Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stereofanic


I have a strange but warranted observation to share today: I love the band Stereophonics. If you're wondering, the answer is "No" - they don't have a new album or single out, they're not in the news and there's really no cultural relevance to my posting this right now - but that shouldn't always be the case for discussing good music. They're a great and longstanding band, I love most things they do, and for those who are looking to re-vamp their music library - I highly suggest adding some tunes from this Wales-based group to spruce things up.

Equal parts romantic, rock, boisterous and bare - I'm always quick to appreciate that special combination of a band with a very obvious, recognizable sound who still explore their eclectic possibilities and try new things. The songs I appreciate from Stereophonics are each tiny dots on a wide musical spectrum: some heartbreaking and sweet, some charged and rock-heavy, and others bluesy city grooves that bring you right down to ground level. But perhaps the backbone to the entire operation, the reason I'm repeatedly drawn to their singles (which date back to 1992), is lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Kelly Jones. His famous husky vocal chords are almost matchless on the music scene, so much so that regardless of what side of the sound bed they ever decide to wake up on, I will always be able to tell who it is I'm listening to. Some essential Stereophonics your stereo should know are:


1. I Miss You Now: One of their bluesier gems, this song is the feel and sound of missing someone. Slow-paced, sultry and with a lazy but scorching blues guitar, it's a must-have for those quiet city nights.

                                                     

2. Rewind: This right here is an example of lyrics and melody strolling happily hand-in-hand. The message fits perfectly in the nooks of the obviously pretty tune, which I can always tell is the case when I find myself automatically listening really hard to the words of a song each time it's playing. Preaching about living a complete and love-filled life, this romance-rock track is an everyday walking essential.

3. Maybe Tomorrow: Also a thoughtful lyrical performance, this song is impossible to not relate to. Touching on those lost moments we all fall victim to while sliding in a slinky beat and wicked vocals makes this song the independent young adults anthem. "I wanna breeze and an open mind/ I wanna swim in the ocean/ Wanna take my time for me/ All me" - just about sums up the lax life us kids aspire to.

4. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor cover): One of the most fabulous covers of the past decade, this unplugged low-down ditty features only the highs and lows of Jones' raspy croons and the spacious strums of an acoustic guitar. It's an excusable way to get the most out of one of our favourite 80s ballads, without having to admit you have Sinead O'Connor on repeat.

5. Dakota: This is the absolute perfect summertime song for a roadtrip down the lengthy highway to a destination unknown. It radiates sunshine, reminiscence, and power blasts of shiny rock. In a few months I'll be encouraging you to whip out your sunglasses, pop your lemonade in the cupholder and crank this at full blast.

                                                        

6. Bright Red Star:  Singing to Mary (what is it with rockers and singing to someone named Mary? It's a pretty name and all, but who is this elusive Mary?), his bright red star, Jones' throaty and soft vocals sway alongside the teeter-totter guitar melody - making this undeniably sugary sweet.

7. You Sexy Thing: Last but most certainly not least, Stereophonics' 2007 take on the Hot Chocolate seductive dance floor classic is a funky taste of something you must stir into your drink. Another way to get the best out of a racy old treasure is through this tune and its healthy dose of Billy Joel-esque piano opening, howling harmonies and floppy licks of the reggae guitar.

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