We’ve already spent our giddy energy sharing the “Vampires” video from Cleveland-based wonder duo, Mr. Gnome, with you. What you don’t know is that yours truly saw them in concert on her very birthday and that not only were they spectacular, they were selling copies of their soon-to-be-released album, Madness in Miniature. This album brings them to a grand total of six major releases! Wow-za! You’d think they’d be more famous by now!

And… Hey, look! Whaddaya know? It’s a Tuesday, and so, that means plenty of new releases fluttering over our eardrums. It’s also a very special Tuesday, October 25th, and the new Mr. Gnome album has dropped. Check it out, streaming from the always lovely MOKB site.

Perhaps you, too, were worried that you would never hear the haunting “Fly Me Over” theme from the “Vampires” video ever again? Fear no more! It’s on this album! Though the band seems to have self-produced that fantastic short (with Mr. Drummer writing and directing and Ms. Lungs writing and animating), …maybe, just maybe, they’d consider the ideas I have for “Watch the City Sail Away,” my absolute favorite track to loop off of this record? From the marathon of “House of Circles” to the round of “Run for Cover” and on through the magic of the album’s second half, from “We Sing Electric” to the grand finale, “Capsize,” you will be swept away to a dark, enchanted, and black magical land. Cheers!

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Free Your Mind, Today!

September 20, 2011

Katie Herzig’s freshest album, “The Waking Sleep,” hit the stores today with its official release. Herzig celebrated yesterday evening with a launch party at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan.

The album comes with a lovely booklet filled in with photographs that are just my style – quotidian, simple, and elegant all at the same time. The dedication is also my speed, with lots of thanks in every direction. Ms. Herzig credits her mom as a lyric-lover for our ability as listeners to make out most of the words, which I find adorable. I do have one question, though. Where are the other Ten out of Tennessee folks (ToT’ers) in the dedication? If they’re such a close-knit, world-changing music collective, why aren’t more of them mentioned? I’m stumped.

What I’ve found so remarkable about this album is Herzig’s uncanny ability to remind me of all sorts of artists and specific songs, and the sum of the parts is a strikingly unlikely combination.

“Free My Mind,” the first single off “The Waking Sleep”

“Free Your Mind” – This track, the first song of hers I heard her play at the HighLine Ballroom with the ToT gang last Saturday night, reminds me of The National lyric, “My mind’s not right…” from “Abel,” her voice reminds me of Allie Moss, and the orchestration toward the end reminds me of a Trent Dabbs’s tune I can’t place, perhaps “Wishful Thinking”…

“Make a Noise” – Well, this one’s simple — it flat-out sold me on the album.

“Way to the Future” – This track is surprisingly Austra-esque. Some hella good production. Danceathon!

“Best Day of Your Life” – “I’m gonna race you to the fence, to the fence. I’m gonna race you to the fence.” Now if these “race you’s” don’t remind you of Elizabeth & the Catapult’s “Race You,” I dont know how any of this is going to remind you of anything.

“Wasting Time” – “It’s easier wasting time than breaking hearts you love.” Also, “Fate is just math, choosing sides.” With her soft, high voice, she delivers these straight-to-the-point aphorisms, encapsulating the heart of problems we’ve all had to deal with. Her voice here also reminds me of some songstress I can’t recall.

“Midnight Serenade” – This one’s peculiar — the reminder is almost Blonde Redhead, but also Sarah Slean at certain moments, and definitely Marketa Irglóva on “I Have Loved You Wrong.” I always notice, “There’s a world between these words and how we use them.”

“Oh My Darlin'” – Here with the crisp voice, or at least crisp pronunciation, she turns into Rosi Golan twin. Additionally, she waxes Rosi Golan -esque in style, too. Then, there’s the classic standards style — the build in the overarching “Doo Doo Doo’s” made me think of perennial children’s songs). In fact, the “Doo doo doo’s” are pretty much identical to Manu Chau’s “Minha Galera,” and the “Oh my darlin’, oh my dear, the times is hard, but…” bit just reminds me of the vaudeville part of The Newsies. It all definitely makes you want to “go back to the younger days.”

“Closest I Get” – … More Marketa…

“Waking Sleep” – This track’s got noisier, more distracting background instrumentation. Still Marketa…

“Lost and Found” – This little baby’s strong suit is great instrumentals, which feature the Ten Out of Tenn band/crowd took advantage of as part of the closer at the H. B.. What a catchy, amped up, emotional, cathartic… well… experience. “Oh, I’m afraid of the world I’m in.” That part always gets me.

