Neko Case Flings Me Into Space

Oh, that Voice! That VOICE!! And to hear it in Radio City Music Hall, the pinnacle of good acoustics… it was truly magic. Neko Case and her aggressively-bearded band dazzled and amused with a performance that included a smattering of selections from each album and some hilarious banter with her sidekick/backup vocalist/stand up comedienne-in-residence Kelly Hogan. She’s touring to support her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. It’s yet another album from her where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and its parts are utterly glorious. Neko Case is known for the force of her voice, and the beauty of her lyrics. Seeing Neko live was every bit as spiritually and auditorially fulfilling as I had hoped it would be. It was a beautifully wrapped and beribboned present. The impact of her voice and poetic lyrics in such an acoustically blessed venue was pretty damn powerful. When an artist like Neko Case unleashes her voice and taps into the power of music as a means of transcension, it is a vehicle that takes you to the top of the mountain and then catapults you into the heavens. [Ed. note: This used to be an embedded video of her performance of Night Still Comes on Jimmy Fallon a couple weeks ago, but the video has been evaporated for what I’m sure are nefarious reasons.] From Night Still Comes: Did they poison my food? Is it cause I’m a girl? If I puked up some sonnets, would you call me a miracle? I’m gonna...

Best of 2012

Confession: I didn’t do a great job of staying on top of new music in 2012. There was a three-month miracle where we had a really good indie radio station in the NYC area but as quickly as it appeared it converted to sports radio. One evening I’m grooving to the Wombats, the next morning it’s two guys yelling about the Yankees. A few bands that stood out in 2012 (in my admittedly limited experience) are Atlas Genius, the Wombats, Grimes, and Azealia Banks. I was supposed to see Grimes but the show got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. I was also supposed to see Azealia Banks but got in a car accident earlier that day and was soaking in a hot tub that night instead. Not really a stellar music year. However, 2012 is the year I met in person one of the members of my Holy Trinity: Kristin Hersh! Behold: She performed an all-acoustic night at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York in April. I was in bliss. First off, it’s a gorgeous space. Secondly, she was amazing in every way. She alternated reading from her book Rat Girl with performing songs and being utterly and smartly charming. She played a lot from her early Throwing Muses days, and I was so happy I was just about levitating off my chair. Fish, Hate My Way, Vicky’s Box, and so many more, all done with just her voice and her acoustic guitar. After the show she talked to every person lined up to meet her, including me. I was so starstruck when I met her that...

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...

Best of 2011

The end of the year brings us gift giving holidays, piles of baked goods (and subsequent carb-bloat), and a party or two. But what is any of that in comparison to the year-end “Best of” lists? I generally have my list of Best Albums and/or Tracks of the Year in mind by mid-December, then lollygag, dilly-dally, and loaf my way to mid-February before I post it. Well, hold on to your hats, lovers, ‘cause it’s still 2011 and I’ve got my Best of 2011 post ready to go. The caveat is that I was completely unable to listen to music1 from May – November (give or take), so my list is short. On the bright side, this gives me more time to critique everyone else’s list, which is so much more fun that coming up with my own anyway. My favorite lists are by Pitchfork, Other Music, and Urban Outfitters (they’re offering a free download of their Top 25 picks – it’s still up as of today). Flavorwire has a cute post called Stereotyping You By Your Favorite Album of 2011 – it’s good fun. Unlike past years, I have no overwhelming favorite for 2011. If I were forced to pick one, I’d say The Weeknd and their album House of Balloons. The title track samples from Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Happy House,” so it’s kind of inevitable that I’d love it. One huge standout for Best Live Show was LCD Soundsystem in March. I was sick with a sinus infection and running a fever, and still I danced for 3 hours straight. That is some serious live show...

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...