Saturday, December 22, 2007

The New Chamber Ensembles

For probably the fifth time since this fall began, I'm showing my dad stuff on the internet. Music stuff. Since I embarked upon this whole, "Hey, I think the type of journalism I'm gonna practice is music journalism!" thing, he, my mom, my best friend, and really anyone else who'll listen (and who loves me enough not to just leave the room as soon as they get bored) has been subjected to internet tours of what excites me musically - and subjected to them frequently. Hence the blog, I guess. Dad (a onetime music history major at Florida State and of the best musicians I've ever encountered) just finished watching Arcade Fire's Take Away Show at my request. (It came out in March. I just caught up last week. Psh.) Before that, I made him watch "The Penalty" by Beirut (see previous least this one's only three months old). Dad's a good sport. We're commenting on the way that even though these two groups have chosen different instruments, they've both stepped outside the norm (rock n' roll-wise) and employed not just unusual strings and percussion, but several wind instruments as well.

See, we're both wind players. He played the clarinet for many years and since then has turned to numerous old wind instruments like the baroque flute and recorder. I've been playing the flute for 11 years, and the piccolo for five. (Plus, I'm a really bad guitar player now, too...) I grew up playing duets with Dad in our kitchen. Kitchens have nice acoustics.

Point is, we pay attention to instrumentation. In his Take Away Show, Zach Condon utilizes not one, but two euphoniums (Dad raises his eyebrows. "Two euphoniums?"), as well as a trumpet and a couple other things. This sort of accordion-related, big-band concept seems to have been getting less unusual lately. As someone who's rapidly stumbling upon better and better music by the day, I can't tell if it's just that I haven't been looking until now or if it's really a trend. Whatever the case, string basses have been popping up all over, accompanied by hand cymbals, ukuleles, horns of all types, dancing cellists, and what have you. I'm extremely ok with this.

We watch as Win Butler and the whole crew warm up, playing arpeggios and drinking tea to loosen up vocal cords. ("That guy plays French horn and bass clarinet?" asks Dad.)
The room they're in sounds like every backstage. We've played those very arpeggios, sat on folding chairs in the midst of dozens of others who are doctoring their musical tools, tuning up, preparing. Musicians are all the same.

They pile into a freight elevator and play "Neon Bible," from inside, beating on the ceiling and ripping up magazines by way of percussion. It's intimate and beautiful and has a thousand times more meaning when you know what a motley collection of contraptions have produced the song. We follow the bouncing camera as they walk through the halls to the packed-to-the-gills auditorium. The crowd parts to Butler's megaphone-assisted requests and they perform "Wake Up" for an audience with disbelief and excitement spelled out across their faces as clearly as if it were in sky writing. "It's such a distinctive sound," muses Dad. "These groups...they're like rock chamber ensembles."

This video is very very much worth your time:

The face of "popular" music is changing. We're not tied down to specific collections of instruments the way we were at the beginning when rock began, or soul, or country, because each genre has influenced every other genre. They're meshing and fading and borrowing, and classical and jazz are creeping into all of them. Ends of the industry become higher-brow while the others go lower. Besides, genres define themselves other ways than orchestration nowadays anyway.

Maybe the holiday stress is going to my head, but it all makes me happy and hopeful. Possibilities seem endless in world that contains groups like these.

Going on vacation tomorrow morning. Will blog again when I get back (unless Grandma's neighbor has wifi...doubt it). Working on Stomp and Stammer ads this week, as well as preparing for an interview with A Decent Animal for SEP. They're opening for Band of Horses on New Year's Eve which is only a week away! I have to resist the urge to squeal whenever I think about it.

Again, joyous Christmakkah everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Also, does anyone know why my banner's all stretched horizontally like that? (See above.) It looked pretty as a PhotoShop file...

"We're gonna need a montage."

Been feeling a bit scattered lately, as evidenced by the lack of posts. It's not that I don't have any ideas, it's that I've got too many.

Here are some of them:

1. A tribute to Of Montreal - themed multimedia, including ridiculous videos, Daytrotter sessions, live performance journal, etc. Really, it's just so easy to talk about them because they're just so interesting (read: "insane" and "musically prolific"). I think this one'll have to wait a couple days.

2. Inspired by the lists upon lists upon lists, I was going to throw a few of my own favorite videos of the year on of which was from Of Montreal...maybe I really do need to do that post...and two of which were directed/animated by the aforementioned Brothers Chaps from

(Heimdalsgate Like a Promethian Curse, Dir: Brothers Chaps)

3. I thought I might point you lovely people toward particularly well-designed record label websites, especially Kindercore's. This Athens label's page is just too cool for words. But to preclude that, I've instead started a lovely link section (to your right) just for neat labels. The criteria for making my label list include, "Do they produce music I want to listen to over and over again?" "Are they nice?" and "Do I want to hug them when they meet me unsuspectingly at shows because they've contributed so much to our little musical bubble?....ahem...sorry, Mike."
(Side note: I think it's funny, in my travels through Southeast record label cyberspace, how many different ones carry at least one release by Neutral Milk Hotel. Yeah, they're unequivocally incredible. But...still. Everyone can't claim them as their artist...Merge, etc.)

4. It's the holidays. This calls for Christmas music. I want to post some mp3s, and I will soon, but for now, visit Y O U or Casper and the Cookies, for some of the best indie X-Mas jams I've heard so far. They're cheesy. They're synth. They're twee. It's good times.

Casper and his cookies:

Aren't they festive?

5. Thought I might marinate on the naming of record labels a bit. Especially one such Cephalopod Records out of Nashville. I like this idea of classifying things based on their number of appendages, and apparently, so does this record label. I wanted to support these efforts.

6. A tribute to the Take Away Shows seemed to be in order. It still is. This is definitely one I'm doing.

Beirut performs "The Penalty" in a French bar:

7. Lastly, I thought I might weigh in on the whole Bradford Cox blogging thing. Maybe I won't, though.

Happy Christmakkah, everyone. Stay tuned. Oh, and what I'd really like for the holidays are comments on my blog.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What are Y O U doing tomorrow?

Deadline at SEP has kept posting to a minimum (or, you know, nonexistent) this week. But fear not, reader! It was worth it. In the February issue, we'll have Y O U on the cover, which kicks a good bit of butt, not to mention a beautifully-written spotlight on The Selmanaires by yours truly. It's going to be lovely.

To hold you over until I can convert my lengthier handwritten ideas to fantastic multimedia blogging form, here's a couple of extremely amusing webistes.

's MySpace features several videos (including Christmas ones!), versions of crappy XMas covers they've done lately, and actually cool videos of their actual songs. I especially enjoy the one made completely out of Lite Brite stop animation and the one done by the Brothers Chaps (of Homestar Runner fame).

The photo shoot for their Performer cover is tomorrow (Sunday) in Piedmont Park on the concert lawn. They need extras, so if you've got a spare minute around 3:30, drop on by. I'll be there, so... These guys have assumed several alternate identities over the years (and still do, I'll grant you), and I think the concept for the shoot involves something to that effect. It should be a good time.

