28 December, 2009

"Hurricane (LIVE)" - Something Corporate

Shake down you make me break
For goodness sake
I think I'm on the edge
Of something new with you
Shout out don't drown the sound
I'll drown you out
You'll never scream so loud
As I want to scream with you

Standing there with your smile blinding
Your eyes from seeing
My face as I'm dying
To figure out a girl
But she drifts so far away
I'm on her coast
So maybe I should stay
And map around your world

So Don't Say
These currents are still killing me
And you can't explain
But the wind went and pulled me
Into your hurricane
Into your hurricane

Stand up don't make a sound
Your ears might bleed
There's sweet fluorescent enemies
That live inside of me
The world moves faster than I knew
Not fast enough to not creep up on you
And the space we put between
So pull me under your weather patterns
Your cold fronts and the rain don't matter
Because the sun burns when I need it

So Don't Say
These currents are still killing me
And you can't explain
But the wind went and pulled you
Into the hurricane
into the hurricane

You don't do it on purpose
But you make me shake
Now I count the hours 'til you wake
With your babies breath
Breathe symphonies
Come on sweet catastrophe

Maybe this time I can follow through
I can feel complete
Stop paying dues
Stop the rain from falling
Keep my ocean calm
This time I know nothing's wrong

So Don't Say
These currents are still killing me
And you can't explain
But the wind went and pulled me in
and no you don't say
These currents are still killing me
And you can't explain
but the wind went and pulled me
into your hurricane
into your hurricane
into your hurricane

17 November, 2009

The question is not...

...why does he look like a douche? Because then the answer would be simple, i.e. he is a douche.

Instead, the question is more like this: why are there so many artistically/musically talented douches?

Or maybe: Is it only the douche-y talented people who become famous?

and finally: Am I a bad person for liking his music, even though he could totally suck as a person?

I am sending these thoughts in a letter to the universe. Maybe it'll get back to me soon with a little insight.

Sleigh Bells before Thanksgiving (and I swear I'm not becoming a consumer whore)

As far as dynamic duos go, there is a lot to live up to in music. Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Simon & Garfunkel, Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The list could go on for awhile, but I'll spare you boredom and get to the juicy bits.

Sleigh Bells!

Their name sounds slightly twee, or at the very least gives off an adorably indie vibe like early Fiery Furnaces albums (Bitter Tea's "Benton Harbor Blues" kept me smiling for weeks). But, hidden within the jingly, jangly, jolly moniker, we find a duo that makes musical noise not unlike M.I.A. meeting New Young Pony Club in a bar and getting in a fist-fight over a synthesizer. I guess what I am trying to get at is that Sleigh Bells' songs don't always sound particularly "musical" in the sense that the melody does not always follow an aurally pleasing route. So what? I like these songs nonetheless, and if I like them, then you know they've gotta be good. (I really hope people who don't know me can read my sarcasm.)

Anyway, here's your basic blog breakdown. Four songs exist on the Sleigh Bells' MySpace site, as well as three videos of the band performing live, and an advertisement for a Thursday night show at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC. First we have "A/B Machines," a repetitive, banging blast of electro-dance music. It makes me long for nights with glow sticks and crowds of people dancing under circus tents (and there aren't many things that make me feel this way). "Crown on the Ground" squeals into place with wailing guitar and a bomb backbeat. "Infinity Guitars" starts off with a Kinks-esque riff, and some yelled lyrics that remind me of Le Tigre, and follows this pattern through and through with increased intensity as the song progresses. Finally, we've got "Ring Ring," which stays fairly mellow even with the inclusion of panting, clapping, and rumbling/rolling drums in the background.

Maybe there is a secret atavism, a primitive need to dance your ass off, that makes this kind of music really very accomplished. In any case, it is nothing like Gilbert & Sullivan, or R & H, or Simon & Garfunkel, and only the energy level is similar to Elton and Bernie's early stuff. But it is still worth hearing, and also worth owning a few songs in order to get that party pumping with something besides Shwayze and Jay Sean. Not that there is anything wrong with dancing to this music – it's fun! – but you should never limit yourself to the songs that are popular right now. Those songs are usually fairly fleeting, and the songs that you enjoy will be around for awhile.

Sleigh Bells "Crown on the Ground" LIVE at Le Poisson Rouge NYC from AbzPunkPhoto on Vimeo.

29 September, 2009

Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall - Simon & Garfunkel

Through the corridors of sleep
Past the shadows dark and deep
My mind dances and leaps in confusion.
I don't know what is real,
I can't touch what I feel
And I hide behind the shield of my illusion.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall.

The mirror on my wall
Casts an image dark and small
But I'm not sure at all it's my reflection.
I am blinded by the light
Of God and truth and right
And I wander in the night without direction.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall.

It's no matter if you're born
To play the King or pawn
For the line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow,
So my fantasy
Becomes reality,
And I must be what I must be and face tomorrow.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall.

27 September, 2009

It knocks you down

There is some music that hits you so hard - that touches your core so deeply - that you cannot logically quantify or qualify the experience. Why, why now, and why this? There is synchronicity at work here, the collective unconscious. It is for this reason above all others that the Beatles are still selling records in record numbers.

I read a music article today that made a lot of sense logically. The argument was that the Beatles became famous and well-loved originally because of the simplicity of their musical/lyrical combinations; their accessibility, their generality, their universality, as opposed to some kind of intangible singularity. Everybody knows what it feels like to want to hold someone's hand, right? Right.

The only hitch in this argument is that they were rather singular as opposed to universal: their story is not common and neither is their music. Even people who aren't "fans" of the Beatles know their music. They know the rhythms, the melody, and the lyrics. If this were due just to simplicity and universality, then most pop songs would fall into the same category. So what was different about the Beatles?

There is something greater at work. I know this sounds like an overstatement of talent, but bear with me for a minute, there is more of an argument to come.

Have you ever met a person in your life who you knew was pushing for a higher consciousness with every inch of their being? They vibrated with their own urgency. Have you ever had a late-night conversation with a stranger that brought you more peace of mind and honest insight than your everyday interactions with your best friends? What about that moment when you are doing the thing you love best of all, and you move into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would term a "state of flow"? Or maybe you were reading a book and a sentence made you really think for a long time, and dig for something more that was hiding inside of you. Or maybe a name or an idea followed you around for months, and when you finally came to it - opened yourself to it - you found exactly what you were looking for all along. Or you were almost magnetically drawn to another person, without any reason or sense at all, and yet things happened to work the way you knew they had to all along because you could feel it. These things happen everyday, and it is an impoverished person who does not notice and crave them every moment of their life. There is something greater at work, but it isn't happening far away from you. It's happening inside you and all around you at every moment.

Now the Beatles had a member/members pushing for a higher consciousness - maybe not completely knowingly, and maybe not in those words, but their music vibrates with too high a frequency for that not to be true. There is something universal about it, and it is the same thing that is so special that takes place in every person and living thing. It is the Emersonian Spirit. It doesn't fall into place every time, with every song, but it happens often enough that people start to notice.

