Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Songs That Kill

There are certain songs that cut right to the bone.  Even tossed into a play list among other more innocent tunes, some songs just have the ability to stop me in my tracks.  I am helpless to resist their power. Of course, sometimes a song will strike me that way that never has before and never will again, but there are others that do it every time.  A lot of the pleasure I get from music stems from it's ability to take up residence in my head and open up all the dark corners.  It causes a good kind of ache, a cathartic kind of awakening.  I've compiled a little list for you of 10 songs from my iPod that hurt so good (plus a few honorable mentions because you know by now that I can never really narrow it down that far).

1. Who Wants to Live Forever - Queen - Greatest Hits II
Sure, this one's kind of obvious, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.  The huge, swelling string arrangement tucked in behind Freddie Mercury's perfect voice, the lyrics, the whole thing. Ugh, deadly.

2. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
There is a reason some songs are just known as powerful - because they are.  That simple.  This song goes straight in like a dagger.  Funny how this song seems like it should be uplifting but it makes me tear up every time I hear it.  Weird.  I think it's mostly the gut wrenching quality of Art Garfunkel's voice.

3. Round Here - Counting Crows - August and Everything After
When I first heard this song, I was very young and impressionable and it made quite the impression.   It has long been one of my go-to songs for when life just hurts and I want to hear the sound of it.

4. Go Where You Belong - Ryan Schmidt - White Horse EP
If you've ever felt the weight of not knowing exactly where you belong, this one will get you.  Mix this fact with that guitar and those vocals and you have a definite killer on your hands.

5. Then I'll Be Smiling - Matt Nathanson - Still Waiting For Spring
I've never heard about this song getting much attention and I just don't get that.  For me, it's one of the most powerful songs in his collection. 

6. Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
This is another one that got to me when I was young and didn't know any better.  The bells, the bass, the drum, Billy Corgan's unusual vocal all combined with lines like "Disarm you with a smile, and leave you like they left me here, to wither in denial" to make a song that I just can't shake.

7. Homesick - Soul Asylum - Grave Dancers Union
Another one of those songs that tapped into that feeling of disconnect, that longing for something intangible back when I was a kid.  The influence of a song hangs with us as long as the shadow of the emotion that gave it it's power lingers.

8. Remark - Rachel Platten - Be Here
This is far and away the newest song on my assassin list.  The gentle sound of it, her voice, it all drew me in, but the line, "When our mothers call we're busy doing stuff, we'll get back to them when things start clearing up" killed me dead, right in my spot.

9. Thinking Bout You - Pat Monahan - Last of Seven
When you lose someone who is essential to who you are, it's easy for a song like this to creep in and fuck you up.  This one did just that.  For a long time I couldn't even hear the opening without bursting into tears. These days, I can get to the first chorus (usually), but sometimes this song is exactly what I need.

10. Stories I Tell - Toad the Wet Sprocket - Fear
This song, well actually, pretty much this entire album is devastating.  I picked this song in particular though because it has always been my favorite.  If you don't know Toad the Wet Sprocket (named for a Monty Python skit, I believe) go find them - their heavy, haunting sound and intelligent lyrics will get you too.

Honorable mentions - here's a few that fall into this category and either they just do and I don't have anything else to say about it, or I don't care to comment on them specifically:
Hate Me - Blue October - Foiled
Zero - Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: Dawn to Dusk
Perfect Blue Buildings - Counting Crows - August and Everything After
Natural - Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
Long Day - Matchbox 20 - Yourself or Someone Like You

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Micah - Micah EP

Album: Micah - EP
Artist: Micah
Release: July 14, 2006

How have I not talked about this one already? (honestly, I kind of thought I had)  This was Micah's debut but of course I got it last because I do everything backwards.  I would say that this EP has my favorite Micah song on it, but that would require me to pick between "Wasted" and "Goodbye" and this just isn't gonna happen.  So we'll just have to split the difference.  "Goodbye" is one of those that is very upbeat sounding which is in contrast to the lyrics and I love that.  It is very reminiscent of Stevie Wonder (or Jamiroquai if you're a generation younger) which is sweet.  I have literally danced around the house to this song a number of times and I haven't even begun to get tired of it.  "Wasted" is of the same vein as "Goodbye"and is definitely dance-around-like-a-fool worthy.  I put these both on a couple play lists that my husband and I listened to while we were working on a home improvement project (that drug on forever) and they both held up wonderfully to everything I could think to mix them with - everything from Matt Nathanson to The Black Keys to Red Hot Chili Peppers - and that says a lot.

