31 August, 2010

From time to time I read Feministing

I agree with some of it, not all of it, but that's the way I feel about most things I read.

Today I found a link to a really superb blog post about women in music, women in art, and women making anything in general. It was written by Amy who plays guitar for the New York band Titus Andronicus. I have never listened to Titus Andronicus, although I have heard the name before, but this article has given me the impetus to look 'em up.

Here's a short quote (you should really go read the whole article):

"This is not an article about Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone is not guilty of anything, except of being complicit in a larger system that governs the way our country exists. But Rolling Stone, at its purest form, was meant to be about rock and roll, and rock and roll is about rebellion, and if we let that spirit die, than we are missing out on everything the genre has to offer. Are we going to patrol the borders of American culture so as to admit only straight, white males? Or are we going to open our culture up to challenge oppressive systems of race and class, and privilege, and gender, and sexual orientation? This is what rock and roll was meant for, and what the spirit that captures the collective imagination of youth can accomplish, if it is funneled constructively into the future. How many things can you get young people excited about these days, besides music? What else breaks the apathy of large crowds and causes them to dance together, and sing the same words, and not want to fight everyone who’s different from them, for once? If our culture’s “rebellion” actually belongs to those in power, and continues to belong to them, then it’s not a real rebellion at all anymore, and therefore rock and roll is dead."

27 August, 2010

"The Longest Time" by Billy Joel

Woa, oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh
For the longest

If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do
I'm so inspired by you
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Once I thought my innocence was gone
Now I know that happiness goes on
That's where you found me
When you put your arms around me
I haven't been there for the longest time

Woa, oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh
For the longest

I'm that voice you're hearing in the hall
And the greatest miracle of all
Is how I need you
And how you needed me too
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Maybe this won't last very long
But you feel so right
And I could be wrong
Maybe I've been hoping too hard
But I've gone this far
And it's more than I hoped for

Who knows how much further we'll go on
Maybe I'll be sorry when you're gone
I'll take my chances
I forgot how nice romance is
I haven't been there for the longest time

I had second thoughts at the start
I said to myself
Hold on to your heart
Now I know the woman that you are
You're wonderful so far
And it's more than I hoped for

I don't care what consequence it brings
I have been a fool for lesser things
I want you so bad
I think you ought to know that
I intend to hold you for the longest time

Woa, oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh,oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh,
For the longest time

26 August, 2010

Excerpt: "A Summer In Ohio"

I could shove an ice pick in my eye,
I could eat some fish from last July,
But it wouldn't be as awful as a summer in Ohio
Without cable, hot water, Vietnamese food, or you...

21 August, 2010

"I Want To Sing" - Regina Spektor

I want to sing to you my love
My only love and happiness
don't be so blue so blue my love
take off your shoes take off my dress
I want to sing to you my love
My only love and happiness
don't be so blue so blue my love
this too shall pass this too shall pass

but tell me, what have I done to deserve you?
must have done something cause that's how it works
must have been kind to kittens and birds,
in a previous life must have thought happy thoughts...

'cause there, you were there right beside me
then somehow inside me while inside myself
books on the shelf thoughts on the shelf
hands to myself, i should definitely keep my hands to myself

Love is a dangerous pastime
caught between madness and gladness of flight
nothing is wrong and nothing is right
falling asleep in your arms every night

But Love's such a strange situation
full of frustration and anger and fear
Everything's tears
nobody hears
nobody's here, and nobody hears...

I want to sing to you my love
my only love and happiness
don't be so blue so blue my love
take off your shoes take off my dress
I want to sing to you my love
my only love and happiness
don't be so blue so blue my love
This too shall pass, this too shall pass...

Hold on, one more time with feeling.

I don't know if this is true for most people, but I tend not to have an instant visceral connection to most of the albums I listen to – at least not in full. There will generally be one or two songs that I absolutely love upon the first few listens, I'll come back to these songs again and again, but not listen to the rest of an album. This is what happens with 99% of artists that are either new to me, or that I only enjoy on certain occasions. That other 1% is all of the artists that I adore, and whose albums I listen to over and over.

