Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Salon: Real Life Rock Top 10 Greil Marcus on the new Eminem song from 8 Mile:
The piece builds into crescendos of power, climbing ladders of refusal and willfulness step by step, rushing nothing, never reaching the top because it is the music itself that has put the top so high.
It's Eminem's greatest single recording, but it's more than that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Courtesy of the seattle weekly, Nirvanapalooza: Following in the Seattle Footsteps of Kurt Cobain, Grunge and All in the washington post. I like how they include the EMP on their list of Historical Grunge Sites To Visit....

Sunday, October 27, 2002

May
The ONLY mention of "cream cheese hotdog" on the web, according to google.com... and it's from someone talking about the cream cheese hotdog stand in Pioneer Square. I wonder if that's the only place that sells them? And I wonder what tiny percentage of his clientele is sober? I'd never heard of these hotdogs before Friday night, but the stand is down on 1st -I think outside Central.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Twilight downtown, it's dark on the sidewalk; store windows, streetlights, cars taillights give off a yellow light that hugs downward. If you forget to look up and notice that the sky is still bright, it feels later than it is. I still haven't found any gloves from last year, so with no pockets my fingers are freezing. Low Tide (by The Town Pants) has been on repeat through this walk. If my player has a repeat 1 mode, I haven't found it, so I keep fishing it out of my pocket & hitting the back button. I'm intrigued by the play between the words--a lot of regret & loneliness-- and the upbeat fiddle & guitar that sound like a rock interpretation of traditional Celtic folk music.
Bear in mind that this is an aol-time warner publication.... does this article make any sense?

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

nytimes.com covers the birth of DFA (home of Radio 4, LCD Soundsystem)
So an influx of new sounds, new bands, new clubs and nostalgia led to the re-emergence of New York as an innovative music hot bed....
whoops, double posting for a moment there... *(@&# netscape. the article is pretty good- the most interesting part to me was the mention that they plan to compile "all of its singles on a CD next year" -nothing further about that, but hopefully it will happen; it would be a nice compilation to have.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

All Music Guide: Souvlaki
I'm up too late, I'm stressed out, but I'm happier than I've been in months. Not directly because of this CD, but I listened to it a few times tonight, and it fit my tense but blissful mood well. Trying to motivate myself to stand up, walk a few feet & go to sleep isn't working; mostly because I know that I'll lie there & stare out the window at the lights.
BBC Wallace and Gromit film premières
Wallace & Gromit!!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2002

Dunkin' Donuts Coffee this morning- it's really good. No doubt that's because I asked for cream, and they put in so much that it's only a few shades darker than white. For all the regional differences that mass media and plane travel are supposedly killing off, a few remain- I can't imagine a shop in Seattle putting your cream or sugar into your coffee for you, for one. Coffee cup lids out here are also largely the annoying kind that you have to rip open-- they seem (thankfully) to be few and far between back home. I'm not the only visitor here dying for some Dunkin Donuts coffee, though- I saw a few other sleepy folks walking through the hotel lobby this morning clutching syrofoam cups of it- there's one only about 3 blocks away, so it's an easy walk.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Seattle Weekly - SFA @ the EMP Of course, it's while I'm gone.
Music for a looooooooooong day at work before leaving:








The drums in Live Forever were my favorite bit- I've been feeling wiped & unable to come up with anything useful to say all week. Bits of happiness (a great latte Sunday night, email from a friend) have been making me happier than any CDs I've listened to recently. It's probably what's led me to choose albums this week which I don't really listen to, but let just sit in the background of my mind. Music as a mental pacifier- hopefully something that a change of scenery will jolt away.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

The Village Voice: Music: What the Geezer Saw by Sasha Frere-Jones
US Release is on 10/22.
Music for waking up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning: New Order- Age of Consent. There's no way to tell if the sun's not up yet, or if it's just hiding behind the thick clouds. The first really cloudy and rainy week of autumn here has just passed, bringing with it a weekend of more cozy gray. I've been up for ages, drinking coffee and listening to Power, Corruption & Lies. Your Silent Face seems to tie into Run Wild (from Get Ready); both have a grandiose melancholy (melodrama?). No synth strings in Run Wild but it's the saddest song I can think of. but if jesus comes to take your hand, i won't let go... i won't let go.... Cheesy songs usually annoy me to no end, but the simpleness of these two is arresting.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Crumpled up next to my desk is a small stack of pages ripped out of magazines. They're ads, photos, scraps of images that I thought would make good mix cd cover images; every so often I ruffle through them, find one which makes me think of a song, and spend a while trying to put it together into a CD. Rubber cement- used for attaching the images to a sturdy piece of paper to write the tracks on for the cover- smells like mix CDs for me now; like hunting through my stacks for a track or lying on the floor & watching my writer's light blink as it finishes up. So different from high school, when I would cart a shoebox of tapes down to my dad's two deck tape player & sit curled up on the floor next to it. Thinking of trying to write small enough to fit all the songs on the tape insert makes me glad for the larger size of cd inserts- more room for more song titles, and the writing can be big enough to read!

Monday, September 30, 2002

The Only One- American Analog Set
Great song to drink coffee to this morning. I downloaded it a while ago, then lost it on my harddrive; I've recently been trying to clean up all the digital clutter I've collected & stumbled on this amid some text files.
(click on the song title to download from epitonic.com)

And also: Start a Fire - Radio 4, hosted on rollingstone.com. Not as good as some of their other songs, though.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

My armchair is just the right size for my pup & I to sprawl across it with- now that I'm TVless, a lot of evenings are spent in it with him, working through my backlog of books. Last night I had my arm across his belly, which was rising & falling in a perfect slow beat as he slept. I had headphones on, and the drums in
Karma Police were close enough to make me stop reading for a few moments. It's a great song, and I thought about adding it to my plane trip mix, which is growing slowly (less than 2 hours still, which is too short by half). Anyway, it's amazing how wonderfully Radiohead can go with a good physics book.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Echo & The Bunnymen
I just bought this CD after hearing Lips Like Sugar for the first time in, well, maybe 15 years or so. Actually, it must be less than that, but it was a very long time ago. I kind of expected a CD with only 1 good song on it, and maybe a few passable other ones. Instead, I've enjoyed the whole thing so far (only two listens yet, though). The video for the song showed them bumming around a city that looked like NYC to me, so I've always assumed that they were an American band, but it appears that they're instead from Liverpool. Anyway, I debated also getting Songs to Learn & Sing, but decided against it; email me if it's actually any good & tell me that I'm missing out, the AMG review makes it sound kind of interesting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Jennie Bomb - Sahara Hotnights
1:20 into the first song on this, and the only thought in my head is "fuck yeah" -this is a sweet song. It's got beautiful bass playing (Johanna Asplund, you're amazing), but there's more than that; mostly a shock on my side that the album lives up to all my hopes that I didn't even think I still had. On Top of Your World slows down a bit from the energy of the first two, until the chorus- words jangled together in a mash, but I adore that it's Your World, not My World, and I hope it's Your intentionally, not a mistranslation. Sitting crosslegged at my computer this week, trying to concentrate on coding, not the music, I listened to this on repeat, catching myself bobbing my foot off the edge of the chair to every other song. I've played it for some friends, but it still feels like my CD, a secret arrival just to yank a smile of appreciation out of me when I'd rather be pissed off. I can't believe how much I love this; sure, it's got a slick production sound to it, but these are great guitars, perfect songs with hooks that keep slipping up between drumbeats pounded out and pushing the songs up to the 3 minute mark, one swift fadeout, and they're over. At thirtyish minutes long, my 9 hour day probably had 18 playings Only the Fakes Survive but it's never enough. They sound amazing trading off between singing together and a solo voice, doing the same tricks I've heard on other albums, but I couldn't care less. I'm not usually quite so gushy about a new group, and a bit of me turns over the case and extrapolates out to next month when new music arrives, whether it'll sound as good played only a few times a month. I think it will, but I've thought that before about other albums. Long term classic or not, this is greatest album I've heard recently. (repeat: free mp3 from the album)


