[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Iggy Azalea
Work - Single

: When Nicki Minaj was first hitting the pop music scene, I remember being excited about her stance on things: honest about what it took to get where she was, and she seemed to genuinely want to pave the way for more female rappers. Fast forward a couple years, and I'm not so excited (this happens all too often in pop...sigh, Skylar Grey). Nicki Minaj is now far more annoying than she is interesting -- but nonetheless, she did one thing: paved that road for female rappers. Even white girls from Australia like Amethyst Kelly -- or, more commonly, Iggy Azalea.

As far as I can figure, she -- and everyone else who's come out the past few years -- got her start on YouTube. She's not really an amazing rapper (though that Southern American accent, jeez! good job Aussie girl.), but she has a certain star quality totally evident from the video for this song (which is worth watching). I don't know what I think about her other stuff -- she doesn't have a full album out yet -- but there is something about this song that just tugs at me. It might just be the production (the beats and instrumentation throughout the verses & bridge are phenomenal) ---- but I'm willing to give her a chance.

I fully expect to be let down...but at least "Work" is a killer!!
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Lead in the Light
The Hundred in the Hands
Red Night

: Berlin was almost exactly a year ago so, as usual, my senses are heightened, searching for triggers to remind me of when I left Montreal's confines, when I ventured out. The weather (crisp, cool, sunny: perfect Berlin), the smells (wandering the Plateau today, smoke and fresh, green air; hints of the perfume I wore last August), voraciously reading a book set in (and quite possibly a conflicted love letter to) the city, and of course: slipping back into that 'state of being' I, we all?, unknowingly create when living especially vibrant circumstances -- this one particular to August in an indescribable city.

On one of the few afternoons I spent solo, I went on a David Bowie pilgrimage to what used to be West Berlin -- stood under his old apartment in Kreuzberg, took it in -- then wandered the area for awhile, eventually happening upon one of Berlin's gay areas. I paused at a cafe and had possibly the best pancake I'd ever eaten while listening to this album and reading -- reflecting. And when this song came on ---- my heart exploded. It's the one song that immediately transports me back to Berlin in a way exclusively tied up with the city itself: no missing you, or dancing with Meg -- this is BERLIN. Song form.

With a year of distance, some things get clearer. The first is that the longer I am removed from Berlin, the stronger I feel for it. Cities vibrate on their own special wavelengths, and Berlin's synced up pretty seamlessly with mine (not forgetting, of course, that I have never missed anyone the way I missed you while I was there). I love that city: I connect to it, and the two weeks I spent there keep charging me, NOW me, 2013-in-Montreal-me, full of a potent energy, a spark, a collision of emotions. THAT FEELING: that's why I leave. That's why I travel: not just to be there, but to come back and remember.

I think a lot of people would hasten, if hearing their ~traveling~ called a "vacation", to correct you. "No, see, a vacation is about relaxing, getting away from life -- I'm a traveler, so I spend time getting into life, you know? I go everywhere, I experience everything, I'm transplanted, nomadic, set down momentarily, but I really feel it, so it's different. Get it?"

Pretentia aside: what's a vacation, really? Being transplanted from your daily routine. Nomadic in thought, set down momentarily in a new state of mind. Experiencing something you wouldn't have the chance to normally, be it drinking coffee or maragaritas in the sun at 11AM on a Tuesday. A vacation is a separation from reality. It is not that different from traveling, really: it's not the word or the location or the circumstances or even the length of time that makes it something profound ---- it's the person experiencing it.

Vacation is recharging -- perhaps lazy, at first, like the opening shoegaze-y chords of this beautiful album-ender; definitely relieved, grateful for the shift. But the song revs up, explodes; it changes, you change, because on vacation you are allowed the space you need to become whole again -- to become yourself, completely; yourself removed from social expectations/constraints. You get to know yourself best when you're left to your own devices. And when you "let in the light" those weeks you have for yourself...I think the greatest hope, goal, is that you will keep that light with you, for another year, even if you are never in that same space -- be it a city or an emotional state -- again.

I will stay out / and dance with you / to the beat of daylight.
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

It Was a Very Good Year
Frank Sinatra
Nothing But the Best

Summer vacation was (is) time spent outside, tanning without realizing it, sitting under trees and looking up from my book to notice the contrast of vibrant green leaves against a robin's egg sky.

Vacation is a road trip or two.

