Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's been a long time coming

#943 - A Change Is Gonna Come :: Sam Cooke

“It’s been a long, a long time coming,
but I know a change gonna come.”

I’m known to say things like “it will get better”, and most of the time I actually believe it. The worst of times have come into my life, but they have always passed eventually, and everytime something amazing has followed.

It may be terribly naive of me to feel this way, to believe in life itself, but I’m okay with that. I’ve been through too much, and seen both the happiest and the saddest of days, to not know that the good times come around - and change happens, sometimes whether we are ready, or not.

This song reminds me of how I try to feel, and the sentiments I try to hang on to.

Jenny & Johnny :: a mini-review

Scissor Runner
:: Jenny & Johnny
from the newly released album I’m Having Fun Now
released today (U.S.), August 31, 2010
"A scissor runner stole my heart."

I am completely and utterly enamoured with this song, and this album. I’ve been reading about Jenny (Lewis) & Johnny (Johnathan Rice) for awhile now, and the album I’m Happy Now has been one I’ve been anticipating, and counting the days until, the most this Summer. And Summer, honestly, is the perfect season for this fun, breezy, poppy, fuzzy and bright. There is optimism in this, hope, romance, freedom, and a sweet escape that vacations, first loves, and childhood play bring.

I want to drive to the beach with the windows rolled down blasting this song all the way. I want to wear flowy dresses and spin circles around to this song. I want to make out in the backseat at the drive-in to this song. I want Summer to last forever when I listen to this song (which is a lot for me to say since it is my least favorite season).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Im ready to be heartbroken

Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken :: Camera Obscura

"I can't see further than my own nose at this moment."

Everytime I hear this song my thoughts are immediately taken to scenes from Say Anything. I'm sure the name Lloyd has a lot to do with it - Lloyd Dobler being such a iconic character, especially to my generation, he is the definitive Lloyd to me (and honestly, the only one I can recall at this moment). I'm also reminded of the line in Say Anything when Lloyd says "I want to get hurt," when discussing the possibility of dating Diane Court with his two female best friends, Corey and D.C.

I'm also prone to start contemplating if any of us are really ever ready to be heartbroken. Is the action of taking a risk with someone, opening ourselves up enough to fall in love, or to even just date someone - is that action an acknowledgement that we are willing to be hurt by someone else? Or, when faced with attraction/desire/possibility of love do we suddenly all become the naive optimist who still believes in love at first sight/soulmates/true love?

And, what of those of us who are jaded by design (or really, jaded by bad experiences)? What happens when someone with low expectations, or just the inner prediction of failure, chooses to fall in love? Are they honestly saying "yes, I will walk into a coming bus? Dive head first into a pool of pirannahs? Just smile and say, yeah, you, go on and hurt me?" A train of thought such as how Lloyd sees Corey when he tells her, via a hand-held cassette recorder, "You probably got it all figured out, Corey. If you start out depressed everything's kind of a pleasant surprise."

Are we all expecting the worse anyway? Do we think we are the exception? Or are we all just a combination of blind foolishness and self-destruction when it comes to love?

For me, I guess I'm a little like Lloyd. I'm willing to get hurt, but I am ever-hopeful I won't be. To be honest I tend to prefer one of the last exchanges spoken in the film,

"Nobody thinks it will work, do they?" (Diane)
"No. You just described every great success story." (Lloyd)

Friday, August 27, 2010

I need love

#944 - I Need Love :: Sam Phillips

“I need love,
not some sentimental prison.
I need god,
not the political church.
I need fire,
to melt the frozen sea inside me.
I need love.”

In 1994 I’d come to a crossroads in my life, of sorts. Well, one of the handful of “crossroads” I’ve had, so far. I had a failed marriage behind me, a young daughter, a job at a record store, and no real idea of what I wanted or where I was going with my life.