The next two songs are decidedly more chill.  "Thinking" opens with "I'm scared as hell, thinking 'bout the future, thinking 'bout everything" and there isn't a person on earth that can't relate to that.  Never before has the fear of moving on and changing and our tendency to stand in our own way been so fun to listen to!  "Take Me Home" is another one that portrays a bit of the human experience that we've all had.  It expresses that desire within us all to go home, whether home is an actual physical place or just a simpler, more comforting time.  In this crazy, hectic world of isolation and anonymity, I think this urge to slip out of the rat race and into a place that feels like home, where we're known and understood and accepted, even if just for a minute, is pretty commonplace.  Listening to this song will give you that feeling, for 4 1/2 minutes.

Even if you're not familiar with Micah's work (then you have clearly been ignoring me and what is your problem??) you should definitely check this EP out.  The songs are just so catchy and human - I don't see how they wouldn't appeal to everyone.  Just go get it and give it a listen and you'll see what I mean.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Music Monday

Album: As I Make My Way - EP
Artist: The Commuters
Release: August, 2011

These songs aren't incredibly new as they were released last August, but then again, they're the best kind of new because they're all tracks from their upcoming album Release which will come out April 17, 2012.  I don't remember where I heard about these guys or how I ended up with this EP (I'm assuming I downloaded here), but I do know that it sat in iTunes gathering virtual dust for quite a while before I ever got around to listening to it.  What a mistake!  In the original spirit of my New Music Mondays, I haven't listened to these songs very many times so this is a first impression, but I have listened to them enough to know that I like them, quite a lot actually. 

The first three, "As I Make My Way", "Fallen From Grace" and "Bombs Away" are largely guitar driven rock songs.  But that's not to say they all sound the same, not by any means.  "As I Make My Way" and "Bombs Away" are the kinds of songs you want to turn up and dance around the house to while "Fallen From Grace" has a more laid back, more introspective vibe.  Then they change it up all together with the piano based "You'll Stay Right Here" which I guess you could say is the ballad of this collection.  It's a very pretty song and the lead singer's vocals definitely hold up in this quiet song where they have nowhere to hide.  Overall, I'm really digging this little collection of songs and I'm looking forward to the full length album coming out in April.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Sing Me Sweet" - Headliners Music Hall - 02/24/2012

If you know me at all, you know that it is 100% amazing that I have actually uploaded a video from last night's concert already.  I never ever record anything, so I think it's remarkably steady, but it is quite narrow because clearly I did something wrong, sorry about that.  We all have my husband to thank for this little captured memory because he reminded me at some point during the show that I had said I wanted more pictures and at least one full song recorded - probably because I whined about not having much after the Nashville show.  (Thank you, Hon!)

So here are the guys performing "Sing Me Sweet", enjoy!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Matt Nathanson - Headliners Music Hall Louisville - 02/24/2012

As I may have mentioned a time or two, we went to see Matt Nathanson at Headliners Music Hall in Louisville, KY last night.  I have seen him twice before (at the KY State Fair and at Cannery Ballroom in Nashville, TN) so I was pretty sure it would be a good show and for the most part, I was not disappointed.  Honestly the only thing that let me down about this show was lack of connection between them and the majority of the audience.  Personally, I was right up front (literally touching the stage) so I was pretty caught up in what was going on up there, but I was still kind of irritated by the way the crowd seemed so flat.  Unfortunately one excited person doesn't a good audience make and I guess I just don't contain enough infectious enthusiasm to excite 599 other people.  I'm not a fan of it when people think their only responsibility is to buy a ticket and show up.  I don't appreciate being stuck in a room full of people that don't seem to grasp the give-and-take of energy that should be happening during a live show.  And I honestly felt bad for Matt, Aaron, Shiben, Konrad and James because they were up there doing their thing and the audience just wasn't reciprocating like they should have. Given some recent conflict with a fan (who was a complete idiot in my not-humble-at-all opinion), I can see where maybe Matt would have been a I hate that anything like that might have happened to keep the stars and moon from aligning just right Friday night.

Anyway, Rachel Platten opened for them and I don't know if you're familiar with her, but you really should be.  Not only is she just about the cutest thing I've ever seen, but she has a great voice and absolutely plays the shit out of that piano!  I thought she had a really good set, it was fun and full of energy.  She did "Don't Care What Time It Is" and "You Don't Have to Go" which are a couple of my favorite songs off her record Be Here, so of course I was happy.  In a way, I wanted to hear her to "Remark" live, but (even though I love it) that song makes me feel so sad that I'm kind of glad she didn't.  I was disappointed to see that I appeared to be about the only person singing along.  I mean, what's wrong with people?  If you know who's opening, don't you think you owe it to them to at least check out their music before the show?? I just happened to really like her, so now I know all the words, but they could have at least learned a chorus here and there.  Anyway, regardless of the crowd, I thought she killed it and it is so fun to watch somebody perform who is still so excited when people clap and are supportive of them. ***Edit*** Somehow I forgot to mention that Rachel's rendition of "Gin and Juice" is pretty much my favorite thing I've ever heard.  That alone was totally worth the price of admission! It was a perfect blend of hilarious and awesome.  Loved. It.

