One of the best things about having the original version of a song is being able to compare it to a demo version or a remixed version when a band is kind enough to share it with you. In this case, one of my personal favorite tracks on The Republic of Wolves’ EP His Old Branches (#1 EP of 2009)The Clouds, has been released as a demo with a link to a free download on Gregg Andrew Dellarocca’s – one of the five wolves’ – tumblr page.
This song brilliantly covers a wide spectrum of emotions ranging from what seems to be experiencing, dealing with and attempting to move on from loss. As the song begins, we are immediately introduced to inevitable death in the face of what was once patient hope. The inability to comprehend and accept the concept of ‘being without’ follows shortly after, where alcohol is introduced as a method to erase what realities are present and flood the mind with the delusion that the taller the bottle, the easier it will be to bring back what is missing. The ‘floor’ (or ‘ghost’ in the EP version of the song) gives no response to the main character’s attempts at finding closure through carrying on conversation with open space and though his attempts are tireless, they are fruitless as well and it is then that he begins to realize that there is no changing the certainty of death. There is, at this point, an immediate shift in the mood of the song, which is complimented by the sound itself – no longer attempting to stretch the realms of reality and giving rest to the inner battle that one faces when trying to achieve the impossible – the song hits a cathartic stride. What is left to bring back memories of what is lost is to be buried, hidden and tucked away – not to be forgotten but to be done because it is necessary for rescue, release, rebirth and growth. However, what takes a piece of us remains a part of us forever – so, no matter how deep we bury our memories, we never actually bury them deep enough to let go completely – ‘and they will stay there underground but no matter what I do I never will stop talking to you.’
(At least, that is how I interpret the song, have a listen and let us know what you think!)
I still see your face in the day.
And I see your eyes in the bottle that was way too tall
I finished it just to see if we could talk.
Now I’m speaking with the floor again
It’s telling me that I don’t listen.
There is something about a beautiful song that makes it beautiful, obviously – but what is it? Is it how it captivates you to the point where you are unable to focus on anything but the sweet sound filling the space between your ears? Or maybe it’s the pattern of foot prints that your mind makes, walking in circles trying to wrap itself around how everyday words, woven together by the simple keys of a piano and gentle strings of an orchestra can, with repetition, relieve your body of an invisible weight that you know you’ve been carrying but were never really sure why? Perhaps it is the tidal wave, you know that tidal wave that takes you down and washes you clean of the creeping feelings that have been lingering above your head like three floating question marks; setting you free and pushing you forward.
Rachael Yamagata may best be known to the masses for her hit Be Be Your Love which was featured on the Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants soundtrack in 2005. Like most artists with actual talent who find mainstream popularity, it is very often not their best work that garners attention, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how protective you are of beautiful things). Yamagata’s most recent release, Elephants…Teeth Sinking into Heart, is a 2 disc set with Elephants offering up a weighted, darker expression of emotion while Teeth Sinking into Heart allows Yamagata to release herself from the chains of life’s vulnerability and gives her the opportunity to tighten her vocal chords and grit her teeth, with a more aggressive delivery of expression. However, despite the differences between the two halves of Yamagata’s final product, they compliment each other beautifully and either would be incomplete without the other accompanying it.
So, do you remember that beautiful song that we were talking about? The one that stops you in your tracks, sends your mind spinning and knocks you over? Now, you may think that we’ve fallen in love with this song because of our mildly inappropriate obsession with all things having to do with animals (we refer to ourselves as The Wolf and The Sheep, must we explain further?) but we can assure you that if only for this instance in the history of instances, the relationship between title of this song and our love for wildlife is a total coincidence – we would have felt the same if the song was called Feta Cheese Omelet, Yum – but it is not. Elephants, the opening track to, um, Elephants is that beautiful song that we were talking about. It seems as if the only way to offer this song to new ears would be to simply suggest that you open a separate tab, find the lyrics and read along. What is most phenomenal about this song to us are the lyrics (c’mon don’t act like you didn’t know) – Yamagata relates human behavior to animal characteristics while divulging the listener in a perfect depiction of the vulnerability of the human heart in the reflection of what went wrong and the struggle to move on when what it is you are trying to forget will not allow you to. What finds its way into the finale of the song, however, is a sugges- no, more like encouragement to be fearless, and while there is always the 50% chance that you will find yourself “ripped to shreds and laughing as you bleed,” once in a while the flip side of the coin may just be in your favor. Never miss the opportunity to dive head first into love but always remember to keep “one eye open at night.”
Have a listen and let us know what you think, actually, have a couple of listens and then let us know how it makes you feel.
And I am dreaming of them with their kill, tearing it all apart
Blood dripping from their lips and teeth sinking into heart
And how dare that you say you’ll call
When you know I need some peace of mind
If you have to take sides with the animals
Won’t you do it with one who is kind
Their latest full length album, Grandfather came out this past August, as their fan-base increased at a rate which was probably exponential. This is due to the youtube-brand new-fiasco (Google it?). At least, that’s how we shamelessly discovered them (Ok, maybe there’s a little bit of shame considering we didn’t discover them earlier .. But whatever, it’s great music). The two guys, Mason Maggio and Christian Van Deurs, have also started a new project, called The Republic of Wolves. Their first EP (His Old Branches – check it out if you know whats good for you and your ears) dropped last month with a beyond smooth landing.
Along with the simplicity of our love for this band, so is the strumming of their guitars – which must be endowed with magical powers – in practically all their songs. All of their songs, new and old, have a serious folk sound – so much damn strumming and nothing else! No piano, no drums, just strumming along. For someone like me who is tone/pitch deaf and overall musically retarded (what am I doing writing a music blog?), their songs do not tend to differ from each other musically. But this simplicity just WORKS for Tigers on Trains. That is because the beauty of their music lies within the lyrics and the simple raw transition of emotion into instrumental sound. These men have the ability to isolate a moment so beautifully that the music is all you care to hear.
There is now a new demo on their myspace, Canossa:
And sure enough we spent the day
Dreaming of ways to make the past come back
We drew the sky up on the wall
You drew the sun and I drew the clouds
That’s when I realized I was casting all this shade
As for us, we are still trying to wrap our heads around how two guys that are this young (they must be at least under 25), are capable of thinking such complex thoughts and creating such beautiful words and music; It is at the level of someone who has gone through life and figured out all of the great questions of what it means to be alive. They must have a hell of a life filled with a mountain of heartache!
My last thoughts for you; trust me when I say that that best way to spend a lonesome snowy day is in bed under a warm blanket while listening to Tigers on Trains.
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