28 June, 2008

Ed Alleyne-Johnson Playing Live

A good friend sent this to me in the wee hours of the mornin'. It's amazing!!

27 June, 2008

WALL-E Trailer

(See why I love him?)

"Other Side of the World (LIVE)" - KT Tunstall

I have a crush on an animated robot

I think it's his eyes. They're just so big and full of love.

I have yet to actually see the movie Wall-E (I want to go!), but every time I see a trailer I just grow more fond of this little computer guy. I have been listening to the soundtrack, which is quite long and fairly enchanting.

It's mostly a score by Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, Little Women, etc.) with a few original songs with lyrics sprinkled in for good measure. I'll begin with the sprinkles.

"Put On Your Sunday Clothes" by Michael Crawford and Company sounds Vaudevillian, and also classically Broadway (probably because it's from Hello Dolly), but it works well in a distant future where humans have tarnished the planet. It has history, but almost in the way that a dilapidated old house has history. It has history for people who are no longer alive, or at least are no longer around to enjoy it, and it echoes with the past. Skip ahead a few songs to Louis Armstrong's "La Vie En Rose", the quintessential romantic song. It's light and it floats on a feeling, but it is also very strongly written. The sentiment is clearly stated, and the emotion is completely honest. I can guess that this song is the background to Wall-E's romance with Eve. "It Only Takes A Moment" by Michael Crawford sounds like an original Disney love song, but is also from Hello Dolly. It reminds me of the best music from the early animated movies like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. Michael Crawford is the Phantom of the Opera, and he definitely lends some authenticity to the sounds of Wall-E. Peter Gabriel then makes a guest appearance with "Down to Earth". I am a Peter Gabriel fan (what John Cusack fan isn't?) and this song stays very true to Gabriel's sound while also fitting in with the rest of the soundtrack.

The score is dramatic, playful, enchanting, and fitting. "WALL-E" has the consistency of a manufacturing line, with precision that is actually fairly warm. It gives me the feeling (a feeling I already had) that this artificially intelligent being has all the makings of a human, including the flaws. "Eve" is heartwarming, with a first-love feeling, while "Eve Retrieve" is anxious and dangerous sounding. "Mutiny" marches and strides along with confidence, but also with elements of fear. "Hyperjump" soars, and "Horizon 12.2" ends the movie with hope.

The soundtrack is really excellent, and it makes me think that the movie will be excellent as well. I can only hope, since I've fallen head over heels for the main character.

26 June, 2008

I saw a car today with a license plate that said "Blunote"...

I took that as a sign (there are no coincidences) that I should write about jazz. The weather is appropriate, and with recent conversations spanning Django Reinhardt, local poetry slams, and Jack Kerouac I only just had to connect the dots in my head.

I love jazz music because of its emotional tangibility and almost haunting individuality. Pretension is very noticeable in a bad jazz song, but the best jazz music captures entire emotional spectra. It's the music of the introverted, and the people who spend most of their time thinking, and therefore it is usually calculated and relaxed. At other times it bursts with hidden exuberance and excitement. Tension is a major theme that often explodes in a horn solo.

Sit back, relax, and listen with your entire soul to the following songs. I promise you will not have wasted your time.

"I Know You Know" by Esperanza Spalding

With a voice that floats and sprints around the melody, Spalding crafts a hearty, bouncy bass-line that gives this playful jazz song body. "The way you look at me when you think I'm not looking..." is one line in a song full of strong and fun lyrics that wrap up the early stages of love (and sometimes the later stages too) in a poetic and honest way. Check out the live video below, and sit in awe at the size of Spalding's bass (!!!).

"Apparition" by Scott Dubois

The final song on Dubois' latest album Banshees this is an anxious, rumbling song that seems to be fleeing the titular apparition for a good 8 1/2 minutes. The percussion and bass-line are high strung, while the horns alternately mumble and shout their fears. This song is very well-written, and makes for nerve-wracking and exciting listening.

"Let The Music Take Your Mind" by Cameron Mizell

Simmering instrumental that makes wonderful background music, but is also exceptional material for mental deconstruction (I am a music nerd, and this is what I do in my spare time.) The sounds are so expertly layered, that it is unusual to find any disjunctions; and yet, so beautifully patterned that it is fun to pull apart the sounds in your mind.

