Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thunder only happens

A couple new ones today (again), so I'll make the blurbs short (hopefully) and sweet (possibly). Maybe I'll get to a point this time (we'll see).

The Morning Benders - Dreams (Fleetwood Mac Cover)

This song is much more restrained and lo-fi than the original Fleetwood Mac song, which is fitting for a song made in a bedroom using a couple acoustic guitars, some soaring voices and more reverb and chorus than any band should know what to do with. Regardless, The Morning Benders have turned a song I'm a little iffy about into a song I can leave on repeat at night and enjoy. It sounds like a late night pity party turned into an inspiring life-changing event. If you like what you hear, The Morning Benders have their entire covers album for download at their website.

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Frank, AB

A song about the town of Frank, Alberta that was destroyed by a landslide, (according to Music for Kids who can't Read Good, who posted the track first. Check out that blog for some damn good tunes by the way.) and sounds the part.

The track begins and slowly gains speed and barrels forward culminating in the awe-inspiring chorus consisting of nothing but whoo-ing and chanting and the music builds and it doesn't stop kind of like this sentence and it makes you feel like maybe you can't handle it because it's just so electrifying kind of like a mudslide might be like except I've never been in a mud slide and then it stops.

And the town is levelled.

The bands sounds a little bit like Neutral Milk Hotel (As MFKWCRG pointed out), but have the modern canadian indie pop sound, with the cynicism of a band that's learned some shit. If Jeff Mangum doesn't come back, at least we have someone who can step up to the plate.

[Once again, if you like this then The Rural Alberta Advantage has 5 tracks from their new album, for download at their website. You should go check it out.]

It's new year, and I'm glad to be here

In the near future, the world has become bleak. The threat of war has caused the major powers to begin building up nuclear armouries. Countries that were previously under-developed have become world powers based on previously unknown weaponry. Europe is in a state of flux, with the smaller countries being, for all intents and purposes, enveloped by the larger ones. A strike is launched. All hell breaks loose.

2 years later most of what we now know as the modern world has been wiped out. There are scattered outposts that have been sheltered from the radiation. The north is relatively safe, and also warmer from the outcome of the war. Tribes have sprung up, and we've been sent back to the early days of civilization, with only
scattered guns and twisted metal to remind of what was a reality but 3 years ago.

And still, there is song. Tribes chant, drums are beaten, children yell in tune. Despite our fears prior, those that survived are much happier. Life is harder, but it is also simpler. Technology no longer rules us.

400 years later, knowledge of the past has brought about the evolution of society much faster than before, and we are further ahead technologically than we were in the 21st century. There are superpowers and weaponry again. A war is imminent. It is all cyclical.

Yeasayer - 2080

Monday, July 28, 2008

All my life I'm looking for the magic

The circus rolled into town the other day. I went, if only because I had nothing else to do. This carnival had been built up so much by my six year old mind. I remembered lions, fire, elephants, a charismatic ringleader. I looked forward to this carnival like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. I wasn't even disappointed when I went, it was all a huge spectacle, larger than life, everything I wanted it to be.

But the circus never came again. I remember waiting for an announcement every summer, wanted so badly for it to roll back into town. Perhaps because of this it had been built up so much.

Anyway, it came back, many years later, and I bought my ticket to go. I sat in my seat and waited for the ringleader to arrive, jubilant and peppy. Imagine my surprise when an older and less self-assured man strolled out, speaking into a microphone (a microphone for God's sake). His voice was a little more warbled, less confident in himself. I was let down immediately.

Then out came the animals, but they weren't as big as I remembered them. The lions didn't seem as terrifying, the elephants weren't as towering.

But then I realized, it was these little things, the cracks and flaws, that made the circus so endearing to me as an adult. I wasn't as easily awed or scared anymore, instead I found the magic in the way the lions were so agile, and less barbaric. I found the ringleader to overcome his insecurity and begin clicking wit the audience.

It wasn't the same as my six year old's circus, but I loved it all the same.