Ok, other amusing webiste involves you once again visiting Have You Heard? and clicking on the Christmas card. Best use of gorilla I've seen all year. Worth a minute of your time, guaranteed.

I promise, the breath-holding while waiting for a meaty FOA post will desist soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pop Quiz!

Oh hey, I updated a lot of the links on the best songs list. Also, a lot of those songs are in the playlist I made on previous post if you want to listen. Before I go to sleep, I wanted to pose an open-ended and nebulous question.

What do Band of Horses and Mates of State have in common?

I know what I think. What do you think?

This is what I think about when I drive. This is why I rear-end people.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Have You Heard....Bees?

Bradley and Adam have thrown down their second episode of Have You Heard? Check it out. They talk about FOA again! Thanks, fellas! Couldn't be happier. You're welcome, Bradley! I had no idea a badly-labeled Band of Bees album that haplessly found itself in Adam's music library would cause so much inter-roommate strife. (It wasn't labeled because I had trouble figuring out if it was the UK or American version of Sunshine Hit Me, and finding correct track titles was a bit sticky, by the way...) They talk about it in depth, and very favorably, with which I heartily agree. A Band of Bees is great! (And they have a new record out called Octopus. Click on band link above for info.) It's a discovery I can thank my friend Bryan for, someone who has the weirdest music taste ever. (Which I mean as nothing other than the highest compliment.)

Speaking of Bees, the aforementioned band, A Band of Bees, goes by the name The Bees in the UK, which is where they're from. Now that they've gained a good bit of international popularity, they caused a serious semantics problem for American group The Bees, which has subsequently renamed themselves The Silver Seas. We covered them last month in Southeast Performer. I like 'em. They're almost old-timey. I don't know what I mean by that. 'Cept that it's good.

Here they, um, bee.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Favorite Songs of 2007

Hello! The six-page handwritten list that's been in my little notebook now finds a home in the blogosphere. The scrawled collection of my favorite songs of the year just kept getting longer and longer. I dare say that it's incomplete as shown here. But have a look, enjoy, and click on the ones that are linked if you want to listen (can't find all of them...yet). Also, please please please comment and tell me about what I haven't included or what you agree or disagree with. If it's not on there, it's most likely because I don't know about it.

Limited to this year's releases. I'll add a list later of stuff I listened to a lot this year that was actually released earlier.

Favorite Songs of 2007 (in no particular order)

Department of Eagles - Sailing By Night
(Really excellent song, very sweeping. I especially love the end. Wasn't too impressed with the rest of the album, was a little inaccessible.)

Band of Horses - Is There A Ghost (I'm thoroughly ashamed to admit that this is currently my ringtone. So infatuated.)

Band of Horses - Islands On The Coast (Ben Bridwell has explained that the lyric is "eyelids want to close," but he thought it kind of sounded like "islands on the coast" there you go.)

The National - Fake Empire (This song is in 3/4 and 4/4. AT THE SAME TIME. It's been done before, but not very often in popular music. It makes my classically-trained brain buzz with happiness. Way to go, The National.)

The Avett Brothers - Paranoia in B Flat Major (The link is currently just a sample...I'll try to fix it. Same goes for the other Avetts songs.)

The Avett Brothers - Shame

The Avett Brothers - The Ballad of Love and Hate

Oh, hey. If you've got a minute, read the ridiculously long column I wrote one night about my obsesson with the Avett Brothers. And then comment on it. Make a sad little blogger very very happy.

Beirut - The Penalty (I ADORE this song. It's basically perfect. Intimate and sweeping all at once. It makes me see sunsets and goodbyes. And hope.)

Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse (Super-happy music about brain chemical imbalance...hmm.)

Of Montreal - Gronlandic Edit (The vocal harmonies alone are worth a good listen. Five-part stack. Hands-down the funniest part about seeing them live at the 40 Watt on Halloween was the fact that there were only two vocalists on stage, but that the audience filled in the harmonic gaps. Hilarious.)

Of Montreal - Suffer for Fashion (I haven't linked it, but see if you can find the Daytrotter version of this. It's without all the electronics, and that makes it even more obvious how well-written it is.)

Biirdie - Him (We received this record at the SEP office, but they're from California or somewhere, which is definitely not part of the Southeast region. So I got to keep it. Thanks Team Clermont! Really excellent, broad, shiny sound. This is their best song, I think.)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Yankee Go Home (Can't find this one anywhere, and REALLY like it...if you have a moment, go listen to it somewhere.)

Fishboy - Blackout/Flashback (Links to the page where you can stream the whole album, worth a listen from beginning to end, as it's a rock opera.)

Radiohead - 15 Step (I'm not linking any of the Radiohead. If you don't have this album yet, shame on you. It was free.)

Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

Radiohead - Faust Arp (This might be my favorite Radiohead song. I know that's a dangerous statement...argue with me.)

Wilco - Either Way

Tegan and Sara - The Con (The title track of a lovely album. Completely worth buying. And I'm always impressed with how many vocal textures these identical twins are capable of. It seems like with two of them and each's range, the possibilities are endless.)

Tegan and Sara - Dark Come Soon

Tegan and Sara - Nineteen (Hands down the most drippingly nostalgic song I've ever heard. It's the perfect breakup song. So literal. And so much about what it was like to be younger.)
Their show at the Roxy last month was excellent, by the way...

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Loop Duplicate My Heart (Silly but wonderful.)

The Shins - Australia (One of my very favorite of the year. Just...excellent. No verse or chorus is the same twice. Excellent work from one of the best songwriters of our time. Who can do better than "Pink Bullets"?)

The Shins - Sleeping Lessons (Very mysterious. Then it rocks out. The perfect first track to an album.)

Radical Face - Welcome Home (If you've never heard Radical Face, you're in for a treat. The atmosphere created by this's gorgeous. This is the first track following the intro, which is called "Asleep on a Train," and you can actually hear rattling glasses and stuff throughout the album, as if you know...asleep on a train.)

Radical Face - Along The Road

Radical Face - Wrapped in Piano Strings

Menomena - Rotten Hell (Just damn cool.)

Maria Taylor - Clean Getaway (Beautiful. If you turn it up REALLY loud, you can hear rain falling in the background.)

The Dimes - Catch Me Jumping (Another thank-you-Team-Clermont record for the music mag intern. I think I got it the same week I got the Biirdie album. Good week. These guys are just...clean and good. Good.)

BC Camplight - I've Got a Bad Cold (Weird. Couldn't really handle most of this album. But this song is awesome. Listen hard. It's not as funny as you initially think.)

Arcade Fire - The Well and the Lighthouse (Ah, Arcade fire. They use a hurdy-gurdy. I'm not linking because everyone, and everyone's brother, already has this freakin' album. As well they should.)

Arcade Fire - Black Mirror

Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running

Ach, that's all for now. May change later. Thoughts?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Listings for the Listless

Pitchfork posted their Year In Photos and it's pretty awesome.