You listen to Abbey Road while walking in the rain,
between the trees on the quad that were planted hundreds of years ago,
and will live hundreds of years longer than you if there is any justice in the world,
and you can feel the heartbeat of the universe under your feet,
and just as you notice it,
you also notice that "Golden Slumbers" is mimicking that heartbeat,
like a baby on its mother's chest,
and it progresses with the beat of your feet,
and the tick of the rain on your head,
and the leaves shake with you,
as your back shudders,
and the world is bigger in your mind because of a song in a moment.

That's what makes them great, and it is the same thing that makes any music great. It is an ability to tune into the universe, and discover it in words that anyone can sing along with, and that anyone can understand, and maybe hope to understand better and grow alongside.

25 August, 2009

Certain things follow me around...

I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Maybe you want to give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat
Maybe you'd go away and never call
And a taste of honey is worse than none at all
(oh little girl)

Oh little girl
in that case I don't want no part
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like loving me
if you got the notion
I second that emotion
Said, if you feel like giving me
a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion

Maybe you think that love would tie you down
You ain't got the time to hang around
Maybe you think that love was made for fools
So it makes you wise to break the rules

Oh little girl
in that case I don't want no part
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like loving me
if you got the notion
I second that emotion
Said, if you feel like giving me
a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion

04 August, 2009

Ohgosh August

I cannot possibly make up for my blog-related laziness this summer, but maybe the Muppets can (with a little help from Harry Belafonte of course)?

14 July, 2009

I've got that Summer soul

Soul Man by Sam & Dave

13 July, 2009

07 July, 2009

Jay Brannan: Covers for Thought

Earlier this year I posted a Jay Brannan song ("Can't Have It All"), not knowing that he was due to release a new album this year. Well, kind of new. The album, entitled In Living Cover, is composed almost entirely of folk and pop cover songs. There are two originals by Mr. Brannan: the sad and gorgeous (and heartening with the lines "She'll feel the burn, and make the choice to put the fire in her voice..." among others) "Beautifully" is a gem that makes me wish and wish for a full album of originals, while "Drowning" is lush and deep, cushioned by chilling waves of piano that send shudders down my spine as I listen.

What about the covers? Here is a break down, song by song:

"Say It's Possible" (originally performed by Terra Naomi) is a soft and sweet cover. The words "Armageddon Lullaby" come to mind as I listen, and I find Jay's voice so soothing and also so sad. Terra Naomi's original has a good dose of Natalie Imbruglia-style anger and frustration, but Jay Brannan's is vulnerable and weary. (Side note: I am listening to this song on a particularly dark and dreary day, and I would not recommend this setting for In Living Cover to most people. Wait for the warm sun and an aura of earned laziness, or maybe even restlessness, so you can appreciate the sound fully, without contemplating morbidly.)

"All I Want" (originally performed by Joni Mitchell) is grounded by Jay Brannan's voice, or maybe not quite grounded, but channeled and floated along a streamlined path to your ears. Joni's voice is flighty and capricious on almost all of her songs, and her guitar work follows, bouncing along behind her melodic twanging whisper-wails. Brannan, thankfully, does not attempt to cover in the same spirit, but brings his on strengths to the table to lend the song a steady form and pace. It all sounds wonderfully heartfelt and romantic, and puts me in the mood to listen to both songs.

"Blowin' In The Wind" (originally performed by Bob Dylan) is a very different animal, and although I appreciated the strengths of the Jay Brannan cover (not the least of which is a vocal delivery that enables the listener to hear and understand all of the beautiful lyrics without trouble), I do miss the growl and harmonica of the original. It is very difficult to cover Dylan, and Brannan succeeds in many ways, but in the end his form and delivery are almost too pristine for this song. The ugliness is missing, and the imperfections that give the song body, but it is still beautiful and heartfelt. Crisp, clean, and clear.

"The Freshmen" (originally performed by The Verve Pipe) is one of those remembered songs from childhood radio-listening; the kind that I sang along to (as well as I could without really knowing the words) but never understood, and then never really heard again, except maybe in passing on a radio station that plays hits from the last three decades. It is strange to hear a cover, because the song is both old and new to me, and brings together that person/version of myself who loved Polly Pocket and that person/version of myself who knows about the movie Shortbus, and understands at least most of the references. It's a big leap! The cover is very similar to the original, although Brannan makes the piano the most important musical voice in the song, and so the pop-rock aspect is lost with the electric guitars. Still a little muddled by the song (I am the kind of person who can fail to understand something for years until I read about it) I looked up the lyrics, and well, it is a sad sad song. I don't think I ever really want to listen to this song again, but if I did, I would definitely pick the Jay Brannan version. His forté is making sad things beautiful.

"Good Mother" (originally performed by Jann Arden) moves far from the early 1990s sound that so epitomizes the original (you know, that short time when artists attempted to use synthesizers tastefully after the excesses of the 1980s, only to learn that the very nature of a synthesizer makes it difficult to use tastefully, it is meant to be so obvious and futuristic-sounding). Luckily, Jay Brannan understands this reality, and synthesizers are not to be heard in his cover, while the vocals highs and lows that made the original worth listening to, are tastefully brought to life by Brannan.

"Both Hands" (originally performed by Ani Difranco) surprises me, because it is the only song on the album that breaks the Brannan mold and still succeeds in sounding delightful different from the original. I have to admit that I am not a big Ani Difranco fan, and I did not particularly enjoy this song before hearing the cover. Jay Brannan uses the dramatic layered affect of a kind of a cappella instrumentation, where the vocals that are laid over each other create a hum that guides the whole song. This cover reminds me of the best work of Imogen Heap ("Hide and Seek," etc.), with fewer synthesizer affects, and the power of the human voice to lend weight to Difranco's beautiful lyrics.

"Zombie" (originally performed by The Cranberries) is a song by one of my favorite bands, but it took no convincing for me to fall in love with this cover. In the original, the rock orchestra pummels you as you listen to Dolores O'Riordan's controlled and ethereal voice laying out the foundation for a story of the strife in Ireland. Jay Brannan deletes the orchestral aspect, retaining only a few strings that can sketch out the aftermath of the epic original. His voice, however, retains the intensity of the original, and carries some of the deep regrets of war of all kinds that made the original song so powerful.

That makes an album, an album that you can hear in its entirety through YouTube (via Jay Brannan), and that you can see performed across the United States, and in parts of Europe through this summer and into the fall. I'll be listening.

01 July, 2009

Anyone up for a little lounge metal?

I was searching far and wide for some interesting covers of metal classics. I started with Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Coming" on The Hype Machine, and I came across this artist most adorably named Hellsongs. I skip along to "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath, and the name comes up again. Why not give this cuddly-sounding band a try?, I thought. The amusing part is that the band does sound kind of cuddly. They are a Swedish, Metal, lounge, cover band.