“Daisies and Pews” – This bonus-y track/finish to the album completes the downward arc of the resolution to “Lost and Found.” It’s a gentle calm with soothing humming, distant. And then Katie’s voice breaks the far-away with the quite close. Apparently, as the title indicates, this final track is much more directly Christian, a modern Benediction of sorts, and why not when you’re already on the Nashville scene, or uh, map, or what-have-you? It seems Ms. Herzig took some cues from Ms. Amy Stroup, who it seems started out on the Christian side of the Nashville music-verse. Ms. Herzig here has woven some similar underlying beliefs into her current songwriting. Then again, aside from the pews and perhaps the line, “making sense of all the good news,” one can’t entirely tell that the wording is specifically Christian. After all, the strong refrain, “fire in my soul,” is subtle enough that you could add your own interpretations, as all the Abrahamic faiths have similar imagery and language. I think the neatest part of this track is the use (apparently) of chimes.

The fact that Ms. Herzig’s voice is reminiscent of so many contemporary artists is actually very much to her credit. This quality puts her at the head of the pack in terms of versatility and makes the album an exciting adventure among the various artists recalled in all the different catches of her voice from track to track. For fans of hearty folk, from Rosi Golan to The Swell Season, this little gem is worth tracking down. And in Katie’s own words,  “[Don’t just stream the songs.] Support the artist.”

The production and instrumentals are fantastic, as well, and in the end, there are no better words to capture the essence of the album than upbeat, inspiring, and catchy, definitely catchy. I woke up the morning after hearing “Free My Mind” both live and on CD with the chorus zinging about in my head, and I’ve gotten other parts of her songs stuck in my head the last few days, too!

Video Review

July 28, 2011

Debut single and music video, “Anna Sun,” from breakout Ohio (it’s always Ohio) indie rockers, Walk the Moon. The first day I had a chance to check out this video, I was in absolute awe. They shot the whole video in one cut à la Russian Ark? Ho yah! …Or so I thought. When I finally started compiling this treasure trove, I gave it my undivided attention. Twice. Maybe thrice (lead singer Nicholas Petricca is très adorable). And promptly realized that the single cut is only the first portion in a potpourri of dancing joy. Watch it for the multiple types of film roll (shot in studio, shot in natural light, shot on vintage film, or at least with vintage, Super8-esque effects), the dazzlingly bright colors, and to throw a hop into your step! “We got no money, but we got heart… What do you know? This house is falling apart./ What can I say? This house is falling apart…” Some of the best hooks I’ve heard in a while… or since “Pumped Up Kicks.” Ha. Giggles.

This whimsical little vid. features the band members of Fair Fjola lackadaisically bobbing along to “Water Tower” while their animated little log cabin house floats away in a great big animated flood among some very whimsical mountain peaks (Would be hard to find such triangular formations out in any real-life mountain ranges… is all I’m sayin’!).

This creation to accompany Blonde Redhead’s “Equus” is also a semi- or mostly-animated extravaganza… The whole thing is actually severely disturbing.  The female lead of the band, Kazu Makino, who in 2002 was trampled by a horse after it bucked her, transformed the traumatic event that disfigured one side of her face (and left her to reconstruct her singing voice and self-perception) into fantastical, lyrical tales like “Equus”: “Sometimes I think I must/ just let you be a horse./ All I want is to be a rider,/ to be part of you.” The semi-animated video seems to feature all the band members, with the instrumentalist twins playing Kazu’s doctors and Kazu playing herself, with her face almost entirely masked and flattened by the animation effects and her body turned into a mannequin-robot mechanical entity. It also, of course, prominently features a horse and then a panoply of horses. … “Equus, by nature,/ timid creature,/ ready to run away. Equus, by nature,/ timid creature,/ cares nothing/ for the plans they made.” Better Propaganda has speculated that the band’s creative process was already centered around world-weariness before The Accident. That might be a fair assessment, but as this video and one or two other songs were my first introduction to the 18 year-old band, I cannot at this moment judge that assessment. But disturbing effects and imagery aside, I’m quite glad Kazu got back on her feet and brought those breathy vocals back. Otherwise, I would be down one heck of an indie band (signed to 4AD!) in my listening dossier!

“Mr. Peterson” – Perfume Genius

This is another one of those instances where I wasn’t paying enough attention the first time I encountered something. When I first heard “Mr. Peterson,” the main thing I noticed was the Joy Division reference – which carried extra points in my tally. But I missed the whole point of the story. In the video, it’s beyond difficult to ignore the palpable pain of singer Mike Hadreas as he relives the story of the teacher with a thing for the sixteen year-old, who commits suicide the same year. The stark simplicity of the video, just two keyboards and their players spotlighted against a black backdrop, definitely honors that life.

