Monday, February 22, 2010

Games You Can Win

Looking for something to shake off another mundane monday? Click here. RJD2 will be doing big things in 2010, and Games You Can Win is just the beginning. Originally a DJ/producer for such acts as Aceyalone and Megahertz, RJD2 has since released several well received albums. (You may also recognize Ghostwriter, which came out in early 2002, and was sampled commercially). If you haven't met this gem of a track yet, or its prolific DJ, get acquainted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Beginner's Guide to Courtney Love

First of all, let me start by saying that Courtney Love is more than Courtney Love - she is a philosophy, and embodies so much more than her infamous marriage or drug notoriety. She is the lead singer for the 90s band Hole, and a damn gutsy gal. So let me introduce you to the legend, the lady, the LOVE, and then nudge you towards some other grunge-punk-amazingness that you just might feel like picking up after our tutorial.

Step 1. Forget everything you've heard about Courtney Love
Step 2. Meet Courtney Love, lead singer for the band Hole
Step 3. Realize she's not that scary! Really! You know that one crazy aunt you have that talks a little too much and will dance on tables when she's drunk? Well C is just like that. Only you don't even have to pretend to be offended when she gives you a half-consumed bottle of Jack Daniels for Christmas! Yay!
Step 4. Listen to anything off Live Through This, including, but not limited to:
-Miss World
-Doll Parts

Step 5. Repeat steps 1-4
Step 6. Think she would make the perfect partner in crime for a night in a seedy bar. Then question why you'd even want to spend a night in a seedy bar. Conclude that you've been listening to too much Courtney Love. Take a 5 minute breather with her ultimate foil, Ingrid Michaelson.
Step 7. Resume your education in awesomeness. Listen to Celebrity Skin, including, but not limited to:
-Celebrity Skin

Step 8. Realize how integral, underrated, and amazing Love was to the grunge and music scene in general. Debate starting to rock 90s menswear and biker boots.
Step 9. Check her vids, which are just as artistic and nonchalantly poignant as her lyrics. (Every pink link connects to one of them...just sayin)
Step 10. Jam out to her whenever you feel comfortable enough with yourself to admit she's your newfound idol. Listen to her lyrics. Wish you were half as badass.

Because CL is more than a woman, she's an attitude, here are the next steps if you feel you've advanced beyond a basic understanding of awesome-ness. While you're in the mood, listen to Men's Needs - The Cribs
and Sticks N Stones - Jamie T.
Don't worry, I won't think you're cliche for buying a Ramones T and getting a pixie cut. I wish it was 1995 too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For Your Consideration

Sometimes a song swims around in my head a few weeks before I actually get it together to discover its origins. I had been first exposed to MN locals Peter Wolf Crier a few weeks ago, when a very distant, Grizzly-Bear-esque tune came on the current and forced me to forget about whatever qualms or worries I had been mulling over on my morning commute and focus instead on its happy, compact sound. That song was this local band's first single, "Crutch & Cane" and now having heard it several times over, it still grabs my attention like a shiny pair of shoes. Well-crafted, simple, and contagiously cool. You can download their album and listen to tracks for free here.

Another new track to check out is also an 89.3 discovery. If you're a fan of Portishead or Zero 7, you'll like the latest collaboration from Massive Attack and Hope Sandoval. The beautiful Sandoval,(doesn't she look like a pretty little daffodil?) originally from Mazzy Star fame, lends her sleepy voice to this poignant piece of electro-grunge. The paradoxically titled Paradise Circus carries a possessive, ethereal quality which resonates at full volume, with lyrics to match.

