Category Archives: Music

Homesick Ghosts Keep You Awake: a beginning-of-spring mix

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Photo by Carrie Murphy

homesick ghosts keep you awake: a beginning-of-spring mix

1. “My Black Sabbath” // The Liminanas

2. “How Might I Live” // Real Estate

3. “Hi-Five” // Angel Olsen

4. “Rimbaud Eyes” // Dum Dum Girls

5. “Sand Dance” // Temples

6. “Now I See” – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

7. “Tonight” – Sibylle Baier

8. “Lazy Wonderland” – Broken Bells

9. “Cold Hands” – Mount Sharp

10. “Fire In Cairo” – The Cure

11. “Big Big Blood” – La Luz

12. Solitary Man – Ólöf Arnalds

13. 400 Lux – Lorde

14. Had It All – Allah-Las

15. Come Talk To Me – Bon Iver

{download mixcast}

mixcast: 2013

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I never manage to do these things before the new year. But I still wanted to share my favorite songs of 2013. I narrowed it down to 22 and stitched them all together into one file, which you can download here. In order of appearance (not preference), here’s what’s on it:

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1. “Heads or Tails” – Shannon and the Clams Dreams in the Rat House

2. “Between Us” – White Fence

3. “Stoned and Starving” – Parquet Courts Light Up Gold

4. “Crazy in Love” – Emeli Sande  Gatsby soundtrack

5. “When I Was Young” - Akron/Family Sub Verses

6. “Reflektor” - Arcade Fire Reflektor

7. “Purple Hay” - Trance Farmers

8. “Part of Me” – Mick Hall

9. “We the Common (for Valerie Bolden)” - Thao & the Get Down Stay Down Holy Roller

10. “Shuggie” – Foxygen  We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Swing

11. “I Don’t Know How” – Best Coast  Fade Away

12. “Bad as Me” – Shovels & Rope  Johnny 99

13. “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent  Song for Zula

14. “Love Me” – Lil Wayne  Love Me

15. “The Wire” – HAIM  The Wire

16. “If I Were Free” – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes 

17. “Ain’t It Enough” – Old Crow Medicine Show ATO Records Spring Sampler 2013

18. “Graceless” – The National  Trouble Will Find Me

19. “Life Round Here” – James Blake Overgrown

20. “God’s Children” – Woods  Be All Be Easy/God’s Children LP

21. “Young and Beautiful” - Lana Del Rey  Gatsby Soundtrack

22. “On My Way/Somebody to Love” – Valerie June  Pushin’ Against a Stone

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p.s. That last one has a secret second song after the first, but you’ve gotta give it a few silent seconds.

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Slightly older songs that I just discovered or still listened to nonstop in 2013: 

“The Waiting” – Angel Olson “Ivory Coast” – Pure Bathing Culture “Warsaw” – Sharon Van Etten “The End of Silence” – Porcelain Raft “And the Sky” – Dynasty Electric “Margaux” – Tomboyfriend “Today’s Supernatural” – Animal Collective “To the Dogs or Whoever” – Josh Ritter

Top Albums of 2013

Behold: My five favorite albums (/album-ish things) of 2013. At least 2/3 came out in 2012, not 2013, but why be a stickler about these things? In this disjointed mp3 era of musical listening, these five albums are eminently listenable through and through, and listen to them through and through I did in 2013. If you haven’t already been doing the same, might I suggest that you start?

1. Valerie June - Pushing on a Stone

2. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

3. White Fence – “The Lagniappe Sessions” with Aquarium Drunkard 

4. The Liminanas – Crystal Anis

  5. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

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landscape // a 1.2013 mix

landscape // a 1.2013 mix  {download}



It’s nearly March, I know. This is in no way a “1.2013” mix to anyone except me. But these are my January songs. Some older, actually — it’s been too too long since I’ve shared music with friends and Internet strangers. The Raveonette’s “Young and Cold” has been in constant rotation in my iTunes since October, when it first found its way on a mix I  never gave to you. I was just wondering what happened to them last fall, and then there they were, with songs much lovelier than the ones I remember from 2004. Speaking of that musical era: I originally had some new Benjamin Gibbard and Sufjan Stevens on this mix, but it sounded too out of place, the aesthetic juxtaposition too jarring. I’ve been listening to a lot of drone-y doo-wop these days (see: Pure Bathing Culture, Angel Olsen, Trance Farmers). The Rolling Stones cover of “Under the Boardwalk” I only recently discovered fits right in.

