Hullo, musical friends!
Each month, I’ll pick ten tracks from my current playlist, plus two albums or EPs and one live show video or playlist of live tracks.
Without further ado, let’s see what we’ve got this month!
The June Playlist
The individual tracks I’m highlighting this month are:
1. Darren Korb and Ashley Barrett – We All Become (from the Transistor OST) – I absolutely adore Korb’s original work in both Bastion and Transistor, and I love that Transistor actually embraces Barrett’s vocal work as an important part of its plot and character development. Really, Korb’s entire opus could be on this list, but this track’s just stunning.
2. Thrice – For Miles – I actually haven’t really listened to any of Thrice’s stuff other than this one song, for some reason, but I especially like the way the piano-led intro and verse has just one bar in a slightly shorter time signature; you almost don’t notice it, but it gives this sort of sliding-around feel.
3. Pink Floyd – Time – if you’ve not listened to the most recent Mage Cast yet, in which several Mages (myself included) contributed a poem about one of the games on The Well-Red Mage’s 1000 Must-Play Games list… well, you really should. Suffice to say that Time makes an appearance in an epic way.
4. Schubert – Fantasia for piano, 4 hands in F minor – the delicacy of the first few bars in this one gets me every time. It’s wonderfully expressive.
5. Elmer Bernstein – Theme from The Magnificent Seven – I mean, c’mon. You can’t hear this and not want to go riding out on an adventure.
6. Muse – Supremacy – Hannah and I are having a pretty good few weeks for gigs; at the beginning of May we saw the bluesy Dr Feelgood, then last week went to see Take That (supported by Rick Astley, no less – and, yes, he did play Never Gonna Give You Up, although he lied by singing ‘never gonna say goodbye’ and then immediately ending his set). Next week her brother, her dad, and I are going to see Muse (her brother got me the ticket for my birthday, albeit at least partially so I could give him a lift), so this banger of a track feels appropriate. It could easily be a Bond movie theme.
7. Yoko Shimomura – Musique pour la tristesse de Xion – this piano interpretation of the Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days pieces Xion and Vector to the Heavens is just everything. I’d love to be able to play it one day; I don’t think it’ll ever leave my top tracks list.
8. Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws – gentle, sincere, and simple enough that even I can play it on guitar. It’s very nice.
9. Toby Fox – Undertale (from the Undertale OST) – every track in this game is phenomenal, but I think this is my favourite. It combines a bunch of leitmotifs, which Fox does so well, and makes something really affecting.
10. John Cage – 4’33” – the linked video explains a little about how 4’33” is not, in fact, ‘just silence’; I think we all need to take a little time in our lives to just hear the music in the world around us, and this encourages that.
This month’s albums are Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds and Rammstein’s self-titled 2019 release.
I feel like War of the Worlds doesn’t need much introduction, but it’s just great. I’ll take the original over the New Generation version most days, although both are good – does anyone else remember a PS1 WotW game which just had a MIDI version of Eve of the War playing over the top of it? Good times.
If you like Rammstein, you’ll almost certainly enjoy Rammstein. (Weird sentence.) I don’t know if it’s my favourite of their albums, but it’s got something for every fan of their many different sounds over the years, from dark thrashers to catchy electropoppish bouncers. For those who aren’t familiar with Rammstein’s industrial metal vibe, Deutschland (the first track on this album) is a great introduction.
And, finally, my recommended live show for the month of June is Rush’s Time Machine, live in Cleveland in 2011. It wasn’t to be their last ever tour, but it is a fantastic performance from three guys who have been the best at what they do for many, many years. I can only link an audio version, but if you can find a video I suggest watching it; Rush is much more about the music than the staging, but Neil Peart’s drumming is even more awesome when you can see it, and Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee also do a fair bit of multi-instrumentalising that’s more impressive when watched. My favourite track from this show is the instrumental piece Leave That Thing Alone, which has an absolutely monster bass solo at the end.
That’s that for June, but come back at the beginning of July to see what I’m listening to by then…!