I had all these trappings of adulthood, yet I felt completely unprepared, and at times both older and younger than my chronological age. My naive optimism was wrestling with a newfound jadedness towards love, but I was still trying to hold on and believe it was possible.

I needed something to believe in, to strive after, to make me feel alive.

I found some of that, lost some of that, found some of that again, lost it again, and hit other stops and crossroads and starts along the way. That’s life, though, right?

And, no matter where we are, or how lost we find ourselves sometimes, we all need love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

and I will rise up with fists

#945 - Rise Up With Fists!! :: Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins

“What are you changing?
Who do you think you’re changing?
You can’t change things, we’re all stuck in our ways.”

I could probably choose the entire Rabbit Fur Coat album as a favorite, and it would definitely be part of my favorite album list, because pretty much every song on the album resonates deeply with me. It is also representative of a time in my life when everything was breaking apart, and I was trying to hold on for my life and pick myself back up.

I had to find a way to “rise up with fists”, in my own way.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Come Undone (Hawk mini-review)

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan :: Come Undone
song is off the newly released album Hawk
released today (U.S.), August 24, 2010

A rented late 50's car, the kind with big fenders, heavy doors, and a bit of a back-fire when you hit the gas. Driving through the desert just a bit above the speed limit, off to anywhere but here with someone who is just three days past being a stranger. Soft sighs and rough hands, as the two toss and turn in the backseat, leaving marks and misguided lipstick stains on each other. This is a late Summer fling, a steamy page-turner, a diary entry just waiting to happen.

This song is all of that and more.

Sensual and tender voiced Isobel Campbell meets up with whiskey-rough and raw Mark Lanegan to create one of the most delicious duets. I am thrilled with this album, and cannot help but find it the perfect soundtrack for this end of Summer time - and all of those hot, humid fantasies that music like this just inspires.

Spectactular Girl (Tomorrow Morning mini-review)

Eels :: Spectacular Girl
song is off the newly released album Tomorrow Morning
released today (U.S.), August 24, 2010

Suprisingly upbeat, Spectacular Girl, off of the new to us today Tomorrow Morning album, is quite representative of the album as a whole. The video, though, unveils the dark underthings of a upbeat exterior, exposing a seemingly everyday office working woman as what is assumed to be a contract killer. I love the duality of the girl in the video, how spectacular she is, and how genuine - we may not all be office workers, or contract killers, but we all have a darker side, a shadowy self, a layer that not everyone sees.

Tomorrow Morning, in its entirity, feels like a morning after - or perhaps a fresh start morning (first of the year perhaps, or at least the first of something). It feels full of self-reflection, self-resolution, and a bit of optmism that one has come not to expect from E.

I think it has always been there, though, just like the dark side of the girl in the video - we all have a bit of both, don’t we?

I'll show them to you

Lay Lady Lay :: Magnet & Gemma Hayes

"You're clothes are dirty,
but you're hands are clean,
and I'm the best thing that you've ever seen."

I love newly discovered covers, and I love the mixed vocals of male meets female. A well-done duet has always been a favorite of mine, and I've actually had discussions with other musical friends about dream duet pairings.

There is something about the pairing of Even Johansen (Magnet) and Gemma Hayes, on this version of Lay Lady Lay (originally written and sung by Bob Dylan) that reminds me of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood's version of Summer Wine (originally written by Hazlewood and sung by Susi Jane Hokum).

Both songs hit on a trailer-park lifestyle (actually visualized in the above video), the slightly dysfunctional (yet desirious) love that stems from that, a humidity - like a late Summer afternoon - that adds to the passion and/or the desperation, and both are great examples of what a well-chosen duet can do to (re)define a song.

You're my Summer babe

#946 - Summer Babe (Winter Version) :: Pavement

"My eyes stick to all the shiny roses."

We took that road trip to San Francisco, it was late Summer, you and I, and the baby in the backseat. You picked up this album in that record store in Berkeley, and afterwards we shared a slice. She slept most afternoons in her stroller while we walked up and down the streets.