They take the lyrics and basic melodic structure of the most loud, rambunctious, infectious, and angry metal songs, and they turn them into piano/guitar based pop songs. Now, I know quite a few music fans who would call this sacrilege, and maybe it does detract from the intention that is behind a lot of metal music (maybe it's like taking "London Calling" and having Fergie do a cover where she spells out the words "London" and "calling" irritatingly frequently). I personally find something precious and sweet about the whole idea of taking a song that is supposed to be dark and making it sound lighthearted. There is no way I could stand to listen to this music all the time, but I don't hate it. It kind of reminds me of Sesame Street's wonderful dips into Indie music culture with guest appearances by R.E.M. singing "Shiny Happy Monsters" and Feist teaching your children how to count (if you haven't seen this, then you are missing out: )

In this vein, Hellsongs covers Megadeth's classic "Symphony of Destruction" with pop song prowess and a nice level of respect for the original. I like the creativity:

Symphony of Destruction

30 June, 2009

"She's Got You High" by Mumm-ra

This song appears in the new movie 500 Days of Summer, which looks to be my favorite movie of the summer (and I haven't even seen it yet!)

This is too much fun not to post!

Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects

I wake up every evening
With a big smile on my face
And it never feels out of place.
And you're still probably working
At a 9 to 5 pace
I wonder how bad that tastes

When you see my face
Hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way
Hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell

Now where's your picket fence love?
And where's that shiny car?
Did it ever get you far?
You never seemed so tense, love
Never seen you fall so hard
Do you know where you are?

Truth be told I miss you
and truth be told I'm lying

When you see my face
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell

If you find a man that's worth a damn and treats you well
Then he's a fool, you're just as well, hope it gives you hell
Hope it gives you hell

Tomorrow you'll be thinking to yourself
Where did it all go wrong?
But the list goes on and on

Truth be told I miss you
and truth be told I'm lying

When you see my face
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell

If you find a man that's worth a damn and treats you well
Then he's a fool, you're just as well, hope it gives you hell

Now you'll never see
What you've done to me
You can take back your memories
They're no good to me
And here's all your lies
you look me in the eyes
With the sad, sad look
That you wear so well

When you see my face
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell

If you find a man that's worth a damn and treats you well
Then he's a fool, you're just as well, hope it gives you hell

When you see my face
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell (hope it gives you hell)
When you walk my way
hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell (hope it gives you hell)

When you hear this song and you sing along well you'll never tell
And you're the fool, I'm just as well, hope it gives you hell
When you hear this song I hope that it will give you hell
You can sing along I hope that it puts you through hell

25 June, 2009

"Love Will Tear Us Apart (Live)" - Nouvelle Vague

Staring at a flying monkey in my local library

I should be hard at work, seeing as I have set aside this time to finish some compulsory summer projects, but instead I find myself staring out the windows willing the giant rain clouds to hold their rains back just until I take my fifteen minute walk to work (my raincoat is good, but it cannot withstand deluge after deluge, especially during the summer months). There also happens to be this odd flying monkey installment art placed ever so precariously on the ledge next to me, and I keep waiting for it to jump off and fly away.

If you are in a similar position, where procrastination has gotten out of hand, I would recommend taking this potentially "wasted" time, and applying it another activity. Maybe even listening to a new polka album? Maybe?

If you choose to take my advice, I have just the polka album for you: Apolkalypse Now by Polkastra. Looking at the iTunes reviews I learned two things about this music: 1) it is incredibly fun to listen to, and very family friendly; and 2) most people think they hate polka music! This is such a sad realization for me. Granted, I have never been a huge fan, but I love klezmer music and gypsy jazz, and polka has always kind of pulled in a close third on that list of the eccentric and otherworldly.

For the polka beginner, Apolkalypse Now is a wonderful, lighthearted introduction to an extremely playful genre of music. Take for example "Clarinet Polka" which falls as song number five on the album, and which you or your children may recognize as the backing music for the "Candy Mountain Cave" song from that YouTube classic Charlie [the Unicorn] goes to Candy Mountain. But seriously, this stuff is good! "Light As A Feather Polka" reminds me most strongly of the circus music that plays during the clown acts, and sometimes when the parade is going on near the end of the show (I have been to my fair share of circuses). "Anta, Romnyev, Mure Roulya" is a slinky, sexy, polka march that sounds like a kind of desert soundtrack. "Flying Gypsy Polka" is a gorgeous accordion and string-heavy whirl that will certainly have you foot-tapping (even when you are in that "quiet study" section of the library, and the woman studying for the bar exam next to you is shooting dirty looks in your direction. Hey, maybe she could use a little injection of Polkastra to jump start her studying!)

18 June, 2009

Pop music, or pop art?

Girl at school:
Yeah, they were playing M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" at that party last night, and then all of a sudden it changed to Lady Gaga. It was like 'cha-ching'...'I want to take a ride on your disco stick!'

(pause to eat a forkful of tater tots)
Who's Lady Gaga?

...and that was how I was introduced to the latest and most viral reincarnation of 1980's synthPOP (and the pop should most definitely be capitalized) in the vein of Madonna's "Vogue" with just the right amount of glam rock tossed in the mix to make something with a little edge. After that barely conversation, I forgot about Lady Gaga until last Friday when I was riding around town with some friends and the song "Poker Face" came on the radio. I revisited that morning in the dining commons with a repeated moment of ignorance:

Is this P!nk?

Nooo...it's Lady Gaga...

Again, I would have left myself in blissful ignorance, had it not been for the overwhelming factors that have forced me to cultivate an emotional response to this latest musical craze. In other worlds, this girl is following me around!

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a good friend about how her coworker is both a huge Phoenix fan and one of those Lady Gaga fans who rocks out with glow sticks, bejeweled and face-painted, in the front row (actually, that is unfair. I am not sure that he does any such thing, that just happened to be the image my mind concocted mid-conversation). This morning, I was on Slate and I found this article: How smart is Lady Gaga? by Jonah Weiner. It was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Here is the section that did it for me (from the article linked above):

Lady Gaga is something of an anomaly: a pretentious pop starlet. To hear her tell it, she isn't the anonymous hookup facilitator you might assume from her robotically decadent techno hits but, rather, a savvy media manipulator engaged in an elaborate, Warholian pop-art project. She sprinkles interviews with references to Warhol's "deeply shallow" aphorism, David Bowie, Leigh Bowery, and The Night Porter. Her outlandish, architectural outfits are meant to evoke the avant-garde designs of Thierry Mugler and Hussein Chalayan. She even has her own Factory-style crew of collaborators, which she calls the Haus of Gaga. That none of this is readily apparent in her actual songs might be part of the point. Her pretentiousness—the heady name-dropping, the high-concept video, the wild get-ups—hangs halolike around her music, encouraging us to consider the songs in a different and more radiant light.

You have to wade through the name-dropping (any hints here that Lady Gaga could be pretentious?) and the hyperbolic - *cough cough* beautifully ironic - descriptions of the superstar creation process to find the references to the actual music - and that seems to be the point here. If she is as intelligent as Jonah Weiner is implying in his article, if she is not only a pop starlet, but a savvy businesswoman and "artist" to boot, then she is bullshitting in a style that is absolutely Andy Warhol. My question is: what is the point?

