Sunday, June 12, 2016


"Here we are again, love
Here we go again
By your side i can't pretend anymoreNow everything starts where it ends." 
~Everything Starts Where It Ends
Lovedrug, Everything Starts Where It Ends

Dear fellow listener and occasional reader,
I want to thank you for stumbling upon this blog in whatever fashion you have. This will be our final post at this particular site, but that's better news than it sounds — we're moving to a shiny new blog with shiny new tools and hopefully going to get our thoughts out to a bigger audience.

Check us out in a few days at where we'll be up and running from here on out. Plus, all our archives will be available there for future perusal.

It's interesting to look at back at my earliest posts and see how some of my favorite artists back then are still my favorites today. I still love dreamy delay, I still love gut-spilling bridges, I still love spine-tingling, hair-raising, fist-pumping hooks. But so much has changed about the music I love and who I am and this blog is a mirror for all of that — the songs that I needed in dark times, or the ones that I used to celebrate on the other side, they say something about the connection between music and listener, between artist and fan. That connection, I have learned, is one of the most powerful in the world.

I've learned a lot in the course of eight years. But with all the music there is in the world, I know I've only scratched the surface.

See you on the other side,

"Hey now, we're wide awake and we're thinking
My darling, believe your voice can mean something
Say hello to good times
Trade up for the fast ride
We close our eyes while the nickel and dime take the streets completely."
Jimmy Eat World, Futures

Thursday, June 9, 2016


"3 AM I scream your name
I don't sleep, I don't change.
There's no magic left ,
No card up my sleeve,
Forever's gone
And I watched it leave.

Maybe I get drunk enough to call you
Admit the thing I'm finally seeing clear
I can make good turn amazing
Then disappear

Matt Nathanson, Show Me Your Fangs 

I’ve never been turned off by a Matt Nathanson album before, there’s always at least two or three song that are these brutally honest and beautiful takes about how hard it is to love and live with abandon, or some equally heart-wrenching theme. Though Nathanson is an artist whose radio airplay is a footnote of his discography and hardly a household name, his songs often have something of a commercially appealing sound with these provocative or vulnerable twists, never safe but never at the cost of pleasant-sounding melodies.

On his latest record “Show me Your Fangs,” the ballads are what gets me, coming in a one-two punch midway through the album on “Disappear” and “Washington State Fight Song,” using an orchestral setting in the former and his trademark solo acoustic accompaniment in the latter.  These songs arguably the most depressing on the album, but I think they're the most effective - while the happier takes in the beginning of the album might be good for a toe-tapping listen once or twice,  Nathanson continues to be at his most successful when he lets his guts spill out on the floor. Album after album, he comes back to these points of no return, where a desperate love is tearing him apart, and each time I'm a sucker for a repeat listen.

It’s hard to tell, with an artist who has been around the block once or twice like Nathanson has, whether these songs are the result of pure emotional inspiration or a more imaginative, fictional spark. But either way he succeeds in bringing forward something real — and really catchy. I've had these songs swirling my head the past few days and while I don't think I'll come back to them as often as I do "Beneath These Fireworks" and that era, they prove Nathanson is a modern songwriter worth following. 

"I wish that I could be a sucker for love
The way I'm a sucker for lying
But I like getting lost
It's easier than finding my way.

I want to start over, pack up, disappear
And come back treating you better
But there's a girl up in Spokane
And I'm like a moth to a flame

Oh, the mistakes I've made
Oh, in Washington state.
~Washington State Fight Song 
Matt Nathanson, Show Me Your Fangs

Friday, June 3, 2016


There's a song off the latest Hey Marseilles album that's been floating around in my head for awhile, probably for about six weeks, ever since I first heard it in a rather serendipitous Spotify browsing session. The song is called "West Coast," and I heard it the first day I woke up in my new home in California.

So maybe part of me will always love this song, because I hear it now and I am flooded with the memories of feeling free, flushed and happy, feeling so enamored and invigorated by new surroundings. As a piece of indie folk rock in 2016, it's a great lead single from a band whose is reliably heartfelt and musically interesting.

Their most recent album -- a self-titled release -- has a few hints of electropop but still spotlights their chamber-pop strings: here we have cellos and violins and mandolins and perhaps some slightly Eastern-sounding instrument that I can't quite name. It's a really lovely little listen, calming and soothing and good for pondering. The album is at its best when tempos stay in a slow to mid range, bringing a sense of patience that is somewhat out of style in an era of frenzied, over-produced radio tracks or sprawling hipster noise rock.

Opening track "Eyes on You" is a fun take on the same old dance, it's a song with a lot sections and rhythms. I like the way it resists its own momentum, the way the rhythm drops out in the bridge before the entry of a melodic and flowing piano. Their cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" (my favorite Bowie song, as it were) is a techy take and plays around with the solos in an interesting fashion, though it's singer Matt Bishop's yearning drawl that gives the track a spine. But it's "West Coast" that I couldn't quite shake, a song that travels from coast to coast and still explores, a song that lives in the moment while gazing at the future in the horizon. It's a beautiful song, and I'm grateful I have reason to remember it.

