Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top albums of 2009

20) It's Blitz! by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always been a nice minimalist-rock listen. It's Blitz! continues this.

Top Song: Zero

19) Unmap by Volcano Choir

Justin Vernon adds some rich textural layers in his Volcano Choir debut.

Top Song: Cool Knowledge

18) Far by Regina Spektor

Spektor and her drum-beat piano style gives us another worthy album.

Top Song: Dance Anthem of the 80s

17) Slumdog Millionaire OST by A.R. Rahman

A.R Rahman tracks are great and perfect for the film. Though it did come out late 2008, it is well-worth recognition for 2009.

Top Song: O...Saya

16) Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix

Phoenix have created a great summer album, putting some optimism instrumentation back into music.

Top Song: 1901

15) Heavy Ghost by DM Stith

Amazing debut by Stith. So hauntingly arranged.

Top Song: Braid of Voices

14) Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective

How could I deny Animal Collective a top album spot.

Top Song: Lion in a Coma.

13) The Resistance by Muse

Muse add in well done orchestration into their latest effort.

Top Song: Undisclosed Desires.

12) Noble Beast by Andrew Bird

Bird's distinct sound and truly professional whistling [!!!] makes this album a complete pleasure to listen to.

Top Song: Souverian

11) Devotion by Beach House

Beach House are a new discovery of mine this year, and Devotion has cemented my musical interest in them.

Top Song: Gila

10) Bitte Orca by The Dirty Projectors

I really enjoy David Longstreth's guitar, and the interesting time signatures used by the band.

Top Song: Remade Horizon

9) Hospice by The Antlers

There's something so emotionally compelling with Hospice. I can't quite point my finger on what it is, but some of the songs are truly and beautifully heartbreaking.

Top Song: Wake

8) Time To Die by The Dodos

The duo [or maybe trio now] base themselves on a bass drum and guitar, although they are somehow able to sound like a 100 people.

Top Song: Two Medicines.

7) BQE by Sufjan Stevens

The BQE is a fantastic piece of art. Abstract, illusory and equivocal. It should be seen as a work of art rather than just an album.

Top Song: N/A - All of the BQE moves in a way where every movement blends and moves into the next movement.

6) Lungs by Florence + The Machine

Probably one of the best musically arranged albums of the year. Florence's voice is captivating and deep; her imagination and ideas paint us her stories.

Top Song: Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

5) See Mystery Lights by YACHT

YACHT were an unexpected discovery this year. Interesting lyrics and arrangements.

Top Song: The Afterlife

4) Two Suns by Bat For Lashes

Like Florence + the Machine, Bat For Lashes offers us an entrance into another world, except this one is darker and more eerie, and it contains an alter ego.

Top Song: Pearl's Dream

3) Dark Was The Night

This Red Hot compilation contains music from [in my opinion] the most prolific artists of today. I'd love to have a few more artists such as Joanna Newsom and St. Vincent, but this is still a fantastic compilation of music.

Top Song: Hey Snow White by the New Pornographers.

2) Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear

Of course Grizzly Bear will be up here somewhere. Veckatimest is fantastic, a smooth flowing album, with such complex arrangements.

Top Song: While You Wait for the Others

1) Actor by St. Vincent

It was difficult to pick a top album, but after long contemplation, I have chosen St. Vincent's Actor as the top album 2009. Actor is a perfectly woven story. With inspiration taken from classical films, Actor moves us through amazing audio colour; the distorted guitar versus the winsome flute. The album pulls you into a different world and it's difficult to find your way back.

Top Song: Generally N/A, but if you're someone who must hear one song to make your decision: Marrow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Resistance

There's always been something intriguing about Muse.
The day I fell for their music was the day they were, consequently enough, in Singapore to perform [2007].
Could there have been a worse timing?

Anyways, I'm going to start doing a top song from an album kind of thing.
The Resistance, a respectable move into orchestral arrangements without over-doing it or sounding pretentious. The strings don't boast, it still gives way to Muse's progressive rock roots.
The political theme is a bit cliched at times, but it never treads on the senseless. Due to cosmos-esque instrumentality of the pieces, it can be seen as a futuristic 1984, another planet in out of space.

So, recommended song:
Undisclosed Desires

Staccato strings,
A Keytar [!!]
A Bat for Lashes aura.
Simple yet illusory lyrics.

Bellamy's "Exogenesis: Symphony, Pt. 3: Redemption"

They're coming next year - much better timing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Far beyond the mountain, there is a mountain valley king.
I don't know what he looks like, but apparently he has a crown, and a top hat that he hides and hangs on the branch of his favourite tree.
So that when you're not looking, he dances with it and sings cheesy show tunes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Don't Ask Me I Just Here Man

Ever so often, we pick up the phone to call customer service or something similar, and we are attached to a long queue waiting for someone to get to us.
During your long wait you've probably been pressing optional numbers the computer has commanded you to press, or, you've been talking to the robotic voice that gets your requests wrong, or, you've been brainlessly humming to the supermarket music that's been put on. Finally, after your 15 minute wait, you've been connected to a HUMAN, oh the joy! But wait, he or she can't help you with your problem, but he or she loves selling you other stuff.
"Madam, how about you sign up for the $100 a month package, it gives you free 1,000 hours of non-stop talk!"
"No, I don't want that, I just want to know whether this house still has a working phone line."
"Oh of course, the $100 a month package insures a phone line."