At night we'd take her in when we played pool, or into that bar your friend owned. One night we wrapped her up and took her into the park where they should movies on the side of the wall.

I think it may have been Casablanca.

For a blink of time we were a family, the three of us. On our way back from that trip we contemplated, albeit briefly, just staying. Sometimes I wonder if it would have made any difference.

Was all our "stuff" so necessary to come back for? Would we have had a fighting chance somewhere new?

What do you say, baby?

If I had the opportunity to put together an end-of-the-Summer concert, perhaps held at the beach, a small stage underneath the pier somewhere, I'd want to ask each band participating to do their favorite cover song. At the end of the day, when the sun is down and the headlining act is near the end of their set, perhaps I'd have everyone join on stage at the end and do some kind of sing-a-long, though I suppose that is a rock-n-roll festival cliche.

Some cliches are worth it, though.

I'd certainly invite Mr. Yorn, one of my favorites in terms of covers, especially when he takes on the Ramones, Bruce "the Boss" Springsteen, and The Smiths.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh, isn't it wild?

#947 - Nightclubbing :: Iggy Pop

“Nightclubbing we’re nightclubbing,
we’re what’s happening.”

My very late teens/very early twenties were spent nightclubbing in Hollywood. Those nights/early mornings were definitive in my life, and played out as a rite of passage much more than any of my adolescence did. Those nights/early mornings, with all that music (and other things) were my own life’s prom and homecoming dances - no limos, and no real dates, but so much dancing and stolen kisss, and yeah, so much drama.

There were good times and bad times, things I will never forget, things I wish I didn’t remember, but all of it makes up a kaleidoscope of memories that are so much of who I was then. And all those stories…I will keep them with me forever.

I don’t think I’d want to go back, but maybe for a night, or two?

Monday, August 16, 2010

These hazards of love never more will trouble us

#948 - The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned) :: The Decemberists

"Tell me now, tell me this,
A forest's son, a river's daughter
,A willow on the willow wisp,
our ghosts will wander all of the water."

The Decemberists albums play like a stack of storybooks to me, and I'm always so drawn to the plot within the melody, the story within the song.

I often want to drive around for hours, no where in particular, listening to songs like this one. I'd let my mind wander while the miles go by. The markers of neon and soon forgotten street names, burger joints and bars, all of them becoming part of the landscape as it changes, as it movves on. All of it would fade and become a brush stroke in my memories.

Other times I want to sit with blank pages in front of me, playing this song over and over, bringing to life the characters I see and hear in this song.

This song brings to life something like this, for me:

Music was the way Gram had met both Trixie and Mush; well, music and drugs, but music was the true connection that had started, and continued, their friendship. It was also what had sealed the deal between the two of them as a couple, and what kept them going through changes and the obstacles that life slings at people as you go along living.

Gram always knew their paths would cross again, even though it had been years between and the letters had long ceased their arrival in his post box. The last had been a postcard from some nameless beach city out on the west coast; the wish you were here variety with the predictable panoramic sunset and sand shot, the unmistakable scratch of nearly indiscernible pen markings making it clear who it was from even before he red the MT at the bottom. Long ago they'd stopped signing their names individually to him, even though he'd known each of them at different times, separately, and then later together. After awhile the lines between them blurred to him as well, one never far from the other, Mush and Trixie becoming slurred into one name, one word, and then simply into two bold letters.

He'd held onto all of them, the long drug fueled letters from their first trip to New Orleans, the paintings with small printed notes on the back from Trixie's studio in Soho, wrinkled napkins with sketched notions of tattoos stuffed in brown paper envelopes with ever-changing postmarks, along with matchbooks from various restaurants and bars, and of course mixes of music. Mush always sent tapes, a diehard believer that a true mix can only be made on a cassette; the time and skill required he claimed were where the art resides, all part and parcel with the telltale whir from the tape spooling from red to black, before the first chords of a song begin. Trixie differed in opinion, and would hold strong to the counter argument that a mix CD required just as much, if not more, care and finesse to produce the final

Thursday, August 12, 2010

1408 :: a mini-review


Last night we tried to have movie night, where one of the kids picks a movie, and then I pick one. I've been working late hours this week so there was time for only one choice, and since it was late Julia was the one to choose.