"Equilibrium" by Soul Messangers

This song moves from pure jazz territory to more uplifting jazz/soul. I'm not completely certain why the Soul Messangers spell their name incorrectly, but it doesn't really matter when they're making music as good as "Equilibrium". The horns are heavy and the rhythms are constantly syncopated.

"Je cherche apres Titine" by Les Primitifs du Futur

Les Primitifs du Futur deserve their own post because their music is just so amazing. It's French jazz in the very best sense. Carnivalesque, strangely baroque with its circular melodies, and at times spooky, sexy, and weirdly catchy. The language flows and slides with the instrumentals, and the ghost of Django Reinhardt is ever present.

25 June, 2008

Poetry Slam (Carrie Rudzinski, "Jupiter")

I think this is gorgeous.

If you're interested in reading more about New England's slam poetry, check out this article:

Their Words Against Ours by Monica Boland

I love this Carrie Rudzinski quote from one of her poems:

...I resorted to creating new memories with you by looking at old photographs and pretending I had been in them...

In Memorium: George Carlin


24 June, 2008

The Spirit of Radio

After attacking teenagers and college students for illegal downloading, having tantrums at the large MP3 sellers about their reasonable (I would say, almost too high) prices, sneakily sabotaging the free internet radio stations, and then releasing "remastered" and "remixed" albums three to six months after their original release dates adding on a few shitty songs and then charging double for your listening privilege, I would say that the record industry has done quite enough screaming and crying to earn themselves a bad name for the next fifty years. Instead of realizing their first ten mistakes, going quietly into their little skyscrapers and investing their remaining money in creative strategies to drastically change and possibly save their industry, they are instead, yet again, investing in a legal battle for more money. In fact, not only is the record industry grasping wildly for some hold on the music industry, but they're doing it by attacking another group that for many years has been struggling to survive: radio.

Who even listens to radio anymore? Mixed tapes and cds have long been the cooler alternative, and with the invention of the MP3 player outfitted with beautiful tuner accessory you will never have to listen to crappy music, stupid commercials, and antagonistic talk shows again. When I listen to the radio, I opt for commercial free stations like WERS and NPR. Sometimes I'll switch to WFNX, and once in a very long while I'll spend a night with WXKS just to see what music is actually semi-popular at the moment. In any case, great radio is basically a lost art. Rarely am I introduced to great, new music through the airwaves (excluding WERS and NPR) and rarely am I even entertained for any length of time. It's stale and stagnant, and just as likely to implode as the record industry itself.

What's the issue? Well, the record industry thinks that AM/FM radio broadcasters should be required to pay royalties for playing their songs. Who really gives a damn? It's bad management all around to think that attacking the next sickest kid on the playground is going to make you stronger. If the record industry wins, no one will even care. In fact, I bet this latest ploy for money and attention will only have a negative affect on the record industry's already bad name. I don't download illegally, and I never have, but at this point it's looking fairly tempting.

If you're interested in reading more than my rant, you can check out this article on WIRED:

Recording Industry Decries AM-FM Broadcasting as 'A Form of Piracy'

You can never be too young for the blues

The best blues has always been the kind played by families and friends in their local neighborhoods. It's a shared American art, something undeniably tied to the concept of community and normalcy. In fact, even the name "blues" references a common human currency: emotion. The sad thing about the blues is that its popularity has been dying for a long time. You can still find sections of the population and geographical pockets of the country where blues is a celebrated art, but few thirty-somethings, twenty-somethings, and teenagers realize the extent of influence that blues music has had over current popular music and rock and roll; fewer still actually turn this recognition into interest and exploration.

Don't be downhearted, there's always hope, and today it comes to you in the form of the Homemade Jamz Blues Band from Tupelo, Mississippi. Their first album Pay Me No Mind was released this month, and it's a slamming, rocking blues house party. The guitar reminds me of Hendrix blues, but also of B.B. King (as do the vocals). Albert King also comes to mind. The percussion and bass line are very well matched, and far from boring. The most exceptional thing about this band is their talent. While a lot of contemporary blues sounds stale, this band can really jam. The most interesting thing about the Homemade Jamz Blues Band is that they are three siblings who are 9, 13, and 15 years old. Taya Perry (9) plays drums, Kyle Perry (13) plays bass and sings back-up vocals, and Ryan Perry (15) plays guitar and sings lead.

