Best Beats: A Comenian Playlist

“Peach Scone,” Hobo Johnson (2018)

Hobo Johnson has been slowly creeping onto people’s radar this year. This pseudonym, created by Frank Lopez, represents not only Johnson’s stage name but also his experience living in his car after he got kicked out of his house in high school. Hence the title, “Hobo.”

Hobo Johnson. Photo via Google Images under Creative Commons License.

“Peach Scone” is Johnson’s newest song, and it is my favorite one by far. Johnson’s songs are an interesting mix of spoken word, slam poetry, rap, and catchy beats. Don’t let this scare you off, though. Johnson has one of the most unique voices I’ve heard in a while. His jerky, somewhat awkwardly-charming mannerisms when he is rapping add to the authenticity and depth of his messages.

“Peach Scone” is told from Johnson’s perspective as the narrator, expressing his feelings to a girl he likes, who has a boyfriend. He provides raw emotion throughout the song, with a catchy chorus that resonates with listeners. His rhyme scheme is extremely clever, and he knows how to get an audience’s attention.

Everyone can relate to this song’s themes of love, jealousy, and loneliness. His first studio album, “The Rise of Hobo Johnson,” was released in 2017 and has some great tunes as well (I recommend “Romeo and Juliet” and “Father”). “Peach Scone”has only been released on his Facebook page and website. I predict we’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the upcoming years.

– Corinne Philbin

“Through the Fire and the Flames,” DragonForce (2006)

This might be an unusual song choice for someone to pick because people know this song from Guitar Hero. However, I found “Through the Fire and the Flames” before I heard it in the game, and surprisingly enough, on an uncommon radio station that popped up out of nowhere.

The beat is fast-paced, and the energy the song creates makes you want to get up and do something. It speaks to the inner adventurer in all of us, the one who wants to go out and accomplish an extraordinary feat. I would call it my fight song whenever I need the push to get through a tough paper or a mountain of homework. It’s also a great inspiration for writers as well, especially for those looking to write an action or fight scene.

If you need a pick-me-up or just a song to rock out to, I highly recommend this one. Through the fire and the flames, carry on.

– Jonathan Fiore

“Something Else By The Kinks” The Kinks, 1967

There are a few ‘60’s British bands that had success both in their home country and in the U.S. The Beatles swept the nation with “Beatlemania,” The Rolling Stones were the “bad boys” of British rock, and The Who represented the “Mod movement” while turning heads for destroying instruments.  

Photo via Google Images under Creative Commons License.

One British band flew under the radar, though. The Kinks, led by brothers Ray and Dave Davies, found early commercial success in America with singles like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day And All Of The Night.” However, a 1965 touring ban led to a shift from harder, R&B numbers to uniquely English character studies.

The 1967 album “Something Else By The Kinks” perfectly demonstrates how different The Kinks were.  In a year where bands were dabbling in psychedelia or making concept albums, The Kinks were making two- to three-minute-long character studies with a touch of the “music hall” sound.  

The album starts off with “David Watts,” which chronicles the singer’s fascination with a fellow schoolboy. Immediately, one notices the difference in not only the band’s sound but also the lyrics. Not many other bands would be singing about how someone “is so gay and fancy free.”

“Death Of A Clown,” sung by Dave, follows. The song highlights the Davies brothers’ ability to incorporate real-life frustrations into their songs, as Dave revealed in an interview with “Yahoo!” saying that it was written about the band’s repetitive and tiring performing schedule.  

The harpsichord-laden “Two Sisters” featured two characters, Sylvilla and Percilla, who were based on the Davies brothers themselves. The more introverted Ray inspired Percilla, while the outgoing Dave inspired Sylvilla.

None of these tracks, however, compare to “Waterloo Sunset,” the closing song. The song’s narrator and his reflections on the characters of Terry and Julie, the Thames river, and Waterloo station complement the instrumentation of the song. The slower tempo and Ray’s lilting vocals perfectly convey the narrator’s desire to “stay at home at night” and the feeling that as long as he gazes “on Waterloo sunset” he is “in paradise.”

Along with those popular songs, the album includes several superb deep cuts, such as “Love Me Till The Sun Shines” and “Tin Soldier Man.” While songs like “Tin Soldier Man” exhibit Ray’s skills at writing character studies (like the “tin soldier man / living in a little tin wonderland”), “Love Me Till The Sun Shines,” with its harder guitar sound, harkens back to The Kinks’ early days.  

“Something Else By The Kinks” manages to look forward to later Kinks albums known for their “Britishness” (“The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society”), while also keeping a foot planted in the R&B-inspired past. At a time when other bands were experimenting with the latest sounds or ideas to appeal to everyone, The Kinks made an interesting choice in choosing a more British, music hall-like style. The stylistic differences between this album and other popular albums of the time are truly what make it “something else.”

– Nathaniel Rhoads