learning love songs

est. 2008




Made a list of my favorite albums of the year so far. Everybody else is doing it! Went with 11 instead of 10, because all of these albums have been really great to listen to in my mind. My biggest impression: The alt-rock offerings this year are truly profound and poignant albums, and the alt-country/folk female contingent is killing it.

Also, with upcoming scheduled releases from the likes of Moose Blood, Blind Pilot, Angel Olson, Local Natives, Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard and hell, maybe even Brand New, a year-end list will prove to be quite competitive.

  1. The Hotelier – Goodness
  2. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
  3. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs
  4. Pinegrove – Cardinal
  5. Deftones – Gore
  6. Brian Fallon – Painkillers
  7. Radiohead- A Moon Shaped Pool
  8. Empty Houses – Daydream
  9. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
  10. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it
  11. Daughter – Not to Disappear

Special shout-out to “Best Kept Secret” for being my new favorite song about California and featuring beautiful Chinese strings.

Merits more listens/honorable mentions:
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
letlive. – If I’m the Devil…
Panic! At the Disco- Death of a Bachelor
Beyonce – Lemonade
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Sara Watkins – Young In All The Wrong Ways
Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
Thrice – To Be Everywhere is to be Nowhere
Xenia Rubinos – Black Terry Cat

“I talked about my misery, you called it pain of pain
How we light a pile on until we go insane
‘Til we go insane
Until we go insane
You’re the best kept secret in Silver Lake.”
~Best Kept Secret
case/lang/veirs, case/lang/veirs


Three in the morning and the sad songs didn’t start til 2 a.m. But it was just the right timing, past the point of hoping for sleep while verging on acceptance of the insomnia ahead. Somehow it took several hours of tossing and turning and ruminating before I sought sonic distraction.

Of course, as is often the case, the most suitable finds were perfectly randomized. Old favorites whose notes felt warm and comforting to tired ears, plucked by an algorithm with no knowledge of my state of mind. Listening to these familiar songs, played in past desperate times, reminded me this, all of this, too, shall pass, be it three to five minutes and four to six chords at a time.

This song. This song is meaningful, with glimmering darkness that swallows you whole. Few words, small melody, with cinematic, visceral sound. It reminds me of worse times, and better ones, the safe familiar vision of that light so far in the distance.

“Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame.”

~Breathe Me, 
Sia, Color the Small Ones

What a find. This album is a perennial rediscovery,and well-worth it,because it’s solid from start to finish and desperate folk-sad with an alt-rock sound. Haunting vocals, which, I’d say, all three of these tracks have in common. This is a song for rainy nights and whiskey tears. I’m halfway there.

“Anything to make you smile
You are the ever-living ghost of what once was
I never want to hear you say
That you’d be better off
Or you liked it that way

But no one is ever gonna love you more than I do
No one’s gonna love you more than I do.”

~No One’s Gonna Love You More Than I Do 
Band of Horses, Cease to Begin

Early-stage Radiohead. What more is there to say? Truly one of the best albums of all time, a precursor to the genius works to come with a little bit of that grunge rock angst still kicking around the edges.. Think I found the right album for the remainder of this sullen night. One that provokes a little thoughtfulness, a little depth, which are the intellectual ways to describe wallowing, I think.

“Two jumps in a week
I bet you think that’s pretty clever don’t you boy?
Flying on your motorcycle,
Watching all the ground beneath you drop
You’d kill yourself for recognition,
Kill yourself to never ever stop
You broke another mirror,
You’re turning into something you are not

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry,
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry.

Drying up in conversation,
You will be the one who cannot talk.

All your insides fall to pieces,
You just sit there wishing you could still make love.
They’re the ones who’ll hate you,
When you think you’ve got the world all sussed out,
They’re the ones who’ll spit at you,
You will be the one screaming out.

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry

It’s the best thing that you ever had,
The best thing that you ever, ever had
It’s the best thing that you ever had,
The best thing you ever had has gone away.

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry,
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry,
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry,
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry.”

~High and Dry 
Radiohead, The Bends


So I’ve been all over the magazines and blogosphere lately, scrounging for the best of the best of the best lists. Not only is it the end of the year, it’s the end of a decade, the first of the new millennium. This is huge for us living through it. So as music journalists go, we must analyze, catagor-ize, figure out where the pieces of music fit in a grander scheme. Who started trends, who broke the molds, who went for it and got there, no sweat?

