Tag Archives: Shearwater

Jonathan Meiburg – Why I Love My Home

(Songs for Charles Burchfield)

This is a fairly appropriate post for today, as, in other news, I have (finally!) acquired a new home and will be going through the whole moving process again over the next week, which – as much as I hate moving – is more of a relief than I can possibly convey.

That aside, I spotted this release on Bandcamp last week, and considering the various other Meiburg-associated releases – Buteo Buteo, The Golden Archipelago (Shearwater) and the s/t Blue Water White Death albums from last year – were all amongst my favourite albums of 2010, I couldn’t resist the lure of these two tracks.

Charles Burchfield, just for those who haven’t heard the name before (myself included, but I’ve been doing a little research), was an American artist born in 1893 (d. 1967). I didn’t know that I was already familiar with a few of his pieces prior to looking them up recently, so I have to say I love that music can lead to these other discoveries because the work I recognised have been pieces I’ve happened upon over time and thought were just beautiful. There’s been many more, though, that I haven’t seen before at all, and I’m truly enamoured with quite a number of them. Here is just one example of the wonderful art Charles Burchfield produced:

The following is an excerpt of the words on Bandcamp by Jonathan Meiburg in regards to the songs on this release:

I was invited to perform at the opening of the Whitney Museum’s exhibit “Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield” last year. I’d never heard of Burchfield before, but loved the whimsy, darkness, and grandeur of his giant watercolors, and wrote this pair of songs as an attempt to evoke some of his paintings in sound, since Burchfield often tried to depict sounds in his paintings. 

Whimsy, darkness and grandeur are all things Jonathan Meiburg and co. seem to have a strong command on, and the result is something that actually feels a little at the mid-point of Shearwater and Blue Water White Death. The second track – The Moth and The Milky Way – reminding me occasionally of Song For The Greater Jihad, the lead single from Blue Water White Death. Each song is based on specific paintings, though, with the first track – Hymn To The Valences – based on Two Ravines and The Song of The Telegraph, while the second is based on The Sphinx and The Milky Way (pictured).

Meanwhile, Shearwater recently performed a 3-hour concert featuring tracks from The Island Arc (i.e. the albums Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago). Now there’s a performance I would have done just about anything to attend, had it been within the realm of possibility. Ten tracks from that performance have been made available on Bandcamp as well, and while I haven’t grabbed them yet, I certainly will be soon.

Both releases are available via the same Bandcamp profile, but you can click here for Why I Love My Home, or click here for The Island Arc Live.

S4E


30 Day Music Challenge: Day 23 – A Song I Want To Play At My Wedding

Shearwater – Sing, Little Birdie

Hey, little birdie, catching my eye
Sing little sweet things into this mind
And tug at my darker side

Fly to the bed where we are confined
Combing the cancers out of our lives
And harness your song with mine
And whose tongue gave you life but mine

Me & marriage – now there’s an interesting thought; my knee-jerk reaction to that has always been pretty much haha, yeah right.

Sometimes I think that people who say ‘I’m not the marrying kind‘ – i.e. people like me – are those that have never been in enough love for that to be something they wanted with another person; but then there are all those people out there that have marriage as one of their “goals” yet have never been in love at all and I sure as hell have, so who knows.

What I do know is, the idea of being married to someone doesn’t make me feel as though love would be made any more sacred, and I’m not sure I ever want anything other than that making someone else feel like they have some kind of responsibility or obligation to uphold a union – even if it’s just a small part of their reasons.

Anyway, with or without marriage in the equation, this is almost the perfect song to me about union – of any kind – between two people.

 

S4E


It Was All About the Majesty…

Oh, and birds. Possibly even music…and a band named Shearwater

The album cover for Winged Life - quite pleased I received this version as Im a little less fond of the blue cover (shown below)

Well… After a couple of months of waiting my copy of Winged Life by Shearwater finally arrived today. (It was, in fact, the second copy that I had to buy, and actually arrived quite quickly, but I waited five weeks for the first one. Thankfully my money for the original purchase was refunded, and due to a stronger Aussie dollar the second purchase worked out to be significantly cheaper – which was nice).

