Posts Tagged ‘Shara Worden’

5. Queens of the Stone Age – Mosquito Song

The Queens of the Stone Age can make spectacular rock music when they put their minds to it. Most of the time, they take the easy route by sticking meaty hooks over a few desert grooves, giving us tracks like No One Knows and Make It Witchu that sound too convenient, with their stuttering rhythms and pansy percussion lacking the proper venom that their brand of rock and roll truly deserves. Some of their other tracks, (Hanging Tree, Burn The Witch, In The Fade) make me want to believe that the Palm Beach rock scene didn’t die a horrid death when the almighty Kyuss disbanded. Mosquito Song is a tranquil moment for Josh Homme and the boys; a mellow acoustic trip that couldn’t have gotten lovelier if Mark Lanegan had joined him for the final chorus. Thankfully, the searing violins did.

4. Natalie Imbruglia & Sneaker Pimps – Cold Air (Download)

The music industry hated everything about Natalie Imbruglia except her Torn video and pre-emo emo haircut so that we, the quasi badass nerds and fantasy music critics with our beady eyes, could enjoy her music without feeling brainwashed by MTV. Naaaah they probably didn’t like her because she was too far away from what they perceived as the future template of mainstream pop music – Lady ‘mother loving’ Gaga. Not that the poor thing was either a very good singer or a talented songwriter. In fact I wish Cold Air, a B-side remix from her White Lilies Island album, was originally written by someone else, let’s say, Isobel Campbell or Shara Worden. I can’t though. So here goes, a scrumptious pop tart from someone the collective consciousness previously rejected as a flash-in-the-pan. Surely that gives her some sort of reverse pop psychology credibility. Yay for Sneaker Pimps too.

3. Pantera & Kerry King – Goddamn Electric

Heavy metal is like that stepdad who beats the living daylights out of little Johnny. Yet Johnny keeps coming back for more; not because he likes it, but rather out of the flimsy hope that someday his stepdad just might show him some love. See, Johnny is a lot like us, haggard metal fans. Tired of the abuse handed down to us; and just not enough love going around. I say, enough with the shrieking drama kings and queens clad in black designer wear, posing as the prima donnas of popular heavy metal. Whenever I listen to Bad Brains, Pantera or Zakk Wylde, I can understand why little Johnny still gets excited whenever the drunken oaf puts the belt away and makes him a paper airplane to play with. “Goddamit man, you’re not the best daddy that little Johnny could hope for, but screw it, paper planes are awesome and so was this moment…for little Johnny”. So Pantera jams with Slayer’s guitarist and pays a fearsome ode to Black Sabbath and whiskey? How could this not be inspiring? Solos like this are meant to be used as a case against civil decency.

2. Saul Williams – Twice Upon A Time (Download)

Saul Stacey Williams is to alternative hip hop what Lou Reed once was to punk music. We can’t always see the connection, but we can only be sure that they somehow revolutionized it. Saul’s not just an incredible rhyme slayer; he’s an open mic beat poet, a very competent writer and a decent enough actor. That’s already 3,456 things that Ice Cube is not. Over the years his albums have sonically pushed all sides of spectrum and much like his enviably retro afro have grown more captivating. So much so that his 2007 album NiggyTardust was sometimes unlistenable from a pop perspective, but was intensely captivating in its own right, as dense collages of sound that challenge listeners to break down barriers. Twice Upon A Time is an amazing track that can be found on Disc 3 of Xen Cuts – a Ninja Tune compilation. This track is so poorly misrepresented on the Web that this blog shows up when you Google it. It starts off with a chilly broken blues lament that leads to Saul Williams coercing poetry and hip hop to writhe in imperfect harmony, the kind that sounds really good. “As if a heartbeat wasn’t enough…” Also read the Scholar wax lyrical about this track, as always.

