With the Hummingbird Rotation, we hope to give folks a closer look at the songs that get the most play at Hummingbird HQ. This installment, hear about Babe Rainbow, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and Jaden Smith.
Peace Blossom Boogy // Babe Rainbow
I wasn’t around to know for sure, but this song feels like what I imagine partying in the 1970s was like. It’s easy, breezy, loose, and free. All Babe Rainbow want you to do is tap your feet and move with the groove. The twangy guitars and shameless “all good, man” vibes bring a haze that washes over the listener, bringing life and sun to any day.
Lyrics like “kiss the wrong person goodnight” serve as the song’s philosophical thesis. The vocals are further reason not to take anything too seriously when listening to a song called “Peace Blossom Boogy.” Parts of the track feature nothing accompanying the electric guitar and bass but multiple voices singing “shalalalalala,” slightly out-of-time with each other. It’s fucking great. Easy, fun listening: what more could you ask for?
Animals // The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger
“Animals” is psychedelic rock with the best of both worlds: the rough-around-the-edges, live-recording sound so emblematic of 60’s jam-bands, and all the technicolor digital weirdness only made possible by modern music tech. It also makes good use of the whimsical anything-goes imagination of the era, setting the yellow-submarine-esque tone right from the first stanza: “Everywhere you go you’re in a microscope / Living in a fishbowl and your mind’s under control / Say a prayer for the internet billionaire / The solar flare will burn the hair of man and polar bear.” It’s a clever balance of giddy absurdity and relevant subject matter — hiding behind the half-joking nonsense are the modern issues of mass surveillance, social media and climate change.
You’re welcome to tumble down those rabbit holes, but “Animals” is just as easily appreciated for its sonics alone. Pay as little or as much attention as you want, and the track holds up. It’s wavy, wild and wholeheartedly weird — maybe the best summary of psychedelic rock as a whole — but it’s a calculated weirdness. In a world where tweets start wars and ten-year-old Walmart buskers go on world tours, “Animals” and its profound strangeness are right at home.
Ninety // Jaden Smith
Electric guitars wading in watery reverb lend Jaden Smith’s “Ninety” the summery, shameless nostalgia of surf rock, one style of many that Jaden blends into the seven-minute, forty-eight-second track. There’s also a chilled, jazzy electric piano foundation and a mix of processed and live percussion. “Ninety” excels at the little things: ad-libs, sound flourishes, and other clever ear-candy production tricks that make the difference between a decent concept and a fully-fledged song.
“Ninety” is a long one, clocking in at 7:48, but it fluidly navigates multiple sections, each containing their own energy and sound without sounding disjointed in context. In a way, it’s two songs linked by a seamless interlude, but they share elements of theme and sound, and thus their combination into a single track is a solid compositional decision.
“Ninety” was hard proof that I haven’t been paying enough attention to Jaden Smith’s recent musical endeavors. I’m going to continue exploring his discography, and you should too. “Ninety” is a great place to start.