13 December, 2012

mood music: Nick Cave and Patti Smith

i've had this strong urge to listen to Nick Cave lately, and the feeling that his music is going to spark some new feeling in me. like it's going to reveal itself to me in a new way. do any of you know this feeling with music? i've been picking through his double album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and listening to songs based purely on the way the titles make me feel. listening to "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" i realized how much the album reminds me of Patti Smith's music. here's a live version of the song performed on Jools Holland:

it makes want to see him live so badly. wow.

here's Patti Smith performing live on Jools Holland with "Gloria":
both songs have vaguely spiritual, or at least religiously influenced undertones. both songs are subversive and sexually charged. both songs are powerful like crashing waves through your stereo. both performers seem energized, explosive, and dark. i love this music.

12 October, 2012


i started this blog when i was 15 because i couldn't find a way to express what i was thinking to myself and to others. i used music to do this (and i still use music to do this, but other people's words are not my primary form of expression anymore). when i cared about someone or something and i didn't know how to say it in my own voice, i talked about a song, or made a mix. it's the closest thing to being religious that i can imagine – the ability to recognize yourself in other people, the humanity and centrality of emotional expression, connection and faith in something outside yourself.

but since 2005, i have gotten radically better at saying what i think and mean and believe and want. i have worked at this, and i am grateful for this – i am stronger in some ways. i have lost something, though. often i don't feel that same primacy of emotion when i listen to music. i feel it at other times: when i am talking to the people i love, when i am traveling, when i find myself in awe at the world. but when i hear a new song, i am not instantly grasped by it. it takes some courting, it takes some time, and i am more patient with my music. but this makes for kind of a difficult position in terms of blogging, since i can't find that instant reaction and flood of emotion that i used to experience. i've drifted away from posting at all, because my thoughts are less concrete, more nuanced in some ways and less expressible.

i still make mixes for others, and i produced a radio show until this past May. these are better venues for my thoughts on music. they are more open to interpretation, which is something i value, and they are more sociable and cooperative. until i come up with a compromise, this blog will likely be a bit dead. but don't think i'm not thinking and planning for a comeback.

24 August, 2012

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" - Amanda Palmer and the Flaming Lips!

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face from Delo Creative on Vimeo.

Lovely and very NSFW video of Amanda Palmer and the Flaming Lips covering "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"!

14 August, 2012

Denmark by Gideon Freudmann performed by the Portland Cello Project

Cello is one of my favorite instruments, and I just discovered this group today. If you live in New England, you can catch them at the Iron Horse on the 23rd of August. The show is only $12.50 per ticket (in advance).

New song by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra Streaming on NPR!

"Smile (Pictures Or It Didn't Happen)" from the upcoming Theatre Is Evil dropping on September 11th is now streaming on NPR. This song is meandering, heavy, and full of pounding pianos and layered vocals. Reminds me a bit of a Magnetic Fields song. It's pretty great!

While streaming this new Amanda Palmer and the GTO song you can also hear new songs by Jens Leckman, Swans, and The Sea and Cake.

07 August, 2012

Currently Streaming...

Django Django by Django Django

Stream this album at NPR (linked above) and you'll hear the synthy, jazzy, surf-rock tones of this Scottish band on their debut album. It sounds like what so much '80s music would have sounded like with better technology and strong vocals. Mix this with Janelle MonĂ¡e, Moon Hooch, Tame Impala, the new Amanda Palmer album, Sxip Shirey, and Azealia Banks and you've got the sounds of the present filtered through the tunes of the past and reaching towards the future. So great.

02 July, 2012

Bent Knee: The Au Naturale EP

Bent Knee: The Au Naturale EP

Walter Sickert (leader of the Army of Broken Toys) tweeted that Bent Knee is his new favorite band. Stream the EP above on Soundcloud and get a taste for something stripped down. My favorite: "Little Specks of Calcium (Piano/Voice Version)" is haunting, the reverb is majestic. Their websites are currently in various levels of outdatedness/disrepair (the main site is being updated), but it looks as though the band will be playing a few shows in Massachusetts this summer. A sweet respite from the dog days.

19 June, 2012

A free and live recording by the Deep Dark Woods

I was moseying through the Boston Phoenix website last night and realized that the Newport Folk Festival is around the corner. Around the corner is also known as July 28th and 29th (and the 27th for Wilco)! There are a whole slew of worthwhile acts to check out this year, either at the festival or separately on their own tours. The obvious highlights include Iron & Wine, Deer Tick, Conor Oberst, Alabama Shakes, and Tune-Yards. But there are also a lot of lesser-known acts that you should be ready to listen for, if you head to the festival.