  1. John Martyn – Glory Box

These lists that bloggers make are so absurd. Top 25 this, top 3 that.  Someone should make a top 100 list of things to do that are more worthwhile than sitting in front of the laptop, hoping that strange (and possibly lonelier) people think we’re cool because we assume that great and obscure music is drawn to us.  Aren’t we just precious? Let’s all approach Gollum and just bend over. More importantly, let’s just pretend that I’m above such judgment and move along. Singer-songwriter John Martyn sounds like the child that Frank Sinatra and Tom Waits could have never had.  Give him a Vogon poem and he’ll make that sound mesmerizing. Arundhati Roy’s articles too. His 1998 album – The Church With One Bell – has one of the most jaw-dropping covers ever made. His raspy tone segues with the seductively lounge-y instrumentation to turn Portishead’s Glory Box into a gorgeous jazz number that you can kick back and smell the nicotine stains to. Get the entire album, minions…there are promises of Billie Holiday and Dead Can Dance too. (PS: Yes I’m aware that the list says 1999-2009).

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Some bands deserve more than just a paltry mention. So let me start over again…Portland indie rockers The Decemberists make fantastic music that pauses every 20 seconds to consider metamorphosing into something more menacing. Sometimes it does and with sound and fury, gnashing its teeth and escaping most clichés; and sometimes it doesn’t, but stays just as captivating, with its affinity for ethereal lovemaking over a lush soundscape.

Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query and John Moen christened themselves as The Decemberists in 2000, having shared an equal fondness and fascination for the Decembrist uprising in Russia and fellow indie bands – Norfolk and Western, Camera Obscura, Long Winters and The Shins. While their music does bear similarities to their influences, it really does elevate itself by constantly evolving.

hazards of love

After a slew of mostly acoustic, accordion-based tracks and the erstwhile foray into 12-string guitar madness on their previous albums, The Decemberists have now tackled hard rock opera to the ground with dissonant ease. Their 2009 album The Hazards Of Love is the bastard child of The Who’s Tommy and the cult-tastic Neutral Milk Hotel’s  In the Aeroplane Over the Sea album. As we know, when storytelling meets clever chord progressions, music shakes it little butt and struts off into the sunset, looking prettier and more seductive than ever before.

The album recites a haunting story of a woman named Margaret who “falls in love with a shape-shifting boreal forest dweller named William.” The villains – a jealous forest queen and an ensemble of unruly characters – bring gnarly darkness to the story and appropriately make for the brightest moments.


The sonic horizon of The Hazards Of Love also seems broader than ever, with gorgeous vocal performances by Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. Bless these angels for reaffirming my faith (and another friend of mine) in female-fronted alternative rock music. Not often has this genre seen the species do it justice. “The Queen’s Rebuke” is a glorious testament to the oestrogen-fuelled awesomeness.

shara worden

Imagine, a deliciously modern twist of a Led Zeppelin’s The Battle of Evermore, with Robert Plant replaced by a pissed off Patti Smith; and I mean, raging, frothing and restrained all at once. As a thunderous riff rides on the spine of ethereal backing vocals, Shara Worden croons, “And you have removed this temptation that’s troubled my innocent child, To abduct and abuse and to render her rift and defiled. But the river is deep to the banks and the water is wild. But I will fly you to the far side” and lets you go to sleep, dreaming about great tree monsters preaching to a congregation of lepers and deaf children, but that’s just me. And Jenny Conlee is insanely great as the keyboardist. I would love to hear these guys cover Light My Fire just to see Conlee rip into that organ sound.


The mesmerizing The Hazards of Love 3 features an eerie harpsichord tune performed by a children’s choir. I have been gorging myself on it for over a week now and it has become a prelude for most of my daily chores. I don’t what it is but there’s something appealing about angelic vocals singing, “Father I’m not feeling well, must be the flowers you fed, they tasted spoiled for suddenly I find that I am dead. But father don’t you fear, your children all are here, singing ohhhh, the hazards of love” while I procrastinate about deadlines at work. Oh, and I am almost sure that many cute instruments were injured during the making of this track.

Matter of fact, many silly theories about indie music have been knocked the fuck out after the release of Hazards Of Love. The Decemberists have done their bit to fade to black the pretentions and egomaniacal jackass-ery of the genre and its tendency to fall in love with itself.

Stand up, kindly sirs and sisters of indie rock, and be proud…if the world ignores you any longer, it is only to preserve your rare gift for creating beauty in silence and to a chosen crowd of those who either shake a fist or shed a tear at the current social and artistic dystopia.


The Decemberists – Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing

The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love 3

The Decemberists – Isn’t It A Lovely Night?

The Decemberists – The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid


The Hazards Of Love

The Crane Wife

Inexpensive pet food

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