Monthly Archives: September 2013

Top 10 “Breaking Bad” Songs

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It goes without saying that action and suspense are key elements to the popularity of Breaking Bad. However, the show’s complexities propel the show beyond the simple confines of a Friday night nail biter .  Whether it be the symbolism found in the ricin kept in the White household, the parallelism of both Gus Frain and Walter’s downfall, or the show’s constant reliance on foreshadowing, the minds behind Breaking Bad ensure that you’re getting more than just a cheap thrill. One of the elements that is often overlooked is the show’s use of music. While Dave Porter’s intense background symphonies punctuate the drama, I often find the pop songs used to be even more revealing. As a result, I decided to create a list of my top ten songs of the show.

This isn’t a list of my favorite musical moments, so you won’t be hearing about Gale’s karaoke video nor Jesse’s old band, Twauthammer (although “Falacies” was a bad ass song). This also isn’t a list of the songs I enjoy the most from the show, so you won’t be seeing any mention of The Walkmen, John Coltraine, or Thee Oh Sees. This is a list of the tunes that had the most impact on the series, the songs that both set the mood for key scenes and also added depth and complexity to the story through their lyrics.  Rather than rank them in some type of top 10 list, I opted to reveal them chronologically to show how they helped shape the transformation of Walter White into Heisenberg.

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Deafheaven “Sunbather”

Deafheaven

Sunbather

[Deathwish; 2013]

Rating: 8.5

Okay, I admit it – I was never a fan of Black Metal.  I know this makes me tragically unhip, and I know it tarnishes my credibility as a music journalist (acceptance is the first step). It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I listened two dozens upon dozens of Black Metal albums. I watched a couple Black Metal documentaries (Until the Light Takes Us and One Man Metal) and left both viewings telling myself that I had to like something that was so pure, so raw, and so brutal.  Yet, no matter what band I checked out, I just couldn’t get past the machine gun drums, grating guitars, and rasping screams.  I was doomed to be lame (in the right measure).

I guess all I needed was for someone to come along and take this jagged, bulky genre and make it more accessible. In 2010 it was Norwegian band Shining’s Black Jazz, an album that melded the core tenets of Black Metal with jazz scales and saxophones.  Of course, I enjoyed the jazz side more than the carnage, but it was a step in the right direction.

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This month’s episode of BDWPS Podcast features a more upbeat mix of tunes (i.e. no metal or rap) and it also contains some of my favorite albums of the year so far. Here’s the track list:

The Love Language “Calm Down” 
Speedy Ortiz “No Below” 
The Ex & the Brass Unbound “Our Leaky Homes” 
True Widow “HW-R” 
Austra “Forgive Me” 
Jagwar Ma “Come Save Me” 
Nick Drake “Voice From the Mountains” 
Bob Dylan “Masters of War”

Listen here or subscribe on iTunes (key word: BDWPS)

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Alela Diane “About Farewell”

Alela Diane

About Farewell

[Rusted Blue; 2013]

Rating: 9.o

The more autobiographical an artist, the more we, the audience, get to see them grow up right before our eyes.  Such is the case with Alela Diane who first gained attention with her debut Pirate’s Gospel back in 2004, the 21-year old Portland native singing innocent songs of companionless pigeons and Pirate’s prayers of “Yo Ho Ho!”

In 2009 she came into her own with To Be Still, an album that combined her tranquil vocals with lyrics that focused on the splendors of nature. The combination of the vivid imagery and the pure wonderment in her voice results in an album that would make John Muir blush. For me, the music stirs the humbling and exhilarating experience that is venturing into the wild.  On the album, Alela seems to be at peace with the world, an inner hope flowing out with each note, pure and calming like the mighty Columbia.  The production on both early albums was warm and quaint, as if you are sitting in the corner of a log cabin while Alela and her dad, who sang and played on both albums, serenade you by the fireplace.

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