Friday, May 28, 2010

if you've got a boyfriend, well go kiss him

Wow. It's been a while since I've been so twitterpated with a pop album. Really. I feel a little giggly and blushing, and embarrassed to admit that I have been snapping along to The Drums' debut album, out June 7 on Moshi Moshi, for a good hour now.

The self titled record starts with the cheeky tune, "Saddest Summer," all full of Joy Division like reverb, and Jonathan Pierce's vocals sounding uncannily like Robert Smith's in its earnest tenor. The whole album skips along, shimmering and flitting and sounding deceptively lighthearted until you listen to the extremely melancholy messages right on the surface of the energizing melodies.

The Brooklyn band is currently gearing up for a pretty high profile summer, with UK dates supporting Kings of Leon with the likes of The Features and The Black Keys, not to mention coming off supporting Florence and the Machine and The Big Pink.

Saddest Summer- The Drums

In honor of The Drums' throwback style, I thought I'd share a picture of the bicycle I rode today, so lovingly named Don Johnson. Look at those Miami Vice colors. And he rides like a dream. Sadly lacking in feathered hair and white linen jackets...but still a trustworthy companion.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Find your jam, turn it up, and don't forget sunscreen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

you deserve applause for splitting me in two

Delta Spirit definitely made a fan out of me in 2008 with Ode to Sunshine, with all its melodic racket, gritty embrace, and airtight songwriting. I remember listening to that album over and over, and finding new things it said that squeezed the air out of me...almost as though the infectious beats that kept the pace had to bring me along so I wouldn't be stopped in my tracks completely by the revelations that record caused.

And it's been too long without a follow up to sink into.

Which is why I'm so happy they're giving us the June 8 release of History from Below, an album that digs down even deeper with the rootsy gumption that Ode to Sunshine did.

This album doesn't polish up and shine. It's a faded, favorite tshirt that you just didn't know you had. It wears so comfortably that I'm frankly, albeit irrationally, surprised I haven't heard it before. The content of it is the accessible stuff of regret and aching loss and of big old pity parties with yourself, the bottle, and some biting honesty. It's familiar and new at the same time.

Take the song that keeps bringing me back, "Scarecrow." Neighbors chat in a distant reality as though the intro is heard through your closed eyelids and open ears. Birds chirp and you can hear wheels crunch over loose gravel like you're lying in golden sun hours with your eyes closed while Matthew Vasquez reclines against a worn and waving willow tree while he sings this heartbreaking tale of attachment and loss and the fading of people and love. And he does it with the baffling lightness of touch of the blues so you might want to be sipping lemonade with your feet in a cool brook during the whole thing. While weeping.

Oh scarecrow
You know why I'm asleep?
All the weight you bear you cannot carry me
You know you're just like your mother
And your bag all packed to go
And you hid your heart from everyone you know
You say you'd never love another
Unless they bore your own name
Oh your kin, they trample on you just the same

Oh I gave my love to a harlot I'm told
And the blackness of a scarecrow no one knows
Well I'm red in the blood that I have drained
That I wasted in a rain

Well your love that takes your picture
And your love that worships you
Well if you can't see it then soon you will
And you frequent the same stripclub
You love to watch the ladies dance
Well you always knew I don't do shit like that
While I was out in Scotland
You were out with him
And he took your shot and you threw up your limbs

Well I gave my love to a harlot I'm told
And the blackness of a scarecrow you cannot hold
Well I'm red in the blood that I have drained
That I wasted in a rain

Well you deserve applause for splitting me in two
Well I count you on the list of a mortal few
Well I hope that you were happy
I could only wish you the best
But your beauty vacant setting in the west
And this may just say redundant because you've chosen your own fate
Was I more to you than just a pretty face

Well I'll give my love to a harlot I will
And the blackness of a scarecrow you cannot kill
Well I'm red in the blood that I have drained
That I wasted waiting for rain

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at
I'm really liking this so far, and am extremely excited for their supporting tour this summer.

Have a listen to their gem of a single, "Bushwick Blues" while you're at it. It shows the more punchy, feedback laden, vast Delta Spirit that I know you have been craving. I just get killed by the line;

We were just two kids acting tough
Well then we grew up
For me not so much

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

yeah we got the feelin' now!

So it's been an idyllic spring rain sort of day. I decided to walk to my various engagements because of that hazy, humid sun, and was rewarded by getting caught in a couple rain showers. Not the kind of rain showers that make me run for cover, but the type when the sun still shines and every drop is big and warm and splashes merrily on my hands and feet.

Best music for that?

Why, another cover of an already great song remade funkier and more soulful by the ever exuberant Al Green.

When that intro starts up, and those sparkling horns start blasting, there is no better place for me to be than outdoors walking under dappled light, spinning and air-trumpeting and smiling like everything inside me is growing fresh. I'm sure I attracted some funny looks, but then again, I'd like to assume I inspired more smiles than anything else.