Rachel Platten & Crew Getting Down
In between sets we got to watch Aaron Tap tune guitars and set stuff up, which prompted my husband (who has a degree in IT) to say, "I didn't realize you had to have a degree in IT to play guitar!"  I had never been that close to the stage and all the gadgetry really is remarkable.  I have no idea what any of that very complicated looking stuff does, except that it makes magic.  He was literally right in front of us, but I controlled my urge to yell "You're awesome!!" because he was working and I didn't want to be that weird girl (or, you know, I didn't necessarily want everybody to know that I'm that weird girl).  My ability to not flip out was tested again when Aaron noticed my Ryan Schmidt shirt right away when they all came out on stage to perform.  The mature adult in me said, "Hey, that was pretty cool" while the fangirl that lives in my heart totally shit her pants

Aaron Tap - Tuning
They opened the show with "Kiss Quick" off Modern Love which is an incredible song both live and on the record - especially on vinyl for whatever reason.  Problem was, the sound was a little jacked for that one and I just wasn't ready for it.  I got used to them opening with "Mercy" and I'm not saying the set list should be the same for every show by any means, but to lead with "Kiss Quick" just threw me a little.  Maybe the whole audience didn't know what to do with that, maybe that was part of their problem.  I don't know.  Still an amazing song though and I'm glad I got to see it (feel it) live again. 

I thought the whole show was great because I think these guys are awesome and I find just being there and watching them do their thing to be a pretty sweet experience but it wasn't the mind blowing magical experience I had when I saw them in Nashville.  Nevertheless, a couple highlights for me were "Bottom of the Sea" because I just dig it and every time I get to hear it I'm happy about it.  I attempted to record it, but because I'm a little dumb sometimes and not used to recording/taking pictures of stuff, I didn't actually record it, so you know...oops.  I did get "Sing Me Sweet" taped though so I'll post that here at some point.  It's a pretty good video too if I do say so myself.  I also really got into "Wedding Dress" and "Gone" - two I had never seen him do live before.  They were cool because they're heavy and I love those live songs where you can just close your eyes and let them carry you.  Good stuff.

Konrad, Matt and Shiben (well, his hair and his bass) - Rockin'
Overall, the performance was everything I had expected, but there just wasn't any energy bouncing back and forth between the stage and the audience at all.  The guys even had some awesome rock show moments when they were playing the hell out of those guitars - Matt was getting feedback off the amps, Aaron was against the wall just going to town and still, people just stared at them and didn't get into it.  I mean seriously, what the fuck? Having seen these guys before, I am inclined to blame the audience almost entirely, but after discussing it with someone who is blessed with more perspective than I have, I'm not 100% certain that's the case anymore.  I'm sure musicians have off nights, everybody has off times, but I still think a great audience can help them through that - this audience just sucked the good vibes out of the room, if you ask me.  Bummer.  I saw via twitter that their show in Champaign, IL tonight was incredible and I'm glad - I hope they had a great audience.

However, most exciting (and the part that made my night), I got to meet Aaron Tap briefly after the show and he signed a couple things.  He was very friendly and I really appreciated him taking a minute to chat while he was packing up his stuff and after they had just played and he had to be tired.  I think I mostly managed to act like a normal human being even though I was totally freaking out - but I probably acted like a spaz. That's cool, it happens.  I still have an unsigned copy of Modern Love on vinyl.  At some point I'll track down Matt and get that bad boy signed too.  They're playing just a couple hours from here tomorrow night, but with it being tax season and all, it just didn't work out for me to go to that one.  Hopefully this summer I'll get another chance!

Aaron Tap - Singin' and Strummin'
Here's what I can remember of the setlist (totally out of order I'm sure, except I know they opened with "Kiss Quick" and I know that the encore is right):
Kiss Quick
Modern Love
Queen of (K)nots
Sing Me Sweet
Little Red Corvette
Blister in the Sun
Bottom of the Sea
Room @ the End of the World
Wedding Dress
Detroit Waves
Car Crash
Drop to Hold You
Come On Get Higher

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Friday Cannot Get Here Soon Enough!!

In case you haven't noticed, we're going to see Matt Nathanson at Headliners Music Hall in Louisville this Friday night.  To say that I'm excited would be a gross understatement.  The excitement is, like quadrupled because Aaron Tap will also be there (obviously) and I'm also really looking forward to seeing Rachel Platten who is opening the evening.