The differences in some of the lists are astonishing. I’ve yet to figure out what my personal favorites have been, but I’m pretty sure it aligns with Rolling Stone’s from what I’ve seen so far — no doubt Kid A as their #1 pick speaks to that. As for Paste, who chose Sufjan Steven’s Illinois album, I see where they’re coming from because it is so unbelievably musical, but I doubt the effect he had is nearly as reaching as Radiohead’s. Whatever that means. Additionally, many albums that personally changed my musical life were heard by a handful of die hard fans, like Lovedrug or Copeland or Circa Survive.

Also, from 2000-2009, I grew up from 11 to 21, most of the music I ingested WASN’T of the times. Zeppelin is still my gold standard of rock ‘n’ roll, and Bob Dylan is still a poet — this is music that is not OF the times, but still greatly affected me, a product of the generation. We can’t consider the times to be the only means that shape us — what comes before is just as relevant as what’s happening now in terms of music, at least. It is timeless. Such is the state of many of the records chosen by publications in their valiant listing efforts — timeless pieces of music that sum up a generational attitude, signify a shift in musical priorities and woo their audiences through a blend of new sound and honest surrender.

But we must give any of the list makers credit where credit is due. At a time when music kind of exploded into a billion little markets, it’s not easy to compare the works of seasoned artists against indie newcomers, wordsmithing rappers with guitar strumming folksters. Yet, they try, because how could we not take a look back?

Long live rock ‘n’ roll, so they once said. Freak folk, I’ve yet to see how long you’re gonna last, but it’s clear from these lists you made your mark. Emo, you came and went and your influence will be forever immortalized in MySpace mockery and swoopy haircuts. Bruce Springsteen, you still have not gone away, and that’s just fine with me.

Death Cab for Cutie, you rocked my world, and everyone else’s. “Plans” is the soundtrack of my decade, I’m pretty sure if I had to make a list it would be my number once choice. No album fits any mood better, no album reads my thoughts better, no album elicits as much personal imagery and emotion than that one. Given to me by my mother on my 17th birthday, which feels like so, so long ago, but wasn’t at all. I was wearing a peach-pink prom dress and a tiara, hadn’t even learned to play piano yet, and still longed to learn the opening notes of “What Sarah Said.” A year later that song would mean much more to me than I could know, and four years later “Marching Bands of Manhattan” rang in my ears as I slinked along, broke and alone the subways. “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” is an acoustic gift, “Summer Skin” fits every fall afternoon. I love “Plans,” and while “Transatlanticism” hooked me onto Death Cab in the first place, “Plans” has a more mature, thorough sound, and a different take on the thoughtful musing all musicians are prone to expose in the events of their life.

Anyway, lists:
Rolling Stone: 100 Best Albums of the Decade
Paste Magazine: The 50 Best Albums of the Decade
Pitchfork: The Decade in Music (enough material here for weeks of thoughtfulness)
NME: The Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade
Billboard: Artist picks of the decade video
Also, I am pretty much on board with Tom Morello’s picks, lots of good ones in there.

Click around and stroll down memory lane…..we’ve come a long way from 2000, and I can only imagine what sounds the next decade will come up with. Like TV, there’s bound to be the best of the best and the worst of the worst, depending on what channels you tune into. Depending who you talk to, and depending on your tastes. The past year, and the best-of-the-decade wrap-ups allude to the fact that the deep insight and musical mastery of Radiohead, Sufjan and their counterparts sings to the generation and its critics alike. That’s a positive sign, folks — no, auto-tune has not taken over good music, no, hook-y choruses and overproduced nonsense will not kill of the passionate pleas of musicians trying to say their piece. That will always make for the best of the best lists, those who take their craft as seriously as a carpenter takes their staircase. It must be aligned, it must be logical, it must have direction, and it must take you from one place to another. Such music will always, always prevail.


iPods on shuffle…I can’t give it up.

1) Say Anything-Spores, In Defense of the Genre
2)Ani DiFranco-Shameless [Re-Recorded Version}, Canon (Disc 1)
3)The Beatles-Hey, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, Help
4)Radiohead-I Might Be Wrong, Amnesiac

I don’t know why but it totally worked. And I love Spores. More on that later.


Radiohead Song of the Week??
The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths in the Cold) off of Hail to the Thief.

Such an awesome song. Such an awesome word–gloaming. I don’t know what it means, but I know exactly how it sounds and how it feels–shadowy, dark, foreboding and lurking from point a to point b. The song warrants a listen for even non-Radiohead fans (which really, pretty much everyone should be by now in one way or another). Even if it’s just because it’s a great example of how much energy a song can capture with relatively simple choices.

Whatever. Just listen to the damn song, especially if you can find a decent live clip. Now I’m listening to “Silver Spring” anyway, because it’s been at least two weeks.

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