I am not trying to dis the proprietor of "pop art," but, well I guess I kind of am. Maybe you lovely readers can guess that I am not the biggest fan of Warhol as an artist, and my reasons for disliking his art are basically all of the reasons why they are considered art. The point of his work was to be superficial, commercial, insubstantial in many ways, and also to make money. He achieved all of these goals in some sense. Now, some people will argue that his work was social commentary, but I argue back that if you look at the ways in which he lived his life, he was not being particularly sarcastic or ironic. He did like "plastic people," or he certainly spent a lot of time around them if he did not enjoy their company. He was a rampant consumer, and both pretentious and superficial in his actions and words.

Back to Lady Gaga. If she is attempting to make music that embraces the Warholian aesthetic, then she is succeeding in many ways. Embracing fame, money, and superficiality in her music, she has grown in popularity by assuming some features of pop music that have succeeded through the years (disco, synth, glam rock) while bringing in aspects of today's most popular sounds. She carries the brokenness, bitterness, and sauciness of P!nk into "Poker Face" (and I am not just trying to make myself sound less musically ignorant. Listen closely, and you will hear it as well). She also plays up the edge that Katy Perry and Britney Spears cultivate with their hits ("I Kissed A Girl" and "If U Seek Amy" respectively). This is an intelligent thing for a businesswoman to do, and if you subscribe to Warhol's belief that business is the greatest manifestation of art, then you can consider The Fame and all of its subsequent hype a great manifestation of art.

There is a key difference between Lady Gaga and Warhol, and it leads me to the central point of this entire post. It is this: Lady Gaga - even with all of her musical and artistic references - is very much a creature of 2009. Part of the reason she has succeeded in creating interest in her own masturbatory explorations of fame and fortune is that she does have that business intelligence that can be traced back to Warhol, along with an ironic attachment to seemingly deeper themes (as Weiner points out in the article above, she compares love to the exploitative relationships between stars and paparazzi in the song "Paparazzi." What he fails to mention is that she does this while exploiting the relationship between fan and star). Still, I trace her origins and aesthetic to a kind of "pop art" that has really exploded in our Internet Age: pornography. All of those artistic characteristics that can be tied to Warhol, can also be tied to pornography - and I would argue that it is far more monetarily successful (and therefore more artistically successful in Warhol's terms) than Warhol's pop art. In this way, Lady Gaga may outplay Warhol in his own game - by personifying and playing up the most exploitative, superficial, and above all popular "pop art" now in existence.

Someone commented that the beginning of this video for "Paparazzi" reminds them of "soft-core porn." I would argue that Lady Gaga's entire aesthetic rests on a pornographic foundation, and that this is only an appropriately graphic extension of that theme.

16 June, 2009

"The House of the Rising Sun" - The Animals

The song is wonderful.

The matching suits look horribly uncomfortable.

Alone in the universe

With the first melodic chords of "Division" - the introductory song to Moby's latest release, Wait for Me - I heard sounds both eerily familiar, comfortable even, and strikingly of the moment. I suppose these characteristics are not mutually exclusive: comfort and present mindedness can exist on the same plane spiritually, so why not musically? Still, what I hear in this new album is a lovingly crafted melding of sounds with the genius of a symphony.

Like a symphony, this album requires attentiveness and an application of time that allows the music fan to listen to it in its entirety. Although each "song" is a gem on its own, their individual beauty is magnified when the album is played whole. In the age of singles flying out of the cash machines of pop music, this is an anachronistic album that revisits the age of rock operas and progressive themed albums.

While listening to Wait for Me for the first time, I found myself thinking that it was an album deserving of its own movie - a movie written and shot to emphasize the fact that there is a story being told in this music. The second time around, I rethought my position: this music does not require a visual counterpart, although that would add a different kind of depth to the process of listening. Instead, this album deserves focus and attentive listening. It is a Dark Side of the Moon for 2009, embracing the enormity and loneliness of life with melodic echoes off cave walls, and metaphorical odes to dying stars. There is something here that captures warped and fragmentary glimpses of reality, almost as if Moby was recording and writing in a kind of audio carnival mirror. As you listen, you begin to discover more things about the album. It has a tendency to strike a balance between an immensely calming tone, almost to the point of dull numbness and apathy, followed by points of ecstasy that tumble out of lines of growing anxiety. It takes an artist to achieve such emotional highs and lows with music that is the epitome of a velvet hammer, and after listening to Wait for Me I am convinced that Moby is just that kind of artist.

Listen to Wait for Me in its entirety @ NPR - All Songs Considered: Wait for Me - Moby

09 June, 2009

"Lust For Life" - Girls

Isolophobia: Fear of solitude.

(Watch this video in HD. It makes all the difference.)

08 June, 2009

"The Hat (LIVE)" - Ingrid Michaelson

I knitted you a hat all blue and gold
To keep your ears warm from the Binghamton cold.
It was my first one and it was too small.
It didn't fit you at all, but you wore it just the same.

I remember the first time we danced.
I remember tunneling through the snow like ants.
What I don't recall is why I said,
"I simply can't sleep in this tiny bed with you anymore.".

I should tell you that you were my first love.

So it's Christmas time, it's been three years.
And someone else is knitting things for your ears.

I have come to learn I'll only see you interrupting my dreams at night
And that's alright. And that's alright. And that's alright. And that's alright.

I should tell you that you were my first love.

And it's alright. And it's alright. And it's alright.

(And it's alright) We were seventeen again together.
(And it's alright) We were seventeen again together.
(And it's alright) We were seventeen again together.

I should tell you that you were my first love.
I should tell you that you were my first love.

We were seventeen again.
We were seventeen again.
We were seventeen again.

Not to prematurely call the race, but

I feel like on Veckatimist Grizzly Bear is picking up where the Beach Boys left off on Pet Sounds. What do you think?

Here's a side-by-side comparison of "Two Weeks" and "God Only Knows":

"I Do Not Hook Up (LIVE)" - Kelly Clarkson

Clarkson continues to knock hits out of the park, and I cannot deny the fact that I continue to enjoy them.

06 June, 2009

Where Danzig, Harryhausen, and Chrissie Hynde meet and have a love child (in outer-space, or possibly another dimension)

It all began with a single released last year in Norway by a 20-something and her backing band. "Oh My God" sets the foundation for Ida Maria Siversten's entire album - Fortress 'round My Heart - which was released back in March. It's a calling card that speaks of equal amounts of insanity and histrionics, a taste for the macabre, and more than a little bit of punk rock influence in the bundle. The album is full of fireworks. There are screams; outbursts of bitter, seemingly unhinged laughter; soft to loud transitions; and "on a dime" start-stops. These metaphorical fireworks all show a highly crafted persona and style that would normally strike me as annoyingly contrived. Yet, I find myself just as entranced by "Oh My God," as I do by the rest of the album, and it is more than just a musical dalliance on my part. Something inside me wants to live in this record for awhile, and I suspect that the reason lies in the honest glimpses of naiveté, uncertainty, and (yes) vulnerability that deepen the sound of the entire record, making it something more than just a good show built on a catchy single.

