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learning love songs

est. 2008

Month

November 2014

11/26/14

Focus is hard to find today. I am hypnotized by this song, and also what’s happening outside the windows, for hours now, feeling it better to get lost in something greater than myself. Soft snow falls hard, like a secret begging to be told, a promise hardly kept. Some kind of sweet, small magic, simple and private, turned torrential and vast. I am warm and so cold, here alone in a blizzard, and comfort nears closer with every heavy layer. I am stilled by the subtle quiet of delicate voice and muted drums and strings, by honest sweetness and shy unveiling of naked desires. I am not much for focus today, feeling it better to get lost and dream instead.


“I had a thought, dear
However scary
About that night
The bugs and the dirt
Why were you digging?
What did you bury
Before those hands pulled me
From the earth? 

I will not ask you where you came from,
I will not ask you and neither should you,
Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips,
We should just kiss like real people do.
 

I knew that look dear
Eyes always seeking
Was there in someone
That dug long ago
So I will not ask you
Why you were creeping
In some sad way I already know.

I will not ask you where you came from,
I will not ask you and neither should you,
Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips,
We should just kiss like real people do.”

~Like Real People Do
Hozier, Hozier

11/20/14


“Two years now and I’m alone again.
Close your eyes and count to ten and tell me,
How the hell you’ve been?”

~Two Years

Have Mercy, A Place Of Our Own

One of my favorite albums this fall is Have Mercy’s “A Place Of Our Own,” a follow-up to a brilliant first LP called “The Earth Pushed Back.” It’s been something of a record to get lost in.

I can’t get over what a good singer Brian Swindle is. His control is phenomenal, his scream is somehow elegant, his tone is sucker-punched and knife-twisting at the same time. His words are equally sharp and poetic, and I find myself singing these songs with great reverence to their structure. They’ve got this way of taking the strongest line and propping it up with screams and ascending chords and intricate rhythms, and the effect is absolutely gut-wrenching.  

“But what if I was the problem the whole time?
Well, I’d beg forgiveness and oblige.
The ground just opened wide and ate me whole.
Why am I so happy I could die?
There were no words to say ‘goodbye,’

the ground just opened wide and ate you whole.”

~Pete Rose and Babe Ruth

Have Mercy, A Place Of Our Own
Melodically, this band has proven they’ve gained some maturity – these are not static songs, and neither were the ones on the first record, but they’ve condensed them some. I think there’s just as much feel and passion on this as the last one (which made it so damn good) but the wisdom of restraint has arrived. I love the reliance on thick, heavy chords contrasted with quick-fingered melodies. I love how bridges and pre-choruses explode in thundering drums and settle into to a beat.There is such a recognition of movement and dynamics here. I love indie rock bands that aren’t afraid to be loud and pretty at the same time, that aren’t afraid to toy with sad chords in aggressive functions, and so I like a lot of emo music. But lately bands have been building on this strategy in so many ways, and Have Mercy is writing the rulebook on how do it without being maudlin, strange or juvenile. 
Initially with this record, I was apprehensive of something of seemingly formulaic structure after hearing the early singles. But buying this and giving it many repeated listens upon release proved that was just expertise and polish shining through. Everything I first heard when I got into this band earlier this year gripped me instantly and got me hooked. Hearing their latest has something of a deeper connection, it has given me a mark and a moment in the close of autumn 2014. This record is me sitting alone in my bedroom up too late, it’s driving aimlessly around the South Side on the last of the adventurous weekends, and wearing scarves to work. So much good music has come out this year and I had a lot of high hopes for many records, but this one, from a band relatively new to me, sneaked up on me as meaningful. We always anticipate the releases from bands we like will be memorable, important records, but we also never quite know if they’ll suit the scene. Sometimes, you listen and realize what suits you is something you didn’t expect at all.
“Soaking wet
And I bet this is the best night you’ve had in awhile.
Where we met
And I’ll let you call me ‘darling’ but you don’t mean it yet.

I was looking and you had dead eyes.
I could see everything.
You forgot the one rule:
Where we went to, I could tell you everything.
If you ever forget where, I will take you there.”

~The Place You Love
Have Mercy, A Place Of Our Own

11/18/14

For all the trauma and pain of love songs, there exists a much more thrilling but equally dramatic parallel catalog. The one that sings of visceral places, those places where desire lives. This song, a perennial Pandora favorite, makes me feel like floating into love and never coming down, makes me feel like dragging fingers down spines and casting glances to the passenger seat. This, with simple piano, a hint of trip-hop modifications and a major chord transition does not contain much by way of words but says just enough with the right ones. The line about words, cutting you open, that’s a real thing that can happen, but how much can happen when we reach beyond words, when we tap into those other places. Not all love is sad, after all. 



“Wake up look me in the eyes again
I need to feel your hands upon my face
Words can be like knives
They can cut you open
And the silence surrounds you and haunts you.

I think I might’ve inhaled you
I can feel you behind my eyes
You’ve gotten into my bloodstream
I can feel you flowing in me.”

11/13/14

“We know full well there’s just time
So is it wrong to toss this line?
If your heart was full of love,
Could you give it up?

‘Cause what about, what about angels?
They will come, they will go, make us special,
Don’t give me up.

How unfair, it’s just our love
Found something real that’s out of touch.
But if you’d searched the whole wide world
Would you dare to let it go?

‘Cause what about, what about angels?
They will come, they will go, make us special,
Don’t give me up,
Don’t give me up.”

~Not About Angels, Birdy

Another one to dance away the mornings to, another one with swollen hearts and eyes filling up the empty sonic space. Angelic vocals and pianos are almost requisite for this.

