Monday, January 24, 2011

Peace of Mind

[photo : Star Tribune]
Last week I was blessed with the opportunity to see one of my favorite artists of all time, Ms. Lauryn Hill in concert and fortunate enough to meet her after the show. Her energy was unbeatable and being in her presence was the best early birthday gift I could hope for. Exchanging words with her was a beautiful experience and it compelled me to reflect on the many incredible concerts I've gone to and what they have done for my mind, body and soul.

My first concert was Sting, whom I still credit with being one of the most charming and talented male musicians of his time. In high school I rocked out with Weezer and the Foo Fighters and just about lost my shit seeing Anthony Keidis on stage at the Chili Peppers extravaganza. (Even in a plaid kilt and bright red tie I'm pretty sure he's the foxiest californicator on the planet). I've seen Prince, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Dessa; all local acts that I've written about, screamed about, and attempted to absorb just a little of their magic by being part of a crowd that stood amazed in their talent. Nothing makes me feel more alive than live music. Seeing MGMT and Sharon Jones last summer at Rock the Garden was another amazing day, and one I will never forget.
Through the often times tumultuous nature of growing up, we are all apt to suffer a few losses. Friends and lovers, houses and schools, but mostly ideas. The great news is that despite the unpredictable nature of life and the frightening facts of trying to navigate adulthood, music and all it stands for can never abandon you. As Ms. Hill would say, "you are my peace of mind." Music is truly the greatest comfort, most unfailing, inspiring art form in my life.

When I think of my relationship with music, (one of my longest and most fulfilling relationships to date,) I'm reminded of a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. The quote is in reference to the inner strength she finds in hard times, but it also reads a lot like what music would say to me in a love letter.
"I'm here. I love you. I don't care if you need to stay up crying all night long. I will stay with you. There's nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I am stronger than depression and I am braver than loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rockin the Suburbs

Moody and languid, The Suburbs is Arcade Fire's latest and greatest album. Bashfully discovering this gem about 4 months after its release, I was amazed at the change of pace from previous Arcade Fire tracks. While former releases (such as Neighborhood #1) proved evocative and trance-like, their latest album is purely transformative.
An immediate standout is Ready to Start. "If the businessmen drink my blood, like the kids in art school said they would - I guess I'll just begin again, you say can we still be friends? Well if I was scared, I would, and if I was bored you know I would..." Not only does the lyricism on this song command a sort of Holden Caulfield nuance, it serves as a great introduction to the album's tone as a whole; that of an indie extravaganza that is simultaneously semi-detached and drenched in sentiment.
Another standout is Modern Man, with a deliciously Kings-of-Leon flavor. "So I wait in line I'm a modern man; maybe when you're older you will understand; why you don't feel right - why you can't sleep at night." On the orchestral
Half Light I the album climbs the heights of its creative pinnacle; seamlessly carving out a timeless hipster-slow-dance-anthem. This song is by far the most genuinely alternative, screaming out to be used in combination with black and white still-lifes or as the backdrop for a Sofia Coppola film. "Oh this city's changed so much since I was a little child, I pray to God I won't live to see, the death of everything that's wild." Stripped down yet complex, The Suburbs is a timely amalgamation of all things starkly beautiful.