Southern Comfort

One of the many awesome songs played on the indie station here in Southern Virginia I grew up in what used to be a small-ish suburb1 called Newport News, tucked between Williamsburg and Norfolk, Virginia. I worked summers at Busch Gardens, exchanged mix tapes with friends, drove to Buckroe Beach, or Croatan, or down to Kill Devil Hills and Hatteras to watch the cute surfers, and led a life I judged completely boring. I left for college and never lived in Newport News again. I needed edge! I needed clubs and concerts and art and a city vibe! I needed black clothes and bad attitudes! So I eventually made my way to the New York City metro area. One thing leads to another and here I am several2 years later back in Newport News for a week-long holiday with my daughter. As we are approaching Newport News I’m flipping around the radio stations for something to listen to, and to my utter shock I hear Atlas Genius coming out of the speakers. The next song was something equally indie3 – Battleflag by Lo-Fidelity Allstars. And so was the next. Way to go, 96X! How unbelievably cool to have an indie station here, when there isn’t an indie station anywhere near NYC, a town where you can barely get tickets to shows before they sell out. I had told my Mom I wanted to catch a yoga class while I was in town, and her yoga instructor arranged for me to have a week-long free pass at her studio. So I rolled into town in time for the 5:00 class...

Home is where the heart lies

I first heard Throwing Muses on a 4AD compilation I purchased in college called Lonely is an Eyesore. It’s a showcase of the British label’s artists at the time, bands with esoteric names like Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins. I loved every track on that album, and it formed the foundation for what continues to be my favorite kind of music: discordant, rhythmic, weird, poetic, and a little dark. To sum up, I love everything 4AD puts out. I loved it all in 1989, and I love it all now. Back to Throwing Muses. My favorite track on Lonely is an Eyesore, and a song that remains one of my top 10 songs of all time to this day, is the one by Throwing Muses, the first American band to be signed by 4AD. It’s called Fish, and it reshaped my brain buds in 4 minutes and 39 seconds. [audio:http://www.lifemusicblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/ThrowingMuses-Fish.mp3|titles=ThrowingMuses-Fish] Bizarre, fever dream lyrics, right? I’m sure you caught that the name of the album was taken from Fish. “Lonely is as lonely does, lonely is an eyesore. The feeling describes itself.” And the music – it was like nothing I’d heard before. My heart knew I loved it long before my brain could form enough new synapses to process all the twists and turns. Throwing Muses is led by Kristin Hersh (one third of my music trinity, for those keeping score. PJ Harvey and Kim Deal complete it. And me.) She is a genius. I have yet to say anyone is a genius that I’ve written about on this blog (not even PJ) so...

The Art of Soullessness

Last night was the PJ Harvey show at Terminal 5, and it was a fantastic night – with the one small exception of the actual show. That coupled with my little trip to the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles1 today has me thinking about people who seem to lack soul, humanity even, and those who seem to have hidden it somewhere, or maybe even lost it. As has been established here and here Ms. Harvey and I have been carrying on a torrid2 love affair for about 20 years now. Her music is deeply ingrained into my cerebral cortex, to the point where I hear her singing and it sounds like it’s coming from within myself. It’s a cellular bond. Plus, she’s hot. That said, the past two, maybe three albums haven’t really rung my bell, but I still deeply admire her talent and her constant growth and change as an artist. I went into this show knowing I was going to be disappointed, just because who I really love is the PJ Harvey of Dry, Rid of Me, and Is This Desire: that strong, take no prisoners, angry, rocking PJ. Lately, I guess as she’s matured as a person and musician, the albums have been more reflective, quiet and experimental. Not rocking. Not really all that intimately emotional. Weirdly focused on England, even for an Anglophile like me. PJ Harvey is known for her ability to command a stage with nothing but her guitar and some red lipstick. Last night she had presence3, but it felt too practiced to me. The friend I was with (visit him...

Inexplicably upbeat

Listening to: AIR (Moon Safari) Before I launch into my usual self-involved review (Vampire Weekend, with my vote for best album of the year), I feel compelled to share a bit about my parents latest visit. First off, they kicked some IKEA ass. My parents and I carried about 600 pounds of painted wood pieces into my house and voila! two days, a mild fainting spell, several forceful streams of profanity, and some impromptu marriage counseling later, a kitchen table and chairs. I couldn’t even stay in the room while they were putting this stuff together, mostly out of guilt and a strong work aversion. If it had been me on my own I would have unpacked the box, looked at the piles of wood, the millions of screws and bits, and that damn allen wrench, poured myself a large glass of bourbon, cried, and then just used the box as a table. But, they are sports, or maybe just crazily resolved. Either way, the table and chairs look great! And so sturdy! This in spite of all the extra pieces left over after the assembly. I’m afraid to look too closely in case the whole thing’s being held together by tape or gum or bitter determination. So in between avoiding the furniture assembly and cooking large, pacifying meals, I unpacked boxes from my recent move, and as I did I collapsed them into piles which my dad would then carry down to the basement. By Day Three of our super fun weekend my dad’s good humor was beginning to slip, and the grumbling and muttering became increasingly audible...

Senescent

Listening to: the ‘easy listening’ station on cable I was lying on the couch in the fetal position clutching my cramping belly (note to self: a gallon of Coke and a basket of onion rings does not a good lunch make) when my daughter (4 yrs old) says, “Mommy, I need some soft music.” I change the channel to jazz and she said it needed to be softer. I turn down the volume. “No, Mommy, soft like in my bedroom when I need to sleep. This little fellah [she points down to her stuffed animal] needs to take a nap!” So I put on the easy listening station and within 20 seconds (no joke) I’m sound asleep. I woke up about a half hour later to find her crashed out on her Dora couch, one arm slung over Snoopy, her hair spread out around her like a static-y blonde spider web. I’m afraid to turn off this magic music for fear she’ll wake up. She hasn’t napped in months. It’s not even that bad, this music; it’s kind of hum-able and inoffensive to the ear. It’s easy to listen to. Easy listening. Makes me think, that house dress my 80-year-old neighbor wears… that looks really comfortable. A pair of knee-highs, some slippers, my hair set: easy...

Resigned

Listening to: This Mortal Coil (Blood) This birthday was a big one. One that ends in a zero. I decided to ease myself into it by throwing a birthday party six weeks before the actual day, to give myself both practice saying my new age and another reason to drink besides The Usual List of Stressors. About 24 of us met up at 3Forty Grill in Hoboken, a gorgeous, dark, waterfront lounge where you pay for ambiance with $12 martinis (tip: Thursdays are half-price martini night!). It was a tequila-shot-and-gin-soaked good time until around midnight, when hell let loose its host of overly coiffed and scented, “Look at me! I’m drunk!!” 22-year-olds. It went from fun to miserable in about a minute and a half. The punks even ate some of my birthday cake! Outrageous. Back in my day we’d ask first. Fast forward to the day before my birthday. My mom and daughter made me chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing (yum!) and the family sung Happy Birthday to me a day early (scheduling difficulties). So that’s 2 Happy Birthday songs, and it’s not even my birthday yet. Now the actual day of my birth, today. My parents just left after a 5-day visit and I’m slowly reclaiming my space. They arrived last Saturday and immediately succumbed to some sort of sinus/cold/infection/sniffly thing, spending the majority of their time here under steam tents, the faint smell of eucalyptus clinging to their hair as they hacked and sneezed their way around my apartment. They went through my boxes of Kleenex, tea, and cold remedies like locusts. Whatever birthday money they...