Hanging up the phone has not only wasted your time - and possibly been the instigator of you putting on your mechanical suit to go off and locate the phone line - it has also added a few dollars onto your phone bill, in which the company you've called, gets a percentage off that.
Ah yes, this may not seem like much, but the amount of times you may need to make these kinds of phone calls, may be rather substantial.
So folks, use the internet, go to the library and find some dummy guides. Phone friends, relatives, old teachers, old lovers. Write to your grandmother, ask your dog, your cat, your pet hamster for advice on the problem. If it's a faulty product, take it back to the company where you can see their face. (Although companies with non-refundable policies are another complaint on my list).
Don't call the evils of customer service, they only work there, man.

This has been written out of the frustration of Helen's past experiences, as well as the frustrations of many other people including Wally DeBacker.

Thanks For Your Time - Gotye

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Nazdog Millionaire

Credits -
Idea & dialogue - Helen Ganya Brown
Nazdog Millionaire - Ms. Brownie Brown
Dog Handler - Mum
Photographer - Dad

Based on Slumdog Millionaire and Naz

Any resemblance to person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the powers of repetition

will not prevent me from writing a song.
I dug up this song which I wrote probably a year back, made some changes to it and spent the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday slowly giving it a life.
I think it has a life; I think.

Horses Hoof


I prefer, though it only notes down listeners that have listened.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hey Wanna Buy A Seat?

It's about a month until exams, a week until SAT prep, and a new house move. The days will come in long AND hard.
I have an extended essay I need to get through, and some artists are just too busy to reply to my folk questions.

Besides all that, I worked on a new song. Probably when I should have been doing other things, but the powers of education need to give me a creative break. I cannot spit out words everyday without the need for something wider, more perplexing, terrifyingly eccentric! So I worked on a song.
Gosh, I don't need to explain myself anyway, this is not a fallacy, this is just a need for right-hemisphere brained work, what I am originally wired for, no doubt.

It's a song I have slowly been working on for the past couple of months. In February when I showed Priya my Birds song, she seemed somewhat eager for me to write a song about the Blagojevich scandal.
I thought it was random, Blagojevich? Until she coherently explained herself.
"But Helen, you're the one that recommended me Illinois."
Huh? OH, the Sufjan Stevens album. Okay, I get it, you want it to be a cheap rip off of his idea!
Well I hope it isn't cheap. It's somewhat Illinois-theme inspired sure, but firstly I don't sound like a 30 year old American male - hopefully - and Stevens has got way more talent than I could shake a stick at.

I'd say my song is in some ways extremely sarcastic. I wanted innocent cynicism with a touch of hand clapping, and coin dropping. Hopefully I got to that. But hey, it's probably my first try at something this musically multi-layered. Improvement can only move upwards?

Really this song is full on dedicated to Priya. Without her help, I'd never would have taken economics as a course, and tried to have somewhat of a more empathetic approach towards the economic side of things. Who knows, I could have been a crazy radical environmentalist by now.
Though it is sort of ironic I'd be dedicating this song to her.
Priya's wisdom conquers all of teen kind. She could run a country, she could be the voice for world peace. We'll have to see about that.

Here it is on Mind the cheesy biography. It was compulsory to be in third-person.
Hey Wanna Buy A Seat?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Birds Of The Sea

YES, I finally got an audio interface and proper microphone.
So what did I do?
I finally got to finish one of my songs --

Sunday, February 15, 2009

there's an alarm continuously ringing outside.

The weak barriers of power bind me to sanity, but floating around the crazy waters is the lure of insanity!

okay, it stopped.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stop! I Want That Painting!

Friday 30th January 2009, was the Black Tie Art Auction in our school and it went fantastically!
We think we've earned about $2,000 from the tickets, art, and wine sold, and it's all going to the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation in Vietnam. I think we're all pretty proud of ourselves. It's always a surreal emotion to know that you're doing something really important for other people our age who are far more disadvantaged.
I always try and make it a note to myself that my personal crises are extremely minor in comparison to many other people my age around the world. It's not worth making a big deal out of my complaints, other people should follow suit, and instead we should sing and parade down town to make that a permanent point. Get off your weary heads you well-off people! There are people who would give their lives for a plate of your food and yet you complain about the price of cabbage going up 10 cents.

Anyways, I will use this post to also show-off - come on, one must do it sometimes - the song I composed for the auction. I titled it "Stop! I Want That Painting" and costructed it to revolve around the thickset chords of the piano with the sweet sound of the flute.
I discovered that Dylan had been playing the flute for 3 years but had stopped for a year once moving to Singapore, so I figured it was my chance to get her to take it up again. She was worried that maybe she would not be good enough, but I tell you, she better make sure to keep playing that instrument because she makes it sound gorgeous.

