Thursday, March 25, 2010

Summer Lovin

With summer just around the bend, I can't think of a more perfectly ethereal track to have on deck than Lover of Mine by Beach House. Dreamy and vintage sounding, their latest single off of Teen Dream is vaguely hypnotic; going perfectly with the honeyed air and mild nights of summer.
Baltimore natives Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally formed Beach House in 2004, quickly gaining recognition in the underground music scene. It hasn't been until recently, however, that they've earned more relatively mainstream praise, earning a spot on Pitchfork's list of best indie artists. Other tracks off of their 2010 album worth checking out are the gently philosophic Zebra and the beautifully crafted Silver Soul.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spoonful of Sugar

Whether you're dancing around in your boy shorts before a big night out or contemplating a solo road trip to the west coast, pop in Spoon's latest raw and soulful album Transference and get the go ahead to rock.
Transference, released this January, combines the continuing mood-rock fusion of Austin's most formidable and under-appreciated band with some intensely new sounds. The sublimely psychedelic "Who Makes Your Money" and stripped down "Before Destruction" are rough, haunting, and uniquely philosophical. That aside, my favorite track by far would be the highly dynamic and unassuming "Written in Reverse":

No nothing was planned, you just can't help yourself
Some people are so easily shuffled and dealt
If there's only one of us you truly felt
We're gettin you raw
And it feels real good
Although only briefly
Like high school poppers would
Will you lose a bit of yourself?
Will you lost a bit of yourself?

For Spoon, and their ultimately unapologetic experience, I think the answer is yes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Aint No Reason

"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream" - Van Gogh. Most people walk this world in search of permanence; whether it be through marriage, a steady career, or even a life-long optimism. Maybe it's because we're afraid of change, or the inexplicable, or unknown. Maybe it's because we don't want to look inside ourselves and ask questions we cannot answer. Why do bad things happen? Why do good things happen? Is there some karmic force adding and subtracting our every moral decision, or is fate nothing but coincidence and consequence, cleverly masked and marketed to assure us that everything is "meant to be?" Once again, this is unanswerable. But I will tell you that the older I get, the more mistakes I make, the more joy I find in smaller things, the more I understand something a dear friend of mine told me: That the beauty in life is in its transience. At the time, I did not want to hear this advice, and still, often, it is a hard pill for any of us to swallow. There is so much comfort in things that stay the same, but as one of my favorite quotes commands of us: "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for." None of us were made to stay the same person our entire lives. In fact, I'd feel sorry for anyone who did. To elect one state of being and remain in it is like a kind of death. I'm not sure I believe that anything happens for a reason, to be honest with you. But I do believe in giving meaning to the choices we make, and at least appreciating the unknown; the changing; the impermanent. As someone who considers herself analytical and thoughtful, I do believe in asking questions of yourself, daily. But I also believe in understanding that there won't always be an answer. Sometimes there aint no reason. And aint it kind of beautiful?
Aint No Reason - BRETT DENNEN
There aint no reason things are this way
It's how they've always been and they intend to stay
I don't know why I say the things I say
But I say them anyway

I Won't Be Left - TEGAN AND SARA
I won't be left dancing alone to songs from the past
Would you stay home and keep, my memories warm with me?

Calendar Girl - STARS
If I am lost for a day, try to find me
But if I don't come back, then I won't look behind me
All of the things that I thought were so easy
Just got harder and harder each day
December is darkest and June is the light
But this empty bedroom won't make anything right
While out on the landing a friend I forgot to send home
Who waits up for me all through the night
Calendar girl who's in love with the world: Stay alive
Calendar girl who's in love with the world: Stay alive

I dreamed I was dying, as I so often do
And when I awoke I was sure it was true
I ran to the window, threw my head to the sky
And said whoever is up there, please don't let me die
But I can't live forever, I can't always be
One day I'll be sand on a beach by the sea
The pages keep turning, I'll mark off each day with a cross
And I'll laugh about all that we've lost
Calendar girl who is lost to the world: Stay Aive
Calendar girl who is lost to the world: Stay Alive

January, February, March, April, May I'm alive
June, July, August, September, October I'm alive
November, December, all through the winter
I'm Alive

Monday, March 8, 2010

The High Road

I'm the first person to make a case for independence, but sometimes the perfect musical marriage is twice as nice. If you're looking for your latest indie endeavor you've more than found it in the well-crafted perfection formed by Broken Bells. With their self-titled debut dropping tomorrow, March 9th, James Mercer of The Shins and Danger Mouse create a psychadelic world of delicious indie rock I want nothing more than to devour. Think I'm overhyping it? Go here to listen to their title track, The High Road, and for a deluxe pre-order.
Cause they know and so do I
The High Road is hard to find
A Detour to your new life
Tell all of your friends goodbye
The eeriest, coolest, most innovative track I've heard in ages. At the risk of making this seem like the holy grail of this year's independent collaborations, I'll try and pick up a hint from Mercer & DM and take the high road on this entry. I will not tell you this is the best album I've ever heard, as I've obviously done many times before. It is what it is, as the incandescent nature of the title track suggests. But if The High Road is any indication of the album in its entirety, I will be buying it tomorrow. Just sayin.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter Winds -> Spring Awakening

My first March pick, and it couldn't be more appropriate against a beautiful backdrop of blue sky and mild winds. Of course, we may get more snow this month (who am I kidding...we definitely will). But for now let's forget about that and focus on the bigger picture: spring is on its way, carrying with it new hope, joys, and of course, good music. UK indie vets & Celtic-inspired Mumford & Sons sing of these new possibilities and the cyclical beauty that's renewed with each spring on Winter Winds. Although Mumford & Sons are originally from West London, when I take in this track I am instantly brought back to Dublin, Ireland, where I spent a very joyful spring a few years ago.

It was my first trip to Europe, and the perfect place to start. I felt intensely connected with every part of the beautiful green earth, thinking of my Irish grandparents and ancestors since passed. I truly felt a different kind of spiritual love in that country than I've felt anywhere else. As cliche as that sounds, that's the kind of joy I look for in my future; the deeply renewing, energizing kind of comfort found solely in knowing ones roots. They say you can never really appreciate the sun unless you've experienced the rain; you can't understand light before understanding darkness, etc. This universal truth is very clearly expressed throughout this track, and for that and many reasons I hope it is the first song you listen to this spring.

And if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You'll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends

And my head told my heart "let love grow"
But my heart told my head "this time no"

I wish you all a very happy start to your spring