Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kelley Stoltz: “I Remember, You Were Wild”

December 11, 2010

If you care enough to this read blog on a semi-regular basis, you will have noticed that I am, at this very moment, returning from a month-and-a-half-long hiatus. This is not because I’m dead and speaking to you from the grave—or, worse, the gates of Hades right now—nor have I decided that I loathe writing and wish to never put my pen to the page again (so to speak). No, friends. I did it for your benefit and your benefit alone. When I realized how much I was using my blog as a personal platform upon which I could unleash my innermost anguish in a fiery ball of heartbroken fury unto unsuspecting readers everywhere, I decided it was time to rein it in and wait until I was in a healthier mental state to continue. Because music, for me, is inherently tied to how I feel, and I was feeling very, very, very low. Unfortunately, it took me some time to reach this epiphany because, when you’re in trenches of emotional catastrophe, you can’t see for the tears. But still, I didn’t need to drag you all with me into the depths of despair. It’s dark in there, and I think there might be spiders. The good news is, I feel better. The bad news, of course, is that I also feel badly for staying away for so long, hibernating in my cave of self-pity. And bars. With bourbon.

Unfortunately, during my breakup sabbatical and subsequent process of re-socialization, I skipped over about a million bands I found worthy of—and fully intended on—writing about. Although it would be pure punishment to list them all here, I’ve been known to linger in my state of leftover masochism, so I may as well: The Fresh & Onlys, Diamond Rings, The Black Angels, Tamaryn, Leonard Cohen. (I mean, please—like I need to tell you who Leonard fucking Cohen is.) Fortunately, another thing that’s happened since I last wrote is that I officially formed my very own band here in San Francisco, which got me thinking about Bay Area musicians I admire like Kelley Stoltz. I recently discovered his new album, To Dreamers, which was released earlier this fall and is full of major chord throwback rock done right. When I can finally stop cathartically composing songs about lost love, I plan on taking a tip or two from him.

Kelley Stoltz – I Remember, You Were Wild

Who: Kelley Stoltz

What: To Dreamers

When: October 12, 2010

Where: San Francisco, CA

Why: “I remember, you were wild. Always acting like a child.”

How: Sub Pop

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The Vaselines: “Sex with an Ex”

October 21, 2010

Since my ex and I constantly listened to music together, blacklisted artists abound, including Beach House, Arcade Fire, Real Estate, LCD Soundsystem, The Tallest Man on Earth, Yeasayer, Caribou, The xx, and many, many more. (Even the National, but I feel as though I can reclaim them since he wasn’t nearly as obsessed with them as I am.) The Vaselines fall into this forbidden category of music I can’t listen to without immediately thinking about him. It’s not like we used to listen to them every day, or even when we made love—but he used to play “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” on guitar, and I would sing along, and that’s not something I can soon forget. And the subject of the title track of Sex with an Ex hits close to home—not because it happened, but because I think about it all the time. Pathetic, I know.

But the Vaselines, founded by Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, although old, are not. For a band that formed in 1986, broke up in 1989, and released only two short EPs and one album, Dum Dum, before disintegrating, you wouldn’t think that a record released 21 years later would garner much attention. But this is also a band that had three separate songs covered by Nirvana—since Kurt Cobain quoted them as his favorite—in the nineties, and therefore had a much harder time fading into oblivion. Plus, they’re actually good. And playing with the Dum Dum Girls, which is fitting since their moniker plays homage to the Vaselines, tonight at the Great American. I’ll be there, trying not to cry per usual.

The Vaselines – Sex with an Ex

Who: The Vaselines

What: Sex with an Ex

When: 9.14.2010

Where: Glasgow, Scotland

Why: “It feels so good, it must be bad for me.”

How: Sub Pop

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

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

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

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: “You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying”

July 9, 2010

Making a mixed CD is, in my opinion, a thrilling yet sometimes thorny undertaking fraught with various obstacles like perfectionism. The last mix I made was for a romantic interest, and it was at the very start of the relationship, so although I had confidently assured the recipient (all starry-eyed) that I would try to make it “less depressing” than I normally would, I soon encountered another problem. I wanted to succeed in the aforementioned task, yes, but that goal was complicated by my fear of including inappropriate or unduly passionate lyrical content, because doing so could fray the tender yet tenuous thread that was tying us together and send us spinning in opposite directions. I couldn’t be dropping L bombs before we had decided we were even going to see each other again. And, of course, I had to convince him, in 20 songs or less, that I had impeccable taste in music. I don’t know if I succeeded on any level because I still haven’t given it to him yet.

So imagine the veritable smorgasbord of feelings—including honor, excitement, and  inadequacy—that flooded my senses as I was put in charge of the music for me and my friend Amy’s western road trip, which begins tomorrow in Montana. I refuse to hightail through Yellowstone and Jackson listening to chillwave, and there’s no fucking way Thelma & Louise were into lo-fi. I want country, dammit. And I don’t have any. Fortunately, I listen to enough country-influenced musicians that I was able to make do. Even better, I discovered KEXP’s Swingin’ Doors program (which happens every Thursday evening), and I heard this song by Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers. It’s on the mix. As is Gary Stewart’s classic, “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles).” Time to get my whiskey on in the Wild West, folks.

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers – You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying

Who: Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers

What:  Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers

When: 12.8.2009

Where: Seattle, Washington

Why: “I play it cool and I act as cold as ice / It’s the only way I know to make you look twice / Because you only believe me when I’m lying.”

