Tag Archives: Music

I have my dad’s overwhelmingly nice headphones on right now, so a post

First of all, these things are way too nice. Music is overwhelming when listened to through them. The clarity is ridiculous. Every sound is distinct and so rich…it’s honestly a tremendous challenge to focus on anything else with these things on. I could not handle owning these things. Listening to music I like on them, for me, is like getting knocked off my feet by a wave. Excuse my writing. It’s seriously hard to be coherent with these headphones on.

However, this blog does not exist to talk about headphones–it’s for songs. If what I want in life is to listen to music with good headphones and die all over the place, my go-to has always been “anything from the Elephant Six Collective.” Since for some reason, I’m super conscious of blogging about anything too obvious today, I won’t go with any of the three Elephant Six basics for this post–which means no Neutral Milk Hotel (it’s a crime to recommend any one song off In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, anyways. That album is best as a whole.), no Olivia Tremor Control, and no Apples In Stereo.

Instead, I’m going to gush about a song by the somewhat-less-often-rhapsodied-about Beulah. Beulah has ridiculously awesome arrangements and rich instrumentals which are best-served by quality headphones or speakers. Their music is, bluntly put, summery as fuck–which is also nice on a gloomy day. I’m gonna go for a song off their 1999 album When Your Heartstrings Break,  mostly because my favorite of their songs is on that one, but slightly because I think Pitchfork sends angry mobs after anyone who says anything good about The Coast Is Never Clear. This post is way too indie-kid. I guess that’s what happens to me when you scramble my brain with ridiculous headphones.

“Silverado Days” does not sound like a song. It sound like stretching out on a blanket in the sun, just close enough to a tree that there’s no glare in your eyes, on the grass in some park you remember having picnics with your family in as a kid. Probably someone nice is with you. “Silverado Days” is floaty and idyllic, with gorgeous, image-tinged lyrics. I love this song a stupid amount.

Beulah – “Silverado Days” 

Even though we don’t mean what we say
We throw our words
Like bombs and hand grenades


		
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The perils of new releases

When an album you’ve been waiting for a long time finally comes out, it’s scary. I’ve got quite a few years of music consumption neatly organized on the giant shelf in my room at my parents’ house now, so I’ve known the feeling of putting on the new album of a band you adore and coming to the horrifying conclusion that it sucks. It hasn’t happened too many times, but that kind of disappointment is a pretty vivid memory. It puts a note of stress in the excitement of a new release.

I picked up Port of Morrow by The Shins on Tuesday night (Yes, I bought it the day it was released. They took five years to put the thing out–I wasn’t waiting another day.), and as I lay curled up in bed, listening to it for what is perhaps the fourth or fifth time, I am pleased to report that for me, at least, it’s not a disappointment.

On Port of Morrow, elements of each of The Shins’ previous albums blend with a new kind of maturity. James Mercer’s voice is beautiful and clear as ever; his lyrics are still these lovely, unique strings of words. The production is rich and warm. I’m going to stop now before this starts sounding more like a review than the ramblings of an excited fan who is eager to spread her budding affection for this album.

One of my favorites so far is the album’s opener, “The Rifle’s Spiral”. It’s a gorgeous, catchy track with a bit of darkness mingled with The Shins’ characteristic warmth. The lyrics are fantastic; James Mercer’s voice makes me so happy…so does the instrumentation (there’s a bit of a bass solo!). A fantastic album opener–settled my nerves and made me comfortable in the knowledge that The Shins were still awesome after five years gone. Listen!

Primitive mural on the wall,
to fortify your grim resolve.
And made the glitz of a shopping mall
another grain of indigent salt to the sea.


Okay, time to actually start posting again

I maybe, slightly, kind-of-sort-of forgot that I’m meant to be writing this, for a while. I have been working some, which I guess has expeller processed many other things out of my brain. Also, I’ve been listening to so much Yeasayer that it almost feels unfair to write about anything besides them, and I’m preeeetty sure there is a finite number of Yeasayer posts one blog should have (not that I’ve reached it yet, but I’m saving them, okay!). But now that I’ve done a Warped-recap post, all is healed, and I will magically have all of the motivation for posts again, right? ………………………………………….AGREE WITH ME!