When "Oh My God" transitions none to gently into "Morning Light" you begin to hear that eerie bitterness, and also a little bit of cocky strength, a little bit of "don't fuck with me" attitude. Musically, the sound pulls into harbor where the Strokes left off in 2001 with "Last Nite," battens the hatches with smashes and crashes similar to White Blood Cells, and then heads back into the storm with The Misfits' horror-punk at heart.

"I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" plays with words like Don Juan plays with hearts, and I think it was really this song that made me fall for Ida Maria's music. It is cavalier in the most heartening sense of the word, but also continually surprised by its own carelessness. Semi-ironic in her embrace of female empowerment in the vein of The Donnas, while carrying over the thoughtful snark of Kathleen Hannah. In the end though, however many philosophies you subscribe to in a verse, it comes down to a beat and a melody that make you move. This song isn't written to be particularly melodic, but the rhythm does overtime.

In "Stella" God is a drug-dealer and his 43 year old girlfriend is a hooker who inspires the title of the song. I find myself feeling like that story might not be too far from the truth when Ida Maria sings:

"And it made me realize how much you wanna give away just to feel loved
And the Lord blinked to me and asked: What is real love to you?
What is fake and what is true?
Oh, Stella, I wanna give you the world if you just stay with me tonight
Stella, Stella! I wanna give you the world if you just hold me tight,
Hold me tight

She sings these lines with all the sweetness and warmth missing from her more graphic proclamations in "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" and "Morning Light." It is here where you begin to see more clearly that Ida Maria sings her love songs to the dirt and grime and reality of humanity.

With this revelation, you find at the very heart of the album, a sober ode to some type of normalcy. "Keep Me Warm" celebrates comfort and the kind of love that works without loud declarations and fireworks. Suddenly, Ida Maria's voice melts into the softness of the song, and the softness of the themes and she is transformed into something altogether less harsh and alien.

"Forgive Me" begins to wind the energy of the album up again, and with the strength of Chrissie Hynde on her most ferocious whirlwind Pretenders songs Ida Maria whips into motion again, calling out a lover who "read about love in a book somewhere." There is heartbreak in here, in fact there is a good amount of heartbreak, but there is also a kind of self-absolution taking place, as she reckons with the fact that she has been fooled and hurt in the process.

Then there is the fallout with a bottle of whiskey in "Queen of the World." What lends a certain depth to this outwardly throwaway song is that Ida Maria is dealing with something greater than alcoholic dance parties. In fact, there is an existential question at the heart of this song, and it is neither pretentious nor fanciful. In the middle of the song, you find these lines:

"...I'm Queen of the world
I bump into things
I spin around in circles
And I'm singing, and I'm singing
I'm singing
Why can't I stay like this?
Dear God.
Oh let me be young
Let me stay, please
Oh let me stay like this

Bring me home
I've got no plans for tomorrow
I've got no plans for tomorrow
I got no plans in sight
In fact I'm free this week
I'm free this month
I lonely, lonely this year
I'm lonely forever
But today, oh...

Yes, the slip of loneliness, the slip of uncertainty spills from a mouth admittedly lubricated by alcohol, but isn't that a more honest expression of a drunken night of carousing than, for example, "Blame It"? "Louie" follows the same pattern of hollowness exhibited in drunken moments. Both songs are highly danceable, and they carry that cavalier attitude from "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked," but then there are sharp pricks of uncertainty that drop into the midst and send shudders through the rest of the song.

"Drive Away My Heart" does not embrace the cavalier, but instead relinquishes control to the inevitability of future brokenness. She sings "I wanna give you love, and so love will be my grave," and although this line it calls to mind many an emo/pop anthem, Ida Maria's delivery makes all the difference. Her voice shudders and groans, emitting all of her strength with the delivery of the prophetic lines. It hurts to listen to this song, but I think it is worth the pain.

"In The End" is a kind of Laura Marling inspired, darkly influenced, song of resigned love. There is a soulful expression of hope, like a bird sighing in a cage. The hope is that the lovers (I am assuming they are the lovers who meet and part and meet throughout the album) will meet once again with "wrinkles like the demons" and the energy to dance.

But like I said at the beginning of this post: it all began with a single called "Oh My God." Here you have it:

01 June, 2009

"Ice Cream (LIVE)" - Sarah McLachlan

I was never a big fan of Sarah McLachlan, and I still think she's pretty goofy in this video, but I also absolutely adore the sentiment.

"I'm in love with the world..."

I'm in love with the world through the eyes of a girl
Who's still around the morning after
We broke up a month ago and I grew up, I didn't know
I'd be around the morning after
It's always been wait and see
A happy day and then you pay
And feel like shit the morning after
But now I feel changed around and instead of falling down
I'm standing up the morning after
Situations get fucked up and turned around sooner or later
And I could be another fool or an exception to the rule
You tell me the morning after
Crooked spin can't come to rest
I'm damaged bad at best
She'll decide what she wants
I'll probably be the last to know
No one says until it shows and you see how it is
They want you or they don't
Say yes
I'm in love with the world through the eyes of a girl
Who's still around the morning after

30 May, 2009


When I create a mix, I try to write some kind of poetry for another person, and sometimes for myself. It may not be great poetry, or even good poetry, but it does have some kind of meaning that I pull through the CD to the end. Sometimes it's as simple (or completely convoluted) as "I'm sorry" or "I love you," but sometimes I go epic and I spend weeks trying to pull together the perfect group of sounds and lyrics, with the perfect history, into the perfect order (matching ends and meanings, and overlapping lyrics - if I can). Sometimes I try to pull a John Cusack in High Fidelity and I organize my mix biographically, in the best possible order to elicit certain nostalgic memories, and other times I design a playlist that will see me through a certain period of time, and I try to create a mood that will be conducive to happiness during that time period.

For the past four summers, I have created a mix that was meant to define that summer. Last year's mix was particularly schizophrenic book-ended by Amy Winehouse's "He Can Only Hold Her" and Zox's "Homebody" (one a soulful cry for freedom, and the other an absolute declaration of love for home); 2007 was basically Rock 'n' Roll with some Soul music thrown in for good measure: it began with "Stray Cat Blues" by the Rolling Stones and ended with "Happiness Hotel" by the Muppets (a vaguely surreal childhood memory that I was reliving at that time); 2006 started with Rancid's "Radio," and ended with "No Such Thing" by John Mayer, it's not a bad mix, but it is a little bit emo; 2005...the year I began this blog is a tight mix (just eight fast-paced songs), beginning with Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher" and ending with "(Don't) Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult. Now, I could attempt to psychologically discover my conception of self through these summers (and through these mixes), but, to be perfectly honest, I just finished reading The Great Gatsby and it has me feeling a little less than positive about the art of reliving the past. What is done is done, and what is really important is living in the moment (and maybe finding that perfect song to capture the current moment).

With that in mind, I am ready to share my Summer 2009 mix. Below you will find the songs, and my "close readings" (gosh, I'm feeling disgustingly academic). You never know what summer will bring!

