Thursday, May 31, 2012


In an inspired act of graciousness, the good folks over at have been kind enough to post a little blurb I wrote about Ryan Schmidt's "Go Where You Belong" (which, as you well know, I love fiercely) as the Song of the Day today.

You can go here to see for yourself (and check out my snazzy byline at the bottom while you're at it):

While you're over there, check out the rest of the site too.  I'm a big fan of what they're doing, sharing the experience of music and encouraging diversity in our listening habits, so I hope to contribute more to the site in the future.  If I do, of course you'll know about it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Musician Is An Island

Have you ever watched a movie because of who directed it or produced it or wrote the screenplay?  Of course you have, we all have, and they count on it, that's why trailers so often contain the line "from the director of..." or "by the people who brought you..."  That kind of decision has very little to do with the actors.  For instance, if Quentin Tarantino is involved with a movie, I'll watch it.  That surely is not because of his beautiful face.  It's because I've never seen a movie he was involved with that I didn't think had merit.  At this point, just the fact that he thinks the project is worthy of working on will make me watch it.  Who stars in it has no bearing on my desire to see the movie.  My husband is the same way, if Joss Whedon (Avengers) or Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) is involved, he's there but if Michael Bay (Transformers) had a hand in making a movie, forget it.

So what's my point you're asking?  Well, when was the last time you purchased a record solely because of the guy who produced it?  Or engineered it?  Or played guitar on it?  Personally, I have found a number of really talented musicians by researching who worked on albums I really love and finding out what else they've had a hand in.  I believe my most recent such discovery was Jesse Macht who is just ridiculously good, but I might not have found him if not for his producer.   I was inspired to mention this by this article over at Tape Op.  Go ahead and read it, it's worth it.  He gets the point across much better than I ever could and with a different point of view.  You can come back.  It's cool, I'll wait...

The article was originally brought to my attention on Aaron Tap's blog (which you can find here).  There is little I could say on the subject that they haven't covered, except that I can speak on the subject as a music fan rather than someone in the industry.  As fans, it is essential that we remember that for all intents and purposes nothing you listen to was created by one person.  Sure, there might be one person's name on the album cover or one guy's face in the video but trust me, he was not alone in that endeavor.  And from out here, it's damn near impossible to determine who influenced the sound the most.  Who sang the backing vocals?  Who decided to put that drum in that spot?  Who wrote the string arrangement?  Who played the piano?  Who organized and actually performed the finger snaps that you love so much?  Who decided how loud the lead vocals should be in comparison to the instruments?  Each of those people affected the end result that has had such an impact on you and they are each essential. 

So I implore you, take a look around, read some liner notes or google it if nothing else (there are myriad resources available online for this kind of information) and find out who did what and what else they've done.  Find someone who's taste suits yours and check out their back catalogue.  Let's make an effort to make music purchasing and listening a bit less passive and give it the attention it deserves.  After all, these people (even the ones you've never heard of) have put their heart in soul in this end product, the least you can do is acknowledge that it means something to you and give them some support.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Record Store Day 2012 - Part Deux

Now that I finally have a job, I've had a chance to go out and celebrate Record Store Day 2012 a bit.  I won't receive my first paycheck until this coming Friday, so I haven't really done it up in style yet, but I did pick up a couple cool things. Here's what I've found so far:

The Kills - Blood Pressures
Throwing Muses - The Real Ramona
Bess Rogers - Out of the Ocean
Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends

While all four are cool, I'm far and away the most tickled with Bookends.  I've had it on my shopping list for a while now and just had a vague hope someday seeing it.  Believe it or not, I found it in a used bin for $1.99!!  It looked clean, but for that price, I didn't have much hope it sounding worth a shit.  It has obviously been played a lot and it's on that crappy old thin vinyl, but it plays!  And not only does it play, it sounds heavenly.  It has that perfect scratchy, crackley sound that is only available on old vinyl.  Don't get me wrong, I would never want all my vinyl to sound this way, but something about those two singing Mrs. Robinson over that scratchy background noise is just incredible.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Freaky Friday Presents Redneck Realness