This one's my favorite.

It's Kevin Drew. I need to get that album somewhere...

I'm constantly working on my Favorite Songs of 2007 list, but it's incomplete. My #1 favorite song is in jeopardy because it was definitely playing when I rear-ended a guy on my way to work last I might be re-thinking its designation. It was going to be "Fake Empire," by The National. I'll figure it out. Till then, feel free to experience my Best Albums of 2007 or my most recent compilation, "We are Half Awake."

Might be a day or two on that best songs list because I'm on deadline here at Southeast Performer. I had an incredible interview with The Selmanaires on Wednesday, and attended their photo shoot. It's going to look amazing, and I'm huge fans of these guys. Look for the article in February. I'm also writing a review of the new Paleface record, which I'm pretty pleasantly surprised by.

And if you're hankerin' for some lists, as always, you can visit Largehearted Boy, where there are so many lists, you could swim in them. And they're organized into a...list. Alphabetically. Mine is in the "F"s. Yay.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Have YOU heard music?

When some friends of yours decide it's time they started their own music criticism podcast, I think many people's natural tendency would be to err on the side of skepticism. I'm sure lots of people still view every upstart blog and independent critical or journalistic venture that way. Most of my friends still roll their eyes every time I say the words "my blog." (My eyes roll a little, too, I know.)

So when dear musical dude Adam Trimble (and my own personal provider of all albums I should have but don't) confided to me that he and his roommate Bradley Occhipinti were starting just such a blog and podcast, I was intrigued but unconvinced. I wanted to reserve judgment until I heard it.

Well, I just heard it and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I'm not just saying that because they're my friends (or because they thanked me and plugged my blog at the very end, which made me giggle...a lot). They're well-spoken, knowledgeable, and structure the segment in such a way that it includes all the music they're covering and flows extremely well. I learned a lot listening to them and laughed at their banter all the way. There's more to come from these folks, who plan on podcasting weekly and doing live reviews and the like. These two have also recently formed a band we should look for as they amass material and start recording and performing, called Prove Your Love.

So here's me saying truthfully that this podcast is worth a listen. Their inaugural show covers releases from British Sea Power and Gorillaz, and is an effective introduction to their project. Way to go, boys!

Monday, December 3, 2007

VHS or Beta Review

Giggle. So my very first CD review came out today in our December issue of SEP. You can read it here. Just scroll down toward the bottom of the page. Or read below where I've copied and pasted. Looking back, I imagine I could've could have written it a little better...but whatever. Milestone!

VHS Or Beta —Bring On The Comets

Produced and mixed by Brandon Mason.

Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville, NC

Engineered by Brandon Mason

Mixed at Blackbird Studios, Nashville, TN

Mastered by Fred Kevorkian at Avatar Studios in New York, NY

This Louisville, Ky., trio’s second full-length release swims neck-deep in more of the polished, hook-filled, retro punk/disco-inspired sound we’re used to from VHS or Beta. After the interlude-like intro, “Euglama,” “Love In My Pocket” begins with more guitar and distortion than the effect the album ultimately settles into and as the song progresses, it melts almost imperceptibly into the wider, poppier sound so characteristic of the band, and by the key change before the last verse, we‘re lost in bright, ‘80s glam gloriousness.

If the record has a downfall, it’s that the thumping backbone starts to become monotonous after a while. Though there are gaps between tracks, these don’t provide any sort of real mental hiatus. “Can’t Believe a Single Word,” the album’s catchiest song, seems to melt into “Burn It All Down” at the same tempo like a DJ switching songs, recalling the group’s house roots.

Still, several songs, especially the album’s piano-heavy title track, inspire an appropriately soaring, transcendent feeling. Emphasized by the unison notes following “You took my breath, took my sorrow,” Craig Pfunder’s voice echoes nostalgically before the song rockets into an overpowering bridge and chorus.

The irresistibly danceable nature of the album is compounded even more defiantly by mid-song key changes that drive the listener into the next track. The band utilizes a more guitar-centered, less electronic sound than many of its dance-driven counterparts, and the momentum keeps rolling forward during the first half of the album, finally slowing down after “Bring On The Comets.”

The album’s final cut, “The Stars Where We Came From,” recalls the rhythmic and melodic elements of the title track, becoming a sort of happy reprise. The bass drum only takes a short break during the middle bars of this song. It concludes satisfyingly like a night of dancing. Each song stands up as a carefully crafted piece of disco-punk artwork. (Astralwerks)

-Julia Reidy

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fury, thy name is Chuck...I guess.

Want to see how quickly you can make dozens of music folks in one area angry? My alma mater's Chuck Griffin is an expert.

Check it out.
(Yeah, I commented. Couldn't help it.)

Oh, and I particularly enjoy the scathing retort from a Flagpole writer [Edit: He's not a writer. He's their MUSIC EDITOR. Pretty big difference]. Must be weird to anger people from such an admirable least I'd be weirded out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Are Half Awake

Here is my most recent compilation. It's been modified pretty heavily due to Project Playlist not having all the songs I want. Absent are some tracks from The Selmanaires, one from Mates of State, one from Tegan and Sara. Also, they didn't have either of hte Avett Brothers songs I wanted to use, but the ones up there are pretty awesome, so it's ok. Enjoy!

I plan on posting more of my compilations soon, in reverse-chronological order. Don't forget to comment on the "best of" list!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Try not to smile.

Ready for some lists? I know I am...

So! I have an affinity for playlists and compilations. Some will argue that albums should always be listened to in their entirety, as they are one complete idea. I heartily agree. But one of my favorite hobbies is taking my favorite tiny bits of those complete ideas, removing them forcibly from their little habitats and using messy adhesives to slap them in the midst of some other arguably complete idea. I don't personally create mixes with themes like the admirable folks over at Tiny Mix Tapes. While these often make me laugh, I like to simply string songs I've been recently obsessed with together in a logical or aesthetically pleasing order.

Like so many others, I also like to make countdowns and top 10 lists. I'm ignoring your collective sigh. I know there are thousands of other lists (pop over to Largehearted Boy and see a master list of lists), but none are so relevant to me as my own.

Anyway. I present the first installment in the collection of lists I will put forth: FOA's Best of 2007. (Predictable, I know.)
This one's just a simple top ten (with addendum...), but in the very near future I'll be posting Project Playlist compilations of my mixes from the past year, something on which I do spend a lot of time and thought...probably to the detriment of other more productive things I could be doing...

FOA's Best Albums of 2007

(Disclaimer: By "best" I mean that it influenced my musical universe, not necessarily that I think it's objectively the cleanest or most masterful...but really, most of these are the cleanest or most masterful..)

