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learning love songs

est. 2008

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musicianship

7/15/14



“I hate you
I hate you

I do
I hate that
you’re the one who can
make me feel gorgeous
with just just a flick of your finger
it is that easy

yes there was a time
you didn’t always get your way
back there where my heart
was not so easy to invade
when my battlements were strong
before the pilgrims came
don’t forget you were the one
who loved my wild way.”

It only takes three minutes to be perfectly haunted, as learned from the latest Tori Amos record. Something about the way she pairs this fierce and violent phrase – hate – with a delicate vocal tone makes for the most emotive, vulnerable kind of need and emotional conflict. While the subtle orchestral blends with the rest of the album, everything good and moving about this song is contained in very simple phrasing and structure. Restraint gives way to strength, in the form of saddened declaration.

I remember hearing this song when the album first debuted, and finding it rather striking and stilling and classic Tori on an album where she toys with a lot of new territory. I thought it was the saddest, and perhaps the most heartbroken, song on “Unrepentant Geraldines,” a pensive album that deals with relationships and aging and society in a very smart, strong, artistic fashion.  Today, it is all I can replay,with a little of “Tales of a Librarian” mixed in for highlights, like “Silent” and “Crucify.” Today, all I could do was return to the familiar.

“I hate you,
I hate you, I do.
I hate that
I turn into a kind
some kind of monster
with just just a flick of your finger
it is that easy

of course there was a time
you didn’t always get your way
back there where my heart
was not so easy to invade

when my battlements were strong
before the pilgrims came,
don’t forget you were the one
who loved my wild way

I hate you
I hate you
I do
I hate that
you’re the one who can
make me feel gorgeous
with just just a flick of your finger
it is that easy
to hate you
to hate you.”

~Wild Way
Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines

9/28/12

Here is an album I have loved for a long time, since the first time I gave it a good listen. Must’ve been October, junior year of college. I remember driving from Syracuse to Canandaigua to stay a friend’s cabin for the night where they were recording an album.

I got really lost on the dark roads in the valleys – this cabin was tucked in the hills around the lake, and I wasn’t familiar with the terrain, the road names, or how prevalent deer running across country roads really are. Funny, that I learned to know those same roads pretty well just a couple years later.

But that night, that drive, got scary fast. I hate being lost and this was before I had a smartphone and its wonderful GPS navigation. Not that I would’ve had service anyway — I remember trying to call my friends for help and failing to catch a signal. It was getting dark, I was already an hour late, and I was turning down road after road trying to find a main drag, when I was on this skinny stretch of pavement that turned to stone dust that turned to dirt straight into a bunch of trees.

I still remember how the leaves looked, headlights right up against the branches. It was terrifying, the solitude and the darkness. It was oddly beautiful, exhilarating.

But I had this album on, it was something I hadn’t heard yet, and drives are good chance to get a full album listen in without distraction.  Not sure what to expect but feeling the need for something new, this was playing even before I started to wonder where I was. I found it awe-inspiring, it played away the anxiety and the tension in that moment of stress of human error, and somehow so much more.

So, in front of those trees, I didn’t freak out (much), I didn’t scream (well only once), and I took a seven-point-or-so-turn to backtrack up the dirt, up the stone dust and onto the pavement and county roads. Sure it was dark, and I didn’t know where I was, but how could I not love what I was seeing, these lands stretched and molded under the bright, bright stars in the clearest navy skies you’ll ever find.

Eventually I found cell service, directions, and a boy and a beer waiting for me at a cabin overlooking the heart of the lake and its western shore. Through it all I heard “Mending” two-and-a-half times through.

The atmosphere The New Frontiers bring is soothing and stilling, but the sentiment is a shade or two deeper than that. It speaks straight from the heart, without being filtered through the pretentious, ego-centric mind. So you get big thoughts and deep thoughts, but they’re loving thoughts, telling the truth and surrendering to honesty. Not afraid to mention Jesus (See “Who Will Give Us Love?”, a song that will truly mend your broken heart when the world’s tragedy feels too much to hear anymore), but hardly preachy.

The softest harmonies you can imagine. Gentle acoustic,amplified on occasion, satisfying resolve. Reflective to the most upmost level, almost “Clarity”-like this album has become to me.

If I had to pick, “Mirrors” is probably my favorite track, because I love bells, and because it is ultimately moving, symphonic in the equal part layers of vocal and melody arrangements. The album is stunning, this song shows why.

“Mending” was the only album The New Frontiers ever released. I wonder if it was because they knew they couldn’t top it. I would like to hear more, maybe, but I don’t need to.

