Rockin’ my iPod on shuffle (some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue):
[WARNING: Do not listen to all of these songs in one sitting or your mind/heart will instantaneously self-combust]
* Cat Power —Colors and the Kids, from the album Moonpix (Matador) — This is one of those songs that gets better every time I listen to it, but then again, bittersweet has always been my style. Chan croons in her heart-wrenching, yet somehow peaceful voice: “it's so hard to go in the city / 'cause you want to say hello to everybody / it's so hard to go into the city / 'cause you want to say 'hey I love you' to everybody.” I’m not sure there’s a better city in the world to drive that point home than
* Neutral Milk Hotel — Oh Comely — Oh my my my! Who really knows what Jeff Mangum is twangily (yeah, I made up that word) belting out, but whatever it is, I feel it. Many people say this entire album (In The Aeroplane Over The Sea) is about Anne Frank, but honestly, I’m not really sure it matters. Even without knowing the meaning behind this song, it leaves me speechless every time. I’m a girl who’s down for good lyrics and a nice message behind them, but sometimes that’s just beside the point.
* Smog — To Be Of Use — If you’re into naked, lo-fi roc, Bill Callahan is definitely your man- just a guitar and a sweet, slow voice. At some point in our lives (for me, right now), we have this longing in us that we can never quite explain. Listen to this song, and you’ll finally have your answer. You’ll realize that your burning desire is simply to be of use, plain and simple: "Most of my fantasies are of / to be of use / to be of some, hard, simple, undeniable use". But then it ends, and you’re lost again. Repeat?
* Dirty Three — Rain On — The first time I heard this song, it was love at first listen… seriously. I believe I can be quoted as saying, “Wow. This has to be the most perfect introduction to a song… ever (and it's a huge deal for me to praise an artist like that who is not Cat Power). Rain On plays with your heart; the intro teases your emotions like it's about to reveal some big secret, but then decided not to- over and over again. There’s just something about this instrumental Aussie trio that really makes a place come alive; they are all over the place, yet fluid at the same time. Listening to them makes you love and appreciate your surroundings, really notice everything- the chocolate smudged in the corner of a child’s grin, the way the sun hits certain parts of buildings, the surprisingly comforting closeness of the person sitting next to you, etc. I attribute it mostly to the violin, one of the most under-used, under-appreciated instruments ever in present day, non-classical music (in my humble opinion), which is simultaneously seductive and innocent, just like this song.
* Brightblack Morning Light — Star Blanket River Child — These guys (two homeless friends from
* Broken Social Scene — Almost Crimes (Acoustic Version)—Broken Social Scene is a music collective with over twelve rotating members (you never really know who you’re going to get), and they never let me down. Female vocals range from the likes of Feist, Amy Milan, Mirah, and others (all highly recommended), but Leslie Feist graces us with her presence on this acoustic version. As she serenades, “We’ve got love and hate; it’s the only way,” I can’t help but believe her. Life, like this song, is a bittersweet game of love and hate; it's up to you to decide which to focus on.
* Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Antennas to Heaven — I originally started listening to Godspeed because my roommate told me it would motivate me while writing papers, and it worked, but I slowly became addicted, paper time or not. This instrumental piece is messy yet seamless, elegant yet ferocious- --a whirlwind of emotions, if you will. At twenty minutes long, it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride from the country beginning to the French children singing in the middle to the instrumental finale, while still leaving you craving more. Put simply, this song satisfies my greedy desire to have all emotions wrapped up in a nice little bundle of a song.
* The Whitest Boy Alive — Fireworks — Contrary to what the title might suggest, this is not a bad attempt at a white rap group. Ever listen to Kings of Convenience? Take the mood of Kings of Convenience, multiple it by ten, add a spoonful of happiness and a pinch of funk, and you’ve got The Whitest Boy Alive.
* Múm — The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records — As if enough good music hasn’t already come out of Iceland, this group makes for great background music while you’re chillaxin (yes, I'm a victim of the Snoop Dogg industry), mixing both electronic and acoustic elements. The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records is pure emotion- an upbeat yet mellow instrumental song, which throbs with a sweet layer of atmospheric vocals. When listening to this song, everything else just seems to fade away.
* Joanna Newsom — Peach,
* CocoRosie — K-Hole — Seeing as how these ladies recorded their first album (which this song is on) in the bathroom of their small Parisian apartment in Montmartre (using random items/toys for the music), I can totally relate to why they’re as quirky as they are. This satirical duo amazes me once again with K-Hole, a seemingly unrelated string of phrases that somehow come together to flow like a normal song. One may ask whether drugs are involved? My guess is yes, and, in all honesty, I’m not really sure it matters.
Oh yeah, and they’ll be in
* The Blow — Babay (Eat A Critter, Feel Its Wrath) — The lead singer of The Blow is a former member of The Microphones (who I love et j'adore!). If you listen to The Microphones a lot, you can hear the influence; however, The Blow has a sound all their own; I like to call it "smart-pop." It’s incredibly upbeat with surprisingly sad (perhaps ambiguous) lyrics. It’s pretty much the perfect music for people like me (those who listen to sad music but tend to be in denial about it).
* Ratatat — Seventeen Years — This is exactly the music you need when changing metro lines at places like Chatalet or Montparnasse (yes, this is your opportunity to fantasize about living In Paris, global readers); with this beat (and it’s literally nothing but beats), you can’t help but get a little pep in your step, no matter your mood (or bruises from all the pushing). You can even continue this pep at their concert on February 16 in
* The Books — An Animated Description of Mr. Maps — What could possibly be better than an American college student and a middle-aged Dutch man coming together to make experimental music? As odd as it sounds, The Books are most definitely in my top-five list. These guys have a way of juxtaposing (cutting and pasting) their music with audio clips and ideas from the likes of Ghandi, Chomsky, and others. These guys are the kings of wordplay, and An Animated Description of Mr. Maps is an intriguing smorgasbord of sound clips that are extremely relatable for those of us Americans that who actually venture abroad, ending with this statement: “I want all of the American people to understand that it’s understandable that the American people cannot possibly understand.”
* I’ll pretty much listen to anything that catches my ear, or heart rather. I’m a sucker for a sad song, and I can’t deny it. Cat Power, no doubt, consumes many of my playlists, but somehow I find the time to squeeze in others. Some other favorites include: Bob Dylan (classic), Boards of Canada, Pinback, Ani DiFranco, Girl Talk (a sweet, sweet mix of pretty much every song you’ve ever heard on the radio), Handsome Boy Modeling School, Mogwai, Red House Painters, The Velvet Underground, Minus the Bear, Wilco, Mirah, The Unicorns, etc. This list goes on and on. My friends keep telling me I need to listen to “happy” music, but I’m one hundred percent sure I could never be happy listening to Fergie. So, it’s a Chan Marshall life for me… searching/desiring purity of expression.
So that’s me… A rollercoaster of emotions that’s sure to leave you contemplating life and slightly dizzy, but believe me, you’ll be happy you took the ride…
And the beat goes on…
Categories for the songs in the Peepshow:
SHU: Still Holds Up; not a new release but a great little ditty, for whatever reason the critic can conjure.
HC: Hot cake; this one is right out of the oven, or less than a year old.