I will definitely report back this weekend with a play by play of the show (which is going to rule).  In the meantime, I will be the twitchy excited girl working mad overtime so I can take off work early on Friday!

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Music Monday

Last week I was a major slacker in the new music arena.  I have more than made up for it this week.  I originally intended to listen to Green River Ordinance for today so I made a little nighttime playlist of their songs to that end.  However, I made the mistake of putting Matt Nathanson, Ryan Schmidt, Aaron Tap and Carbon Leaf in front of them on the playlist.  As a result, I only got through a few of their songs, but I did add a couple Carbon Leaf songs to this post.  So you get more variety!

"Life Less Ordinary" - Carbon Leaf
This song, from their album Indian Summer (an album so good that I bought a copy even though it was originally given to me for free) is one of the best songs I've heard in a while.  When I walk around the house singing a song and my husband goes, "Who does that <insert random lyric*> song?" and I tell him and he replies with, "That's a good song", then I know it's a keeper.  That happened with this one tonight.  I already knew of its awesomeness, but that just sealed the deal. 

"What About Everything" - Carbon Leaf
Another very cleverly written song by Carbon Leaf.  (Pretty sure I'm officially a Carbon Leaf fan at this point, which is cool)  The first time I really listened to this one, the line "What about that midnight phone call, the one that wakes you from your peace" actually made me tear up.  One too many of those midnight phone calls, I suppose.  Either way, they officially got to me with that line and I was hooked.  I highly recommend you give them a listen, you won't be disappointed.

"Dancing Shoes" - Green River Ordinance
This song, off their EP The Morning Passengers is the first song I ever heard by them.  Having no preconceived notion, I assumed they were a country band based on this song.  I mean, come on, between the harmonica, the mention of Emmy Lou Harris and sitting on the front porch - it pretty much is a country song!  As a general rule, I'm not a fan of country music, but I'm also not a fan of labels and I like this song, I don't give a shit what genre it sounds like.

"Come On" - Green River Ordinance
The next one on the playlist, this one is from their 2009 release Out of My Hands.  "Come On" has a much more rock music feel to it than "Dancing Shoes".  It's kind of Daughtry-esque, but much better somehow.  It's pretty much just a catchy little rock song about sticking it out and making a relationship work.

"Out of My Hands" - Green River Ordinance
The last one of theirs that I listened to enough this week enough to have an opinion on, "Out of My Hands" is another good song and it sounds entirely different from the first two I listened to.  But that's kind of where they're losing me, I think.  All of their songs (I've been through them all at least once) are good, I don't have any complaints about them really (except for the way he pronounces "girl" in "Endlessly"...argh) but they all sound so different from each other, I'm having trouble pinning this band down.  Variety is good, no doubt, but it's almost like they're struggling for an identity.  I'd be hard pressed to describe their sound, even in the most general terms.  But they're good, I like them and right now, that's enough for me.

*the random lyric in this case was "took the bones of me"

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Vinyl

Yesterday afternoon we went to Half Price Books and I browsed the used CD rack for a while.  I was lucky enough to find Regina Spektor's Begin to Hope and Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water.  I'm telling you right now, if that song ("Bridge Over Troubled Water") doesn't, at the very least, put a lump in your throat, you really need to have a serious conversation with yourself about your humanity.  Dude, it's a killer.  This album also has "The Boxer" on it, which is my all time favorite S&G song, so it was a major steal at $4.79. 

Then we went and visited my favorite little record store (which happens to be right here in our tiny little town) and not only did I join their vinyl club, but we also found Rubber Factory by The Black Keys and Dr. Dog's new release Be The Void, both on vinyl.  I had never heard anything by Dr. Dog before, I had only heard that Shame, Shame was an incredible record.  It was so exciting and old school to buy something that I had never heard before (you know, I hadn't previewed it on iTunes yet) that I just couldn't resist.  And, thankfully, I was not disappointed.

We listened to Rubber Factory as soon as we got home.  The record shop guy said it was far and away his favorite album by The Black Keys, but I don't know about that.  Don't get me wrong, it is quite good, but it doesn't have quite the gritty, sexy groove that Thickfreakness has.  Maybe it's the cover art...who knows.  Rubber Factory is much more mellow though, so if that's the mood you're in, it's definitely the right record.  Pretty sure the record shop guy is a bit of a stoner, so I can see where he's coming from.

All in all, it was a good music weekend.  Now, if I could just talk my laptop and iTunes into getting together and importing all these CDs I've purchased lately, that would be awesome.  It gave up after Gooicide.  I guess that was just too much awesome for it to handle.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mind. Blown.

What does it mean to have your mind blown?  What is the criteria for something to be mind blowing?  I suppose if we could answer that question, we'd all be millionaires.  Or would everyone knowing the secret devalue it completely?  I'm pretty sure no one "knows" the secret because it is different for every person - and probably different for each person every day. 