"Say Yes" - Elliott Smith
"I'm in love with the world through the eyes of a girl, who's still around the morning after..." is really how Smith bookends his song. I am not looking forward to feeling exactly this way this summer, but I also think it will creep in along the way, because I have realized something about myself since last summer: I am attracted (not necessarily romantically) to people who force me to see something different about the world. It's the best way I know of preventing apathy and boredom. This song works on many levels in my life, and it is the kind of song that will continue to be appropriate for a long time, if not forever.

"Paranoia in B Major" - the Avett Brothers
"They say you can't make everybody happy all of the time..." and so the summer begins. I have a feeling, deep in my gut, that the most difficult part of Summer 2009 will be the lack of time that I will have to give to other people, and to the projects that they want me to pursue. Now, I realize that the secret to happiness is in finding the things that make you happy, but what if the thing that makes you happiest is making other people happy? Yes, isn't that a conundrum. Luckily, the Avett Brothers have my back.

"When Your Mind's Made Up" - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
There's something about the tension in the instrumentation and vocalization of this song that brings me to a new level of musical enjoyment. It is fantastic, and it makes me feel the same way I do when I listen carefully to the highs and lows of a Mozart symphony. At the same time, the lyrics are so personal and yet so universal. He ends with a soft and subtle, but strong declaration of love.

"Battle of Who Could Care Less" - Ben Folds Five
I love Ben Folds, because after Billy Joel he is the best at making amazing piano rock songs. He also writes incredibly insightful lyrics. Apathy is a hole you can dig for yourself very easily, and sometimes I find myself supremely attracted to the lives of people who really just don't seem to care at all. As Folds says: "You're my hero, I confess."

"Norwegian Wood" - The Beatles
This is such an understated song, and yet the lyrics say so much.

"I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me...
She showed me her room, isn't it good, Norwegian wood.

She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair.

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine,
We talked until two and then she said, "It's time for bed"

She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
I told her I didn't and crawled off to sleep in the bath

And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn't it good, Norwegian wood."

"Five Years Time" - Noah and the Whale
Sun, sun, sun and a sweet homage to nostalgia and the uncertainty of the future.

"Things I Wish" - Paul Baribeau
"When I was 19..." yeahh, you can fill in the blanks.

"Eyes of the World" - Grateful Dead
This song makes me so happy, and this is not because I am hippie and I think that everything in life should consist of a combination of flowers, and rainbows, and marijuana (because I'm not really, and I don't really), but actually because it makes me feel peaceful, and I respect that and think it shows a mastery of musical language. Also, I really do love the lyrics:

Right outside this lazy summer home
you ain't got time to call your soul a critic no.
Right outside the lazy gate of winter's summer home,
wond'rin' where the nut-thatch winters,
wings a mile long just carried the bird away.

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world,
the heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own.
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the mornin' brings,
But the heart has its seasons, its evenin's and songs of its own.

There comes a redeemer, and he slowly too fades away,
And there follows his wagon behind him that's loaded with clay.
And the seeds that were silent all burst into bloom, and decay,
and night comes so quiet, it's close on the heels of the day.

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world,
the heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own.
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the mornin' brings,
But the heart has its seasons, its evenin's and songs of its own.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own,
And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home,
sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone,
sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world,
the heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own.
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the mornin' brings,
But the heart has its seasons, its evenin's and songs of its own.

"Quelqu'un ma'dit" - Carla Bruni
Her voice is perfectly smoky and it rolls along in French like a lullaby. You can never have enough lullabies.

"The King of Carrot Flowers, pt. 1" - Neutral Milk Hotel
I have had too many heated discussions about overt sexuality running through this song. I don't think it really matters if it is overtly sexual or not, because what makes it great is that it is an unabashed love song.

"Jimmy Olsen's Blues" - Spin Doctors
To compare your love life to that of Jimmy Olsen is not only supremely geeky, but also incredibly endearing. This song is my childhood and my adult life compressed into a highly danceable four minutes and thirty-nine seconds.

"Let Your Loss Be The Lesson" - Robert Plant & Allison Krauss
This is a choice folk/country jam, and it makes me want to drive all around the state in an unhurried way, with my hand dangling out the window.

"Beautiful Girls" - Deer Tick
This is a Sean Kingston cover that sounds to me like it should be in a 2009 remake of Dirty Dancing (starring myself and Emile Hirsch? No...that's silly). If I were to have a 1950's themed doo-wop party, then this song would be on the set list. Now I want to go to the drive-in...so badly.

"Oye Como Va" - Tito Puenté and Carlos Santana
As anyone who knows me can attest, I get this song stuck in my head all the time! Unfortunately, I also don't know all of the lyrics. In order to save my friends the pain of listening to me repeat the lines that I do know, as I try so hard to get the song unstuck from my mind, my summer resolution is to learn all of the words. Oh, Santana! I think you will be my summer love.

"Now We Can See" - The Thermals
This is an intelligent song. It isn't smart, but it is very intelligent. I find myself totally blown away by their anthropological references, and their ability to harmonize beautifully and also rock admirably. I could put this song on and run forever in the direction of my dreams.

"The Times They Are A-Changin'" - Bob Dylan
I must admit that I was very impressed with the use of this song through the opening credits/montage in the Watchmen. The rest of the soundtrack was populated with amazing songs that made me kind of sick in their liberal use throughout the film (it was all just a little gratuitous). This song almost always hits the mark.

"Sugar Mountain (LIVE)" - Neil Young
Everything about this song is beautiful, and everything about it makes my heart sing and aspire to greater heights. "You can't be twenty on Sugar Mountain..." His metaphors are lush and they wrap me up, making me feel so safe and also so vulnerable. Life is a balancing act.

29 May, 2009

Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens

Goldenrod and the 4H stone
The things I brought you
When I found out you had cancer of the bone

Your father cried on the telephone
And he drove his car into the Navy yard
Just to prove that he was sorry

In the morning, through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulderblade
I could see what you were reading

All the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications you could do without
When I kissed you on the mouth

Tuesday night at the Bible study
We lift our hands and pray over your body
But nothing ever happens

I remember at Michael's house
In the living room when you kissed my neck
And I almost touched your blouse

In the morning at the top of the stairs
When your father found out what we did that night
And you told me you were scared

All the glory when you ran outside
With your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied
And you told me not to follow you

Sunday night when I cleaned the house
I found the card where you wrote it out
With the pictures of you mother

On the floor at the great divide
With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied
I am crying in the bathroom

In the morning when you finally go
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
And the cardinal hits the window

In the morning in the winter shade
On the first of March, on the holiday
I thought I saw you breathing

All the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications when I see His face
In the morning in the window

All the glory when He took our place
But He took my shoulders and He shook my face
And He takes and He takes and He takes

26 May, 2009



23 May, 2009

The Classic Theme to a Classic Love Story

I watched The Great Gatsby yesterday - the 1974 film with the Frances Ford Coppola screenplay and with the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow duo making their appearance as J. Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan respectively - and I was noticeably caught up in the drama of F. Scott's story and characters. I have to say, I am most sympathetic to Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) who watches the lives of his rich and often thoughtless friends implode. After Nick, I find myself caring most about Gatsby, a man who has willed/tricked himself into believing that the woman he loves is truly worthy of him, when actually her character is tragically flawed and she is more than a little selfish.