She chose 1408.

John Cusack is one of my favorite actors. No, scratch that, he is my favorite actor. I've seen most of all the films he's made, with a few exceptions, and this was one of the exceptions. I'd wanted to see it for awhile, and both Julia and Charles had been recommending it for awhile.

I really liked it. First of all, I was impressed by John's acting in this. Yes, it was a horror film, but this demanded quite a lot from the film's lead actor. Most of it was just him in the hotel room, dealing with a carnival ride of emotions spanning from sarcasm, disbelief, anger, fear, sadness, and desperation. Most of the supporting cast were ghosts, or moments of flashbacks with his wife and daughter, or initial moments with his publisher, attorney, and the hotel staff.

This is the kind of horror film I love - the psychological kind, as well as the ghost/haunting kind. I like good plot, intriguing backstory, and a personal touch to the characters that has you caring - this had all of that.

I did have some issues with a few details - one, there was mention of the character's father twice at the start of the film, yet beyond a ghostly appearance in the hotel room bathroom, there was no explanation of the story eluded to. Also, the end - endings are precarious with horror films, and typically the viewer is thrown for a loop, or a surprise, or a "its not really over" - but some of the ending left me a bit confused, and a bit let down.

Bu,t perhaps it was meant to be open-ended.

All in all, though, it was a great ride, a compelling horror storyline, and a stellar performance by John Cusack.

Zeros and ones

#949 - Science vs. Romance :: Rilo Kiley

"Text versus romance,
you go and add it all you want,
still, we're not robots inside a grid."

Sometimes I find myself so baffled by love. I sound older than my years to say I don't quite understand all the machinations of modern romance, and that often I'm just muddling through it all, trying hard to just be myself in all of it. I was never one for playing games, disguising my feelings, or relying on well-tested tricks to get ahead in matters of the heart.

I think that science and love don't play well together, and that when I try to sort it all out all I do is over-think. And, just as in the critical nature of self-editing as a writer, there is something pure and raw and real that gets lost when you over-think love.

Though, I do love the mathematics, and the science, and the brain meets the heart kind of lyrics that make-up this song; geek music love personified, or something like that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hearts too young to euthenize

#950 - I Got High (live) :: Clem Snide

"This song goes out to all you beautiful,
American girls and boys."

Sometimes I run into a song quite by accident, and in that taken by surprise state I want to stop time for awhile and just listen. I want to sit alone with the song, the lyrics, the melody and take it all in. And then I want to write to it, see where it takes me, what characters and images and plots the song pulls out of me.

This song does that to me, makes me crave those moments, and the space to write to all of it.

I see two young boys, well I would call them young, and boys. They are somewhere in-between boys and men, those adolescent years, where everything changes. They live in a small town just outside a city, close enough to see it in the skyline and to visit now and then, but far enough away to feel not part of it.

There is not much to do in this town. A bowling alley with only one working lane, a diner owned by one of the boys Aunt's, a Wallmart that helped to shut down all the smaller stores all once owned by people both of the boys knew. There is a parking lot, one of those non-chain 24-hour convenience store parking lots, and that is where they sit every night in the Summer.

They get high and look at the parts of the sky that the city lights up from afar - light pollution, I think they call it, and they silently discuss escape.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Love me, love me tonight

#951 - Temptation Eyes :: Blake Babies

"His wild-eyed innocence is just a game,
But just the same my head is spinnin',
He's got a way to keep me on his side,
It's just a ride that's never ending,
Tonight with me he'll be so exciting,
I want him all for myself."