Dwight Twilley Band - Looking for the Magic

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm Tired of Fighting

This is a song about sipping whiskey by yourself. It's a song about sitting in the dark. It's a song about quietly strumming an acoustic guitar and imagining a piano and strings and drums behind you. It's a song about giving up. It's a song about trying again. It's a song about moving on. It's a song about looking at the future. It's a song about rooting yourself in the past. It's a song about losing someone. It's a song about finding someone. It's a song about realization. It's a song about being naive. It's a song about love. It's not a song about hate.

Why do we insist on clinging to things we can't have? We understand they are unattainable, and yet we fight for them with every fiber of our being. If only we could move on and accept our fate, we would be happier and healthier, and even if we lose our shot, we can always gain another. Life is a one shot deal, there's no need to spend it fighting for a lost cause.

Here's the best song Beck has ever done.

Beck - Lost Cause

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'll lean on your arm

I'm not a religious person, but not too long ago I stopped into a church. I don't know why I did it. Maybe I wanted to believe in something, maybe I wanted to make it seem like I was more spiritual than I am, maybe I was just curious about what happened in this place of worship.

Regardless I stepped in and found a seat near the back. The tone was very reverent, with heads bowed and hands clasped. It was so alien to my usual nightlife style of living.

I was seconds from leaving, disappointed in what I had seen, ready to give up on religion forever.

But then they started singing.

The choir was, at a glance, a motley collection of parishioners. Some old, some young, not the uniformed clapping women we expect to see. Just some people who truly love their God and want to praise him the only way they know how. They sang, occasionally out of tune, but always with a conviction that made you believe them.

They sang.

And I wept.

I walked out of the church at the end of the mass. I still wasn't sure what I wanted to find when I walked in. I hadn't found religion or anything.

But I found hope.

I found love.

I found strength.

I found myself.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - I'll Be Glad

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm wondering why

So I was lying in bed the other night, listening to some M Ward and thinking about the future, when I just started smiling. This feeling of happiness came over me. This unrelenting joy. Then I realized, I couldn't remember the last time I felt like that. The last time I was really happy.

I wish I could feel like that all the time.

I think we all wish we could feel like that.

We all walk around, looking for that magical something or someone that will make us happy. Some of us find it (at least for a while), some of us don't.

I don't know, maybe I force it upon myself, maybe I don't really want to be happy.

I mean, let's face it, it's easier to write when you're depressed.

But when you truly feel happy, and not just content (which I have felt), you never want to give it up, as much as you know it will leave. They say happiness is a state of mind. Maybe they're right.

Maybe I'll find it someday. Maybe you will too.

Cloud Cult - Happy Hippo

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Split Myself In Two

We all get the feeling that we want to go home sometimes. Even when we haven't left, we feel like we want to go back. We've been pushed away so much, we just want to be the way we were before.

Even so, we can't help but look back. Our lives are perpetually conflicted between yearning for the past and striving for the future, and this is what tears us apart.

M Ward - You Still Believe in Me

I sat on our couch one day, alone, when she came in. This was another night that she was out and I was in. It was kind of our thing. All our friends wondered how two best friends could be so different, with one striving for human contact and the other striving to avoid it. Truthfully, I couldn't bear to see her when we were out. I hated seeing her with other men. But I digress.

She walked in the door, visibly tipsy, but still making sense. Too much sense if you ask me.

After the requisite greetings and waiting for her to shed her jacket, she sat down on the couch beside me. A little closer than usual. My heart skipped a beat.

She told me of the night she had, the shooters, the guys, the dancing. Getting more and more drowsy as her story meandered on. Finally, her head drooped over and landed on my shoulder, her eyes closed.

"You know I love you, right?" she asked.

I was speechless. I love you too, I thought. I wanted to say it out loud.

"You've been my best friend for so long. I wish I could find somebody just like you."

That ain't enough I thought, you want me to run.

She turned her head towards me, opened her eyes the slightest bit, and gave me that smile that made me die inside.

"I almost feel like I've waited too long to have you"

No, you haven't I thought.

I waited what seemed like an eternity. I grappled with myself.

I didn't kiss her that night. I don't know why.

I should have.

I never had that chance again.

M Ward - Carolina

[I know this is yet another M Ward post. I'll try not to post another one for a while, but I can't promise another song won't grab my heart. Just bear with me, and I'll move on to someone else soon enough.]

