It’s often very easy to look at music as a whole, to marvel at the way instruments come together to form a single cohesive atmosphere. Sometimes though, in any song there’s that one moment where a single instrument just leaps out and slaps you round the face by doing something utterly sublime all of its own fruition. For some people it will be a guitar solo, for others a particularly brilliant battering of drums, and few instruments demand attention quite like those breezy, brilliant brass instruments.
Who can listen to Sufjan Stevens’ Casimir Pulaski Day and fail to be moved by the gently lilting trumpet melody? Who isn’t blown away when the horns and electronics meld perfectly on Belle & Sebastian’s Sleep The Clock Around? Or the full on mind-melting brass breakdown of Radiohead’s The National Anthem. Brass can do so much, it can be melodic and subtle, jarring and unnerving and quite often, just plain sad. One thing you can always say about brass instruments is that they grab your attention, so here’s to the metal magicians, long may people blow air through them.
A band well aware of the beauty of brass are Toronto-duo, Freedom Baby. The band started life as a bedroom project between Eric Reid and Brianna Bordihn, and have now progressed to a full-time project, the pair recruiting a revolving cast of other musician’s to flesh out their sound both live and on record.
The band have recently recorded their debut EP, How You’ll Grow and have recently shared the thrilling first single, When We Go. The track in many way charts the growth of the band, starting with a single ukulele, it slowly swells as first trumpets and then a full, mini-orchestra arrive to propel the track forward. Lyrically, the track is an ode to the process of dying, striving for some sort of acceptance of loss, while also toying with ideas of the after-life, contemplating whether death may not just be an end, but also the beginning of something new. Throughout, the track cavorts, growing and collapsing, nodding to the likes of Broken Social Scene or Sufjan Stevens at his most triumphant.
Today ahead of their upcoming EP release, Freedom Baby have put together a mixtape celebrating some of the many times that brass has saved the day, featuring artists from Jay-Z to Neutral Milk Hotel.
So in lieu of When We Go being a triumphant ode to the healing power of trumpets we figured we’d make a list of “When Brass Saved The Day”. To qualify the song had to have had some sort of horn part that elevates the source material.
1. Deaf School – Taxi (Recorded at Granada Studios)
You’ve never heard of these guys, because they hardly ever existed. These cheesy clowns have everything you want in a melodramatic pop song from the 70’s. And OH EM GEE, those horns! They also have a spoken word guy. Great music to sip gin martinis to. Wait. No don’t wait.
2. Destroyer – Kaputt
Listen to this smooth yacht rockin tune. I saw him tour this album live, and I remember being completely mesmerized by the horn section. So good. Great song to eat reheated lasagna whilst running late for the dentist to.
3. Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
I love Neutral Milk Hotels horn lines, because they all sound like vocal melodies that were then turned into trumpet lines. Really beautiful stuff here. Great song to travel back to the 1940’s to.
4. JAY-Z – Roc Boys
Energy! These horns are sampled from Make The Road By Walking by Menahan Street Band which is much more chilled out affair than this champagne-soaked swagger jam. Great song to roll up in your respective club to.
5. Beirut – Postcards From Italy
Here’s another song that utilizes the singsong trumpet tactics. Pure melody, and then coming around the second time with the harmonizing trumpet. Enough to send shivers down your spine. Great song to wish you were born in a different era to.
6. Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Feel the Illinoise!
Sufjan is one of our favourite songwriters, and favourite orchestrators. The arrangement of this song is so damn good. Anyway. Trumpet for days.
7. The Weakerthans – Bigfoot
Another one of our favourites. John K. Samson is to us, one of the greatest living lyricists. We highly suggest this man. Also, that trumpet solo at the end! They do the ol’ stacked harmony trick halfway through to give it that extra melancholy. Great song for the contemplative drive back from wherever it is you were. Get home safe.
How You’ll Grow is out March 9th. Click HERE for more information on Freedom Baby.