Mar. 19th, 2014

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Sufjan Stevens

This song played during a lovely driving-in-a-car-at-night scene in the Veronica Mars movie.       I know, I know, it's been done, but there is something about the trope--sleepy-eyed friends in car (usually speeding over a bridge or though a tunnel) windows down, wind blowing hair around the passenger's faces, flashes of light bouncing over the windshield--paired with the perfect, soaring song.

When the first notes of "Chicago" filled the darkened movie theater, my heart lifted.  I recognized the song, but couldn't quite place it--that NBC-chimes-sounding opening and that swell of strings...I knew it, but didn't.

When I figured out it was Sufjan Stevens (thanks, internets!), I thought: of course! and, I totally have that album!  Do you ever think you have something on your hard drive, only to discover that you only have one song?!  That some past version of you deemed the rest of the album uninteresting or unlistenable or boring and so deleted it save for that one song?  This comes back to the sometimes-thought that some songs can only really be heard at precisely the right moment.
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Kate Wax
Dust Collision

: Now, you know I'm not huge on reading music criticism, and I try hard not to let it affect my perception of an album (though admittedly I appreciate when an artist I love is lauded). However, Pitchfork describes this album as follows: "Damage courses throughout [it], and it's not the easiest listen, but like most difficult albums, it's eventually rewarding, and her vortex of haywire synths, quaking guitar, and unsettling helium squawks is powerfully magnetic" -- and that is bang on.

I am trying, really really hard, to get through all the albums I downloaded in 2011 and never unzipped. Simultaneously, however, I am trying just as hard to savour everything I unzip -- slowly go through the album, not just skim through the tracks. The combination of this led to me giving Kate Wax more of a chance than I think I would have at another point in my life. And thank. fucking. god. that I did. Because this album is incredible, and it is doing things to my insides (especially the creative bits of them) that sparkle.

Coming off of True Detective last week, there was something in me that still ached for that creepy, unsettling, not-quite-pieced-together vibe -- I didn't know Kate Wax would fulfil it when I unzipped her, though; because I downloaded it three years ago, I thought it might be a pop album or something...nope. It was weird and I wasn't sure I liked it, but my resolution meant I was going to give it a chance. And as I read Sebald for class with this album on my headphones, with increasing enjoyment of the background-noise strangeness of the first 3 tracks, "Archetype" came on. That track was not eventual. It was instant. I replayed it for the rest of the day. And the next day, when I was writing, I was too distracted by the work to press 'back,' and so the rest of the album played, and it was excellent. Horrifying, inspiring, hitting all the parts that needed to be hit, right then.

There is nothing like music that comes along at the exact right time. I don't think I would have appreciated this album the same way if I'd listened to it immediately -- I don't think it would have had the same import. I'm also pretty fucking ecstatic that I stuck with it: it's the kind of album I wouldn't have even bothered to put on my iPod under other circumstances -- and it breaks my heart, a little, to think of all the albums I never gave the same chance.

I'll just tell myself it wasn't their time, and that maybe one day I will go back through my library and find more magic.

Because this is magic.


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