Friday, July 11, 2008

The First One to Ask Where You Were

I thought I forgot about you, but then you come back into my life. Not even with a roar, but a putter. Like you can waltz back in any god damned time you want, and I can forget everything, forget what I felt for so long.

Well guess what, you can't.

That's right, I'm past you. I pined over you for so long, more than you'll know. Just when I thought I was fine, I wasn't, and then you left.

Just left.

I finally moved on. I was perfectly happy with everything.

And then you returned.

Well guess what, not this time. I've got my vinyl, I've got my old transistor radio. I'm fine without you.

Who am I kidding, I'll always be your bird. I'll come back anytime you want. I can refuse to help you, I won't be your "DJ on late night radio", but I'll still do whatever you want. I can't help it.

I'll be your bird.

M Ward - I'll Be Yr Bird

[If you get the chance, pick up M Ward's delightful Transistor Radio, on vinyl if you can. I don't know how he does it, but the man manages to sound like he's singing on old time radio all the time. As well as make beautiful music.]

Friday, July 4, 2008

Play Me a Sad Song

The happy, poppy music and chipper vocals betray the actual message contained in the song. The fact that we all must separate eventually. There will be people in our life that we will grow extremely attached to, and we will lose them. They will leave our lives, or we will leave theirs, and we will never see each other again.

There will even be those we love, those we have grown attached to. Maybe we never told these people we loved them. Even after reading/writing this, we will immediately think of somebody we are or were madly in love with that we never told, and we will tell ourselves that we will make this fact known.

This will not happen.

We will not tell them anything. This unrequited love will be our little secret, and eventually we will grow away from this person. We may not love them forever, but we will regret the fact that we never told them.

We will live with this.

And we will need a sad song.

This one will not be it.

Au Revoir Simone - Sad Song

P.S. You don't know who you are, but I love you. You may never know.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All the Songs I Know You Hate

I'm sure we all remember making mixtapes, or at the very least mixed CDs. Tapes were always the way to go. Something about the time it took to wait for the right song on the radio, or line up the needle just right, or to wait through the song previous on the CD just so you could press down the record button with just the right amount of hissy tape silence to separate the songs. There was always something about the clunk of the button that was more satisfying than the click-click-click of burning a CD. There was something about knowing how much time and effort you put into it, of thinking about the choices of songs, of thinking about the order. There was much more planning than making a playlist, listening through it a few times and changing the order before hitting the burn button.

Even the minor imperfections of the mixtape felt nicer than the crisp perfection of a CD. The hissing between songs, the pops of the magnetic tape (amplified by the pops on that record you recorded from), the barely audible clunk of the button used to stop the tape while you cued up the next song. Even the handmade liner notes felt better to make than the photoshopped CD cover you printed out. The little printer lines aren't enough to make you forget about pulling out all your pencil-crayons and making an incredibly personal cover, tailored especially for the one you made the tape for. Flipping over the sheet of shiny plastic/paper, you write the song titles and artists, being careful to mask your terrible writing so the person can read the song list. You though carefully about this, and a copy paste from your music player of choice just won't cut it.

Beyond just the songs you chose, the order in which you chose them is extremely important to you, especially since this was ordered especially for the one you wish to give the tape to. If you wanted Song A to follow Song B, the person has little choice but hit play and let the songs fall as they may. On the other hand, with a CD, they'll look at the song list (typed) and skip to their favourites. The effect isn't there. Every song was chosen with love and precision.

You then had deliver the tape to this person, and with any luck, they will hear it and realize exactly how you feel. And maybe, just maybe, they'll feel the same way.

Daniel Ledwell understands this. He sings soothingly, with a love and dedication that he has undeniably felt while picking out the perfect songs. He places all his hope on this selection of songs. "And if you think it's alright/can I come see you tonight?". Honestly, this is what we do with a mixtape, we put everything we feel into it, and hope it translates. Then the song ends, abruptly, like we hit the stop button just a second too early. But we "took the songs from the radio", so this was our only shot.

And it's these imperfections that we love about mixtapes.

Daniel Ledwell - I Have Made You A Mixed Tape