I do know that something that blows my little mind to smithereens today might not have any effect on me tomorrow at all. (hang on just a sec while I google "effect vs. affect"...ok, we're good)  I might listen to a song or album today and it clears my mind, gets all the bad stuff out of there, or helps me think through some of it and that's awesome.  Or I can focus on the entire arrangement or the sound of someone's fingertips on guitar strings and think of nothing else until the song is over.  Both, serious mind blowing events.  But tomorrow I might skip right over that same song without a second thought.  The mind is such a fickle place!

I saw someone tweet a while ago about how the things that people were calling "mind blowing" disturbed him, I assume because he didn't find it to be quality stuff.  At first I agreed with him, but now that I've mulled it over more, I'm not so sure.  It's a similar argument to "What Gives Music Value" - it is all in the ear/mind/heart of the beholder.

A song doesn't have to be technically perfect to have a powerful effect on someone.  It doesn't have to be earth shattering or change the world.  All it really has to do is be the right song at the right time for the right person.  With such infinite variables, the songs that could do that must also be infinite.  Perhaps "Macarena" blew someone's mind in, nevermind, that shit didn't happen.

I use the term a lot and every time I say it, I mean it.  Right then, when I listened to whatever it was, my mind was blown.  Either I couldn't believe how amazing the guitar sounded ("Go Where You Belong" by Ryan Schmidt) or perhaps the lyrics hit home and hit hard ("Remark" by Rachel Platten) or maybe just the overall awesomeness of it knocked me off my feet (Gooicide by Betty Goo or Modern Love by Matt Nathanson). 

So be open to it.  Be open to letting something crawl inside your mind and make a nest.  There are all kinds of wonderful things out there and you never know what's going to do it for you.  Maybe it's one line out of a song, or one song on an album, or an entire hour (or 46.7 minutes) of awesome.  But trust me, it's out there, so let it happen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Grammys

So now that we've all had a day to get over our shock and awe (or disappointment and boredom), I'll recap the Grammys from my perspective.  Also, just so you know, this is from memory so it is almost certain to be out of order and disjointed.  Enjoy.

LL Cool J hosted this year.  Ah, LL...I remember him back in the day, back in the "Knock You Out" days when he was oh-so-fine (and really, he still is) and I was oh-so-young (and really, I still act like I am).  He was rocking a velvet suit and I do mean rocking it.  I'm not sure I approved of the prayer at the beginning...don't we have some kind of separation of church and Grammys in this country?  Well, if we do, Nicki Minaj missed that memo.  And speaking of - what the fuck was that??  Did you see her "performance"?  I wasn't a big Nicki Minaj fan to begin with, now I'm not one at all.  That was the most pointless, attention-whore bunch of crap I've seen since Madonna played the Super Bowl (or the last time Lady Gaga was on stage).

Now that I brought Lady Gaga into this (despite her total irrelevance last night), what in the hell was she wearing last night??  Did she get confused while trying to put on her fishnets and just left them over her head?  What was with the giant stick?  Was she talking softly while she carried it or is she a majorette now?  Who knows with her.  She is obviously bat shit crazy.  The most hilarious part of her entire ensemble was the fact that someone thought it would be a good plan to have her wear it while sitting next to Miranda Lambert.  Mrs. Blake Shelton might be a wild and crazy girl, but she seems reserved and very un-Gaga (that's a compliment, by the way) and I felt sorry for her having to sit next to that hot mess.  At least there was no raw meat involved this time.

On to the performances...Bruno Mars rocked it.  I bet his shows are a crap ton of fun to attend.  He's always just a ball of energy on stage and looks like he's having a blast.  I also enjoyed Foo Fighters' performances, although I found the addition of the Mouse Dude a little disconcerting.  There was something off about following Dave's awesome acceptance speech about it being about the head and the heart and the human with a David Guetta/Deadmau5 performance, you know? 

I didn't watch Taylor Swift perform...mostly because she makes me puke and I have the power of fast forward.  I did watch The Band Perry, Blake Shelton and Glen Campbell though and that was good. The Civil Wars were excellent too, which is pretty much to be expected from those two.  I thought Jennifer Hudson did a great job (especially since she couldn't have had too long to prepare) and Alicia Keys and  Bonnie Raitt made a fine showing.  I fast forwarded through Chris Brown's bullshit (both times), but I watched Rhianna...mostly because my husband and I were pondering if she had lost weight because her ass seems to have completely disappeared which really is a shame.  I watched a couple minutes of Coldplay, only to try and put my finger on why I dislike them so much.  I can't decide, I think it's just because they suck.