I hated road trips when I was younger.  Trapped in the car for hours, the constant fear at the back of my mind that I just MIGHT have to go to the bathroom (WHAT THEN?!  My father didn't make pit stops), the irritation of being subjected to my dad's choice of music (when all I wanted to do was put on my headphones (I remember them distinctly--some cheap pair; the band was a thin piece of metal and the ear phones were small, round pieces of black foam) and listen to my tape player).

I remember, on one particular drive to North Bay (my dad would drop my mom, my brother and I there for a few weeks every summer.  As you know, I have really fond memories of the time I spent there--surrounded by forest; with a backyard pool; a tree house; with my cool older cousins, Lisa and Sara; and with my favourite aunt and uncle.  My dad didn't stay all that long--a few days, a week at most--and would make the drive back to Montreal (or on to Toronto) on his own.  At the time I thought it was because he had to work--which was true, in part.  I think it was a vacation for him--a kind of break from having a family) my dad was very eager to share the music he was interested in at the time.

During the drive I am thinking of, it was Frank Sinatra.

At the time, Frank's smooth baritone did nothing for me.  It was a pesky irritant--the opening of "It Was a Very Good Year" made me cringe.  It sounded old-fashioned and simultaneously sad and schmaltzy.  My twelve-year-self ridiculed the song mercilessly, mocking the lyrics, making up my own.

I quite like the song now; it is still sad, but a sad that I can understand.  I like the way the music shifts throughout--the little flourishes and changes that correspond to moving from one age to another.  I wish I hadn't given my dad such a hard time.  Now, factoring in my own experience, I know that he was sharing a part of himself via the music he chose to play on the stereo, in that car, on that trip.  But, in all fairness, I was twelve and I had what was probably Dance Mix '93 to listen to.
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

Have Mercy
Loretta Lynn
Van Lear Rose

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but this is one of my all-time favourite albums.


I was reunited with it after scavenging the used CD stores on Mont-Royal; in the days afterward, I found myself turning towards my own hard-copy CD collection and, eventually, to Loretta Lynn.  Lynn's 2004 album is the result of a collaboration with Jack White (the picture of him skulking behind some trees in the liner notes makes me smile--a strange juxtaposition next to Loretta Lynn in her puffy, blue Glinda-the-good-witch dress) and the first album where Lynn wrote or co-wrote all of the songs herself.

I know I have a penchant for nasal voices, but sometimes even I am surprised by how much I adore this album.  I bought it during the beginnings of my outside-the-comfort-zone musical-discovery development...when I avidly read Rolling Stone and carried a copy of the magazine with me at all times--often pulling it out as a shield between myself and my classmates in my undergrad classes.  There was a lot of excitement surrounding the release of this album and, under the influence of what I had read, I too wanted to be a part of that excitement.

This is an album I can listen to from start to finish.  I wanted to pick the perfect introductory song for you ("Portland Oregon" was my initial choice--a song that has appeared on many a mix CD, but when I heard "Have Mercy" again, I knew it was the one I had to post).  THIS IS AN EXCELLENT SONG.  It just is.  Tinges of classic rock and country, those pounding drums, the range of Lynn's voice...It has an energy that fills me right up.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Book of James
We Are Augustines
Rise Ye Sunken Ships

: I download endless amounts of music. At any given time I have 15-20 GBs of still-zipped albums -- great for some reasons, i.e. being able to unzip at my leisure, whenever I'm in a particularly music-y mood -- almost like I have my own personal CD store waiting for me to click through. Bad, though, for others -- one of the biggest being a lot of albums get forgotten, especially when they're down in the "W's -- even if when I download them, after previewing a few tracks online somewhere, I'm crazy excited to hear. Sometimes, when I finally get around to unzipping them, their time (my interest in that type of music? or whatever it was that clicked on that initial sampling) has passed.

Not so here.
I downloaded Rise Ye Sunken Ships when it was released, in mid-2011. Can't remember why. Maybe it just caught my eye on NAR as many albums do, maybe I heard about We Are Augustines somewhere (or even heard one of their songs) -- anyway, I've been making a point of, when I feel like unzipping albums, hitting up the ones I downloaded in 2011 (two years later? those poor guys' bytes must be getting dusty). Last week, before heading out to shop for Post 128's song, I unzipped this album. Low hopes. But it was good. Surprisingly good, actually. I was getting hooked, and then I heard this song, and it was done.