Instead of giving you a full run-down of the eleven tracks on Pay Me No Mind, I'm going to cull my favorites and explain exactly why they are my favorites. The first three songs on the album are exceptional. "Who Your Real Friends Are" has a few nasty little guitar solos and very tight rhythm. "Voodoo Woman" rumbles and roars, while Ryan wails with a voice that sounds that it hasn't cracked in at least five years. "The World's Been Good To You" is a layered song that sizzles before peaking. Skip ahead a few songs to "Time For Change" and you find a rock song with strong blues undercurrents. The title song, "Pay Me No Mind", has room for a great harmonica warble as it chugs along the highway. The final song "Boom Boom" is almost surreal, channeling John Lee Hooker and the Animals, but also having a distinctly individual feeling.

Pay Me No Mind is a great classic feeling blues album that seems equally inspired by Muddy Waters and Hendrix and the Doors. It perfectly captures that contemporary pluralism required for blues to make a comeback. This album should be accessible to people who grew up listening to Green Day, as much as those who had their musical teeth cut on Stevie Ray Vaughn and R.L. Burnside. You can be blown away by the fact that such smooth music is played by three people who haven't graduated from high school, or you can just recognize that this music is exceptional for musicians of any age. Whatever you do, I hope you pick up a copy of Pay Me No Mind. It's a good album.

The Sun over Reykjavic

For a long time, I have found Sigur Ros's music unbearably depressing. It's usually dark and long-winded, with a sepulchral chamber music eeriness. It's in another language, which need not be a barrier if the mood is open and inviting, but instead I find their songs cold, stark, and vaguely mechanical: alien in the science fiction sense. There are times when I find certain songs endearing and enjoyable, and Takk... (their 2005 release) actually has a very nice mix of sounds. However, as a rule of thumb, I try to stay clear of Sigur Ros when I'm not incandescently glowing with happiness.

I may have to break my rules now that Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust (which is quite a mouthful in any language) has been released. This album is a pocketful of Icelandic sunshine, and even the slow-tempo songs are more lullaby than requiem.

If we begin at the beginning, then we find "Gobbledigook". Pounding drums, guitars that harmonize ever so perfectly with Jonsi Birgisson's vocals, and a fairy chorus of "falalalala's" conspire to create something fairly magical, and far from gloomy. "Inni mer syngur vitleysingur" is home to an equally upbeat percussion section, but their are also more precious sounds. If my ears do not deceive me, then bells and/or a xylophone, possibly a glockenspiel, and a piano all make appearances on this song. "Godan daginn" is the first slow song, where the jazzy/folksy brushes are used on the drums. The guitars are soft but constant, while what sounds like pedal steel ethereally waltzes over the whispered lyrics. This is a beautiful song. "Vid spilum endalaust" reminds me of The Strokes meets Coldplay. The rhythm is metronomically consistent with just a touch of fuzziness laid over the top, but the lyrical structure and delivery are extremely reminiscent of Chris Martin. "Festival" is a haunting song that is almost a cappella. If you listen closely, then you can hear smudges of music, and shadows that bounce around Birgisson's voice. "Med sud i eyrum" rolls with marching band precision, while the piano and the pedal steel float around on the outskirts of the song. "Ara batur" is simple and hushed. Instead of sounding hollow and empty, "Ara batur" sounds like an echoing chamber or a shell when it's pressed to your ear. It's a song that is full of emotion, but very subtle in sound. "Illgresi" is also a subtle song, with the hand-sliding on the acoustic guitar playing a large role in the musicality. Birgisson's voice can do many things. It is controlled both tonally and emotionally, and Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust is an album that de-constructs and redefines the sounds surrounding Birgisson's vocals to the point where they are really center stage. "Fljotavik" for instance, sounds like a duet, but it's really just Birgisson singing with his famous falsetto and singing normally. "Straumnes" is the only song on this most recent album that places the vocalization to the side. It flows like great soundtrack music, and fits perfectly with the rest of the album. At the very end, we have "All Alright", a soft and sleepy song that bookends a long day.

To listen to Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust is to listen to a long and beautiful day in its entirety. From sunrise through midday, to dusk and the twinkles of the most distant stars, Sigur Ros plays the soundtrack to a good day. I think it shows musical maturity that this band can express such perfect happiness in album form. I always say that it's more difficult to write funny stories, then it is to write sad stories. You don't have to look very far for sadness; it's all around. Humor and deep happiness are more complicated emotions, and they're often hidden by the obvious. Sigur Ros has now released their "funny story", and I find myself all the more attracted to their music, and more willing to be impressed by their previous compositions because of their willingness to search for the sunshine.

