Archive for September, 2010

Perfume Genius: “Learning”

September 29, 2010

It’s no secret that I’m heartbroken, and the road to recovery feels less like a road than a quagmire. And I don’t care who knows it, because I lost all sense of shame when I lost the man I loved. And, since I’m an unconvincing liar and extremely sensitive, I often end up talking about my troubles to anyone who will listen (sorry, people—you know who you are). But every once and a while something coaxes you to emerge from your cocoon of narcissism and think that, maybe, just maybe, life could, actually, be worse, and the ground might not actually be crumbling like crackers beneath your feet. In this case, the one who has inadvertently lifted the shroud of perpetual pessimism, self-pity, and hopeless pining that has been covering my head like crown of despair for the past three week is one of my very best friends from home, Ariel, who is doing relief work for UNICEF in Haiti right now. Her emails detailing what the people down there are going through make my troubles pale in comparison to their plight. So, although my pain still hasn’t gone away, it certainly makes it seem less apocalyptic.

And a similar phenomenon transpired last night. I went to see Perfume Genius, a new KEXP discovery of mine, perform at Bottom of the Hill, even though it was a Monday, and I was already at home, and I hadn’t been able to convince anyone to accompany me to the show, and I knew it would go late, and I haven’t been feeling that well. But then I said fuck it and hopped on my bike. It’s a downright travesty that the show was so sparsely attended, because Mike Hadreas, a frail wisp of a boy with an equally fragile voice and a devastatingly mournful mien, delivered such a haunting, soul-baring string of piano ballads that afterward I wanted to walk behind his keyboard, take him in my arms, and tell him everything is going to be ok, even though people have been telling me that on a daily basis and I never believe them. Singing with an ethereal timidity, he managed to muster so much sadness with his music that the air felt thick with tears, and it was obvious that he often dwells in a very dark place. I think he really is sadder than me. By a lot. So there’s that. For perspective.

Perfume Genius – Learning

Who: Perfume Genius

What: Learning

When: 6.21.2010

Where: Seattle, Washington

Why: “No one will answer your prayers until you take off that dress / No one will hear all your crying until you take your last breath”

How: Matador

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The Tallest Man on Earth: “Love Is All”

September 14, 2010

Heartache is the loneliest place. If you could translate it into a geographic location, I think it would be a lonesome, desolate, monochrome dot devoid of friends and laughter and laden with despair. Like a desert, or an arctic tundra, or a buoy in the middle of the ocean. So I imagine Sweden, with its long winters and northern latitudes, might not be far from a physical manifestation of the feeling, in which I’ve been immersed nonstop for the past five days. Parts of Scandinavia, the region to which Sweden belongs, lie to the north of the Arctic Circle and boast several natural phenomena. For example, during summer, the sun never sets some days, but the opposite occurs during winter, resulting in unending darkness for the corresponding period, which is known as Polar Night. And since my lover left me, it seems as though the curtains of night have fallen on the stage of my heart and might never lift.

The Tallest Man on Earth, however, is not the man that just stopped loving me, although that man was very tall. He is Kristian Matsson, he’s only 5’9,” and he hails from a town I’ve never heard of in the middle of Sweden. Like his previous LP, Shallow Grave, and his five-song EP, Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird, that followed his latest album, The Wild Hunt, just five months after its release, the recordings are sparse but do not suffer for their simplicity. Just Matsson’s voice and his guitar, which features masterful and delicate finger-picking and eloquent lyrics, his folksy style understandably draws constant comparisons to Bob Dylan. I’ll try to think of my blues as just a passing bird, or as a sparrow, perhaps while I watch The Tallest Man on Earth play at The Fillmore tonight.

The Tallest Man on Earth – Love Is All

Who: The Tallest Man on Earth

What: The Wild Hunt

When: 4.12.2010

Where: Dalarna, Sweden

Why: “And now spikes will keep on falling from the heavens to the floor / The future was our skin and now we don’t dream anymore”

How: Dead Oceans

The National and St. Vincent: “Sleep All Summer”

September 11, 2010

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I fell in love with the original recording of this song by Crooked Fingers when I lived in Boston many years ago, much like a fell in love with a man a few months ago, and now he has fallen out of love with me. Thus, this cover as recorded by The National’s Matt Berninger and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark resonates with me far more than I ever wanted it to, and all I can hope is that it provides me with the necessary catharsis to get through this tragic mess that I’ve become, but it seems that the only thing it’s helping me to do now is cry. I wish I could sleep all fall and wake up in the winter, finding out it was all a bad dream, but I’m not that naïve. So this song is neither that new nor all that newsworthy, but neither is the concept of a broken heart.

The National and St. Vincent – Sleep All Summer

Who: The National and St. Vincent

What: Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers!

When: 4.7.2009

Where: Brooklyn and Manhattan (today); Cincinatti and Oklahoma (previously)

Why: “Cold ways kill cool lovers / Strange ways we used each other / Why won’t you fall back in love with me?

How: Merge

Blue Giant: “Gone for Good”

September 2, 2010

Last weekend I went camping up in Bodega Bay. Now, usually a sojourn in the hinterlands provides the rare—and necessary—opportunity for a pavement-treading city dweller like myself to see the stars since the lights that populate the metropolis and pollute the night sky don’t exist in those areas, like when I went backpacking with some friends in the Sierras and we forgot our tent and had to sleep under the stars. (Believe me when I tell you: there are worse things—but then again, it didn’t rain.) Unfortunately for my star-gazing craving, for this most recent trip we pitched our tents in a forest of redwood trees, which was majestic, delightful, and awe-inspiring, but the canopy obscured our visual passageway to the heavens. No matter. We passed enough bottles around the fire that some of us were seeing stars (of sorts) soon enough.

I’ll bet there are more stars up in Oregon. Maybe that’s why my friend Mikey is moving to Portland next week, which once again confirms my theory that all cool people migrate there. Or live there already, like this group called Blue Giant, which consists of Kevin and Anita Robinson, who formerly recorded and toured under their previous incarnation—as a duo called Viva Voce—until they decided to see what they could do with a bigger band. Their nom de plume is astronomical in origin. According to Wikipedia, “A blue giant is a massive star that has exhausted the hydrogen fuel in its core and left the main sequence.” Speaking of namesakes, this track off Blue Giant’s eponymous new record shares the same name as another one of my favorite songs of all time by The Shins. I guess “Gone for Good” is never going to express an uplifting message. But I have one: Good luck, Mikey! In the meantime, go catch Blue Giant play at Café du Nord tonight.

Blue Giant – Gone for Good (feat. Corin Tucker)

Who: Blue Giant

What: Blue Giant

When: 7.13.2010

Where:  Portland, Oregon

Why: “When our love is gone it’s gone for good / Look for it while you can if you think you should”

How: Vanguard Records