One of these acts, the Deep Dark Woods, recently released a free download of a seven song (42 minute) live album from a show in Annapolis, Maryland. If you aren't sure you want to invest $7.99 - $15 for an album (without knowing exactly what you're buying), then this download is a great way to get acquainted with some lovely live tunes. Actually, if you scroll through the News section on the first page of their website, they have three whole free shows for download.

On the Annapolis show freebee, there are a few songs you should pay particular attention to. The three-minute "Sugar Mama" which graces us in the first spot on the Deep Dark Woods website playlist recalls Old Crow Medicine Show with slightly lazier-sounding vocals. It is probably the closest thing to a single that they have going, and it is fairly intoxicating in a lighthearted way. "Back Alley Blues" is meandering and gentle (as is the whole album, really). Then there is "West Side Street." Honestly, it's like a Bruce Springsteen song if Springsteen had spent more time in the woods instead of racing cars in Jersey.

Overall, the albums bundle together a set of spectacular summer songs in a low-key setting. The sounds made me put the Deep Dark Woods on my list of bands whose music I should buy when I get paid (eventually). Until then, I will hope I can catch them at the Newport Folk Festival, or potentially at T.T. The Bears on July 30th for $8.00!

16 June, 2012

"Who" by David Byrne and St. Vincent

Twelve seconds into this first single (that I would mention has been released for FREE download here: Love This Giant) from David Byrne and St. Vincent's album, the beat drops and things get decidedly funky. Not to say that they weren't in the first twelve. In fact, the intro to the song highlights the most bombastic brass I've heard in quite some time.

The song is "Who," and it is meant to be released on a full album titled Love This Giant on September 11th, 2012. The majority of lyrics are delivered in Byrne's signature swaggering, shaking voice. Annie Clark (St. Vincent) sings the soaring chorus and backing harmonies and vocals.

The Talking Heads is one of my favorite bands and I count David Byrne as a major inspiration artistically and philosophically (if you're wondering what I am talking about, check out these two links: Byrne's book Bicycle Diaries and his TED talk on music and space), but never before have I been drawn to St. Vincent's music. However, I will surely be buying Love This Giant come September, and hopefully catching one of these tour dates (as copied from the website):

Date Venue City/St Tickets
Sep-15 State Theater Minneapolis, MN TBA
Sep-16 Riverside Theater Milwaukee, WI TBA
Sep-18 Chicago Theatre Chicago, IL TBA
Sep-20 Queen Elizabeth Theater Toronto, ON TBA
Sep-21 Eglise St-Jean Baptiste Montreal, QC TBA
Sep-23 Orpheum Theatre Boston, MA TBA
Sep-25 Beacon Theatre New York, NY TBA
Sep-26 Beacon Theatre New York, NY TBA
Sep-27 Tower Theatre Philadelphia, PA TBA
Sep-29 Williamsburg Park Brooklyn, NY TBA
Sep-30 The Music Center at Strathmore North Bethesda, MD TBA
Oct-02 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN TBA
Oct-03 Cobb Energy Center Atlanta, GA TBA
Oct-05 Bass Concert Hall Austin, TX TBA
Oct-06 Hobby Center Houston, TX TBA
Oct-07 McFarlin Memorial Auditorium Dallas, TX TBA
Oct-10 Humphrey’s San Diego, CA TBA
Oct-11 Arlington Theatre Santa Barbara, CA TBA
Oct-13 Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA TBA
Oct-15 Orpheum Theatre San Francisco, CA TBA
Oct-17 5th Avenue Theater Seattle, WA TBA
Oct-18 Schnitzer Auditorium Portland, OR TBA
Oct-20 Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts Vancouver, BC TBA

11 June, 2012

June Soundtracks: Support from the Crowd

This is a new type of post, one that I think is far more relevant to the way I (and many other people) are discovering and listening to music these days. This type of posting/review will highlight artists who are using social media to share their work. These artists are sharing their albums and allowing you to support them on bandcamp, and/or crowd-sourcing their work on any number of platforms. These shifts to social media platforms and away from (largely) failing record labels, support a certain philosophy of freedom and creative connection that I have embraced wholeheartedly. We have embarked on a period where music-lovers and musicians can be more connected than ever on a global scale, and – to quote the great Patti Smith – "people have the power." The most exciting thing about all of these shifts, in my opinion, is the knowledge that these platforms for direct connection and funding are open to people trying to complete any number of projects. This isn't musician exclusive! 

Without further ado, here are three talents I have stumbled across through the twitterverse and blogosphere. I am sharing one album, one song, and one campaign. Keep your ears and eyes on these artists, and support them if you have a minute to type a thoughtful comment on their websites, or the ability to drop 'em a little dough.

Kellie Lloyd of Australia is a friend of a friend (Kate Wilson, drummer for the Laurels), and in April she released a solo album: Magnetic North. The album is a true mix of sounds and moods.  

On my first listen, I heard quite a lot of Alina Simone in Magnetic North. There is a touch of theatricality in Lloyd's voice, and the pensive brooding that Simone has down pat. But then you bump into a song like "Constellations"; it is joyous in the way that sleeping on an air mattress in your unpainted, first apartment is joyous. There is also something reminiscent of the best of Thievery Corporation and (it may be a bit of a leap to pair these artists, but bear with me) early Sleater-Kinney on much of Magnetic North. Lloyd moves from gnashing guitars ("How To Get There") to understated, yet loyal piano ("We Are Made Of Stars") without the album ever feeling choppy. 

It was while listening to "Constellations" and then "Your Heart is a Hunter" that I realized the power behind this album is not driven by a description of "major life events," in the sense that many artists will write break-up albums. Instead, what I love about Magnetic North is that Lloyd skips the grand poetic gestures and focuses on the beauty of truly lived moments. On songs like "Dead Mans Hand" Lloyd recreates a dream sequence from many individual junctures. This sort of collage-ing is what she does throughout the album, and it makes it more interesting with every listen.

Beards are a folk-rock act from Nashville who I discovered through a Twitter post that I cannot seem to find again (I'm sorry! Kudos to the person I follow who posted their music. If you stumble upon this review, do not hesitate to take credit). The song "Blue Collar Blues" is from their 2011 release, We Grow Old. What I enjoyed about this song is the way the band sets up a stereotype of the genre (for example, in the lines where the narrator drinks too much to go to church the next morning) and then twists that stereotype just enough to make the song a bit rebellious (the narrator admits he rarely does go to church). You can purchase this song for $1 on bandcamp, but if you like it, you should take a little time to hear the whole album.

7 Toy Pianos: HC and the A's Need 1. a piano, and 2. you is a Kickstarter campaign by New York City based band, Heather Christian & the Arbornauts. The campaign was tweeted a few days ago by Amanda Palmer, and I found myself drawn to the a cappella(esque) with soul tune that the band put together to tell the story about why they need a piano. Great stuff. If you would rather support Heather Christian & the Arbornauts by buying their music, they also have a great bandcamp page where you can listen to the entirety of their 2011 album, Cabinet.

05 June, 2012

Kate Miller-Heidke - "The Devil Wears A Suit"

From the bloggers at Fingertips who "scour the internet" for free and legal MP3s, check out this song: http://www.fingertipsmusic.com/?p=11678 The vocals are fragile and weaving, but the music pounds the ground. I love it.

31 May, 2012

this album is sex-ceptional

29 May, 2012

Just heard this on Girls and it made my night

Tracks to get you through a rainy day (of the heart and soul)

"No Surprises" - Radiohead

Essential lyrics: 
"Such a pretty house
And such a pretty garden

No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises please"

Category: Monotony and apathy couple in Yorke's exhausted voice.

"Carbon Monoxide" - Regina Spektor

Essential lyrics:
"Carbon monoxide, soon we'll go to sleep
No one will notice we're gone
'Cause we don't have a job to keep
They'll just say that we're being lazy
Sex crazed, sex crazed, hazy"

Category:  Darkly comic lullaby. Life, death, procreation, absurdity.

"Sad For The Weather" - Tom Dickins

Essential lyrics:
"Your mother, she called it a seasoned depression,
Your father can't cry from years of repression,
Your youngest of brothers thinks it should not matter,
Your friends are inclined to agree with the latter"

Category: Aussie, acoustic, amazing.

"Another Year" - Amanda Palmer

Essential lyrics:
"I have my new Bill Hicks CD
I have my friends and my career
I'm getting smaller by degrees
You said you'd help me disappear
But that could take forever
I think I'll wait another year"

Category: Dilapidated hearts and resuscitated self-respect. Caustic, heart-breaking, bleak. But one of the most beautiful songs I can imagine. 

T.S. Eliot and pop music

Great article from the Guardian that delights in drawing out just how influential T.S. Eliot's work has been on pop music: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/may/23/ts-eliot-poetry-pop-music

From Dylan to PJ Harvey to Radiohead and Arcade Fire:

Eliot once wrote: "Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood." True enough, many songwriters would say, especially if you can sing it.

24 May, 2012

British Accents and DJ tables


Thank you gorilla vs. bear for posting this mix! I just downloaded it, and I am listening as I write. Excellent.

22 May, 2012

Tortured and Twisted

I heard Jack White's tortured, almost Zeppelin-esque cover of U2's "Love is Blindness" for the first time today. It is epic. I also had to link you to the original. Both versions are amazing. Where U2's is subtly smoldering for a little over four minutes, finishing off the album Achtung Baby, the Jack White cover is truly twisted and tortured. It burns. It is exceptional.

21 May, 2012

Patti Smith reads her poetry


NPR streaming What We Saw From The Cheap Seats


I am at the third song so far. (Also poaching an egg in ramen, so this blog post may be a bit fractured.)

Thoughts so far?

It's really upbeat (much more so than Far). She seems to do a bit of a back and forth with her albums. 11:11 was pretty low-key, bluesy/jazzy, but relatively positive. I've never listened to the album Songs, so I cannot tell you how that feels. Soviet Kitsch was a bit more upbeat musically, even as the themes were very dark. Then we had her pop breakthrough with Begin to Hope which was pretty light and upbeat (although truly mixed, especially with the bonus tracks). Far moved to darker themes and darker sounds. Now this album, as evidenced by the playful title, is bouncy and light. Even the songs that are a bit ominous ("All the Rowboats," "Open," "Ballad of a Politician") are whimsically so. After all, "All the Rowboats" is about paintings escaping from the museum and is almost an electronic thunderstorm. She also shouts out "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" on the album and really makes it her own in the song "Oh Marcello!" (in fact I didn't even realize that she was pulling it into the song for awhile).

First listen is relatively positive, although I loved Far so I am not sure how well she will follow that in my own mind (at least right away). This album just seems a bit mismatched to well, the here and now. The thing about Regina is that her albums grow on me extensively over the course of about two years and I realize that I truly love every song on every album. Tricky, but isn't that the mark of something special? An album that grows with you and doesn't fade over time.

Racialicious article about Azealia Banks is excellent!


13 May, 2012

"JUMANJI" - Azealia Banks (produced by Hudson Mohawke)


heard this track via Pitchfork. she's consistently throwing out tracks that i will be rocking to for the entire summer.

12 May, 2012

a random mix for graduation

I sent this one out into the universe, and I am not sure where it landed. But I am including it here for anyone who still reads this blog. 

I am hoping I will have a moment in the near future when I want to write about music as much as I want to listen to it. It hasn't happened yet. Maybe I got tired of my own writing (after all, I've been doing a lot of it in college). Maybe I got tired of writing about things I cannot quite condense into words. The point is, I am about to post this mix without a lot of interesting back story. I basically got a prompt from my graduating class to put a bunch of songs on a CD that reflect some of my time in college: that is both the easiest thing for me to do right now and an impossible task. How do I condense four years and many different iterations of me onto an 80MB disc? Tough, tough. But also pretty impossible to mess up. So here is what I pulled together:

"Blister in the Sun" - the Violent Femmes
"The Devil Never Sleeps" - Iron & Wine
"Galileo" - the Indigo Girls
"Angel From Montgomery" - Bonnie Raitt and John Prine
"Overkill" - Colin Hay
"Do You Swear to Tell the Truth the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth So Help Your Black Ass" - Amanda Palmer
"People Have The Power" - Patti Smith
"One Way Road" - John Butler Trio
"Folding Chair" - Regina Spektor
"Fake French" - Le Tigre
"Furr" - Blitzen Trapper
"The Long Way Home" - Norah Jones
"Cassidy" - Suzanne Vega
"Bertha" - the Grateful Dead

...so I'm graduating and I get a mixed CD? 

It is true. It is true. Below is a screenshot of my graduate gift CD from a fellow F08-er. I made a mix as well and I have posted the track list above (although I've got to say that the mix I received and the mix I made are epically distinct). MR did a fabulous job interweaving distinct tracks, while I sort of collaged something out of what has already been in my earbuds. My favorites tracks on this mix? "Sweet Soul Music" by Arthur Conley sounds like something that would pop up on my Kickin' Jams Pandora station, while "I Got Loaded" by Little Bob and the Lollipops reminds me of my sophomore year. But it is really all pretty great and also pretty distinct from what I have made the soundtrack to my thesis year. 

Thank you MR for the screenshot!  

02 January, 2012

A picture of a fruit that looks like something else, and an inclination

So, I found this photograph of a scantily clad...grapefruit on a feminist blog (this one: My Life As A Feminista). It's great. It made me so happy.

I also have this inclination, at the beginning of this new year (even as I've just decided not to believe in years), to sit down and write again. It's not going to be something I will feel guilty about not doing, because that just seems a bit silly, but when I have an inclination (like I do right now) I will sit down and write my thoughts and try to share something of myself, and work out a bit more of what I want to do with that self. It isn't a resolution. It is an inclination, and I think that will make me far more likely to follow through.