It’s the end of week seven and midterms are (hopefully) over by now. Here’s a little something to help you take the edge off this weekend.
“Sweet VA Breeze” — DRAM
The scratchy record static on DRAM’s “Sweet VA Breeze” is an obvious stylistic choice; it triggers a comforting nostalgia. On this slower and soulful track, DRAM calls back to an older sound with electric piano chords and a jazzy lead organ underneath his own soothing voice. The lyrics paint a picture of a casual stroll through the city — high on bright ambitions — in the artist’s home state of Virginia. After the song’s release, DRAM took to twitter to say that “Sweet VA Breeze” was his favorite song that he had ever made.
“Don’t Be Scared” — Yoko Ono
The album “Milk and Honey” was Yoko Ono’s final collaboration with her late husband and ex-Beatle John Lennon, released in 1984 about three years after his death. On “Don’t Be Scared,” Ono incorporates a reggae influence. The song avoids a mournful tone and instead celebrates the type of love she had and continues to feel for her partner: “Don't be scared to love / Better to love than never love at all.” Divorced from the context, her lyrics take on the comforting role of motherly advice.
“Julie With...” — Brian Eno
Brian Eno melded his innovative brand of art rock with his early experiments in ambient music on the 1977 album “Before and After Science.” The slow burning “Julie With…” — placed around the album’s halfway point — makes a calculated transition into the record’s tranquil B-side. Eno introduces the melody with image-driven lyrics that match with the song’s serene aesthetic: “I am on open sea, just drifting as the hours go slowly by.” With his analog tape expertise and a broad array of synthesizers at his disposal, Eno successfully utilizes the studio environment as an instrument in itself.
“24” — Red House Painters
Life moves fast. Slowing down to the pace of a Red House Painters song can be a meditative experience. “24” is the opening track on the band’s 1992 debut, “Down Colorful Hill” — an album that acted as a conscious rejection of the fast-paced grunge music that was exploding at the time. Over the course of seven minutes, the song gently unfolds. It’s almost as if the band used the coffee shop stereotype as a base, threw in some electric instrumentation and then rendered everything in slow motion. But that would be selling it short; with its slow pace, “24” is able to achieve a sincere beauty.
“Calm Like a Bomb” — Rage Against the Machine
This is a Rage Against the Machine song, so naturally it is neither calm nor relaxing. But sometimes anger and controlled aggression can work as its own type of therapeutic activity. “These vultures rob everything, leave nothing but chains,” frontman Zach de la Rocha sings — mad as usual and with good reason. Guitarist Tom Morello provides an expected effects-laden guitar solo. The volume should be really loud on this one.