This song reminds me of my first apartment. It was upstairs, a tiny one-bedroom that I shared with the boy who would become Julia's Dad. We didn't have a television, but we had stacks and stacks of books, and all these milk crates full of records and cassettes.

I always woke up before he did. It took me months to ever feel comfortable sleeping regularly with someone else. I'd wake up tangled up in blankets and one of his limbs, the wall too close to my face, and I'd try to plot out how to get out of bed without waking him up. I learned, after awhile, that he'd sleep through anything - earthquakes, fire alarms, loud pounding on doors, a baby crying, me crying.

Most morning I'd tiptoe out into the kitchen, turn on our coffee pot (we'd bought it at a garage sale, there was something wrong with it, some kind of slight damage, and it would take over a half hour to brew), and then flip on the stereo. One of his friends had leant me a tape with Blake Babies on it, as we'd discussed our mutual love of girl groups and female singers, and I'd fallen in love with it.

Listening to this song now, it feels like a postcard from my past, and I can see (and hear) it all so vividly.

Me & my friend saw a platypus

#952 - Handlebars :: Flobots

"Look at me, look at me,
hands in the air like it's good to be alive."

Catchy, melodic, poetic, and thoughtful - this is one of those songs that caught me off-guard and had me loving it without ever expecting to. I think this is one of the songs on this list that Julia introduced me to.

Loudly, while driving on the freeway, this is the best way to listen to this one.

The Greatest :: Mini-review

The Greatest

On Saturday mornings I like to make a pot of coffee and watch a movie, this past Saturday the movie was The Greatest. I've wanted to see this film since I first watched the trailer, and mainly due to both my long-standing love of Susan Sarandon, and my newfound love of Carey Mulligan.

The film is about the loss of a son. It is a film about young love that was just starting to blossom, and was taken away. The film is about family and marriage and parenthood. The film is about grief, about letting go, about forgiveness, and about life.

I knew the story would be sad, and I've seen films that have dealt with death and grief before, so I steadied myself for what was to come. The start of this film brings you in slowly, intimately, and then hits you as hard as the car accident that takes the life of Bennett, and leaves a very broken aftermath within his family, and the young girl he had just (finally) began to date.

There is a scene in the beginning of Bennett's family - Mother, Father and Brother - sat in the back of a limo, driving away from the graveside service, that is one of the most uncomfortable, moving and intimate scenes I've seen in a very long time. There is not conversation, it is nearly silent except for the movie's score playing, and it feels like it goes on for a very long time. We watch the family's reaction, especially the Father's (played wonderfully by Pierce Brosnan, who as an actor is winning me over, unexpectedly, lately), as they pull away - small reactions, expressions, so painful that you almost want to turn away. This is a powerful way to begin a film.

Carey Mulligan is fantastic in this. I've yet to see her in a role that I have not completely loved, and I look forward to what she does next in her career. The levels and shades and differences of grief, and how it looks, and how people deal with death, is developed so wonderfully in this film. Small shards of pain surfacing in each family member, the reverberation it has on the others, and the very personal, and intimate (again I use this word - the whole film felt so deeply intimate) nature of how we deal with the one thing none of us want to deal with.

My favorite scene is near the end when the family is rushing Rose, who is about to give birth to Bennnett's daughter, to the hospital and are all trying to tell Rose stories of who Bennett was. The choices they make in what they tell, the way the stories overlap each other's, and the healing that takes place in that one scene is breathtaking.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra :: Mini-Review

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Saturday nights have become obscure/cheesy horror/sci-fi night as of late. My boyfriend is quite the connosiur of such fare, and seems to have a neverending supply of choices. Sometimes we mock the small TV screen the entire time, having our own version of Mystery Science Theater, other times we actually get caught up in the usually way-far-fetched plot, and then there are tiems we just laugh - A LOT.

This film was a case of the latter.