1. Band of Horses - Cease To Begin
2. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
4. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
5. The National - Boxer
6. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
7. Radical Face - Ghost
8. Fishboy - Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lonestar State With The Power of Rock and Roll
9. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
10. The Shins - Wincing The Night Away

Honorable Mention:

Tegan and Sara - The Con (very very good)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder (because even though it's not their best album, it introduced me to the band, whose 2005 self-titled debut is one of the best things to happen to indie rock EVER)

Maria Taylor - Lynn Teeter Flower (ethereal and hypnotic)

VHS or Beta - Bring On The Comets (It was my first CD review. I'm partial.)

The New Whole Usuals - Martin Moeh (weird enough to be noteworthy. Period.)

Biirdie - Catharine Avenue

I'll probably edit this list later. Please comment and agree or argue with me. I want to hear what I've left out. The order is up for discussion to some degree as well. I feel like I've left something out...

Stay tuned for compilations.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ah, there it is.


Courtesy of Under the Radar, definitely one of my favorite music mags. Tasteful, intelligent, etc....not snarky (I hate the word snarky, but by god, sometimes it applies...)

The article that goes with that picture's worth reading, too, if one has the time.

Got the tickets for NYE with Band of Horses. Yay!

This week, I saw Of Montreal play for the second time in 20 days. It was at the Variety here in Atlanta and it was completely worth it. Their show is...trippy, and much better on the larger stage where all their props and light panels could be utilized. I especially enjoyed when Kevin Barnes returned after his costume change halfway through. Two words: thigh highs. That is all. And both times they played "So Begins Our Alabee," one of my favorite songs of all time. I know it's difficult to make statements like that (because I have a ton of "favorite songs of all time"), but this time it's absolutely true.

This week, getting started on Stomp and Stammers venue ads for December, writing an article on The Selmanaires (hooray!), and hopefully attending Band Together (Morning State, The Pendletons, etc.) at The Earl and S&S's 11th birthday party, "Atlanta's Burning" at the Variety w/ Black Lips, Snowden, Deerhunter, and The Selmanaires.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yo Fishboy!

I've already mentioned the glory that is Fishboy, but I feel the need to reiterate. Their album (a rock opera entitled Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lone Star State With The Power Of Rock And Roll) has now been released, and it is sooo cool. If you wanna listen, click on the word "album" above and hear each song streaming for free. If you wanna buy, you can check out the kickass record label of a fellow named Mike out of Athens, Ga. Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records will sell ya a copy and tell you the band's whole history, as well as the histories of several other very noteworthy folks. Yay! I seem to have also managed to get a promise out of Fishbulb himself that the guys will make a trip over to the G.A. in a few months. So. Excited. I love rock operas. And sweatbands.
Oh, and all those illustrations and posters and comics were done by the Fishboy himself. Neat? Yes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Awake with Avetts


It’s 11:06 p.m. I set up for a long, wakeful night. My eyes, glazed with an Americano five hours past and open to almost maximum, dart backward and forward in small motions. I am reading about The Avett Brothers. My heart pounds, maybe from the caffeine, maybe not, as I devour Steve LaBate’s 2006 article for Paste in which he gets to follow them on their trip to perform in Maryland, then in my own college town of Athens, Ga. As I read, their songs play silently in my head, all from their most recent release, Emotionalism. It came out months ago, but I only bought it on Friday, a latecomer to their gloriousness, as I seem always to be to those bands that really matter. “Will you come again? It’s hard to say…I surely hope so,” I hum quietly, the intricate but straightforward melody meandering across my thoughts.

I saw The Avetts live at the Echo Project outside of Atlanta in October. I’d heard maybe a song or two before then, largely ignoring my former roommate’s repeated pleas that I give them a try. To my one-year-younger self, they fell squarely in the realm of bluegrass and country, musical hinterlands into which I simply would not venture, determinedly indie/rock/pop as I was at the time. Since then, I have expanded, it seems, and one glance at this foursome on stage was all it took to convert me completely.

See, I was wrong in multiple ways. First, I should never have so limited myself as far as genre is concerned. One of my good friends spends countless hours calling genres “cheap,” and while I argue that classifications have value (though perhaps very little), he’s dead right on this one. It doesn’t matter by what roads music is made, as long as it’s good. The Avetts aren’t the only ones who’ve chipped away at the boundaries of my taste (using ice picks or something else even pointier and more forbidding to do the chiseling) in the last few months since I began working at my first music magazine. Where even Americana-influenced tunes once turned my stomach, my dislike for country was so vehement, a little group called Band of Horses now makes that very same stomach lurch with pleasure and disproportionate excitement. They still play rock, of course, but it comes with a heavy dose of South Carolina. You hear concert arenas and porch swings somehow at the same time with them, and even the track or two per album that’s almost unadulterated country twang (“Marry Song” off Cease to Begin, for example) makes me smile and sing along. I would have vomited a year ago.

Second, and perhaps more materially, The Avett Brothers (as Dolphus Ramseur specifically told my editor in an interview) are not a bluegrass band. I don’t mean to say they don’t sound bluegrass-y. Of course they do. The primary instruments they utilize are acoustic guitar, banjo, and stand-up bass. Thing is, calling them a bluegrass band would effectively turn the many-tentacled squid that is their music into an earthworm. Or….take the proud soldier that is their music and shoot off all his limbs, rendering him a quadriplegic....I don’t know, both metaphors limp a little too much (and probably deal too directly with dismemberment). I think I like the first one a little better. Anyway. My point is this: classifying The Avetts crams them into a tiny box, artistically. They are several, many, lots, of genres! If they get put into a box, it’s got to be one of those giant packing crates they use at shipyards! Banjo! Electric guitar! Piano! Rock! Country! Bluegrass! Raw, bald, naked, emotional balladry! Screaming! And they’re some of the best songsmiths I’ve ever heard. (Oh god, just listen to “Paranoia in Bb Major”!) I knew they were something special when I saw them live, even though I didn’t know anything of them ahead of time. Their performance energy is superior to anything I’ve ever encountered, and I saw some live shows that very weekend alone that gave them a run for their money. I saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, my favorite band at the time, play just after them, and I think I may have gotten more from The Avetts. Even up against powerhouse performers Man Man (my runners-up, for the record), whose theatrical, gorgeous and just plain psychotic spectacle was a lifetime blue ribbon experience, I think The Avetts are the victors.

They, as LaBate says attack their instruments on stage. For music that’s clean and can be captured somewhat sedately in record form, it certainly is a raucous and reckless beast live. Not unlike some poor, bitten fellow changing into a werewolf when the full moon comes out, “Shame” transformed from down-tempo, layered masterpiece to quick, catastrophic stomper before my eyes that Saturday in October. It didn’t even feel like the same species anymore.

The song didn’t lose any of its beauty in the process either. Seth or Scott (I don’t know who sings first on this one, I’m so sorry, I’m a terrible fan) approached the mic smiling as if he knew what would happen as soon as he uttered its first words. What would happen did happen. “Okay, so I was wrong about / The reasons for us falling out / Of love I want to fall back in,” he intoned, only having reached about the word “I” in the first line before the crowd erupted. Whereas the recorded version waits until the very end to evolve into a bouncier, rockier being, this live performance was just spewing energy from the very start. It was quicker, certainly, but not too much quicker…and louder, certainly, but not all that loud…what they do differently live can’t be qualified, other than to say that there’s an intangible characteristic to their performances that just makes a listener 110 percent convinced that there’s no single ounce of effort these boys could possibly put forth that they’re not already pouring into their audience. And that counts for a lot. Even if their music alone wasn’t phenomenal, which it is, that would probably be enough to make for an insanely enjoyable show.