Love is like a sin my love
For the one that feels it the most
Look at her with a smile like a flame
She will love you like a fly and will never love you, again

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Sea

Corinne Bailey Rae's latest album, The Sea, released last January, is a beautifully poignant project about love, loss, and rebirth. Rae lost her husband to a drug overdose in 2008 and the tragedy in her personal life has left a noticeable impression on her work. Tracks like I Would Like To Call It Beauty speak of an incredible inner strength we all could be inspired by. True beauty is forgiveness, hope, and perseverance. CBR inspires me with this album by evoking such meaningful contrasts: life and death, faith and pain, light and dark - and turning them into something truly beautiful. If she has weathered such a storm in her life, it seems only fitting to title this album The Sea: each song feels like her honeyed voice is being carried by strong, calm waters, the depths of which we barely touch on this magnificent sophomore effort.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Tell them whatever you want
You and I know what happened here
Tell them whatever you want
We gave each other, proof we were there

So opens one of my favorite winter songs: Dissolve by Jenny Owens Young. As I sit here on a snowy February night, one of the last (one can only hope) months of winter, I think of how tonight's chill will slowly be eclipsed by tomorrow's moderate rise in temperature. By mid afternoon, with the defrost on in my car, the small flakes on my windshield will evaporate and dissolve as if upon contact.

There's nothing left of me and you
We sat and watched the glue
We're dead
We're bones
We're dust
There's nothing left of us

It's funny how time makes all things fade, and Owens Young is an expert at wording that precise phenomenon. As Ben Gibbard has professed: "The gift of memory's an awful curse." The passing of time is a beautiful, gradual, frustrating, and ultimately unstoppable experience. A snowy day like today brings me feelings of the cyclical nature of life; reminding me, in a purely neutral sense, of how things in life have always dissolved. The dissolution of days gone by is not a negative or unfortunate thing. Rather it can be kind of perfect, like when a pine branch weighed down with the accumulation of fallen snow slowly bends and dips, spilling a mass of flakes onto the flurried ground. Spring fever will take hold soon enough, bringing waves of rebirth, but today, just be at peace. Here are some other favorites for a flake-drenched evening against a backdrop of desolate white.
1. Dissolve - Jenny Owens Young

2. Love You More - Alexi Murdoch

3. Brooklyn Stars - Matt Pond PA

4.When The Devil's Loose - A.A Bondy

5. Title & Registration

[* denotes photo by Sophia Rabb, my Los Angeles lover & all around wonderful woman.]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

They're So...Heavy

The most exciting rock album I've heard since Icky Thump, English rock band The Heavy kick Jack White's ambiguous ass out of the water with a similar but better record of guitar heavy neo-soul. Released in October, The House That Dirt Built, is a throwback to voodoo soul and heavy funk rock. The first song I heard off the album, "Cause For Alarm," is one of the more mellow tracks, and an instant reggae classic.

"There is no dress rehearsal, there's no easy lesson learned, better to be breathin fire than to have your bridges burned."

Not only can they rock, but their message, especially on tracks like this, transcends the boundaries normally imposed by such guitar-heavy rock music; that it can't also be soulful and empowering. In fact, they blend so many genres of music on this record that every track is even more genuine and unique than the last. These English imports (all with dashingly good looks not to mention) know how to rock, no question. This is the kind of album that's so good you think it must have been released in thirty years ago and remastered. It's amazing this music hasn't been made yet. But I think I speak for many fans to come that I'm glad it was.
Some tracks to consider:
-Cause For Alarm
-How You Like Me Now
-Oh No! Not You Again!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Accidental Faith

Alright blog-o-verse. Breaking the norm. Today I blog personal life. (Feel free to press back on your browser now). Music is my day to day, but I recently spewed out something I'm pretty damn proud of which I think might help you get to know the real le_davies behind the music nerdiness. I hope you enjoy. And, as a sidenote, (and I promise to resume my usual no-nonsense music blogs tomorrow!) I hope that, to whoever reads this, you know you are stronger and more capable than you think. K, I'll get off my soapbox. Soon...

