Archive for December, 2009

You Say Party! We Say Die!: “Laura Palmer’s Prom”

December 31, 2009

Enough self-indulgent, somnolent emo. Let’s go out like a lion this year. Though this Canadian dance-punk quintet’s name sounds like an order barked by a fascist regime, don’t let it fool you. Maybe they’re dying of too much partying, because there’s nothing morbid nor particularly dogmatic about their third album, XXXX, unless the intended doctrine involves dancing. This record has been big with the Canucks, claiming the #1 spot on campus radio charts after only its second week on the charts. (Note: I still can’t tell whether lead singer Becky Ninkovic is saying her heart needs a lap dance or love dance, but I can’t imagine the two are all that different.)

While I am typically averse to the use of exclamation points, this group might make me change my stance. YSP! WSD! is coming to SF’s own Bottom of the Hill on March 12, 2010. Just don’t expect bassist Stephen O’Shea this time around, as he’s banned from playing in the U.S. until 2011. As for tonight, although on principle I loathe all of the fanfare surrounding New Year’s Eve, what with its inflated expectations and wallet-emptying potential, I say party. And give someone’s heart a lap (love?) dance.



You Say Party! We Say Die! – Laura Palmer’s Prom

Who: You Say Party! We Say Die!

What: XXXX

When: 9.29.2009

Where: Abbotsford, British Columbia

Why: “My heart needs a lap dance.”

How: Paper Bag Records


Elliott Smith: “Between the Bars”

December 26, 2009

Earlier in the week my little brother and I, channeling our excitement and egos at being reunited for the holidays with an energetic but perhaps not particularly deft guitar and vocal combo, decided we would subject our poor brethren to these dubious skills on Christmas. For reasons I’m not prepared to go into on a public forum (even though it’s one that nobody reads), Dave and I did not end up performing. This is a good thing because, between eating like a kid who just escaped from fat camp and drinking as much as I need to make spending time with the family tolerable, we didn’t have any time to practice our carefully selected set list, which contained literally not one song about the holidays. Oh, unless you include Chris Pureka’s “Momentary Thief” since the lyrics mention “holiday lights” at some point, but that follows another line about whiskey, so really the message, I don’t think, is a heartwarming one. We talked about throwing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on there for posterity’s sake, but neither of us could be bothered to figure it out, and then we realized that we didn’t care and embraced the depressing roster that accurately reflected our musical tastes.

Perhaps it’s for the best. Why mess with perfection? Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” made it onto the list, and while Dave and I adore it, I’m not sure it would have launched Nana onto Christmas cloud nine. So this isn’t fitting or festive, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t good. And if you don’t know him already, there’s nothing I can tell you that hasn’t already been written, and written better, by someone else. Either Merry Christmas /Or Happy New Year. Take your pick.

Elliott Smith – Between the Bars

Gregory Alan Isakov: “If I Go, I’m Goin'”

December 11, 2009

With experimental bands like Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors making many a top-albums-of-the-year list these days, and the new indie electronica scene—rising up like a hot air balloon fueled by heat generated by footloose fans—impressing even former techno-phobes like me, 2009 ostensibly could have been a year showing a trend away from the acoustic arena. But, as Shakespeare once said, all that glitters is not gold, and oftentimes all I want to hear is some good, old-fashioned, no-frills folk. Nothing distorted. Nothing flashy. Nothing synthesized. Traditional, even. Enter Gregory Alan Isakov.

A Colorado resident for the past ten years, Isakov was born in South Africa and raised in Philly. While his third record, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, doesn’t break any boundaries or forge unknown territory, it’s a solid effort that proves it’s not always necessary to recreate the wheel. Drawing on Stephen Fretwell-esque vocals, it’s like he’s reached ghost hands through my northleftern ribs and put a death grip on my heart. In a good way. Isakov’s lyrics, replete with themes of love lost, loneliness, and isolation, often incur the famous Frost refrain: “Nothing gold can stay.” But you know what can? Simply kick-ass songwriting skills. When I found out I missed his show at Café du Nord on December 2, it was like discovering that there is no Santa (and my innocence sailed into the ether). Unlike my faith in Old Saint Nick, however, he might come back.

Gregory Alan Isakov – If I Go, I’m Goin’

Who: Gregory Alan Isakov

What: This Empty Northern Hemisphere

When: 5.1.2009

Where: Boulder, Colorado

Why: “If I go, I’m goin’ shameless / Let my hunger take me there.”

How: self-released

The Clientele: “(I Can’t Seem to) Make You Mine”

December 2, 2009

Today, like yesterday, my masochism knows no bounds. My Monday morning blues have bled into Tuesday, and all I want to do is while away the hours at my day job, looking like I’m hard at work but really writing in my blog, browsing clothes I can’t afford online, and listening to songs that make me want to kill myself. Naturally, there are reasons for this, including, but not limited to:  1) certain alcohol-induced activities I partook in this weekend that should have made me feel guilty but actually didn’t at all, 2) it’s day two back at work after four and a half solid days off, with three more to go before the weekend, and 3) the lack of snow in San Francisco around the holiday season is, as always, getting me down. So fuck Macy’s and Bing Crosby and everyone that’s freaking out about Santa’s beard being an H1N1 incubator. Let us drown our sorrows in all the eggnog and brandy we can down before the viscosity of the raw egg mixture down our throats makes us gag (if the reality of Bob Dylan’s forthcoming Christmas album didn’t make us do that already). And yes, that’s what she said. The soundtrack to this festive attempt at self-annihilation? The Clientele.

Now, I would talk about the London-based band’s new album, Bonfires on the Heath, but everyone else is already doing that, and sheep-like behavior isn’t going to make me feel any better. No, as I was browsing their tunes on MySpace, I came across this sad little gem of a song: “(I Can’t Seem to) Make You Mine.” If ever there was a more beautiful way to express the futility of unrequited love, I haven’t come across it. So go and stand under the mistletoe by yourselves, people. ‘Tis the season.

The Clientele – (I Can’t Seem to) Make You Mine

Who: The Clientele

What: Strange Geometry

When: 10.11.2005

Where: London, England

Why: “I can’t seem to make you mine / Through the long and lonely night.”

How: Merge