January 31, 2011

Music, please, let me clear my throat

You know that I am alwaysalways looking for music that warms the side of my face like a slab of classic Motown soul, right? This track this track this track. I feel like repeating words all smushed up togetherintype is the only way of getting at the joy and swerve of this song. Musiq Soulchild is vibrating on a higher frequency and there’s a dash of Swizz Beatz, like your mother pairs your meal with vegetables to be extra nutritious.

Musiq Soulchild feat. Swizz Beatz – Anything

January 31, 2011

Punching holes in a music box

Everyone across the pond is buzzing about Hannah Peel, and with good reason. She’s a unique talent poised to have appeal to everyone savvy to the UK folk landscape, perhaps beyond. Her voice is neither flimsy nor husky, but takes a clear, lilting path in-between the two extremes. Her melodies are pretty, but also eerie enough that they are never cloying. Everything about her is perfectly balanced. For instance, lyrically you might consider her folk efforts more traditional (on her new LP she tackles tales of loneliness and rejection, and an Irish traditional from the 19th century), but sonically she is looking forward with the help of producer Mike Lindsay (of Tunng) and  synthesizers. In the rich layers of her music, piano and string arrangements meet all sorts of electronic flourishes and textures. Know it now if you don’t already: she is a talent to watch out for.

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January 27, 2011

A love story with no end and no beginning

My health is still not conducive to my posting as often as I’d like, but after I got an email today with a link to this, I was super-excited and wanted to share. Check out the brand new music video for my girl Lykke Li single’s, “I Follow Rivers”. It’s romantic, it’s sinister, it’s very much the direction of this upcoming album, I think.

She makes an appearance herself in the video, trekking across a desolate winter landscape. She’s literally willing to follow her love to the edge of the ocean. The moodiness of the piece is great, and I love the passion and the desperation of the ending, and how she first appears cloaked in black. Neat to think how the video uses negative space as contrasted to the use of open, echoing space in her music. You know.

The video was directed by Tarik Saleh, and stars Lykke Li along with the Swedish Lebanese actor Fares Fares. Lykke claims at her site that

Following the footsteps of Andrei Tarkovsky’s “The Sacrifice”
it is shot on the magic island of Gotland, Närsholmen to be specific.

I’m just going to put it out there that I love her. Not so much Tarkovsky, in general however. I recently watched Solyaris and I couldn’t dig it.

January 24, 2011

The Radio Dept.: A Tribute (Singles 2002-2010)

It wasn’t through record shops that I discovered great, unheard of, or on-the-cusp bands. I hear older adults talk about them with a lot of nostalgia. Listening to new records in the record booth around the corner, right? That was all a bit before my time. Just when I was becoming aware of music, I can remember the album stores were starting to close down. In my early teens Sam Goody went, and some other places of which I can no longer recall the names. Even other electronic stores with record departments like Circuit City started to drop off. I know that there are a handful of stubborn, small independent shops hanging on, if you dig around. There was even one by my old university, and I did frequent. Not as much as I should have, though, because I started to face the facts early by virtue of my youth. Shopping for physical CDs usually meant the limited selections Wal-Mart or Best Buy (the major electronic store holdout) or even Target had to offer. That was was I was used to, not record shops. I quickly began to think I was better off online, and with the MP3 format. MP3s by exciting, smaller-name, new artists were there to sample all across the blogosphere. I had just moved on from both a major teenybopper pop phase and a prolonged “classic rock only!” phase, I was sixteen, and I wanted new and different and challenging things. I could hear some great songs on the radio sometimes, but I wanted more.

A lot of other people were realizing the potential of the Internet, too. Let’s be honest, there was an idea that you could score some of the music for free, and that helped attract people my age. I was never a member of Napster, but when iPods rolled out, I had an early version: the iPod mini, and I used iTunes to fill it up. I also started frequenting an increasing number of music blogs. I got my first taste of independent artists. I started to realize the kinds of sounds and voices that moved me, I began to think about lyrics more than ever before and relate them to my life, my relationships. There was Air, Metric, Tegan and Sara, Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, Azure Ray, Belle & Sebastian, Beck, Stars, Cat Power, The Decemberists, Eisley, Rilo Kiley, Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine, Kings of Convenience, The Lucksmiths, Mirah, The Shins, Radiohead, Rufus Wainwright, Ryan Adams, Spoon, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and then Andrew Bird and Damien Rice and Interpol and José González and Sufjan Stevens. They became a huge deal. I carried them on my iPod wherever I went.