One of the non-Yeasayer songs that has been giving me happy tingles this summer was made by an Irish band which is signed to a French label. The whole album it belongs to is pretty tirelessly upbeat, and is exactly what you need for all manner of driving-to-the-beach and sprawling-lazily-on-your-bed adventures. It would be highly appropriate during a picnic, or…frolicking. It would be excellent frolicking music. What I am saying is that this is one hell of a summer album, though I promise you can listen to it during other parts of the year, too. The album in question is, of course, the very excellent Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club, and if you want catchy things to make you happy forever, you should go buy it.

Though there is a number of standout tracks, including the awesomely bouncy “I Can Talk,” which is like my favorite song to listen to at the gym ever, the one I am going to be rambling about today is the relentlessly/awesomely upbeat and optimistic “Something Good Can Work”. Why this song? Because it is a-bit-under-three-minutes of joy recorded, ready to be sent into your brain at any moment. Bad day? “Something Good Can Work”. Stupid fight? “Something Good Can Work”. Sad picture on the internet? “Something Good Can Work”. Etc, forever. The ridiculously cheerful guitar tone, happy bass line, lightly Irish-accented (yes!) vocals, and the (SHUT UP DYLAN THEY’RE AWESOME) synth-y drums all combine for maximum joy-creation. …I’m just going to stop writing now, so you can be happy, too.

“Let’s make this happen, girl
We’re going to show the world
That something good can work
And it can work for you”

P.S. The uber-cute and really simple music video does not hurt in the slightest. Look at how adorable they are! Look at how high that lead-singer wears his guitar, and how floppy his hair is! I want to keep them in my pocket!

P.P.S. Okay, okay, I can’t do this. I’m not a monster! Have the “I Can Talk” video, too. It must be danced around the room to. DANCE!


Warped Tour and Southern California Adventure

So, apparently I have some cool friends that live in that half of the state over there, or something, and we did some pretty cool things together. No worries, I’m not going to gush forever, but thanks again for having me, and you guys are awesome. Warped was too epic for words, but I will try my hand at them anyways. I’m so bummed all my bruises have mostly faded–the bruises from a really fun show are tangible reminders that you had a good time.

For most shows, I try and write about every set, but as long as my blog posts usually are, I’m going to go ahead and veto that idea for Warped.  Let’s just say we began the afternoon with some nice, heavy sets, and it was good, particularly Enter Shikari. It was a lovely start to a lovely day of drifting from stage to stage, perusing merch stands and consuming more and more water as the sun grew brighter.  The standout sets were as follows:

The Devil Wears Prada

Though I missed the first song or so getting to the stage they were playing from catching the first ten minutes of Of Mice & Men’s set, which was kind of a bummer, since they’re apparently much better recorded than live, this was just as solid as Another Friend said it would be. They’re adorable, even though that Jesus moment was slightly awkward for those of us who are not members of the Jesus crew, and I guess they play good music or something. Also, Another Friend got kicked in the face. His blood, it needs to get better at not escaping through his nose…

Against Me! 

They’ve been known for their relentless touring and awesome live show for years now, and well, that kind of reputation does not happen without reason. Kendal and I were second from the front for this one, as opposed to in the general area of the pit, like for most of the other sets, and it was pretty fantastic. They clearly have so much fun playing their music for a bunch of kids, and that shows. Tom Gabel was beaming the whole time, and it was adorable. They played a lot more old songs than the last time I saw them at Warped, which I was pretty psyched about. “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”!..!!!!…!!!!!!!!!!!

Attack Attack!

CIRCLE PITS! Somuchfunsomuchfunsomuchfun. This was the set whose wonderfulness sort of took me by surprise. I figured it would be fun, because they are ridiculous. I did not figure that it would also be raging amounts of awesome. They were great, the moshing was fun, and the new vocal lineup sounded boss. Let’s go to Brazil, you guys. Shooooows.