20 June, 2008

"Thirsty (LIVE)" - ZOX

Blast from the Past

When it comes to rock music, I like my staples. The Who (thank you anonymous user who posted that Youtube link, btw, very entertaining), Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, Ramones, and Led Zeppelin are the sounds that I come back to over and over again. There are other rock bands that I love, and some of these bands are contemporary in the never-broke-up-in-the-first-place sense, instead of the getting-back-together-after-all-these-years sense. Muse, Rancid, Apollo Sunshine, and ZOX are just the big favorites. The thing is, I always seem to enjoy bands that utilize that classic sound and update it for the 21st century. This is part of the reason why I like Quiet Village. They're a two-piecer from the U.K. who describe themselves as "jazz/psychedelic/surf", and it just gets better. These disparate elements are pulled together cohesively on their new album Silent Movie which is half Alfred Hitchcock film noir music and half Pink Floyd experimental. Of course, the whole is all their own, and it's a refreshing blend that's also very comforting.

When I play "Victoria's Secret" (titled to be incredibly confusing) I can see a 1960's sunshine tinge on everything. It's one great failing of my imagination that I have a hard time visualizing any time period without seeing it within the constraints of its photographic record (for some reason this affliction does not extend to the many years before photography. Those years I see in an almost high definition clarity, in my mind.) For example, any time before The Wizard of Oz (movie) I imagine as being in black and white. My grandparents' entire early life is a black and white movie in my head. It's even worse when I'm thinking about the early 1800s, and everything I visualize is in daguerreotype style. For me, the 1960s will always have that strange yellowish-green filter, which makes every seemingly genuine smile seem just a little bit more fake. "Victoria's Secret" strikes that chord perfectly, and suddenly everything is in creepy filter vision. "Circus of Horror" is the perfect follow-up. It begins like much of the best funk and soul music, with a slamming guitar riff, but that riff never ends. Things are added into the mix, like screams (can anyone say "The Great Gig In The Sky") and screeching, peeling tire wheels (I believe that's actually another riff), but that first jazzy intro is on a loop.

"Free Rider" applies choir-like harmonies to the best of the New Age mall music (You know, the guy with the long hair and the wooden flute who plays outside the store with crystals and authentic "world" music? He's playing on this song.) It's more in the psychedelic vein than the first two songs, and that makes it particularly interesting ear candy. "Too High To Move" starts off very Michael Jackson, and like "Circus of Horror", it's very repetitive. The saving grace is the spoken word introduction over jazzy pop, that melds into piano lines and horn dalliances. "Pacific Rhythm" has a reggae vibe, but the horn sections are 1970s lush; while, "Broken Promises" waltzes along in the ballroom of a beach-side hotel. "Pillow Talk" is again striding a line near Pink Floyd. The computer-generated sound effects and the rock 'n' roll guitar make this song sound a bit otherworldly. "Can't Be Beat" has an offbeat disco groove. I can only imagine that this song would be played in some parallel world where disco was completely unpopular, and therefore, extremely cool. By the time I reach "Gold Rush" I'm a little tired of these expertly planned adventures into the harmonic unknown. Not a single song on Silent Movie drops below 3 minutes and 30 seconds, and most clock in at around 5 minutes. "Singing Sand" starts the groove again, with a heavy bass-line which "Utopia" continues with an incredibly jungle/cavern feeling. It's like a stalagmite or stalactite (I can never remember which is which) is going to pop up out of nowhere, or I will suddenly find myself swinging on a vine. "Keep On Rolling" is the album finale, and it does a decent job of capturing all of the sounds described above. There's jazzy, Latin guitar; the sounds of seagulls feeding; a little static; the steady but ever-interesting rhythm section. Surprisingly, everything works.

Silent Movie has high and low points, but the album is almost always very consistent. What can be annoying, is the lengthiness and the sometimes less then enjoyable experimentation. At the same time, the experimentation that works is worth every penny, and more importantly, every moment of your listening time.

Unfortunately, I know boys like this all too well...:P

Click to see larger image.

19 June, 2008

17 June, 2008

"You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie (LIVE)" - The Submarines

"Doing It Right" - The Go! Team

"Die Alone (LIVE)" - Ingrid Michaelson

I woke up this morning with a funny taste in my head.
Spackled some butter over my whole grain bread.
Something tastes different, maybe it's my tongue.
Something tatstes different, suddenly I'm not so young.

