Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday Guest Post - The Hills Are Alive

Here we are, already half way through the Mainstream Isn't So Bad 1st Annual Guest Writers Week, and today I have the pleasure to introduce Grace from the blog Music Snob. Contrary to its title, Grace is anything but snobbish in her writing. In fact, I think she does an exemplary job of converting an aural experience into a written one that is richly descriptive and spot on. Below you'll find Grace's powers of description as she shares a band that I hadn't been familiar with before, The Do, but plan on checking out myself after her introduction. While Grace doesn't post regularly over at Music Snob, when she does it's clear she's put a lot of thought an ear time into whatever she's listening to and talking about.


Olivia B. Merilahti and Dan Levy of The Do

When Sean first asked me to guest-blog, I was excited and also a little afraid that I would not be inspired to write something that is the best reflection of my own music blogging. I have been in a bit of a funk lately, and not in a good way, and my blog has suffered as of late due to my mood. My other fear was that Sean would have already written about all of the bands who I am just discovering (he knows his obscure music), but I eventually found a band who are not particularly well-known, at least in the United States, and who create songs that are refreshing and entertaining.

The Do is a band, a duo in fact, who split their time between Finland and France. The name is pronounced like the note “do,” and instantly conjures images of Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp children (in my musical mind at least). Their music, however, is far from both Broadway and the Alps. A Mouthful pulls together sounds like the effervescent Go! Team and the brooding and beautiful tunes of Jaymay, and tempers this with more dense and moody material, sometimes layered within the same song. In this post, I will highlight four of their songs and allow you, dear reader, to discover the other eleven on their album.

The first song on the album is Playground Hustle, and it moves with all the vibrancy of a garbage band and the energy of youth. The multifarious sounds that drive the playfully chanted lyrics, seem salvaged from a junkyard. At about two minutes into the song the line:

“...Girls and boys giggling and sharing. Restless seeds let them choose their own toys...”

signals a movement from pure childhood to more adult themes. The guitar solo that begins to wobble into existence at this point is not awe-inspiring, but instead sets the mood for a sultry and snaking change of pace highlighted by Olivia B. Merilahti’s voice smoothly gliding over the clammer of the other noises. It is a song of juxtaposition and it embraces the common themes of youth and adulthood to create a patchwork of confusing and comfortable musical mash-ups.

With ukulele and an endearing accent Stay (Just A Little Bit More) is a lullaby and a sweet request for more time. The song reminds me a bit of Lykke Li’s Little Bit, except that the Do’s song never crosses the line into electronic music. The crooning on “Stay (Just A Little Bit More)” is similarly pouty and sweet when compared to “Little Bit”, but the music remains solidly playful, at times sounding like a high school band or a Hawaiian beach act. Even though the sound is not unique, it never sounds stale or boring in its similarity to other songs. The pacing and the instrumentation shake up the whole formula, creating a song that is understated, jazzy, and often quite dulcet.

Tammie is a harder song for the Do that often reminds me of soft Pixies music like Hey. It has a steady guitar/bass/clapping sound that is punctuated by soft yells of the name “Tammie.” The song is folksy and rooted in a kind of plaintive simplicity that directs the listener to feel a little less bubbly and a little more solidly tied to the ground. Still, the Do’s music never moves far from the upbeat, and this song is still far from a heavy, melancholy dirge.

With a rock-song base Aha is the song on the album that sounds most mainstream to me, although the vocals dash any strong hopes of mainstream radio play. At first listen the song instantly made me think of 1980s rock, with some obvious synthesizer moments and a rock and roll climax. However, the Do remain themselves even in the midst of rolling drums and buzzing guitars. Olivia and Dan Levy create a feeling that encapsulates excitement and uncertainty, tilting their musical world off kilter with the sound and emotion exhibited in “Aha.” The song is a strong reflection of their ability to change their hats while remaining themselves.

For more of the Do, you will need to listen to the rest of A Mouthful, and decide for yourself if their music is your cup of tea. I personally think the band has great potential in the musical world, but I also realize that with their patchwork quilt sound they will turn off a lot of listeners who have more focused musical tastes. Luckily, I think there are plenty of music-lovers who will embrace the Do and find their sound refreshing and comfortable.

Become their friend on MySpace and check out the album A Mouthful.


Emy JC said...

Is Lykke li famous Outside Sweden:O I had no idea about that.
Really enjoy this blog. Ciao.

Sean said...

Lykke is certainly starting to make waves. I'm not sure that she's famous here in the States outside of the blog world, but she's making inroads.

Glad you enjoy!