Feature Fridays: The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga

Feature Fridays: The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Elisabeth McCarren reviews The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga.

Image result for the fame monster

“I used to walk down the street like I was a f*cking star,” Lady Gaga told Rolling Stone for her first cover story in 2009.  And my good sis, you are.  Gaga was referring to her state of mind before her huge breakthrough when she claimed her seat on the pop throne.

Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster is a reissue of her debut album, The Fame, which catapulted Gaga from yearning for stardom to embodying it.  The music featured on both albums was the result of Gaga’s self-professed narcissism and artistic perfectionism.  She uses star power, the desire for it and her lack of it at the time as inspiration, while also using fame itself as a metaphor for love, sex, and her identity.  A pop album, The Fame Monster has influences of disco, glam rock and synth-pop music of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as industrial and gothic music.  The album was also inspired by fashion shows and runways.  According to Gaga, the album deals with the darker side of fame, with its theme lyrically expressed through a monster metaphor.

The album opens with “Bad Romance” which, according to Gaga, is about the various paranoias she faced while on tour, her loneliness in relationships and her attraction to men with whom romance is nearly impossible.  Continuing through the album, “Telephone” contains a feature with none other than the queen herself, Beyoncé.  Gaga says she was inspired by her fear of suffocation, stating that in the song she prefers relaxing on the dance floor to answering her lover’s phone call.  This is a metaphor, the phone call representing the fear of not having worked hard enough to succeed.  “Paparazzi” is arguably one of Gaga’s most underrated songs.  She becomes the paparazzi in question when it comes to the obsessive, immersive love she has for the man at the center of the song.  It’s a classic pop tale of toxic love.  “Poker Face” is, in my opinion, one of Gaga’s most iconic songs.  She originally claimed the main idea behind the song was simply gambling and sex, however, during her Fame Ball Tour performance at Palm Springs, California on April 11, 2009, Gaga explained to the crowd the true meaning behind the term “Poker Face” used in the song.  She suggested that the song dealt with her personal experience with bisexuality.  The idea behind the song was to be with a man but fantasizing about a woman, hence the man in the song needs to read her “Poker Face” to understand what is going through her mind.

It’s rather difficult to describe in one review the lasting and iconic impact Lady Gaga and this album have had on music and culture.  To attempt this, I’ll simply quote the woman herself, Miss Gaga: “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, sh*t on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.”

 

Advertisements

Feature Fridays: Currents by Tame Impala

Feature Fridays: Currents by Tame Impala

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Jacob Tracey will review Currents by Tame Impala.

Image result for currents tame impala

There are many great bands and musicians who have come from Australia, but none can top the psychedelic pop-rock stylings of Tame Impala. The group formed back in 2007 as a home recording project led by frontman and lead vocalist Kevin Parker. The group then grew from a small recording project to a five-piece touring band. Tame Impala blends the styles of rock and roll with psychedelic synths and vocal effects making their sound very unique and easy to relax or dance to! Tame Impala’s first album Innerspeaker was released in 2010 and landed them a spot on Pitchfork’s top 100 albums of the decade. This album also threw them into the American mainstream with some radio play and a growing fanbase in the states. Their second album Lonerism was released in 2012 which helped them gain more attention throughout the music scene.

 

In 2015 the band hit the music scene by storm with their third studio album, Currents. This album became an instant classic with one of the best opening tracks to an album ever to some perfect singles and hits. The album opens with “Let It Happen” which is a seven-minute track full of beautiful synth lines letting the listener know right away this album will be a new step in their career. The track talks about when things begin to change around you without giving you any warning, and how sometimes it is best to just let it happen. This track also shows off the story of the album which follows Parker (or a fictional man) leaving behind his old self and striving to be someone new.

 

Some other tracks to note on this album are “The Less I Know the Better,” “Past Life,” and “’Cause I’m a Man.” “The Less I Know the Better” brings back Tame Impalas roots with a catchy and funky guitar riff. The riff follows throughout the song and is one of the none synth-heavy songs on the album. “Past Life” is one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. The only lyric that Parker sings is “From a past life.” The song features a distorted voice talking about relapsing into the past after you tried your best to move on. The voice talks about a time he thought he saw a past relationship and how it triggered old memories. It’s haunting and brilliant all at once. The last song “’Cause I’m a Man” is very interesting lyrically. The chorus has him shouting out “Cause I’m a man, women/Not often proud of what I choose.” Parker commentates on how men often have no excuse for when they do stupid things, so they just say “it’s cause I’m a man and that’s what men do.” It’s showing the listener how stupid that sounds and sometimes it’s best to admit you messed up.
Psychedelic rock is a niche genre and can easily be done wrong. Tame Impala has seemed to find the right sounds and keys to keep that genre not only alive but growing! Their album Currents, as well as their debut album Innerspeaker, are both available for check out at the Music Library! Be sure to give both albums a solid listen!

Hidden Gems: Steve Reich

Hidden Gems: Steve Reich

Hidden Gems is an exploration of the music library’s extensive selection of music scores and CD collections. Student Assistant Ryan Jacobs reveals this week’s hidden gem: Music for 18 Musicians by composer Steve Reich. 

review_reich-1-of-8.jpg

 

Steve Reich is a celebrated American composer and considered as an influential pioneer in the minimalist movement that started in the mid-1960s. His musical style consists of the use of mesmerizing patterns shifting in and out of phase, slow and deliberate harmonic rhythm, and meditative orchestration. The American University Music Library has many scores and recordings from the prolific composer, but the most definitive collection is our box set, Works 1965-1995. This set of 10 CDs1 spans 30 years and 22 compositions featuring the immense musical talents of the Steve Reich Ensemble, London Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Schöenberg Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can, and many others. The accompanying booklet contains the track listings and texts, notes by John Adams, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Robert Hurwitz, as well as an interview of Steve Reich by Jonathan Cott.

The work I’d like to highlight as the crown jewel of the collection is Music for 18 Musicians (1976). The piece is based on a cycle of eleven chords that bookend the composition, and each chord is expanded into small works called Sections I-XI. A driving force in the work is the component of human breath, as notes are pulsed for as long as the performing player can continue to do so in a single breath. This factor dictates how the ensemble stays together and gives an organic and living feel to the performance. The score is rhythmically complex and hypnotically colorful, and one of the best examples of the ingenuity and magic that arose from the minimalist style.

 

The AU Music Library also contains scores for the following pieces in the collection:

Piano Phase

Drumming

Six Marimbas

Music for 18 Musicians

Eight Lines (Octet)

Tehillim

Electric Counterpoint

Different Trains

Nagoya Marimbas

City Life

… as well as many other scores and recordings of pieces not included in the collection.

1. 10 CDs of which we have nine, but another audio recording of The Cave can also be found separate in the AU Music Library

Feature Fridays: ABBA

Feature Fridays: ABBA

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Emily-Claire Nemmers will review ABBA’s definitive collection.

51O9J57kGBL._SY355_

Today I would like to feature the definitive collection of ABBA. This CD features 37 different songs by ABBA in 2 discs. This 1970s band achieved 10 Top Twenty hits on the American charts, which was impressive for the Swedish group.  With each track, the listener gets transformed back to the 1970s.


Many of these songs are also featured in the movie/musicals Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! 2: Here We Go Again. The movie, set in Greece follows the story of a young time trying to figure out who her father is, right before her wedding. The entire soundtrack of both movie/musicals strictly features ABBA music. The classic songs are given a modern twist as they are sung by Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Cher and many more. All songs that are featured in the movie specifically connect to the plot of the movie.

Image result for mamma mia


For example, in the song “I Do, I Do, I Do”, the movie features a proposal scene. This begs the question was the movie plot based around the ABBA songs or it purely strategic and coincide that the songs perfectly reflect the plot.


For an upbeat listening experience that transforms you back to the 1970s, I recommend checking out this album and singing along to ABBA. The music library is also home to the score and original cast recording of Mamma Mia! the Musical. If you’re interested in more 1970s music, visit the music library to browse pieces from Billboard Number 1 Hits of the 70s.

Feature Fridays: Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

Feature Fridays: Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Jacob Tracey will review the album Pure Comedy by Father John Misty.

Father John Misty (A.K.A. Josh Tillman) is an American singer/songwriter who was
formerly a part of the indie acoustic group Fleet Foxes. Josh split from them after their 2nd album titled Helplessness Blues. In that year, Josh also released his debut album under the name Father John Misty titled Fear Fun. Since then, he has gained a huge following for his music due to his clever lyrics and beautiful instrumentals. Both of these aspects of Father John Misty really show on his 2017 release Pure Comedy. A mix of political questioning, saturated media, evil technology, and hidden love make up this album both in lyrical writing and through the orchestration.