Factory Image Banque
It's a blog infinite loop here- courtesy The Minor Fall, The Major Lift, a link to a ton of Peter Saville Factory designs.
Red eye flights -the kind where you leave the west coast at 10 PM, arrive on the east coast 4.5 hours later at 6 AM- are one of those distasteful things that I always swear I'll never do again. Then my schedule goes haywire, the airline marks down those tickets because no one wants to fly it, and I end up on another one. I've got two coming up, and just thinking of the last one has me wincing. New headphones that are fairly effective at blocking engine noise have been acquired, which gives me hope that if I can only compose a good mp3 mix for my player, I might actually get three hours of sleep. Favorite songs that feel like my snuggly fleece jacket are of course in order for the first part, then trailing off into quiet bits that won't prod me awake. The beginning could easily be accomplished with an hour or two of Blur songs, it's the later bits I'm unsure of. Some Slowdive and Sigur Ros, I guess, and perhaps I've finally found a use for Coldplay's Parachutes. I've started queueing up songs on my computer already, and I tested out the mix when I woke up insanely early this morning. Watching the sky fade from navy to pink-tinged silver, and the moon drop down, I think I've got 33 minutes that might work.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Sunday 9 AM Work Mix:
  1. S'wash Ya Wart - DJ Lance Lockarm Nothing useful to say other than this is really good- click through to download it (it's the beastie boys + MBV mix)
  2. Sunshinin' - Vines Catchy throwaway guitar popish song, but I like the first 30 seconds or so. I'm jittery from too much coffee and not enough breakfast, so it's a good song to tap my fingers to.This blows away all the other songs on Highly Evolved; for a bit less than 3 minutes they create an entirely enjoyable song.
  3. There's No Other Way - Blur This one gets interesting at about 0:28. I like the quiet way that Damon sang in the verses.
  4. California Stars - Wilco
  5. Setting Sun - Chemical Brothers Makes trying to prop my eyes open & concentrate a little easier.
  6. NYC - Interpol
  7. I Want It That Way - Backstreet Boys
  8. Hot in Herre - Nelly The song that worked its way into my August- watching a guy singing this waaaay out of tune, walking down the street with it turned up loud in his headphones; playing in every record store I went into all month
  9. How the Stars Got Crossed - Radio 4 Another grower. First few times I heard it, I thought it was kind of non-descript... then a few times of having it come up in my iTunes on shuffleplay- mixed in with other songs not nearly as sparkly- I decided that it's actually quite good. The way the guitar kinds of fades the notes out, the singing, the dancey bit at 2:20ish with no singing...
  10. Killer Cars - Radiohead sounds like Radiohead doing alt-country on first listen
  11. There's too much Love -Belle & Sebastian Belle & Sebastian do a love song, with strings in the background and a pretty melody. Hohum if you're not a B&S fan; personally I adore it.
  12. Good Times Roll - Rjd2 - I thought I'd writtens something about this, but I can't find it. Well, so here's a boring something about it: it's a good song.
  13. Only the Fakes Survive - Sahara Hotnights Are you tired of being so polite?
Outstanding Alien (free registration required)
An article about Peter Saville, who designed some of New Order's and Pulp's CD covers, from this week's NY Times magazine. I don't know if he did the Crystal single cover that I put up the picture of, but quite possibly.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Palm OS Datebook vs Datebook+
At long last (why didn't I google this before?) the mystery of the difference is between the two seperate datebook apps on my handspring have been solved. Of course, it raises a new question- why put both on? And how do I remove the extra one? For a geek, I'm far too inept with my Palm Desktop software. This was prompted by my ever growing list of things that need to be done, which I resolved to plow through today. I've got my iTunes keyed up with a new Music for Doing Boring Stuff To, [tm] playlist in the hopes that it will motivate me to get through everything.

Post Punk Chronicles: Left of the Dial: This is one of my favorite albums for plowing through things -for me it's a mixture of music I never really heard in the 80s and favorite songs from artists I adore, just like all good mixtapes should be. Some of the songs I don't really like (I'm in Love With a German Film Star), but it's balanced out by so many other classic songs that the album is still one of my most-played. My favorite songs from it: Radio Free Europe - R.E.M, Outdoor Miner - Wire, Sugar Hiccup - Cocteau Twins, Eye of the Lens - The Comsat Angels.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Something I've been thinking about a bit recently- patterns in music, and patterns in programming. One way to think about coding is to search for matches in events, and attributes, in paths through events. Successful abstraction of a problem often comes from the one moment when the overall outline snaps in place, and you can see what functions and data structures you need. From that point it's just grunt work- typing it all in, tweaking, cleaning up boundary cases. Music is similiar, but different for me. I've been programming for 12 years now; it's become second nature to think in certain ways. Listening to music, I can hear the patterns sometimes underneath, but they're rarely as clear.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Alright Alright (Here's My Fist Where's The Fight?)
Downloadable mp3 from Jennie Bomb and coming in a bit over a week (Sat. 9/28, 3pm) they'll be at KEXP, which you can listen to online.
I'm just full of short posts recently. I'll write something longer about Jennie Bomb this weekend- I've been burning out all my writing on work these days, so by the time I get home I can't string together very many words.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Jennie Bomb - Sahara Hotnights
I just came home and found a little cardboard box in my mailbox with this CD in it. It brought a nice smile to my face when I ripped the box open, as I remembered buying this a while ago & thinking hey, a girl version of the Hives- probably worth $12 to check out. So I'm too wiped out to do much other than toss it in my computer's CD drive & press play. No headphones- I've got too bad of a headache- and I'm barely up to opening up the booklet & flipping through. Nice use of the posterize filter in photoshop in the pictures inside, though. I'm off to collapse on my sofa & listen to this through my lousy little laptop speakers, though which it sounds excellent.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

PopMatters - NOW That's What I Call Music! 10 Review - not so much a review as a thrashing. This one is very much "oh, I'm far too cool for disposable pop" vitriol, and it tosses away an interesting angle (why are these NOW compilations selling for $17.99 instead of $8.00, and why have they pretty much replaced singles?).
Anyway, why is he so anti-mixtape?