And you know, there was The Radio Dept. I am pretty sure they were my first, or at least one of the first I downloaded on a whim. After that, there was no going back.

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January 24, 2011

Pick up the stones, they are safe in yr hands

Meet Fallulah, aka singer-songwriter Maria Apetri. Hailing from Copenhagen, she released her first full-length album The Black Cat Neighbourhood in 2010 and is now poised to swoop in and entrap your heart, or at least your ears, on a grand scale. She considers herself a mixture of indie rock and folk, but I’d describe her music as densely layered, uniquely atmospheric pop. Clearly evident is the influence of all the trips she took with her family as a child to festivals in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Macedonia, when her Romanian father choreographed Balkan dances for her mother. “Use It for Good” is like a haunted, lilting waltz. Think Natasha Khan come back down to earth, but drifting through like a tumbleweed in black lace, and with folksy stringed instruments in hand. Continue reading

January 21, 2011

Janelle on the Grammys News

I usually don’t get too worked up about awards shows, other than getting the chance to see my favorite celebrities dressed up and in the same room (the Oscars being the obvious exception to the rule, as you’ll see when February rolls around and I have a party/live-blog). I do like seeing who’s performing on the Grammys, however. I checked out a list that was just recently released and it makes me want to watch, though the Grammys are my least favorite awards show of all.

There’s Justin Bieber, whom I’m not concerned about because his thin juvenile voice/antics do nothing for me as a twenty-two year old woman, and Usher, which could be promising only if he sings the brilliant “DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again”, Katy Perry and Eminem, whom I actively dislike for their life choices and might switch off while they’re onstage, and Lady Gaga and Muse apparently? I know I still sound disappointed but it’s because I haven’t gotten to my favorites who make the whole show worthwhile: Bruno “Golden Pipes” Mars, ARCADE FIRE, Cee Lo Green (too bad we cannot get to hear “Fuck You” in the only proper way), and best of all my personal (s)hero Janelle Monáe. JANELLE IS ON THE GRAMMYS! Apparently she is also performing with Bruno Mars. I am trying to think about how wonderfully their voices will blend together and not start softly crying to myself.

I won’t cry.

I won’t.

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January 21, 2011

Preview Review (Cut Copy’s Zonoscope)

It feels like forever that we’ve been waiting for Aussie band Cut Copy to put out another LP after In Ghost Colours. A veritable century, even, when it’s only been two years: their sophomore success was released in 2008. Two years is not a long period of time during the average human lifespan, but when we are talking about music careers, perhaps it is just long enough to build up enough anticipation that provides a challenge for the new album to overcome. Long build-up after a highly regarded record can be a problem. Just ask Justin Timberlake.

I have to admit, my snap first conclusion after listening to Zonoscope was, “Not as good as In Ghost Colours!” Thank goodness first impressions are not always lasting ones. Continue reading

January 21, 2011

Preview Review (Adele’s 21)

Adele’s sophomore album 21 is a slow-burn, moody effort. More precisely, it’s like lighting old love letters on fire. You stand around one night, watching the ends curl up, crisp and go black, float upwards in sparks. It’s very much an album about remembering what it was like to fall in love, and falling out of love again. She said she was influenced by American music and describes her efforts as a “dark bluesy gospel disco.” I’m picking up hints of jazz as well, especially in her cover of “Lovesong”. It works completely, every turn towards Americana.

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January 20, 2011

Uptight (Everything Is Alright)

I’m recovering from an illness that overtook me Friday night and looking forward to posting some new content. Getting things rolling as usual, that’s my goal for this afternoon.

In the meantime, check out my profile over at Phi Design Group’s site. I was thrilled yet slightly bashful to be interviewed by C, who runs the blog over there. Her own blogging and writing is always a pleasure. And honestly, I find the goals of Phi Design super-interesting and super-inspiring, for incorporating personal wellness in design along with innovative creativity- it’s all style and functionality, but also positivity. It feels like a very cerebral and (com)passionate approach to design. If you’re in the Boston area and are looking to plan an event or perhaps would like style guidance on a personal level, or for a new space, I would say to look no further than Phi. You can read about them and their services here.

Edit as of 1/19

A slight change to my blogging platforms- my creative/culture blog is now more personal and will be found here- http://godlessfembot.wordpress.com/
All the music coverage remains here, as I hope to make this an up-and-running music blog.

January 16, 2011

I Don’t Know About My Lovin’ Anymore

James Blake -The Wilhelm Scream live at BBC Studios

This is immensely beautiful. Essentially, the future of music. I’ve got chills and all that.

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