But there is an exception to this rule, and her name is Regina Spektor. I love her music, and count her in my top ten favorite artists at the moment, but I can rarely take in an entire album by her when it is first released. I will listen and love a few songs, enjoy the rest of the album but find it not quite the right fit at the time. However, when I return in a month or two a few more songs will be a perfect fit. This pattern usually repeats over the next year or two, so that even when Far was released, I was still coming to terms with some of the songs on Begin to Hope. I find this refreshing and challenging. I feel as if I grow with every album that she releases, and grow into the albums over time and with changes in mood and emotion. The beauty of every song is not immediately accessible, or easy to understand and grasp. Not everything is revealed with a hook and a clever line.

At the beginning of this summer, I was enamored with "Dance Anthem of the '80s," "The Calculation," and "Folding Chair". I liked the rest of the album, but my disposition was too undeniably sunny to quite grab ahold of "Blue Lips" and "Genius Next Door," and a lot of the rest of the album. "Wallet" was too mundane, "Two Birds" was too cynical, "Machine" was too post-apocalyptic, even "Eet" and "Laughing With" – two songs I had enjoyed quite a bit as singles – were a bit too dark. The shading on the album was just blue enough that it sent chills through my May and June self, and I wanted to ignore those chills until I could fully appreciate them.

Well here I am, a month into a trip across the world, and the album is hitting me hard and close to my heart. It is a testament to how much has changed in my life since May that now "Wallet" is an intensely poetic investigation of the perceived distance between individuals that can be spanned, for moments at a time with a little imagination, by the objects that inhabit our lives. "Machine" is a humorous play on that post-apocalyptic feeling that is so often evoked without any heart. But it is saved by a genuine critique of the coldness and distance that can come from unthinkingly accepting technology into your life and person. "Human of The Year" is a commentary on how people are praised after they have died, and held as golden standards when they were really just people. "Genius Next Door" has a melancholy tone and tells a narrative that is, well, water-logged. It has the weight of a classic Tchaikovsky score, and is full of little vignettes of a town surrounding a lake. I think my favorite of my new favorites is "One More Time With Feeling," which just encapsulates a feeling of being stuck and trying so hard, but not feeling like you're moving anywhere. It is wonderfully written and exactly what I am feeling right now.

15 August, 2010

Why I love Twitter (despite the "hateration" that surrounds it)

The following is all quoting ThatKevinSmith (verified as Kevin Smith on Twitter):

"Bad movies have existed since human beings have existed. Movies are a SUBJECTIVE experience. EVERY movie is good to some, bad to others.

So bad movies, like the poor, will be with us always... unless YOU do something about it. THAT is how we replenish the world of cinema.

Case in point: eons ago, I was desperate to see films in which I could recognize MYSELF (aside from the Jabba scenes in RETURN OF THE JEDI).

None existed. Lament or fill a perceived hole? Commentate or create? Easy choice: it's always more fun & fulfilling to play God than Man.

So I started making flicks I knew I'd love if I was in the audience. They weren't better or worse than the same-old-shit; just different.

And on the back of different, I built a career. And as part of that career, 20 years in, I made a plain-old movie. Was fun for me & a smart

career move (those who'd argue differently a) have no fucking clue, b) have no fucking life, arguing about shit that doesn't effect them).

But let's be honest: it wasn't DIFFERENT. Different enough, within the parameters, but the flick was familiar. Someone else coulda made it.

And we all know there were very loud folks who let us know how much they didn't like #CopOut . But change never comes from that sector.

No, where change comes from is that moment someone can't take the crushing sameness anymore/wants to see THEMSELVES reflected on the screen.

Change doesn't churn out 1000 words only 10 people will ever read & absolutely nobody will remember; change writes a script & goes to work.

So I accept my ironic role in all of this: movies LIKE #CopOut made me wanna make CLERKS. And years later, I wanted to make #CopOut.

But just as Willis sees his adult fate at the end of 12 MONKEYS, I live in a constant loop of my own: CLERKS begets COP begets CLERKS, etc.

We're on the verge of the next golden age of creativity. People are tired of the same ol' shit & they've got LOTS to say. Once they stop using energy to emo-bitch about how it should be done differently instead of just DOING it differently themselves? Might see some cool shit."

This was awesome to read, and very true, I think. There has been a lot of this sentiment in the conversations I have been having recently, and it's opening me up to seeing more possibilities for things that I can create.

