30 May 2009

The National - May 29, 2009

It saddens me to have to be writing this review. It means I've already seen The National. It means there's nothing as exciting to look forward to and nothing to make the laugh lines around my mouth even deeper.

Last night at The Electric Factory I fell in love with my favorite band even more. I was in the second row of the pit, dying of thirst, and yet I could've easily watched The National play for another three hours before considering passing out. The setlist was exactly what one would expect with literally no surprises that I could surmise but these songs don't get old. Somehow there is always a little something extra added that makes each one as comfortable as an old friend but as scary as a creepy stranger - something you don't always completely understand or trust. Each lyric that leaves Matt Berninger's mouth takes a gracefully fragile, intimate fall into the air and wraps around the audience in this incredibly delicate way. The moments he allows us to share with him onstage are ones that seem like they should be the most private. He lets us watch his anguish, fits of rage, fits of insanity, and everything else he genuinely feels throughout the songs. He's not trying to look handsome or hip like a typical frontman - he is just serving the music. You get the feeling he is either incredibly self-conscious or the least self-conscious person on earth.

Typically, throughout a show I can't wait to hear my personal favorites. With a National show I love them all but I still have those tracks that stand out and are better played than others. At this concert, I found myself appreciating the ones I don't overplay the most. "Ada" and "About Today" were the standouts for me. "About Today", their closing number, was better than a dramatic play or an intense movie, better - and more real - than if the love affair he is singing about actually happened in my own life. I would never be able to portray my emotions on the level that he can. The respect he shows these songs, some he's been singing for half a decade, is incredible. Dressed in a full gray suit, complete with watch and black boots, he looked like he could have been going to work on Wall Street. And unlike the average rock star, he drank white wine someone had brought out in an ice filled bucket. He teeters on a line between caricature and reality, both equally honest. At the end of the show, he was the first to walk off the stage looking like he had been through hell, dragging his suit jacket and carrying the wine bottle in his right hand. The other band members had to say thank you. I completely understood. I wouldn't be able to sing those lyrics without going off the deep end either.

During "Mr. November", one of the encore songs, Mr. Berninger managed to successfully use two microphone stands as he said, "one of them was looking at me funny". While he screamed with all the passion he could muster, he carried one of the stands on his back, tangled the mike cord well enough that a stagehand had to come out and fix it, and looked ready to explode to the point that his face was redder than the lights onstage. Yet not even that description could really explain the feeling that contributed to these actions. This is a man that comes onstage perfectly calm, starting off the night with the phenomenal new song, "Runaway", singing with all the quiet passion in the world and ends with his hair completely destroyed looking like he just had a heart attack. He transforms himself into whatever the song calls for, with just a little help from the aforementioned alcohol.

The emotions that run through these songs, both lyrically and musically, are so tangible, you can taste them. The loneliness every human feels even in a crowd of 2,000 people fills these songs and gives them life. The depression and fear that are always in the back of your mind is what The National is able to bring to the foreground and dangle in such a way that all these dark emotions come to light as beautiful and exciting.

There is nothing like seeing a National concert. It is unbelievable. I have never been in love with music to this level. I want to find words to describe it but the only moments I can compare it to would be the first dance with a spouse on your wedding day, the feeling you might have if you heard the world was going to end tomorrow, the moment you realized you're not immortal.. All these life changing moments that give you that sinking feeling in your stomach and that strange jolt in your chest - that is what The National portrays in their music. And it's not just the lyrics, it is the entire sound. During "Green Gloves", I had to remember to listen - the sound of the music was hypnotic. Listening to The National, especially live, feels like being right on the edge at the end of the world.

Ada (click on the video to see more from this awesome user, Aubrey)

Mr. November (found on youtube - wish it was closer).

All photos courtesy of the talented Thomas J. Hartnett - Originally found here and you can visit his personal blogs here and here

28 May 2009

Reality, Reality

I like people who have no filter. I enjoy hearing the reality of things most times far more than meaningless words shoved up my ears. With music, it's a little different. I'm angry that in order to get on the radio all you have to do is sound like Daughtry if you're a guy or some second rate version of Christina Aguilera if you're a girl. That's a little depressing but as the great Adam Lambert said, many record labels are supportive of a little change and perhaps its the artists themselves that are limiting the options. Who knows.

I want to share some great music for the ten people a week who read but I'm not enamored with anything right now other than The National and there are already 11 posts about them on this site. I guess a cute story quickly would be about my mother. As much as I love Mr. Lambert, my mother is CRAZY about him. She is a laid back person 99% of the time but when Adam is on the tv screen, she is like a teenage girl again. Last night she bribed me with homemade hot chocolate and grilled broccoli to watch Adam on Regis and Kelly with her and later hunt down every other talk show he was appearing on for the entire week. It makes me happy to see her so overjoyed by something so simple. I'm going to sound like a nutcase but this guy really seems like a good person and I love the little comebacks he's had regarding Gene Simmons and Clay Aiken in the media over the past few days. He's witty.

Before I move on June 1st, I'm going to finally get around to making mix cds for a few people I should've recognized earlier. One full of classic oldies for a new friend and another for my mom, filled with Adam Lambert and Buffalo Springfield. More than anything I can't wait to fill my new apartment with good music. Having two roommates might make my choices a bit more limited and my dream of dancing around with Stevie Nicks scarves and blasting "Edge of Seventeen" might have to wait until a night when they're both otherwise detained, but the image of my record player in the living room next to a large cabinet full of phenomenal records fills my head like sugarplums and gumdrops.

In my old apartment (if you could call it that), my old love would leave me alone often to drink with his buddies. Since I was underage - and not typically invited anyhow - I would turn up the volume on John Legend's "Once Again" album that had just come out and pretend the place was just mine. Pretend that I was in a penthouse somewhere with my own life - like a John Legend music video. The fantastical effects music can have on the mind are unbelievable. Without that album, I don't see how I could've made it through that period in my life. I didn't have an iPod so I would leave that cd in my Sony walkman for weeks on end, walking around the little Southern town with it, feeling sorry for myself, and wondering if John Legend was making the sky look more poetic than it actually was or vice versa. I would go behind the Martin's supermarket where there was an old railroad and tons of mountains and just relax with Mr. Legend's voice in my ears making everything seem like it could be okay.

During that time, I also managed to become friends with the lone owner of the only record store in town across the street from my boyfriend's workplace. I would go in just to browse but ended up striking up many a conversation dwelling mostly on how out of place we both felt. I told him more than I should have and he ended up knowing my boyfriend from face (of course we never came into the store together because that's not how we were). He understood my troubles and asked me what kind of music my boyfriend liked, as if this may uncover some clues into his ways of thinking. Although music was one of the things that brought us together, I had a difficult time thinking off the cuff - "Bright Eyes, definitely. The Cure. Johnny Cash." Immediately, this guy understood him like any good record store employee would. If I had been old enough and wise enough maybe I would've clued in on it too.

There's no denying that at times I miss having someone close to me who would make me genuine, honest to god MIXTAPES - as in cassette tapes - and listen excitedly as I strummed up enough phone passion to discuss Tom Petty's "The Waiting". Here's something I wouldn't typically say but if I had to analyze myself, this very site could in part be dedicated to a person who helped me understand within myself how much music could mean - in terms of a human's entire timeline on earth. When he was gone, the music was still there and lord knows I wouldn't have been able to decipher anything about The National without all the heartache he put me through. My heart can still break when I hear The Cure. Actually, I can't even listen to them. There are just some moments in time that were so, so good even if all the other moments surrounding them were terrible that become not only a part of you, but a literal piece of your skin. No one had ever taken music and handed it to me in that way, filled with so much of their own emotions mixed inside. This person seemed to better infuse his thoughts into other's music than his own words. I am very happy with the people in my life now and their own incredible musical histories, but I still search within conversations for someone to break my heart like that again with their stories. I don't think anyone ever will and that's totally okay. As I get older, I learn to care less and less about the dangerous things and more about the real things.

But if this person ever reads this, thank you for The National.

27 May 2009

Getting Prepared for The National

I've been checking out The National's setlists over the past week, trying to compare them to the dream one in my head - the one with the songs they will never actually play in concert. Luckily, the lists aren't TOO different..

This would be my list (not in order):

Fashion Coat
City Middle
Santa Clara
Blank Slate
90-Mile Water Wall
Squalor Victoria
Secret Meeting
Mr. November
Start a War
Green Gloves
Racing Like a Pro
Mistaken for Strangers

Blood Buzz Ohio
Vanderlylle Crybaby (because I NEED to hear these new songs live)

And here's a sample of their May 2009 setlists:

House of Blues - Boston, MA 5/23/2009
Start a war
Mistaken for strangers
Secret meeting
Baby we'll be fine
Slow show
Squallor victoria
Blood buzz Ohio
Apartment story
Daughters of the soho riots
Fake empire

Green gloves
Mr. November
About today

26 May 2009

Picture of the Day

James Mercer on the cover of now defunct magazine "No Depression" (though still available bi-annually in book-like form).

25 May 2009

New Songs by The National

It's frustrating to hear new songs by my favorite band and know I wasn't there to experience them. I appreciate the excitement a new Youtube video brings filled with new lyrics I have yet to hear and new phrasing to yell about but there is still that essential personal element missing. I know I will eventually love these songs but I can't fully grasp them until I can understand the words and have some type of history with them. A couple months ago at Carnegie Hall when The National performed "Karamozov" and "Wake Up Your Saints" for the first time, I cried. I sat there in my overpriced mezzanine seat crying into my own shoulder over the power of The National. I have never experienced that kind of emotion on the first listen of a song before but it was the combination of the live music and the sounds that come out of the greatest band in the world.

Vandalylle Cry Baby

Blood Buzz Ohio

23 May 2009

What?! Alice Russell

This woman is UNBELIEVABLE. Her voice is stunning and her interpretations of songs are out of this world. She's a little white British girl but she sounds more like Aretha Franklin.

22 May 2009

Top 25 Best Album Covers

There's a new computer keyboard at work today and it types so smoothly that I feel like writing a novel..if only I had enough things to talk about. It's funny that you could have a lot going on but the absorbtion of it all takes more energy than the actual actions. I don't like to absorb much (except music).

Strangely enough, I just came across a list of Rolling Stone's top 25 album covers by sheer accident and I'm taking it as a sign from above. The list is full of the best content of all time but not the best album covers. It's like they just picked the most popular albums of all time and blended them together to make a list of record covers - and that is not how it should be done.

So for your consideration, I present to you my list of top 25 album covers - that is subject to change as I find more covers I didn't know about - AND Rolling Stone's top 25 list.

Rolling Stone's (in order from 25 - 1):

25. Purple Rain - Prince
24. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
23. Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
22. The Ramones - The Ramones
21. Rid of Me - PJ Harvey
20. Appetite for Destruction - Guns N Roses
19. Parallel Lines - Blondie
18. Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin
17. The White Album - The Beatles
16. War - U2
15. Who's Next - The Who
14. MCMLXXXIV - Van Halen
13. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
12. OK Computer - Radiohead
11. IV - Led Zeppelin
10. Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth (that I couldn't disagree with more)
09. Revolver - The Beatles
08. The Velvet Underground and Nico - The Velvet Underground and Nico
07. Nevermind - Nirvana
06. Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones
05. Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys
04. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
03. Abbey Road - The Beatles (the one I most agree with)
02. London Calling - The Clash
01. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band - The Beatles

And now my list (possibly not in order):

21 May 2009

Song to Love: Oh, How to Do Now

Small miracles! In my review of The Shins concert this past Sunday, I mentioned that their best song was a cover they did during the encore. I didn't understand the words and couldn't recall the song but through the magic of the internet, I managed to find a video of the song called, "Oh, How to Do Now" by The Monks. I still can't find The Shins' version just yet but I won't give up hope. This is such a great song and I'm so glad, relieved, exhilarated that I found it!

Thank you, Setlist.fm.

Thursday's Thoughts on Music

1. Adam Lambert did not win American Idol because the presumed winner was being called out as such for the past ten weeks. Of course the hype did him in - not to mention the angry, "Godly" Danny Gokey fans from last week that chose Kris - AND the 38 million votes from Arkansas alone. But Kris seems like a nice guy..

2. Some songs sound so much better live than recorded. I'll use the most recent example that comes to mind: Black Eyed Peas. I love Will.I.Am's sound but sadly, for me, it doesn't transfer to earphones.

3. I'm seeing Fleetwood Mac in June. This will be my second time seeing them in concert and my third experience with Lindsay Buckingham who got me to make a fool out of myself by bringing a Fleetwood Mac album to work (while wearing a Fleetwood Mac shirt) on my first day when he was performing solo at Starland. I look back and still wonder why everyone made me feel bad about that. It's not my fault I love him the way my co-workers love Bon Jovi.

4. I like Lionel Richie, I love Santana, Kiss could not have aged better, and Rod Stewart can move better than most 20 year olds I know.

5. Michael Slezak, writer for Entertainment Weekly, has become the new David Sedaris or Chuck Klosterman for me. I make no attempt at writing unless it is on this site in recent weeks but if I did, it would be in the style of Slezak who is so culturally poetic and honest that he feels like a mixture between a warm blanket and a kiddie roller coaster ride. I am incredibly jealous.

6. I am seeing The National on Friday, May 29th aka a week from tomorrow! With recent events in mind, I haven't been able to think about how exciting this really is. While The Shins were fun a few days ago, we didn't enjoy standing for so long and my age started to rear its ugly head in the form of my back hurting during the final hours. I also felt foolish being so old but I have high hopes for this concert. Based on personal experience, I would be forced to say that The National's music caters to the beaten down and how many 16 year olds do you know that fit that description?

7. I realized that when I'm embarassed or feeling under the weather I can't listen to music for fear that I will ruin a song with my feelings. I worry that every time I hear that song from now on I will remember the time I was embarassed and listening to it. I don't know if that makes sense.

8. I am craving a road trip where I am able to listen to every great song I love at the highest volume possible and scream out the words as if they are the most important messages ever spoken. Unfortunately, I have never had any road trips exactly like that so I don't know where this craving comes from.

9. Moving on June 1st should be fun. I am more nervous than I anticipated and still not packing. I am full of anxiety about money, friendships, school, getting to work, etc. but I still find time to go on Ebay and look up musical note shower curtains and Elvis toothbrush holders. I am looking to make this apartment the musical beacon of New Brunswick complete with a jukebox clock that plays '50's music in the kitchen. Anyone know where I can find a poster of Johnny Cash eating for the dining room wall?

18 May 2009

The Shins - May 17, 2009

Last night I saw The Shins at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ and nothing was how it seemed.

I will be honest about how I got into The Shins four years ago: it was a lonely night at an old Borders bookstore near my house when I suddenly caught a glimpse of the magazine "No Depression" with a gorgeous man on the cover. He caught my eye and wouldn't let go. I needed to see more of him immediately. I was familiar with The Shins' music already but had never seen them in person. I was just a casual listener. When I found out the man on the cover was James Mercer, the frontman for The Shins, I decided to buy the magazine, read the entire article, and immediately buy their albums, spending more time getting to know them.

Turns out their music was right up my alley, more than I even thought, and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. While I'm still not on the same level as some of their more diehard fans, I would consider myself a deep appreciator of their music - and lead singer. This was proven by our day long excursion to Montclair that included an hour drive, an hour in line outside with some interesting characters (more to come on that later), and four hours on our feet inside the general admission auditorium-like setup.

I would say one of the more exciting moments came before the concert when we were walking towards the venue and happened to pass by James Mercer and other members of the band on their way into a thai restaurant in the center of town. Mercer, dressed in a gray jacket, dark jeans, and aviator sunglasses, looked shorter and thinner in person than I expected but was still a stunner. Although he looked right at us, we didn't say anything and later I felt a little sad about not having the courage to take a picture with him.

ANYWAY, the folks in line near us later on were just a tad bit frustrating, feeling the need to comment on how many people were wearing Converse sneakers, discussing the age of everyone in line, and laughing like hyenas about 'groupies', fellow classmates, and Urban Outfitters. The only time I enjoyed eavesdropping came during a discussion of the venue when one of them said, "Is this place nice? Like Starland Ballroom nice?" Which I took to mean: "Starland Ballroom is in the masterclass of venues and this paltry place will not compare".

Strangely, the crowd, which looked to be at capacity, was full of high school aged youngsters whose mouths were gaping in lust for a band full of nearly middle-aged, balding gentlemen. While I love the irony and intrigue of that, I expected the crowd to be closer to a Coldplay type thing with the majority of folks in their mid to late twenties and a general sprinkling of all other demographics. It made me a little nervous to be one of the oldest people sprinting for a spot at the front of the stage and trying to squish up against girls half my age. There was even a little boy in front of me, nice enough, exclaiming to the person next to him that John Mayer is his "guilty pleasure" and that Eric Clapton is a "hack". Whoa.

When the show finally began, Delta Spirit (which I keep wanting to call "Delta Force" for some reason) opened with a fine set that seemed to go by in a decent amount of time. The lead singer had some real chops and they used trash cans ala Doug Funny to complete the sound on several of their songs. I was kept amused by the drummer making overly intense facial expressions and the bassist continuously pushing up his huge black glasses. Not to take away from the music though: they impressed me and I will probably mosey over to iTunes later and listen to their album in a quieter setting. I understood the common Americana strand that ran through this band and The Shins, a strand I'm glad they chose to enhance since this has always been one of my favorite qualities about Shins songs.

When the main act finally came on, it was a little anti-climatic but still exhilarating. Seeing James Mercer up close and personal after three hours of standing was reward enough for me, even if he looked like Jeremy Irons. The entire set was chock full of classic Shins songs that didn't stray much from what a casual listener would expect. "New Slang" fleshed out the encore, "Caring is Creepy" made an appearance, "Sleeping Lessons", "Phantom Limb", "Australia" - all from their latest, Wincing the Night Away, showed up, and my favorites "Gone for Good" and "Sea Legs" were luckily mixed in. "Gone for Good" in particular sounded excellent along with the jam session in "Sea Legs" and the very sexy slow beat they added into it.

Sadly, with all the remodeling they've clearly done to the interior of the building to build up a nicer ambiance, the Wellmont still lacks in sound quality. A couple months ago I attended The Black Keys concert at this venue and was stunned by the poor sound and odd distortion coming from the speakers. At the time I accredited it to a weird band set-up or an over abundance of annoying amps but when the same thing happened at this show, it was inexcusable. In the brief moments Mercer spoke to the audience - mostly about the documentary "Anvil" - I couldn't even understand what film he was talking about until the way end. Needless to say, all of The Shins brilliant poetry within their songs was generally lost in translation and it made many of the songs blend together.

While the sound and peculiar audience were minor letdowns, the overall experience was entirely worth it. I will say that my most positive thought after the concert was that James Mercer seems like a nice personality to spend a couple hours with. His quiet demeanor and shy banter is refreshing after seeing mostly extroverts in concert full of nothing but their own ego. Mercer had nice control over the band and tried his hardest to fix some of the sound problems throughout the concert by miming to the sound techs offstage to raise the volume on his mic and fix a couple wires on stage. He also hit some massive notes that sounded way better in person than they ever could on record. If I took anything new away from this concert, it is that The Shins can play a mean Beach Boys cover and James Mercer has a lot of emotions he's able to put inside a song and display in just the right, delicate way as to offset any other flaws within the performance. He is charismatic in his own unique way - and a much better singer than he gets credit for.

Also, I have to mention the encore - one of the best parts of the night. They played a song with the lyrics "I wanna do it, I wanna do it" repeated over and over again in the background while Mercer did his best Elvis/Buddy Holly impression with exemplary results. It almost sounded like a Chantilly Lace sort of vocal arrangement and it suited him perfectly. I was so happy the band both started and ended the four encore set with this. It capped off the subtle '50's vibe very nicely. I just wish I knew what song this was and how to find it.

Best line of the night? After joking around about "Anvil", Mercer stopped himself to get ready for the next song and said, "okay, let's get serious...no. Let's get melancholy". Marvelous display of self-deprecation, my favorite.

Better than Tom Petty? Not even close. Better than M. Ward? Eh. Better than Ari Hest playing songs from every month of the year? Definitely.

I will look forward to seeing The Shins after their next album comes out in a forum better suited for subtle performers and dynamic lyrical content.

17 May 2009

Somebody to Love: Franky Perez

This poor, poor guy. With his aptly titled debut disc, "Poor Man's Son", originally out in 2002, he made a minorly successful impression on the singer/songwriter crowd and got the opportunity to go out on the road with some of the middle of the line hitters at the time, Jason Mraz and Maroon 5 come to mind, before they were chart-topping moneymakers. I remember seeing Mraz a few times that summer and loving Franky Perez to the point that I went out, purchased his album, and learned every word of the 18 or so songs. While it was a little rougher than the music I was typically enjoying at the time, there was this honest grit in Perez's voice that really made me appreciate everything he was saying even more - you could tell these were words based in true experiences and rough times. He's been referred to as a young Bruce Springsteen but judging from his recent turn in the successful hard rock band, Scars on Broadway, signed to Interscope Records, I would say his influences lie in many different areas. It's sad that if you go on his personal myspace page you find he has very few followers of his own solo music when he should be having the same success as Matt Nathanson, Jason Mraz, and John Mayer. And did I mention he only plays guitar and sings back up with his new band? Not fair. Think about it: I'm talking about him today in 2009 when I first bought his album seven years ago - that's staying power. This guy is the real deal. It is very unfortunate that he didn't get enough support to go forward with his solo work, a real talent is being missed out on with Mr. Franky Perez.

This is the only video of his I could find - but if you like this, you'd love his entire album:

Who Says I Can't Get Stoned

I love you, John Mayer.

16 May 2009

"Old Days"

I'm going to tell you a quick story about Chicago. Well maybe several mixed into one.

When I was born, I could never fall asleep. I would literally cry and cry until someone would offer up their services and drive around the block twenty times. If, by chance, there was no one around to drive which is often the case in my family, they had to put Chicago on the record player and blast it into my crib. It is the only music that would make me stop crying because I wanted to intently listen.

Later on in the years, when I was around 5, I started going to see Chicago live every year with my aunt and cousin, both devout Chicago fans. They were members of the fan club, taught me every revolving member's name and respective instrument, and every album. They started taking me to flea markets too where records were abound - and I would always choose to use my $2 allowance on Chicago albums I would play at my grandparents' house on the weekends. It was the highlight of my childhood, besides getting pizza at Coszmo's in downtown Westfield with my aunt - where we would always wear our matching Chicago shirts.

We would get home and watch live Chicago VHS tapes my aunt sent away for from various Chicago penpals she had and needless to say, when my aunt and cousin went to Chicago, Illinois to see the birthplace of this almighty band without me, I was beside myself with grief.

My amazing aunt has sinced passed away, my grandparents' house is no longer there, and the memories from those times are very difficult to think about in detail but thank god I can remember them because they were the beginning stages of who I am today. Everything I am now is because of those times. My cousin and I still see Chicago every summer in my aunt's honor - and for our neverending love of the best band on the planet. It's funny how some things in this life just choose you.

I wish I still had those Chicago live VHS tapes because they trumped Youtube by a million. I loved them. I wrote to Robert Lamm every week - he is definitely one of the reasons I am so taken with fine looking gentlemen to this day. This is a strange memory to recollect but when I was about 7 years old, my family took me to meet the yellow Power Ranger (my favorite on the tv show) at a Burger King nearby. I was wearing a handmade button of Robert Lamm and while wearing her yellow costume and mask, the power ranger said to me, "wow, he's really cute", and I was so pleased with myself. That was how far my love extended. My obsessions have changed little since then.

Some of my favorite Chicago songs:

Beginnings (my all time favorite song of ALL songs)
No Tell Lover
Call on Me
Stay the Night
90 Degrees and Freezing
Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is?
25 0r 6 to 4?
Look Away
Questions 67 and 68
Make Me Smile

Beginnings - March 2008 (He is still as gorgeous as ever - and Jason Scheff's bass halfway through the song is fabulous)

Saturday in the Park - 1970's (Robert Lamm with a beard and much livelier)

Hang Me Up to Dry

(I just titled this post that because I'm listening to it and as a reminder that it's one of the greatest songs ever created - it's an A.D. favorite for sure)

This song makes me want to:

1. See Cold War Kids in person just to hear them play this song.
2. Learn the drums immediately.
3. Kill myself because it's so amazing.
4. Blast it at full volume on the best speakers in the world.
5. Cry.

don't you love songs that make you want to commit violence because of their epic nature? And I don't use that corny "epic" word typically - just in extreme cases such as the best songs in the world. This and "No Tell Lover" (that I could write about forever) are those songs for me right now.

Music is the only thing that can put me in a better mood when I'm sad, start me writing when I don't feel inspired, and get me up and doing things - although I am mostly just drawn to the shiny light of the computer screen lately - or the bottom of an alcoholic beverage. PS. If anyone knows of a bar with an amazing jukebox in New Jersey, let me know. I'm really tired of the same old j. box in New Brunswick with no Stevie Wonder, John Legend, or any other great R&B artist for that matter. They're racist.

That just leads me to thinking about Mary Wells and how much I love her songs and voice and sexiness. I love sexual songs because when you think about it: how can a song be sexual? When you think of sex, you think of skin and physical contact and all things in PERSON> with music it is just your ears and it's almost like the wind - you can feel it and therefore you know it's there - but you can never see it. What could be sexier than that?

The horns in Chicago's songs always make me feel that way, John Legend's voice, Billie Holiday, even Keb' Mo' who gets no credit - do you realize he's the most amazing person alive?

I'll show you:

And "Love in Vain" started me thinking about "Waiting in Vain", another gorgeous song, not to mention incredibly sexy and mentioned in my Top 25 Sexiest Songs post from a few months back. This video get bonus points for being utterly adorable:

14 May 2009

The Longest Post EVER!

I was reading a great music blog, the fabulously titled http://musicmaven.wordpress.com (not to be confused with this site), and came to a conclusion: It is very difficult to read about other people's favorite music without forever making the connection between them and the songs they mention. I don't know the woman who writes that blog but even from a few entries I've gotten enough information and now every time I hear the Everly Brothers I'm going to think of her mother... well, maybe not, but at least the next few times I will. Music is like getting an ulcer in your eye - it's really sensitive.

I think about this a lot. I'm the latest victim of "Fanbertdom" over on the American Idol front, as I'm sure anyone who reads this blog knows (which as we all know is no one) yet my mother loves him too so I always think of her when he's playing. My mother and I have a huge music connection since she's the one that introduced me to so many of the bands I love now, specifically Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It's hard to forget that when it's right in my ear.

I think of my piece of garbage ex-boyfriend when I'm listening to "Poison Cup" by M. Ward and I think of my friend CJ when I hear John Frusciante since I first heard him in CJ's car. I think of my aunt when Jay and the Americans are on and my cousin during Fleetwood Mac's "Gypsy". These are all passing thoughts though since this music I'm mentioning is so good - it definitely stands on its own as well - but it does work as a security blanket. You know how blankets get that certain scent of the person who owns it? Same goes with music, scents attach to it well.

I'm listening to "Whole Lotta Love" right now and my god, does that stand on its own. My father looked like Robert Plant so it's hard for me to say that Mr. Plant is one of the hottest people to ever live on this planet, but whatever, I already have a lot of Freudian issues so I'll just add one more to the list. Maybe one day I'll have to scan a picture of my dad on to the site. I've been thinking about him a lot and memories I have of him. I get so choked up, it's almost not worth it though. He was a professional drummer they called "the wolf" with his own business card.

Anyhow, I'm seeing The Shins on Sunday (see how I swiftly changed the subject) and I couldn't be more excited. I'm living a very angry existence right now because of roaches I made a $2200 decision not to live with. James Mercer makes my heart race. So do roaches but in the opposite way.

And to finish up, I'm obsessed with the song "No Tell Lover" by Chicago. OBSESSED. It is incredibly sexy, which is the only kind of song I ever become obsessed with. I should make a "song to love" post about it but what is the damn point? No one is reading this. Just me. Thank god I amuse myself so much. Life would be much tougher otherwise.

Also: The Hold Steady is playing at Starland Ballroom! How did they choose such a noble show? A show I would almost pay to go to.

Okay, one more thing... I've been listening to "The Geese of Beverly Road" by The National lately for the first time since I've fallen in love with them. This is deemed a favorite by so many National fans and I'm starting to see why despite its 5 minute length and very sad horn section that makes it a good suicide record. It also really makes me wish it was Fall and close to Halloween which isn't good since 1. it's not even summer yet and 2. I'll be closer to a REALLY old age once it's Halloween again.

