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learning love songs

est. 2008

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Cassino

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

4/15/14

I’m reading this book about writing short, and there’s a chapter about song lyrics. There’s another chapter about tweaking the predictable, and others about parallelism and variety. Most of it, almost all of it, reaffirms what I’ve always thought I’ve known – that writing is writing is writing. When it’s good, it’s good, and you know it. 
Nick Torres packs such a punch in this Northstar track off “Pollyanna,” performed acoustic here, that all I can do is replay it, dissect it. The original pop punk setting of the song is fun, sure, but here, he is a master of metaphor, unencumbered. This is literary. This is why I can’t wait for new Cassino material, and why, in the meantime, I will dissect the rest of it over and over again.
“She will sleep here

In between the cracks
Just a flower with a broken back
Waiting for dirty water
Did you sleep alright, did you sleep…?
She’s giving beat stares from being beat all day
Indian eyes in the American way
Hail Marys and ale
A Hailed Mary that ails.”

~Between Horns and Halos 
Northstar, Pollyanna

7/8/12

Woke up in my childhood bedroom. Needed to hear a song. Picked this one.

It’s soothing, with a cyclical melody, gentle picking, vivid descriptors.

“The boat that failed it’s only sail
is burning in the river
It’s heating up the water mains
while the rest of the house just shivers
It’s sinking fast
straight through the grass
A buoyant mask
A medical grasp
And that….

Was all I had to give her

But I will take my hand’s mistakes
Stay afloat in
this flushing river
With the smell of your soul
and fix the bridge that bowed
from the blows that age delivers


But I fear collapse
as your weight will pass
You know I love you more than you will know

Something
is coming for us
It’s coming through the vents
For the worst and best.

And so it seems,
Like old beliefs,
We’re struggling in the water
Fishing for a fish that knows
A way to save the other

Don’t turn blue it’s turning the room
As it spins the violence
Coats the walls in bother
Carousels and comet tails are somewhere in this river
Lonely as lost my mind”

~The River 
Cassino, Kingprince
Closing out what’s become one of my favorite albums of post-college life, this is a song I play to steady, to center, to grab onto. Tonight, after this time-warp trip full of friends and alcohol, the need to get over myself is less than normal. Too worn out to care. 
Here, surrounded by ballerina calendar photos and the wrought iron crosses all I can think of is who I used to be, and how I feel so much more myself at home. Home’s not here anymore; it’s not anywhere exactly, but it’s not here, the place I ran from the first chance I found.  

6/21/12

Something about 12-hour days ending with hot, sticky summer nights makes me want to hear this song over and over again.

The lush and steady rhythm guitar part reminds me of thick, heavy trees in the dark; that slide after the chorus reminds me of driving down the lake to that hard-to-find-in-the-night cabin; the words make me wish I was holding someone’s hand who understood the meaning the same way I do.

We’re all tired, worn, beat, afraid of one thing or another. It’s not easy to “make it” these days, even in the eyes of yourself, much less the world. The former, to me, is the much  more important standard, when it comes to what matters.

But it’s hard to walk by a row of mirrored windows without glancing at yourself at least once.

For whatever reason, I am beating myself up less tonight than normal, and failing to fight the tired. Instead, I listen, drink and dream. It’s true, I am this sentimental. At the least, I’ve stopped apologizing for it. At the most, it’s making all the difference.

If only it wasn’t so often interpreted as weakness.

“Oh this earthquake is shaking our hands
Free at the wrists just as we started a dance
The hardest thing next to diamond rings
Is the coats we have to wear just to make ends meet
I got this year and fifty more to beat
It’s enough to make you give up, she says

I know, I know, I know…so let go


As we sleep in this broken Cadillac
We watch the world leave

It doesn’t look back
I gotta say that, when my heart attacks
Don’t return it, it will fire right back
So let’s just lie here as they paint us black


The nervous ticks only the holy get
The country treats as the cities get sick
The lunatics and the Harlem tricks
The country treats as we all get sick…”

~American Low

Cassino, Sounds of Salvation

4/4/12

I say with certainty this one of my all-time favorite songs. Like, I don’t think my life would be the same if I never heard it. I don’t think I’d be the same. Last summer was jam-packed with Cassino, on walks down to the Pickering, on car drives out to the eastern Finger Lakes and down Route 364 to the end of Canandaigua Lake, winding up at Bare Hill.

I can also say, upon reflection, I didn’t necessarily care what this song was about. I just knew it was beautiful, but the other day, driving the route I always drive only to be averted by traffic cones, it hit me and I realized how much it’s about the chase, the struggle, the trappings of American life.

This is why I say, tambourine hit on the two, please.

“Marionette made its marks, dragging on the pavement.
The dogs of sleep and sick were tangled in the strings that keep the leverage.
Come on, come with light…Illuminate and drive…
I need to leave what followed me
When I washed in from the sea
That’s taken so many of our lives
With its awful waves

Chevrolet is done, it’s sunk into the ground.
Chromes become my dining couch,
The ornament on a broken house,
And the weathers com alive
And it’s leaking inside
Knocked the breakers paralyzed,
And turned my savings on its side.
Its taken many of our lives
With its wild ways
So my mother says

Heaven found on my way out
Heaven found on my way out
Heaven found on my way out
Heaven found on my way out

I took a walk one way…

And with a spark, all the lights in the city started racing
Out interstates and up the up the buildings, through the walls
and turn so filthy
And it lights this room that we pay with our lives, everyday
The toll booth of the birds of prey”

~Kingprince
Cassino, Kingprince

8/14/11

The wheels are heating up to a bend
Gasoline is leaking out like sin
It’s been weld together with my dirty hands
Dressed and ready for the party to begin
I am ready to wait until it begins

I’m curving as I cannonball ahead
Oh I know I can’t go on like that
So I’ll go straight to bed
and then onto the next

I was young when I grew thorns
Got ripped up from the ground

And I have burned my body so thin

I am ready to wait until it begins
I am ready to wait until it begins
I am ready to wait until it begins
I am ready to wait until it begins

~Cannonball
Cassino, Kingprince

It almost scares me how gorgeous this song is. Like, how does a group of people decide to make something so dead-on?

3/30/11

Sad acoustic guitars, all week.

And that is all.

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