I'm SO excited for you to hear this song (if you don't already know it -- I'm just a little behind the times, after all) because I am SO excited that I found it. It has a certain gritty 90s alt-rock quality to it, that particular visceral sound we both tend to love -- and it is so, so beautiful. That first chorus, the leadup, and the quick transition into it, it makes me break out into a grin every single time. Musically, it's perfect. Lyrically:

He stood there in his shoes unable to move
Kid, I drove all night here to tell you I love you
And here lies my green eyes
Rolled back in my head, but they're alive

Lyrically...well, also perfect. The whole thing.

As I perused the rows and rows of used CDs on Mont-Royal, this album was on repeat. And every time this song shuffled up, my heart danced, so I did, too.

[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

The Fall of Little Summer
Telstar Ponies
Voices From the New Music

The first used CD store I went to was C'Dement--across from Sam the Record Man on Ste. Catherine.  I loved hitting Sam's for the Tuesday new releases and then making my way over to C'Dement to flick through the rows of used CDs.  My music-related knowledge wasn't as extensive as it is now (I use extensive, but like geez, I still have A LOT to learn--and always will have more to learn) and was limited to female-fronted bands and singer-songwriters.

It was in excitedly talking about C'Dement in grade 10 art class that I found out about Mont-Royal and its string of used CD shops.  After initially checking out places like L'echange and Le Fox Troc with my Dad in tow, I would visit the shops regularly with Erin or on my own.  I loved the feeling of finding something I had been searching for--I remember stumbling upon Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes with a squee of elation.  Alternately, I liked discovering new artists and bands--buying a CD just because I liked the album art or because it had been released on a familiar label (Sub Pop or Barsuk, for instance).

I stopped going to the used CD shops when I stopped buying CDs.  I've said it before, but I often miss CDs (physical albums in jewel cases and with liner notes to page through).  In spite of the fact that I would not be exposed to as much music as I am now--what, with almost anything at my fingertips, I miss buying albums; peeling off the cellophane and dropping the disc into my stereo, listening to the album from start to finish--without skipping a track; trying to find something redeeming about it even if it wasn't all that great.

The task of re-visiting those used CD stores to find an unknown album was harder than I thought it would be.  Used CD stores are not dead--though, one of my Mont-Royal favourites has closed down (as has C'Dement AND Sam the Record Man)--on a humid and sticky Saturday afternoon, L'echange was crawling with people. As I ran my fingers over rows and rows of tightly-packed CDs, it was hard to find something I hadn't heard of already.  I wanted to stumble across something completely unknown to me.  I pulled out liner notes--reading the list of contributors and squinting at where the album was recorded.  I paced back and forth with a few CDs in my hands, finding it difficult to make a decision--I wasn't all that excited about any of my potential choices.  My eyes landed on a kind of pleasing font and the word "PONIES" in all-caps.  In the context of our relationship, this made me smile.  I pulled the CD out--Telstar Ponies, Voices from the New Music. The album art wasn't anything to write home about, but I was intrigued.  I flipped open the liner notes--recorded in Glasgow, summer 1996.  The list of instruments played was eclectic--tin whistle, tin can, hairbrush, gong, bottle-opener, glove.  It looked like this was going to be something...different.  Unfamiliar.  Potentially amazing.

Unfamiliar, yes.

Amazing, no.


This is a very strange album (the gong and hairbrush might have been a dead giveaway, BUT).  It's all over the place and the songs run kind of long (something I maybe should have taken note of when reading the liner notes).  The voices of both singers--Rachel Devine and David Keenan--are a bit uneven; they frequently falter and I am not sure that that is intentional.  The song I've posted, "The Fall of Little Summer" features Keenan...and an increasingly irritating militaristic whistle-solo.  Keenan's voice, in its deepness, is sometimes pleasing, but often incomprehensible; reminiscent of a drunken turn at an open-mic night.  "The Fall of Little Summer" runs in cycles...slowing down before launching back into that spinning whistling (if whistles can spin...I don't know, but the sound of it in this song makes me dizzy).  Whistles aside, I like the marching beat of it; the drumming lends the song a certain sense of urgency.