“Round the Moon” – Summer Camp

Here I absolutely have to resort to the words of TurnTable DJ Neowman – ” This video is awesome, too… it’s like a cut from some crazy 80’s Swedish movie.” Having watched the film and mulled over it for a couple days, I can definitively say that Neowman is absolutely right. There is no better way to describe this video than to summon the ghost of Ingmar Bergman (and maybe a bit of John Hughes, while you’re at it). From the color processing to the coming-of-age themes (Someone tell that girl she is much too young to be sleeping with that bullied-about, leather-jacket-wearing houligan and that there is never a good age to wear miniskirts that miniature!), 80’s all the way. Minus those cars that date back probably earlier than just the 80’s.

“Vampires” – Mr. Gnome

Oy. Where do I even start? I watched this epic ten-minute narrative twice this week, and both times, I shirked from the gruesome images on-screen and resorted to peeking at the frames through my fingers, only difference being that the second time I was prepared, with a blanket to hold tight for reassurance. I guess it’s a bit of a new day “Thriller,” but with buckets and buckets of blood. The story revolves around four characters who work on the set of a some wacky children’s television program titled, tellingly, Space Magic. With some intensive drug use, glorification of fire-arms, and a ghoulish army of sharp-toothed vampire-zombies sprinkled in for good measure. You might pick up a whiff of Pulp Fiction, I Am Legend, Alice in Wonderland, and some horrifically demented Pappyland, etc.. A ghastly short which might be three parts horrid, five parts pure genius.

“Shake Me Down” – Cage the Elephant

Okay, this one isn’t so much a new find as just brilliant, in every sense of the word. Whimsy, love, loss – the very stuff of existence and the hardiest stuff for creative inspiration. Not much else to say! “In my life, I have seen/ people walk into the sea,/ just to find memories,/ plagued by constant misery,/ their eyes cast down…”

Oh, and I forgot to mention! It’s made me cry every single time I’ve watched it. That powerful!

“Simple Math” – Manchester Orchestra

I really don’t know anything about this group and am not feeling up to researching them at the moment. I only know that they make me think of Mannheim Streamroller… and then gag. Until the music starts in, of course. And this video? Just… Wow. A whirlwind tour through childhood, imagination, and a deer-riffic wood, with some great staging, effects, and editing. I can’t remember much of the song at the moment, but the imagery certainly stuck with me.

“Out Getting Ribs” – Zoo Kid

This kid is way too young to be singing with that voice! What is going on? Gah! What? Woah! Wow. So this is Archy Marshall, 16 or 17 year-old vocal wunderkind. Well, yeah, he plays instruments, too, but can’t you hear it? Ohmygod. Leave it to the Brits! I think there’s a new Brit indie icon on the horizon. If he can just manage some snazzier titles for his tracks!

I’m really confused by the lone observer in the room here. Is that his mom? Can someone please explain it to me? What the ‘eck is she doing there?

“Frontier Psychiatrist” – The Avalanches

The Avalanches are hands-down my favorite Aussie group (and that’s saying a lot, with disbanded Leonardo’s Bride quite close to my heart). I love what they do with radio, er – audio, collage. Lots of recycled and collage art I’m gushing about these days… which is a good thing, as I am always gushing to myself. So this means the terrain of this little blog, Turtle-landia, is moving toward more and more nuanced reflections of those cultural insights lodged somewhere in my thoughts. Woo. Anywho… The Avalanches! Apparently their collage aptitude goes beyond the merely audible. What the heck is going on here? (Oh, sorry. Is that refrain getting too familiar?) My favorite part are the dancing sheets. What’s yours?

“Seven Sisters,” self-made/homemade/home-brewed music collaboration from the Bastard Child of Rock And Roll – self-christened Le Blorr – based out of the dueling worlds of New York and Florida, not-at-all-understandably unsigned, and quite possibly the next big thing, electronic, drum-loving duo of Adam Winn and Chris Hess are… (I’m gonna go out on a limb here…) decidely bigger and better than, but still close genre neighbors to, Film School. If it were even a contest, this video should cinch the deal. Look, just look. Muted mermaid-enchanted waters and the way the air bubbles multiply to evoke the feel of shimmering stars… it doesn’t get much better than this.

…Oh, you noticed the predominance of double-lettering, too?

First Aid Kit, energetic, shimmering, siren, Swedish sister duo, covers “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” off the 2008 debut album from Seattle’s Simon & Garfunkel, The Fleet Foxes. We’re transplanted to another wooded scene, though this one’s much more serene than Manchester Orchestra’s. All quite stunning in its simplicity!

Summer Cool Down

July 27, 2011

…Or Cool Up as the case may be. Even cool off. Cool on? Like “Rock On!” but for summer?

1.      Design Taxi shared something super-cool today, as always. Simplistic graphic takes on the celebrities of the fairytale world:

Designer Christian Jackson…

…of Square Inch Design has given me some hardcore image delight this afternoon.

Et tu?

2.      My favorite folk darling, Rosi Golan, has been hard at work wrapping up soon-to-drop album, Lead Balloon, and collaborating with some knock-out teams (The Wild Honey Pie, The Voice Project) on creating cinematic treats to accompany some of the tracks. See, see?

"Flicker" - Rosi Golan

I love the overall effects of bokeh, blurriness, oversaturation, and overexposure. The amateur photographic elements closest to my heart! Ha! I’m just not sure what she’s doing hanging out with that gigantic dust bunny. Kidding! What’s more, not only are teal pastel streamers the cutest thing ever, but I like the use of the colorful umbrellas hung up in the trees and swaying in the wind. Why? Because when I trekked into the city to see her play Rockwood in March, it was the most disgusting, sopping wet with puddles galore… kind of day. I believe she played both the tunes being released in video form that night. And she certainly joked about that awful rain! Okay, fine…

…I’ll admit I’m a sucker for umbrella art anyway, but try to forget that and just watch the simple, seated, serene session! Love, love, love!

3.      Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest tweet/blogged about her pal, Skye Whitley, and her jaw-drop-gorgeous necklace designs made with found animal bone. Check it!

White-Tailed Deer Jawbone Necklace ("Evelyn")

4.      Have you listened to Austra yet? Officially banded together sometime in 2010, they’re already knocking socks off in every direction (much like the Pied Piper design above, come to think of it!). Lead singer Katie Stelmanis brings with her a decade’s worth of sharpening her teeth on the ol’ performing bone, so sayeth Last.FM, at least. Hype Machine, in typical fashion, has a lovely repository of their tracks and some delicious remixes, too. I’d say “Lose It” is a good place to start, but  “Beat and the Pulse” is also hella dance-worthy. Actually, that’s kind of a silly thing to say – they’re a dance-hit machine! I’m just dying over here! Can’t get enough, no way. AUSTRA!

…COOL ON!

9, 10… Take Up My Pen

April 10, 2011

For tonight’s special, we have another double-feature (since yesterday was an off-day).

These songs share related themes, but that is incidental, folks. I wanted to share these achievements (of literary, lyrical, vocal, and instrumental natures) with you this month, regardless of which other song-poems they ended up contrasting with, or, in this case, being paired with. But since they do share overlapping themes, that makes writing about them that much easier. Yay me.

Those themes are pretty straight-forward, from their titles on. We’re dealing with that perennial tug of war, here. Love. (It just ain’t so simple as it used to be.) With passion, comes the ensuing waves of questioned affections, strained interactions, entrapment (not in the legal sense, but clearly in the sense of feeling obliged to stick around in a relationship in ruins), separation, rending, letting go, walking away, and (eventually) finding healing for all parties involved. Yeah, yeah, we’ve been over this before. These are the most explored themes across cultural forms, no doubt. And this makes sense, in proportion to the huge, gaping holes loss leaves behind. Sometimes they are overdone, but as often as not, artists find new inroads from which to explore a piece of the most intense and intricate puzzle there is (or so it seems) — human emotion.

These particular song-poems are imbued with both subtle and explicit angles on the sublime. Sarah McLachlan reaches lightly toward divine wisdom — “Through this world I’ve stumbled,/ So many times betrayed,/ Trying to find an honest word,/ To find the truth enslaved” — while The Swell Season’s Markéta Irglová pecks gently at fresh wounds (that is, to those not in-the-know, Strict Joy grew amazingly gracefully out of the romantic break-up of the band’s front man and woman) in overtly religious language — “Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,/ For I have loved you wrong.”

Ultimately, journalistic language fails to uphold the sanctity of the verses and their musical treatment. All my words sound profane in the face of these artistic monuments. Listen for yourself.

 

Possession

Listen as the wind blows
From across the great divide–
Voices trapped in yearning,
Memories trapped in time.
The night is my companion
And solitude, my guide.
Would I spend forever here
And not be satisfied?

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after I’d wipe away the tears,
Just close your eyes, dear.

Through this world I’ve stumbled,
So many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
To find the truth enslaved.
Oh, you speak to me in riddles,
And you speak to me in rhymes.
My body aches to breathe your breath;
You words keep me alive.

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after, I’d wipe away the tears;
Just close your eyes, dear.

Into this night I wander;
It’s morning that I dread.
Another day of knowing,
Of the path I fear to tread.
Oh, and into the sea of waking dreams,
I follow without pride,
‘Cause nothing stands between us here,
And I won’t be denied.

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away.
And after, I’d wipe away the tears.
Just close your eyes, dear.

I’ll hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after, I’d wipe away the tears.
Just close your eyes.

I Have Loved You Wrong

Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have done you wrong.
For I have hurt beyond repair,
And when tears occurred, no, I didn’t care.
Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have loved you wrong.

But this estranged organ in my chest
Still beats for you; It will not rest
So meet me in our secret place,
When the time has come.

And rest your head in my lap,
And I’ll lead you out of your own trap,
And I’ll show you how much you have missed,
through the time we weren’t right.

Oh…, Oh…

So forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have let you go.
But you’ve been
Every now and then on my mind,  yeah.

Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.

On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,

On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind.

 

I have to say that in this creation, The Swell Season have pulled off the most tasteful use of repetition I have ever heard. And you’ve already heard me gripe about the shortcomings of repetition on the page! So if you’ve only read this post, I urge you to follow the link in the song title to hear the song performed with some of the most angelic a cappella in existence.

Show Me Sunset

April 8, 2011

When I get a smartphone in a couple of years, I surely will have lost all of my values. The best way to support built-in obsolescence in cellphones and automobiles? Buy cars and smartphones. The older I get, the more strange urges I get to own such things, despite their inessential natures. Surely, I will have moved too far from the simpler self, a simpler me, that needed only to savor a vivid sunset to find joy, to heal the wounds of the past, and to deal with what could not be got rid of from the vast repository of memory (forgiveness, memory, happiness, healing …recurring theme much?). If and when I get that phone, samples from the lengthy and awe-inspiring instrumental sections of this Bat for Lashes (moniker for prodigious Brit, Natasha Khan) composition will make up my ringtone.

The deeper we get into this grey, cold month of April, the more evident it becomes that some of these song-poems become so flat on the page–all words, no orchestration. Yet the same goes for the inverse. That future (sell-out) ringtone will pale in comparison to the full song, not only for the tinny timbre of the cellphone speakers but also for the lack of the words (impeccably original, profound, lucid, ad infinitum…) that accompany the electronic fantasia of this piece. Please, enjoy!

 

Two Planets

We are all strangers in a strange land,
Wanderers in a vast and unknowable universe.

Show me moonlight on the sunrise.
I’ve seen so many planets dancing,
I’ve seen too many people hiding.

Show me sunset, and I won’t forget
That I am one of two planets dancing,
I am one of two planets dancing.

Shallow man,
Sign your name
On my sun.

Where the song of Solomon
Died in the battleground,
Where the song of Solomon
Died in love’s battleground,

I am full,
Shattered by this sailing time,
For all your suffering by night,
Oh warm, but under bright.

And life is so much dark and light,
When day cannot exist without a night.
And you are not separate from me.
I am a heart that’s full of life.

And to be shared, on this night,
Feel my hands, feel my life,
For the sun and the stars,
Oh my Mother and my sisters.

I know where the form is changing.
I know that the stars will follow me.

April’s Flowers

April 1, 2011

Hello, April!

I wanted to kick off a new series for the month of April, exploring the ways poetry is truly alive in music today, with something fully spring-themed (even though today’s East-coast weather seems to indicate otherwise). This is a fresh song, composed by young songwriters in a sprightly one day! session. Its theme? Rooftop gardens and love. Perfect, right?

The High Line, New York's premier park of the decade, styled after the rooftop garden model.

This beauty is called “Reservoirs,” and it sprouted in one stunning day at a small New York indie recording studio called Dubway Studios, through the collaboration of artists Vienna Teng and Ben Arthur, along with their talented musician friends at Dubway. (For some reason, it looks like the studio released this brand-new creation as a Vienna tune, not a Vienna and Ben duet, though I imagine you’ll probably hear them both singing it live plenty of times, if you choose to check out their concerts. Ben’s touring the continent right now, though, so poor little me won’t get to see that live set for a while yet.) This is all remark-able in three particular ways:

1) The studio, through BreakThru Radio (BTR; Careful, their site will immediately start talking at you!), has just launched the coolest little series a music fan could ever dream of, in which these fateful one-day fests are organized again and again, filmed and edited into “Dubway Days,” which you can watch from the comfort of YouTube, as no doubt you already know if, in a bit of a haste, you followed the link! :)

2) I discovered Vienna Teng’s incredible artistry about a year and a half ago, through the magic of Last.FM. I wanted to find more artists like my all-time favorite creator, Tori Amos. And bam! First Vienna’s terrific cover of  Tori’s “1000 Oceans,” then her own “Pontchartrain,” streamed past. Its lithe lyrical bravado (the word here reclaimed for a positive connotation, obviously) struck an emotional chord, and the song’s climax recalled medieval cathedrals and choral chants — how could I not be hooked? I can’t wait to hear her live in a month or so. If not for her collaborations with Alex Wong, I would have missed out on a very emotional night at Rockwood last month. (Yes, sorry, still meaning to put all my zinging thoughts on that into a coherent post.) Vienna is one of my biggest inspirations right now, not only through her powerful music, but also because she’s dabbled in several career paths in just one decade, and her path has led her to a joint MBA and Masters in Environmental Science. There’s nothing cooler. Oh, wait. Songs inspired by graduate school reading on rooftop gardens! There’s that! (Oh, also, if you want to get in touch, she’s on Twitter, and, occasionally, she even has Formspring Q&A sessions – I’ve gotta try that sometime!)

3) I’ve now been introduced to Ben Arthur.

Technically, that's a March flower, but why quibble?

So much remarkable! Now on to the sung verses, available here thanks to Emily X.R. Pan’s helpful post!

Reservoirs

Voices fly, tracing the skyline
And spiraling up through the grass,
Across wood and steel and clambering vines.
The day is fading fast,

But love, love, there’s light in my garden.
Love, love, you just have to jump.
The city below, the taxicab slow,
Love is all that ever was.

These reservoirs are minarets, irises cornflower blue,
Clouds of caraway thyme.
You flared like a match, struck in the dead-of-night gloom,
Leaving me blind.

Now love, love, there’s light in the garden.
Love, love, you just have to jump.
The city below, the taxicab slow,
For love is all that ever was.

Every morning,
I want you to be
the first thing that I touch,
the first thing I see.

Love, love, there’s light in my garden.
Love, love, leap to my arms–
One step then two,
Keep your eyes on my roof,
For love is all that ever was,
Love is all that ever was,
… is all that ever was

Thoughts? Reactions? C’mon, guys, did you weep?

Sadness is My Girl

March 6, 2011

Well, aside from the gap between today and yesterday’s fun post, that hiatus was a bit longer than two days! Oops!

So let’s hit the ground running, with…

Music News (or, if you prefer, Reports from the Turtle):

Charmar… Yup, still pregnant!

*NEW* William Fitzsimmons album out March 22nd (U.S.) – lusciously titled Gold in the Shadow.

Via @indabamusic: Queens of the Stone Age, the rock band responsible for the hit, “No One Knows,” have apparently admitted that they allegedly performed an appendectomy on a fan backstage in Munich.

Umm…yeah.

All the Rest

“My wounded rhymes make silent cries tonight…”

Speaking of fresh albums, let’s talk Wounded Rhymes. The buzz of Lykke was wearing off when HypeMachine previewed the album Wounded Rhymes for a week pre-release. By the time I heard the whole thing, I wasn’t impressed. “I Follow Rivers,” played thirty-plus times, had kind of exhausted me, I guess, and even in spite of the exhaustion, that particular song is the powerhouse on that album, so it largely overshadowed everything else on my first listen-through. And then, post-release, listening to it on Zune, I found the album growing on me. I’ve also found myself having difficulty refraining from crooning the chorus to “Sadness is a Blessing,” the track whose lyrics are responsible for the laudably original title –- “Sadness is my boyfriend. Oh sadness, I’m your girl.” This track is all the more meaningful for me, having read SPIN’s cover-story interview (mentioned in the previous Lykke-centric post), in which she describes how her sorrows have shaped her music. (“[S]orrow, the only lover I’ve ever known.”) As such, I have decided I dig this new Lykke Li album, after all. That is, with one heck of an exception. By this I mean… I enjoy Wounded Rhymes, with the exception, and I stress with the exception, of “Unrequited Love,” which is just too whiny for my tastes. The way she lingers on words and draws out the spaces leading in to the chorus, and, well, let’s be honest, the lackluster quality of the subject of unrequited love, which has been done to death in music for centuries!…  it just doesn’t cut it for me. It makes for impossible listening. I skip it every time it comes around. As for the album as a whole?  I’d say it’s a superb addition to Ms. Zachrisson’s growing oeuvre.

“I gotta feeling… tonight’s gonna be a good, good night!”