The opening credits to The Great Gatsby roll along with "What'll I Do" from Nelson Riddle's score for the film. It is a perfectly morbid song when played across a backdrop of Gatsby's possessions - both gratuitous and lonely - in his enormous house, with pictures of Daisy everywhere, and a half-eaten egg-salad sandwich rotting with flies in the picturesque atmosphere of the rich. There's something mortal being conveyed through that sandwich, in all the splendor: something mortal and a sense of abandonment that is only strengthened by the tenor and the intent of the song, which conveys a longingly broken soul resigned to that broken state.

"What'll I Do" was written by Irving Berlin ("Blue Skies," "Puttin' On the Ritz," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "White Christmas," and many more) in 1923. It has become a jazz standard, recorded by many artists (and the version I have on my iPod is by the trumpet player Chris Botti with vocalist Paula Cole.

The original lyrics are as follows (in the Chris Botti/Paula Cole version, the first section of the lyrics is not sung, but instead the trumpet plays the voice):

Gone is the romance that was so divine,
'tis broken and cannot be mended.
You must go your way,
and I must go mine.
But now that our love dreams have ended...

What'll I do
When you are far away
And I am blue
What'll I do?

What'll I do?
When I am wondering who
Is kissing you
What'll I do?

What'll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to?

When I'm alone
With only dreams of you
That won't come true
What'll I do?

What'll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to?

When I'm alone
With only dreams of you
That won't come true
What'll I do?

Nat "King" Cole does a lovely, simmering, smoky version that downplays the heaviness and sorrow in the delivery. Garrison Keillor (whose voice I completely adore) does a softly sad cover as a duet with a female vocalist who I do not recognize and whose name is not credited in any of the places I generally look for credits. I love this song, and I wish I could find a cover by Etta James and Nina Simone, along with Zooey Deschanel + M. Ward, Regina Spektor, and Bat For Lashes. Sometimes standards are standard for a reason.

19 May, 2009

Sweet Heart, Bitter Heart (now I can't tell you apart!)

Zee Avi rocks my summer lack-of socks (she rocks me in my sandals, I guess). She has a wonderfully sweet voice, and an exquisite presentation that backs her lyrics: a compromise between Jaymay and Lily Allen. There's a taste of honey for that sweetness, and a splash of lemon evidenced by a witty sarcasm that surfaces alongside the sweet. I enjoy her realism and her hopefulness. The combination would make the perfect soundtrack for a campy, ironic Wes Anderson film, or maybe even Woody Allen (although I feel that the album is not quite jazzy enough for his discerning tastes). Whatever it is that makes her tick, Zee Avi is wonderful, and I cannot wait to enjoy the summer with her.

Here is her first single off her new self-titled album:

Bitter Heart - Zee Avi

17 May, 2009

You must listen to...

"Vengeance is Sleeping" from Neko Case's latest album Middle Cyclone:

Neko Case - Vengeance Is Sleeping

I didn’t know what a brute I was
I dipped my cigarette and rode the bus
Vengeance built me hastily
And I drag the clanging notion I was nobody, nobody

All I had was my invention
And my love invented on you
Oh, look what thoughts can do
What thoughts can do
If you’re not by now dead and buried
You’re most certifiably married
Oh, married

I’m sure you’re sleeping sound
With a mistress of the hours
The hours that grind your life to dust

Oh, easy loves
You keep like pets
Denied them you are powerless
Whatever keeps you sleeping through the night

I’m not the man you thought I was
My love has never lived indoors
I had to drag it home by force
Hired hounds at both my wrists
Damp and bruised by stranger’s kisses on my lips
But you’re the one that I still miss
You’re the one that I still miss
And it's ruthless that it comes as no surprise

I’m not the man you think I am
I’m not the man you think I am

"Can't Have It All" - Jay Brannan

Restless @ 3AM

I am reading an old article in an old New Yorker about the twin poets Michael and Matthew Dickman. It is a wonderful study in how imagination can extend beyond the circumstances of your birth and the situation in which you are raised, or your genetic make-up (in this case).

Here is a poem by Michael Dickman from an even earlier issue of the New Yorker (September 1st, 2008).

We Did Not Make Ourselves
by Michael Dickman

We did not make ourselves is one thing

I keep singing into my hands

while falling


for just a second

before I have to get up and turn on all the lights in the house, one after the

other, like opening an Advent calendar

My brain opening

the chemical miracles in my brain

switching on

I can hear

dogs barking

some trees

last stars

You think you’ll be missed

it won’t last long

I promise


I’m not dead but I am

standing very still

in the back yard

staring up at the maple

thirty years ago

a tiny kid waiting on the ground

alone in heaven

in the world

in white sneakers

I’m having a good time humming along to everything I can still remember

back there

How we’re born

Made to look up at everything we didn’t make

We didn’t

make grass, mosquitoes

or breast cancer

We didn’t make yellow jackets

or sunlight



I didn’t make my brain

but I’m helping

to finish it

Carefully stacking up everything I made next to everything I ruined in broad

daylight in bright


This morning I killed a fly

and didn’t lie down

next to the body

like we’re supposed to

We’re supposed to

Soon I’m going to wake up




There is only this world and this world

What a relief


over and over

10 May, 2009

Ben Kweller + Antoine Doinel

Last summer I watched Le Quatre cents coups right around this time of year (highly interested readers can search in this blog if they want to know the exact date). Today I found the lyrics to this song in a Facebook message.

This is a sign. I need to move.

07 May, 2009

"Soul Man" - The Blues Brothers

Soul Man (LIVE) by The Blues Brothers

I need to rent/watch this movie and Animal House this weekend. I am in love with John Belushi. Soul and a sense of humor are the keys to my heart.

Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright...

05 May, 2009

"Classic" is relative

I learned a choreographed dance to this song when I was six or seven. (I love the horns and the bass...)

04 May, 2009

It's been awhile...

...And really, I still do not have time to blog, but I promise my lovely readers that I will be back in full swing this summer (just around the corner).

Until that time, here are a few quotes that I have been playing with (in my mind and in my academic writing):

But the urn of language is so fragile. It crumbles and immediately you blow into the dust of words which are the cinder itself. And if you entrust it to paper, it is all the better to inflame you with, my dear, you will eat yourself up immediately. No, this is not the tomb he would have dreamed of in order that there may be a place [y ait lieu], as they say, for the work of mourning to take its time. In this sentence I see the tomb of a tomb, the monument of an impossible tomb - forbidden, like the memory of a cenotaph, deprived of the patience of mourning, denied also the slow decomposition that shelters, lodges, hospitalizes itself in you while you eat the pieces (he did not want to eat the piece but was forced to). An incineration celebrates perhaps the nothing of the all, its destruction without return but mad with its desire and with its cunning (all the better to preserve everything, my dear), the desperately disseminal affirmation but also just the opposite, the categorical "no" to the laborious work of mourning, a "no" of fire. Can one ever accept working for His Higness Mourning? (Cinders, Jacques Derrida. 1991. p. 55).