Anyway, the point… if I have one… I guess I should mention that I came at Shearwater a little backwards. I bought Rook first, though I had been predominantly listening to tracks from Palo Santo, purely because it was the only album of theirs available in Australia. Rook pretty much made me go ok, now I have to get every other song this band has recorded… Which is pretty much what I do whenever I listen to something that is immediately affecting (it can take me a while – my post about Pillars and Tongues was several months ago, and I only just last week received my copy of the album Protection… but I do always get there in the end XD). Plus there’s the thing I have for birds and music with bird themes…so I guess Shearwater get double – perhaps even triple – bonus points for that; so says a ninja-owl, anyways. 😉

But back to the point. Which I can’t remember. Right, so I bought the expanded edition of Palo Santo after that, then the original version. I’m actually really glad I bought the expanded edition first, it’s quite easy to hear why they wanted to re-record the songs. Not that the original version is terrible to listen to by comparison, but the expanded edition takes what was a good album and clearly re-defines it, making it a great album.

So, on to Winged Life… I’m towards the end of my second listen, which means I’m still getting to know the album – but, wow. Really. For the most part it’s considerably more delicate than Rook, musically if not lyrically, and that’s pretty much what I love about it. Shearwater have a style and sound which I have always descibed as majestic, and sometimes majesty is beautifully gentle yet no less powerful. (That there would be the point, I guess…)

Yay for me and my ears. 😀

S4E


Bird Songs

Favourite Songs About Birds
(which are really about love)

Birds have a fairly long symbolic history. They are hunters, seekers and scavengers, lovers, harbingers/omens (both good and bad), guardians and sages. They are symbols for the struggle to freedom, have been admired, worshipped, feared….and eaten….for centuries.

Considering all that we take them to represent, it’s no real surprise that they crop up frequently in art – audio, visual and probably just about any other medium you can think of.  So, with that in mind I’ve compiled a quick list of some of my favourite songs that have reflected upon life or love, using the image and/or theme of birds.

New Birds by Arab Strap
From the album Philophobia, the song is one chapter of a 13-track story exploring sex and love – the suburban side of relationships rather than your typical epic tragedies or grand declarations. New Birds tells the story of seeing an old love again for the first time in years, the awkwardness, the curiosity and then the temptation of opportunity (even though both have ‘new birds’ – ie are in relationships with other people).

Favourite lyrics:
“…you can’t remember how she kissed and now you’ve got the chance to find out. But you have to remember there’s this other kiss. She’s at home wondering where you are and what you’re doing. And you worked hard on this kiss and you know it inside out, it’s as much yours as it is hers.”

Phoenix by Inga Liljestrom
From one of my all-time favourite albums – Elk, which I have reviewed here previously – Phoenix is an absolute stunner. Whoever Inga’s muse was for this album must have had a pretty special kind of magic.

Favourite lyrics:
“I trace the places
you have been in me
come my love
only you can thaw this ice in me
now”

Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
No such list could possibly exist without this song. The lyrics are beautifully simple, a little bit sad, and maybe even a bit of salt to the wound for anyone who’s ever been told “it’s not you, it’s me.”

Favourite lyrics:
“If I leave here tomorrow
will you still remember me?”

Early Bird by The Frames
I’m a really big fan of this song at the moment – it’s exactly the kind of song music was created for. That’s it!

Favourite lyrics:
Will not rush it, will enjoy it
Will not touch it, will rejoice it

Sing, Little Birdie by Shearwater
One of my favourite songs – it’s such a beautifully sweet and simple little bird-song. (Bonus double points for the band name, too, being a bird and all). I play this song often, and think very fondly about… things.

Favourite lyrics:
Hey, little birdie, catching my eye
Sing little sweet things into this mind
And tug at my darker side

Fly to the bed where we are confined
Combing the cancers out of our lives
And harness your song with mine
And whose tongue gave you life but mine

Which is actually the entire song…

S4E