Other than that — well, I’ve been moving around a lot, again, lately; which means (as usual) half these songs are more or less meditations on Home. And half are just new and interesting or fun. I like Run DMT because a reviewer described them as a bath salt-snorting version of the Velvet Underground; there’s a Velvet Underground cover because my love for Lou Reed & Nico endures (thanks, Jordan). I like Parquet Courts because I think they sing about being stoned in Ridgewood, Queens (and I think we’re neighbors?). I like Hotter Than a Crotch because the lady sings hot and the drummer is a friend of my roommate’s and looks like an extra in Jesus Christ Superstar. They introduced me to Cave Cricket, in the kind of basement show space that Silent Barn used to be last time I lived here, when it was in Ridgewood (which seemed impossibly far then), but now Silent Barn is down the street and fancy and legal and at the moment dry. I read an article in the New York Times the other day, from 2010, about art & media collectives in and around this neighborhood; I looked up the ones mentioned, afterwards, and they’d all disbanded or fallen apart somehow. I don’t believe the Cobras ever finished our Goddamn Western. Time goes marching. /end digress.

I like the Liminanas because the few times I regretfully decided to drive into Manhattan (oh, a car! how it changes Brooklyn), their’s was the only CD I had and it proved eminently listenable on repeat. I missed Wooden Wand at the Midpoint music fest in Cincinnati a few months ago because my friend and I decided to walk, drinking wine, over the highway and down to the city, instead of rushing (but we caught Lower Dens and Dirty Projectors; and later that weekend I finally saw Woods, swoon). A girl just moved in upstairs from Cincinnati by way of California and, most recently, Big Sur. She worked at the Henry Miller Library there. Times goes marching but not always onward. Sometimes you can’t tell which direction it’s going.

happy new year.

songs:  

“Mountain Song” // Dynasty Electric
“The Heart Needs a Home (To Break In) // Tomboyfriend
“Ivory Coast” // Pure Bathing Culture
“San Francisco” // Foxygen
“The Waiting” // Angel Olsen
“Purple Hay” // Trance Farmers
“Young and Cold” // Raveonettes
“Bad Lady Goes to Jail” // The Liminanas
“Stoned and Starving” // Parquet Courts
“Use Your Hands” // Cave Cricket
“We the Common (For Valerie Bolden)” // Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
“Butcher Song” // Hotter Than a Crotch
“Bardo States Dream Walker Version” // Run DMT
“Year of the Glad” // Marnie Stern
“Supermoon (The Sounding Line)” // Wooden Wand
“Under the Boardwalk” // The Rolling Stones
“I’ll Be Your Mirror” // Meklit Hadero
“Closer” // Tegan and Sara
“Applesauce” // Animal Collective
“Minnewaska” // Widowspeak
“How Do You Ruin Me?” // Black Prairie
“Stay In The Game” // Adam Ant

Favorite Song Of 2012

Some of you might pish-posh at the idea of anything ‘best of the year before’ that comes after the stroke of midnight on 1/1. Too bad. I’m as big a fan of letting the past go as the next gal, but I think the rules clearly dictate that you can dwell on auld lang syne for the entire month of January (resolution making or sharing for the upcoming year, meanwhile, is allowed through February). Which brings us to: My favorite song of 2012.

This was originally going to be five favorite songs of 2012, but narrowing down to five + ordering within the five seemed difficult. But choosing my top number one absolute hands down favorite? No problem: “Alexander McQueen,” by Canadian band Tomboyfriend.

[Listen/download here]

It’s from the band’s King of the Animals EP, which is all around awesome –though brief; just five songs. Do also give “Margaux” a listen; it’s like Counting Crows at their best and least hack-y (which may seem like a strange comparison but I spent a good part of the mid-90s and early 2000s praying for Adam Duritz to marry me, so it’s meant as a compliment).

“Alexander McQueen” is, in fact, about designer Alexander McQueen, who killed himself in 2010. It’s heartbreaking. It’s gorgeous. And, like most Tomboyfriend songs, it’s epic in a way that doesn’t feel (to me, at least) overwrought.