Friday, September 13, 2002

Late summer sun on the back of my neck as I walk down the sidewalk, then turning to face west, and the sun peeps sideways up the north-south alleys. It's 9 AM, taste of coffee still in my mouth from the bitter cup I drank already, trying to ward off a hangover. The twang of California Stars swims through my muddy head; it starts off with a strumming guitar, then "I want to lay my weary bones tonight... your hair touching mine... on a bed of California stars." I've been to California twice, to San Jose (traffic, office buildings and hotels in January 1999) and to Monterey a few summers ago for a week. Marled trees- striped bark, deep green waxy leaves- against the calm & glassy ocean lie in my head when I listen to this song; the heavy beat seems to pull their forms out of the back of my thoughts. The dry redness of Monterey was alien and freezing- even in June, the temperatures barely broke 65 most afternoons- something I didn't expect. I like how weary Jeff Tweedy sounds (I think it's him singing here- it sounds exactly like his voice to me); then also the melancholy and twang of a country western film -right at the end of the verses, in the bits of a fiddle between lines prop up his voice. I try to replace the hills here that I'm hiking up with the dunes that we cut across in Monterey- the song sounds better that way, a vacation feel; the way it winds down at the end sounding exactly perfect for a sunset over some different part of the Pacific. Of all the Wilco songs I've heard (and this isn't really their's- it's from Mermaid Avenue) this one sounds the most assured; most grown up and settled, rather than resigned, if I'm honest with myself.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

New York New York on the radio this morning- I don't usually like Ryan Adams too much, but I adore this song. Hearing it seemed to be the best rememberance of a year ago that I've seen or heard today; admittedly not too much, because I'm too sad to look at a newspaper or go to any news web site.
I spent a long time this morning looking at an undeveloped film canister sitting on my bookshelf. When I moved, I carried it here in my pocket, then took it out & put it on a bowl on the bookshelf right inside my door. It's one of the first things I see every time I come home, right next to where my keys go. I need to bring it to a photo store to be developed before it's too late, and I hope that seeing it every day will budge me into action on it. The roll has the last photos that I ever took of my best friend; at a picnic, a few weeks before she died. Her friend was playing a guitar, and she sat next to him, singing; I sat 4 feet away & took a bunch of photos of them. I finished the roll at the end of last August, then forgot to develop it. When I noticed it again early last October, and realized what it was, I couldn't force myself to drop it off at the photo store; I don't want these prints in my hands.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Verve Remixed
Woken up from a mid-evening nap to drive home a friend, my head is slushy and blurred. It's completely dark out already, and as we're driving down towards the waterfront, we roll down the windows. The fishy smell, tinged with exhaust and the city's own smells fill up the car & I struggle to keep my eyes open. Traffic lights stretch out into streaks of yellow and red, matching Feelin' Good, which my cd player started up on. Nodding my head against exhaustion, I try to forget the quickest way home so that I can drive longer through this dream state; slow enough through the traffic that awakeness seems superfluous.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Reading schedules is apparently beyond my abilities. I was really looking forward to seeing Wilco at Bumbershoot today, but I misread the schedule, and thought that they started at 2 PM instead of 1:30. So I didn't even leave home until 2, thinking there was no way they'd be running on time. Instead the set was well underway by the time that I got there- but at least they played a long encore at the end. They were wonderful, I just wish I'd arrived 30 minutes earlier! At the end of the encore Jeff Tweedy asked "We have time for one more- do you want to hear a new rock song or an old rock song?" I couldn't make out much of what the crowd was yelling, but they launched into a song in a few seconds anyway. At the end, I stood up to leave, but the band swung right into *another* song- which was a really nice one, but I don't know which was the new song or the old song, or the titles of either. I didn't hear them play any YHF songs, but they might have done a few in the first part of the set.
Puppy & I walked back over later to watch The Mekons, who were also great, but we got completely drenched, as Seattle proved unable to let an entire weekend go by with warm sunshine & clear skies.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

More old zip disk fun- this is a snippet of an image from a photography show that I did in college. Click on the thumbnail to get the full image- modem alert, though: it's pretty big.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Doing some more unpacking, I found an old zip disk from my last semester of college with a bunch of mp3s on it. Since I used to have to go to a media lab to work on my independent study, I had to carry all my files around on zip disks, so rather than bring CDs, I had ripped a bunch of songs to 1 of the zip disks.
So this is the mix that I listened to for hours & hours that spring, working on finishing up my degree:
  1. I don't wanna know, Indigo Girls
  2. Zoo, Curve
  3. I Speak Your Every Word, Curve
  4. History Repeating, Propellerheads
  5. Water is Wide, Indigo Girls
  6. Dissolved Girl, Massive Attack
  7. Nothing Even Matters, Indigo Girls
  8. Prime Audio Soup, Meatbeat Manifesto
  9. The Colour Hurts, Curve
  10. Love's Recovery, Indigo Girls

It's making me wish for a 11:40 PM run to Dunkin Donuts for munchkins and coffee.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Top 5 songs for being unable to sleep:
  1. Time Keeps on Slipping, Deltron 3030
  2. Nite and Fog, Mercury Rev
  3. Sting, Reindeer Section
  4. Torn & Frayed, Rolling Stones
  5. Girl Inform Me, The Shins

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

I love the really early evening light- 5 PMish- late in the summer- the last week of august, days that still make me nervous about getting trapped in school. I sat on the curb running around the edge of grass my dog was playing on yesterday evening. It looked too bright green, too endless, as if there was a neverending field of doggie romping to be had, infinite dandilions to pull up, always another twig for him to shake around. When I finally drove us home, I played Pulp's We Love Life, an album rapidly working its way into my heart. I turned up the volume as loud as I could handle- it sounds better crashing between my ears and so immediate that despite trying, I still haven't caught many of the lyrics. In the thirteen minutes it takes me to drive back I have time for just a little slice of the album, picking up where it left off on last night's drive, so I'm still working my way a few songs at a time through listening to it.
Quiet- vocals like a hymn in the chapel at my high school, echoing off the vaulted ceilings, but not restful; the sort of edge that you got when one of the younger kids was trying to stumble through their first reading, watching a 14 year old suddenly unable to read out loud through their nervousness. Then the insistent guitar picking up... I'm really at a loss to describe why these songs are more powerful and vital than anything else I've been listening to. When one comes on the radio in the morning it washes out the previous ones just by sheer force. I sat for a while with headphones on this afternoon, trying to free associate myself to words that describe the 3 short minutes of Hands Away or the other songs on Turn on the Bright Lights, and the chapel image is the best I came up with. Sitting in the back row, breathing in musty cold marble air, I used to fidget around & stare out the cracked open stained glass windows. Displacement, but a crazy kind of enchantment... the uncomfortable pews in that chapel forced you to sit up straight at the same time as the repeating drone of a priest's voice pushed your mind off to things outside. Here the headphones are clamped too tighly over my ears for the taut pulling under the songs, but I haven't slipped them off around my neck. It's a nice counterpart to the heat, the fan shoving warm air towards my arms, and the thickness of a late afternoon. I can hear the rush hour picking up outside, suburbanites fleeing their office parking garages across the street and running through the yellow lights to sit in the intersections, a few feet closer to the onramp home. When I first heard NYC, I remembered an article that I'd read a few years ago, gushing praise that kids these days were turning their backs on the suburban rings to cities & revitalizing the downtowns. From anywhere here you can watch condos slowly hoisted in the air by construction cranes, and I thought about how the lines "now you supported me..." fit with the akward teenager phase of the city that the cranes bring out. Harsh- in the way it winds you up and leaves your stomach twisted more from your own daily stress- the album is like fighting your way home through the sidewalks, not to a big lawn and trees but more concrete. I stay here because I can't imagine what cost missing all this would have, even if I don't know what else keeps me boxed in here.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

luck and timing

   

