Thursday, May 15, 2014

Music According to Benedict - The Maccabees "Grew Up At Midnight"

Recent media coverage could make one wonder if Benedict Cumberbatch embarked on a goodwill tour as an ambassador for British fashion, British independent cinema - and British charitable works.  Luckily for fans, these events have resulted a virtual avalanche of articles, images, videos and eyewitness recaps to make every morning on Tumblr and Twitter feel like Christmas:

Via Nicole Gaudier

While Benedict continues to weave (and occasionally waffle) his way through a steady stream of interviews, charity dinners and Q&A sessions, we're going to re-visit the Top Tunes list he gave to Two Paddocks in 2012 (back in the days before bodyguards, bespoke suits and bemusing attempts to regain privacy by portraying Mr. Napkin Head).

Number 10 on his list at the time?  "Grew Up At Midnight" - by The Maccabees
"A current album I'm giving a lot of play is The Maccabees Given to the Wild. It's hard to pick one but listening to We Grew Up At Midnight while typing and feeling pretty uplifted. And that's what great music does beyond all other art forms, isn't it?"
I'll admit right now that I'm listening to the album as I type this post - and it's been pretty effective as a mood lifter. There are some moments that soar, while others flit and flutter across my mind. The orchestration, arrangement and tempo arrest my attention unexpectedly, but that's part of why it works (most of the time). Given to the Wild keeps my interest. Released in 2012, it's the third album by the 5-member indie rock band from South London. Interestingly enough, the band named David Bowie & Stone Roses as influences on this album. . .and both ALSO made it to Ben's Top Tunes list.

Oh, and the record company who signed The Maccabees? Fiction Records - also home to Elbow (another group in the Cumberbatch collection).

It's at this point I begin to wonder if Ben hears a song or an artist, looks it up - and then follows a path like a musical map. He's known to research his roles. Why not his music? (I wonder if anyone has asked him if he likes Kaiser Chiefs. It wouldn't hurt.)

It's fair to say The Maccabees aren't as well known in America, but the 2012 album was received quite favorably in the UK. Simon Harper, writing for Clash Music, praised the album and said this of "Grew Up at Midnight":

" a lingering kiss, starts slow and soft, builds into a passionate embrace, then pulls away suddenly yet sweetly, leaving you begging for more as the album fades away."

Lead vocalist Orlando Weeks' voice has such an ethereal quality, and the sound and feel of this particular album beckon you to be transported somehow, into a world where you can be wistful, wandering - and wanting.

Indie rock bands may not be everyone's go-to sound, but this music has its place for (I think) almost everyone. You're at a moment in time when "everything" feels like it's about to change, or has changed - forever. You don't quite belong to anyone - not like you did as a child, and not like you will as a partner or parent. Maybe you just ended a relationship - or you're hoping to find someone as soon as you get your shit together. But, for now, your thoughts tumble together. What music helps express those thoughts, feelings, and how you see yourself?

Indie music. College radio. Planned experimentation with all the elements involved in making music.

We need that. If we can't create it ourselves, we seek it out: a voice that echoes our experiences and mirrors the murkiness in our minds. When you find the music that speaks for you, you can't help but feel uplifted. You connect with a song, an artist - meaning you connected with others who love it just as much as you do.

Ben's comment was that it was hard to pick a favorite from the album, but I think his choice works. "Grew Up at Midnight" paints a picture that makes me want to linger just a bit more:

("Grew Up At Midnight" starts at the 9:15 mark.)

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