So here it is, today's little taste of oddness.  Of course, everything Betty Goo did has a touch of oddness which is part of what makes them so amazing.  It goes without saying that I love this song (it IS Betty Goo, after all).  But seriously, it's about the fucking Dukes of Hazard for pete's sake, how can you not love that?  AND there is a Roscoe P. Coltrane impression.  Obviously it's not earth shattering or soul shaking, but it's fun and nostalgic (used to watch the Duke brothers with my dad) and just thinking about "The Ballad of Bo & Luke" makes me smile.  I'm pretty sure that qualifies it as awesome.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ryan Schmidt - "November 15"

When I first wrote about White Horse I mentioned that I'd like to hear "November 15" without the guy that's harmonizing with him on the record.  Nothing against that guy, I'm sure he's perfectly delightful and talented, I just don't need him on that song.  However, I never really expected to hear it, especially not so soon.  But, because sometimes life is kind of cool like that, Ryan Schmidt recently did some new videos that he's posting on Youtube and he included an acoustic, solo(!) version of this song. 

I would have just retweeted the link to the video but after listening to it several times, that just wasn't sufficient.  I'm blown away by this version of the song.  It's perfect.  the video is black and white, like the cover art, like the music itself.  It is stripped-down to it's most essential parts and wonderful and hauntingly beautiful.  Now I just have to get this version on my iPod and I'll be a happy girl.  Here, feast your ears upon it:

Oh and holy shit, check this out!  While cruising around Youtube I found this video of the same song from 2011 but with Micah harmonizing and it totally works!!  (Well except for the chattering, ice-clinking asshats in the background - how were they not struck silent??) I mean, I'm still all about the solo version above, but I wanted to share this one with you as well:

How much do you love it??

And, you're welcome.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strange Saturday

Since I've been back to work (yay!!) I've neglected my online duties.  You know, important stuff like reading my twitter timeline and postsecret and posting here of course!  Anyway, I'm trying to get back on track but I was distracted by not working and now I'm distracted by working.  I can't win.  Anyway, I'll get it all straightened out again eventually. 

My point is this, I missed Freaky Friday (much like I missed New Music Monday earlier this week), so today is going to have to be Strange Saturday.  I don't actually feel like this song is strange exactly, it's just kind of outside the ordinary.  Which, in general, I find to be a wonderful thing.  In fact, pretty much everything I've ever heard by The Kills has been out of the ordinary.  I like that about them.  My favorite song by The Kills is "U.R.A. Fever" which you've heard if you've seen that movie The Losers (hilarious - watch it).  But today I'm going with "Sour Cherry".  This song is just...well...different.  Check it:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Train - California 37

Album: California 37
Artist: Train
Release: April 13, 2012

I was going to talk about California 37 for New Music Monday but I've been very busy being unemployed and I just didn't get around to it.  Turns out not working is a lot of work!  Regardless, let's just christen today New Music Wednesday and get on with it, shall we?  This album was released less than a month ago and I've only just had it a couple weeks so I'm still digesting it.  Given that, this is basically my first impression and I'm keeping my option to change my mind entirely in the future open.

Vocally, I think this record is better than Save Me, San Francisco.  Pat's voice is just settled in a better place here.  However, lyrically and even stylistically, I'm not sure I exactly follow where they were coming from. The whole thing starts with a catchy song called "This'll Be My Year".  I like this song, I do.  But (you knew that was coming, right?) I have to take issue with a lyric.  In one of the verses, he says "'92...Freddie dies but Queen is still..."  Okay, look, Freddie Mercury didn't die in 1992, he died in November, 1991.  My husband argues that he means that Queen carried on in 1992, but it isn't worded that way and it bugs the piss out of me.  I understand that this is nit picky and weird, but I can't help it.  It jumped out at me like a sore thumb the very first time I ever heard this song.

Next is "Drive By" which I'm sure you've heard by now.  It's a peppy little pop song, very catchy, but not anything earth shattering.  Apart from being quite cliche saying that he basically hit the road the morning after because he was "overwhelmed and frankly scared as hell", I like it.  Next is "Feels Good At First" about the how wonderful love is in the beginning of a relationship.  I really like the sound of this song, it's a good one to sing along to.  After that one though, they lose me for a few songs.

