Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Song Remains the Same-ish: Freelance Whales vs. Mew

[This is a new "series" that lets me point out when two songs sound really similar. Its frequency obviously depends on me finding these similarities, so who knows when it will happen again.]

Artist: Freelance Whales Mew
Song: "Enzymes" "Why Are You Looking Grave?"
Album: (Single) And The Glass Handed Kites
Label: Green Label Sound Sony BMG
Released: October 14, 2010 July 26, 2006 (US)

Freelance Whales just released a single, called "Enzymes", on the Green Label Sound record label, which has some strange relationship with Mountain Dew. I don't really know how it works. Commence debates about "selling out" and corporate control of music now. Okay, done? The song itself is an intriguing slight departure from the sounds heard on their debut album, Weathervanes. I saw them at the very beginning of this year and was pleasantly uplifted by the lush instrumentation and harmonized vocals of their songs, and they pulled it all off really well in person, too. This new song (video below) incorporates some different elements, though. It begins with an in-your-face guitar riff that is fairly atypical of them, then it brings in a rising synthesizer melody, and then the vocals kick in and ... I started getting deja vu. The high-pitched male voice (with female backing), the pounding drums, the wandering guitar lines ... What does this remind me of? I was really racking my brain and I played the first two minutes of this song over and over at least four times trying to figure it out but, alas, I couldn't.

That was yesterday. I got up today and played the song again, and BAM! I got it. Mew, it sounds exactly like fucking Mew! I looked around for the song that most closely resembled it, and I came up with this one (video below). It's a great track from a great album and it fairly well encapsulates the "Mew sound" in a way. The album version of this one features backing vocals by J. Mascis, he of Dinosaur Jr. fame, but I couldn't find a video for that. Go check out the album, though. Recommended.

It's not a perfect match, for sure. The vocals represent the most compelling similarity, to me, but there are other little moments that sound alike. I'm not making any claim or accusation of copying; don't get me wrong. I just think when a song reminds me of another one so much that it bugs me when I can't figure it out, and then I finally do ... well, that seems worth sharing, yeah?

On a crazy concluding note, I had a strange coincidence while writing this up. I spent a couple of minutes trying to come up with a catchy title for this series (hey, cleverness ain't easy) and eventually settled on the Led Zeppelin reference you see above. Then, as I typed this post, I listened to some demo songs posted by one of my favorite bands The Spires (I recently mentioned them on Draw Us Lines, and look for another post on them sometime soon). A minute or so into the song "Esprit De Corps", I caught Jason Bays singing somewhere muffled in the mix: "Well some say, the song remains the same". How fucking eerie is that? And by that, I mean: how much of a fucking low probability event is that?

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