Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mouthful of Diamonds

Mouthful of Diamonds, the latest single from East-Coast Indie rockers Phantogram, has already earned them opening gigs for such bands as The xx, Ra ra riot, and Yeasayer. But unlike some of their idols, Phantogram's fusion of alternative and electronic rock is ethereal but simultaneously profound, leaving little room for comparison.

wake up
you're getting high on your own supply
oh baby you're still alive, when you could've died
the world is not round because of you
you know i'm not around because of you

you've got a mouthful of diamonds
and a pocketful of secrets
i know you're never telling anyone
because the patterns, they control your mind
those patterns take away my time
hello, goodbye

wasted, you tell the truth when you could've lied
troubles are on the rise cause you're in disguise
and if it isn't me then pack your bags and leave
i wish i could believe
the devils won't take you back out to the salty seas

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Livin = Easy

Combining Romani, Slavic and Mariachi music with American folk, Denver natives DeVotchKa hit all the right notes with me on one of my recent favorites, Queen of the Surface Streets. A sweetly thought out and mellow track, its quirky lyrics make this one of the easiest and most fascinating songs your iPod will have seen all summer. Who wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of these words:

"I would live on the street in a cardboard shack,
just to worship your feet and the curve of your back.

And I'll bend my spine til it's quitting time
Cause I know what your love is worth"

Of DeVotchKa's other tracks I am also a bit of a late-comer, but have grown to appreciate them simply for their unique style. There aren't many male vocalists who have that haunting, melodic quality I think is so underestimated in much of the music world these days.[see Rufus Wainwright or Jeff Buckley].

On the topic of vocals so smooth you could wash them down with a glass of whiskey, I really don't think I can say enough about Handsome Boy Modeling School and their collaboration with Cat Power on I've Been Thinking. I'm so late to this party it's ridiculous [The album, White People, came out in 2004...] but now that the group and their collaborators have been on my radar for a while it's safe to say they won't be leaving it anytime soon.
Their mashups [with Jack Johnson on Breakdown], and collaborations [with De La Soul on The World's Gone Mad and If It Wasn't For You] are of some of the most underrated, undeniable hip hop these ears have been exposed to in a while. I've Been Thinking goes down so easy, you might chill so hard you slip into a trance/get accidentally faded. [Maybe not, but you should? What?]. Plus, I can never resist Cat Power aka the delicious Chan Marshall and her sexy smoke-and-mirrors stylings.

"Diamonds, candy, pills
One million dollar bills
You can try - but you can't buy me"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Seventeen Cold Showers

There are days when a specific song can become a metaphor for your entire existence; when a verse or a line speaks to you so profoundly that you wish it had been you who had penned the words. When I listen to St. Vincent, I am most often met with this sensation, and recently this song in particular has been supremely fitting. [What I admire about St. Vincent is her Adams-family-esque nature combined with a delicate femininity you can't help but adore. She is Audrey Hepburn meets PJ Harvey.]
What St. Vincent's music conveys most clearly, I would argue, is the shared human experience of wide-eyed mistake-making. When you are in the midst of something; that is when you most need music. After a fundamental life experience, it can be easily argued that music serves as an opiate of reassurance and reflection, but within the experience itself only the truest music steps forward; it is the true musicians who can make music which lives inside the primal human experience and exists only in and of itself.
Another master of this technique is, of course, Bob Dylan.When I lived in Chicago and walked through the city every morning to get to my 9:00 Voice Class [comic relief if you have ever heard me sing], I would listen to this song and feel perfectly adapted to the wind in my hair, the bums on the street, the getting-lost and the not-knowing and the small-fish-in-a-big-pond syndrome that soon became a part of my daily existence. When you feel your life in the middle of a change; big or small, there is nothing better than something to hum along to.
Lastly, how could this set be complete without the queen of present-moment-music-making-magic; Erykah Badu. Not only does this song come equipped with what has to be the most fabulously color-coordinated music videos ever created, but its message is one of the simplest and most difficult to grasp. I guess nobody ever told you/All you must hold onto/Is you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lady Bitness

"Now won't you run and tell your boyfriend? Tell him don't hold his breath for me" quips Santigold on I'm A Lady. Equal parts David Bowie, MIA, and with a Cranberries-esque snarl on this track especially, Philly-born Santigold still possesses a style all her own, and is just one of a growing number of the femmes fatales in today's music industry. (Of course, who can forget the beehive that paved the way for countless outrageous acts, Ms. Winehouse....see Fuck Me Pumps, He Can Only Hold Her, Valerie...where have you been all my life??) Nevertheless, there has never been a shortage of badass lady acts, only times when they were more appreciated than others. I can only hope 2010 has ushered in an era that continues to applaud fabulous women like these.

I'm A Lady - Santigold

Now won't you run and tell your boyfriend
Tell him don't hold his breath for me
I've got some money I was saving
Got some hearts that I'll be breaking
Know someday they'll make a martyr out of me

And I like sometimes to wave it high
Up where everyone can see
I'm a lady
Got my mind made up

Little Bit - Lykke Li
Hands down, I'm too proud for love
But with eyes shut it's you I'm thinking of
But how do we move from A to B?
It can't be up to me cause you don't know
Eye to eye, thigh to thigh, I let go
And for you I keep my legs apart
And forget about my tainted heart

Hurricane Drunk - Florence + The Machine

I hope that you see me cause I'm starin at you
But when you look over, you look right through
Then you lean and kiss her on the head
And I never felt so alive, and so dead

And you can't hold me down, cause I belong to the hurricane

Hysteric - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

No wonder, no wonder
Other half
Strange steps

Heels turn black

The cinders, they splinter

And light the path

And these strange steps

Trace us back

Friday, June 4, 2010

Reality Check

Whether its pure hip hop (no watered down club hits, please) or some raw indie rock from the late 90s, check these three for some instant gratification.

1. Reality Check - Binary Star
Introduced by a friend (shoutout to Cappuccio), this one got me on the intro alone. I miss multi-genre fused hip hop, and what this track lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in originality.

2. Puppet On A String - Detroit Cobras
Raw rugged and with that grunge-girl-growl you already know I can't resist, Detroit Cobras will always have a place in my heart, and this song is too perfect to pass up.

3. Incinerate - Sonic Youth
Still sonic after all these years. This one instantly brings me back to driving through Venice Beach with the windows down. That guitar is eternal.