This does lead me to something I must do though. I know this is a music blog and I don't like to reveal too much about who I am other than a lover of all music but since it's the end of the semester at the university I attend and I was deeply inspired by a specific professor and I'm still young enough to get away with obsessing over gorgeous men (which has always been one of my favorite past-times), I'm going to write a little ode to him:

This is off the cuff so bear with me..

Professor "X",

Your unbelievable wisdom and intellect were apparent from the first day: I sat in the classroom full of way too much coffee and a poor apparel choice because of the early morning hour thinking I had made a terrible decision in classes when you walked in dressed in a leather jacket later taken off to reveal a stunning ensemble complete with a gray sweater vest and 'scholarly' blue button down shirt. Your tan loafers perfectly broken in and a full head of raven black hair that you slowly, smoothly ran your hand through, probably not realizing that one gesture would invoke a semester-long infatuation. At first I thought you looked a little snooty, taking your glasses on and off and placing them on top of a yellow legal pad next to an expensive looking pen. Then you spoke and were funny! With a strong Spanish accent and very pensive expressions, every word sounded important and deeply thought out with dashes of wittiness and self-deprication. You would casually look at your notes, take off your glasses once again, and sashay across the classroom, never losing your stride. At first I tried to listen to what you were saying but then I got wrapped up in all these little mannerisms - the glasses, the legal pad, the pen you continued to play with - suddenly I was a creepy, old man making googly eyes at a 15 year old wearing a short skirt at the park or something. Because to me, glasses and sweater vests are short skirts.

I'll be honest: intelligent, well dressed, older gentlemen have always been a huge weakness for me but this was a special circumstance. For some crazy reason, your absolutely stunning appearance, whether it was more of the blue button downs, the denim jeans, the strange Texas, suede look, whatever - motivated me to actually learn about your topic. I got an A in the class, spent late night hours on well developed essays, successfully focused on not mentioning you in my end-of-semester evaluation paper by name, and didn't daydream too much about the way you said "bueno" in class (well..).

And I even read your work online which turned out to be some of the best writing I've ever read in my life. That was when my mind shifted entirely. Instead of just blushing at your endlessly amazing collection of professor-chic clothes and the deep lifelines framing your bright blue eyes, I made the connection that you are one of the few that truly are what they portray. Not just another hotshot professor but a man of such accomplishment and intellect that I am very envious. So next semester if I look at you like a homeless person at a filet minon, it is not just because you are the loveliest thing this side of the Jersey border, you are an inspiration.

(take that as a humor piece, please)

08 May 2009

Passion Pit

I'm stealing this from somewhere really big but since most of you (meaning no one because that's who reads my blog) will have no idea where that big place is, I won't mention it by name. This band, sort of electronica and slightly indie rock, is actually really good and I liked their sound right away although I wouldn't say it's the type of music I typically enjoy. There's just something unique and very textured in the sound that I'm still trying to understand - along with most of the lyrics and song titles.

Here are some examples:

Dark Was the Night

If it weren't so late I'd write more about this inspirational album created by members of The National to raise money for AIDS. The original songs on this album include new tracks from Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and of course The National to literally only name a few. I'm pretty sure it's a two disc at that. Last night The National were on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon singing their track of the record, "So Far Around the Bend" (my ringtone by the way) and they were sensational - if not a little nervous. On May 3rd, they were at Radio City Music Hall, along with many others from Dark Was the Night, doing a benefit concert in support of the album with proceeds once again going to AIDS research. Ticketmaster was also giving out two free tracks off the album this week if you are a regular ticketbuyer which I think is nice but unfortunately it came uh - a couple months too late. If you're a National obsesser, you've had the single for a long time by now. Still a very generous thought though.

While I couldn't yet find the video of The National's late night performance, I did find some footage of their Radio City excursion and felt the need to share it right here with everyone (meaning no one). They sound as good as ever. They performed two new songs off their not yet released album and I hear they're amazing - can't wait to find out for myself.

So without further adieu: The National!

Slow Show

So Far Around the Bend

England (new song!)