I'm just a stranger, even to myself.
A re-arranger of the proverbial bookshelf.
Don't be a fool girl, tell him you love him.
Don't be a fool girl, you're not above him.

I never thought I could love anyone but myself.
Now I know I can't love anyone but you.
You make me think that maybe I won't die alone.
Maybe I won't die alone.

Kiss the boys as they walk by, call me their baby.
But little do they know, I'm just a maybe.
Maybe my baby will be the one to leave me sore.
Maybe my baby will settle the score.

I never thought I could love anyone but myself.
Now I know I can't love anyone but you.
But you make me think that maybe I won't die alone.
Maybe I won't die alone.

What have I become?
Something soft and really quite dumb.
Because I've fallen, oh, 'cause I've fall- fallen, oh 'cause I've fall-fall-fallen
So far away from the place where I started from.

I never thought I could love anyone.
I never thought I could love anyone.
I never thought I could love anyone.
But you....
But you....
But you....
But you....
But you .... but you ...make me think that maybe I won't
die alone.
Maybe I won't die alone.

Sweet Jane

I love the music of Sara Bareilles, so when I saw her playlist on iTunes this morning, I had to take a listen. Anyone who has iTunes should shuffle through Bareilles' list. She nods to such great artists as Javier Dunn, Nick Drake, Aqualung, Soulive, and Rihanna (you can't forget Rihanna). The most interesting choice (in my opinion) was "Incline" by Raining Jane, a band I had never heard of until this morning. They're a quartet of girls from L.A. who have a very distinct musical sound. They make melodic rock with folk influences, but the pieces that form the whole are much more eclectic then the "genre" sounds.

The latest album by Raining Jane is Paper Nest, and it begins with "Prelude" a soaring, humming introduction with the lyrics "I feel it coming like a memory" swirling around the listener. "Incline" is the first full-length song, and it has an intensity and strength that does not hide the femininity of the vocals. Subtlety is the strength of Raining Jane. Where most hard rock songs are bombastic and in your face, "Incline" has a subtlety that is refreshing and may stem from Raining Jane's unique combination of folk and hard rock aesthetics. "Broken Parts" reminds me of k.d. lang. It's a folk song with heartfelt emotion, not just hokey sentimentality. The lyric, "Let's talk about what we're afraid of, why we hide love..." sums up the entire song, and then there's a cello solo (yummy). "Clementine" uses glockenspiel and harmonies to create a warm and playful feeling, while the lyrics cover the heavy topics of war and love. "Pinball" takes a percussive approach to rough and tumble rock 'n roll, while "Castles and Factories" has a very 1980's rhythm with lyrics that celebrate imagination and the power of dreams. "Desperate Sails" is almost spoken word poetry, with music that floats underneath "big question" lyrics. "Everything we want is not what we need, we're leaning on the love that's in between" is one line that particularly caught my attention, but the lyrics in "Desperate Sails" are very well-written overall, and the music is equally exceptional. The final song on Paper Nest is "Browntown" and it's a sitar heavy bhangra tune that serves as an outro of sorts.

Raining Jane is an incredibly talented band that have created a sound that's distinct without being inaccessible. The songs are rock 'n roll and folk with multicultural influences, and they are never boring, but always smooth and complete pockets of sound. I can see why Sara Bareilles was so impressed.

"Damnit Anna (LIVE)" - The Morning Benders

Berkeley Revisited

Berkeley, California is a little nexus for great musicians and artists. It could be the wind from the Pacific Ocean, or that well-known university atmosphere, or maybe it's just one of those meeting places in the world to which geniuses of all sorts roll downhill. This said, you have to realize that not everything that comes out of Berkeley is worthy of art status. For every genius, there must be seven, eight, one hundred, or one thousand people who are average or lacking in any noticeable talent at all. The Morning Benders do not fall into this latter category, although they also fail to reach the same level as, say, The Grateful Dead on their first album, Talking Through Tin Cans.

