Instant Replay: 026
Prog rock and French dance pop reinterpretations of classical favorites are just two of the tracks you'll find in our epic May roundup of music favorites! Also featuring a bit of Broadway flavor, some Miles Davis, the ubiquitous Carly Rae Jepsen, and a whole lot more.
Miloš -- Talbot: Ink Dark Moon: I. Andante espansivo
This month’s “instant-replay” is partially a shameless plug for the WCRB In Concert broadcast with the Celebrity Series of Boston and guitarist Miloš (airing Sunday May 16 at 7pm, and available to stream through Sunday May 23). But also, this new album from Miloš, titled "The Moon and The Forest," is a very, very enjoyable album, featuring two cool new classical guitar showpiece commissions – “The Forest,” by Howard Shore, and “Ink Dark Moon,” by Joby Talbot!
Weezer -- 1 More Hit
James Bennett, II
It is only meet and right to share the entirety of Van Weezer, Rivers Cuomo’s send-up to 80s power-pop and hard rock acts such as, um, Van Halen. But that’s out of bounds for the format of this particular musical roundup, and I must choose only one track: “1 More Hit,” the one I’ve been singing the most in the shower. “1 More Hit” brings us heavy Metallica energy, shining not only in the opening riff, but in the crunchy, leaded bridge. The subject matter isn’t exactly what I’d call fun, but a) this is not at all uncharted Weezer territory (hello “Tired of Sex”! Come on in, “Say It Ain’t So!”) and b) it’s a damn fine pleasure to belt along, especially when Cuomo punctuates with that falsetto you know is en route.
Last thing: this is the second track in what’s probably the strongest three-track run on the album, sandwiched between “Blue Dream” and “Sheila Can Do It,” so just do yourself a favor and jump in there. Actually, just listen to the whole album. Come on, make time for you. It’s like 31 minutes long.
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Joann Falletta -- Griffes: Clouds
I’ve often thought that if I were a painter, I’d spend most of my time trying to capture the clouds. Composers have fallen in love with them, too, including the American Charles Tomlinson Griffes. Since he associated certain colors with certain keys, his clouds pick up the hues of the sunset in a very special way. It’s a nice way to get out of gravity’s grip for a few minutes.
Julie Andrews, Franz Allers, Ensemble -- The Lusty Month of May, from Camelot
First I thought about "....bring May flowers," and then I just started singing Queen Guinevere's "The Lusty Month of May" from Broadway's Camelot. It prompted me to go hunting through my music shelves for the original cast recording of the musical. It's all so good. By the way, I sing ALL the parts in my car's Broadway stage, including King Arthur's "Camelot" and Sir Lancelot's "C'est moi! " The promise of the magical Camelot is enticing and this weather is perfect for belting out Broadway tunes (even if other drivers LOL as I pass by).
Miles Davis and Milt Jackson Quintet -- Changes
Hard to say why this has stuck with me for the last few weeks. Somehow, one night, while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, Miles Davis came to mind. His Harmon-muted trumpet seamlessly responds to Milt Jackson’s vibraphone in “Changes.” Ray Bryant’s piano, Percy Heath’s bass, and Art Taylor’s drums round out the closest thing music can get to a conversation among friends.
Aisslinn Nosky, New Holland Baroque -- Telemann: Partie polonaise in B-Flat Major, VI. Hanaque - VII. Sarrois
I had this album in my earbuds while walking around the city on one of those REALLY windy days we had recently -- it was a perfect fit -- and was hit by a shock of deep disappointment when the last track finished. New Holland Baroque always makes smart, edgy, energetic music, and here they've featured violinist Aisslinn Nosky -- she's the person you can't take your eyes off of at a Handel and Haydn Society concert -- for a high-spirited whirlwind of an album. What to do when it ends? Hit replay, of course!
Carly Rae Jepsen -- Too Much
Is it even a real Instant Replay if Kendall or I don’t write about Carly Rae Jepsen? I thought it was funny that last month Kendall wrote about falling back into old CRJ favorites, since the week before I’d started listening to her album “Dedicated” again after not listening through it for a long time. And this week, as the two-year anniversary of the album’s release, seems like the appropriate time to extoll my love for that whole album, particularly “Too Much.” Do I say that songs are “a bop” too much? Do I yell about how great Carly Rae Jepsen is too much? This song is anthemic, defying anyone who says that you need to tone it down.
MUNA -- Number One Fan
Right about now is when I start making my annual summer playlist - AKA, a combo of dad rock and upbeat pop to blast down the highway playing with the windows down. This was one of my first picks for the year!
Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner -- Brahms: Nänie
One of Brahms’s most beautiful choral pieces, Nänie doesn’t get much attention these days. Maybe it’s because of the subject matter – it’s all about death, after all. But there’s such a tremendous hopefulness that pervades it, soothing the heart. He wrote it in 1880, as a lament for the loss of his friend, the painter Anselm Feuerbach, and he set it to a text by Friedrich Schiller (well-known for Beethoven’s Ode to Joy), which includes lots of references to classic myths – I don’t get most of them, but the basic idea is: even the beautiful must die, but beauty lives on. Here’s a translation of a bit of it:
The gods weep, all the goddesses weep, That the beautiful perishes, that the most perfect passes away. But a lament on the lips of loved ones is glorious…
And Brahms’s choral writing is truly glorious. For anyone who has experienced grief, Nänie is a balm. Also for anyone who hasn’t.
Liquid Tension Experiment -- Rhapsody in Blue
What happens when an instrumental progressive metal band covers Gershwin? This.
Stromae -- carmen
I'm on a French pop kick right now, and I've particularly enjoyed returning to songs by Stromae, one of my favorite artists from my college years. His name "Stromae" is wordplay on "maestro," which is itself a pretty good example of his approach to music: he frequently sets serious subject matter and social commentary to funky dance beats. His song "carmen" takes the "Habanera" from Bizet's opera Carmen -- an excerpt that begins with the words, "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle que nul ne peut apprivoiser" (love is a wild bird that no one can tame) -- and turns it into a biting criticism of Twitter (an untameable wild bird, anyone?) and social media in general. But also, it's an extremely fun listen, so don't let that scare you away!
Listen to the full playlist: