Friday, May 28, 2010

The Ghost Who Walks

If her otherwordly beauty doesn't already spark your interest, Karen Elson's The Ghost Who Walks is equally curious and spell-binding. As Jack White's model-turned-musician wife, it would be easy to write Elson off for jumping on the JW bandwagon, but this track and many others off her debut by the same name boldly speak for themselves. Eery and dream-like in its quality, The Ghost Who Walks is a rich sample of the kind of vintage flavor missing from too many records.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Mess

Delight in whatever state you are in. Never mind what you should be doing, how you should be feeling, never mind the unanswered questions, the daily imaginings. Roll down your windows and drive somewhere new. Rock a barely-there skirt and some six inch heels. Kiss a baby, your dog, your mom. Put on these tunes and rejoice in the moment, rejoice in all the little things you think you have to solve and just live the questions, live the unanswerable joy.

Go Do - Jonsi

I Am Not A Robot - Marina & The Diamonds

Bright As Yellow - The Innocence Mission

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Living Stone

Living Stone, the debut track from Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, is one of my favorite picks to kick start your summer. Recorded partly in Sierra Leone and also in New Orleans, their latest album, Rise and Shine proudly represents elements of world music and reggae at its finest. Straightforward in its message and instantly catchy in its delivery, wake up to this track and start that summer day right. Get your paws on the track for free right here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fierce, Flawless

A few songs unafraid to face reality with unwavering beauty and depth:
An elaborate songstress, poet, and lyrical superwoman, Ani Difranco is a master at making the ugliest of human experiences intrinsically beautiful and accessible. One of my favorite tracks, Fierce and Flawless, encompasses the courage that lies within expressing unspeakable truths.

She was cuffed to the truth

Like the truth was a chair
Bright interrogation light in her eyes
And her conscious lit a cigarette and just stood there
Waiting for her to crack
And his face scampered through her mind
Like a roach across a wall
And it made her soar
It made her skin crawl
They said: we got this confession, we just need you to sign
Why don't you just cooperate
And make this easier on us all?

There was light and there was darkness
But there was no line in between
And asking my heart for guidance
Was like pleading with a machine
You see joy has its own justice
And my dreams are languid and lawless
And everything bows to beauty;
When it is fierce, it is flawless

On the table were two zip-loc baggies
Containing her eyes and her smile
They said we're keeping these as evidence
Until this thing goes to trial
Meanwhile anguish was fingering solace
In another room down the hall
Both were love's accomplices but solace took the fall
Now look at her book of days
It's the same on every page
She's got a little tin cup with her heart in it
To bang along the bars of her rib cage

Similarly, looking at the lyrics to "Fistful of Love" by Anthony and the Johnsons is a bit like looking at an abject* piece of art from the 1970s. You can't explain it immediately, if at all, and it may initially make you uncomfortable but curious. It is certainly not clean, it is not pure, it is not a pretty little piece of work. But it is nothing if not beautiful. And that, in its most simplistic form, deserves the kind of recognition overlooked by mainstream art/music critics. In what way do glossed-over declarations of beauty and love represent sincere human experiences? Nothing is perfect, and without including what I personally attribute to its significance, I think everyone has a unique reaction to this piece. Listening to the song in its entirety is a better way to experience it, and the vocals are nothing if not haunting in their delivery.

We live together in a photograph of time
I look into your eyes
And the seas open up to me
I tell you I love you
And I always will
And I know you can't tell me
I know you can't tell me

So I'm left to pick up
The hints, the little symbols of your devotion
So I'm left to pick up
The hints, the little symbols of your devotion

And I feel your burning eyes burning holes
Straight through my heart
It's out of love

I accept and I collect upon my body
The memories of your devotion
I accept and I collect upon my body
The memories of your devotion

*To be abject in terms of artwork often means to be graphic or illicit a knee-jerk reaction in order to posit something larger about society; (i.e: domestic violence, crime, etc). Abject art in all forms tends to make people instantly uncomfortable but curious.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rambling [Wo]man

It's almost unreal that Laura Marling has just celebrated her 20th birthday. The London Native, who used to play with Noah and The Whale, is gifted with the old soul of a poet and the hauntingly raw voice of a folk prodigy. With sounds reminiscent of Joni Mitchell or Alexi Murdoch, Marling's latest album I Speak Because I Can is gently woven with semblances of 1960s folk and at times Celtic-sounding vocal arrangements. Marling has said the album deals with the "responsibility of womanhood" - something she seems to possess an incredible wisdom of; each song carrying with it the complexities of love, choice, and self-expression universal to womankind.

Lover please do not
Fall to your knees, it's not
Like I believe

In everlasting love

These are just ghosts

That broke my heart

Before I met you

Rambling Man
But give me to a rambling man
Let it always be known

That I was who I am

Blackberry Stone
Well I own this field
And I wrote this sky
And I have no reason, to reason with you

And you never did learn to let the little things go

And you never did learn to let me be

And you never did learn to let little people grow

And you never did learn how to see

Goodbye England
I wrote an epic letter to you
And it's 22 pages front and back

And it's too good to be used
And I tried to be a girl who likes to be used
I'm too good for that
There's a mind under this hat and
Called them all and told them I've got to move