“Shame” might be a bad example, even. Many of the tunes they play that are already quicker and more energetic on the album just go ballistic on stage. Seth and Scott pound at their instruments, they fall to the ground, they head-bang, their long hair and beards flailing as furiously as their fingers are moving and their feet are stomping. Bob Crawford spins his bass dangerously, making any classical musician wince at the price of replacing one of those mammoths. Lyrics delivered with gusto on the record are screamed when the Avetts are on stage (not that there isn’t a little screaming on the recordings). I doubt it was a deliberate aesthetic the guys adopted way back when they began performing this way, either. I imagine regular singing just didn’t pack enough emotion into it. One gets the feeling they’re just….exploding with music, with feeling, with things to say.

And oh, what they say…I’ve had the record all weekend and I haven’t listened to “The Ballad of Love and Hate” once without crying. I mean actual crying, with tears actually streaming down my face, not just experiencing the slight discomfort of a lump in my throat and moving on. I’ve been sitting in traffic and weeping because of this song. Twice. In two days.

And so, I admit defeat. The Avett Brothers have beaten me, run my boundaries and my genre-mongering into the ground like a runaway go cart that loses a wheel. I am won over. And I just need them to come back around and play. It’s 12:26 and my eyes are now open 3/4 (a ¼ improvement over an hour ago if I really want to sleep tonight), but my heart’s still pounding. Maybe that’s the unwanted side effect of being an Avett fan. All this, well, Emotionalism, isn’t something that can be turned on and off. While I’m in their power, it has me and my heart will beat, and stomp, and scream with them.

“I felt so sure of everything
My love to you so well received
And I just strutted around your town
Knowing I didn’t let you down
The truth be known, the truth be told
My heart was always fairly cold
Posing to be as warm as yours
My way of getting in your world
But now I’m out and I’ve had time
To look around and think
And sink into another world
That’s filled with guilt and overwhelming

Shame, boatloads of shame
Day after day, more of the same
Blame, please lift it off
Please take it off, please make it stop

And everyone they have a heart
And when they break and fall apart
And need somebody’s helping hand

I used to say just let ’em fall
It wouldn’t bother me at all
I couldn’t help them now I can.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today's Favorite Webby Things

So check out a really adorable entry from one of my favorite purely random blogs. Be sure and click on the link in there if you haven't read any of the previous entries, it's very important to the story :)

But WAIT, there's more! The best thing I've seen all day (and I've been awake for a whole three hours...) is this. As many of you may have now figured out, I'm head-over-heels for Band of Horses.

I wish I could show you the picture of them in this month's Under the Radar Magazine, but it's not up on their website yet. As a Georgia alum, this makes me a little too happy.

What? I'm not ashamed.

Going to the Star Bar tonight for our fantastic Performer Presents event! (With the help of the lovely guys at Pop Death Squad, of course.) The Lolligags, Black Kids and Judi Chicago will make for an incredibly danceable evening. Can't wait!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pillow Fight!

Behold: My continuing obsession with Band of Horses is given a new outlet.

They're playing the Earl on New Year's Eve (a SERIOUS underplay for them, which is probably why they're also playing on the 28th and 29th....) and I'm so there.


Sometimes all I want is sonority - consonance. I know there's a lot to be said, and I do mean a lot, for sounds that are harsh, or discordant, or just different for the sake of being different. I'm a huge proponent of reckless experimentation in music. But right now I am tired. And I think I'm getting a cold. And I want to listen to Mozart's Requiem.

Which is probably why I've been listening to this guy so much the last couple of days.

I just can't handle anything with darker tonality. And he uses flugel horn. On more than one song. I mean, if that's not enough of a recommendation, pick up the record and check out the liner notes. Gorgeous, and a laundry list of pretty much outdated instruments used in various creative combinations. So good.

I'm a touch distressed I probably won't make it to hear the Pippettes at Criminal tomorrow night, as I cannot get out of my shift at the restaurant. In fact, I'm working all weekend so no shows for me. I guess I should just shut up and finish writing all these reviews that have piled up. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If only I was this irreverent (despite my disliking for that word...)

Some funny music writing.

So, coming up in the next couple weeks are shows by Tegan and Sara (yay!), a lovely Performer Presents at the Star Bar on Nov. 15 (Judi Chicago, Black Kids, The Lolligags), Band Together, maybe Stomp and Stammer's 11th Birthday Party, tons of other things. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oh, Echo! (part II)

More Echo pictures! Here comes the good stuff...

The Spree's horn section, after transformation into full-blown cult.

Hope for Agoldensummer


Seth or Scott Avett. I can't remember. They're both too attractive to be differentiated from one another.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. There. Are. No. Words.

Hands down my favorite picture of the weekend. Look how happy the guitarist in the back

Alec Ounsworth. Sigh.

Megaphone. "Clap your hands! But I feel so lonely....Clap Your Hands! But it won't do nothing..."

Man Man! onslaught

Ye olde Skirts. I heart Jo Jo.

And that was Echo. All in all an excellent weekend, if exhausting.

This week, I saw Of Montreal (which I did get into, and I did write about, and it was fabulous...sorry for my previous whining...) on Wednesday, Pylon, the Selmanaires, and the New Sound of Numbers on Thursday. I'm tired. Just an excellent week.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Angry Grumblings.

So, I know I promised more pictures from Echo, and they are still pending, I swear it.
Right now I have spleen to vent. For Of Montreal. For Polyvinyl. And for the 40 Watt.

I've been hoping to go to see Of Montreal play tonight there for ages. I mean, come on. Halloween. Athens. Of Montreal (who is almost never caught normally-clad...and whose front man occasionally decides to dispense with the clothing altogether). They're one of my favorite bands and it promised to be quite the spectacle. Well apparently after their whirlwind success over the last year or two, they're a band that's in quite high demand, and they're going to act like it, by god. We've been asking them to put me on the list as a reviewer for weeks and weeks, didn't get a definitive answer until today, and even then were denied +1 and photo pass. Translated, that means if I go, I go by myself. On Halloween. In costume.

And to think, the next installment of my epic mix-CD series, which I completed this morning, features a track of theirs. Now I'm starting to regret my selection.

Sigh. Oh, I'm sure it's not as deliberate as all that. I'm just disappointed. The problem with being addicted to live music is that when it's denied I become a whiny child.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh, Echo! (As promised)

The best of my shots from the Echo Project. Photo credentials are a beautiful thing. And here we go:

Atlanta boys, Elevado:

He lept off the stage, wielding a trombone. It ended up in pieces on the ground. Any middle school band kid's poor mother would be having a heart attack right about now.