Despite the fact that this album is a bit of a throwaway, I loved the experience that surrounded coming across it--the physicality of touching and thumbing through stacks of CDs (that didn't come out quite right, but hopefully you know what I mean) and reading liner notes; establishing some kind of more real connection.  Following my trip to Mont-Royal, I've made my way back to my own CD collection, which is pretty wonderful.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com
128 theme:


go to a used record store
pick an album from an artist you have NEVER HEARD OF
listen to the album
post a song.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Clipped Wings
Man Without Country

: Sometimes I am a victim of my circumstance: a bad year puts me in a bad state, convinced I will always be lacklustre, pointless. And then everything shifts: a haphazard documentary inspires a full teaching unit; a flash of memory sparks an upward tailspin; revisiting Claire Voyant with revolutions in mind, last week, reminds me of what it felt like to be 18 and vibrant. And then all the circumstances align, or something like that, and suddenly I feel like myself. Dancing at 1am to bad pop; breathing in open windows; wanting nothing more than another hour of feeling exactly like this.

I used to listen to music while watching specific DVDs and getting up to dance. That's how I discovered most of my favourite, most loved songs, and how I created the memories attached to many of them. I don't really do that anymore, for various reasons, but when my heart's in the right place, I remember what I used to do and I explode. And the song I happen upon that night, whichever one has the right connotations or melody or key change, that song will suddenly mean everything (because, for all the writing we do here, I, at least, will never be able to articulate precisely why a song means the world to me).

Tonight (writing this early, on Monday), it was "Clipped Wings."

I found it listening to an electropop mix I downloaded via Polly Scattergood's Facebook page (she is also featured), and it stood out brilliantly. I'm sure I skipped this album's release on NAR because it was labeled "shoegaze" (and because the cover screams the same, haha) but don't be fooled: this is shoegaze at its absolute finest, swirling and spinning and surprisingly melodically well-defined. It sounds like I imagine my heart would if it could sing what it's feeling, tonight. Vibrating, vibrating, vibrating, up and down and in my entire body.
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

Kill Kill Kill
Club 8
Above the City

Wading through the zillions of files on my hard drive, I stumbled across a folder labeled "Club 8", last modified May 2013.  I thought, what the fuck is Club 8? and then, how can I not remember something I apparently downloaded a few months ago? and then, I wonder if they/he/she is derivative of S Club 7?

I dropped the folder into iTunes (and not immediately into my iPod...I wasn't feeling all that optimistic) and clicked on "Kill Kill Kill" (the fact that it is the opening track and something about the title made me choose it over the others).  I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this--what a departure from all of the female-fronted punk I have been listening to.  It starts with a sound like that made by a razor-sharp blade cutting through the air bounces from headphone to headphone before that bassline kicks in.  I had been so dismissive of the files I had unzipped over the last few hours that it was almost strange to stop and listen.  To wait.  For that sort-of-unsettling blast from an organ.  My interest was piqued.  That ethereal voice floating above the beat ("Floating, floating", the opening words).  And then,

The wondering smell, the sensual touch
you lick your fingers and enjoy the sight

Ouf.  Those words on a hot summer night; when I was looking, waiting for something to grab me.  The album varies...from this strange, churning opener to slow songs with a meandering fun-house vibe to disco to straight-ahead Swedish pop.  I don't know what I'll make of all this after repeated listens, but finally something that sounds a little different; something with an immediate impact.
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

Double Dare Ya
Bikini Kill
The C.D. Version of the First Two Records

I was a dumb and didn't write this post when I was in the throes of riot grrrl a few weeks ago.  When I had a spark of a something in me.  It's not even that that spark has been extinguished--just that it isn't as pronounced or intense.

I think one of the things that most attracted me to riot grrrl is its do-it-yourself activism.  I've never considered myself an activist...in the sense I most associate with the word--demonstrations and and politics and petitions and voices unified.  Riot grrrl was all those things, but wasn't only those things.  I like something I read about DIY and zine-making that said that creating a zine--no matter the subject--is, in itself, a political act.  When you create something, you shift from consumer to producer; from a relatively passive role to an active one.  And, even if it is on a small scale, you choose the message that is being put out there.

That is the action I can take; my little act of resistance.  For now, anyway.

"Double Dare Ya" starts with unshakable static; a buzz emanating from a speaker.  Kathleen Hanna says, "Is it supposed to be doing that?" before (I imagine) giving the speaker a swift kick and charging ahead.  I like that this wasn't edited out.  They are making this music.  They are figuring things out.  Bikini Kill wanted "REVOLUTION GIRL-STYLE NOW!", "a call for all girls to start bands, start 'zines and participate in the making of independent culture." And, I would add, question the culture they found themselves in.

I had read about "Double Dare Ya" before hearing it, but that did not lessen its impact.  This song makes my ears tingle and the fine hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Dare ya to do what you want
Dare ya to be who you will
Dare ya to cry right outloud

I think this song is brilliant because it takes a game associated with young girls at sleepover parties (a game that can often degenerate into something malicious (see BH90210 for an example, haha)) and turns it into this ferocious call for revolution.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Claire Voyant
Time and the Maiden

: Whenever I think of "revolutions," my mind inescapably turns to one of the many flawless lines from Yevgeny Zamyatin's We: "Well, which final revolution do you want then? There isn't a final one. Revolutions are infinite."

Revolutions are infinite.

Those who start revolutions probably only rarely consider this fact. As a rule, we all think we are the final incarnation, the final revolution. Our ideas, our ways, our society is the best, the final stop. The thought that we...aren't? That the empire might fall? No. No, that happened literally every single other time any revolution or ideology has come to pass, literally every single other time, but for some reason we are immune! Slavery, republics, feudalism, monarchy, imperialism, fascism, communism, dare we say democracy? -- they've all had their day. Something else is coming, but it won't last, either. Revolutions are infinite.

If you stop and think about it, though, you end dinner conversations. People cross rooms to get away from you. No one wants to recognize that the doomsayer with the sandwich board is right: beware the motherfucking ides of March, because the end is actually nigh. Though I guess the real issue is that the end is always nigh. Shit starts, shit stops. Changes happen, absolutely; for the better? Who really knows. Revolutions are varied, multifaceted, complicated, with uncertain consequences, but at the very least: they are ephemeral.

But no one in their right mind would start a revolution they believed would eventually fail. There's something very beautiful about that particular feature of humanity: we delude ourselves in favour of our ideals, trusting there is something potent in them, that they will pave a path to a better future. To a better ever after.

Claire Voyant. Oh dear.
This is one of the first songs I thought of when we started this community, because it would have to come up sooner or later. This is one of my all-time favourite songs. Absolutely. Finitely. Because of the booms in the drumbeat (a call to action?), the ethereal voice, the fact that I once called it "the absolute perfect song" (how great is online journaling to be able to point to that exact moment, by the WAY?, and isn't the content of that barely-18 post hilarious in its pseudo-revolutionary content? This song has always been wrapped up in my concept of changing the world order), and the fact that it is beyond rife with memories. From 2004, from those perfect and perfectly flawed times in my life; all bleeding together to create this heartbeat megaton BOMB of emotion, passion, vitriol.

But tonight it is about revolutions. Tonight it is about that "Everafter," that feeling we all have that drives us (and, for you and I, in many ways is emotionally tied in music, songs like this one: what makes me stronger, more willing to fight, than a song that changed my life?) to do MORE, to ignore those nibbling rational thoughts and hold on, scream, for something better -- ideologically, emotionally, passionately. Those coming to terms with your faults, in the lyrics here; that recognition that the world is not perfect:
The shore smells the sweetest when all is left
You're pale
You're dry
And you're spent. But you've fought.

I will always want to change the world. If an absolutely terrible year in a classroom has taught me anything, it's that. I will never be content to sit back and know I am not contributing to better things. I may not do it in a way that affects millions of people, but if I'm not doing it in my way -- if I'm not doing it at all -- I will consider my life a life wasted. I know revolutions don't last. That doesn't matter: there is still such a long way to go.

And despite myself, despite knowing my contributions may make no lasting mark, I still have to try. In my way, as so many of us do, in our ways. 
Revolutions are infinite, and I do believe in everafter.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

I Hate the Way
Polly Scattergood

: I think I have officially selected my favourite genre of music. Okay, no, I haven't, that's crazy (especially for anyone who, at our age, still lists "listening to music" as a hobby -- and good lord, it IS a hobby, okay, the time put in absolutely reaches hobby proportions!) -- but if you were to do a survey of my favourite songs or the songs to which I am most instantly drawn, the following category would probably come out just slightly, just a little, on top. And that category issss:

Female-fronted, electro and/or synth-influenced, altpop.

Who knows where that one came from, really (maybe Poe?). I can pinpoint New Wave (thanks mom), glam rock (thanks dad), goth (thanks adolescent fashion choices), so many more -- but there's something about this particular genre that just sticks its fingers in my side and makes me sit up straight, skips my little heartbeats, etc. Thing is, I already know so many femaled-fronted electropop outfits, it's hard to even find -- let alone really enjoy -- new ones. I have high standards and extensive experience, and if you sound exactly like someone else, well, why are you making music?

