So here we are again. Blogging. Today I am going to delve into some song analysis to try to break down modern music into small chewable pieces. First up is the song “Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana” by the local Brisbane band, Dune Rats.
I have listened to this band for a couple of years now, ever since one of my mates convinced me to see them live at BigSound in 2013. Their music has been a regular in my song rotation and this song in particular I voted for in the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2014. They are currently on tour in Australia after having just completed a 2 month tour in Europe and the United Kingdom. I would highly recommend catching these guys live as the energy they put out on stage is phenomenal for a three-piece band.
Down to the nitty-gritty. I would classify Dune Rats as stoner rock or surf rock, perhaps a little bit of both. Due to the nature of stoner or surf rock (people being high as a kite) the music tends to be on the simpler side. Using the methods discussed in class last week, I deduced that this song in question uses a basic 4/4 time signature with a tempo of approximately 134 beats per minute.
Here are the extremely in-depth and thought-provoking lyrics that are most assuredly attributed to the stoner rock genre. (Definitely not sarcasm)
Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana
As far as trying to evaluate the meaning of these lyrics, I would suggest some psychoactive substances be consumed prior to that venture.
As stated earlier, stoner rock is generally simple in its construction. The song structure holds true to that with very little to no variations throughout the track. There is only one bridge in the song and it is a close replication of the intro of the song, with the addition of some guitar strums. The only lyrical variation throughout the song is the final chorus where instead of singing “Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana” it is instead changed to “Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana”. The guitar follows the same chord progression throughout the entire track and the drums also follow the same beat throughout the entirety of the track with a few simple fills for variety.
Stoner rock can be a little varied when it comes to instrumentation. Depending on the level of musicianship there can be a multitude of instruments available to the genre. In this example however, the band consists of three members; a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer all of whom sing. There is generally more focus towards the guitar and drum sound in stoner rock compared to the vocal component as can be evidenced by the lack of clean, upfront vocal sound.
The production of this song fits in with other modern stoner rock productions. The guitar sound is full without being too harsh and employs the use of distortion, most likely in the form of pedals and amps rather than in a DAW. It is a little cluttered in the mix with all of the other elements but is easily discernible. Panned fairly center.
The bass in this song is well controlled and driving. My monitors at home have only got 4 inch woofers and the bass was still quite defined and not woolly despite the smaller drivers. The bass does its job of keeping the song moving forward very well. The bass is bereft of distortion and due to this fact does a decent job of staying out of the frequency range of the other instruments. I would suggest this has been recorded through a DI. Panned center again.
Stoner rock is quite a communal thing, get together with your mates, ingest some illicit materials and jam out for a few hours. With this in mind the recording of the drums will generally be recorded more loosely than other genres such as metal or pop. Having an open and natural drum sound is preferred compared to a fully close mic’d kit. That being said this song would have had spot mics on at least the snare and kick drum to full accentuate the driving beat. The Glyn Johns method of drum recording (with the addition of kick and snare mics) would be my go to recording style for this genre of music. The drum sound in general is open with a lot of washy cymbals, whilst still maintaining that more rock centric tight driving kick and snappy snare sound.
The vocals also ring back to that communal spirit of stoner rock with their wide open soundstage and gang vocals, it really gives across the urge to sing along. Simple lyrics and singing style are very conducive to a catchy sing along type of song. The vocals change throughout this song, starting off with a more upfront voice along with the back up vocals but changing in the third chorus where the original focal vocal (heh) is pushed back to fit it in with the gang vocals and a greater reverb is then applied. It gives this feel of when the crowd sings along to the song at a festival and urges the listener to join in. For me at least.