How: Zoe Muth

Foreign Born: “Vacationing People”

February 24, 2010

After the skies parted like the Red Sea and let loose buckets of rain earlier this week, my roommates and I discovered a leak in our apartment, and then another, leading us to wonder when it might be time to start collecting pairs of animals (you think this guy would mind if we borrowed his heap o’ beast?)  and planks of lumber for the ark. While the landlord promptly sent reinforcements, the situation has yet to be remedied, and all this wetness makes me pine for sunshine (and moonshine) in distant lands. With our home being invaded, clearly it’s no time for a staycation, which is why “Vacationing People” by Foreign Born serves as the perfect antidote to the poison of potential flooding. I’d better pack my swimsuit and my sunscreen before I second-guess myself.

However, if you’re like me, an endless stream of engagements has left you with zero cash to take a trip not accessorized with a couple bands of gold—but not all nuptials end in I-wish-I-were-in-Brazil-style bitterness. In fact, during the 2003 post-collegiate summer wedding circuit, Lewis Pesacov and Matt Popieluch, who had played together at SF State University, started jamming and decided to give the whole band thing another go. A bassist (Ariel Rechtshaid), drummer (Garrett Ray), and two albums later, that particular union of souls seems like quite the providential event. Foreign Born plays the Rickshaw Stop as part of Noise Pop tonight.

Foreign Born – Vacationing People

Who: Foreign Born

What: Person to Person

When: 6.23.2009

Where: Los Angeles, California

Why: “We live a life of vacationing people / Take a long walk slowly.”

How: Secretly Canadian

Lovin’s for Fools

February 19, 2010

On Sunday I was too busy eating sandwiches atop Twin Peaks and, later, drinking whiskey to bother blogging. And no, I wasn’t trying to drown my single sorrows in the anesthetizing arms of that amber liquor—or attempt to reassert my feminine power by surrounding myself with independent, kick-ass women (although I did), only to drunk text all my ex-boyfriends and quietly sob myself to sleep (I didn’t). I was simply having a damn good time. In case you live in a cave, Sunday was Valentine’s Day, a “holiday” which cannot really be deemed as such because no one gets the day off whenever it falls, and which I maintain makes single people feel like lepers (even if they are perfectly content living on their islands of blissful sovereignty and boundless opportunity, which is, in essence, the San Francisco zeitgeist) and encourages couples to celebrate their enduring passion through contrived, bank-breaking, and generally garish notions of romance.

And though, for the aforementioned reasons, I tried to ignore it, my efforts were futile at best. Even in the sweet, shadowy, slightly malodorous safety of Thieves lingered evidence in the shape of heart-covered cupcakes. And then I realized: even if I put down my dram to pen something I could post for you all, you would read something into the music which may or may not be true, whatever I chose. And I guess, regardless of previous personal outpourings, that I don’t want, right now, to be so emotionally transparent. I thought it would be safer to wait until Wednesday, and then I didn’t find time. So here it is, Friday, February 19, and I am presenting a sad, sad song about love lost and its cynical aftermath, but on no particular day, and for no particular reason.

Sarah Siskind – Lovin’s for Fools

Who: Sarah Siskind

What: Studio . Living Room

When: 2006

Where: Nashville, Tennessee

Why: “Go on and love her, love her forever / I will not tell her you told me, too / You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you / Lovin’s for fools, lovin’s for fools.”

How: Infrasound Collective

Don’t Think Twice

February 13, 2010

It’s not every day that you are informed that the person you’ve been seeing for a few months is seeing someone else…via text message.  And despite the various substances I abused last night in order to numb the pain, the indignity of it all still stings. (Or is that my hangover? I can’t tell.) As I had already found someone else myself, I can’t say I’m entirely heartbroken…but I still think a fuck-you song would make me feel better. (As would a bottle of bourbon, if anyone is willing to contribute to my cause.) And after searching far and wide for a new favorite torch song, I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing, nothing is as cathartic as Susan Tedeschi’s amazing rendition of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice.” Oh yeah – and no, I don’t want to be friends with you.

Susan Tedeschi – Don’t Think Twice

White Denim: “I Start to Run”

January 21, 2010

If you didn’t know better, you might peg Austin trio White Denim (Joshua Block, James Petralli, and Steve Terebecki) as a British band. There is evidence, of course, but it’s circumstantial. Not only did they release their third full-length album, Fits, in Europe on June 22 (which is, coincidentally, my birthday), four months before it was released in the US, but they filmed the video for single “Shake Shake Shake” (off of Workout Holiday) in a junkyard in South London. And that same video, directed by Tom Haines, features an androgynous boy with a blond mullet. Where can you even find a mullet these days? England, obviously.

But that’s where it ends. This groovy group formed in February of 2006 when Lucas Anderson, the fourth member of Parque Torch, the offspring of a two-outfit merger, moved to Russia, and then they were three. White Denim pulls from so many genres that it’s almost a sin to classify them—if classify you must—as simply a rock band with a blues/punk/psychedelic edge. Most songs on their latest effort seem to careen through the musical atmosphere, embodied in such a in a freewheeling, schizophrenic, bursting-at-the-seams kind of meteor that’s burning up (as meteors are wont to do) as it approaches earth that I fear the band might spontaneously combust when performing them live. Find out tonight at The Independent.

White Denim – I Start to Run

Who: White Denim

What: Fits

When: 10.20.2009

Where: Austin, Texas

Why: “Somebody’s listening! / “I feel like someone’s listening! / To the song in my head!”

How: Downtown Records