From the first few scenes, and lines such as "I'm a scientist, I don't believe in anything", or the talking skeleton discovered later who ends every diatribe with "I sleep now" - we had plenty of fodder for laughter (and future tag line jokes).

The film itself does not take itself seriously. It is, well, not exactly a parody, but more of a tribute to B-grade science fiction and monster movies. As the movie unfolds you can feel the wink at the viewer, but it isn't mocking, but more like bringing us in on the joke.

My favorite characters are two of the three shown above - the talking (and sleeping) skeleton of Cadavra, and Animala, somewhat cloned girl put together by (if memory serves me right) the blending of four different animals.

Oh Saturdays, I miss you already.

Land Of Talk :: Cloak & Cipher :: Mini-Review

Land Of Talk :: Quarry Hymns (live)
song is off the newly released album, Cloak & Cipher
released today (U.S.), August 10, 2010

Dissonance, melody, recovery and a gang of musical friends are all part of the foundations behnd Land Of Talk’s sophmore release, Cloak & Cipher. After surviving, and recovering, from a vocal hemmorhage, lead singer Elizabeth Powell returns with an at times haunting, and at other times lilting, vocal range. Members of Arcade Fire and Stars come along for the ride, and listening to the album as a whole, it is a recognizable compilation of sound.

Land Of Talk reminds me a bit of some of the early/mid-90’s not completely-riot grrl girl groups, such as Letters for Cleo, Throwing Muses and Veruca Salt. At times I’m also reminded of a favorite, though not well-known, band called Drugstore (mostly known for their collaboration with Thom Yorke on the song El Presidente).

The stark, and angel with a shot of whiskey quality, in the clip above, when Elizabeth is walking along the street and singing acoustic, is gorgeous. I’m torn between loving the more sonic buzz and hum sound of the album, and the more raw and stripped down sound above - I’m thinking I’m loving both.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

You know I'm aware

I'm Aware :: Clinic

Return to childhood imaginary friends, mystical creatures that seem brought to life by some Beatlesque Yellow Submarine dream and cartoon skies, make up the new video by Clinic. Fitting, as the bands sound has evolved into something that harkens the Magical Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine era of the Beatles, fused with modern indie-pop sensibilities.

Listening to the first single, I'm Aware, as well as a featured
megamix of said song, I feel as if Clinic is gifting us with some merging of Liverpool's yesterday and today.

Bubblegum, the forthcoming album set to be released in the U.S. sometime in October, is promised to be a dream state of dulcimers, strings and tack piano. Clinic plans to visit the U.S., as well, with the following dates:

8- 16 Brooklyn, NY - Bell House
8-19 New York, NY - Joe's Pub
8-21 Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell's
11-05 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
11-06 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brendas
11-09 Montreal, QB - La Sala Rossa
11-10 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
11-11 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
11-12 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry
11-15 Seattle, WA - Neumos
11-16 Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
11-17 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
11-19 San Francisco, CA - The Independent
11-20 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour

I look forward to hearing the new album as I'm really digging this first song. What do you think?

I lost my heart under the bridge

#953 - Down By The Water :: PJ Harvey

"Little fish, big fish,
swimming in water,
Come back here, man,
bring me my daughter."

The smell of cigarettes and gasoline, the dim lights of a nearly deserted parking lot, the hour so late that it was almost the next day, and this song playing over us. We had one of those strange relationships that is never quite defined: lover, friend, companion, accomplice. I know our times together were stolen - hours between shifts and responsibilities and places we were meant to be. We were unexpected, which helped keep a veil of secrecy around us, though I'm still not sure what we were trying to hide.

There was always music. There was always conversation. Sometimes there was kissing, and other physical trysts. Sometimes there were arguements, or silent sulks. Sometimes there was nothing but two people in a car, driving fast, escaping in silencing, touching hands sometimes as if to remind ourselves that we weren't alone.

This song was part of that time, part of us, and now forever part of that memory.