 

The album opens with one of my favorite tracks ever by any artist, “Pure Comedy.” It is a six-minute composition where Josh describes the state of the world today under the Trump Administration as well as how we treat one another. He brings up many questions to the people of the world (and in some instances to “God”) such as “[why are] half of us periodically iron deficient?” and “where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?” It’s a very interesting song that makes you think about the world from many different perspectives. Josh also covers another perspective in his song “Two Widely Different Perspectives.” In this song he brings up two perspectives on different issues that, while they are different from each other, end in the same way. It’s beautiful irony that is twisted as well as perfect at the same time.

 

Two other songs that are great from this album are “When the God of Love Returns” and “Leaving LA.” “When the God of Love Returns” is a beautiful piano ballad where Josh wonders what would happen if the God of Love that created the world were to come back and see the state of it now. One of my favorite lines from this song is God talking to Jesus saying “…you didn’t leave a whole lot for me if this isn’t hell already, then tell me what the hell is.” It’s a powerful song that sticks with you for a while. The other song, “Leaving LA,” is a 12-minute opus where Josh picks up his guitar and in classic Father John Misty style, craps on LA and the phonies that live there. He complains about how people sell out there and nothing feels real in a materialistic world.

 
Father John Misty is a great songwriter and composer who looks at things for how they are. He’s never afraid to call anyone out (even himself) which makes listening to an album like Pure Comedy all that more amazing. Be sure to stop by the Music library and check out this wonderful CD, it’s beautiful from start to finish and fills your brain with some picturesque music for an hour and half.

Feature Fridays: Saturday Night Fever

Feature Fridays: Saturday Night Fever

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Emily Langlois will review the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

81DJbxqgq2L._SL1425_.jpg

Bell-bottom jeans, the gleam of a disco ball, and songs brimming with funky beats — in the swing of adopting trends from the past, we are slowly moving back towards 70s glam and proving that disco isn’t dead.

 

The defining film of that decade, Saturday Night Fever, set the tone for boogie nights and stories of unrequited love forming through dance. It featured John Travolta as a working-class Brooklyn boy who finds an escape on Saturday nights at his local disco. After its release in 1977, the soundtrack was the best-selling album of all time until the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

 

The album is chalk-full of timeless classics such as “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees and “Disco Inferno” by The Tramps. It also includes themes from the 70s that are familiar but not necessarily famous by their titles, for example, “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy. Each track on the CD whirls you through both scenes of the movie and captures the era itself. The epic sound of brass bands combined with funky rhythms makes for an energizing blast of nostalgia.

 

If you want to hop into a time machine and forget some of your worries, give this soundtrack a listen. The music library is also home to other disco favorites such as Off the Wall by Michael Jackson, The Definitive Collection by ABBA, and the soundtrack to The Get Down on Netflix.

New Semester, New Scores!

With the Fall 2018 semester in full swing, be sure to stop by the Music Library to check out our new scores that just got in (and new CD)!

Schubert Klaviertrios (Piano Trios) M 312 .S38 1973

Beethoven Klavierquartette (Piano Quartet) M 410 .B42 2001

Benjamin Britten Complete Folksong Arrangements M 1620 .B858 W34 2006

Emmanuel Sejourne Losa (Vibraphone & Marimba) M 385 .S45 L67 2002

Phyllis Addison The Room (Woodwind Quintet) M 557 .A286  R6 1996

Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor M 559 .B1186 BMV 565 2002

Paul Hindemith Sonate (Five Parts) M 559 .H562 S6 1980

Zequinha Abreu Tico-Tico (Trombone Quartet) M459 .A27 T5 2005

Alberto Ginastera String quartet No. 3 (Sting Quartet & Soprano Voice) M 452 .G45 no.3 2003

Beghtol Fire And Ice: An Original Superhero Adventure (3 Trombones & Percussion) M 485 .B416 F5 2009 

William Bolcom Trombone Concerto (Trombone & Piano) M1033 .B65 C66 2017

Schubert Trio in B-flat major M 312 .S38 d.898 1975

Dario Marianelli Pride & Prejudice Piano Solo M 1527.2 .M385 P7 2006

Robert Waldman The Robber Bridegroom (Score) M 1507 .W35

Father John Misty Pure Comedy CD 10555