Friday, December 31, 2010

Joanna Newsom - A Musical Grandma?

Ok, so I can see that this could potentially come off as a really weird, deranged blog entry. But I'm going to risk sounding insane and just get some ideas out there.

First of all, I have not really ever understood Joanna Newsom. The obsession with her strange voice and her strange, cryptic songs that have never taken me to a secret land. At least not one that I enjoy. I am sorta fascinated with her, though, after reading some extensive piece on her in the New York Times that I think is an amazing journalistic undertaking, and one of the most fascinating things I've read this year. (Jody Rosen - who are you?! Can I be you?!!)

Back to the point. I don't really get her music, and I certainly did not buy her three album undertaking. I've heard amazing things about her and it from friends whose musical tastes I certainly respect (Brett, that'd be you). Certainly. I'm a word repeater. Ugh sue me.

Well, I was going through one of the two music blogs that I follow regularly, and one of this dude's favorite songs of the year was Joanna Newsom's "Good Intentions Paving Company." And I have to admit, IT'S KIND OF BRILLIANT. It's brilliant in this totally cheesy, old grandma way. Like, seriously, I'm picturing the grandmother character in the musical Pippin, who goes around singing words of wisdom to the younger generation. Or I also imagine the older woman character in Harold and Maude (ugh, her name would be Maude, right? I'm and idiot). She's a free-spirited hippie who falls in love with a young man, and it's totally adorable-deranged. I love it. She's a quirky grandma, and that's kind of how I feel Joanna Newsome is - at least in this song.

I used to be quite the musical theater fan in my younger days. (I speak like I'm 50, right? I swear, I'm in my early 20s.) But I used to be in all kinds of musicals and go see them, and I still really enjoy them. I have lost my interest in listening to soundtracks outside of the theater though, so I really wouldn't be caught dead with musical songs on my ipod. (Ok, ok, I have a couple songs from Pippin and the entire West Side Story soundtrack. And my favorite is The Last Five Years. Please don't tell on me. I'm going to lose some serious street cred here.)

I'm going to conclude from this entry that I quite like "Good Intentions Paving Company," no matter how strangely maudlin I find it. Great melody. This could be the premise of a theatrical production. I would actually really like that. Screw U2's Spiderman on Broadway. Let's do a Joanna Newsom musical. She's not trying to be cool, and you know what? I think it's working for her...

Joanna Newsom - Good Intentions Paving Company

OMG I just saw this live video of her performing it. She's a stage freak. This needs to become a musical, or die.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Banjo or Freakout - 105

Banjo or Freakout is a guy who plays a billion instruments and lives in London. He made this nice pre-sleeptime song for you. It's got that nice don't-worry-about-a-thing vibe. Hug your pillow, your dog, or your lover. And watch out for his first full-length in February.

Banjo or Freakout - 105

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Music Quote of the Day

I love this because it's incredibly surprising given the huge difference in genre between the two bands, but also because I respect and love both of these guys' most recent albums so, so much. I love that people can have such wide-ranging taste in music.

"Another really great drumming record, even though it’s not incredibly complex, is... I really love the way the drums sound on the new National record, even though that’s a totally different kind of music from what we do. I just really like the sound of the drums technically, and just the way that the drums are played and the way that the drumbeats fit with the songs. But I don’t think we’re going to make a record that sounds like The National. No offense to The National – [Brian and I] really love that band.” -David Prowse of Japandroids in an interview I did with him last week

Generationals - Trust

Oh my gosh! Do you remember what it feels like to be dancing in circles in your backyard when the grass is green and the air is fresh and the sun is beating down on you? I mean, I know, I know, it's winter. But just think about it! It's pure joy, and you want to eat red popsicles and invite over all your best friends and talk about your favorite songs and then play fetch with your dog.

Ok, so listen to this song by Generationals, who are actually two members of the old band The Eames Era. If you didn't work in college radio, you probably don't know who they are/were. Let's leave it at this: totally cutesy, almost sickeningly sweet. (But not sick at all! So catchy great!) So now Generationals have come back with this song where guitars reverberate like sunshine, drums pop like bubble wrap, and the chorus is infinitely more catchy than whatever stupid thing Kanye is saying this week.

Gahhhhh happy holidays and go DANCE!

Generationals - Trust

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deerhunter Hits the Target

I’ve been carelessly minding my own business in the music department lately. I am, number one, a big slacker, as of late. I will attribute my upcoming job transition and the fact that I am moving all my possessions to a small apartment in Louisville. The good news is that I’m starting my own life. The bad news is I’m not sure how much Cleveland events/music I’ll be covering. I’m going back to journalism, baby!

Once I’m settled, though, I plan to bring No Mistake in Mixtape to its former glory, posting more than once a month. Life gets in the way of blogging and hobbies sometimes, doesn’t it?

One thing I couldn’t avoid raving about is Deerhunter. I reviewed their Cleveland show on here a month or so back. That was before I listened to Halcyon Digest. Ok, I listened a couple times through. I know that sounds horrible. I was reviewing a concert. I barely knew the new material. Kids, it happens. Music writers don’t always know that much about everything. Sometimes I have to work solely off observations.

Halcyon Digest has been stuck on repeat in my brain and on my ipod and computer and work computer and grooveshark and any other way I consume music. It haunts me in the most alluring way. Bradford Cox’s vocals have a distant, ghosty atmosphere that I really couldn’t pick up in a live setting, where his guitar was shaking my body like a tornado circling closer to the trees, slowly beginning to crack the branches in pieces.

His guitar loops have these circular ways of getting back to THE POINT. There is always this one point that I think each song centers on. He squiggles around it, and then he floats off to another universe, slowly circling back, his guitar coming to that same point of concentration.

Some of these songs are horrendously depressing. I picture a room of babies crying in a science fiction novel, after some evil creature of the future shows them how terrifyingly hopeless their lives will be. Something straight out of Brave New World, where they hypnotize and teach the babies what they should think and believe while they sleep.

There is always light shining through the dark cracks of the songs, though. “Revival” has a tiny shivering chime sound that sneaks out of the guitar, adding a brightness.

Forget what I said about everything being depressing. Listen to “Memory Boy” and tell me you don’t feel so full of hope and dreams and opportunities that you could pee and it would come out as a rainbow.

“Desire Lines” is a really great Strokes/Interpol hybrid. Lockett Pundt sings like a Julian Casablancas duplicate, and the dark moody “let’s go to a club and sit in the corner and sulk” vibe is classic Interpol. Maybe I just make that comparison because those are the two main bands who got me into indie rock? I don’t know. This song has the best squiggling guitar lines, and you feel creepy cool when you listen.

And let’s not even get me started on “Helicopter,” which pretty much rules my universe. It has this hugeness to it that triggers an emotional breakdown. I don’t usually get this unexplainably touched and emotional by songs unless they’re by U2 or The National or Elliott Smith.

I feel like the purpose of the 7 and a half minute “He Would Have Laughed” is to serve really appreciative music fans at 2:45am after a long night of drinking. Cuz you can just sit on your couch – get out that ottoman to rest your legs, it’s been a long day – and sink in and enjoy. It’s minimal, and it’s got a relaxed, spaced out vibe. The real purpose of the song was to pay tribute to Jay Reatard. (That’s a lot better than my proposed purpose.)

The weirdest thing about this Deerhunter rave is that I don’t typically write disjointed album reviews where I make stupid baby nightmare and tornado comparisons on this blog. But the last time I did this, I’m pretty sure it was when I was writing about an Atlas Sound album (that’s Bradford Cox’s solo project). Something about his music just gets deep within my skin and makes me want to be a weirder person.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Year in Sum

I'm listening to Japandroids, and I'm reading things about them on the internet. I'm letting the simplicity seep into me, remembering the rash anger I felt a year and a half ago when I was listening to it for the first time. I was going through a transition from college back home, searching for a job and a future. More than anything, I was angry. I think I felt entitled. I felt like I deserved to get a job I wanted in my field. I thought all my hard work over the past four years should automatically yield to immediate results. I thought things were going to be easier, and I thought I'd have places to go and friends to live with. Instead, I was lonely and lost and really unlucky. The economy was bottoming out, and I was one of millions of casualties. A fresh graduate with nowhere to go.

So much has changed in the past year. I went through so many uncertainties and made choices I wasn't sure about. I spent a lot of time with my parents and my dog. And I made some friends. Some really great ones. I got pretty darn good at my job. I did my best to keep up with music, even though college radio was no longer keeping me hip. I bordered on depression, I had some amazing victories, but mostly I changed my entire outlook.

Instead of entitlement, I got appreciative. I'm not always going to understand the purpose of what life throws at me. I'll probably sob to Elliott Smith and sing really loudly to The Joshua Tree. I'll probably jump around my room to M.I.A and Matt & Kim, and I'll cry to Deerhunter. (I'm really freakin emotional, ok? Just accept me!) Life is just what you make it. And I'm totally about the small accomplishments and the small joys.

I'm moving again. Starting a new job, starting a new life. Starting from scratch. This time, Japandroids' Post-Nothing doesn't resonate with me. I'm not angry. I don't miss a reckless life or insane late-night adventures. I don't care about hot musicians with shaggy hair (k that might be a lie). I'm growing up a little. I love this album still. But I love it for different reasons. It brings back memories for a very specific time in my life. I don't have this same sense of rebellion.

I don't have a soundtrack for this transition yet. (Although, with a move to Louisville, I'm thinking about getting back on the My Morning Jacket train really quickly.) I'm ready for the journey.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Songs that Make you Long

I have a thing for songs that make me want to live in other places.

Today, let's do Los Angeles.

First, quaint and beautiful.

Next, spicy and exhilarating.