So imagine my excitement when, a couple weeks ago, I stumbled on Polly Scattergood. I'm shocked I hadn't heard about her before (2009? That was electropop's heyday!!), but I've been listening to this album on repeat since. I especially love her voice (it's unique, which is saying something) and how each song on the album sounds like the others (but not obnoxiously -- each seems like a refrain of the one before; it might be lazy songwriting but I'm going to pretend it's intentional until her next album comes out in June). The melodies are gorgeous, and in "I Hate the Way" specifically, the buildup of the song is so well-constructed -- each repeated line sounds intensely different from its antecedent, and it just works so, so well. I LOVE THIS SONG!, and I expect great things from Polly S in the future.

...and I hope it doesn't take me so long to find her [equivalents] next time.
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

Remember Who You Are
Team Dresch
Captain My Captain

My Team Dresch CDs arrived in the mail today so I feel I can finally (legitimately?) write my post!

What better way to connect to the nineties than to relish in the irreplaceable feeling of peeling back the cellophane from a brand new CD.  Pulling open the jewel case of Captain My Captain, I smiled at the CD itself--it is fluorescent green and covered with black-ink, hand-drawn doodles.  To the left, on the back of the liner notes, a black-and-white picture of the all-girl, band.  There was something very exciting about sliding the liner notes out; a rush of pleasure at seeing printed lyrics and production credits.

I "discovered" Team Dresch during a particularly absorbing riot grrrl-related AllMusic tailspin.  One band led to another led to another led to another.  Riot grrrl led to queercore.

See, the thing is, one of the things I found so off-putting (not quite the right expression, but it'll have to do) about riot grrrl in the past was the queer implications...in high school, being a proponent of feminism or the riot grrrl movement (though, I wasn't intimately aware of the latter at the time) inevitably led to accusations of being a "dyke" or "lesbo"...things my teenage-self wanted to avoid.  Even if these accusations were not necessarily voiced by my peers, they somehow wormed their way into the back of my mind and stayed there.  It made me uncomfortable.  The implications, that is.  Being mistaken for something I didn't think I was (or didn't want to be; that's something I need to think more about).  In any event, I closed myself off to a lot of things--art or books or music that dealt with having to face those implications.

I like that I came to Team Dresch at this point in my life.  This band and their music fills me with a little sense of buoyancy--uplifted by the fact that these women are embracing who they are, standing up for themselves, voicing their thoughts.  Donna Dresch, the band's guitarist, and Jody Bleyle, the lead singer, both own record labels (Chainsaw and Candy Ass, respectively; Team Dresch's albums were joint releases).  Dresch self-published a zine.  Kaia Wilson, guitarist, co-founded Mr. Lady Records, has released solo-albums, is a founding member of The Butchies (along with TD drummer, Melissa York) and continues to collaborate with a number of artists.  That AND all four women are openly gay.

This is something you covered beautifully in your Foxtrott post, but it really IS exciting to find musicians who are lesbians AND who write about that fact unambiguously.  Team Dresch write about "holding hands with my girlfriend" and "burning just from some girl's stare" and "my girlfriend cuddles me and holds me".   I hesitated a bit over which Team Dresch song I would post and finally settled on "Remember Who You Are".  It so aptly sums up the things I have only begun to discuss here--connecting to art and coming into (out of?) yourself.

"Send out signals telling who you are
Transmit messages about who you are
No matter who you are"
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

Love Is All Around
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Greatest Hits
(originally composed and performed by Sonny Curtis)

I can't believe that I actually had to think about this.
For even, like, a millisecond.



"Love Is All Around"

is THE TV-theme I HAD to post.

I think I first saw an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show when CFCF-12 celebrated a milestone anniversary.  For a week, they aired episodes of classic television shows my 9 or 10-year-old-self fell in love with; shows like The Munsters, Bewitched, Get Smart and, of course, TMTMS.

Mary Richards is definitely one of my early feminist role-models (something I started to explore more concretely here).  She was single.  She worked.  She lived alone in a small apartment in a big city.  She was a good friend.  She spoke up for herself (her boss, Mr. Grant, famously tells her that she's "got spunk" in the pilot and, when she thanks him, growls that he doesn't like spunk, haha).

