Take Five: Week Three.

Due to the unexpected complications arising in the Williams network bandwidth, the enterprise of music sharing has been limited and reduced to, well, nil – at least in the electronic world. Unfortunately, this necessitated a reversion to those perplexing little clear plastic discs shaped like flattened donuts.

It’s downright amazing when I think about it. In the last couple of years, the demand for Case Logic must have decreased exponentially. And since most of the people here select their music experiences with the click of a mouse instead of actually placing a CD into a stereo, the inability to use file-sharing programs is more debilitating than one would presume.

Regardless, I discovered a plethora of forgotten songs in my CD case, making me thankful that I actually did, on occasion, shell out the cash for overpriced but enticing gems (even if the money was only spent on blank CD-Rs). Therefore, I dedicate the five picks of the week to CDs. I even discovered that, similar to the phenomenon of the scratchy vinyl effect, listening to a CD was slightly more fulfilling than listening to an mp3. Although this was only due to the gratification of actually having to take a CD out of the case and put it in the stereo. The hard work just makes the reward that much sweeter.

The Promise Ring – Make Me a Chevy

There’s something special about emo songwriters (the short tutorial has emo meaning “emotional” rock, basically) when they abandon their emo tendencies. All the sniveling and moaning about the pain of losing a lover, when channeled into the format of a basic pop song, brings originality and beauty into what would be just another alterna-rock hit. “Make Me a Chevy” is an incredibly uplifting song – I say incredibly because the song is about an old Chevy. I suppose if it were to be psychoanalyzed by an English professor, the Chevy on the interstate might work as an allegory for failing love. But I prefer to bask in the sustained crunch of grunge-influenced guitars and let the peculiarity of the song speak for itself.

Will.I.Am – Money

Sometimes we’re willing to forego lyrics with depth to the spirit of a truly wonderful song. Despite the fact that Will.I.Am’s rhymes on “Money” consist of matching the most basic suffixes (“-tion” etc.), or rhyming one word with. . .the same word, the song remains a consummate laid-back rap experience. From the funky bassline to the smooth jazz horns, “Money” is simply a pleasure to listen to, even though the chorus is simply a breakdown of the word itself: “The mo mo mo mo money. . .”

Will.I.Am, who broke onto the scene with Black Eyed Peas, made this solo venture as an experiment in furthering intellectual, historically conscious rap that counteracted some of the banal, mainstream talent void. As an attempt to make social commentary, Will fails on “Money,” although the song succeeds in all other aspects.

Citizen Bird – People Get Real

When I first bought this CD, there was a quote on the plastic wrapper that likened the band to The Strokes under the influence of acid. Perhaps whoever came up with that comparison assumed that the combination of psychedelic drugs and a back-to-basics rock band would result in the mesmerizing dreamscapes of Citizen Bird’s compositions.

The intricacy of their songs is more akin to that of Radiohead than anything else, though even that comparison cannot reveal the bizarre emotion suffused by crisp guitars and inexplicable electronic concoctions. The lead singer’s charismatic Swedish accent throws another bizarre spin on the experience, though it is only one part of such a complex weaving as “People Get Real.” Like Tool’s Trent Reznor, Citizen Bird holds texture above all other characteristics, and their songs are all the more beautiful because of it.

Myshkin – Fallow

With a name stolen from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, this New Orleans woman has managed to create a most bizarre combination of musical elements that refuse to be subordinated by the all-encompassing “chick-rock” heading. Though her voice probably evokes comparisons to Ani DiFranco, Myshkin is anything but. She fills her songs with banjo and mandolin riffs that complement the traditional songwriting in a mood of eerie, southern storytelling. “Fallow” is just such a song, and Myshkin steals eclectic fragments from punk, folk and blues in order to express the sentiments of a modern female songwriter facing the challenge of being original.

Cee Lo – Closet Freak

Cee Lo breaks the cycle of traditional rap songwriting by writing lyrics that are just plain odd. He openly seems to admit this penchant for the strange and unusual in “Closet Freak” when he declares, “Be free and express yourself/Nastiness comes naturally.” Surprisingly, the song doesn’t actually delve into sexual aberrance as one might presume, though it does promote freakin’ in various locales such as clubs, outside and on the expressway. Cee Lo pulls it off with style, bringing gospel and horns to accompany his nasal voice. This is truly unique rapping.

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