The incoming Polyphonic Spree. Oh, the Spree is upon us...


You can see the chorus of similarly dressed and haircutted women with synchronized movements. Creepy? Yes. Awesome? Yes.

Aaand, I'm out of time. More to come. Believe me, the best are still head.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I was minus five in 1981...

Oh, sweet sweet Fishboy. They're fabulous. And they reference the futility of proper name spelling bees and what it's like to be a racecar. How can you not fall in love? Another excellent find from Athens' Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, who I also seem to have a crush on (if you can actually have a crush on a record label...)

In other news, I went to The Echo Project this weekend, and though it was exhausting and I actually did have to work part of the time, I got to see several bands that make me very very happy...irrationally so. They included, but were not limited to:

The Polyphonic Spree
The Avett Brothers(squee!)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ("YEAH!!!!!!")
Man Man (who I hadn't known was so utterly, completely, and unequivocally incredible)
The Modern Skirts
a little Cat Power
some Spoon
and several local bands...

The best part was I had photo credentials, so that means I got some PHENOMENAL shots, which I promise faithfully to post here very very soon.

...I mean...I was practically under Alec was cool.

Oh! Also, I got to meet much of the Paste Magazine staff, who are very nice. Sigh. Good times.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I stole this from the Ephemeral Radio newsletter because it made me laugh so hard.

It's an interview with Aaron Wood of the Atlanta band the Howlies, formerly known as Moresight. I just think it's pretty great. And I don't even know if I've ever heard their music. Pity. I guess I'll just go take care of that.

ER- Aaron, why did Moresight have to die and why did Howlies kill it?
AW- We realized we outgrew Moresight and like HOWLIES which better describes a path we've chosen. Howlies is at once a group of howly people, a Hawaiian term for tourists, and a nickname for Howitzer guns (a field cannon used since 18th century). Also Moresight is bad in loud bars, where people respond to "Moresight" with "Morrisey?","Foresight?", and the real deal breaker: "Foreskin?" One too many gorgeous women got back to me with any of the above misunderstood band names. it was time to go.

ER- What is your favorite memory of Moresight?

AW- My favorite memory of Moresight is a night Justin and I got primally crunk on whiskey and other things and howled with neighborhood dogs in east atlanta for a solid 2 hours starting at 3 am. It was a primitive, dirty, beautiful/ugly, raging, ego-driven state of altered perception and inebriation. There must have been 1000 dogs within a half mile that were shouting back. We really communicated. I didn't know it then, but looking back, I think that night in some way foreshadowed our name change. I also liked the first time we played in Atlanta. We were improv-psych-weird-noise back then, and we managed to alienate everyone in the room in about 30 seconds. what more can you ask for?

ER- How are Howlies different and the "best rock and roll band that's ever existed"?

AW- Howlies are what happened when more than a few screws got knocked loose in the collective head of a really good way. this journalist from Nashville said it best: "HOWLIES play ragged, garage psych that keeps getting baked and wandering off in the woods to freak out. But make no mistake, these guys are muscular enough to snap Devendra Banhart like a twig". -Chris Parker (Nashville Scene) check Why are we the best rock band ever? thats like asking a tiger why it kills cute little deers. I don't freakin know. but I will say this: talkin shit is one of my favorite activities. so yeah, our band is a tiger that eats all the cute little deers. we'll stop eating when we're full.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ongoing List of Incredible Band Names, Part...2?

Chronicles of the Landsquid!
The Alarm Clocks
Social Espionage (sort of a runner-up, I guess...possibly too obvious...)

I've been musing, and I think if I started a band (which I won't, but still), I might have to call it "The Undertaken" or "The Passing Motorists," the latter of which makes me (and no one else) giggle. I guess I should check and see if those names are already taken.

Ok, The Undertaken is already a metal band. Scratch that. But my "band" will be called The Passing Motorists, by process of elimination. Our act will be face-melting, in a slightly bemused, calmy observing and turning one's head as we go by sort of way...

Oh, and today's winner for funniest band bio goes to...(drumroll)...
Slow Runner
Please read the "About Slow Runner" section. It's funny because it's true.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Snickering under my breath

So tomorrow night the The Star Baris featuring UK punk legends The Vibrators. Who else is on the bill? The Heart Attacks and...wait for it...The Vaginas.
Funny? Yes, I thought so.

New discoveries in my wading knee-deep into southeastern indie music:

I love Elevado. Most people are probably saying something to the effect of, "Duh, Elevado's been super-cool for like, years now." Well I'm sorry. I'm new. And most of the time I either live in a cave or am so overwhelmed by the onslaught of music I aggressively seek out and then run away from when it's thrown at me, that I miss the really good acts. I also decided I like the Pendletons, who I never saw in four years living in Athens, but who I might try to catch at aforementioned Star Bar tonight.

This Friday, perhaps my musical travels will take me to Lenny's, the night before their famed Zombie Walk, an event during which I'll proably have to work. Ugh. I really wanna see zombies. I suppose the old mannequin head (whose eyeballs and painted red and whose mouth is dripping blood) my adoring roommate has placed in the hanging planter outside our apartment will have to supply sufficient creepiness to hold me until Halloween actually approaches. It's October. It's not too soon. So what if I bought my pumpkin on September 30....?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Happenstance

I just learned about this. It looks hilarious. I wish "The Happenstance" was a band name, but it's not, so it can't be added to the list. My sadness at learning that fact was immediately wiped out by my excitement at potentially attending this event.

Go here:

The concept makes me chuckle.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ongoing list of favorite band names, Part 1:

A lot of these seem to come from the UK, another point in my ever-adamant argument that the British are just naturally funnier than us yankee-types (even those of us from the southern states).

My discoveries from only my first three days at Perf0rmer:

Swearing at Motorists
The Impossible Shapes
(added9/25)Residential Llama

I know it's a short list, but not just anyone makes the more to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My first foray into music journalism.

It's my second day at SE Perf0rmer, and my opinion of this job is by no means fully formed. The R key on the intern computer's keyboard sticks, a fact I became acquainted with during my first five minutes on the job yesterday morning. By 10:06, I knew my first obstacle. This afternoon, I found an old iMac in the closet behind my desk, the blue translucent kind where the monitor had a handle on top, presumably by which to haul it around, periferals and all. I always thought that particular design element was a bit bizarre...until I had to do that very thing with one for yearbook camp (I know) the summer before my senior year in high school...kinda came in handy...nevermind. So I found this old iMac. It boasted a stained and crust-covered, but functional keyboard, which I have just switched with the other one so that I may be unencumbered as I search for endless indie music news events in other southeastern cities, largely unsuccessfully. I have questions instead about whether it is sanitary.