And I’m not just quoting lyrics! I’m serious! Tonight, Rosi Golan is playing Rockwood Music Hall. And! Alex Wong is playing at the stage next door after Rosi finishes her set. I’m so excited! This will be one heck of a worthwhile trip to the city! Will definitely post photos and other tidbits after the shows!

“Sometimes I feel like I am drunk behind the wheel, the wheel of possibility – however it may roll. Give it a spin, see if you can somehow factor in… You know there’s always more than one way to say exactly what you mean to say.”

Moving into some territory we haven’t yet covered here on the Turtle’s music blog…

My favorite nineties bands are the ones that are still going, still kicking. I’ve found Gin Blossoms radio on Last.FM radio to be a great overarching station to tune in to all my favorite nineties bands (e.g. The Goo Goo Dolls, Tonic, The Wallflowers, Fastball, Sugar Ray, The Barenaked Ladies, etc.)! Check it out sometime, yo.

And why are Gin Blossoms so named?

According to Wikipedia, Gin Blossoms “took their name from a photo of W.C. Fields, which bore the caption, ‘W.C. Fields with gin blossoms,’ referring to what appeared to be the actor’s gin-ravaged nose, but was actually a skin condition known as rosacea.” Ha ha ha. Quite a story for a band naming! The stories aren’t always so entertaining. But those that are, they’re usually delectable!

Okay then, that was one jam-packed, if a bit jumpy, post! Until next time, folks!

Now if I could just get the crazy-cool word, “sriracha,” out of my head!

I have decided I dig it, after all.with the exception of “Unrequited Love,” which is just too whiny for my tastes. The way she lingers on words and draws out the spaces leading in to the chorus, and, well, let’s be honest, the lackluster quality of the subject of unrequited love, which has been done to death in music for centuries!…  it just doesn’t cut it for me. It makes for impossible listening. As for my review of the album in general? Superb addition to Ms. Zachrisson’s growing oeuvre.

I-I Follow

February 15, 2011

The Grammies (and the BRITs) have been passed out, and I’m paying more careful attention to The Black Keys, La Roux, Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane, and Patty Griffin’s gospel album, while rediscovering Sade’s recent album, Soldier of Love. Obviously happy (ecstatic, really) for Arcade Fire and Danger Mouse (of Broken Bells, etc.), Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Pete Seeger, Big Star, Train, and Muse, as well as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. And planning on checking out Miranda Lambert (and may-be, but only maybe, Lady Antebellum) eventually, especially since Lori McKenna tweeted so excitedly about her win.

But really, I’m riding the crest of Valentine’s Day “weekend” (there needs to be an equivalent term for a combination of weekdays and weekend days falling at the beginning of a work week!) by falling madly in love with Lykke Li, day after day after day. Each day in the past week, I’ve delved into a whole ‘nother layer of my love for “I Follow Rivers,” and now I’m spreading out my affection to her entire ouevre, mostly the songs (and remixes of the songs) from her first album, Youth Novels. I am half-desperate for the next half-month to pass so that I can get my hands on Wounded Rhymes, which is being referred to, logically, as her sophomore album.

So, whether or not you’re feeling blue and lovesick or manic and love-crazed, I bet you’ll benefit from checking out what I’m calling, “Attack of the Swedes!” :

First there was Ane Brun, summoned from within some vague locale in the Internet itself to make my acquaintance. Her voice is mature, with a maternal quality reminiscent of some folk or country singers. She sounds self-sure, plaintive, and sweet, all at the same time.  After listening to some of her songs, you’ll be surprised that the voice you’re listening to isn’t a Brit’s but rather that of a Norwegian who has been living and working for a decade in Sweden. This fact is more evident in her cover of “True Colors” (which I had no idea was first recorded by Cyndi Lauper!). As for what I mean about her “maternal quality,” I sometimes notice something in her sound that, in my mind, makes a perfect match to moments in the recordings of Malvina Reynolds, who I’ve also been obsessing over in the past month. This most likely means one of two things: either our voices don’t change that much over time, or Brun is ahead of her time in multiple ways. Her voice just somehow doesn’t match with her gorgeous, youthful, movie starlet looks. And that’s a good thing! Nothing like the elements of surprise and incongruity to make us pay more attention to beautiful music. Even better, her voice in “Humming One of Your Songs” has some lovely parallels to that of Beth Gibbons of Portishead on “Glory Box.”