Most importantly, there was a kind of confident pleasure she took in the everyday aspects of living.  This was the framework I began to envision for myself.  It differed from that espoused by my many of friends at the time (and, even now).  Despite the fact that she developed out of a half-hour situational comedy, Mary was not a static character.  She did long for things--a partner (this was a prominent feature of many plotlines, but this longing did not necessarily impact her happiness or sense of self-worth.  I think it says something that, at series end, Mary was still single), a pay raise, more responsibility and autonomy.  In watching her change, the viewer was made aware of her flaws; she made mistakes and not only learned from them, but kept at it.  I think by "it" I mean living; striving in spite of.  

The theme song, like the show itself, is uplifting; a bit like a one-minute pep-talk.  Lines like:

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big
And, girl, this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving

make me want to throw my hat up into the air (haha, sometimes I just can't help myself) and...just try.  Try is such a small word for all that it can encompass.  

I decided to post Joan Jett's cover of "Love Is All Around" rather than the original because I like its brashness.  The need for, and interest in, volume and noise and aggressive-sounding, female-voiced music at the moment is something I am excited about and am continuing to explore (a new-favourite band may have stemmed from all of this).  In any event, this cover of "Love Is All Around" lends the lyrics a certain toughness...as if they were tousled a bit or rubbed with grainy sandpaper.     
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Schaun Tozer

: Okay, okay, first things first: let's share the EXCITEMENT!!
I fully intended to post the amazing theme to Portlandia -- Washed Out's "Feel It All Around" -- and discuss my giddy bliss every time the introductory sketch cuts abruptly to this song, with the accompanying shots of Portland. But, just to be sure I wasn't skimping on another theme, I decided to check the DVD shelves. Lost? Nah. A tuneless crescendo is not that musically interesting. Stargate Universe? Does that show even have a theme? -- and so on. Until, near the end of the row, Intelligence .

Intelligence is one of those things I'd never have watched without prior actor obsession knowledge -- in this case, the guilty pleasure love of my life, Matt Frewer. As is not often the case, however, it ended up actually being good. Intelligence (a gritty take on the corruption of both Vancouver's drug market and law enforcement) is a fucking good show. But, like most quality Canadian TV (I'm looking at you, This Is Wonderland) -- it got canceled before its time; 2 seasons and a cliffhanger ending and that's all they wrote.

Flashback to 2008/2009, when I got into the show, and INSTANTLY fell in love with the theme. And, because that was the case back in the day, try as I might, I could not for the life of me figure out the name or artist. No clue. No one could help. It was an obscure piece that no message board could get their hands on, and I couldn't find the soundtrack to buy. So, those strange sitar-y chords were sadly relegated to the back of my musical memory ---

UNTIL THIS WEEK, when, upon happening on those seasons, I remember how much I'd loved the theme -- how perfect it had been, just like Portlandia's, every time it graced the opening and closing credits -- and I said to myself "FORGET INDIE DREAMPOP, let's see if we can find Canadian eastern-influenced instrumentals!" And lo & behold, ITUNES NOW ACTUALLY FUCKING HAS THE SOUNDTRACK. My joy, my joy, my excitement!!

A good TV theme for a good TV show is kinda just that, though -- not just a flash of recognition, of familiar ground, but of excitement. The show is about to start; you know these characters, you may even know the situations in which they're about to get, but if you feel connected -- well, like Fringe -- when you hear those notes, your heart skips and beats faster and you start grinning or even crying depending how long it's been since you've seen an episode and how much it meant the last time you did and then BOOM the music stops & the show starts and it hasn't even been long enough for you.

This is all contingent on feeling emotionally connected to TV, though -- on finding it, in some ways, a place to call home. And the best shows really do become home, in their way, and the theme is like the doorbell: you don't quite know who's on the other side, but you know it's your guest, and will be experienced on your terms (and maybe the guest takes over your house for awhile...but that's for another post). The theme itself is a harbinger of emotion, of possibility, and "Followed" captures that -- and the mood of the show it's announcing -- perfectly.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Telegraph Road (Live Remix)
Dire Straits
Money for Nothing

: Alright -- here's another thing to add to the "I'm only 27!" list of musical nostalgia:
I miss discovering old bands as if they were new.