The office is sunnier than any I have had at an internship so far. I inhabit the interior room, of course, but my desk still faces a ceiling-high, three-panel window with record label and show posters taped haphazardly across it. The bucket of unlisted CD submissions glints in the afternoon light in front of me. Between myself and the window, things are positioned thus: me, my knee against the crappy metal-and-particle-board '70's style desk, my americano from the nasty coffee shop next to Five P0ints Pizza, wires (among them an iPod hookup from some past intern's unnamed iPod), blue bucket of aforementioned CDs, computer monitor (the hulking old kind that's off-white and covered in post-it notes), windowsill complete with stacks of back issues of the magazine and writers' manuals, window. It all strikes me as exceedingly predictable (I knew I was going to work for a music rag that wouldn't pay me...not the richest or most glamorous position). Every time I walk into my editor's office I notice a push pin that's been stuck into the carpet at an unlikely angle and that no one has bothered to pick up. And yet......this editor is passionate about what I'm passionate about. She lights up just like me.

I really like it here. I like that I have anything to do with music. I like that I'm in an office in L1ttle Five, right above an Indian restaurant. I like that I have my own space and that the walls are littered with covers of previous issues. I could be ok with this.

Friday, August 31, 2007

September Days

September comes around again, and with it the knowledge of what was happening a year ago at this time, and a year before that. I measure my life in cycles, annual ones, monthly ones…this time it’s a second degree detachment, my remembrance of the disillusionment I experienced 350 some-odd days ago. How things change.

September of 2006 found me humming the Modern Skirts’ “September Days” with a furrowed brow. The words circulated through my head like so:
“September days are the nicest days of the year
Everything changes and green turns to brown in your eyes
Anticipating anxiety and disbelief
September days are the greatest days of the year
...I'll be painting the windows of your hotel
Aaaahhh” followed by a bouncy piano sequence reminiscent of cabaret music.
And so on.

Back then I was measuring. I was craning my neck 180 degrees to the left and seeing how I had felt the previous Fall when “all this” had begun. By “all this” of course I meant the relationship that was disintegrating around me at the time. That’s all the “this” my brain had room for. I was looking backward and remembering how wonderful it had all been when it started, the twelfth of September witnessing our first kiss in the wee hours of the morning on a dark couch in his living room, the way I seemed almost to swirl bodily in the progressively cooling air I was so swept off my feet. We giggled and stared into each other’s eyes. The leaves fell and everything was bathed in violently beautiful colors and he was violently beautiful to me, and I felt violently beautiful, too. I remember surveying my ungainly happiness with a kind of suspicion, the knowledge that something’s gotta give, that this joyful nonsense wasn’t the stuff real life was made of. The time between last September and the one before watched as we loved and grew annoyed, squabbled, laughed, made passive-aggressive comments, cooked together, traveled abroad, drank, read, watched movies, sang songs a major third apart, frowned at textbooks, frowned at friends, frowned at ourselves, rocketed toward an eventuality that seemed only to include us. Late summer was hot and we forced affection, napping in the muggy daze that had become our togetherness. His bed felt too warm all the time, the room trapping all our restless heat inside until we stewed in it. And still I clawed at him, wrapped my fingers around his arm and dug my nails in. The year has him stamped, scribbled, painted all over it. They are Siamese twins, the year and him. All the things, pieces of myself I acquired during that time, are pieces of him whether he ever knew it or not.

As September approached, the heat and the humming overpowered me, and I recognized more than anything that my feet were a little too firmly planted on the ground. I was swept away by nothing, and these did not feel like the greatest days of the year.

September melted into October. The days finally cooled slightly, but I wore short sleeves the night it ended. I got in my car and drove away, the days of wailing at him concluded, only to give way to days of wailing on my own. And that was it.

September begins tomorrow, and with it comes “anticipating anxiety and disbelief,” but not disillusionment. The song never speaks of whether the anticipation is ever fulfilled. I think not. Anticipation at such a level can never truly be lived-up to—at least not in my schema-driven universe. When I look back one year ago, I shake my head almost imperceptibly with downcast eyes. The only similarity it poses with two years ago is that yet again I felt like flying. Only this time, it was with the disappointment that flowed from me with such force I thought I might lift off from the ground and disappear forever.

Maybe this year i'll be painting the windows of my own hotel.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Study On Love Songs, #1

Pink Bullets by The Shins

I was just bony hands as cold as a winter pole
You held a warm stone out new flowing blood to hold
Oh what a contrast you were
To the brutes in the halls
My timid young fingers held a decent animal.

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short but the days were long.

Cool of a temperate breeze from dark skies to wet grass
We fell in a field it seems now a thousand summers passed
When our kite lines first crossed
We tied them into knots
And to finally fly apart
We had to cut them off.

Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass
And awkardly cast
That even I could be the star.

I don't look back as much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay
Warm light on a winter day.

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short but the days go slowly by
Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Study on Phobias and New Residences

It’s early. I imagine things crawling around the edges of my room, their tiny legs whispers of the thoughts that crawl through my mind. I am waiting here. I toss and turn, become a caterpillar of sheets and blankets, linens that hold in my heat. I boil. Become a burrito, the likes of which my sister was when she hopped through the house in a sleeping bag 15 years ago. The things I have done…they come back now, their images forever immortalized in full-color, sepia, black and white. I am haunted by them, as I am tormented by these creatures that scurry. Their trajectories criss-cross my memory and make me up. I am ample and untapped, teeming with stories and emotion.

This marks the first time I’ve woken up well before I had to and gave up my attempts to return to sleep. If insomnia is to plague me in years to come, I have two things to say about it. First, I am thankful that there are years to come. Second, I hope that things will pour out of my fingers during this time. Ink will drip, words will jumble and re-string themselves in thoughtful and brilliant patterns, and I will finally look at something I’ve produced and smile.

The birds hop and peck, arranged in hopelessly random patterns, but patterns that when viewed from above seem to take shape in predictable form. They are unknowingly creating the fabric of life, existence driven by instinct, by the haphazard, but also by some thought, some glimmer in someone’s eye, some harsh and cruel happiness unfathomable and insecure and mysterious, that reveals, if only one small piece at a time, the next step to take, the next place to flap our wings and fly.

Furious and defeated. Birthday overshadowed by battles with various arthropods. We stand, incapacited, clutching our water glasses and broms nad economics textbooks, our instruments of battle, our weapons against these voiceless and utterly creepy assailants. We, two college-educated adults, terrified and dismayed by something that cannot hurt us, does not want to hurt us, and has stumbled accidentally into our world. By mistake. Well, the mistake is ours. We are the unfortunate ones, even if it is the one that meets its demise. (this last is probably untrue.) We break our moral objections to hurting other living things, to toxifying our environment. Our peace is degredated. Chaos begets chaos. The piles of miscellaneous items haphazardly strewn abou seem to bred mystery...and things that crawl.

I wonder about these walls, what they’ve witnessed. The door frame shows telltale signs of having been kicked in, once up on a time. The wooden pieces are broken diagonally, the seam painted over unconvincingly. The walls bear so many small holes where dozens of pieces of personality have adorned the place.