I knew that the piece I had to compose would have to have some sort of relevance to the night. I couldn't just rock out post-rock mentality, or decide to go techno on everyone's sophisticated evening. So I thought the piano had to be the basis to bring a song to life. I had a long, isolated and quiet contemplation as to what exactly people's mindsets would be on the night. Art, bargains, food, wine. Ah! I know! They are going to be running into some fantastic pieces of art, they are going to fight over these fantastic pieces of art, and if not I will make them fight over the fantastic pieces of art. STOP! I Want That Painting! It hit me! It's unusual for a song title to come to me first before a song had been created, but it definitely did help.

I sat at my piano, in the wee hours of the night, and played around with it until I found a beautiful chord progression of A major to C major. Oh it felt so emotionally complex, like how you would feel if you really had interest in something or someone, but you just don't know when to jump in and grab it. Oh, but I needed a monumental chorus, one that lifted it, a G major! It all arrived so combined!
So I recorded what I had on Garageband and then used the piano to construct a flute melody - with the help of the synthesized pop flute!
I wanted full sounding piano chords but a sweet, windy sounding flute. The traveling eye of a human [flute] with the intricate emotions of need/want/a heavenly must have [piano].
And I had it!

So here's a video of us performing on the night. It's recorded on Tanya's phone so, forgive the darkness and low quality sound.

I did record a rough-ish version to send to Dylan to practice with the flute, you can find that on my page here
forgive the pretentious biography, the writing had to be in third person.

I also had the privilege of controlling the music on the night, here's the playlist :

  • Bittersweet Symphony [instrumental] - The Verve
  • Trainspotting - Primal Scream
  • Christmas Song - Mogwai
  • First Breath After Coma - Explosions In The Sky
  • Last Ride In - Green Day
  • Year Of The Ox - Sufjan Stevens
  • Feeling Good - My Brightest Diamond
  • Audrey's Dance - Angelo Badalamenti
  • Year Of The Dog - Sufjan Stevens
  • The Winner Is - Mychael Danna and DeVotchKa
  • Redford (for Yia-Yia and Pappou) - Sufjan Stevens
  • Twin Peaks Theme - Angelo Badalamenti
  • Sé Lest - Sigur Rós
  • Stupid Prick Gets Chased By The Police And Loses His Slut Girlfriend - Mogwai
  • Out Of Egypt, Into The Great Laugh Of Mankind, And I Shake The Dirt From My Sandals As I Run - Sufjan Stevens
  • Dance Of The Dream Man - Angelo Badalamenti
  • The Vivian Girls Are Visited In The Night By Saint Dargarius And His Squadron Of Benevolent Butterflies - Sufjan Stevens
  • Stamping Ground - Moondog With Orchestra
  • Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver - Gotye
  • The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, Or...- Sufjan Stevens
  • Starálfur - Sigur Rós
  • The Supine - Andrew Bird
  • Prairie Fire That Wanders About - Sufjan Stevens
  • 7:25 - Mogwai
  • To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament - Sufjan Stevens
  • Andvari - Sigur Rós
  • The Undivided Self (For Eppie And Popo) - Sufjan Stevens
  • The Eraser - Thom Yorke
  • Year Of The Dragon - Sufjan Stevens
  • Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - Wham!
I could go on about how I chose each song, but I wouldn't want to bore you so I will mention some highlights. I did not want to go with the typical classical music which I'm sure I would have gotten away with easily with some Mozart. I decided that a mix of Soundtrack, Post-rock, some Electronic instrumentals would go along nicely to coincide with the range of art pieces on auction. I, of course, couldn't help myself with My Brightest Diamond's cover of "Feeling Good" as I am extremely euphoric about the Red Hot compilation coming out this month [definitely on my list]. You can check it out here. Great music, important cause my friends.
Sufjan Steven's instrumentals that he adds in his State albums, in between longer songs, are extremely over-looked, as well as some of his Electronic stuff. Sigur Rós and Andrew Bird - both underrated artists. And do ignore Wham at the end, it was just in case the wine got to anybody.

So, the night went well, I was happy, people were happy and we've made a difference!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New artists of 2009

As it is 2009, I will be looking forward to many musicians appearing in spring time.

A biggie this year will be DM Stith's new album, released from Asthmatic Kitty.
I recently got his EP/Album (I'm awful at these distinguishing features) called Curtain Speech, and I really like it. It is so eerie and yet really intriguing at the same time.
His new album in March -Heavy Ghost, will be exciting.

Also, Andrew Bird's new album - Noble Beast, out on January 27, is going to be another exciting release that I am extremely looking forward to.

The Fray's self-titled second album-February 3, will mark a long time since there last album came out.

The Decemberists - Hazards Of Love -24th March, another biggie to look out for.

Others :
-Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You
-Morissey, Years of Refusal


Sunday, January 4, 2009


How it would be nice to light the hallway
with your voice and ideas,
it would keep the world turning
without the oil.

How it would be easy to succumb to your words
so quickly and well,
we know you mean good intentions
without the war.

But we’re jumping on the bandwagon,
prepare for disappointment,
and when the dawn comes and we realise
that human is as human does:
Inertia may bring us down.

How beautiful it would be to see the world smiling,
but we could just be changing a rusted frame for a new one.