The music on this debut is hook-heavy, melody laden, and pumped with jangle-rock power. I can hear early Shins without all the cloudy metaphors and confusing similes. It's like the Shins got Mason Jennings to write their lyrics, and the byproduct has strong music and strong words. "Damnit Anna" contains the razor-sharp perceptions of "after the relationship" blues. There's a bitterness that is carefully contained within the simple confines of a steady guitar and a humming choir. At the same time, you realize that the vocalist (Chris Chu) still cares about "Anna", despite all the bravado. "I Was Wrong" is a waltzing tune that has some unexpected pauses, twists, and turns. Again, there's that hint of bitterness that's covered by the sweetness of delivery. "Loose Change" rumbles under the radar until the bass overtakes the rhythm, the melody overtakes the bass, and the percussion overtakes the melody. In this order, the song continues, but this steady rising of various instrumental sections gives "Loose Change" a chaotic kaleidoscopic feel. The lyrics are perfectly aligned with this sense of chaos. "Why can't you just say what you need?" is the greatest single line in the whole song, and it sums up the tumult that can be caused by bad communication. "Patient Patient" is the only song that I've heard on the radio, and it's also the song that feels the most like Mason Jennings. Jennings has the tendency to make his vocals follow his melody, even when the lyrics fail to be a perfect fit. He stretches his syllables until the highs and the lows of the song are all in line, and this is what Chris Chu does on "Patient Patient". "Crosseyed" begins with the line "I tried to cross a bridge today, I tell you man there ain't no way to change...", and only grows as a song. The music stays basically contained by the same strumming, humming guitar, no symphonic highs and lows, but the lyrics achieve all the drama you could ever require. "Waiting For A War" is the crescendo, the climax of the album story where the protagonist is "finished" in many senses. There's a very Beatles-esque lyrical echo at the end of the song, but the exuberance of the music, the dissatisfaction and frustration that drives the guitar sends this song farther from "A Hard Day's Night" than anything else on the album. The whisper of "Heavy Hearts" is a strong juxtaposition, and an honest look at the eerie calm after the storm that was "Waiting For A War". We then find "Boarded Doors" which jumps back on the jangle-rock horse, and has a repeated riff and dramatic background "oohs" that make it superbly catchy. "Maybe you're right to stay in the light, but tell me please where does that leave me?" is the lyric that sets up the song for a guitar solo, but instead of playing into the listener's expectations, The Morning Benders fill this hole with a quiet chorus setting you up for a soft finale. Expectations are again completely ignored, as "Boarded Doors" ends with one of the few guitar solos on the album. "Wasted Time" is a soft song, like an old car that purrs through the desert at night. "Chasing A Ghost" carries more baggage as it trudges along, with delicate reverberation that gives the whole song a ghastly quality. "When We're Apart" is a plaintive lullaby, a compromise that has more than a little hint of sadness. It leaves you wondering if the pain of being together is truly less then the pain of being apart. "When We're Apart" is the official final song of the album, but there is still a bonus track entitled "Worth the Fight". This song is pure morning folk woven from lightly colored sunbeams. The lyrics ask the same question as I asked at the end of "When We're Apart", albeit in different words: "...at the end of the night will it still be worth it to put up a fight?". Is there any reason to try to put something together if it's more broken whole, then it is when the pieces are separated? That's the new question of the day.

07 June, 2008

"Woo Hoo" - The's

For all the geeky boys out there (who find girls intimidating *wink*)

Eugene Ahn designed the CyranoSuit to help nervous boys converse with the girls they like. She also made the above video to sell these suits to those same boys. I think I know a couple boys who would benefit from a CyranoSuit. Hmmmm...

05 June, 2008

"A Quick One While He's Away" - The Who

"You are forgiven!"

"Utopian Futures" - Dream Warriors (Johnny from Tin Tree Factory and Brenna from the RiotFolk Collective)

I am pretty convinced that this song will be my theme music for the next four years of my life. At this moment, I'm not immensely ambivalent about that possibility.

(As a side note though, the disconnection of the video with the music has an odd effect on my senses. I'm not certain that I like it, but I'm not completely certain that I dislike it either...)

"Vienna" - Billy Joel

If I were you, I would ignore the video and just listen to the song.

Slow down you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart tell me why
Are you still so afraid?
Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you

Slow down you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight (tonight)
Too bad but it's the life you lead
You're so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong
You know you can't always see when you're right(you're right)

You got your passion you got your pride
But don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you

Slow down you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It's alright you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize...
Vienna waits for you.

And you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through

Why don't you realize...Vienna waits for you
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you

03 June, 2008

"...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity..."

