Music Monday – One Take Edition

I am an absolute sucker for one-take media. Movies and music. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I do a series of one-take videos. I prefer it when the one-take is real, but sometimes well-hidden cuts are acceptable.

Dodie – Cool Girl

I just love this song and this video. I really enjoy this style of sort of, “raw dancing” where it’s a little messy and unstructured. I also like the sort of, symbolism of Dodie being slightly “off” from the other dancers, it fits with the themes of the lyrics and theme of the song. It seems intentional because she will be slightly off, then in perfect sync, then off again. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. The song itself is really good as well. It starts out so light then the thumpy beat comes in and it builds up nicely from there.

Total side note, I am slightly enamored with the chest of drawers and nightstand in the opening bit. I have a collection of photos of furniture I have come across in this style because it seems weirdly prolific in the vintage furniture market for some reason.

Kiesza – Hideaway

I think this may be the first video I watched that turned me on to Kiesza’s music.

Something I find amusing about this whole video is that I am pretty sure that a lot fo the non-dancers, are just, people who were out and about. The dudes trying to go to their car. The person ho runs through he shot on the skateboard. One tell for this is how at the end, the Taxi almost gets caught in traffic and almost misses the cue. Also everyone seems to be having a good time, which I like.

OK Go – The One Moment

I could do an entire month’s worth of Music Monday posts on OK Go, instead, I’ll just sprinkle them in here and there. A lot of their videos are one-take videos or fake one-takes. This one is pretty amazing because it’s an extremely fast one take, that’s slowed down.

The behind-the-scenes for OK Go are almost always fascinating as well, or at least, the engineering part of my brain thinks they are. Like all the math that was needed to get the timing for this video down so it would work in the slowed-down version. I mean, I am sure there is some fudging going on, but it’s doing to be damn close.

Dodie – Hot Mess (RSD Vinyl)

Released – 2022.09.30
Vinyl – 2023.04.22

I am not real sure why Dodie put out another EP, Hot Mess, as a follow up to her first album Build a Problem. Following her online suggests that she writes well, a lot of music, feels like there would be plenty for a while album. I mean, yeah, there is some of it that’s kind of weird and a bit banal, but that didn’t seem like it held back her album. But here we are, with a fresh, 4 track EP.

I also want to take a moment to talk about this particular release, as I’ve picked this album up from the Record Store Day exclusive release version. I don’t believe it’s available on Vinyl otherwise, nor do I know if there are plans to release it later, but this release is a special translucent vinyl disk, and man it’s so very neat looking. I know this isn’t the first translucent disk ever released, but it’s the first one I have. This is the sort of thing I hope to, somewhat, limit my vinyl collection to, these neat special releases.

The album itself had 4 tracks total, 2 on each side of the record. I very much greatly prefer the tracks on side A, versus side B and it’s currently the album I have sitting on my turn table to just “push play” on occasionally.

Side A has Dodie’s last two singles on it, and similar to my complaints with Build a Problem, both of these tracks feel a bit more “complete” than the Side B tracks. The opening track is the title track, Hot Mess, it hits most of the “Dodie high points” with some wonderful harmonies and a subtle build up of some string based backing tracks. It’s quite nice and despite being a pretty short track, it feels about right on length.

The second track, Got Weird is the catchiest track on this EP. The hook is really nice and the lyrics on the whole are super catchy and clever. If Hot Mess is “Dodie doing music,” then Got Weird is “Dodie doing lyrics.” Though it does have this really incredible temp and time change shift near the end. Plus this, really weird video.

Side B starts out with Lonely Bones, a simple number that doesn’t push anything too ambitious but has a nice happy tone going to it. It wraps up with No Big Deal (I Love You) which is a super low key dreamy and quite beautiful song. Neither of these tracks are necessarily bad, which kind of feels like what I was implying above, I just, generally prefer more upbeat tracks in general. If I am going for this sort of mood, I’m more likely to go with something purely instrumental.

The EP itself is pretty good. Unless you really want the vinyl, I’d say it’s perfectly fine to experience it all through more, modern means as well. I will add that while Dodie isn’t necessarily my favorite artist, I really like how she structures her songs and incorporates the mixing in of a lot of less common instruments in this style of modern music. It gives her tracks a pretty unique sound. She also pushes a lot of emotion through her lyrics which makes it all very interesting to listen to and deconstruct.

Record Store Day 2023

Today was Record Store Day.  It’s moistly just, a “promotional” sort of deal for local record shops, and not really like, a “real holiday”.  I decided I would go ahead and give it a go.  There were a couple of pretty inexpensive albums that I was interested in and I’ve recently (finally) picked up a record player after many years of “I should get a record player”.

Man, now I’m just getting layers and layers of things to bring up here.  Maybe it’s best to just start at, “Why vinyl?”