This album kept me from losing it one night, and it has a miraculous ability to do so ever since. Without even noticing, I hear a song come up on a playlist, and I relax and smile; it makes my eyes fill with tears that don’t spill over and my heart feels a little lighter and I remember peace.

“This is the house where you were born,
These rooms seem smaller than before.
Turned 22 when were you found,
Shattered and broken on the ground.

They will rob you blind
They will take your peace of mind

And you’ll want to run away from here.I know you can’t escape from all of your fears,
I made my peace with the world and all that it brings,
Holding my own.

We saw a spark within your eyes,
Your face reflected in the light,
We are all angels in the sky,
We are all mirrors in disguise.

We will lift you up,
We will place you on your feet,
We will pick you up,
We will never let you go.

When you want to run away from here,
I found you can’t escape from all of your fears.
I’ve made my peace with the world and all that it brings,
Holding my own.

~Mirrors
The New Frontiers, Mending

7/24/11

“Do you ever stop to think 
Who built those walls around you?
Do you ever wonder 

Who all those people were?
Because the hands that give you shelter 

Are the very ones that you refuse 
And the proof of what they’re worth 
Will live long after you’re gone 

Ne’er do wells and woebegones
Show your face, for we were wrong 
Ne’er do wells and woebegones
Feel no shame, it won’t be long” 
~Ne’er Do Wells
Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound, Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound

I could probably write for awhile about Audra Mae, about the complete richness of her voice, incredible range, and that the dead-on dark and soulful blues sound suitable for day and night. About her so not “the look” look that looks so perfect for what she’s all about.

Homegirl can write a hell of a blues rock tune. You can hear these songs in a dirty bar stage somewhere, somewhere with dirty dancing in the front row and foot-stomping in the crowd and beers spilled on tables going unnoticed in the fray. You can hear her belt the long high notes with pride and passion and fury, imaging a hollering crowd cheering her on and raising their hands in soulful solidarity.

Her band, dubbed Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound, is pretty kick-ass, too. I’ve had a lot of fun listening to this record, as a sassy pick-me-up, or a way to liven up a dull morning or afternoon. From what I’ve learned of Audra Mae (since stumbling upon her on AltPress of all places) she is indeed the real thing, as a track on “Almighty Sound” proclaims —

— music is in her lineage, and she laces in references to her clearly beloved home state of Oklahoma and her probably pretty rad Dodge Dart classic. No shame or shyness, which is so refreshing from a female singer in the age of arguably untalented scenesters who look good in front of a microphone, where laying down sexy whispers crooned over laptops counts as being a singer and all that god-awful pitch correction.

This whole album is a fun, in-your-face, modern Dust Bowl spectacular; but moreso it is the mainstream LP arrival that gets the blog mentions and magazine reviews marking and proving that yes, true talent will still find a way to surface. It’s fun to sit around and complain that real talent gets buried in the masses, but those who are willing to pick up their life, pack it in a car and drive to the destination, play for free and fall on their face til they get it right…they tend to get their moment. They tend to make an impression, and that, to an artist,  is the utmost validation.

12/15/11

Love thissss…..it’s like a music theory orgasm. And I don’t use that word lightly.

Ahhh. Play it again. It feels so good. And Beatles source tapes?! Gyah!

9/26/11

Kind of drunk tonight, listening to Ashes and Fire on NPR and it makes me feel like everything is going to be OK, even if it’s not right now.

I lost my iPod last week. Surviving sure, singin less in the car though. Had my first playing/singing performance last week. I did not think it went well,haha, chords were all fumbly, but friends said they loved it and that was enough to make it worth it.

Ryan sounds so amazing on this album. I am loving it. It is strong and sweet and simple and sad. It is endearing in its authenticity. And that is why we love music so much, right? What’s real about it? Even the pop tunes you can’t help but like (like that fucking ‘my heart’s a stereo’ tune I hear every goddamned day) it’s when they make you think of something or someone or some feeling that they complete you. Even if its for two seconds and then you’re all like “Damn, this song is terrible” and put on jazz.

Ashes and Fire, however, is right where I need it to be.

It makes me want to be in a dusty bar somewhere, with blinking neon lights and smooth-but-worn bar stools. Light draft beer and a bartender who doesn’t care.

“Kindness” is one of the most beautiful, pure songs I’ve heard in sooooooooo long. Love it. “Lucky Now” got me at first listen when it was released, and “Come Home” just makes me cry.

9/9/11

I iz liking playing guitar. Figured out how to tune it with no help today! Well, I used an app, but still. Was all by lonesome. Accomplishment of the day.

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