So the raindrops on my arms are dry now, but it's only a few more hours until I get to step back outside into the steadily brighter evening and be romanced once more by the the newness of the season.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (The Beatles)- Al Green

(Yes, those are my feet up top.)

Now get outside and don't be afraid of a little rain! It feels about as wonderful as that song.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

please put down your hand/because i see you

So I went on a wee road trip today. Just a little escape.

And as the house quiets my legs are folded together, and my eyes are starting to wind down from all they took in today. When everyone else went to sleep, and the electric lights succumbed to the night one by one, it became clear I needed a sensory cleansing after a whole day of being immersed in people and places and life.

The aural backdrop for this all encompassing, bone deep release ended up being a cover song by Clem Snide. On their 2004 (now defunct) spinART Records EP, Beautiful, the Boston trio chose one of my favorite Velvet Underground songs to apply their disarmingly close and accessible sound to.

"I'll Be Your Mirror" has some of the most embarrassingly affecting lyrics for me. Now I claim to be a logical woman, but something in me just shivers and melts when I hear:

I find it hard to believe you don't know
The beauty that you are
But if you don't let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid

Lou Reed and Nico owned that song for me, with their charming storybook British accents and dreamy tambourine. But when Clem Snide's hushed, cello laced version started, I felt the words sink into my stretched surface and bring me back. It was a new song for me, and it met me where I am. It felt like an old friend with new things to tell me. So I sank into it, and it sank into me, and the navy blue night didn't seem a thing to be distanced. Instead it transformed into a waking dreamworld to let my imagination create beautiful things while being encouraged by the unabashed and unafraid message of this song.

I'll Be Your Mirror (Velvet Underground)- Clem Snide

Clem Snide released a new album in February, The Meat of Life, and it's an intimate, up front record that continues to catch me in its wry wit and gentle observance. Give it a shot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

mayday, snowy mayday

That is correct. It snowed here.

So you know what? I give up. I'm laying here with my feet elevated on the couch armrest facing the outdoors with a mug full of tea, and too many candles lit for daytime (in lieu of an actual cozy fire), and I'm listening to things that are glowing warm until I have to bundle for work.

Laura Gibson has a quiet thoughtfulness to her music that draws me in and turns the world into a gently breathing behemoth of a friend carrying me kindly on its back. She creates subtle, lovely images that grow out of subtle, lovely melodies with a rare and comfortable ease that brings me back to her for all the times I need a little break. Especially before I dive into the constant swarm and storm of the day.

Come By Storm- Laura Gibson

The above song is off her album Beasts of Seasons...which is well worth many listens.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

music for my gray day

So when it's gray outside and a scarf is around my neck though it is mid-May...I have to adjust my ears to seek out the album or song that's going to help me settle into or rise above what the sky is smothering my world in this morning.

The avenue I'm choosing (partly because I need to psych myself up for work) is to find some sonic sunshine today. To turn up the golden major keys and maybe allow for some hand claps and hi-hats to perk me up. For that, I turn to Brooklyn based Fang Island, whose self-titled release under Sargent House is described by the band as sounding like "everyone high-fiving everyone." And it does take on the feeling of being surrounded by positive energy, all wildly effusive electric guitar licks and exuberant chant-singing. Even the sun would want to burn off the clouds covering my city to get in on the drum and dance circle this album seems to promise.

Daisy- Fang Island

Excuse me while I go dance with the clouds now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

baby remember on the bus when my hand was on your knee

Fruit Bats' 2009 release, Ruminant Band made my Top Ten list...but I realized that I hadn't thoroughly explored this energizing band's previous work.

On Dainon's recommendation, I turned to Mouthfuls, their 2003 release, and was instantly smitten.

Sometimes words and feelings get tangled up in the knots in my stomach, and nothing I write provides any clarity. It's then that I truly appreciate those artists who can take all the mess and extract truth from it cleanly. For someone who loves words as much as I do, I believe that when used sparingly they can penetrate deeper than if weighed down by excess and explanation.

Fruit Bats do this with charming deftness on Mouthfuls. Lyrically it's abstract, the narratives not fleshed out or delved into, and the few words sung are done so repeatedly, as if letting the chorus steep in itself. It's an unhurried album. It says what it wants to say, and doesn't seem to need to explain itself. It's deliberate, but sunny and inviting and playful.

It's the perfect complement to an evening like this one, where the orange sky is letting my skin soak up some of the last of this golden day, and the cyclone of words in my head is slowing down and exiting with every exhale. I think I'll let this album stay awhile.

When U Love Somebody- Fruit Bats

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

and none of you gonna stand so tall

"A Very Blustery Day"/ Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw

It's a very windy day.

I woke up with the sunshine rolling up across the sky and through my eyelids, turning my black dreamworld into a glowing pink one. Upon waking up, I had decided I was going to go on a run. It was then I saw the branches fight to remain on their trunks against the stern and badgering wind. So instead I lay here, occasionally closing my eyes and letting the warm fuchsia remind me that a break from the windy chaos outside is necessary every now and then.

It's a breathing morning.

Pink Moon- Nick Drake