I guess it’s almost, “Why not?”  Ok, there are plenty of reasons why not.  It takes up a lot of space, it’s not portable, it’s not particularly cheap, it’s not skip-able, etc etc.  Some of these are advantages though.  I listen to mostly albums anyway, why not buy a format that lends itself to album listening?  Space and cost are less of an issue as well, I don’t intend to go nuts on buying records.  There is nothing that I just HAVE to have.  If I could get an ok deal, on some things, I might buy it, but there is nothing I am desperate for on vinyl.  I’ve already had a few records for a while, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and Dark Side of the Moon, A promo single from Mortal Kombat Annihilation, and slightly more recently, the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I also recently bought a player for these albums.  I found one that fit what I was looking for at a garage sale and got it pretty cheap, it’s a nice little entry level Audio-Technica AT-LP60.  The main thing I wanted was a stand alone unit like this.  It takes up less space, and I already have speakers that are much nicer than most of the self contained units I come across.  It operates perfectly for my basic needs.

I had looked over the list online, and the price list I had found, and basically only wanted 2 albums.  Dodie’s Hot Mess EP, and the Arooj Aftab – Live in London EP.  I am going to skip the boring details behind these choices for now because I may do some album write ups in the future but these two were both affordable at under $20 each and both were artists I enjoy.  I had a few others lined up as alternative options or maybe if I felt spendy, but I ended up either not finding them or passing on them.  I also decided that I would go ahead and get the Taylor Swift Folklore album, if it was there, despite it being a bit more than I wanted to spend.  The price didn’t matter, it was sold out.  People camped out overnight for that thing.  CRAAAZY People…..

I was a bit worried during the lead up.  The store had been posting photos online as they unboxed everything and I had seen neither of these albums shown.  This was especially annoying because Dodie’s album was listed as “Regional Focus” and she was doing a live show off in London FOR Record Store Day.  Which sort of suggested, “Hot Mess” may be “Regionally focused to England.”  Friday night though, both albums showed up as being available.  So I was set to go.

The store opened at 8AM.  But it was also a 45 minute drive away in the next city over, and I didn’t have anything on my list that I needed to be there super early for anyway.  I arrived around 8:30, and there was still a line down the block, which was a little discouraging.  I had driven all this way though, how long could it take?  It didn’t help that it was also very cold, and I had not brought a jacked, though I was wearing a flannel shirt, in classic “I’m a 90s teen” fashion.  

The line took, a very looooong time.  It was something like 2 hours before I got in the store.  Thankfully, I got to chat up some nice strangers while waiting.  We made jokes, and talked music and concerts and records and talked other things.  Funny enough,, I never got any of their names.  There was one lady who had been at the hospital nearby and her husband had asked her to come down here and see if she could get a KISS related album.  I get the impression she did not manage to, I never saw her in the store and she had been trying to recruit me or the other dude to buy her a second copy since it was limit one.  Then there was “The other dude”, whom I really enjoyed talking with.  Talking with him was like looking at a mental and verbal mirror, though we looked nothing alike.  He was disappointed that people would leave the store and not look happy and not show off their hauls.  He ended up checking behind me and as I was leaving, I reminded him to do his fist pump as he left for the crowd outside.  There was also a younger girl who reminded me a bit of my daughter, with her slightly eccentric dress and mannerisms.  The notable store for her, she was wearing these flowered pants.  As we got closer to the store entrance, she mentioned being friends with the worker managing the store entrance.  The employee finally noticed her in line and they exchanged some pleasantries, and the employee mentioned “I like your pants”.  The young girl said thanks, then opened the front of her jacked and exclaimed, “They aren’t just pants, they are overalls!”  And everyone got a kick out of that, and the reaction of the employee.

It’s really kind of funny that we never got anyone’s names, because the other dude said something that really stuck with me.  He talked about writing some books as a hobby, and not really wanting to be a famous writer because he liked the anonymity of just, not being known.  He mentioned enjoying just sort of the basic human interaction, he had a better phrasing that I’ve forgotten.  And here we are, a small group of strangers, bonding over a shared event, passing ships on the ocean, with no real clue who we all really are.

Anyway, my turn finally came up, I went in.  The RSD Exclusives were in bins sorted alphabetically, and the front of the alphabet was open.  I quickly thumbed through the A-B bin and found my Arooj Aftab record.  The only one in there, I have no idea if there had been more earlier.  I picked it up and slid down to C-D looking for Dodie, and like the Arooj Aftab album, there was one copy of Hot Mess.  This meant mission accomplished for the day, anything else was a bonus.  The end of the alphabet was open so I slid on down there and started working my way back towards “A-B”.  No Taylor Swifts.  There was a NENA – 99 Luftbaloons I seriously considered but decided to skip.  I almost got the Garbage EP, I do like Garbage.  In the end, I decided on no more exclusives, and went over the the main part of the store.  I checked for any CHVRCHES or Aurora albums they might have and came up empty there.I checked through the “recent arrivals” and there were a few interesting ones but I decided I would wait for now.  There was a line outside, only 20 people allowed in at a time due to the store size, and I didn’t really need to linger.  I headed to the checkout table.