Then, through the amazing powers and magic of Last.fm, there was Anna Ternheim. Ternheim has an exquisite voice with a Laura Marling quality you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a native Swedish speaker (I’m referring both to her basic vocals and her British-ish accent here). Notice  a theme here? Anyway, Ternheim shares with Brun a knack for songwriting that mines insight, heartbreak, and everyday, hum-drum life experience and turns it into gold. They’ve both been recognized for this closer to home. It’s time the rest of the world learned to pay more attention!

“You’re my river running high  – run deep, run wild. I, I follow…I follow you, deep sea, baby. I, I follow…I follow you. Dark doom, honey.”

And somehow, somewhere in there, through some dazzling coincidence, Lykke Li appeared from on high and blasted her rays of discoteque-boosted glory through the wires of the Hype Machine. Youth Novels is packed with songs of the heart, as I suppose is understandable if we really concentrate on the meaning of the album’s title and the typical, iconic qualities of youth novels. Lykke had a tempestuous childhood molded by her parents’ jet-setting lifestyle, the effects of which weren’t entirely positive in crafting her world-wise persona. There’s this terrific article from SPIN (cover story, actually), highlighting the fact that she’s poised to become the next international pop superstar, which artfully details Lykke Li’s tempered take on her childhood, her young career, and her talent. I’m just waiting for the day when, several months from the official release of Wounded Rhymes, “I Follow Rivers” becomes a mega-hit, and I’m lounging around, feasting on the high of my “I told you so’s”! ;-)

(Then again, for some mysterious reason, North America has yet to wake up to Bat for Lashes. At least she’s getting recognized on her home turf! Third time’s a charm, Natasha Khan. Just get us that next album, stat!)

El Perro del Mar fits right in with this echelon of strong stars. I know I’m failing at painting these gorgeous, golden-voiced women in all their uniqueness, but, to my credit, it’s past midnight as I blather on and on. But really, El Perro del Mar in all her dreamy, jewel-studded dream-pop glow, has that crazy combination of strange British-influenced accent, tender voice, and model looks as Ane, Anna, and Lykke.  “Inner Island’ wields the timeless quality of its imagery with a calming force, making it reminiscent of Tori Amos’s “Cool on Your Island” from her Y Kant Tori Read days (which I only finally delved into this week — Reactions? “Oh, wow — the eighties!”).

In review, here’s a playlist of songs to check out, for starters (of the love-struck variety):

Little Bit – Lykke Li

Rubber & Soul – Ane Brun

Summer Rain – Anna Ternheim

Humming One of Your Songs – Ane Brun

Inner Island – El Perro del Mar

What Have I Done? (El Perro Del Mar Mix) – Anna Ternheim

I Follow Rivers – Lykke Li

On Fire

February 12, 2011

I want to get in the habit of posting at least every other day, even if I don’t have much to say or anything fancy prepared. After all, my life is music, everywhere you look, in each direction. So here’s a quick little playlist I pulled together on a whim. A special thanks goes to the crazy wiring in my brain, which went from free associating mellow to yellow and eventually somehow to Kings of Leon’s more-plaintive-than-expected crooning of the lyric, “This sex is on fire…”.

Do you have any idea how many songs there are out there that include some combination with “On Fire” in their titles?! Not to mention songs without “On Fire” in their titles but that nevertheless have it as a lyric? Or bands that are named for being on Fire? It’s cah-razy! Anyway, there were way more tunes than I realized even existed, by artists I already love (and therefore you should, too!)… so you won’t have to wish too hard to get a second installment.    :)

It will be quite a while before I get the hang of hosting tunes on my own (which will probably happen for real only when I secure my own domain), so we’ll be relying on the good graces of others for a little while. (Thanks for the bandwidth, guys! I hope you don’t mind too much. If you do, I’m very sorry about being annoying. But I’m probably not giving you that much additional traffic anyway, or if I am, y’all are set up to handle it, I think!) Actually, it’s very frustrating that I can’t upload anything music-wise while I still have space in WordPress (They’ll catch up with the times eventually, right? Space only gets cheaper with time, and attitudes toward music-sharing for the purpose of evangelizing artists only gets more liberal with time, right? …). I’ll have to get back in the swing of using Box for the interim. We’ll probably most often default to my m.o. on the first iteration of this blog — posting hilariously absurd music videos or artsy farsty, avante garde music videos to represent the songs in question as an entire package, with multiple registers of imagery. But today we’ll just send you elsewhere to check out the tunes, because, as mentioned, this is all so very frustrating and time consuming to the amateur music blogger. 

Sex on Fire (Live) – Kings of Leon

Your Head is On Fire – Broken Bells

Sophia – Nerina Pallot

It’s a Fire – Portishead

On Fire – Switchfoot