I've been editing the pictures that I took at my sister's wedding, and I was struck this afternoon by the incredible difference between these two images. The second one was a complete accident- I don't believe I even was looking through the viewfinder when I took either of them- it was a rush of just pointing the camera at the steps & clicking away. Serendipity is such an incredibly huge part of photography that it's ceased to shock and annoy me that the good photos on my rolls are never ones that I expect to be good- the best ones are usually the throwaway shots that I barely remember clicking the shutter for.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

anticipation
Something I'm beginning to think that I have problems with; I've played the new Interpol & Pulp & Spoon twice each, then buried them away. It was just enough to get a taste of what they sounded like, but now I'm hesitant to listen to them again. At the moment they're unformed flurries of chords in my head; nothing's settled into full songs, there are no connotations to any of the song titles yet. When I first moved out here... getting off the bus and standing on the sidewalk, I saw the city in a way that I can't ever re-capture. In the first weeks here, I used to walk for two or three hours every evening, memorizing the layout of the city, where the good coffee stands were, which delis could make a real sandwich, and eating them alone with a new local paper, trying to decide what I thought of being somewhere that wasn't in the looming shadow of NYC. Today when I walk down Second Ave, I'm not really seeing the street- I'm seeing the last conversation with a friend on the steps of the Symphony Hall, or a rainy morning discussion about work outside an office door.
Albums that I've played over and over get the same imagery tucked inside them; have their sounds curled through seconds of my life that I'm loathe to lose. Some CDs never reach that level, even ones that I think that I love. Kid A, for one, has no memories stored with it; I can think about times that I've listened to it, but the same faces never show up each time a certain note is played. The anticipation of playing a new CD for the first few times is heightened by trying to project my current state onto each song; the sense of being nowhere- new home, no new daily routine, facing the 1 year anniversary of a few things I'm still not prepared to deal with- is sometimes a liberating one. This week, though, it's more of a sense of unnamed dread. One which feeds right into a few songs that I've heard on these CDs and makes me unable to play them again. I don't want to feel this shakey everytime I hear these songs, to have memories unwind between lines that in a different month would be colored brighter. Then again, perhaps each of these albums will remain like Kid A, unmarked by my listening; it's not something I think I have much control over.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The Village Voice: Music: Take the Long Way Home by Jessica Winter
Number of explicit PNW references in the Neko Case review this starts with: 5
Really, that's at least 3 too many. This sentence is what made me really notice it: ...via the Pacific Northwest of David Lynch and Kurt Cobain—pitiless rain and sense-warping fog nourishes the record's electric-storm flashes of dread, washing away any taint of irony or fetish. Ok, yeah...we're nice & quaint out here.
A friend loaned me a No-Nos album (I think that it was Let Your Shadow Out), which I played, sorta, once, and returned. When I brought it back, we got in a discussion about the new Sleater-Kinney album (which I'm not buying) and he summed up a large part of my musical taste & conflict over it- "You just really don't like nasally girl punk rock, don't you?" I have agree, that pretty much sums up my problem with a lot of bands. I'm sure they've got great music, I just can't get past the voice, and it annoys me... I mentioned in an earlier post that I used to listen to a lot of the women's college canon, but pretty much stopped when I graduated. A part of me can't help feeling guilty about it; I have a few women artists that I love, but I'm ridiculously resistant these days to a lot of it. I'll be honest & say that I feel like a hypocrite about this. Part of being the only girl in an office of guy geeks makes me overly sensitive to my gender, like spending 5 minutes standing my closet and analyzing whether I can wear a skirt to work one day because I have meetings and want to be taken seriously. I feel super aware of the fact that most music genres are overly dominated by men, then frustrated that trying to change my tastes to like more music by women is an exercise in futility.
Spoon - Stay Don't Go, Back To The Life and Vittorio E
My favorites from Kill the Moonlight. Back to the Life starts off with the same guitar from Blur's Trimm Trabb that the Vines also used in Outtathaway...it feels like this sound keeps showing up in songs recently. Back to the Life slips nicely into Vittorio E, which has a sweet last-song-on-the-album feeling & combines some good slow drumming and a nice bass line with a backing chorus that starts out sounding like it could disney-ify and ruin the song. Thankfully, that never happens, and I'm impressed by it in light of how few songs ever manage to pull off this easy simplicity. It's the end of a long day now; watching the sun come around from the north of the city, bounce off the building next door, and slip through a part in my curtains, the deep yellow light here for just a moment matches up with the "hold on....it goes on..." from the song. Wrapping around to the beginning of the album again, Stay Don't Go is a wonder. I hated it the first time I heard it (actually, I hated the first 45 seconds, then skipped to the next song), then fell in love with it this morning when I heard it the second time. I don't usually have reversals like that on songs... I'm not the best listener when I expect 1 thing and get another, and I didn't like the way this one stuck right out on a first trip through the album.
This isn't that good of a piece about this album, but I'm afraid any writing that I do on it is going to get colored by the amazon review of this album, which seemed like it just wanted to score snarkiness points. Yeah, it's hard to write about generic good-but-not-life-changing indie guitar bands in one paragraph per album. But any review that describes a band's sound in reference to flannel shirts automatically annoys me, and it's hard to shake that out and decide on my own what words to use here.
Anyway, click on the band name above to go to their site & download some free mp3s.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Unsatisfied with the web?
What a trip... I poked through archived versions of my homepage & some friends, and found some stuff I'd completely forgotten about, including this.
I finally coaxed my soundcard into working again, so I just had my mp3s on shuffle play, reacquainting myself with the songs that I hadn't heard in a while. I've now fallen in love with 60 Miles an Hour by New Order, or specifically the chorus. I still can't type, so you can go here: 10 Years After to read about the album it's on (at the bottom, but the rest of the review is really good, too). I don't have Get Ready (I got the song from a compilation album), but I did just order Substance 1977-1980. It's always a bit odd how music threads seem to appear in life... I wonder a bit if getting excited about the new Interpol put me into a frame of mind that this song fit perfectly into, or if it's all just random.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

I should never have typed this last night: "Tomorrow is even more broomball, so I hope that I don't break an arm playing." Well, it's not broken, but I sprained my thumb and wrist. What that means: I can't really type.
Music for icing your wrist: Loveless and Isn't Anything.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Broomball World - What the HELL is Broomball
I had no idea that there were broomball websites! I played it this evening (not on ice, but on a muddy field), then walked home exhausted, listening to Rjd2. Tomorrow is even more broomball, so I hope that I don't break an arm playing.
Exhausted-but-happy music mix for tonight:
Matthew Everybody Down - I caught a ride in to work this morning with a friend who was playing the Goo Goo Dolls; Matthew does their kind of music SO much better.
David Hudson, Walkabout
Mission of Burma, Progress and Peking Spring - from epitonic.com
Radio 4, Calling All Enthusiasts, How the Stars Got Crossed and Dance to the Underground - also from epitonic.com