Some songs are like deep breaths, suffusing you, washing away the cluttered mess of broken tries and leaving you distilled to your finest nerves.

11/12/14

Nothing but Northstar. So much good new music has come out in recent weeks and I’ve got a backlog of thoughts to think and musings to post, but for daytime listening lately I keep coming back to these Glamour Kills YouTube videos from four years ago of Nick Torres acoustic. I would do bad things like take candy from children and cut off an old woman on the sidewalk if I meant I’d get an hour of songwriting with this guy.And I would like to turn around and scold all those folks chattering too loud during a too-good performance.

Torres’s post-Northstar project, Cassino, said earlier this year they’d have new music by the end of the year. So that’s something to look forward to. I’m counting down the days to the unknown.

“So this is how it ends, toxic and deliberate
She’s blood red at the neck boiling off fingerprints
This hospital love is making death seem elegant
“Just don’t breathe and we’ll stop time”
She said…

“I got this delicate lisp that speaks in tongues and upper lips”
Your silhouette’s my favorite
I’m not letting go of it

I’m not letting go of it

She’s got a leash that grips my teeth
That cleans the air I breathe and
It’s wrapped around this city

You look so lovely running through my fingers
Running through my fingers
Where everything’s always felt right
You look so lovely running through my fingers
Running through my fingers
Where everything’s always felt right

So she glides off the bed with unflinching relevance
and completely motionless
You’re so heavy, you’re so warm
Just a pillow I’ve used a thousand times before
Wrapped in velvet and filled with thorns

I’ve got this weakening grip around her arms, around her hips
Your silhouette’s my favorite
I’m not letting go of it
I’m not letting go of it

She’s got a leash that grips my teeth
That cleans the air I breathe and
It’s wrapped around this city

You look so lovely running through my fingers
Running through my fingers
Where everything’s always felt right
You look so lovely running through my fingers
Running through my fingers
Where everything’s always felt right

~Pollyanna
Northstar, Pollyana

11/6/14

I won’t ever feel better than I do when I hear the perfect song at the perfect time. Or, at least, I don’t think I will, not when it is the ultimate comfort and satisfaction, the blissful calm in the middle of a perfect storm.

This morning I awoke to the new Copeland track and found it incredibly perfect. The slowness, the stillness, the build. This much piano is a delight, a refreshing classic delight, adorned with muted-before-spotlit rhythm, delicate falsetto and the swells of carefully strummed electric guitars. I’ve said “Ixora” is one of my most anticipated albums of this year and this track, “Erase,” delivers nothing I could have imagined and everything I hoped to hear.

The first time I heard Copeland, I was in the passenger seat next to a boy I liked. I was a sophomore in high school. He was wonderful. So was “Beneath Medicine Tree,” and its expounding emotion in heartbreakers like “Brightest” and “California,” and assertive pleas like “There Cannot Be a Close Second.” In a time and scene where this thoughtful sound fulfilled a softer side, I knew this band showcased talent of raw ability but I did not realize what potential there was to come.

Each of their full-lengths holds a special space in my musical memory. “In Motion” was a proper follow, hitting the same highs and extending past, then “Eat, Sleep, Repeat” tread further down the path of introspection. Then “You are My Sunshine” delivered their most masterful musical performance yet, a full-out tapestry of shades and tones and trills in the most serene, composed way. I’ve generally thought the mark of a true artist is one who can always grow, the one who is the effortless, endless ivy climbing up the wall, not the bold, bright petunias that will die with the coming season.

The more I listen to “Erase,” the more I notice its brilliant little choices. How there isn’t really any standard structure, but there is melody that carries and travels and comes to confluence with something like a refrain. How deploying the kick and the string section so close together creates a beautiful kind of crescendo, worthy of a symphony stage. How the spark of inspiration that roused these words is the stark scene of a singular, complex feeling, a feeling of melancholy, ache and tragic realism, a feeling that is love without mention of the cursed and capitalized word.

In this state, with this hope, I’m so looking forward to Nov. 24. I’m so looking forward to hearing more and getting lost. I missed out on the “Ixora” pre-order that comes with the one-week-early release, which was silly of me. That’s alright, as I believe this one will be worth trying to hunt down in record stores rather than clicking through for it on iTunes. This one I want to hold onto. This one I want to study from all sides.

When I hear songs like this, when I listen to the soft honesty of pretty words and take in the brimming strings that serve as curtain to the patient epic grandeur, I cannot help but be inspired for something more to come. The music we hear that comes to mean something in our lives can come from so many places, and it can see us through so many more. Who can know how any art or life or love will grow?

“Sweetest taste, your armor
I can never know
Feeling, hold you’re honor
Bright as falling snow
Now your heaven keeps me honest
But you can see my grey has faded
And you can’t erase it

Never, I know you’re waiting
Listening to your heart
No one seems to notice
That all my broken parts get mended

But I feel alone
And you can’t erase it again

From my words your will was broken
Knowing I’ll never get it back

Feeling all your worries, I can never know
Bleeding for your kindness, I cannot control
Heaven or your Hell when
I have nothing to offer you now
When you feel alone
But you can’t erase it again

You’re still a breeze upon my skin
Close my eyes, breathe you in
I’m still the shadows in your night
Taking over until I fade into your light
But you won’t erase me
Heaven or hell will have to wait
You won’t erase me
So you just colored me from grey

Oh, through the grey
I thought I saw your face
In there I was searching
And I saw these days
When you didn’t know my name, oh
I can’t help this awful feeling
That I can’t erase you.”

~Erase 
Copeland, Ixora

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