The next one, "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" is inexplicably Latin themed.  I guess I just don't understand why they went with a Latin feel on this song.  The lyrics and the feeling of the song don't really have anything to do with each other.  My problem really is that I really like this song, but at the same time I feel like I don't get it.  After that are "You Can Finally Meet My Mom" and "Sing Together" - two songs about death, neither of which inspire me to listen to them (the first one makes me cry, the second one is just meh).  After that is "Mermaid".  I think "Mermaid" is going to grow on me, it just hasn't yet.

The second half of the record works better for me than the first half.  I love "California 37", it was instantly my favorite song on the record.  I do have one issue with it though. (surprise, surprise, huh?)  Let me preface this by saying that, for all intents and purposes, I don't have an ex-anything floating around out there. No ex-husband, no baby daddy, no ex-boyfriend that amounts to anything, so I don't have the first clue what it's like to deal with a person in that role.  That being said, I question the wisdom of referring to the mother of your children as "the bitch" in a song.  I'm just not sure I'm down with that.  Otherwise, great song. 

The last three, "We Were Made For This", "When the Fog Rolls In", and "To Be Loved" chronicle three different stages of relationships.  The first, of course, is a perfect love affair.  The second is the dissolution of a relationship. The third is the forgiveness and friendship that could theoretically happen after a breakup.  I really like all three of them.  Pat's voice is suited to them perfectly, the music is spot on and the lyrics are natural and comfortable.  Overall, I like this record better than the last one (as it should be); I liked the second half right away and the first half is steadily growing on me.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finally Friday - Get Freaky!

Here's another one that you had to have owned the album to ever hear.  I was genuinely surprised to learn that this song was actually released as a single because back in 1995 you just didn't hear a lot of songs on the radio with "whore" in the title.  It was a simpler time.  A more innocent age.  Hahahaha...just kidding.  (not about the whore thing though)  Also, I don't recall ever hearing it on the radio.

I never bought Sparkle and Fade even though I love that song "Santa Monica".  I first gained access to it when the Man and I moved in together in 1996 and even so, I never really listened to the whole thing until probably 5 or 6 years ago.  Overall, I'm not a huge fan of the album but there are a few gems on it and this is one of them.  So, without further ado, I give you, "You Make Me Feel Like A Whore" by Everclear.

Since I'm so late in posting this today, I'd like to make it up to you by including another one of my favorites from Sparkle and Fade, "Heroin Girl".  This is another one that was actually released as a single and played on MTV a little bit, but I don't remember ever hearing it, so maybe you didn't either.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Can Tell

It has long been my experience that things end up getting written in three main ways.  First, because someone is paying someone else to write it.  That simple.  News articles, album reviews (Ha!), things of that nature fall into this category.  These are not the things I'm here to ramble about. 

The second way is because a person has an end goal in mind.  A best-selling book, a hit song, an acceptable blog post - something of that nature.  The person has a goal and subject matter in mind and they go searching for the inspiration, the meaning, the heart of it.  Sometimes we take the experiences of others and use them as fuel for this fire.  Or we dig deep to our pasts and the things that lurk within for inspiration.  It's a task.  It's not always easy and sometimes down right painful.  But very often, it works.  To an extent.

Then there is the best way.  When something bubbles up inside the writer and just demands to come out.  It spills over, it cannot be contained.  It can be born of experiences or emotions or memories or anything, it doesn't matter.  What does matter is that it will no longer fit inside and it must be unleashed into the world.  It pours out freely and is cathartic in its release. When that happens, the thing written exists on it's own.  Just the fact that it's out is good enough. The work was done on the way out.  But these organically written things often have the best potential to become something great (if these are ever shared with other people).  They can become best-selling novels, hit songs, brilliant blog posts, etc.  However, their true beauty lies in the fact that they really don't need to be any of those things. 
Here's the thing - people can tell.  Alright, maybe not in the case of books and whatnot, but after watching interviews and reading many articles about how different people write music, when it comes to songs I believe we can tell the difference between those that were forced that those that forced their way out.  There are songs that you can just tell are part of someone.  They come from deep within, they demanded to be let out into the world.  The whoever wrote them didn't have to dig for the inspiration, it was just there.  Personally, I believe those are the best kind.