The Other Dude ended up behind me in line, he had a couple of albums picked out.  The real oddity here was the person in front of me.  So the store WAS having 10% off everything not RSD related.  So if you’re a collector, that would be a good time to pick up some other stuff.  The guy in front of me was buying, cassettes.  ONLY cassettes.  They seemed to be like, $1 each, and he spent a whole $8 and some change.  Like dude…..   dude…..  dude…. I am sure your cassette choices are great….  but did you just stand in line for possibly 2 hours, to spend $8 on used cassette tapes?  That 10% didn’t even save a dollar and there are a LOT of people here waiting to spend hundreds of dollars.

It seemed, very odd.

After finishing up, I went back to my car and drove around the block to…. The OTHER record store in town, Recycled Records.  This store was not participating in Record Store Day, because it’s closing in like a week.  It’s been around in town for a very long time.  I thought I had read they were doing 50% off, there was no indication that this was the case at all, anywhere.  I didn’t end up buying anything.  Not for trying, but I just didn’t find anything that jumped out at me.  There was a Radio Head vinyl I would have bought at half price, but it seemed new Vinyl was only 10% off.  They didn’t have any of the other artists I looked for unfortunately.

Afterwards I headed out to spend a few hours at my parent’s house just hanging out before heading home in the late afternoon.

Just one last bit, I’ll talk about the albums themselves later, but they are both very cool disks, and I can understand why people buy these special versions like this.

Dodie – Build a Problem

Released – 2021.05.07

I am not sure what first brought me to Dodie’s music, I know a lot of her fans came from her previous life as a regular YouTube Vlogger. I can say it was quite a bit before the release of Build a Problem. This is her first Studio Album, though she has released 3 previous EP albums, though the third one, Human, has most of her best known tracks, with Monster probably being her most well known. She also has a pretty large amount of additional “unreleased” tracks on YouTube and other channels.

This little bit of background is rather essential to some of what I want to talk about on this album, Build a Problem.

Anyway, I enjoy Dodie’s music enough that I had tickets to see her back in 2022, though things fell through and I could not make the show for a couple of reasons (COVID was ramping up again, and my wife had a medical procedure come up). Her music can probably be best described as modern emotional folk music. There is a lot of airy feel to a lot of her songs, and they incorporate a lot of more traditional acoustic style instruments along side some modern electronic mixing and layering. Most of the songs have a strong emotional push around relationships, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and being a bit of an “outsider” at times.

All of these themes are very much present in the themes of Build a Problem. The album open with a short interlude in Air So Sweet, before going into the first proper track with Hate Myself. It’s not the “title track” but it is where the album title comes from, where the phrase Build a Problem shows up as part of the opening lyrics:

Could it be different? Did I ruin the day?
Oh, do you look angry? Oh, what did I say?
Filling in the gaps, build a problem that
Neither of us need, something wrong with me

Hate Myself is one of the better tracks on this album, it’s showcases a lot of the strong parts of Dodie’s songwriting and layering in structure. I don’t know that it’s my favorite track, but it’s certainly up there. The theme of this track is basically the idea of being insecure in a relationship, and possibly overjudging one’s self based on the reactions of the partner. Essentially, building a problem, in one’s head, where a problem may not actually exist. Which only leads to more self hate and insecurity.

Though Hate Myself is a bit more upbeat and “poppy” sounding, things turn down and become a lot more reserved for most of the rest of the album. I’m just going to go over some of my personal highlights from the album with commentary on the rest after.

Probably my favorite track on the album, is Cool Girl. I just really like the way this song slowly builds over the course of the track from something relatively low key to something rather grand. I also really like the use of the stringed background instruments, which is also part of the overall build. The video is also a One Take, which is like my kryptonite for video media, so that pushes up my enjoyment even more.

The next few tracks, Special Girl, Rainbow, and Four Tequilas Down are all pretty good.

The two “bonus” tracks, Guiltless and Boys Like You round out my list of actual “top tracks” on this album. I believe they are “bonus” in that they have both been released for a while, they just, never had a proper album release. Guiltless has a lot of really fun and interesting structure to it. The lyrical sections are kind of quiet and quaint before dropping into this fuller chorus moments. It ends with this really fun little layered loop of some of the lyrics of from the track previously.

Boys Like You has a decidedly different feel than the rest of the album but it’s still a great track that does deserve to be on an album. It’s quite a bit more punchy in it’s melody than the previous tracks, and feels a bit like a different era of Dodie.

So, as for the other tracks. I have the ALOSIA (A Lot Of Songs In A Steam) Deluxe version of this album, but for now I’m just referring to the other tracks on the album itself. I really like the tracks mentioned above, I kind of really dislike most of the ones I didn’t mention. I do like this album, but it also feels like, another EP’s worth of tracks, with a bunch of half finished tracks intermixed in to pad it into an album. This isn’t really a criticism of Dodie by any means, and maybe it’s just that I just don’t resonate with these tracks for whatever reason.

It doesn’t really harm the album as a whole, especially since you know, we live in a digital age where it’s easy to pick out the tracks one most enjoys. It just feels like maybe there was some sort of behind the scenes deadline that came up too fast and things maybe could have felt a bit more complete in places.