Cuts, Both Ways #1: Balcony Weekend "Through," 2021 & Rick Springfield + Randy Crawford "Taxi Dancing," 1984
Duets from across the decades (& centuries!) with 1st-time reactions by music writers separated by an ocean, a native language, and 40 years! Kryze'n'Kyle listen to Cuts, Both Ways!
This article is a collaboration between Small Ears and Front Row & Backstage
Brad Kyle is a retired native Texan, 67, but he spent time in commercial FM rock radio and the retail record biz in the ‘70s. He puts his musical knowledge and experience to work on FRONT ROW & BACKSTAGE!
Kryze sends Brad a song he knows and likes (most likely from this century, and quite recent). Chances are good Brad’s never heard the song nor heard of the artist! Brad reviews and analyzes it from his perspective of being exposed to not only hit pop artists over the decades, but many little-heard and “obscure” artists.
Brad sends Kryze a song where odds are excellent he’s not heard before (and may loosely resemble the song he originally sent…in tone, feel, etc). Kryze will “decode” and analyze it from his unique musical perspective separated by four decades of age and from another continent!
Ben’s song sent to Brad: Balcony Weekend, “Through,” 2021, written by Stephen and Angela
Brad: I’ve heard of Balcony Weekend before (but not this song), because Ben’s written about the Southern California duo (he actually interviewed Stephen and Angela!):
On first listen, I’m struck by what sounds like the “processed” vocals that seem prevalent on “the music the kids listen to these days.”
Both Stephen and Angela seem to have competent enough voices, but with Auto-Tune being such a knee-jerk application the last two decades +, it’s tough to know where Stephen and Angela end and electronic “sweetening” may take over (assuming it does)!
While the song is pleasant enough, I’m having a hard time picking up anything close to what I call the “classic pop songwriting” form. Their melodies seem to meander aimlessly, without a reliable verse/chorus structure.
If there are verses and a chorus, the “catchiness quotient” is pretty low for me, as I’m hard-pressed to even come close to recalling the song or humming the melody after five times hearing it!
I enjoy their harmonies over what seems to be the minimalist instrumentation of a plucked guitar string and some sort of (mechanical?) percussion (or are they hand claps?).
Lest Dear Reader conclude that my ear doesn’t appreciate any “new music,” may the record (or digital download) show that recent artists like Roosevelt and The Midnight (about whom I’ve written glowingly) possess melodies to burn, as well as both displaying a deft ability to craft a song, in all that phrase’s glorious iterations!
“Balcony Weekend is pop down to its core. Bedroom pop, Singer-Songwriter pop, Indie pop, etc.” was Stephen’s description of the Balcony Weekend music in Kryze’s recent interview.
However “pop” they may be, to these ears, they’re lacking the dynamic melodicism I grew up hearing tons of and appreciating in the past…at least, on this song!
Brad’s Song Sent to Ben: Rick Springfield and Randy Crawford, “Taxi Dancing” from Hard to Hold film soundtrack album, 1984, music and lyrics by Rick Springfield, produced by Springfield and Bill Drescher
Ben: Released long before I was born, I’d never heard of “Taxi Dancing” before Brad sent it to me! This song is a pretty good parallel to the song I sent him in a way that it’s also a duo talking about love and the stress around it.
While listening to it, I imagined it was from a musical movie even before searching about it! The vibes of the song reminded me of movies like Ghost or Dirty Dancing even though the genre here is different.
The song starts with a man lead, talking about how the magic of love is gone and that he needs to express it to the other part. What’s interesting here is, in the two facings of the singers; it proves they aren’t listening to each other:
I don’t believe it (feeling)
I don’t think that’s true (tied down)
It’ll just pass if we allow it to (need to break free)
It’s just a stage we’re going through (they say clean cuts)
I think you’re just restless for something new (heal much faster)
In their exchange, the woman (represented here without the parentheses) on one hand is still hopeful, she doesn't believe him and feels that it’s just a moment in their life, feeling weaker than usual. On the other hand, he just wants to put an end to it, the quicker, the better.
They go on talking about how they tried, but they failed and that it’s time to let it go. In my opinion, the most important line is
And the band that was playing
Has finally stopped playing our favorite song
Here you can hear the realization of both parties that there is no more love, as if the band finished playing their story. They know it should be time for something else, even if they held onto each other out of desperation.
If you compare the two songs, the stress experienced by both duos is about love, but in different stages: As if the span separating the two songs wasn’t obvious enough, my track is the expectation and the urge to make the other part understand the feeling of love at the beginning of the relationship.
In the song from Brad, it’s about the routine of love after a long time, and the way they stayed together out of habit where it would be better to just…cut both ways.