And those were my favorites, though I must include some words about D.R.U.G.S., and those words are “Craig Owen shirtless!” (repeated several times very fast and with many more exclamation points). He’s quite the frontman, and Matt Good! Matt Good is in this band also, and he is adorable. So those are the words I have to say about Warped, until the next one…Hooray Warped! Have some Attack Attack! It’s good for you.


Yeasayer? Why yes, I did see them on my birthday.

Because of course it’s late. In my defense, there was no way I could have made time for anything resembling a blog post at the end of last quarter. Just….no. These past two weeks of not writing? That one’s on me. My bad! I am not, however, passing up an opportunity to gush about Yeasayer. Gushing about Yeasayer has become a sacred duty for me. I must sing their praises to the skies or die in shame. In case that last paragraph didn’t give it away, I really, really enjoyed my birthday show. Kendal Fong is like the best roommate ever, or something, and I hope she enjoyed our adventure despite her erm, possessions mishap. Possessions mishaps are not fun.

After some time spent searching for the possessions that were mishapped, we acquired dolmas sandwiches at Falafel of Santa Cruz, which I am so, so addicted to (I had one today when I was moving out the remains of my stuff. You should be jealous. If you are not jealous, I am afraid for you), and set off for San Francisco. The traffic on the way up wasn’t too crazy, and we got super cheap parking, and only had to call my dad like four times and make him look up directions when we were walking from the parking to the Fillmore (which is such, such a good venue.) Only.

We were able to immediately secure really awesome spots, and since we’d taken so long to actually find the damn venue (Yeasayer’s bus was blocking it so you could not see it from across the street, okay!), we did not have to wait long at all for the first opener. The first opener was… …. …. Words, they fail me. An extremely skinny and  bearded hipster dancing like Ian Curtis one of the times he was actually having a seizure on stage and words that could make professional writers of erotica flinch to some beats on his ipod? Here is his website : http://www.hushhushhush.com/. There is a music video. I am afraid to watch it, but hopefully it can do a better job expressing him than I can. Let’s just say I’m pretty sure Yeasayer’s plan was to make sure the indie kids had no choice but to dance by putting a human being that had never even heard of the concept of self-consciousness on stage first. Awkwarding everyone into being incapable of coolness? A valid stratagem?

The second opener was Smith Westerns, and I thought they were pretty adorable at first, but their set felt samey after a while and I wanted Yeasayer, dammit. And then the glorious moment came. I was really hoping they would open with either of their album openers, because I think those are so well-selected. And lo and behold, they opened with the intro of “The Children” and then went into “Sunrise,” effectively opening with both their album openers, and blowing my brain out (though that might have also been their ridiculous, awesome lightshow.) Beyond that, they played pretty much every song I wanted to hear live, with the exception of “Love Me Girl,” and the rest of “The Children” (which, I cannot really blame them for not bringing a fan on stage. I don’t really know how that one would work, tbh.) The crowd was awesome, particularly during “O.N.E.” and “Ambling Alp,” and the band was super high-energy and drinking steadily from cups of some manner of amber-colored hard alcohol, and therefore adorably drunk.

They did “2080” as an encore, which was glorious and beautiful and magical. That song is the first Yeasayer song I ever heard/fell madly in love with, so…It has a place. A place lodged inside of my skull and somewhere under my breast-bone…They also played new songs (!!!), which I loved, especially “Henrietta,” which is super 80s vibey, and fantasastic. I went on an epic search of the youtubes for the best live recording of this one, because everyone should experience it. In the end, picking one was hard.

This one shows off their killer live show (and Chris Keating’s well-dressed hotness) the best:

And this one has really nice sound-quality, but is shot from a distance:

I guess which one you prioritize is up to you!

At any rate, everyone ever who doesn’t already should listen to Yeasayer, and everyone should see them live. Way, way too absurdly awesome.