What a difference between cinder and smoke: the latter apparently gets lost, and better still, without perceptible remainder, for it rises, it takes to the air, it is spirited away, sublimated. The cinder - falls, tires, lets go, more material since it fritters away its word; it is very divisible (Cinders, Jacques Derrida. 1991. p. 73).

and here is a video that is wonderful:

Dirty Mouth from Joe Fenstermaker on Vimeo.

Love, Peace, and all that Jazz.

26 April, 2009

14 April, 2009

"Click, Click, Click, Click" - Bishop Allen

This song must be written about people I know. It makes me feel comfortable and uncomfortable all at once.

"Now We Can See" - The Thermals

12 April, 2009

"Daughters (LIVE)" - John Mayer

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
but she's just like a maze
Where all of the walls are continually changed

And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hand
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Ooh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she's left
cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman's good, good heart

On behalf of every man
looking out for every girl
You are the guide and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters, too
So mothers be good to your daughters, too
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.

11 April, 2009

"Poison" - Bell Biv DeVoe

This video makes no sense at all. I love it.

06 April, 2009

Sasha Frere-Jones is wondering...

if 808's and Heartbreak was strongly influenced by The-Dream's "Nikki" (and really quite a bit of Lovehate, if we are going to be honest). I would say yes, absolutely yes.

You can decide for yourself!

05 April, 2009

A Supermarket in California - Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whit-
man, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees
with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images,
I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of
your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole fam-
ilies shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives
in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you,
García Lorca, what were you doing down by the

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old
grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator
and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed
the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of
cans following you, and followed in my imagination
by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in
our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every
frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors
close in an hour. Which way does your beard point
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets?
The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses,
we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-
teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit
poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank
and stood watching the boat disappear on the black
waters of Lethe?

"One good thing about music...

"...when it hits you feel no pain."

I have recently become enamored with iTunes' Genius feature. It is a interesting concept: one push of a button and you have an instant playlist. It is really a marvelous little piece of technology, and unbelievably helpful when I am dead tired and I need an unending stream of lullabyes to cushion my dreams. Still, I miss the tactile/aural nature of creating my own playlists, and I miss the connections that arise from these endeavors. The synchronistic rarely shows its face when Genius is compiling my soundtrack. For instance, this morning I wanted a playlist crafted around "Trenchtown Rock" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. The only artists that iTunes even thought of including were reggae artists or artists influenced by reggae (Jimmy Cliff, Damian Marley + Nas, Toots and the Maytals, Super Cat, Ziggy, and Bob). What about punk and ska? Fuck that, what about classical?

Here's my playlist for this morning (I dare you to guess my mood):

"Trenchtown Rock (LIVE)" - Bob Marley and the Wailers

"The Wind that Shakes the Barley/The Reel with the Beryle" - The Chieftains

"You're No God" - Laura Marling

"Slow Ride" - Foghat

"Henrietta" - The Fratellis (this song has been in all of my mixes recently. Am I feeling like a tragic character? Possibly, but I still have a sense of humor).

"Someday Baby (featuring Lyrics Born)" - R.L. Burnside

"Maggie's Farm" - Bob Dylan ("I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more...").

"Mr. Big Stuff" - Jean Knight

"Respect" - Aretha Franklin

03 April, 2009

"The Employment Pages (LIVE)" - Death Cab For Cutie

We spread out and occupy the cracks in the urban streets.
Idle now... I rearrange the furniture as you sleep.
It's so appropriate... the way we amplify the sound,
And then the neighbors drop by and they ask (us) to turn it down again...
We spread out and everyone is frightfully more aware.
So impressed... the cocktail politics and obscure details.
And it was true that I was truly failing.
But you were gone and I was home calling around but nothing was found worthwhile.

This is one of my current favorites. It makes me miss home.

01 April, 2009

"Wasted and Ready" - Ben Kweller


My favorite song!

"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" - Amy Winehouse

This one of those "don't watch the video" videos. The song is bad-ass.

Tonight you're mine completely,
You give your love so sweetly,
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes,
But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure,
Or just a moment's pleasure,
Can I believe the magic of your sighs,
Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken,
You said that I'm the only one,
But will my heart be broken,
When the night (When the night)
Meets the morning sun.

I'd like to know that your love,
Is love I can be sure of,
So tell me now and I won't ask again,
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?

30 March, 2009

An important conversation (and many important questions)

I think this is an amazing interview, an interview that moves into a rather profound discussion of science as art. I would always argue that science is art: it is a creative medium for expressing some notion of truth. I also think most people do not see things that way. Troy James Sobotka apparently does...

Does Creativity Stem from the "Challenge"?

"Worn Me Down (LIVE)" - Rachael Yamagata

Gone - she’s gone.
How do you feel about it?
That’s what I thought.
You’re real DONE UP about it.
And I wish you the best
But I could do without it
And I will because you’ve worn me down
Oh, I will because you’ve worn me down

Worn me down like a road.
I did everything you told.
Worn me down to my knees.
I did everything to please.
But you can’t stop thinking about her.
No, you can’t stop thinking about her.

And you’re wrong. You’re wrong.
I’m not overreacting.
Something is off.
Why don’t we ever believe ourselves?
And I, oh I, I feel that word for you.
And I will because you’ve worn me down.
And I will because you have worn me down.

Worn me down like a road.
I did everything you told.
Worn me down to my knees.
I did everything to please.
But you can’t stop thinking about her.
No, you can’t stop thinking about her.

She’s so pretty.
She’s so damn right.
But I’m so tired of thinking about her, again, tonight.

Worn me down like a road.
I did everything you told.
Worn me down to my knees.
I did everything to please you.

Worn me down like a road.
I did everything you told me to do.
But you, you can’t stop thinking about her.
No, you can’t stop thinking about her.
No, you can’t stop thinking about her.
No, you can’t stop thinking of her.

26 March, 2009

"Wish You Were Here (LIVE)" - Pink Floyd

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war,
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

25 March, 2009

It is the perfect day for Rush...

Limelight - Rush

22 March, 2009

I bet Batman could have used this information...

This is a fascinating blog post from Carl Zimmer (contributing Discover magazine editor, author, and blogger at The Loom) about bat locomotion:

How To Be A Bat [Life In Motion]

There are seven incredible videos of bats doing their thing (flying, landing, walking), and an excellent post to back the visuals. One thing that struck me as supremely strange was this concept of putting bats on a treadmill in order to study the mechanics of their walking behaviors. I mean really, no human I know walks normally on a treadmill, and treadmills were designed by/for humans. Ick. There's something sick about that entire idea. Still, I think the subject is completely captivating, and I was spellbound by the videos.