Never Ending Math Equation

A perpetual summation of music, science, and other variables of interest.


Morningbell -- Sincerely, Severely

Since my relationship to music has primarily been one of consumer rather than producer, I probably fall too often into the trap of armchair critic. Being jaded from an age of overexposure, it's always tempting to zoom in on drawbacks rather than think more broadly about the tremendous effort any musician makes during the writing & recording process. But recently I got a fresh jolt on that perspective thanks to my good friend Chris Hillman's band Morningbell and their new record Sincerely, Severely. Having heard previous incarnations of Chris' music (Narwhal anyone?) made me appreciate how a musician's abilities can develop over time. And knowing a band member in real life better enabled me to envision the whole process from songwriting to production, thus making salient the hard work and attention to detail I saw in this record.

On the first half of the album the band quickly establishes themselves as gutsy, first-rate experimenters, showcasing a stylistic and instrumental diversity that encompasses everything from punchy guitar riffs ("Let's Not Lose Our Heads"), to smoky noir trombone ("Stay in the Garden"), to orchestral synth ("Hello, Dali"). Feeling pulled in so many directions was very fun and exciting, if at times discombobulating. But the second part of the album was where I thought the band really shined. There, Morningbell does a fantastic job of contrasting jaunty, uptempo pop songs ("The Blue Whale and The Fly", "King Mango Strut") with hazy psychedelic jams ("Oh Return", "Shoot It Down"). Really look forward to hearing more from Morningbell!

Here are a few of my favorite moments from the album:

1 Let's Not Lose Our Heads -- Handclaps! and harmonies on the final crescendo
2 Marching Off to War -- Awesome groove especially starting around 2:20, the drums here are key giving the song a propulsive yet ramshackle feel
7 The Blue Whale and the Fly -- Really liked the production, highlights each individual instrument yet hangs together very naturally
9 King Mango Strut -- Very catchy riff, especially horns
10 Picture of the Sun -- Simple and superb pop imagery + memorable chorus & bridge could make this a single candidate
12 Oh, Return -- Personal favorite, found myself absentmindedly whistling the tune hours later
13 Shoot It Down -- Dreamy, especially loved the buildup at the end.


Electric Avenue

It's funny how a song you've probably heard many times before suddenly enters your consciousness. I'm sure I was vaguely aware of Electric Avenue's existence through gradual osmosis of interminable VH1 countdowns, but it wasn't until sometime a year ago or so (I think watching Pineapple Express) that it occupied a distinct part of my brain. Now I hear it everywhere (quite often on my home speakers). The most memorable public experience was at a super divey bar in Tuscon where Ellen and I stopped for lunch back in August. The place was jammed at 2pm on a weekday (what better time to get smashed?). Someone threw this on the jukebox and the place instantly became electrified! (sorry)



I first came across Aeroplane through their set on the excellent Resident Advisor podcast. Now, I don't really know (or care) that much about trends or stars in the house/techno scene, but in a sea of generic minimal, these guys stood out. Technically I guess they are disco, but all I know is that they make me (and others) feel good. I sort of equate Aeroplane to a less-ADD, Euro-clubber's version of Girl Talk: easy to dance to, massive major key highs, and just the right touch of indie street-cred from inserting songs by hip bands like XX or Fleet Foxes. Fantastic stuff to exercise to. And lucky for us they've also been posting monthly mixes. Enjoy!

Aeroplane Mix Chart October 09 mp3 by Aeroplane

Aeroplane "Chart Mix" November 2009 by Aeroplane


Neon Indian/Washed Out

I was recently reading Pitchfork's summary of the last decade in music, and stumbled upon a curious new trend/scene I had never heard about (scroll to "Summer"). I checked out two of the artists mentioned (Neon Indian and Washed Out) and one month later am still pretty stoked about the discovery: lo-fi, hazy, warm, melodic, nostalgic, electronic. Kind of reminds me of the feeling of sunshine on a crisp winter morning.