I cheered out loud when Foo Fighters won and I booed when they lost.  Sure, Adele's album was fine, her voice is beautiful, blah, blah, blah, but I LOVE Wasting Light and Doo-Wops & Hooligans, so if I had been picking winners, she would have done more sitting and less crying on stage.  Her performance was one to be proud of though.  She seemed kind of nervous but she worked that shit out.  And she looked great - her eyelashes were ridiculous!  I must have some.  Now that I have somehow wandered over to makeup choices - what was happening with Carrie Underwood's eyelashes?  She is so gorgeous, her hair, her dress, it was all perfection - except those crazy looking spider eyelashes.  Gah.

So yeah, that's about it.  I have a standard awards show procedure: I record it, then about an hour or so after it starts I start watching the recording so I can fast forward through commercials and things that suck.  I started watching about 9:20pm and by 11:00 I was caught up.  There was a lot of fast forwarding to do - but that's because along with the flashes of awesome, there was a lot of crap on that stage Sunday night usual.  The Grammys people need to get their shit together and get more genuinely talented people on that show and start rewarding that instead of focusing so much on crazy outfits, light shows and smoke and mirrors.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Music Monday (...or not)

No new music this Monday morning.  I'm sorry.  The simple fact is that I'm still completely ate up with the Betty Goo album that I got last week and I haven't made time to listen to anything else.  Well, except for Nothing/Everything by Paula Kelley which came in the mail Saturday, but I've scarcely listened to it enough to have an opinion. 

I have a plan for upcoming Mondays though, so in a weak attempt to make up for my slacker ways, I'll share the plan with you:

Green River Ordinance - I have 7 songs by them that I haven't even listened to yet, so I'm going to check those out this week and I'll ramble about them next Monday.

The Walla Recovery - I've only listened to them a little bit while I was at work one day, but I think I like them so far.  They kind of remind me of Mumford & Sons which is cool.  I'll be talking about their album With Trembling... (already I love the title, so that's a good start).

Chelsey Scott - after that will be Chelsey Scott's The Little Boat EP.  I've actually had this one for a while but haven't listened to it yet.  I got it at the end of December, but it's just been sitting there.  So I'm putting it in the New Music rotation to make myself take the time to give it a chance.

The Commuters - I got their album Rescue a couple weeks ago and it's another that's sitting in iTunes gathering virtual dust.  I don't even remember where I got it or where I heard about them, but you never know, maybe I'll love it!

So there you go, that's what's coming.  But for right now, I'm going to listen to Gooicide again...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Betty Goo - Gooicide

Album: Gooicide
Artist: Betty Goo
Release: 1997

Just when I thought I knew how much of a genius Aaron Tap is, I got ahold of a copy of Gooicide by Betty Goo, which he sang and played guitar for in the 90's and...Holy Shit.  I had found bits and pieces of this record online and had listened to as much of it as I could find, but I've only listened to the entire thing twice now (give me a break, I just got in the mail yesterday) so I don't feel like I can do one of those in-depth pulling out lyrics, telling you what it's about kind of reviews.  But at the same time, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that with this one.  Trying to talk about this record song by song or in great detail is like trying to remember a dream.  The more I try, the more it slips away, which is why I'm going to go ahead and just sing its praises now while I'm still high on the first couple spins.

I was told (warned?) that the record was kind of schizophrenic before I had a chance to listen to it.  That was a true statement, but it is all over the place in the best possible way.  In that regard, it kind of reminds me of Violent Femmes because I never know where it's going, but it is always going somewhere awesome.  Mr. Tap's vocal calisthenics and the sick shit he makes that guitar do just get down inside my head and refuse to let go.  There is a sound to this record - I can't put my finger on it, it's just like some people playing music and just letting it happen.  Maybe that's not at all how this record was made, but it sounds organic and cathartic.  It is one of very (very!) few records that I have no desire to shuffle or split up into multiple playlists, I just want to experience the entire thing, all the way through, just the way it was recorded.

My only complaint about this album is that I can't ever hear it for the first time again.  I will only get more and more familiar with it and soon I'll know it like the back of my hand.  Which is not to say that it won't still be blowing my mind then, but never again will it have exactly the same effect it had on me last night.  I got it in the mail yesterday, and I quickly ripped it to iTunes and put it on my iPod.  Unfortunately we didn't go to bed until midnight (even though my alarm goes off at 5:45am) but I started listening to it anyway (I always lay in bed and listen to something before I go to sleep, it's a habit I got into during a time when sleepless nights were the norm). 

