Monday, September 24, 2012

Who Do You Let In Your Bedroom?

As I would imagine is evident, I listen to music pretty much all the time.  Or at least every chance I get.  For instance, today while I was re-grouting our kitchen floor I listened to Rooftop Suicide Club's Always Like This (Which I came to own recently as the result of one person's awesomeness and generosity.  How I deserve to be on the receiving end of that, I'm still not exactly sure, but I totally dig it.) and Betty Goo's Superchthonic and Gooicide. Then to cap off a busy day we sat on the back porch with a big old glass of spiced apple wine and listened to Paula Kelley's Nothing/Everything.  No event is too small to have a soundtrack. 

Speaking of Nothing/Everything, it is a beautiful record and you really should own it.  I mean, if you like awesome things, of course.  It is dimensional and fun and sad and, I think, is perfectly complimented by her earlier release The Trouble With Success or How You Fit Into the World.  Honestly though, you just can't go wrong with anything The Divine PK has written, it's all...well...divine. 

But that's not what I'm here to ramble about (all evidence to the contrary). My second favorite thing in the world to soundtrack is going to sleep (the first is driving, so settle down pervs).  I know that sounds weird but I don't go to sleep like normal people.  My Husband, for instance, falls into bed and is generally asleep within mere moments.  I, on the other hand, will stare at the ceiling (or into the darkness) for half an hour at least, sometimes a couple hours before the Sandman comes to visit.  It's my own charming version of insomnia.  I like to see the silver lining though and the fact is, my lack of sleep affords me a great opportunity to listen to some of my favorite songs in a near perfect setting.  In my headphones, in the dark, with little else to distract me.

There is a certain openness of the soul that happens as I lay in the dark waiting for sleep.  A kind of vulnerability that just cannot be attained when I'm dressed for the day ready to face the world.  I mean, when I'm there, makeup scrubbed off, hair down, contacts out, jewelry off, there are no defenses, no mask, no bullshit.  Just me and the sounds pouring into my ears.  So naturally I choose my nighttime songs carefully.  I can't just put my iPod on shuffle and risk some kind of crap happening to my impressionable ears. 

Most nights, this is the time I want to listen to the stuff that really gets in.  I want to hear the arrangements with the most dimension, the lyrics that really hit home, sometimes even the songs that cause big cathartic tears to slip out of the corners of my eyes.  To that end, here's my most recently sleepy time play list:

1. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon and Garfunkel
2. "Relapse" - Betty Goo (This is one of those with a lyric that is so ouchie that I'm pretty sure I'm hearing it wrong, but I swear he says "so take my hand, Jeanne, smooth my hair and show me that I'm loved and you really, really care".  Jeanne was my mom's name and that line, wrapped up in that song, kills.)
3. "Hate Me" - Blue October (I'm pretty sure this song is not really very good, but something about it just slays me)
4. "Long December" - Counting Crows
5. "Someday" - Dr. Dog
6. "Lost Horizons" - Gin Blossoms
7. 'Sunday Morning Coming Down' - Johnny Cash (this song makes me cry every single time, I can't really explain it)
8. "Heavy Heart" - Madi Diaz
9. "All We Are" - Matt Nathanson (I love this song and it takes me back to the end of the concert in Nashville which was an absolutely perfect night, so now it's doubly perfect)
10. "Farther Down" - Neon Trees
11. "Thinkin Bout You" - Pat Monahan
12. "Night Racer" - Paula Kelley
13. "Heavy" - Train (far and away my favorite Train song, it's so wonderful and bluesy, I wish they'd go in this direction again, even just for a song or two here and there)
14. "Remark" - Rachel Platten
15. "Night the Bells Rang" - Ryan Schmidt
16. "Then I'll Be Smiling" - Matt Nathanson
17. "Who Wants to Live Forever" - Queen
18. "Disarm" - Smashing Pumpkins
19. "Perfect Blue Buildings" - Counting Crows
20. "The Boxer" - Simon and Garfunkel

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dr. Dog - Be the Void

EDIT: Obviously I intended this to be a full album review like others I've written. I was going to go into detail about the songs and how the band went back to their home studio and self-produced this one after a departure from their usual formula on Shame, Shame and all that. But I started writing it before I had wrapped my mind around the album and, then I got distracted and when I finally came back to finish it, after reading it, I think it's pretty complete just the way it is. So here you go...

Album: Be the Void
Artist: Dr. Dog
Release: 2012

Some time ago Matt Nathanson mentioned Dr. Dog's album Shame, Shame as one of his "morning records".  I added it to the list of things I'd like to have but didn't give it much more thought.  At the time, I wasn't familiar with Dr. Dog.  So one day I came across Be the Void at Joe's Records.  It's kind of uncommon these days for me to buy an album I've never heard (especially on vinyl) but I decided to go for it.  Luckily for me, it came with a copy on CD too so I can literally listen to this record on any format I want to, anywhere I want to. Any time I want to. And I do, pretty much all the time. It has been my go-to record for a while now. It's so quirky, so unusual, so fucking perfect.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Long Time, No Post

To say that I've been stuck in a musical rut lately would be a gross understatement.  I struggled with it at first; I wanted to write about new things and listen to new things.  After a while I realized that I was awash in so much new music that I wasn't really hearing anything, I was just grazing over it and moving on.  So much so that I lost the words to even tell you about the things I was listening to.  For instance I've had a draft of a review of Dr. Dog's Be the Void hanging around since April because I just can't seem to articulate it.  (Of course, that might be the record and not me causing that one.)

But now, I'm cool with it.  I'm really enjoying the albums that I've had in my collection for a while.  I'm really listening to them, getting inside them, consuming them and letting them consume me.  I'm letting them age like fine wines, like they should.  So much work, so much blood, sweat and tears go into making an album that it's not fair for us to spin it a few times, learn a few lyrics, and move on.  I'm listening to the same songs in their full on album form, mixed up in different play lists, and sometimes just on repeat.  However it sounds best at the time, but regardless, I'm not sweating looking for new stuff right now.

And, as it usually works, as soon as I chilled my new music search, a shit ton of new music has fallen into my lap.  As I mentioned previously (I think I posted about it already) Train released California 37.  That album is growing on me and steadily weaving its way into several play lists.  Now, Matchbox Twenty has released their first studio album in 10 years, North.  Well, technically the release date is tomorrow (September 4) but you can get it off iTunes already.  The first single "She's So Mean" is pretty good although they were a bit heavy handed on the autotune for me.  I love Rob Thomas' voice and I'd prefer to hear it a bit less adulterated.  I'll listen to the rest of the album tomorrow and see what I think.  Regardless, I've been waiting many, many years to see them live so I'm hoping to catch them on the North tour. 

In addition, released the September edition of Back of the Rack today.  I just downloaded that too and will be partaking of it in the weeks to come.  If you're interested in finding some new artists you can find the details of this month's Back of the Rack artists here

There is also word around the interwebs that Ryan Schmidt is working on his next album (!!) and Aaron Tap and Paula Kelley are back at work at Quail Top on something that will, without a doubt, be wonderful.  So that's exciting stuff.  Also, The New Complainers (formly the multi-syllabic Jon Palmer and The New Complainers) have some new tunes ready for us with a new album being released in October.  They have promised 3 new songs in the very new future and I, for one, cannot wait to hear what they've been up to.  You can find out more about them here, here, here, and here.