You know the feeling (you just had it, or something similar, with Roxy Music!) -- they've been on the periphery of your life probably forever. You even have a few favourite songs and can hum a couple tunes. You know the name to hear it, but you wouldn't like them on Facebook or pay to see them live. UNTIL
Something shifts. And you're not sure what, because who really knows what goes on in a human brain when art's involved, but it's something big. Maybe it's been building for a little while, but the stars align one day and boom. Dire Straits. Where've you been my whole life?

Now, of course, that's not quite fair. Like Jennifer Warnes and Lenny C, last week, Dire Straits was a music room staple. My father would play "Money for Nothing" (I want myyyyyy, I want myyy em-tee-veeeeeee) all the time, and often sing it without accompaniment (just...assume that all songs I mention in reference to my dad were also sung, loudly, without accompaniment, usually at 6am, sometimes with dogs). As I got older, I started rifling through his CDs on my own, and discovered the incomparable "Romeo and Juliet" (and doesn't it kill you to know that an inferior cover by the Killers gets all the attention? "Romeo and Juliet" was perfect as is). A little later, in a bit of directed lyrics-searching [for reasons I will not explain just now: "you had your head on my shoulder and your hand in my hair / now you're acting a little colder, like you don't seem to care"] and then downloading -- I stumbled upon this particular version of "Telegraph Road."

It keeps getting stuck in my head of late, for whatever reason. Call it high school nostalgia (which'd also explain my playing the Sims 2 till 2:30 am & SG-1 giddiness). Last weekend I dug out the mix it's on and as it blared on my old boombox, that something that pulls you towards music shifted -- Dire Straits! Where have you been my whole life?!

Cue downloading spree; my father would be thrilled ----- but I want to share this one, on the off-chance you don't know it...and because I've had it on repeat since Sunday.

This song is long (12 minutes, 2 minute intro), and there's no chorus (which separates it from almost all pop music -- though, like a symphony, there are little refrains. See, that How Music Works book was good after all!), and it goes and goes, like the eponymous road. Listening to it as a teenager is one thing -- you're picking out little familiarities (I remember just waiting waiting waiting 8 minutes until the aforementioned line showed up -- but, I also remember thinking the anticipation as it built was pretty fucking special), connecting it to other sources.

But here's where the nostalgia passionately combines with experience: listening as an adult is so much better. Suddenly it's a song in its own right. Now I pick up on the narrative, the imagery and visual quality, Mark Knopfler's voice, the brilliance of its structure and those all-too-poignant lyrics; my brain has been learning how to listen to complex music for years, and "Telegraph Road" is the beneficiary. It's not that the meaning has changed, though that's somewhat true too, but it actually sounds like a different song -- especially at moments like 1:24, when the key changes and the music explodes. A few years distance, and it's shifted into a rough, chugging masterpiece.

Little shards of hope, sometimes, are all you have. But in some inexplicable way & for some inexplicable reason -- this song is a full sheet of glass. Despite itself. And the past is gone, yeah (funny: if there's been an overarching theme in my posts here, it's probably me trying to reconnect with or bemoaning the absence of a time/person/emotional state that's already happened. Nostalgia will always be my vice.), but...not really. It's just become part of something synthetic.
So: time to focus on the next line of the song.

"But just believe in me baby, and I'll get you away
I'ma get you out of this darkness, and into the day."
[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

My Name Is Trouble
Keren Ann

I downloaded this album when it came out a few years ago--based on nothing more than liking the cover art.  At the time, I didn't have the patience to listen to the entire thing (or, much of any of it, actually), so it wasn't long before I deleted it from my iPod.

I missed the boat a bit on the start date of Nurse Jackie's fifth season and, in watching a string of new episodes the other day, I remembered why I like the show so much.  Its mix of caustic humour and subtle sentimentality consistently hook me.  "My Name Is Trouble" accompanied a beautiful scene at the end of one episode wherein both Jackie and her eldest daughter make separate but parallel choices.  The opening synthesizers and ensuing drum beat complemented the growing sense of panic played out in that final scene.  By the time I heard the first line, "My name is trouble, my first name's a mess" I was leaning forward, edging my way off of the couch.  I anxiously waited for the end credits so that I could Google that lovely bit of lyric; so that I could have that song in my possession; so that I could listen to it again and again.

I still haven't listened to all of 101--I like the sing-songyness of Keren Ann's voice within the context of "My Name Is Trouble", but I'm not sure what I think of it when it is paired with softer, slower music.  I do know that I like the fact that I found this album (again) under these circumstances; that it came "back to me, in pieces or a melody."   


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