This is some weird headspace. I watch the bug, of which I am so afraid, struggle in the plastic, cylindrical, airtight prison we’ve given it. And then the strangest thing happens. I feel sorry for it. There is no way out. We’ve ensured its suffering and bestowed upon our household an aura of death and dying.

I lock my door with satisfaction and step out into the stifling haze and blinding light of Atlanta summer. I've run around this neighborhood now, the anonymity of only peers evaporated as I leave the College Town permanently behind. The old man on his front porch rocking chair waved as I worked my way slowly past. Here, there is pen on my sheets and coffee on my breath. The mail man, when approached, talks for too long, hungry for human contact on his lonely rounds. The crepe myrtles burst with ugly pink and white blossoms, littering the pavement-ready street with derelict beauty-infused petals.
Now I stand at a computer at my new job. My head bends over my receipts and I click the end of my pen in fruststration. It's so dark here.My shoulders droop in the familiar uniform, everything so similar but so different. The faces smile blandly bewildered at my sudden appearance, my built-in knowledge, my strange position of pseudo-power. They ask me what I studied in school, what a five-letter word for "fancy feather" is, but now who I am or what I'm doing this weekend. I leave the cavernous, dark store with a pocket full of five-dollar bills, a bag of food and a hollow feeling in my stomach that isn't hunger.

They smile at one another, acknowledging some strand of wit, some comment against the establishment that has passed between them. No one finds it strange that neither of them fits easily into a social category, or even into a predictable sexual orientation. They are accepted, their peculiarities a badge of honor. Without the others, they would be shunned perhaps. Why, then, must they necessarily posess the same peculiarities as everyone else does? What value does a blonde streak and a dirty t-shirt lend to a person? A piercing? No one is any more qualified than another to proudly declare themself the outskirts of society. Still...there are many forms of beauty. And I find that this batch of people, with all their mild hypocricies, infinitely more capable of appreciating more of them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ink Blot

Their pages held them, supported them with their papery strength, even as the weight created tiny tears in the fibers. The words were all strung together, the bottoms of "g"s hooking around the tops of "f"s, creating lines of ink that were virtually unbreakable. The words lifted them up, showing how things were, are, and might be, stating fact, opinion, and speculation. It became a veritable safety net. Webs of ideas and theories and statemements adn comments stretched out beneath them and kept them from falling. Sometims they fell anyway. Then, at least, the words usually caught them before they hit the ground.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"How strange it is to be anything at all..."

[Edit, January 25, 2008:
Welcome. I've noticed that a lot of people Google search the phrase "Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all" and come across this page.

I don't know what you're looking for, but my guess is that NMH's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" from the album of the same title hit you, as it did me, like a ton of bricks. I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's probably the best album I've ever heard. Ever.

That song, in particular, served as inspiration for one of my song compilations. I make these, as a hobbby, about monthly. You've been unfortunate enough to come across this, the third entry on FOA, where I showcase the collection of songs in my brain in July of 2007, which, incidentally had a lot to do with Neutral Milk Hotel.

As Rich so accurately pointed out to me, it's been ten years since the release of Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It still has this power over me. It's the album to which I compare all albums. And I've probably mentioned it here at Fear of Arthropods 15 times.

Since July, the site has grown exponentially. I encourage you to poke around. If NMH is what brought you here, then you'll be glad to know it's been pretty much the inspiration for the type of music I seek out, as well as the types of music I make into silly little mixes (see below).

"What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone
I see
Can't believe
How strange it is to be anything at all"]

Original post:

July's mix of the month:

1. Department of Eagles - "Sailing By Night"
2. The Shins - "Young Pilgrims"
3. Radical Face- "Along the Road"
4. Neutral Milk Hotel - "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"
5. Radiohead - "Exit Music (For A Film)"
6. Of Montreal - "Gronlandic Edit"
7. Of Montreal - "A Sentence of Sorts In Konsvinger"
8. The Decemberists - "The Engine Driver"
9. The Shins - "Mine's Not a High Horse"
10. Regina Spektor - " On the Radio"
11. Maria Taylor - "Clean Getaway"
12. Voxtrot - "The Start of Something"
13. Coldplay - "Kingdom Come"
14. Neutral Milk Hotel - "Holland, 1945"
15. Radical Face - "Wrapped In Piano Strings"

It's brilliant, I promise.
Oh, and let it loop around to the beginning when "Wrapped in Piano Strings" me.

"can't believe
how strange it is to be anything at all"

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"Well, that seemed uncalled-for."

She was jarred awake from a heavy, hot, late-afternoon sleep with fireworks in her eyes. The phone rang loudly and unnecessarily a foot from her head, all the lights inside its '90s transparent plastic shell flashing against its primary-colored component parts. She blinked. Her heart raced and her blood turned to adrenaline as she looked around and tried to return her breathing to normal. She had been dreaming about nothing and about everything. She followed roads that went nowhere, walked into room after room only to find no one with whom she needed to meaningfully make eye contact. This was not dissimilar to her waking life. If you had asked her, she may have been unable to say at which point she had fallen asleep. Even the real world felt like dreamland to her these days.

Sitting up blearily, she realized she had napped in absolutely all her clothes. Her hair still held its pins and her hook earrings remained securely in place. She hadn't moved a muscle as she slept, worming her way through labyrinths only internally.

He was there.

She was alone and he was there and it only took her five to ten full seconds before her mind reached him and a weight descended upon her. So much admiration and resentment simultaneously occupied her thoughts, it was almost impossible to fill her head with anything else. He was there. She wondered in spite of herself what he was doing at that moment, and her frown deepened. She had so much that was all her own - was none of this good enough to hold her attention, to make her independently happy?

Her body ached from the hours of inactivity and she stretched, rolling her head from one side to the other, maybe hoping just a little that some of these excess thoughts would fall accidentally out of her ears as she did so, and be kicked under the bed and forgotten. These ideas certainly should have been disposable ones, expendable and the equivalent of extra cargo. They were simply that - baggage.

A loud dial tone issued through the answering machine in the other room and echoed around the house, bouncing off all the same hard surfaces that made it an ideal spot for musical acoustics. The clock ticked and the fan whirred and she tried to will alertness into herself, letting the sleep haze wash away gradually, eroding like waves lapping at a seashore. It was odious to return to a reality she was so ambivalent about, to re-realize where she was, who she was, and what she didn't have.

[title from "A League of Their Own"]

more than four legs at a time = bad

i fear arthropods. i don't know why. no, i do know why. i find them creepy because they are segmented and leggy and much faster than one would expect. i make no apologies for this.

in much the same way, this collection of thoughts will be segmented. it will scurry from place to place, and may or may not give you the willies.

some will be fiction, some will be memoir, some will be stolen. i will, without warning, take pieces of other people's creativity and reproduce them here (appropriately cited, of course).

so, i attempt to recreate mental textures on paper.
and perhaps i will do so much faster than one would expect. maybe in this way, i am much like an arthropod.

except i don't have an exoskeleton. and i only have four appendages. ok, i'm not at all like an arthropod. fine.