"Meet me on the west coast,
with the salt air, breathe slow. 
Go out to the unknown,
we'll make it our own. 
Meet me on the west coast." 
~West Coast
Hey Marseilles, Hey Marseilles

Thursday, May 26, 2016


"Hey mother, hey hey mother
Why do you cry?
Tell me what the birds have said about my father.
Hey father, hey hey father
What do you know?
Lovers on the carousel won't ride forever."

~The Carousel
As Tall As Lions, Lafcadio

I re-discovered As Tall As Lions this week, a band I abandoned by the wayside probably about three years ago because it reminded me of times and places I'd rather not occupy my daily memory with, the times and places where I was a person that I was less proud of than the person I am today. But an errant tweet with their name and music in it made me nostalgic for their full and beautiful sound, their poignant and passionate takes and full-out busts. What a treat!

I gave both the self-titled and Lafcadio a Spotify whirl. Ten years ago I couldn't decide which album I like better and that has not changed! But I think I lean ever-so-slightly more toward Lafcadio, because it has a bit more of an edge to it. While the self-titled has the pure and polished beauty of songs like "Maybe I'm Just Tired," "Love, Love, Love" and "Milk and Honey," Lafcadio has the searing pain and unsatisfied longing of "The Carousel," "A Ghost In Drag" and "Acrobat," the song that maybe set the stage for their later work.

It has been a long time since I listened to these songs but I have not forgotten them. They have a richness and a depth that I hear in active bands I love like The Hotelier or The Wonder Years, but with a symphonic flair, like Foxing or The World is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. This band has so many incredible songs, well-formed with memorable hooks and bridges. I saw them once live, at Water Street in Rochester, and they were as locked in and harmonic as their recordings suggest.

And what about those recordings?! They're a little on the analog side, but I love love love that, these do not feel overprocessed or overproduced, and you can hear a ton of space and reverberations in the room. I love the heavy bass lines, the frequent use of silence underneath lead vocals between sections and the ever-occurring busts at the end of the song, where the band just locks in on a melody/theme and plays the shit out of it until a slow, careful resolve. They do this more than once, but it works, and it works well. I nearly cried hearing "Acrobat" again, as I'd forgotten just exactly how magical that build resolve can be.

It made me feel so good to hear these songs again, despite the fact Lafcadio is far from a happy record. Rather, it's about about the dangers and pains of love and attachment, the scary parts of what's supposed to beautiful, and it delivers this message with a melodic assault.

I wasn't surprised, when I rediscovered these songs, that they still sounded so full and beautiful. What surprised me most was seeing they had **a whole 'nother album** that passed me by, that they released in 2009. Somehow I missed this! I haven't listened to it yet, saving it for a long drive or long run or some other time when I feel like I can really hear it. I hope it's good. I bet it's good. Maybe if it was good, though, I would've stumbled across it by now? No matter. It won't erase how good their two most popular records are, records that I will always associate with times and places that, even if I would rather bury them in the past, resonate with the core of who I still am today.

"What if nothing is just that 
And suffering's the only thing we're good at?
Dreaming, picture that
a whole world in a slumber.
But don't g
et too attached to the living,
Even every single memory's fleeting.
That's a fact, being torn asunder.
But to my surprise, 
No reason why, 
One day I woke up and realized

Love love love love 
After some time it's something I find true 
Love love love love 
Love's not a grave, 
It won't decay on you 
Love love love love 
Too many days I was afraid of 
Your love, your love 

Give it to me,
love love love love. 
I'll keep you in my focus
with love and affection."
~Love, Love, Love
As Tall As Lions, As Tall As Lions

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


"It really breaks my heart
To see a dear old friend
Go down in the worn old place again

Do you know the sound
Of a closing door?
Have you heard that sound somewhere before?
Do you wonder if she knows you anymore?

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die

You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye.

Brandi Carlile is one of those artists who I've still yet to really indulge in, but have a feeling I'd really like. This song, "The Eye," has been in my head since I found it on a Spotify playlist late last week, and I love love love it. Whether it's representative of most of her other songs, I can't say, but I can say I've never heard a song of hers that I didn't instantly gravitate toward, and that didn't stick in my head for days -- "The Things I Regret" is equally as powerful but on the uptempo side.

She's got a way with the hook- and in a catchy rock song, that's the part that you need to master. Her voice is strong and supple, and her guitar parts are folksy and melodic. There's a lot of layers here, but the pleasant kind, warm and inviting. Brandi doesn't sugar coat, though, and tackles these issues of dealing with life and love and oneself with some kind of passionate abandon; she's all about never giving up in the face of adversity but instead letting it make you more beautiful, more colorful somehow. And uses these powerful metaphors, about forces of love and war and the universe. Listening to "The Eye" makes me think about the tumultuous times in my life, however distant or recent in memory, and realize how I got through them by finding some sort of center, whether that center was my routine, my company or my discipline.

I was happily surprised tonight when, in going back to look for this song, I found this video with an uncut live performance with Brandi and two accompanying back-up vocalists with some sure and steady harmonies. While I thoroughly enjoyed the recorded version of this song, this video is proof: a good song is a good song is a good song, and needs little else but voices and an instrument to see it through. Purely performance. Simply stunning.

"I am a sturdy soul
And there ain't no shame
In lying down in the bed you've made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay.

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye."
~The Eye
Brandi Carlile, The Firewatcher's Daughter