This is how cool I am (I am not cool)

It’s official. We have come to the part of Spring quarter where I am completely insane. Should have made time for the gym during midterms week, I guess. No time to dwell on such things…I have been planning this post for a long, long, long time. When writing this one, I had some decisions to make: use my favorite song by the band, or one with a music video? Actually, that wasn’t even a choice. Music video. Visuals are important here.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the mid-2000s pop-punk scene. Chicago, specifically. Now, while this band is still together (and had better stay that way), at this point, I consider them a relic of a lost scene, the remnants of a pop-punk scene not made of gaudy neon, semi-ironic autotune, and horror–a pop-punk scene I could, and did love.  This scene died a while ago, and love them or hate them, I’m pretty sure the indefinite hiatus of Fall Out Boy, its breakout stars, is as good as a grave-marker.

This post is not about Fall Out Boy. Rather, it is about a Chicago pop-punk band I have always loved with all my heart (and not just because they are pretty), the oh-so-wonderful The Academy Is… !

Stop! I see you running away, sans the respect you once had for me, there! You are correct in your assessment that I have no shame, but this band is genuinely awesome. I really think they’re one of the standouts of their scene, and not just because I stumbled into their music during my angst-filled fifteenth year, and not just because I listened to that music and it helped that much younger and much, much angstier version of me hold her shit together.  They have the right influences and the right kind of drive, and hey–I’m advocating a girly pop-punk band and I’m turning twenty this month. They have to be pretty good, right?

This is a track off of their debut, chosen for the combined awesomeness of the track and the video. It was one of the first two songs I ever heard by them, and man…It’s catchy as fuck, with punchy riffs and angry lyrics, sung by a very pretty frontman with a very pretty voice. I bought that album after hearing this, because how could I not?  The video is some tour footage, a combination of performance shots (which will explain to you exactly why I’ll be seeing this band live again the next time they come around, fourteen year old audience be damned), and behind the scenes tomfoolery (which is amusing). Simply put, this is what I want from my pop-punk–a solid fucking song played by some pretty dudes that like to goof off for a camera. Feast your eyes and ears on “Checkmarks.” Ten points and a motherfucking gold star to anyone who can guess which member of the band is my favorite. Does not count you already know.

So suck your so-called pity down.
Hey, that’s not so bad, is it?
So take your cold, cold heart and drown
and don’t forget to take deep breaths.


My Australia obsession

I have, in recent years, cultivated something of an obsession with the fantastic, folk-tinged, summery alternative rock coming out (or rather, failing to come out–more on that later) of Australia. I have this thing where I really enjoy gorgeous, upbeat music, and Australians tend to make a whole lot of it. This, of course, leads to endless frustration and sorrow none of them ever tour the US or even release their music in this country. In their defense, the infinite frustration is totally worth it, because the music is awesome.

The latest object of my obsessive attentions is a recent addition to the Australian music scene which I so covet–they just released their first EP, With Emperor Antarctica, last year. And it actually charted! Boy And Bear must clearly be magic, because I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of musician mafia meant to keep first EPs from charting. It is against all the rules. Which, okay…it’s a pretty fantastic EP, all awash with lovely Fleet Foxes influences, but way more upbeat and energetic and filled with spiffy riffs.

The centerpiece of the EP, and in my mind, the absolute standout, “Mexican Mavis” has been receiving an absolutely incredible amount of repeat play from me from the moment I heard it. It started winning my heart right off the bat with some very pretty Fleet Foxes-esque vocal harmonies, and sealed the deal with a ridiculously catchy riff. Once I took the time to appreciate their singer’s sultry voice, and absolutely fantastic vocal delivery–I just love the way he curls that voice around the unusual turns of phrase that make up the lyrics–I was a motherfucking goner. (Though I probably would have fallen just for the riff. I’m easy like that.) This song is the perfect mixture of beautiful and energy-driven, and there’s so many more amazing things about it that you should go and discover for yourself right now,  and I should stop talking about it now so that you can join me in listening to it on repeat. Here is “Mexican Mavis” by Boy & Bear.

If they manage to keep safe skin
He’ll call for her
She’ll call for him