**For a seminar class I had to write about a recent "learning experience" I had and what came out was something that ended up meaning a lot. If you ever wondered wtf I was doing in Cali or why I came home so soon, or maybe just need some inspiration, read on....☮

A recent learning experience I had which produced a profound effect on me was not the kind of learning one does "on purpose," rather, it was more of an accidental lesson I had to learn, as are often life's most valuable ones.

This past semester I had taken off to study film at a school in Los Angeles, something I'd always wanted to pursue. After getting out of a series of unhealthy relationships the previous spring, I took it upon myself to get away from the safe world I had always inhabited and venture off into the unknown. I usually see these unknown territories in life as opportunities for personal growth, and I was in dire need of a substantial experience in which I could "find myself" again, as cliche as it sounds. I had lost who I felt I had always been by surrounding myself with people who were bad for me. People I gave my heart to who couldn't care less and friends who gossiped behind my back and called it "concern." Now it was time to rediscover my talents and passions, and reclaim for myself the warm, sensitive, smart and amazing woman I know I have always been.

Living in LA was all I had hoped it would be, but incredibly challenging. The full time acting classes were emotionally draining but intensely fulfilling. Slowly but surely I was beginning to feel good about myself again. Little did I know the greatest challenge I would face was yet to come.

One night walking back to my apartment my boot slipped and as I grasped my hand to break my fall it was too late. I landed directly on my face. My bottom two teeth punctured my lower lip and pierced through it, and my mouth gushed with blood. The upper half of my lip was cut basically in half. I had to immediately go to the emergency room.

I had stitches in five different places and went through a grueling process of doctor visits and corrective dental surgeries. My arm was in a cast, my face I thought would never look the same. Unable to speak or eat properly, my jaw, for all intensive purposes, did not function.

I became very bitter about what had happened in the days to come. I began to realize that by continually asking "why me" I was not only asking the universe why I had had such an accident, but more broadly, why I had gone through all the personal traumas leading up to my trip. Why me? Why had I lost so many friends and lovers I had lost track? Why had I gone through such pain? Why California? What was I really doing here, and what would I do now, that all of this had happened? Out of one of the darkest summers/"falls" of my life, I began to slowly see the world in an incredibly new light. Day after day I sat in my bed in LA on so much pain medication I would sleep entire days and nights, unable to eat or speak or even think. And then each day I started to get a little better. And slowly but surely it was time to come home.

What I learned from California was not only a better sense of who I am as a person but my capacity to overcome personal hardships and find tremendous inner beauty out of the worst incidents. Ever since I came home I have slowly began to look at life from a completely new view. I feel stronger than I ever thought or imagined a person could be. I no longer care what people perceive me to be because I have known exactly who I am from day one. I know of my passions and my talents, I know I am beautiful and smart and there's no one on the planet that could validate that for me but myself. I now look at life as a blessing, and I am grateful to be alive.

Every person I have met has taught me something, although sometimes it takes me a little longer to see the lesson unfold. Through a twist of fate I gained the largest sense of faith I've had in my LIFE and today I feel incredibly lucky and self-assured. I know life will be hard sometimes, I know there will be people who attempt to mislead me or break my stride - there will be times where I take another unexpected fall in whatever sense of the word. There will be moments where I will feel lost and afraid. But I possess an immense sense of purpose today, and an extreme sense of calm. Everyday I shrug off the dead weight that was my past and feel intensely grateful to be myself. I feel like that's faith.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cherchez La Femme

Anglo-French chanteuse Charlotte Gainsbourg's latest album is the perfect kick off to your February list of must-have-indie-records. "IRM", produced by Beck, is an influential blend of french alt rock and euro hipster pop.

Beck's hand as a producer is quite visible here, as the ebb and flow of moody instrumentals, not to mention his own vocal contributions, remind you of why he has been such a pioneer in the independent music scene. Beck and Gainsbourg complement each other with tremendous ease. Their piano-tinged duet Heaven Can Wait and an Allison Mosshart sounding Trick Pony are only a taste of the musical highlights found on this well-crafted album.