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

This isn't a music post, just something to go with the darkroom musing below:
Article/photo gallery about Hiroshi Sugimoto in the Guardian. His photos are amazingly beautiful- go check them out.
1996 was my first city summer. I lived in Cambridge, MA, and most memories of that summer involve the particularly sharp bouncing-off-pavement heat that only treeless city streets ever seem to have. Biking home from Star Market, I would squint my eyes against the glare coming off car windshields, staircase railings, and even just the muggy air itself, desperately trying to hold on to each afternoon as September slipped closer in; and waking up early in the morning from the T shaking my loft, I would pull the pillow over my head until I couldn't breathe through the heat. Watching the sidewalks come alive at 10 PM was an alien experience to a suburban kid; summer evenings had meant lightening bugs and swimming, not street musicians and midnight ginger flavored ice cream cones.
That heat has hung around my new home for the last few days, draining me of much desire to listen to anything. I had to put The Private Press into my discman and walk out of the apartment to listen to it; I bought it a few days ago, but it's taken a while to play it. While it sat on my bookshelf, I tried to forget what a disappointment Endtroducing... had been for me. Now the shimmering start of Six Days reflects the heat here; the skittering drumming over the deeper and slower beat under it are the first bits that I start out loving; it's an amazing little piece of a song, wrapped around a sample with the right feeling of August sleepiness. Fixed Income reminds me of Dissolved Girl- maybe it's just the beginnings of both of these songs. I want to play Dissolved Girl right after this one, but the only unpacked copy that I have of it is on my laptop, which still won't play any music without a static overlay. All I'm going on here is my memory of that song, which is probably not to be trusted. Listening to Fixed Income, I'm back to listening to Massive Attack on repeat in the darkroom at school, making print after print, each one maybe 3 seconds more exposure or one filter down. There was a way that Mezzanine was the best possible music for the repitition, which probably colored the version of that album in my head. This afternoon I'm enjoying the non-vocal tracks the most so far, which is I think the opposite of the ones that I like on Rjd2's Deadringer. Both of these albums are hard to write about for me. I was concentrating on what made each song good or not good, and felt that I had no criteria for judging any of them. Guitar band music is easier for me- I know what I consider to be transcendently good playing, and it's a structure that I can understand. When I venture far away from it, I can still tell if I like a track, but I'm at a loss to figure out why, which rules are involved in the sucess of a few of them and the failure of others. Whoops, wrong Massive Attack album title. It just popped into my head over lunch today that I had the wrong one, so I've corrected it now.
More downloading goodness -Interpol's NYC (my favorite song off their EP) is available as an mp3.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

What I mostly listened to today: silence. a fan running. general city sounds. It was way too hot for Seattle and I just didn't feel like playing anything... so other than a bit of radio in the morning, I had a quiet day. I went swimming, and the rhythmic splashing of the waves against the sides of the pool sounded better than anything I'd listened to recently.
Arrhythmia--like getting your head turned inside out, but it's rewarding even through its disorientation. The beginning is pretty frustrating, with nothing to latch onto, then along the way, I kind of settle into it... it's a brilliant record, layered with new sections to notice each time. I played it last night, which is when it sounds best to me- stretching out and listening but not concentrating on it.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

120 Minutes had the Breeder's Cannonball video on tonight, which I'd never seen. The plucked out guitar bit sounded just like sitting on the beach near my house at 6 AM, wrapped up in a hooded sweatshirt with a walkman tucked into the big handwarmer pocket. That was my favorite place to go- I wouldn't even go out in the water in a canoe most of the time- just sitting and watching the tiny little waves lap against the sand was enough of an escape most mornings. I don''t know that I ever listened to Cannonball sitting there, but the gray sky and beach are in my head whenever I hear it.
The Man Who - soundtrack to finishing off packing up my life this morning, along with Cinematic Orchestra's Remixes. Then I spent a while on amazon's mp3 download site & found some interesting stuff (Walkabout, David Hudson - apparently the guy who did the Survivor theme song; some Mouse on Mars stuff; a Reindeer Section song and a Matthew song). Unfortunately, now that I've got these on my computer, my sound card is busted. It keeps adding pops & crackly fuzz on top of everything... and not nice lofi static fuzz, but really grating noise. I pulled off the keyboard to see if I could find a loose connection to the card, but without further dismanting I couldn't locate it.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

August 20th. Three different albums I've been looking forward to are coming out that day- Pulp's We Love Life, Spoon's Kill the Moonlight and Interpol's Turn On the Bright Lights. Those are probably the only three albums being released this month that I've thought ahead of time of buying, so it's a little weird they're all on the same day. Thinking of walking down Market St to the record store to pick them up reminds me why I do a lot of my CD shopping online. I always feel like I'm the only girl combing through the bins by myself, which always manages to remind me of a remark that I've never been able to quite shake. Summer after I graduated high school, I was driving home an older friend after hanging out in a diner for a few hours, catching up on his first year of college. We started talking about music, and I mentioned some bands I was listening to (I think they were Velvet Underground and Tom Waits, but I can't remember for sure). He came back with "Well, which ex-boyfriend's taste are you borrowing now?" - oh, I got so mad, but I didn't say anything & just laughed with him. Yeah, I wanted to snap back, I'm not listening to U2 or Violent Femmes, favorite bands of the last boy I dated. I followed my own path to my musical taste, right through all kinds of bands I never want to listen to any more, to a few shows that I wouldn't go to now, and through tons of music magazines and web sites that I've read on my own. I think about that laugh a lot of times when I'm going through a rack of CDs, how my silence was there to let him think sure, that's it. There's such an implicit assumption from some guys that women just pick up their taste from whoever they're dating- new boyfriend, new CD collection. The dumb thing is that I know more women than men who can talk intelligently about music, who I'd consider to be way more opinionated about their music.
In other August musical goodness, Bumbershoot is only a few weekends away, and I need to remember to go to a Starbucks to get tickets.
incongruous - "Hello Hello..." Nirvana being blared out of a convertable speeding down 1st in Belltown this morning. I didn't turn around and see if it was a balding yuppie, but I'd guess it probably was.

