Archive for August, 2010

Land of Talk: “Quarry Hymns”

August 26, 2010

Readers (if you do exist, that is), meet my new anthem: “Quarry Lakes,” a gem off of Land of Talk’s second full-length album, Cloak and Cipher, whose name to me has a very strange, mystery-laden, Agatha-Christie-meets-Harry-Potter kind of vibe to it, and which just came out on Tuesday. Oh, how this song burns like cold, cruel fire in the deepest recesses of my troubled heart. You may have already read my post on LOT’s previous record, 2008’s Justin Vernon-produced Some Are Lakes, which featured the title track and pokes fun at our neighbors to the north. What I didn’t mention was that front woman and erstwhile member of Toronto-based supergroup Broken Social Scene Liz Powell had to take some time off when she developed hemorrhaging vocal chord polyps, and it was during that recovery period that she wrote most of what would later become Cloak and Cipher. In an article in Canada’s National Post, which had been streaming  the brand new work before its release, Powell says of “Quarry Lakes”: “How things hit us is often incongruous with our surroundings—this song is a sad summer day and the happiest snowfall you’ve ever run through. This is a song for friends and lovers, a call to arms for falling and turning leaves.”

As summer winds down everywhere else across the country, here in San Francisco it’s just beginning. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t entitled to enjoy the autumnal themes that everyone else will be draping themselves in like scarves come Labor Day as the warmth  suddenly drains from the air, daylight starts slouching, and the nights expand into oblivion with loneliness in hand. This is, at least, what all my friends will be feeling, the ones that left me here all by myself in San Francisco to move back east for various academic pursuits as I flounder and attempt to reestablish my identity as, well, a solitary individual. In Canada, of course, this descent into autumn began about a month ago. In fact, it might be snowing already. Fortunately, there is something to look forward to this fall: Land of Talk will play The Independent on Thursday, October 7, with fellow tourmates the Besnard Lakes.

Land of Talk – Quarry Hymns

Who: Land of Talk

What: Cloak and Cipher

When: 8.24.10

Where: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Why: “How deep is this hole I feel I’m in?”

How: Saddle Creek

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Arcade Fire: “Half Light II (No Celebration)”

August 10, 2010

Picture me sitting on my childhood bed in the house I grew up in, which is located in an unassuming little town in North Central Massachusetts and is not, as most might think, “just outside of Boston.” It’s just outside of nowhere, and it’s just begun to thunderstorm outside, which signals a welcome but probably too-brief relief, since it’s been so unbearably hot and humid that I realize, quite lucidly, that I’ve been romanticizing East Coast summers to the nth degree. (I can’t sleep at night, and it’s not so much my primordial twin bed as it is the insidious heat that sidles in between me and my intended dreams.) And as I work away the time I should be spending vacationing (ah, the unintended curse of freelancing!) until my flight leaves on Wednesday night to carry me across the continent like a stowaway in the belly of a wide-winged, extra speedy bird, the life to which I’ll be returning has been crumbling like pie crust dough with too much flour—but with more aplomb.

Naturally, I’ve been seeking an equally morose soundtrack to my life. Because I am not close enough to a bona fide city, it doesn’t follow that I would know what it’s like to live in the suburbs, and, as a San Francisco resident, I’m not living there now, but I’m pretty sure I suffered as much as (if not more than) the kids that technically inhabited them—and I’m suffering now. For those of you who haven’t heard the new album, don’t let me misguide you: it is, actually, full of jaunty, infectious, thigh-slapping tunes, but this one matches my melancholy mood right now, and I’ve been listening to it a lot. In the car. That I’ve been driving. To get places. Welcome back to the very outer echelons of suburbia, Sarah. (As a side note, it’s somewhat ironic since I first learned about Arcade Fire when I was living in Boston, from a cool coworker named Erik, and by the time I got around to listening to the copies of Funeral and Neon Bible that he had burned for me, their show at the Paradise—my preferred small venue in the city—had come and gone. I have yet to see them live, but in the meantime, I have this.)

Arcade Fire – Half Light II (No Celebration)

Who: Arcade Fire

What: The Suburbs

When: 8.3.2010

Where: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Why: “Now that San Francisco’s gone / I guess I’ll just pack it in / Wanna wash away my sins / In the presence of my friends.”

How: Merge