Big mistake.  Once I got started and this thing borrowed its way into my brain, there was no possible way I could turn it off and just stop listening to it until it was over.  Listening to this record, laying there in the dark with nothing to distract me, was an experience to say the least.  Betty Goo is taking you on a trip, and I'm pretty sure they don't even know the destination, but you are sure as shit going where ever they want to take you and you're going to like it.  Or at least, I did.    I'm not sure it's possible to walk into a record store and buy this one and I know for sure that it's not on iTunes, but trust me, if you dig things that are inventive and interesting and unusual, it is definitely worth putting some effort into finding it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It Is a Beautiful Thing to be Affected

In this world of constant contact and the ability to reach out and touch more people in more distant places than ever before, it seems we somehow keep becoming more and more isolated.  We share every thought, every action, every stupid thing that passes through our minds on facebook or twitter or whatever and yet, real human to human contact has become more and more rare.  We're closed off in our little bubbles, jaded and untouchable.  It's almost like we pride ourselves on not giving a shit about anything.  But closing off the part of ourselves that connects to other people is like cutting of an essential piece of our humanity.

What's wrong with being affected?  What's wrong with feeling something and letting someone else make you feel something?  Our ability to empathize and share emotional experiences is what makes us exceptional.  And therein lies the magic of music.  In my opinion, no other art form has the ability to tap into our deepest, squishiest parts like music (or, at least, not mine).  And the exact effect it has on us depends on the song we choose and what we need it to do. 

Sure, it enters through your ears (or possibly right straight through your skin if you're at a live show), but it flows throughout your entire body.  It fills your head with sound, flooding out all other thoughts if necessary.  It trickles down into your heart, with the power to make it race or slow it down.  Music lets you swallow that lump in your throat and gently loosens the knot in your stomach or, if that's what you came for, it can bring forth that lump and let you have a good cry.  It can calm some restless legs or make you jump up and dance (or wiggle about with glee...not exactly the same thing).  And on its journey it has the ability to tickle every little part in between.

And when all that happens to you, when you let it happen, it is a celebration of humanity.  They say music soothes the savage beast and it's true, it can soothe that savage beast that exists within all of us.  Or it can set the savage beast on a rampage of emotion.  While I put a lot of stock in keeping your shit together and not barfing every emotion you have all over everyone, I can't understand why anyone would want to completely shut down that vulnerable, impressionable part of themselves.  To take the music in and let it change you, become part of you, do things to you that no amount of drugs or therapy will ever do, is a truly beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shopping List

Several times, I've mentioned my "shopping list" in reference to Aaron Tap's website.  The funny thing is, I actually do have a music shopping list.  You know, a list of new (and old) things that have tickled my fancy that I want to own one day.  I can't possibly just jump and buy every single thing that turns my crank at that moment (although I have been doing just that at an alarming rate lately), so I keep a little list going and add to it and take away from it as my mood and desire to listen to different things changes. 

To be honest, I have two lists.  One is things that I want all on my own.  I have discovered these artists through friends' suggestions and through my own endless search for good shit.  My second list are intriguing things that Matt Nathanson has suggested on his (less frequent these days, it seems) #morningrecords posts on twitter and his blog.  These are secondary, just stuff I'll check out if I come across them in a used bin or have an urge to try something different.

My List (in no order whatsoever):
Betty Goo - Superchthonic (the search for this one has been on for some time now, but I refuse to give up! - You guys!!  I totally found it!!  And some dude in PA is a little richer for having parted this fool with her money, but I still think I got the better end of that deal) and their debut Betty Goo released only on cassette
Aaron Tap - Bronchitis (another cassette release...I have a feeling that for this and Betty Goo I'll have to wait until he and PK have a yard sale and I'll fly 3,000 miles to buy them for $0.50 each off a card table)
Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence; Parley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme; Bookends; Bridge Over Troubled Water
Madi Diaz - Plastic Moon
Throwing Muses - The  Real Ramona
Ingrid Michaelson - Girls and Boys
Carbon Leaf - Nothing Rhymes with Woman
Green River Ordinance - The Morning Passengers (Acoustic Sessions), Wait a Minute More
Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers - Gift Horse
Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores - Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Matt Nathanson - Ernst, Not Colored Too Perfect
Jesse Macht - Where is Lerone Kamara, and the new EP coming out this fall (I think...hopefully it'll be sooner!)
Butch Walker - I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart
The Head and The Heart - The Head and The Heart
Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
The Black Keys - Rubber Factory, Magic Potion
The Commuters - Release
Train - California 37
Matchbox Twenty - new album coming out "soon"...when it does, I'm on it.
Jon Palmer and the New Complainers - anything they release in the future is on my list

"Morning Records" List (I have a couple other things on this list, but these are the ones I'm most interested in):
The Afghan Whigs - Black Love
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame; Be the Void
Bob Dylan - Oh Mercy
Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials (maybe...I'm not sold on this one yet)
Grateful Dead - American Beauty
Ben Harper - Welcome to the Cruel World
The Hooters - One Way Home
PJ Harvey - Dry
The Kinks - State of Confusion
Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Henry's Dream
Wall of Voodoo - Call of the West
Regina Spektor - Live in London, Begin to Hope

Now I have my list here, so when I lose the sticky notes that contain this information (that I use as bookmarks), I won't be devastated.  If you own any of these records and love them (or loathe them, for that matter) or if you have any suggestions for things I should add to these lists, I'd love to hear from you!  And as always, I'll let you know what I think as I come to own these babies.