Thursday, August 08, 2002


I'm slouched in a chair, listening to a mix I made early in the summer, Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life hanging langorously in my headphones, feeling annoyed at a long and kind stupid day of work. I'm so flat and drained right now- I feel like I'm 15 and furious that I'll never be old enough quick enough to move out of suburban NJ- anywhere, as long as it's far away and doesn't have split level homes and huge shopping centers in the middle of clover leaf interchanges. This song is ok- I loved it a few years ago when it was new, shocked to hear a song from a movie I loved as a little kid taken and re-claimed in such an amazing way. I'm not really listening to the words, just the thump-thump-bass-cymbal clash that repeats through the bottom, chorus, same beat but a little less bass at the very beginning of the verse, then back again. Did I mention I feel completely drained? Insert sardonic comment on the hardship of modern life and technology here. The first chords of the next song start up, then a quick drumbeat, and I try to remember what song I put on next. I think for a moment that it's Fell in Love With a Girl- close, but it's actually Hate to Say I Told You So, suddenly sounding quite good for the first time ever.
Do You Remember the First Time? -my introduction to Pulp, buying His & Hers in Newbury Comics- visiting Harvard Square with my mom, I felt kind of silly dragging her here, past the skateboarding kids sitting out on the sidewalk. Hunting through the bins with your mom standing a foot away is kind of weird- I remember thinking right, I should avoid this in the future. Later, getting driven through Boston's snarled mess, I put the album into my discman and tried to turn it up loud enough to hear over the conversations in the car. Next, Let Down by Radiohead, which I'm tempted to not even try to write about in this mood. It makes a nice gloomy, man-we're-screwing-up-this-century-already pairing with the Pulp song. Wilco's Jesus, Etc used to throw me for a loop with the strings that it starts with on this mix- wait, what classical song did I put on here? I was walking home on day, playing this, when it suddenly started pouring out of nowhere. I got drenched, and looked down Pine St to see that the bay was still sunny, then this song came on. Caught at a no walk light, I stood there and counted the blocks to home, hunting up the title of this for a moment. If I think about it, the weird suspended-time seconds from the sudden shock of a sheet of rain on my face and the quick skip out of Radiohead into some new type of music still hang in my head when I walk by that intersection.
Wild Honey, Beach Boys... "sweet sweet, honeybee" start off one of the best songs they've done. It's a funny little tune, bongo drums swelling up the surface fo r a moment, then dropping right off, falsetto notes, then "let me tell you how she really got to my soul" full of earnestness. Slips simply into You're Just A Baby, which puts me right into France, slouched just like I am now, but with my one bag underneath my feet, fiddling with my discman and turning around every so often to see what time it was, checking my tickets. I was debating whether my speaking was yet up to ordering a drink at the counter without any pantomine. It almost was, until it was time to pay- no total lit up on a cash register, so I had to tease out the "deux euros" but gave up on the change part, and feebly held out a palm of small coins. Unable to put together the process of recognize words- translate to english-do the math, four twenties + 11 maybe, I couldn't pick out the correct coins myself. Fame and Fortune - I love the "Hey!" and the way the song picks up quicker halfway through, the urgence of the last minute or so. I'll end before the end of the mix- the last song before I turned it off is Rolling Stone's Brown Sugar, also a song I've loved for so long that I'm unable to write intelligently about it. I've also been trying to use XEmacs keyboard shortcuts on my mac for the last two paragraphs- generally a sign that the upper functions of my brain have turned off & I'm running on some kind of computer nerd instinct here.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Rough Trade 25 Years
This morning's music, to go with a cup of coffee that I didn't brew correctly. Do you know how sometimes the first cup of coffee is so ridiculously tasty and perfect? I'd go off on a description of it- warm, well-rounded, but with just the right kind of bitterness- only then I'd start sounding like a wine taster or some similiar silliness. When I do get a good cup out of my coffeemaker I try to remember exactly what I did- two spoonfuls, not overflowing, water up to a certain mark. The next day, always, the obsessively same method makes something stale, flat, not-quite-there.
I'm still dipping into the 4 CDs in this box set, finding songs that pop out at me. So far- so predictable- I prefer the last two, from the 90s. It's hard not to privilege songs and artists from your teen years, to listen to older music that holds the roots of your music without layering expectations over it. When I listen to the older tracks here, it's hard to keep out snappy three word descriptions of the artists that I've seen in reviews, impossible to come up with my own feelings about them. Skimming the tracklisting on the back of the CD sleeves (such a nifty design! you should buy this just for the library stamping motif), some tracks stand out as Important. The CD skip button is tempting- just jump to the ones I've heard of, listen to three minutes, and move on. I want to take all the sleeves and hide them away, then listen again with fresh ears, not knowing who is who, but I fear the damage has been done. The two earlier CDs are getting such a short shift from me- I'm warming up to them, but the feeling of being on an archaeological dig is throwing a dust of distance over the songs, keeping them from sounding as natural as the second half of the set.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Recent Disappointments:
You Held the World in Your Arms [CD-SINGLE] - Idlewild
"It's like your life hasn't changed and it's three years later" -so apt. I had some high hopes for this song, and it is catchy in a shaken-up kind of way. The jump to a great song never happens- it's just plodding along, skimming across a nice guitar line, and trying to pull off a great-big-anthem feel that doesn't materialize.
Highly Evolved - Vines
I kind of considered myself warned when I bought this album, having read a lot of spotty reviews of it. Even so, their song Get Free was amazing when I heard it, so I figured it was worth a try. The first song, Highly Evolved, starts off on an interesting rhythm, and has a hint of the back-of-the-throat singing from the chorus of Get Free. The second song I've been skipping- nothing in the first 20 seconds interested me. Outtathaway has a guitar that reminds me of the start of Blur's Trimm Trabb, but doesn't do anything interesting with it. Pretty much everything else on the CD is unremarkable, other than Get Free which I still enjoy.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Hey, first non-mumbling-about-songs post! I found this: BlogTree.com - Weblog Genealogy via geegaw which is a funny blog & linked to from NYLPM, which is what inspired me to attempt to write. I guess now this is now a real blog, since this is a linking-to-other-blogs post.
Newbury Comics in Boston - I used to go to the one in the MIT student center until it closed, discovered Curve in the Newbury St one, and thinking of the one in the Garage in Harvard Square brings the smell of cloves cigarettes to the tip of my tongue. I don't know if they still sometimes give out free CD samplers, but I still have one from 98- A Wicked Good Sampler Vol. 2 which has some nice songs on it. I lost the case in some or another cross- country move, so I no longer had the names of the artists or songs. After playing The Walkmen on a drive home from work- and getting massively annoyed with it yet again- I put the sampler into my computer. I'd kind of forgotten that it could look up the track and artists names automatically- or didn't think that it would find anything for this one- so I'd never bothered with this before. Somehow, it did find a match. The track listing that I now had back surprised me- one of the songs was by Jonathon Fire*Eater- which The Walkmen came out of. Even better, it was a song that I loved (When the Curtain Falls for You) and the one that I'd pulled out the sampler just to listen to.
I can't get enough of it. The way he sings "I'm just ahanging from the rafters..." always grabbed me, and even better is the last verse (2:34, right after a small pause).
Previous to this Jonathon Fire*Eater for me = was "destroyed by hype" by writers predicting the same would happen to the Strokes. Anyway, I bought Wolf Songs for Lambs, and sadly the rest of the album doesn't share this song's bluesy strength.
The Charlatans - Charlatans UK
I'm trying to write about this album without listening to it right now, which I think will probably fail miserably. It's one that I bought on a bit of a well-it's-used-and-cheap lark without knowing too much about it, which isn't very common for me. It ended up in my CD case on my trip to my little sister's wedding before I had listened it, so I listened to it first while I was alone in my parents house the day before the wedding. It was a pretty unseasonable day for June - thunderstorms, and cold; the kitchen a deep gray without the lights on. Their stereo was two rooms away, so by the time the music reached me in the kitchen it had filtered through a doorway and around a sofa. I was in a giddy, happy mood- singing to the cat who sat by the door, bounding down the stairs and skipping the bottom ones. The CD in the stereo before this one was OK Computer- normally one which I love, but not a good match for my mood. Fitting, though, in the way that it was a 180 from The Charlatans. Highlights from that listen: Bullet Comes (I think this is one with the tearing away keyboards) and Tell Everyone. When I think about it now, I can't seperate that day from the next one with the bright sunshine everywhere, grasping at each second to impress it in my mind so that I would have it forever, snippets of laughing with her friends, taking pictures of my parents, smiling everywhere. Driving home late in the evening after the wedding, I played this again and fell asleep slouched in the front seats. When I close my eyes now, I see the tops of the trees lit up by the headlights running underneath and feel so drained of everything but bliss.
"Baby, tell me it's the way you feel not the place you hold your dreams" - the best I can come up with is that these lines hold why this song fit so well with that weekend. They don't have the melodic brilliance that Crowded House does, there's none of the amazing guitar playing that I adore in other bands, and the drumming sounds kind of lame in some songs (see again: Tell Everyone. Someone should have confiscated their cymbals- if that's what that is). At the same time, it's one of the few bands where I can hear all the places where it fails, and still not want a note changed. Their albums often have a really relaxed feeling that drags the songs down, but here it's just a mellow slackness to the music that fits the material well.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

