learning love songs

est. 2008




“I saw this woman with tears in her eyes
Driving beside me yesterday.
She turned her head then I turned mine
And I watched her drive away.

I thought ‘If I could tell her something I would tell her this
There’s only two mistakes that I have made.
It’s running from the people who could love me best
And trying to fix a world that I can’t change.’

All our lives
I watch you search beneath the falling skies
This was no path to glory
You always walk before me

But you came back to warn me
All our lives.”

~All Our Lives,
Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness

I’m more than a little late on the album from former Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon, a record where he proves he is so much more than those bands and names that he has built his reputation on. For the sake of nostalgia, I don’t think I’ll love his newer work as much as I did his past records, but this is its own little shiny gem. It proves McMahon is the rare musician (in this age, anyway) who pursues his art regardless of expected structure, and worked his way onto the pop airwaves from the indie label on up.

I listened to it after hearing the “Cecelia and the Satellite ” single enough times on the radio. Almost every song has just as satisfying of a chorus, tons of piano and bells and little catchy melodies, and some very open-hearted lyrics, true to his form.It’s very clear-eyed and bright, even when in the midst of soul-searching in a less than perfect world. It’s not too happy, as introspection and mortality lurk around the edges, but sonically its sunny as hell without betraying his emo roots. I like how effortlessly it blends dance-pop, fist-bump beats with silky, soaring piano parts, like on “Black and White Movies,” there’s something both current and elegant about it.

I hope there’s critics who are smarter and savvier than me to parce through McMahon’s latest releases, his earliest recordings and channel what has happened in his not-easy life in parallel with what he has produced.  No doubt his illness, his relationships made him grow and change, thus thrusting his work in a new direction. But while many artists find the trials of life pull them away from their art and damage their potential reach and success (cause life is hard, even when it’s easy), McMahon did this wonderful thing where he *found* greater success through the journey. What an incredible story to tell, or to hear. 

“Are you home tonight?
Are you laying in bed watching black and white movies?
All alone tonight
Do you ever rewind to the summer you knew me?”

~Black and White Movies,  
Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness


So I’m listening to the indie-loving college radio stadium tonight, happily driving home in softly falling snow after a fun Super Bowl closing out a hella-great weekend. What comes on but The Last Royals! Recognized them instantly without recognizing the tune, which is one of the joys of terrestrial radio listening.

“So come take my hand,
Maybe you’ll understand,
The faster we run,
The softer we land.

But we won’t change a thing,
Gonna earn what we bring,
You’ll be my queen,
And I’ll be your king.” 

~Come Take My Hands
The Last Royals, The Last Royals

They put on a hell of a show – saw them open for Lovedrug last spring. Was definitely won over, frontman is a hell of a performer, really good vocal instincts and showmanship. Very easy to compare them to The Strokes during the show, but their first LP came out a couple weeks ago and I’m looking forward to giving it a full listen. As far as indie pop goes (especially the Brooklyn-based variety) these guys seem pretty hardworking and focused on traditional tenants of pop rock song styling.

Think this might have to be the song I play on repeat while getting ready in the morning this week (there’s usually one or two in rotation for this purpose). Such a sweet song. Light and loose, good balance of melody and solid pop beat. Forward-looking and carefree about dealing with cares, hook-tastic. I love songs about beating the odds.

Discovering so much new music lately, and feeling like it’s the perfect time to do just that. I’ve been a little all over the map lately (literally, figuratively) and it’s had me feeling kind of disembodied. But that can be a great opportunity to refocus. Here, listening to this song with my cat on my chest and remembering a great show, it’s hard not to think about how though what lies ahead may be absolutely daunting and terrifying it could be equally fun, fulfilling, freeing and exhilarating.


I have to say it, again and again, I’m never unimpressed by radio magic. Example: Been listening to Disintegration a ton, but today my iPod battery decided to call it quits for good.**

Anyway I was driving to work thinking I could really go for some more of The Cure, and, bam – “Pictures of You” comes on (with a shortened intro, but still). Loved it.

And I was also determined to here Taylor Swift’s “Mine” before going home, which I caught on the top 40 station. The DJ made a joke, saying the song could be called “15 Teardrops on my Love Story” or something like that. I laughed, but understand where he’s coming from. Still sang it, loud.

The new Jimmy Eat World single, “My Best Theory,” is awesome. I’m so excited for that album, which I tend to dig overall more than the singles. Still it’s a great song, awesome to drive to, hook-tastic, and I can’t wait for more. I love the perspective of the song, JEW is great for songs that reflect social/political landscapes, they have a subtle way of doing it without being gospel. This song just observes and captures really well, I think.

**This is three in one year, by the by. The new nanos are glorious, though, I might buy one next week.



Minnesota Public Radio playlists have got me thinkn….

You can find the perfect song in the oddest places if you just google correctly, take a few chances and make a few wrong clicks. i’ll probably never listen to these songs again, but that’s okay. Jenny Dalton’s “Married to the Sea” is working for now, and of course the damn song isn’t on her MySpace.

She’s okay, i guess. That other song was kind of haunting, these are kind of poppy.

But hey! Minnesota Public Radio!! Now i know where to go for entertainment.

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