Edit: a strikethrough means that I own it now...not that I don't want it anymore.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Music Monday

I have been listening to a ton of new music lately; so much so that I kind of feel like I'm neglecting some old favorites.  I'll have to rectify that situation soon, but for now I'm really enjoying finding new artists and expanding my collection.  This week I'm going to share a few new albums that I've come to own recently.  A couple of these are new to the world, a couple aren't, but they are all new to me, so maybe they will be to you too!

Thickfreakness - The Black Keys
I was coerced into buying this album by my husband who is really coming into his music-nerd own with his fondness for The Black Keys.  Besides having possibly my favorite title ever, Thickfreakness is just gritty and dirty and wonderful.  No way does this sound like two relatively young white boys.  It is much more like an old African American man who has seen it all and done it all and is ripping the stories of it all out of his gut for your listening pleasure.  If you have ever been there, this record will make you miss the shit out of New Orleans.  If you haven't been, it should make you want to go in a big way.  I'm digging on El Camino too, but this one is much better for me.

Human Again - Ingrid Michaelson
I can't remember exactly where I heard about Ingrid Michaelson, but luckily I did just before her 5th studio album, Human Again was released.  I love her voice and I love this record.  Is it just the string arrangements that appear in a few songs that get me?  Or is it the groove of "Black and Blue"?  Or is it a combination of these things mixed with her genuine, crafty songwriting and from-the-heart vocal delivery?  Yes, I'd say it's probably all of those things coming together on this record to create a perfect storm of can't-stop-listening-to-it.  Now I'm excited to look back into her catalogue and see what else is there.

The Trouble With Success or How You Fit Into the World - Paula Kelley
Sure, this record is nine years old, but I only got it a few weeks ago so therefore it still qualifies a "new".  As you know (because I won't shut up about her), I found Paula Kelley via an Aaron Tap tweet and was instantly drawn to her voice, which led me to fall completely in love with the arrangements behind the vocals.  I've listened to Airports - EP about a million times and finally decided to expand my collection and get a new PK record.  When I bought it, I had to pick between Nothing/Everything and this one and I think I picked right (well, I guess I did...I let you know after I get Nothing/Everything - which will be soon because I ordered it last night).  The Trouble With Success is a showcase of all the wonderful things about Paula Kelley...her voice, her interesting and intelligent songwriting and her wicked good arrangements.  Just buy it.

Love Is Another Drug - Jesse Macht
I just discussed this one here.  And I was right - it's awesome.  He is awesome.  Just go buy everything he has recorded, you won't regret it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jesse Macht - Love Is Another Drug

Album: Love Is Another Drug (single)
Artist: Jesse Macht
Release: February 22, 2011

Hey look, I finally got to something before it was a year old.  Yes, it's only 20 days shy of being out for a year, but still.

Anyway, this is another one that I found via Aaron Tap's website (you can find my shopping list here) and, once again, my music guru was right.  Here's what I ask from the singers I listen to: a) sing in tune, 2) don't sound like everyone else and c) move me.  Jesse Macht took a look at my list, crumpled it up, threw it in the trash and said, "Chill, I got this" (or, you know, something like that).  That last request on my list is what tends to keep me from being a true die-hard fan of a lot of people, but he got that one right too.

At the beginning of "Love Is Another Drug", his low growl is reminiscent of Leonard Cohen.  Well, I almost want to say it sounds kind of like Leonard Cohen's son or something...either way, I dig it.  But it isn't long before he moves on into his more comfortable, more Jesse Macht sounding voice and that's where I prefer him.  I love a voice that when I hear it, I know who it is.  The song starts out kind of low and quiet, but it builds into something wonderful that fills the space around you and inside your head. 

Throughout these three songs (since when is a "single" three songs?  I'm so out of touch!) he takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of relationships, life and following your dreams against the advice of the people in your life.  The songs are all full and engaging with big arrangements and background vocals and the whole nine yards.  It is all grounded with his pleasant, unique vocal and optimistic songwriting. 

He has another EP available on iTunes called Where Is Lerone Kamara and after listening to Love Is Another Drug, I can't wait to hear it.