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.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

brand new mexican morning

So I'm on an adventure for a few days, with one of my greatest pals. We're going to ramshackle all over this New Mexican frontier, and listen to some rad tunes to top it all off. My contribution to our first listen in the car was Gregory Alan Isakov. I think I consider it some sort of cosmic obligation to put on his albums when my iPod is the Chosen One. I had to play one of my favorite driving tunes; a song that makes the yellow blurring lines seem like friendly percussion for the tripping guitar line. As we watch the Sandias rise in front of our tiny popcan car, they hold all the soaring fantasy that Gregory weaves, and welcome us to make it come true. We packed lunch, so we'll have time to do that.

I'm saving all my sleep for another life.

Virginia May- Gregory Alan Isakov feat. Brandi Carlile

Gregory Alan Isakov recently spent time in Colorado for some incredible shows. If you weren't lucky enough to snag a live listen, I implore you to find out when you can see and hear him for yourself. His most recent album, which the aforelinked song is from, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, features the haunting voice of Brandi Carlile, but I have yet to see her sing with day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

coffee's on

So I am not normally a YouTube fanatic. I'm just not. I've tried to be hip and find videos of sleepwalking dogs but I always get bored. But when music surfaces on YouTube, I will take time to let that little red bar do battle with my computer's perpetual nap time in order to see what happens. And based on a recommendation, I did indeed find things to make me a YouTuber for the day.

First a video of a 2007 performance by Ryan Adams and Neal Casal in County Kerry, Ireland. I'm putting up Two, but the whole set is beautiful. Ryan Adams' pained lyrics in Two are made even clearer by his honest body language; his foot moving in rhythm but sticking at an awkward angle, pointing directly up with rigidity, giving away his authenticity. Ahhh...and it just sounds real pretty.

My attention was drawn to this music video by Israeli theatre director, Oren Lavie, by a friend of mine who is way more versed in YouTube than I. It's a stop motion music video for a captivating folk tune called Her Morning Elegance. The video is just brilliant. Oren Lavie chases a dreaming girl across pillow and blanket landscapes, as she sleepwalks through terrifying and beautiful adventures; running on clouds, swimming in the deep blue seas with sock fish going through her fingers, and gray sky days with only a scarf for protection.

The album was released on iTunes in January (on my birthday), but the physical copy came out in March, and I'm dismayed that I haven't heard it until now. Lavie has a voice that makes me think of sanddollars whispering under low tide, and barefoot callouses sliding along rocky coastlines. Though the rest of the album isn't exactly what I would normally put on, I just can't get enough of Her Morning Elegance. Oren Lavie gets my respect unconditionally for posting the bad reviews of his album on his website, which causes me to pause and consider when I would put on his Nick Drake-y voice and jazzy melodies. Because I think he has a place in my ears. What a way to start off the morning, with a song that takes my heart rate down from the pace my coffee pot determined.

Monday, October 19, 2009

the sun set forever, and we lay together

So there comes a time when I feel like that spoiled kid with tons of toys, and nothing to play with. I was staring at my music library the past couple days and stamping my mental feet. I had nothing to LISTEN TO!! I started hounding friends for suggestions. Luckily, I have some very tolerant friends with very good musical taste. And after spending a lot of time on LaLa listening to some delightful albums, it occurred to me to check up on the bands I had left by the wayside since their last releases. What kind of person am I to forget about those wonderful tickling artists who delighted me just a few months ago? So I buried myself in familiar newness. And here are a few gems.

The Spinto Band enchanted me, like it did many people, with their 2008 release Moonwink. The track Summer Grof was filling me with ear fireworks made of crescendos and carefully calculated bursts of bright energy all summer long. I eagerly awaited more to spin to, and was pleased with the EP that they gave birth to all by themselves, Slim and Slender. It has the same tablespoon by tablespoon dosage of starry eyed staccato beats, and sweeping fits of swimming guitar with controlled, reaching vocals wailing into the setting sun. The opening number, Jackhammer, leaves me feeling like an LP from The Spinto Band will make me even smilier, with its coasting, driven, jangly melodies. Regrettably, the rest of the EP does not make me shimmer with whimsy as much as I hoped, but the succinct taste of things to come does whet my appetite.

This song convinces me that I will never live in a city for very long.

something says she wants you/wont you ever learn?

Jackhammer-The Spinto Band

If I could tackle Liam Finn and thank his Kiwi brain for coming up with such brilliant new music, I would. I’ve been harboring deep love for him ever since his 2007 I’ll Be Lightning sent me whirling with layers and layers of goodness. The man can deliver a powerful, yet subtle, punch of dream-like strangeness that makes sense to people who dream of “oceans of pink lemonade.” He speaks of the things I want to see in my own head. And that is exactly what this son of Crowded House’s lead man Neil Finn (who I do love so) has done again. His recent EP release, Champagne in Seashells with backing vocals by Eliza Jane, shows me that his ability to make me want to jump into tornados and find the pulsating rhythm in the eye of the storm has only increased. Here is the opening track, Plane Crash.

Plane Crash- Liam Finn + Eliza Jane

November is approaching. And I’m depressed about it. Luckily, my friend suggested I finally listen to the Seattle name changers Say Hi (previously Say Hi to Your Mom). Eric Elbogen and friends have undergone some pretty intense aesthetic changes since the formation in 2002, and I’m pleased to have listened to them as they’ve arrived with their March, 2009 release Oohs and Aahs. The album has good beats, and even better lyrics. Elbogen has a talent for fanciful and clever lyrics that make me think about simple things in different ways. With Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder weighing heavily on this cloudy day, I recommend their first real slow track on the album.

I think I will feel better when the winter is gone. And I'll have to repeat it as much as Elbogen does to make myself believe it, too.

November was White, December was Gray- Say Hi

Sunday, October 18, 2009

simply...joe pug

Simplicity has been left by the wayside. In one of my all time favorite movies, Almost Famous, Philip Seymour Hoffman says that rock could become an “industry of cool.”

Has it? I don’t know. On my bad days I’m almost convinced there is nowhere for a person who doesn’t know how to have a good haircut to go. No music to listen to. On most days, though, I find my heart carried away by the words and sounds of people who write from a part of themselves that I ache to find on my own.

And so it begins. The quest to find music, friends. Music that doesn’t need someone else’s opinion to validate it for you. Music that when you listen to it, you find a friend without any awkward small talk, or small white lies about the crazy stuff you did in college. Music that does what it feels, says what it wants, and sounds like honesty and beauty just backhanded you across the dance floor.

So to begin. I’d like to share an artist that knocked me flat with absolute power this past week by ripping out his plug from his Guild, standing on the speakers, and pushing his music right into my blood. Joe Pug, everyone.

Hymn 101- Joe Pug