13 August, 2010

Boston Street Talent

Amanda Palmer just had this guy on live-streaming video playing piano in her house:


He is very talented, and the music on his MySpace is definitely worth a listen. (Thanks Max for notifying me about all of this!)

From comic book to one of the top soundtracks of 2010

In my humble music-loving opinion, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World has rocked my world in a few ways, some quite literal.

I saw the movie yesterday, and refrained from listening to the full soundtrack until after I watched the film. First of all, I cannot say enough wonderful things about this movie. I went alone to an afternoon showing, because I couldn't convince any of my friends to come along. This sounds sad, but it was actually kind of awesome to go to the movie by myself and be completely engaged. The movie/video game style was campy and funny, the ironic and sardonic tones of the characters completely engaged and amused me (and stylistically stayed true to the comics), and the soundtrack didn't inhibit the story in anyway, but was a powerful driver for the dynamic of the movie. Way to go Beck who wrote the original songs by the fictional band Sex Bob-Omb and also the song "Ramona" which he takes full credit for (and should) on the soundtrack.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself. Here's the breakdown:

The soundtrack starts off with a song by Sex Bob-Omb (the band that Michael Cera's character belongs to in the movie). There are four of these songs on the album: "We Are Sex Bob-Omb,""Garbage Truck,""Threshold" and "Summertime". All of these songs are gems...albeit of the hard rock kind, rather than the shiny, shimmery diamond kind. "Garbage Truck" is probably my favorite, both because of its in-film placement, and because the lyrics completely parallel the sound (or vice versa). Basically, Sex Bob-Omb are a garage rock band that I could see riding on a garbage truck. Perfect.

Crash and the Boys have two songs (written by Broken Social Scene), both of which are short and far from sweet. They are fun! "I'm So Sad, So Very, Very, Sad" is completely it's title along with some squelching, smashing, crunching guitar. "We Hate You Please Die" lasts for almost an entire minute longer, and has some noise and garage influences with plenty of reverb.

"Ramona [Acoustic]" and "Ramona" by Beck are probably the highlights of the original music on the album. The first is an acoustic preview of the second, but both are unabashed love songs that are also very well written. I did not feel myself even slightly revolted by either song. They are not cutesy or emotionally overstated, and the fact that Beck delivers them in his signature mumble makes them even more touching in the same way that the movie is touching and awkward and true.

In terms of the not so original stuff, there's a great medley that perfectly references the movie in the best music nerd ways. "Scott Pilgrim" by Plumtree was written in the 1990's and (according to Wikipedia, not the best source - I know) inspired the Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O'Malley. "I Heard Ramona Sing" by Frank Black sounds like a mainstream Pixies song (understandably), but with it's jangly guitar and titular character it fits perfectly on the soundtrack. "By Your Side" by Beachwood Sparks and "Oh Katrina!" by the Black Lips are both alt-rock tunes that channel the same late (latent) teenage energy that courses through the movie. "Teenage Dream" by T. Rex and "Sleazy Bed Track" by the Bluetones both have a blues heavy depth and drag mixed with melodicism that make them great slow-dance/make-out numbers. "It's Getting Boring By The Sea" by Blood Red Shoes amps up the pace after "Sleazy Bed Track," and the frenetic pacing runs over a grooving bass line. "Black Sheep" by Metric is used very creatively in the movie, as the big song of Scott Pilgrim's evil ex-girlfriend's band. It sounds convoluted, but it works very well. The song is spacey, heavy and dark sounding, but it shapeshifts into a catchy synth-heavy pop song. "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene obviously references the Knives Chau character in the comics and the movie, but also brings some lush and tender strings and harmonies into play. I have to make a point of commenting on the use of "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones as a kind of theme song for the relationship between Jason Schwartzman's character and the Ramona character. It has a perfect sleazy, sexy quality that defines that bit of the movie, and made the internal music nerd a very happy one indeed. Finally, Brian LeBarton's "Threshold [8 bit]" brings you back to full cartoon-o-vision and video game style. Pow!

This is definitely the best soundtrack of the summer, and potentially the best of 2010.

Back from the Land Down Under

Like music, I return to this blog out of a craving for comfort and expression. Hopefully I'll be able to make something cool in the process.