My Head Is An Animal

Posted in Music on August 13th, 2012 by Tom

I’m a complete sucker for an unexpected surprise. Home for a recent family reunion, my sister was driving me to the meetup, and she put on a record she’d gotten in the mail earlier that day.

My sister and I have a reasonable amount of overlap in our musical taste, but it’s never a guarantee that we’ll both like something.

When she put on My Head Is An Animal though, very quickly I recognized something special. As the rousing opener ‘Dirty Paws’ played, hearing the guitar few well-timed ‘HEY!’-s prompted me to exclaim: “I like this! Instantly, I love it.”

I was being somewhat glib, but as I get older and listen to more and more music, I’m getting a better ear for what I like, and recognizing it more quickly. My offhanded comment proved to be an accurate prognostication, though, as my love for the album has only grown.

On the one hand, the Icelandic sextet know how to write a radio single, ample evidence of which is heard in ‘Dirty Paws’, ‘Mountain Sound’, and the absolutely infectious ‘Little Talks‘.

‘Little Talks’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

This song is essentially what Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes promised us with ‘Home’, and the rest of Up From Below never delivered on. Of Monsters And Men are here to finish the task, and they do it flawlessly. From mixed-gender vocal hand-offs to big brassy anthemic hooks, the song has it all.

The other side of the coin is that the deeper cuts are just as enjoyable in their own way. Bolstering the top of the record is a personal favorite, ‘King And Lionheart’. Softer in places than the ‘bigger’ tracks, it soars just as well. The folksy-ness of it is evocative of Mumford & Sons in the best way possible.

Notable tracks also include the genuinely tender ‘Love Love Love’, which is not nearly as trite or repetitious as the title might imply. Singer Nanna Hilmarsdóttir’s breathy whisper on this song conveys such intimacy and makes it a really special moment coming into the home stretch of My Head Is An Animal.

Penultimate tracks are a growing curiosity of mine, and this record’s ‘Lakehouse‘ doesn’t disappoint.

[ mp3 ♫ ]

I opened by saying I’m getting more attuned to what I like in music. I like big, epic swells that explode forth from quiet moments. I like it when horns come crashing in at the perfect moment moment and you can’t help but belt out the lyrics. I like those things, and this song has them. It doesn’t just have them though, it owns them.

My Head Is An Animal is a finely crafted tapestry of emotion and enthusiasm that never fails to capture my attention throughout all 12 tracks. I’ve greedily devoured this record, and now have to wait patiently for quite some time to see what greatness the band will come up with next.

Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal


Life On Mars?

Posted in Music, Nerd, Technology on August 5th, 2012 by Tom

Tonight, the Mars Science Laboratory rover is landing on the surface of the red planet at about 1:31 EDT. The mission is a huge undertaking, and will be nothing short of a modern miracle if they can pull it off.

This seemed as good of an occasion as any to share one of my favorite Bowie tracks today, the appropriately titled ‘Life On Mars?‘.

‘Life On Mars?’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

The song has a funny little history, originating as a Bowie-penned lyrical re-working of a french song ‘Comme d’habitude’ that never came to be anything. When Frank Sinatra did the same thing, it became his mega-hit ‘My Way’. In response, Bowie wrote and recorded ‘Life On Mars?’ for Hunky Dory.

It’s truly epic in its composition, and the lyrics weave in and out of comprehension. You can’t help but belt the chorus though. Give it a spin, and when you’re through go ahead and tune in to watch the amazing team at NASA do their stuff later on tonight: