Thursday, December 31, 2009

good night, and good luck

I normally attach an MP3 to my posts, but I decided on this, the last night of 2009, I would attach some honesty.

I'm in Costa Rica with my large and very present family, enjoying the surf, the sun, and the monkeys. I've taken long hikes, long horse back rides, long naps, and longer meals. I've cried (we'll get to that), I've laughed, and I even got a Swedish massage. It's been a welcome end to a very unwelcoming year.

2009 was not great. I just felt the need to put that in some sort of more concrete medium than my windy, cyclonic thoughts. 2009 was not wonderful. But I find it amazing that even in such an unwonderful year, I experienced some splendid times of buoyant hope, and almost painfully beautiful moments of true living.

So with the blue moon, a mysteriously gorgeous occurance, shining overhead I will dance on the beach with my family, the people who have seen me through better and worse times than these. And I'm actually getting excited to sweep up after 2009's rowdy upheaval, and see what appears on the surface of the new year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

two thousand and nine retrospective

I hope you know how difficult this was for me.

But I'm sure you do.
For all the albums that tickled my fancy and my eardrums but aren't listed in the Top Ten below...I still love you.

Let's get ready for '010! The Binary Year.

Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More
There are no words that possess this album like this album has possessed me. The young Londoners released this debut album to extreme excitement in Europe, and due to that resounding, well earned success Sigh No More is slated to be released in the United States in 2010. And it should be well received here; at least by those with a deep yearning for wisdom set to deft banjo rolls and explosive, building choruses.
Sigh No More holds me on a knife's edge, steadying my wobbling knees until it releases its grip on me and sends me flying. I lose all control. I kick up dust, I shiver, I feel what they want me to feel. Mumford and Sons strip me to the bone and warm my marrow, refusing to accept a cool exterior for human experience. The confidence that is birthed from the soaring vocals, and galloping strings is built upon this strange and wonderful knowledge that they are wading through the shit show, and just need to tell it.
This is the kind of music to which hip head bobbing would be a disgrace, and an ironic tribute to exactly what the album shirks. Because it's talking about the big things, not the cosmetic problems, but all the gargantuan questions that envelop and consume. Grace? God? Risk? Love? Is it all right to just want to scream down the road and into the blank?
This album goes from being as cathartic and exhausting as weeping, to as exhilarating and jubilant as kissing someone who makes your insides wriggle with raw giddiness for the first time.

The Cave- Mumford and Sons

(If the breakaway end of this song doesn't move you to blindly dance and blow away in a fit of absolute lightness and ecstasy...just don't judge me for how I react.)

The XX- The XX

So I wrote about The XX and their self-titled debut a while back, featuring the sensual track VCR. I suppose what you should know about The XX is that they can create fullness using confined beats and only lush vocals. And with that, The XX has managed to put together an all-together remarkable and unflappable album.
Their sleek, new wave pop entrances me with its hypnotic whispers, and surreal landscapes spun as much out of silence as it is sound. Each track suggests long glances held with more meaning than words can give, backed by swirling electropop beats that cause my shoulders to sway embarrassingly of their own accord.
What really gets me is the classic blend of Romy and Oliver's voices; so unnervingly real and tangible in a mass of electronic influence. They tease, they play, and they swim their way behind my eyes. I swear to you...I've had dreams set to this album.
Bet you're excited they'll be rolling around with Hot Chip in April!

Heart Skipped a Beat- The XX

Gregory Alan Isakov- This Empty Northern Hemisphere

Gregory Alan Isakov knows just how to keep me. I had never heard of this Boulderite, despite my love of local music, until his album release party in May. I attended with a friend, and was stuck to the already sticky floor of the theater by the depth of the music coursing over me. I skittered out to the merchandise table during a quick break to buy an album, desperate to hold in my hands a small piece of plastic that could make my heart expand to capacity in a room full of strangers.
Isakov contains within his music the sounds for a hazy, thoughtful day. It's both lonely and close; a companion for hot pavement (Virginia May), or for when the only living things around you are the sky, the grass, and your thumping heart (Dandelion Wine). He makes characters that are relatable to the best and worst parts of me, and his bucolic voice sketches breathing, tangible pictures of lives full of meaning and all encompassing moments. It definitely doesn't hurt that on This Empty Northern Hemisphere Brandi Carlile lent her smoky vocals to counterbalance and dip below or soar above Gregory's own sauntering melodies.
I've noticed that Gregory Alan Isakov is inordinantly drawn to both the moon and the sea. Especially the cyclical relationship between the two. It's easy to find this to be the silver thread running through the vibrant tapestry of this album. His banjo, guitar, violin, and even his lyrics communicate a love for the tides; the coming and going of things and people and life. He does all this with such skill that this album has been played more than any other during 2009.

That Moon Song- Gregory Alan Isakov (feat. Brandi Carlile)

Woods- Songs of Shame
I was taken aback by the lo-fi wunderkinds lurking out in the musical oasis of 2009. Standing out from the crowd for this listener, though, was Woods' recent gift to us all, Songs of Shame. The stumbling, fuzzy guitars, and earnest drifting harmonies bring together some of Woods' greatest qualities into a surprisingly neat package.
Songs of Shame has some real shining moments, with at once carefree and substantial sensibilities.
Their psychedelic, bare bones '09 release left me feeling dazed in an absolutely welcome way. Woods is genius at taking such technicolor, hallucinatory folk and making it accessible for your average...well...your average Jane strolling down the street having to maintain a somewhat respectable air about her.
It's a patchwork quilt with impeccable stitching. It's sepia toned, whimsical, and made with curious perfection. By far one of the most unpretentious and imaginative albums I heard in the past year.

Rain On- Woods

Roman Candle- Oh Tall Tree in the Ear

I have been waiting to write about this Chapel Hill based collective of brilliance. And while I mean brilliance in the technical sense, as in I am sure they are incredibly intelligent, what comes to mind more readily is the blinding brilliance that exudes from this album. It's a white hot star, and if you let it into your ears, you won't be able to see anything except through the light it provides.
And it's a truly fun time to let this album enter your life. From start to finish, this album (the name inspired by Rilke), delivers unabashed fist pumping rock coupled with fathoms-deep lyrics that require several spins to truly get. Try walking down a road and listening to this album. Eden Was a Garden will get you looking at the clouds as your previously socially acceptable steps turn into little hop/skips, and your fingers begin drumming in your pockets. It will only continue from there. Big Light is a serious contender for Most Wonderful, and A Heartbeat makes me desperately want to compose a silly, romantic mix for somebody now.
Roman Candle has managed to craft an album that I can not, no matter how hard (and it hasn't been very) I try, stop playing. It calls me back with the assurance that through steady rhythm guitar, some glockenspiel laced intros, and totally truthful poetry, I will feel the same delight every damn time.

Eden Was a Garden- Roman Candle

Fruit Bats- Ruminant Band

So, uh, we're all aware that The Shins and Vetiver are two pop collectives that don't fail to sparkle for us, yes? Good then, because Eric D. Johnson of both the aforementioned bands finally paid attention to his four year waylaid lovechild, Fruit Bats. And Ruminant Band was a great way to re-enter my heart. Interestingly enough, Johnson, now a full-time member of The Shins, admitted to really letting the Fruit Bats as a band take the reigns on Ruminant Band, rather than making it as much of a Johnson based project. The sound that the collaboration created is a frolicking, sometimes downright groovy, dance through some major keyed, majorly great tracks.
Fruit Bats has a gift for visual lyrics and visual musicianship. Every guitar lick draws out the bed of mustard seed, or the heart of the primitive man. Ruminant Band harkens back to chamber-pop through smooth vocal blends, with quiet observation like the best Americana, and with fearless electric guitar bubbling and boiling up from behind some key songs. Sometimes reminding me of Neil Young, sometimes making me want to ask Robin Pecknold flat out if he was a Fruit Bats fan...this album touches the soft part of my soul, tenderly strolling along with the little kid version of myself, helping me figure out what it means to be on my own, to lay in the sun, and to be a growing, wacky human being in this shaky, vibrant world.

The Ruminant Band- Fruit Bats

The Very Best- Warm Heart of Africa
Are you thinking...Kathleen...a Malawian singer and a DJ really teamed up to create a musical fusion so profoundly good that it makes your head go all dizzy and light like the tracks they laid down?


What I loved about the initial collaboration between Esau Mmamwaya and European DJ and producer, Radioclit, is that many thought the mixtape they released last year would the the end. But come on everyone! They call themselves THE VERY BEST. And what could The Very Best do but release an even more amazing LP the next year?? We should not underestimate them. For Warm Heart of Africa, The Very Best welcomed M.I.A and Vampire Weekend's lead singer Ezra Koenig for some guest vocals. The result is a sunny hello, a warm embrace, and the sort of genuinely freeing sound that is so unnerving to buttoned-up, "mature" people. This fusion of African language and music with the electronic movements stirring in the West is so original, and so unmistakably significant, that even if it wasn't brimming with golden talent I would stick it on some sort of list. However, because many of the songs have been spinning in my head of their own accord, Warm Heart of Africa gets a place in the Very Top. For being the Very Best.

Julia- The Very Best

Fanfarlo- Reservoir

I saw this band in November, and was blown away by the sheer electricity they exude live. Even if I hadn't fallen in mad, obsessive, restraining order inducing love with their debut album before the show, I know I would have been just as surprised as I was when they leaped fearlessly into I'm a Pilot, unapologetically flooding the small Denver BBQ/bowling joint with shining, shimmering music.
Fanfarlo descended on my ears like so many welcome raindrops on a blazing afternoon. Refreshing, propulsive, muscle tightening rock that releases the animal instinct to yell along to lines with the strong voice of Simon Balthazar. I mean, you try to watch this video for Harold T. Wilkins without pushing yourself from your chair and punching the air in rhythm. If you are able to refuse that possibility with absolutely no problem...I would schedule an autopsy promptly.
The album is a complete package from first to last track. The diving, twisting vocals of Balthazar coupled with extremely well thought-out mandolin, horns, and deeply affecting percussive thumps creates an atmosphere of instinctive joy. It's an ever shifting collection of highly intelligent music, and I am so excited to see what they have in store for 2010.

Harold T. Wilkins (Or How to Wait for a Very Long Time)- Fanfarlo

The Low Anthem- Oh My God, Charlie Darwin

When you first start listening to this exquisite album by the Rhode Island band, The Low Anthem, you might be tempted to think of it as merely a lovely, delicate thing. Much like a Southern belle contemplating the gently blowing breeze.
This is not me discounting the first couple tracks. In fact, Ben Knox Miller's ability to create a truly haunting falsetto is only matched by his thought provoking words
Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin?
Fighting for a system built to fail
Spooning water from their broken vessels
As far as I can see there is no land

But then The Low Anthem hits the ground running, and with The Horizon is a Beltway they pound out a Tom Waits inspired, gravel throated floor stomping number that brings the album into perspective. The whole album fits in its wild, unabashed strangeness. Vascillating from chillingly subtle and sweet melodies to raucous and celebratory maelstroms of sound, it all creates a beautiful piece of work that demonstrates a band's ability to be unafraid in having fun with what they do.
The obvious truth to me is that The Low Anthem has more than earned their 2009 success, with a tour with Josh Ritter, and an upcoming stint opening for my most beloved Avett Brothers. I can't wait to catch these guys live, and let them take my clumsily dancing feet wherever their imaginations please.

Charlie Darwin- The Low Anthem

Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest

You're telling me that this is only Grizzly Bear's third full album? Oh. So the fact that it's a tight-knit, dynamic, unstoppable showcase of talent, vision and cohesiveness shouldn't deter me from remembering that this band has only begun to creatively evolve.
Granted, Grizzly Bear has had its fair share of experience without studio time. From touring with Radiohead, Feist, and TV On the Radio, I would say this band is anything but novice. And it shows. Veckatimest covers a wide spectrum of musical range, and displays a genuine enthusiasm for bringing people from psychedelic tie dye swirls all the way to great big breaths of resounding beauty (perhaps inspired by the album's namesake), all with baffling complexity coming from both composition and execution.
Even with the obvious jump in musical skill, Grizzly Bear doesn't lose sight of creating a beautiful procession of coherent songs that creates a complete experience. The richness of this album leaves me feeling sated, and at the same time...craving more sounds that fill and rejuvenate.

Two Weeks- Grizzly Bear

Saturday, December 19, 2009

flowers forever

It's tempting to look at someone going a little crazy and claiming they can see the future as a detrimental thing...

However, when Tilly and the Wall's Derek Pressnall was whipped into a frenzy by the conviction that he could see the future, his outlet for it turned into an intense musical exploration called Flowers Forever.

At times abrasive and demanding in execution, there is still a delicious wrongness to this collection of songs that calls for them to be listened to over and if one more pass at the jangly, early Conor Oberst cacophony could yield some more concrete understanding. One thing I'm taking away from Flowers Forever is that there might be something to Pressnall's claim to be prescient in an intriguingly lyrical and fluid way. Take the stand out anthem for disillusionment, American Dream:

Beauty it will bloom
And truth it will raise through
Oh the river it will start to bloom
Yeah the river it will swallow you

Pressnall and his two new bandmates don't totally abandon Tilly and the Wall's addictive adorable-ness. The striding piano laden track Beach Bum is one that harkens to Pressnall's roots in huggable, danceable indie rock. However, being the Pavement fan I am, I can't help but love bursting, brief, acid rock tunes like Beautiful Tornado or Wet Diamonds.

Sure, I love the warmth of Tilly and the Wall, but if Derek Pressnall wants to convince me that he's turned into a full on prophet of the modern age, throw some wayward horns in, and complement them with dischordant vocals drifting off and drizzling into confusion and ringing. Be dramatic. Send me spinning into the outer reaches of musical wilderness. Build me some tension, scrape against the limits of what counts as pissed off righteousness versus hyped up whining...and then I'll listen again and again. Which is what Flowers Forever did. I can't exactly tell you why I'm repeatedly drinking the Kool-Aid, but feel free to join in.

Beach Bum- Flowers Forever

Wet Diamonds- Flowers Forever

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the point

So I don't know if you have seen this movie...but if you haven' clearly need to rethink your cinematic choices.

The Point! is a 1970's fable created by the brilliant Harry Nilsson (you put the lime in the coconut...), and narrated with the playful English lilt of Ringo Starr. It's about a world full of points, and a little boy named Oblio (who has a band named after him...they wrote a song called Kathleen) who is born without a point. It's painted with whimsy, and talks to both the child in us, and the grown up activist.

When asked what his inspiration was for the film, Nilsson very honestly admitted;

"I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it."

If you understood that...then you'll absolutely adore the movie.

The songs from the movie help with the psychedelic aesthetic, and are poignant in their catchy, touching composition. The story is so transcendent. It plays to equality and love without relying on any cliches. The imagination that went into the conception is absolutely joyous, and timeless. There have been three remakes of The Point! since its release in 1971, so it clearly isn't going to lose its touch anytime soon.

But the tribute to The Point! that I shrieked in joy over was the recently released cover album of all Nilsson's some incredible artists. Artists like Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel, Martha Wainwright, Nada Surf, Andrew Bird and DeVotchka relive their childhood introduction to political allegory and dreamy jazz riffs by making these songs their own.

I knew that there had to be a common element between me and the artists I adore. That common element is The Point!

Think About Your Troubles (Harry Nilsson)- Andrew Bird

Think About Your Troubles- Harry Nilsson

Sunday, December 13, 2009

you have been warned/i was born to be contrary

I had written up a little blog entry about how Cloud Cult is re-releasing their past two albums in a totally earth hugging manner...

But then I came home tonight in one of those funks. The kind of inexplicable funk that made me want to trudge around in the gray sludge slowly coursing down the gutter in the pitch black of my street. I didn't want to post anything about hip, body snatching music that makes me want to throw my head back and dance like I'm graceful.

Not tonight.

Tonight I wanted to throw my hands up to no particular beat, and admit that I do not feel like a sparkling and wonderful personality at this moment. I just wanted to listen to something that validated my uncomfortable mood.

Stuart Murdoch was ready for me.

The former(?) Belle and Sebastian frontman has released a soundtrack to a film yet to be made. 2010 is the tentative shoot time, but as of now...there is music for this so-called "musical film."

Late in the spring, Murdoch released two albums for God Help the Girl, an LP of the same name and the Stills EP, featuring the brand new Catherine Ireton as the main narrative female vocalist (though other talented voices are present). And the narrative that she spins with her cheeky, effortless, smooth voice is one that I can't help but smile at despite my cloudy mood.

Stuart and Friends reminds me that it's almost a necessary survival technique to grin through my grumpiest and most confusing moments in time. They do so with a French pop meets 60's girl group atmosphere. Merrily skipping bass punctuates all the witty observations about being a real person mired in the strange muck of emotion, and a full orchestral sound plays with the idea of a real Broadway number...without the unbearable cheesiness.

It's an amazing and lovely thing that the right music can find me when I need it.

Just a side note; the title track (the YouTube video) will make you want to wink at strangers. So practice your wink before you go out with your headphones on. You don't want your eyebrow to crinkle funny, or your other eye to twitch. It takes away from the effect that I am sure you want.

I'm In Love With the City- God Help the Girl

Monday, December 7, 2009

oh, she's a messenger tonight

My email account suddenly leapt a whole number this morning. I was sort of convinced that at the early hour, it had to be trying to get me to buy things I can't afford for the holidays. Instead it was an email from the man who sets my veins on fire with his unfathomable honesty. Obviously I'm talking about Joe Pug, who I wrote about way back when. He has this ability to make me trust music to say what I have a hard time saying. That the industry hasn't permeated and mucked up every beautiful thing happening with strings, voices, and other magical things.

And guess what??

He is finally releasing a debut album! After a stint with some incredible EPs, Joe is giving us a full length album, Messenger, out on February 16. There's also a tour along with that LP, one that includes Colorado so many times I'm seriously considering throwing dignity to the wind and following the shows so I can twist and stomp along to the powerful music he puts out in person.

Instead of giving some tunes from the album for free, like his generous heart has before, Joe made a handy little player that I will embed for you. It will tittilate your senses.

No I tried to trust the stranger
It got hard
Now I see things like a soldier
And I'm jealous of the dark
If my eyes had only gotten colder
I still have an unsophisticated heart

The two new tunes are not what I expected. There's less of the stripped, unpolished, ragged urgency of his past two EPs. After several listens in a row, though, I just can't help but immerse myself in what Joe Pug tells me. His words are absolutely intoxicating, as usual. I was taken aback at first by the more polished production of the two songs given to the public, but it also doesn't take away from the honest eagerness that Joe Pug conveys with every strum.

Yes, I will admit the title track, Messenger, is not my favorite Joe Pug song. It just has a touch too much twang for my personal tastes. But surprisingly I've been listening to it non-stop, and I still get that same warm feeling that I get when I listen to most Joe Pug songs. What a guy; he even makes me love twang in the end. So take a listen; I guarantee you'll want to quit your job and come along with me this spring.

We can even rent a bus if you want.

I can't wait until February.

Joe Pug Tour Dates

1/23 Winnipeg, Manitoba--The Park Theater
2/5 Breckenridge, CO--Colorado Mountain College
2/9 San Diego, CA--The Loft at UCSD*
2/11 Los Angeles, CA--The Echo*
2/12 Santa Cruz, CA--The Crepe Place*
2/13 San Francisco, CA--Great American Music Hall*
2/14 Portland, OR--The Doug Fir*
2/15 Seattle, WA--The Tractor Tavern*
2/16 Vancouver, BC--The Biltmore*
2/18 Salt Lake City, UT--The State Room*
2/19 Denver, CO--The Bluebird*
2/20 Telluride, CO--The Sheridan Opera House*
2/23 Iowa City, IA--The Mill*
2/25 St. Paul, MN--The Turf Club*
2/26 Madison, WI--High Noon Saloon*
2/27 Chicago, IL--Lincoln Hall*
2/28 Detroit, MI--The Magic Stick*
3/1 Toronto, CAN--The Horseshoe*
3/2 Buffalo, NY--The Mohawk*
3/4 Alston, MA--Great Scott*
3/5 New York, NY--Bowery Ballroom*
3/6 Philadelphia, PA--Johnny Brenda's *
3/7 Alexandria, VA--The Birchmere *

* with Justin Townes Earle

Sunday, December 6, 2009

a cover for a snow covered world

Were you aware that Eddie Vedder could make you want to squeal by dedicating a lovely Tom Waits song to his wife in Italian? I was not. But apparently, without my knowledge, he did just that in 2006 at a show in Milan.

Eddie's familiar voice does Tom Waits justice as he warms the whole atmosphere with tangible sincerity, telling us that he'll love her until the wheels fall off. The perfect way that Waits has of telling the world his most raw thoughts in unapologetic language, and without any cliches, has never failed to capture me. I'm glad to hear Pearl Jam take his work to heart, and give it back to a whole room full of warm and waiting pulses.

Since my car and life are blanketed in snow, I thought a different sort of a cover would bring the blood back to my fingers and toes. I was right.

Friday, December 4, 2009

emily neveu just broke my heart

I woke up this morning to another frozen, but deceptively sunny, day. And all I wanted to do was lay on my back, close my tired eyes, and listen to something that would warm me. Emily Neveu was ready to help me with that.

Now if you're a fan at all of Calico Horse or Indian Moon, you've heard Emily's swinging, lullaby like voice seep into all your cracks before.

What I can't get enough of is how her sound is so patient, and knowing. Her voice tests the temperature of the air holding the notes, and pushes just gently enough so they carry right to the part of you that needs a little understanding. The sliding harmonies building on The Sun sound just like what a sun burst in slow motion would want to sound like. Big, fiery arcs emitting more than you want to handle, but everything you want to bask in.

It's warm, it's heart achingly paced; she doesn't rush through the most clearly haunting tones. Instead, Emily Neveu draws them out, so they keep slipping through you even when there's no more fresh input.

Stay warm.

The Sun- Emily Neveu

And...just for another reference on how Calico Horse can make a great version of an already great song.

Idioteque (Radiohead)- Calico Horse

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

still waiting for your wayward kiss

David Wingo was originally known as a film composer, for such little films as The Guatemalan Handshake. But a few years he ago he stepped out and decided to clear out a little spot for himself in the world of...well...really really good music. Need a little more to get a feel for it? Well, OK. I guess.

Ola Podrida's self-titled debut album from 2007 was met with thunderous applause, and lots of flattering descriptors. And now it's my turn to jump on that bandwagon, stick out my thumb, and roll away to wherever Ola Podrida wants to take me. From what I can tell, they want to take me to the very core of myself, and make me stay until I'm comfortable enough to crack out of my insecure candy coating and move along to their totally electrifying music.

Ola Podrida takes a genre that can be loosely called "alt-folk" (think Fleet Foxes or Beach House) and slaps it in the face to wake it up. To them, quiet doesn't mean losing complexity. There is no such thing as a "quiet" song, or an "intense" song. They are magnificent, questioning novellas; weaving stories out of every string and word that take a place in the arrangement. And no word or chord is misplaced.

Belly of the Lion
, their month old release, sprawls over the twisting roads that connect all the feeling parts of us, so we feel the adrenaline pumping to our toes like when we see the person who sends us racing out of our bodies. And it doesn't chastise for those pulsing daydreams. It embraces all of our running and leaping thoughts, holds our hands, and tells us that those hopeful horizons make us who we are.

And it does that with rich, passionate vocals, and the music to match. There is no drone, no wall of noise, with Ola Podrida. They are not filling space on this album. The "la"s help the banjo roll on to its next destination, and the words tell us in a language we understand with our minds what the guitar is telling us in a language we instinctively feel.

Let yourself be swept away.

Donkey- Ola Podrida

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

nate ruess is good clean holiday fun.

I just thought since it's Tuesday...a day so buried in insignificance...we could all use something to dance around to. The kind of dancing where you're glad it's only the mirror and your dog that witness it. You need a special kind of bubbly beat to accomplish that kind of wiggle. And why not use the Brad Pitt-esque (from River Runs Through It time period) Nate Ruess' newest project, Fun.? Fun. was formed back in 2008, but their album Aim and Ignite wasn't released until this past August. The former The Format frontman clearly isn't done supplying the world with some well constructed pop albums.

Fun. is exactly what it sounds like. Nate Ruess took where The Format left off, and ran with it, honing his love for clever songs that are engaging and energetic without feeling too false in their bopiness. Take the bit:

You're all that I need/Please don't make me face my generation alone


Also for your listening FUN, they've released a holiday single just for you. And me. Mainly me. I mean...the holidays are mainly about me. Please start thinking about what gifts you'll get me. And no, I do not think that cash is a bad gift. Because I have excellent taste.

Believe in Me- Fun.

Dance along, weekday folks! Only a few more days until you can let loose and go chase down the dreams you're still holding onto in that bouncing, singing heart of yours!

Monday, November 30, 2009

if i can find you, you'll be the very best thing i've found

While I was running around preparing to enter into the non-cartoon equivalent of the Cave of Wonders...also known as the Portland airport...I finally stumbled upon an album that would have been of great use to me while wandering the gray and drizzly streets of Oregon. And I found it approximately five minutes before I heaved my suitcase into my aunt's car and dove carry-on first into the doomed pit of despair headed by the TSA. Luckily my iPod was able to cram it in before I had to unplug quite unceremoniously.

When I made it past security, I got out my approved electronic device, turned to Doveman's October released album, The Conformist, and kept walking...up and down concourse C...back down to concourse A...back around the free standing magazine jungles, past the mini-Starbucks whose baristas have to deal with the crankiest of all people, and around and around. I actually set an alarm on my phone to make sure I wouldn't miss my flight. I couldn't stop moving. I felt that if I stopped moving, the music thrumming in my chest and head would make me melt into the oddly mesmerizing turquoise carpet and claim me as its own.

So I kept walking...and kept breathing very slowly...trying intently not to let it show on my face that I had found the exact music that I wanted.

Thomas Barlett's voice never raises above a misty whisper. Matt Berninger's comforting and familiar vocals appear on some choice tracks, along with some other The National players, who owe him after he played keyboards for them so nicely. Norah Jones' contributions took me by surprise, but then again...apparently there was definitely a notable cast of characters on this album. Nico Muhly (who has been a wonderful contributor for both Philip Glass and, on a different note, Grizzly Bear), Sam Amidon, almost all of The National, Glen Hansard, and Martha Wainwright contributed in one way or another.

I love this collage of ringing and quietly capturing music. I love it so much I'm sitting during a layover in Sacramento playing it over and over...feeling like a butterfly with blue skies overhead. I'd recommend listening to the whole darn thing, but to whet your ears...(whet willy?), here are the first two tracks of the album that propelled my legs all over PDX this morning. As Anne Lamott wrote, "How come you can hear one chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?"

Breathing Out- Doveman

The Best Thing-Doveman

Another stand out track for when you get the WHOLE THING, is Hurricane.

P.S: Doveman recently opened for The Swell Season. Who Josh Ritter is opening for very soon. Maybe I should just start relying on that terribly clever duo for musical recommendations.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

hey rosetta! is awfully swell

I was supposed to see The Swell Season tonight in Denver...but my family decided to make the return trip tomorrow. Instead, I am left to dig around for some mind blowing rock all on my own. So I listened to The Frames... because I wanted to hear Glen Hansard's voice tell me about what he's lost and gained and loved so deeply that even his guitar strains to give meaning to it all. And then...I listened to a band called Hey Rosetta!, that I heard about briefly but never sat down and listened to properly. A friend of mine likened them to The Frames, and I was hesitant to believe that a Canadian rock group could even compare!

(Kidding. I have no anti-Canadian vendetta. I, in fact, love moose. And Dudley Doright. Though you have to admit Snidley Whiplash's mustache qualifies him for Most Dapper and Pointy Bad Guy Ever.)

Hey Rosetta!'s most recent album was put out about a year ago, and when I gave Into Your Lungs a real chance, I was almost sad I missed them instead of Marketa and Glen (who I am still very sad to be missing...don't worry, guys...I'll see you someday).

Tim Baker's raw voice yearns to make us feel what he feels; and he often succeeds. The heavy guitar more often than expected gives way to sweet string breaks, and right when you're lulled into the quiet, a searing riff opens back up into an electrically charged maelstrom of honest to goodness ROCK AND ROLL. And that's just some of what they can do with pure genius. Truly, this album of theirs left me baffled, and happy, and energized, and a little tired. It's exhausting to be taken to a million new places, whizzing through highs and drifting in silence through lows, through sadness and exhilaration...all in under an hour.

So if you're loving Glen Hansard's total musical honesty and presence, I would urge you to give Hey Rosetta! a try. You can't help but love a man who will lay it all out there, show you the callouses burned on his fingers, and tell you that he has rough edges.

(Warning...I have had this song stuck in my head for nigh on two days now. Proceed with caution and well developed air guitar skills.)

I've Been Asleep for a Long, Long Time- Hey, Rosetta!

Friday, November 27, 2009

i'm a bluebird free of my cage...thanks to the avett brothers

There are songs that I wish were written about me.

The obvious one is Kathleen, by the forever brilliant Josh Ritter. But today I am drawn in by my favorite Southern gentlemen...The Avett Brothers. Now their recent release, I and Love and You, totally captured me this fall. Especially Head Full of Doubt. Oh it does slay me. But the song that I wish I inspired is actually from their 2006 album, Four Thieves Gone.

Famous Flower of Manhattan... about a Southern country boy moving to the city and finding a girl so beautiful growing from the sharp edges and right angles of the city. And she softens things. And she makes him feel at home, and real, and she fills him with light. I'm sure he's nice for her, too. But when he thinks of taking her back with him, he realizes that part of her beauty lies with where she chooses to live her life. That urge we all have to bottle up wonder and take it on the airplane almost destroys what we want to have in the first place.

I find this song so gorgeous. It's a true love song. The realization that a person never fits just like your Saturday jeans. Part of love is seeing a person for all they are...including how their indescribable beauty comes from parts of life that you may never understand. And to love someone is to let those sides contribute to the whole person...and to let the whole person never have to compromise what makes them truly radiate in a world of weeping, flickering lights.

Crap, I love The Avett Brothers. Will they never cease to make me stare out a foggy window and feel companionable with the voices swimming into the coves in my heart that hold all the endangered feelings of my being? No. They will never cease. I refuse to let them.

And I found a flower in a field
A field of cars and people; rows of concrete, paint, and steel
Manhattan is where it grew

And I thought to cut it from its stem
And take it from the cracks between bricks that it lay in
And save it from city strife
Away from the city life

Then someone they whispered in my ear
A county girl can't be made out of anybody here
Don't touch it, it loves you not
Don’t touch it, it loves you not

Cause blue birds don't fly without their wings
And when we put them in a cage the world can't hear them sing
So selfish when greed sets in
Possession, the king of sin

And people don't ever let you down
Forever find a way to kill whatever life they've found
A heart beat and I want it too
Manhattan is where she grew

So I left and I let the flower be
And yesterday saw the flower on cable TV
Much prettier than here with me
For all of the world to see
Much prettier than here with me

Though I have never lived in Manhattan, I like to think of myself as a flower stretching toward the sunshine in a place maybe only precious to me. And the fact that some things are only lovely to me makes them even more sacred to my publicized thought patterns.

We're all blossoming exactly where we need to blossom. I refuse to be sold for 10.99 at Safeway. Unless it's to the Avett Brothers. Ten minutes in a vase while they practice might be worth it...if not hypocritical.

Famous Flower of Manhattan- The Avett Brothersk

Thursday, November 26, 2009

up to my neck in whiskey/ up to my neck in wine

I don't know if you could tell by reading this blog, but I am a huge hair metal fan. You know. Poison. RATT. Quiet Riot. Scorpions. And...of course. AC/DC. They cornered the Catholic uniform market far before Britney decided to tie her shirts up in ways that I tried to imitate for most of my pre-pubescent years.

Hair metal and glam rock have actually never really been my bag, baby. So when I heard that Mark Kozelek released an EP last December of mostly covers, I didn't expect the Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon frontman to shock me with his cover choices. I had to see who the delightful songwriter that smoothed over many an abrasive day would choose, though. He chose Bon Scott. A B-Side AC/DC song, no less. But he did what I had hoped he would do. He took the painfully unsubtle tone of the original, and abandoned it to dig deep. What he made turns Up to My Neck in You into a poignant, dreamy, lyric focused song about the things that we think can save us and end up overtaking us.

Well I've been up to my neck in trouble
Up to my neck in strife
Up to my neck in misery
For most of my life
I've been a fool
And you know what a fool can do
I'm telling you
You came along when I needed you
Now I'm up, I'm up to my neck in you
And I've been up to my neck in pleasure
Up to my neck in pain
I've been up to my neck on the railroad track
Waitin' for the train
To cruise on through
Well baby my time is due
Oh it's way overdue
You came along and you pulled me through
Now I'm up, up to my neck in you
Well I've been up to my neck in whiskey
I've been up to my neck in wine
I've been up to my neck in wishing
That this neck wasn't mine
I was a loser
You weren't lost
Baby you were too good, too good to be true
What you've got no one else could do
Now I'm up, I'm up to my neck in you
Yeah you came along when I needed you
Oh I'm up to my neck in you

Up to My Neck in You (AC/DC)- Mark Kozelek

So what am I thankful for today, this great AMERICAN holiday?

I'm not going to tell you. That's not what this post is about. Come on. I'm nothing if not unpredictable.

I'm thankful for new things being built out of old things. For not throwing away the past, but building something real and wonderful and sad and strange and relatable from it.

Also my mom's stuffing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

he scraped against time/ and time scraped back

There are those days when I just can’t bring myself to get off the front porch steps and into the constant swirl of people and ideas. I’m over stimulated. I’m stretched too thin. The kind of day where I need to remember exactly how to breathe.

It’s lucky that I have a friend who knows how to supply me with instructions on how to do just that. Ryan Rebo, a Seattle native, Montana raised gem of a musician, recently recorded a second EP, Lonely Scientist. When I got to hear it the first time, I felt those braided muscles in my shoulders shiver and release, ending tension that was so on going I had forgotten it was there.

That’s what Lonely Scientist is like. It’s like the outward sigh after a long day. The pint of beer with a buddy who doesn’t mind you being a little run down. And yet, it’s a pat on the back. It makes me feel all right being too tired to dance around, but leaves me more optimistic than ever.

As for the sound; it’s a layered, reaching, subtle thing. Everything reverberates without a cheese factor. Guitar saunters and wanders through melodies that bring you along ever so gently, and occasionally the unexpected sound of a buttery cello will swim above it all. Rebo’s voice stretches over a thoughtful and honest narrative, saying things that are the hardest to say.

Lonely Scientist hasn't been released yet, and I can't wait until it hits the general public. So keep an ear out, and check out his EP Dizzy American, released this summer, in the meantime.

I know we are all approaching the holiday season. It’s a time where we’re bombarded by sparkling lights, and the same eighty songs begging to be appreciated like they are saying something new. And sometimes it’s just too damn hard to be in a toothpaste commercial all the time. If you’re in the sort of mood to be happy without having to try to impress anyone, I invite you to indulge in Ryan Rebo’s music. And also maybe some pumpkin pie.

Now listen to the title track off his unreleased EP, Lonely Scientist.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

and the sweat will roll down our backs

I have no voice. Probably from me yelling at the Broken Lizard show that I was so lucky to see this past week. No matter the reason, I am now at the mercy of my favorite artists to supply what I am feeling with noise and substance and banjo rolls.

Luckily there is no shortage of beautiful surrogates for my static laden vocal chords.

Mountain Man is a band from Vermont... which is actually a state I would have pegged for incubating homespun, apple-pie-with-a-kick-of-whiskey sort of folk rock. I did not think it would come in the form of three women called Mountain Man, but I stand corrected. While I'm standing corrected, you can press play on the song Animal Tracks, listen to the floating and thoroughly potent harmonies, and knock me over with a feather.

Their honesty and rapture with music comes through with each deliberate melodic phrase. They are more than welcome to stay in my ears, and I hope to see them on a porch soon underneath a starry sky so they can hum sweetness into the firefly heavy air once summer mercifully arrives.

Animal Tracks- Mountain Man

Monday, November 16, 2009

freelance whales are better than prozac

I braved the random Colorado snow storm to go see one of my new favorite musical delights, Fanfarlo. And, of course, they were incredible. For more on their penchant for awesome, please see I am Fuel, You are Friends. Worth it.

Normally I am so impatient for the main act I want to help with the set break and get the show on the road, but I was stopped in my nervous energy by a burst of sparkling energy from Fanfarlo's supporting band, Freelance Whales.

From Brooklyn, this multi-instrumental troupe displays a gleeful abandon tempered by some genuine talent. With such a crowded stage (I counted several instruments, each one being played by a different person every song) I was surprised that they didn't A) fall off, or B) suffocate the small venue with a black cloud of noise.

Instead Freelance Whales delivers indie pop with a touch of synthesized goodness, while still providing real, flesh and blood people playing some truly captivating and joyful music. And so, as this band spreads its lovely exuberance before every Fanfarlo dance party, I would implore you to find a show near you to lift some winter sadness, or to dance away a turkey coma you'll find yourself in very soon.

This track, from their positively wonderful new album, Weathervanes, reminds me of Sufjan's playful rhythms and rhyme patterns. Them New York kids know how to make me smile.

Hannah- Freelance Whales

Oh! They totally crocheted their band symbol onto a pin; a tulip. It will grace my cardigan forever. Or until I have to wash it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

some pre-friday preferred listens

I've been sitting on my black hole of a couch with my headphones on for the past couple hours since the dog and cat so rudely decided to wage a battle on top of my head. It's been a few hours of watching the cloudy continents pass across the picture window, and the light throw shadows through the skeleton trees on my block. The right music is key for these cold toe hours.

The XX is a London band that first released their debut this past summer. They stir me. They do things with tension, kick drum and whisper-singing that I can't help but get drawn into. The world seems to slow to the pace of their songs when I stare at the scenes outside.

We live half at night/Watch things on the VCR with me/ And talk about big love


DM Stith's seasonal track, Thanksgiving Moon, is a nice relaxing layered casserole of ambient folk.

Thanksgiving Moon- DM Stith

Take it easy today everyone, I certainly will. No reason to get worked up on a Pre-Friday.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

land of enchantment

You know what music I don't blog about enough?


Bottom line: I'm in New Mexico for another go 'round at this wonderful, quirky, siesta-inducing state until Tuesday.

I lost my iPod for the flight down so I brought my Discman instead (woahretrocool), and I'll tell you the albums I brought.

Fanfarlo- Reservoir
Elizabeth and the Catapult- Taller Children
A. Ballad Nightly- All in Good Time
Via Audio- Say Something

Good stuff!

I'm going to go shake to the maracas.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

your spoon is leaking

Last night I was listening to Taller Children by Elizabeth and the Catapult, a band I've become quite fond of recently. Jim Eno helped produce the title track, and it (of course) turned out like a technicolor dreamworld. I was thinking about how Jim Eno has been quite the helper when it comes to other bands, and I wondered how his main squeeze Spoon was doing. I have been missing Britt's buttery voice slipping from my speakers in unexpected melodies.

Three cheers for this, friends: Transference, their newest album, is set to be released January 26 (just three days before my birthday...awww thanks, Spoon), and a wee sample of the new album has been leaked into the swirling depths of the musical interweb. It starts late and cuts out early, so I wouldn't recommend it for getting a real feel of what Transference is all about (which should undoubtably be awesomeness), but a few live tracks reveal a little more of a hope for Spoon's newest endeavor.

It sounds like the new tracks have continued with persistant, thrumming beats and super-rhythm guitar. I'm pretty excited with just the few things I've heard from it so far, and am having a blast constructing imagined albums from the snippets floating around. My imagination predicts wonderment.

Geez, guys, it's been long enough.

Thanks to Stereogum for the live tracks.

Mystery Zone- Spoon

Is Love Forever? (Live)- Spoon

Writing to You in Reverse (Live)- Spoon

Monday, November 2, 2009

megafaun is megafun

Bwahahaha! No, please don't laugh at the title of this blog. Also don't judge the content based upon my horrifying sense of humor that I clearly genetically inherited from my dad. If I start telling long, drawn out stories about something the neighbor was doing in the backyard feel free to give me a stern talking to.

I was given a link to a new band, Megafaun, a couple weeks ago, and told to listen to a little ditty called Kaufman's Ballad. By "little" I mean "epic," and by "ditty" I mean "sound party." Starting with a banjo roll that took my folk loving breath away, it swept into dreamy vocals that remind me of Simon and Garfunkel having a freaky jam session, or Robin Pecknold and that band of feisty Fleet Foxes.

From North Carolina, this band o' three were first involved with another delightful musical gentleman (read on for more) before they went on and formed this folk explosion. They're gathering speed and an enthustiastic fan base (that now includes me!) with their second album, Gather, Form, and Fly.

Here are some beautiful Megafaun tracks. Including a wonderful, golden, shimmering song from the former band they were in with...Bon Iver (and we all know how he can polish up a sorrowful day into something you can see yourself in) back when they released one EP before splitting up. That one group was called DeYarmon Edison, and though Justin Vernon and the now-Megafaun members went different directions ...they left us some wonderful music, and are still making even more on their own.

This is an age of some rocking electronica, and I accept that. I even love a lot of it. But I maintain that nothing is as good as someone taking instruments that still smell of the ground they grew from, and making a tribute to what came, what is, and what we all hope can be.

Kaufman's Ballad- Megafaun

The Fade- Megafaun

Love Long Gone- DeYarmond Edison

Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween you hooligans

Night two of the epic Halloweekend is upon us!! To keep it simple and graceful like we all want to be during our Halloween celebrations, here's one of my favorite seasonal jams...covered by the rollicking fun time of a band Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers.

(If you listen closely, you can here a possibly inebriated and very enthusiastic man shout out, "AND HIS HAIR WAS PERFECT" just a beat or two off. Ha.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

you were famous, your heart was a legend (josh ritter news)

I remember a time...a couple years ago...when my world was rocked by a collection of trembling, vast, buzzing music called the Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. Even though he wrote his song about me on Hello Starling, the newest album tickled my fancy with each consecutive spin. And now after two years in the desert (and only a couple live performances to tide me over) Ritter is not only going to RELEASE a new album, but he is touring with The Swell Season. Glen Hansard (of the Frames) and Marketa Irglova make up one powerful duo. I especially love when Glen pounds that guitar like his very heartbeat is contained in the melody that he creates. Needless to say I'm very close to making some major travel plans to see this combo live before they jet off to Europe.

The album remains unnamed, but that isn't all that Josh is cooking up for us. Apparently, according to his September blog, he is working on a second draft of his novel. He describes it as a "saucy little number." This makes me envision Josh Ritter doing the mambo with clauses and dangling prepositions in stylistic little twirls. Can't wait. After reading Mark Oliver Everett's stark and effecting autobiography, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, I've come to trust my favorite lyricists for literary brilliance.

Glad I could share this exciting news with you.

In the spirit of continuing my love of Leonard Cohen covers, here is Josh Ritter's cover of Chelsea Hotel No. 2. Gotta love Leonard's unapologetic lyrics in Ritter's wistful narrative voice.
Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (Leonard Cohen)- Josh Ritter

Thursday, October 29, 2009

everybody's talking to their pockets

I'm feeling melancholy today for no real reason, and I'm struggling to know whether or not to allow myself some good cry into my whiskey time...or to rally. Instead I'm going to slowly lift myself by being gentle and kind to my quietly sighing mood. I believe it's all right to look outside at a marshmallow world and feel completely lost, tiny, and stuck. On a hike today the few feet of snow felt like wet cement. I was staring at the weighted trees and realized they knew what it was like to have branches broken by the piling up of small, feathery things.

But moments that make me feel better involve listening to music that takes the arrow in my heart and points it toward other people with the same barb. First artist to make me feel in solidarity with the senseless ache of taking the next Bon Iver.

Blood Bank- Bon Iver

I can't seem to stop playing this Bob Schneider song I recently rediscovered due to the genius of my delightful iTunes shuffle. His voice rumbles about true things that I feel but don't know how to express.

I wish my shoes were empty/and I was still in bed/ with you there beside me with your dreams inside your head/ Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to/And I wish the wind would blow me/Blow me back to you

Sometimes it's nice to just lay back and hear someone else confess what my voice wants to say aloud. It doesn't seem so whimsical or far away anymore; that romantic idealism is shared, and it's comforting.
Blow Me Back to You (Live)- Bob Schneider

So the Paste sampler had a positively delightful song called Taller Children by a Brooklyn based indie-pop trio, Elizabeth and The Catapult(I assume Pete Lalish and Dan Molad are the collective catapult. Must be strapping young gentlemen).

Imagine my surprise and happiness that came when I found a soul rousing stomping cover of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows. Some might say Ryan Adam's Everybody Knows (same title, but not the same song) would be more apropos for the sad and contemplative mood I've found myself in, but Elizabeth and The Catapult take this frank look at the world and add some determined beats and matter of fact perspective on the world that sometimes gets me so damn down.

Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen)- Elizabeth and The Catapult

Taller Children is another song (also the name of their album) that explores the absolute ridiculous nature of growing up. Namely how it just doesn't happen.

So the day may not be full of shiny smiles and laughing with abandon, but there is comfort in the slowness of being a little sad. It never lasts forever, just like the music that doesn't ask me to explain a thing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

love begins in winter

So the winter is going to rear its frosty and pissed off head this evening by starting the First Great Dump of the season. I already went grocery shopping and got the essentials (Raisinets, coffee, bananas, jam) so I can hunker down and enjoy the frozen tundra that was once my front lawn. But besides the eating necessities I listed, there are a few other helpful things for weathering a storm. Besides an igloo…which I will be constructing in the aforementioned tundra as soon as there is an impressive layer of snow to use.

I recently finished reading a beautiful book called Love Begins in Winter by Simon VanBooy. It’s a collection of five short stories written from the perspectives of people whose lives are turned completely around by love. And not the kind of love found in The Notebook or Monster-In-Law, so cloyingly sweet it tickles the gag reflex.. The stories are about the kind that works because the people were crying out on the same wavelength, and didn’t have to pretend to be perfect once their cries were heard. It’s a book that dampens noise around you, and makes patterns in the couch seem like universes to be contemplated. People on the street soften, and strangers’ eyes reflect less of my jaded expectations. Love isn’t polished up, or put in a display window, but it isn’t made into desperate tragedy. It’s just…there. As much as the crack in the front step that I stub my toe on every day…it makes love seem so painfully obvious it made me cry. As though I had been waiting for fireworks in a sea of candles.

"Children are the closest we are to wisdom, and they become adults the moment that final drop of everything mysterious is strained from them. I think it happens quietly to every one of us -- like crossing a state line when you're asleep."
-Tiger Tiger (Love Begins in Winter)

A comforting new voice warmed my chilly eardrums a while ago. Her name is Laura Groves, and she hails from Yorkshire. But her stage name is Blue Roses, and she is wonderful. I know that singer/songwriters can become a tedious middle of the road journey into half hearted “ooh”s and empty “aah”s, but Blue Roses clings to the real spirit of a woman and her music, much like a Joni Mitchell. Or in the track I've linked to; Feist. She hasn’t reached her apex as a musician, clearly, which makes listening to the journey even more exciting. She emulates a gray day on a dim stage with her ambling, sun tinged folk tunes, showing her best with her shining melodies that sound like old favorites played by someone finding her voice. I like her. Maybe you will, too.

Check out her self-titled debut that popped onto the market this summer.

Doubtful Comforts- Blue Roses

So bundle up everyone! Snow can be wonderful when you want to create your own world and its own rules. The rules of my Snow World will include hot beverages, blankets, and some wild dance parties with the dog and cat! Bipeds have an advantage, though.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

artfully said

I went to Santa Fe yesterday, and walked up and down the famous Canyon St while trying vainly to reach my lovely friend, Isabella, who works on that street. Word to the wise: do NOT lose your phone. Anyway, despite our failed attempts to find each other without modern satellite technology, I happened upon some beautifully talented visual artists who make me want to pick up my paints again and not throw away my own trying hand in self contempt. One such man was an abstract artist who works in stunning autumn shades, Kevin Tolman.

At first glance I was unimpressed, but his works just suck you in with the endless layers and texture. He scratches into dried paint to reveal a long covered layer of orange underneath the top coat of deep blue. Swirls and pencil outlines of perfect boxes sneak in and say hello when you least expect.He reminds me of my favorite darker children's book illustrations put into a more abstract setting. My favorite works of his were the odes to the night sky.

Final thought: I want to live in an adobe that blends in with the Sangre de Cristos and has a bright turquoise door.

Friday, October 23, 2009

i am everything absent or distorted

I am sitting in Anna’s place of work for six hours because she, unlike some people (me), earns money. That’s fine with me! I’ve been swaying inconspicuously in a corner comfy chair. It's fun to watch university students filter in and out as they study on thick wooden tables and as they cast sexual glances to every fellow young figure that strolls by in search of complicated coffee drinks. I have a bottomless mug of coffee, my headphones, and a few projects to do. One project is to not get super depressed about my lack of attendance at the BIG FINAL LAST LIVE JOY FEST of Everything Absent or Distorted in Denver this evening, and the pre-party that I would attend dressed all in white.

EAOD has been my friend this morning (along with a couple other wonders), keeping me company as I squirm to find a comfortable position to settle in to. They’re a band that could border on being a wall of noise with no fewer than eight people contributing on stage. But…instead it’s the most tangible, drinkable, electric musical output I’ve had to joy of experiencing in a while. Ever since they released their album in 2008, The Great Collapse, I have yet to stop spinning it in my headphones or just plain in my head. Everything Absent or Distorted doesn’t quit just at bouncing melodies or painfully relatable lyrics, but pushes it to where it goes beyond what any amount of band practice could do; and leaps into the wilderness of playing out of joy and the need to let feeling linger far after the last spark has faded from the speaker. I am feeling sentimental to the point of a public weeping fit as I write about it.

This collective of Colorado human beings has helped me reach deep into my own dancing heart and encourage myself to think about what it means to swim in the deep end of existence, and to like it. Even when I get tired.

So I’ll be listening to The Great Collapse several times today, feeling more real and more nostalgic at every turn. If you can even FATHOM driving into the city tonight…do it. Please.

Gospel of Slight Rust- Everything Absent or Distorted

In regards to Sufjan Stevens’ new release BQE, a commentary on the horrifying social project that ripped Brooklyn apart, I’m hesitant to talk about it. I can say that it’s not my favorite Sufjan release, but that the scope and intent of the project begs for putting it into context. I’d love to see the film put up on a big screen, so I can shut out the world and see what a beloved artist has given to me to ponder. I’ll explore further. I don’t want to link any particular interlude or movement, because I think it might be best to go and listen for yourself; though I will say Movement III is what stands out to me the most.