Hipster Detritus has an interesting post- 75 Albums That Changed Everything For Me (scroll to the bottom of the page). No commentary, so I guess the reason I liked it was because a lot the albums in the list were important to me, too. I don't even want to tackle writing out a list of the albums that shaped my musical tastes because I would either come up with about 6 or 200. More important -in my memory- than albums would be just a few songs. A rough and very quick attempt at a list comes up with: Don't Dream It's Over, Here Today, Loving Cup and Happy, Jeremy, Still D.R.E., Dissolved Girl, High & Dry, Least Complicated, 9 Straight Lines, Let Forever Be.
I'm in a schizophrenic musical mood this weekend. Current top 10 songs I've been listening to:
Changes - David Bowie - I waffle between preferring this one and All the Young Dudes
High & Dry - Radiohead - first Radiohead song I heard knowing that it was by them
How Soon Is Now? - Smiths -my favorite of theirs
I'm Always in Love - Wilco - sooo good, sounds a lot like YHF to me
I Want It That Way - Backstreet Boys - summer 99, living in an empty apartment with a brand new sofa, 1 box of stuff, and my suitcase. I bought a radio, and this was on ALL THE TIME. I guess it brainwashed me, because I think it's brilliant.
Ooops Oh My - Tweet - I saw this one when I watched TOTP on BBCAmerica early one morning
PDA - Interpol -see below
Still Be Around - Uncle Tupelo -the highlight of 89/93 for me
Turn It Up - Blur -Modern Life is Rubbish is a few brilliant songs surrounded by a bunch of lousy ones, I guess just like almost every other album they did.
Waterfall - The Stone Roses - so beautiful!
Not that they go together, but I really like each one.
The New Republic Online: Rolling Stone Unplugged presents an interesting take on long reviews vs. short reviews:
With the proliferation of file-sharing technologies, young fans have a "celestial jukebox" that gives them instant access to virtually any music at any time. In this brave new world, less is more. Readers don't need 7,000 words on a band to decide whether to buy its new album; they need 70 words to decide whether they want to download it.
I'm torn- it's true that I've discovered a lot of great bands by downloading songs (Interpol, Rye Coalition and Spoon are the most recent), but I like reading long critical pieces that I can remember when I'm flipping through CDs at a store. A 2 paragraph review isn't as likely to stay with me as a 2 page one.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Call Our Hands - French Kicks
I'd heard the first two minutes of this earlier in the day without knowing which track it was. I had to stop the CD player a moment after the lines "Should be making some noise by now..." -and they lept right into my head a moment later where they played over & over. Tonight, searching out the track number on the album is so sweet with anticipation- I knew it was a few songs in, so I started with the third song; a few seconds, that wasn't it & skipped on. I love this kind of waiting- you know the song is in there somewhere; the first notes of each play louder in your head as you think about whether this your new favorite song, waiting to hear what's in your head come pouring through the headphones. Next-- no, this still isn't the one in my head, and again through the first 50 seconds of the fifth track. At :30 of the sixth track (I have the UK version-- it's #4 on the US release) the drums come in, and I consider the sound. A few moments later, it's yeah- this is the one! and the repeat 1 button goes on. I'm a sucker for a pop hook like this, so I've been happily bobbing my head for a good 10 minutes now, no desire to skip on to the next song. Oh yeah, the album: Young Lawyer EP. It's generally rather good, but most of the songs bury the vocals too deep under the guitars & drums (which are just huge on a lot of songs), something which I like in moderation but tends to turn me off after a few listens on most albums. It's largely fixed on One Time Bells- probably why I prefer that to Young Lawyer. There's a great little review of this here:
From the opening chords of Young Lawyer, it is evident that the band has cranked it up a notch with finer production, tighter musicianship, and improved harmonies. Nick Strumpf's off-kilter drumming and Josh Wise's keyboard work groove perfectly on the opening of The 88 while Matthew Stinchcomb's edgy guitar work is at its best on the hooky Call Our Hands. There isn't a moment of Young Lawyer's 22 minutes that doesn't rock with abandon. - from Summer EP Roundup

Thursday, August 01, 2002

The Stone Roses - Stone Roses
Woke up at 7:30 AM this morning when the light got too bright to ignore. Stumbled out of bed, collapsed on the sofa with my laptop and fidgeted around, trying to get the glare off the screen. Eventually stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee- remembered to actually put the pot all the way on the burner plate this time so that it wouldn't spill all over the counter. Took the coffee out on the deck & sat facing south for 15 minutes, eyes still not opening, no thoughts in my empty head; admired zen state. At some point took a shower, because my hair was wet. Tracked down some CDs for work, debated walking in, and decided environmentalism be damned, it was already 9:10 somehow. Stood in bedroom, looking at CD cabinet, and opened a drawer (at random? they're not organized other than a singles-albums split, so who knows what's in each section...) and pulled out the Stone Roses. The lemons looked summery for maybe the last bright morning this month. Started driving, and finally woke up to She's a Waterfall- I almost heard a switch click in my brain as I finally noticed where I was. Thought of the first time I heard this album, also sitting on the deck, and how it was love at first listen. Decided I have three categories of music I own: one is fell in love the first time, one is took a long to actually hear what was happening but now adore, and one is heard once, was turned off, but keep around in vain hopes of coming around. Was thankful I never had to come around slowly to this one, as long at I ignore the middle tracks.
Interpol -Turn on the Bright Lights
Now this is amusing me for some reason- this album doesn't come out for another 19 days, but AMG already has keywords entered for it: "Volatile, Brooding, Cathartic, Intense....."
I've been listening to PDA this week, and I've decided that the best part of the song is the slow ending- from about 4:50 until it ends, "Nothing to say, Nothing to do" in that slightly echoing distant voice that makes me think of cheesy 80s songs, although I can't think of any right now which actually sound like that.
Anyway, go read a piece about The Rapture which relates to the "does Interpol sound like Joy Division or not?" question. I have no answer to that, by the way- I've only heard about 3 Joy Division songs in my life.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Natural Ingredients - Luscious Jackson
Your feelings on the Beastie Boys are probably as good an indication as any of what you'll think about Luscious Jackson. There aren't many obvious references on this album straight back to the Beastie Boys, but it's in the same vein- all voices the first time you listen, heavily hip-hop influenced, bouncy music. Going forward to Hello Nasty and "I Don't Know" -not a typical Beastie Boys song- is the best reference I can come up with here. That track is slower than most songs on Natural Ingredients, but it has the same kind of easy groove.
I love the Beastie Boys- even in high school, I thought Sabotage was a great song, and happily bounced along to it. A friend noticed this & started playing Natural Ingredients for me, and I was hooked. To a 16 year old grunge fan, this was a new door opening. The baby feminist in me loved the songs that make me cringe now, but I still get a kick out of listening to most of this album. Deep Shag, all hook and quiet flow still grabs me like the first time I listened to it, and I'll never tire of the energy bound up in Here.
I thought it would pale in comparison to some of the richer sounding music I've been listening to recently, and it does feel thin compared to Since I Left You, but then it's strong enough to hold up to what it is. Perhaps the biggest thing I've gotten out of this album this time around is musing that I really don't listen to as many women as I used to. I went to a L.J. concert at my college, and it was an incredible experience- I had a great time at it, despite the fact that they played more of their Fever In Fever Out songs, which I don't like as much. What made the concert so special was that the audience was more than 98% women and it felt very different even from the Sleater Kinney concert I went to at the Middle East. The women onstage were laid back and clearly having a great time, and it inflected all my listening to their songs after that night.
What prompts the kind of music purchases that we make? When I was in college, I would guess that upwards of 75% of the CDs I was buying were women artists or groups with women singers. In the 3 years since I graduated, that number has dwindled ever lower without my noticing until I bought this cd and noticed that it was the first album with female singing on it that I'd bought in a very long time. Excluding Belle & Sebastian (some songs would fit here, but not the majority), the last one I bought was a Cocteau Twins album- Victorialand- in Febuary. I'm quick to ascribe this to the fact that my college buying habits were colored by listening to WZLY and going to on-campus concerts, but that's not true. I'm exposed to more CDs coming out each month now than I was at any point any point in school, and I certainly buy more- having a grownup job helps on that front. At some point in the last few years, I just moved away from choosing women's voices in my walkman. Natural Ingredients may well pull me back again to being a little more balanced, just as it pulled me out of my mostly grunge listening habits in high school. It fits in nicely with the summery evening music I've been listening to on my walks, so I think it will stay out with my heavy listening CDs for at least a few months.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Bringing Down the Horse - The Wallflowers
Where did I ever hear so much of this album? I borrowed it from a friend this morning, vaguely thinking that listening to some new music might be the best way to rescue this incredibly chilly July day. The cover looks completely unfamiliar to me, and although I'm sure that I've heard a song or two from it it on the radio, I can't summon any particular songs to mind. The back of the CD is empty of song titles, as is the inside of the CD cover, which doesn't help me. Once I put it on and One Headlight comes on I think, ah yes- I've heard this. I've been listening to a lot of old music over the last two weeks and finding fragments of places pop up that I haven't thought of since I last heard the first words of a verse 5 years ago. A bit of that happens here- obviously I know the song, but it isn't as tied to a night as other songs like Pearl Jam's Jeremy are.
Well, so the first song was their radio hit, I guess. And then the same thought is in my head through tracks 2,3,4, and 5. I flipped the album over to look at the cover again- did I own this? It came out when I was in college, so maybe a friend had it? But I can't figure out who it would have been. Immediate familiarity bugs me, because I can't place the memories coming up- they're washed out, just the words of the chouses or a particular janglyness to the guitars in some spots.
In a way, it seems that the music would feel familiar even if I hadn't heard this album many times somewhere and forgotten about it. I know they're lumped with Gin Blossoms, Semisonic, and the other post-grunge quiet guitar bands, and their sound fits right in there. This is snuggly cardigan music for draping yourself across a futon with a drink and talking to.
Returning to One Hundred Albums You Should Remove from Your Collection Immediately, I see a mixtape asking to be created. So far:

  1. David Bowie Changes (Hunky Dory)
  2. Oasis Morning Glory ((What's The Story) Morning Glory?)
  3. Pearl Jam Animal (Vs)
  4. Beastie Boys Sabotage (Ill Communication)
  5. Nirvana Come as You Are (Nevermind)
  6. Beatles Let It Be (Let It Be)
  7. White Stripes Fell in Love With a Girl (White Blood Cells)
  8. Macy Gray Why Didn't You Call (On How Life Is)
  9. Sarah McLachlan Building a Mystery (Surfacing)
  10. Beastie Boys I Don't Know (Hello Nasty)
  11. Cocteau Twins Pitch the Baby (Heaven or Las Vegas)
  12. U2 With or Without You (Joshua Tree)
  13. Sarah McLachlan Hold On (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
  14. Green Day Welcome to Paradise (Dookie)
  15. Bob Marley 3 Little Birds (Legend)
  16. No Doubt Just a Girl (Tragic Kingdom)

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Reading One Hundred Albums You Should Remove from Your Collection Immediately and packing for a move had me thinking as I boxed up CDs. I made a stack of a few albums to sell, but then looked through the ones that I was saving. There are a bunch of CDs that I should probably get rid of, and be embarrassed to own, but can't bring myself to part with. Here are my top 10 albums that I should really toss:

  • Crush, Bon Jovi -it's not even like owning Slippery When Wet and claiming that it reminds me of high school. No, I was 23 and living in Seattle when this came out.
  • Top Gun Soundtrack - I love running to this one. Especially Danger Zone.
  • Living in Clip, Ani DiFranco -live double CD set!
  • Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack - I would sell this one, but it's only worth $1.99 so I can't be bothered. Oddly enough, the score for MI2 is selling used for $9.99
  • real live woman, Trisha Yearwood - I bought this on a shopping trip with Esther, so it stays
  • Angels with Dirty Faces, Tricky - the definition of "the lyrics are so bad I can't stand to play it"
  • Just Push Play, Aerosmith - the only Aerosmith album I own besides Toys in the Attic. It stays because every so often I remember that I like Jaded.
  • Bicycle, Bicycle - Daisydunes.com is a cute song, but the rest.. blah. Another Esther memory, though.
  • On How Life Is, Macy Gray - She's Donald Duck.
  • A Starbucks Jazz sampler CD- from before I realized that Starbucks makes lousy coffee.
Trace - Son Volt

This album spent a few quiet months in my CD collection -before this week, I'd only listened to about three times. I bought it in the middle of discovering alt-country (Pneumonia > 89/93: An Anthology > Yankee Hotel Foxtrot > Trace), but it was overshadowed by Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and 89/93. Then I found it under my chair a few days ago, and put it into my CD player. I could smack myself for missing what I'm hearing now.

No Depression Archive - Trace review
by Peter Blackstock: And then there's "Windfall," the first song on the record and an instant classic if ever I've heard one. It shines with an irrepressible warmth and a truer sound, like the TV's glowing cathode-ray tube, the AM radio in the dashboard, the ashes from the dying campfire drifting into the distance on a southbound summer breeze. May the wind take your troubles away.

I'll leave it at that. It's a great album.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Asleep in the Back - Elbow
First impressions can color a CD forever, and that happened with this one. I put it in my CD player one night before I went to sleep, too eager to hear it to wait until the morning. I ended up starting to drift off and turning it off. Usually this is one of my favorite ways to first listen to an album- putting it into my computer to hear the first time often means that I start paying attention to work (which I probably should be doing anyway...) or web surfing, and the CD plays through without my really hearing it. Putting it on late at night, instead, forces my attention onto it. Unless it's an album like this one... really, it's quite pretty, and tracks like Powder Blue brush up against beautiful. Unfortunately, it's very quiet- not in itself a bad thing- but then there isn't quite enough of something there to bring me back. I tried breaking the dark-room-at-night connotation by playing it in my car for a few sunny morning drives, but the connection stuck. It feels gloomy and contemplative and like it should be played under a roof with raining smacking against it.

And presuming that you make it to Presuming Ed (Rest Easy)... dear lord.
Since I Left You - Avalanches
My second favorite new (but it's really from 2001) CD.

The KEXP Morning Show played a track from Since I Left You, which prompted me to go get this. It's been ripped as "too trendy and gimmicky -- too much cut-n-paste, hook novelty without spice beneath the surf" which is probably true. The third track sounds the weakest to me, but otherwise it's got a great beginning set of songs.
First post!
One Time Bells - French Kicks
My favorite new CD in a while- Down Now is my favorite song here, largely due to the last minute or so of the song. The amazon.com review got stuck in my head as describing their music as "angular post-pop" which I thought was very fitting. Building these links this morning, I see that sadly the actual text of the review starts with: "The French Kicks angular proto-post-art-punk..." which is alright, but I prefer my corrupted "post-pop" to "proto-post-art-punk" in the end.

I listened to it on a train in europe last month- started as we were sitting at the station still, and I could see a clock hung on a station pillar. The first two songs played out as I watched our departure time count down, and listened to announcements in a language I couldn't understand through my jet lag. Then we started moving, slipping slowly through miles of stopped tracks and apartments, the city trailing away but refusing to give out to countryside for a long time. Down Now felt like a fuzzy blanket draped across my exhaustion, the sparseness of the arrangements about all I could handle. This is not an empty, echoing album, although I can hear Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone (recorded in the same studio) in it. Most of their songs start off slowly with isolated drums and guiter, and take a few minutes to build up. It's an interesting approach, and I like the structures that are set up.