Maybe it’s hard not to make epic-sounding music when you’ve got 10 people in your band — the group definitely conjures a New Pornographers/Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes dynamic — but it’s also thanks to songwriter and lead singer Ryan Kamstra, who has been described as a queerer, more glam Meatloaf. It’s become something of a mission of mine to introduce Tomboyfriend to as many people as I can (like with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in a previous life), because you will love them. And I like sharing things that people will love. And I like sharing things that deserve more love.

So just in case you missed it above: Alexander McQueen mp3.

I’ll leave you with this description of the band from The Little Red Umbrella:

Tomboyfriend’s music is a glammy echo of the best of the ’70s, of the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground, the B-52’s, and pretty much everything that ever happened in the heroin-addled artsy heyday of Max’s Kansas City and CBGB & OMFUG. Their lyrics are dense and poetic and playful, littered with the half-digested remains of a pop culture diet, the kind of literary collage of references and re-appropriation that will take a listener years to unpack, but brings titans like Nick Cave and Dan Bejar immediately to mind.
And the video for “Almost/Always,” from the band’s 2010 album Don’t Go To School:

rearrange: an early summer 2012 mix

a27849f7e4e1b8eb38f7d1e4504b6562Happy summer, guys. In my general tradition, I am posting a beginning of summer mix, 2012 edition (click here to download). It’s really all about Best Coast—I mean, seriously, Best Coast, right? I can’t get enough right now. The beach!, everything still sounds like the beach, though in a way slightly different than last year’s beach and slightly more different than the year before that.

[Even Lafayette, Indiana is too hot this time of year—that still, dry, let’s-have-red-wine-at-noon hot; that all I can think of is Lily in Run, River hot; that do we really have to wear clothes? (and I work from home, so not really) hot. It’s more or less my favorite weather.]

I’m also into so much by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy right now, because every other month he’s got out something new these days (though it’s still always strangely jarring when he really loves Jesus).

Best newcomers: Lower Dens? Maybe I just like that their album is called “nootropics.”

.rearrange >> an early summer 2012 mix

{tracklist} 

that’s what’s up – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
the place – Best Coast
dream – Mirel Wagner
alphabet song – Lower Dens
do you know ida know – White Fence
firehorse – Our Hearts
chain of broken hearts – Billy Bragg and Wilco
goin’ to the party – Alabama Shakes
I can tell you’re leaving – Trembling Bells and Bonnie Prince Billy
palms will smoke in cold air – The Pica Beats
my better self – Tennis
dusty rhodes – Lotus Plaza
on the sea – Beach House
tearz for animals – CocoRosie
hummingbird, pt. 1 – Bonnie Prince Billy
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I turned 30 last week, by the way. It doesn’t feel like much, really, but I do like to think of things symbolically so I’ve decided that our thirties–and I say “our” because so many people I know are entering their 30s this year, as are Little Wayne, Elizabeth Moss, Kate MIddleton and Kirsten Dunst–are going to be pretty damn good. In your 30s, you’re still young but not as stupid as you were in our 20s, mostly.

If you listen to what sociologists say, the beginning tip of Gen Y (aka the millennial generation, but I dislike that name) could be as early as 1979, but most place it at 1982 — which makes those of us turning 30 in 2012 the first Gen Y’ers to do so.

Happy 30s, Gen Y. Here’s some music for the beginning of June twenty twelve.

Psalms of March — a (belated) 3.2012 mix

Meant to post this last week and never got around to it. This is my March playlist/mixtape/mixcast/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. I hope it will do for April, too.

Psalms of March (a 3.2012 mix) #indiepsychfolkdancepopmumblewave
1. “Good Woman” – Cat Power
Because good woman/manhood has been a topic, of late. And because this song is sexy and wistful and gorgeous, and just right for an unseasonably warm early spring.

2. “Lovesickness” - Tomboyfriend
Because Tomboyfriend is one of those bands you like because almost every song sounds epic; maybe you don’t know exactly what the words mean, or even really what the gist of the song is, but something! is going on! and it! is a big deal! And our protagonists are feeling wistful or nostalgic or triumphant about it, so each song provides a mini-catharsis, like watching a Greek Tragedy or a Grey’s Anatomy episode in 4 minutes. So, yeah: I dig this band. And hope you do, too. [And if you do, check out “End of Poverty” or “Almost Always” by them next.]