So Mr. Yeats, which one am I? This is the question of the day.

I bought an Averi album back in 2005. It's called Drawn to Revolving Doors, and it has to be one of my favorite albums of all time. The song "When You Gracefully Creep In" seems to creep onto almost all of my major mixes (and I have to half-heartedly delete it so that I don't have duplicate songs in my iPod). The melodic, pop structure of these songs is an incredibly attractive quality, but the thing that really grabs me is the voice of Chad Perrone who unfortunately left Averi in late 2005. Chad can sing quietly which is quite a talent, and he has a voice that is both gorgeous and strongly masculine (another talent that comes in handy when you sing melodic pop/rock songs).

In April, Chad released Wake which is his second solo album. I am torn. On the one hand, the vocals are just as strong as ever. On the other hand, Chad has become (if anything) more melodic without Averi's rocking background guitar fuzz. So I find myself enjoying the songs "Blinded" and "Madison", but then I also have to listen to "Since You" and "Nantucket". Maybe it's my current mood, but I'm finding slow, bittersweet songs completely unforgivable. If anything I need more Operation Ivy and Rancid to get me through my day, so I'm going to leave it up to you guys to decide whether you like Chad's new music or not.

Here's the old Chad:

When You Gracefully Creep In (LIVE)

and now the new:
Nantucket (LIVE)

02 June, 2008

You never know when you'll need your brakes...

I saw these boys play back in 2005. They were/are very talented. Check 'em out:

Summer must be right around the bend, because my mind is heating up

Translated into normal human forms of communication, I guess this means that I have a lot on my mind. I have lists of things that must be done, lists of things I should do, and lists of things I'd like to do (and will probably do, even though I don't really have time for them). I feel like I have about a hundred simultaneous mental countdowns clicking in my brain, but I'm having a difficult time focusing on anything relevant or getting anything particularly important accomplished. Such is life!

This is how I end up mentally designing a "brain map" collage (it's like a map of an area, but instead it's a map of my brain/thinking patterns) for my dorm room wall, when I should actually be reading my overdue library book about hyperpowers. It's also how I found myself obsessing about the scientific relevance of humor (Why did it evolve? Does it give you a significant advantage? Is there a chemical/biological reason why some people are funny and others are not? Do animals appreciate humor?) when I should have actually been focused on my breathing (or inability to breathe). Through all of this I have a steadily growing catalog of places I want to visit, people I want to meet, ideas I want to discuss in dark coffee shops at 3:00 in the morning, books I want to read, music I want to hear, and in the end experiences I want to experience. This all occurred in about three seconds, so what I want to know now is, if you kept a notebook and wrote down every single random thought that you thought in an entire day, how many of those thoughts would actually be useful? How many of those thoughts would just be clogging up the system, helping you to ignore the constant clockwork precision of "sleep, eat, procreate, fight"? Maybe I think too much, but I can't seem to stop.

Here's another thought for my patient readers: What butterfly beat its light, and iridescent wing to make the EPs of the world so much better? It's like, all of a sudden, instead of being a waste of time and money for all but the most hardcore fans, the extended play is now a gorgeous little music-making voyage of its own. It's like the little engine that couldn't, but now can.

To help me make my point, I ask you to spend the next twenty odd minutes of your life listening to Fleet Foxes' Sun Giant - EP. Here's a quintet of songs that are at turns benignly creepy and somehow similar to the music of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. However weird the sound is, there isn't a bad song in the bunch. "Mykonos" is the only song that I've heard on the radio, and I guess I could see it being played on a Greek island. It's a laid-back tune, that's a bit folksy and strides the line somewhere between Paul Simon and My Morning Jacket. "Sun Giant" starts off the set with an almost religious feeling a cappella sound. This is church music being played in Apollo's house of worship (interesting because mythologically speaking Mykonos was said to be a son of Apollo). "Sun Giant" is followed by "Drops In The River" which taps into the beautiful melancholy of aging, with music that is light on actual instrumentals and heavy on harmonies. "English House" is the only song that sounds like it's being played by an entire band, but even this song hits the low-fi notes with nods to Neil Young and Paul Simon (again). The final song - "Innocent Son" - is a wailing, unplugged ode that channels Victorian nature-lovers. The song is subtle, almost to the point of emotional repression, but all of the potential emotion is realized in natural euphemisms. It's like reading Walt Whitman in front of a campfire, with acoustic guitars.