Cab for Cutie. I remember the first time I heard this song, months before relase on the album of the same name. My friend and I listened with rapt attention to this epic masterpiece for seven full minutes. When it was over, we looked each other, perplexed. "That," we thought, in unision, "is NOT the Death Cab we know." And it's not. But it fit in perfectly with the ambitious rest of the album. I didn't like the song oo much at first, thinking it too long, too big, too exhausting. But then I really paid attention to the lyrics, the affecting story of a long distance relationship metaphored with the creation of the Atlantic ocean and I started to love this song. It is a bit of strecth for this charming little band from Seattle, but it compliments the rest of this ambitious compliation.

Overall, an effective collection of music that works on many different levels. Like a short story collection, it contains different facets, different voices, and has much to offer the listener. I liked the consistency of the first disc a little bit better, but this works as well for it's way-outside-of-the-box approach. I'd listen to another one.

13 comments:

Shawn said...

I definetly enjoyed this album. I think I am starting to like compelation albums better than conventional one band albums becuase of the variety and movement. of course a good solid arcade fire or death cab album can't be beat.

but as for your comments about transatlantacism - well that track is one of my favorites and it stirs up a great memory of us at the death cab show (zow). before the show happened i didn't pay much attention to the song - thought it was too long and could just be skipped - but after hearing it live it made me really listen to the details - which is where the song really shines. you must listen closely and you can feel that pain and sadness that happens when two people are forced apart but somehow want to stay together. "the rhythm of my footsteps crossing flatlands to your door will be silenced, forever more" (i can shed a tear after hearing that line)

the six feet album definetly is an up and down of emotions - but so is the show and the topics they deal with. i think it's fitting.

Elad said...

comps are great because though they are just a mish-mash of songs by different artists, there is a lot of artistry to it. the placement of songs, depending on mood and length, themeatically especially. also, transitions are EXTREMELY important when dealing with a mix-t.. uh, comp.

that Transatlanticism line is great. thanks for sharing. :)

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Make the Women Feel Good : Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.

Showing Love : Although hearing the words, I love you is special and important.

Realistic Expectations : No matter how wonderful and flawless your mate seems, no one is perfect.

Go on a Date : Especially for married couples, but even for some dating couples, start dating.

Control Your Anger : Every relationship has difficulties, and sometimes, there can be some intense arguments.

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Day at the Movies : Have a movie marathon some rainy or cold Saturday.

Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

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