3. “Could be so Happy” – Heartless Bastards
Because they’re a Cincinnati band! [Which is where I’m from.] And very folky, very throaty, the kind of thing you’d want to listen to on a hot night, somewhere smoky.  #psychfolk? They just released a new album, “Arrow,” but this song is from their 2009 album “The Mountain.”

4. “Holiday” – The Kinks
‘Cause … The Kinks, duh.

5. “Common Burn” – Mazzy Star
Because who among you did not lie in your high school bedroom listening to “Fade Into You” on repeat? And Hope Sandoval is back! This is from a 2-song EP released Oct. 2011, the first Mazzy Star release since 1997.

6. “Wind Was the Wine” – Woods
Because they’re my favorite and this is their new song. It’s short, sweet, Seussical and quietly joyous.

7. “Myth” – Beach House
Lovely, in that could-be-the-soundtrack-to-a-Twin-Peaks-dream-scene way. Or a cross between that Best Coast song with the urban Romeo & Julie video starring Maebe Funke and something out of Rocky Horror Picture Show? Yep, I think that about sums it up.

8.”The Night (rewards remix)” – School of Seven Bells
Because one of my best friends was in a band, Painted Face, founded by singer/musician Allie Alvarado, and Allie (who was formerly in Telepathe) has recently joined School of Seven Bells! Cheers, Allie! Also, because this song/remix is pure dance party.  Pure dance party/rooftop, basement, beach or movie montage.

9. “Love Love Love” – Of Monsters and Men
This is the first song on this mix that my boyfriend fell for. It’s strangely arresting the first time you hear it, even though in the hands of a different sort of singer (Colbie Callet? Taylor Swift?) the same words and melody would maybe come off totally grating/cutesy? But here’s it’s like … haunting, and just the slightest bit potentially heartbreaking (also: catchy!). [Update: BECAUSE—aha!—THEY ARE ICELANDIC.]

10. “Firestarter” – Blouse
Art school kids from Portland.

11. “The Way In” – Porcelain Raft
New wave beach party prom rock? I don’t know. Something like that. That’s what I keep describing everything as. That’s what everything sounds like, right now, beach parties prom or dusk.

12. “Go Home” – Lucius
Twangy back porch and/or drinking music. Achey. Pretty. From 2 girls with cool hair and sunglasses and 2 guys with mustaches.

13. “Lost on Leaving” – Luke Roberts
Brooklyn meets Nashville, literally.

14. “Bird Child” – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Mariee Sioux
From a Bonnie Prince Billy/Mariee Sioux collaboration that also features a billion or six other interesting musicians. Here is how label Spiritual Pajamas describes it: “Flowering tongues, love skulls, whales trapped in ice, be thou not deceived and touch yourself a hundred times. These songs carve a place in your heart and tattoo your brain for ages to come.”

15. “State of Mind” – Whispertown
Sound like Tegan and Sara. Touring with Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s.

16. “Bird on the Buffalo” – Angus Stone
Because I liked the 2010 album, Down the Way, Angus Stone put out with his sister Julia. I can’t decide yet about his solo efforts. I like his nasally Bob Dylan affect (that sounds sarcastic, but I mean it), but overall it’s maybe a bit too hip-soundtrack-to-a-WB-teen-series?

17. “From Finner” – Of Monsters and Men
Because I believe two songs from one band on a mix are okay.

19. “Honolulu Blues” – Craig Finn
Because I recently had a conversation with someone about how Hawaii was the saddest place they’d ever lived. Craig Finn is the dude from the Hold Steady, who writes about Jesus, sings about drugs and performs like a former musical-theater major. (This is from his debut solo album)

20. “Radio” – Lana Del Ray
Because I don’t understand why everyone hates her?

21. “Voices” - Soft Metals
More Portland natives, currently living in Los Angeles. From the same label (Captured Tracks) as Blouse.

22. “Everybody Loves a Lover” – Doris Day
Because they do, don’t they?

{click to download}