Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best of 2009, Part the Second

Just like I promised...
The best of 2009.. continued...

Bad Romance/Speechless
2009 American Music Awards
Lady Gaga

Last year, Lady Gaga pooped out up out of nowhere. I remember I was at a deli in the Gayborhood and I hear Poker Face and I thought... holy shit! Now, I rarely go out dancing anymore (which is going to change now that I'm not wrapped up in stupid guys anymore) but they played her Let's Dance a bunch of times, the times I did go out... and that shit is FIERCE! She looks amazing, she can actually sing, play and write her own music... and she is like the female David Bowie! HOT!!!

Why is it so great?:

Did you watch the fucking AMA's? Her performance was SICK. She is a genius, she is ferosh, fab, she is everything and nothing all at the same time... she's the musical equivalent to Heidegger's Being in Time... she is... because she is.

Best Lyrics:
"I'll never talk again, boy you've left me speechless..."

I saw these guys in the summer of 2008 at Allgood, I hated that festival and I hated the Avett Brother... ok, maybe it was the heat, dehydration, lack of sleep, lack of the Dead and my sunburn and anger that made me a little less open to new music, but whatever... I was in no mood... hearing that a music reviewer in San Fransisco losely and unwarrantably compared them to TOWNES VAN ZANDT made me less interested in what they had to say, let alone the noise that came out of them...

Why is it so great?:

I heard this song a few months ago on XPN on a particularly low afternoon and thought it was very beautiful. It's desperate, you know... when you're tired, hurt, cold, and all alone... all you want is someone with warm arms to turn to, even if they are bad for you... it's easy to identify with someone so broken down... well, for me it is anyway. This song is simple, clean, and unassuming... NOTHING LIKE THE GREAT TOWNES VAN ZANDT! This song was already on my list, but when avid Avett Borthers fan, Chelsea suggested it to me, I had to agree.

best Lyrics:

"dumbed down and numbed my time and age you dreams to catch this world the cage the highway sets the travelers stage all exits look the same three words that became hard to say i and love and you"

Michael Franti & Spearhead

Just click on the link, I don't need to tell you why this song is so fabulous!

The Swell Season

So, these were the guys who won an Oscar for the song Falling Slowly in the movie Once two years ago. They got married, formed the Swell Season... then got divorced; very Fleetwood Mac. They still play together, but it's kind of sad... maybe because they are European or maybe because they play folk music... but either way... it's sad.

Why is it so great?:

Have you ever fucked up really badly with someone you care a lot about? You know, said the wrong thing, acted the wrong way, did something really stupid or hurtful? Don't lie, jerk, of course you have, we all have. This song is a man's attempt to get someone he loves to sit down, on their terms, and listen to what he has to say. he wants to try and fix things and he misses this person. He may not be able to, but he has to try.

Their sound reminds me of 1970's Bob Dylan, but the writing is a little reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, if you ask me. Grab a beer, a cigarette, and a pen and paper... because after you listen to this, you will be reminded of your mistakes and the one that got away... and you should write about it...

Best Lyrics:

"I wanna turn this thing around, I wanna drink with you all night until we both fall down..."

Good Times
Susie Shu

Another fantastic find from One Tree Hill, Susie Shu is an amazing singer songwriter that has earned a comparison to the legendary Townes Van Zandt. She writes up-beat sad songs in a sad key and is not afraid to put her femininity and her anger down on paper. Vocally she is reminiscent of more recent folk singer, like Rachel Yamagatta or dare I say Kathleen Edwards but her lyrics and music are from an older generation. She touches on complicated phrasing like Joni Mitchell and croons like female Van Morrison. Call me crazy...

Why is it so Great?:

on a completely personal and selfish note, this sing basically tells my story with a person i like to call "the last one"... it makes me cry. Sometimes you need a good cry, and since Ryan Adams went off and got married, I need someone new to bum me out.

Best Lyrics:

"Well, he told me he didn't know me that well, if only he knew he was my lion and I was his gazelle. Circumstances draw the line, I was never his and he was never mine."

Coming next: Honorable Mentions!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009 Part the First

oh yeah! It's that time of the year, when I tell you what music I liked best! Well, this year I am sure it is no surprise that what most appealed to me most was music about fucking things up with someone and then missing them when they leave... what you may be surprised about, is that that someone is not who you might think... it's actually a few someones.. none of whom are bald...

In no particular order:

Brooklyn (acoustic version)
Wakey! Wakey!

One of the the things, maybe the only thing, I like about the show One Tree Hill, is the fantastic music they feature on the program. One of the background characters in this bartender who knows everyone's drink order before they ask him. Well, at the end of the last episode of 2009 the bartender plays this song when no one is looking.

Why is it so great?:

Now, granted, his piano style is not anything to write home about. I think he needs to make friends with a pedal or two or at least back off a little. But, key banging aside, this song is sensitive. It is an admission that hey, I'm not perfect, but I like you and I hope I can see you again at some point, but until then.. I'll miss you. There is no "I want you back" statement and there is no "I'm sorry"... and he shouldn't be sorry... people fuck up when it comes to relationships... I know I do.. and someone once told me that I should never apologize for who I am... neither should this guy!

Best lyrics:
"I guess it's safe to say, we both can use this fire escape, cause I've been breathing ashes and waiting for something to carry you away..."

People Got A Lotta Nerve
Neko Case

Neko Case, makes alt country super sexy, if you ask me... I mean, shit... she's fucking hot, she's irreverent, and she's 39 years old! She doesn't have to explain herself to anyone. She seems to be that sort of love me or leave me woman, the kind I am always jealous of.

Why is it so great?:

It's catchy. It's happy. and it has to piss at least one guy off... one guy out there who thinks they are god's gift, only to get stomped on by a woman that is clearly out of their league. As if they can be the player but can't deal with being played. somebody call the waaaambulance!

Best lyrics:
"It will end again in bullets, friend"

Ras Trent
Andy Samberg

Andy Samberg is funny... Jewish... and has a good job. All he needs to do is gain a few pounds and grow a beard and he would be A-OK in my book.

Why is it so great?:

Ok, so I go to a a few shows here and there and I have to say, douche bags like this are all over the place. Trustafarians... it's about time someone paid them homage, huh, Dave Matthews?

Best Lyrics:
"Me toil part time at Ja Cold Stone Creamery"

Sweet Disposition
The Temper Trap

Like so many bands who find success through catchy songs that work so well in numerous soundtracks, The Temper Trap will most likely find that they are a mere, one... maybe two hit wonder. Well, in the US anyway...

Why is it so great?:

If you knew me a few years ago, you would remember me as an optimist... and I think that deep down I still am. This song brings that happy Renee out that is so rare these days. But all that aside, this song is an example of spectacular musicianship. Their drummer is amazing and the vocals are phenomenal. I am interested to hear more, but I am pretty sure this will be the last we will be hearing from these peeps...

Best Lyrics:
"songs of desperation...I played them for you"

... more soon... I promise!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Art Imitates Life Imitates Art

A few years ago, in my second year of graduate school I met a boy. He was tall, built like a swimmer, with a beautiful smile, and perfect blue eyes. It's funny, because I didn't notice any of these features at first... in fact... I didn't really notice them for a long time. He and I connected quickly because we were, in my estimation, intellectual equals. We had classes together, and ended up spending a lot of time together. He had a girlfriend back home, but... well, you know how that goes. and as wrong as it was, I believe we were happy and in, what I like to call, "mad friend love", even if it wen way too far.

I remember, one morning, I walked with him to the train station by my house on what would be one of the last times I would see him. I decided not to walk all the way to the station, instead, I stopped on a tree lined block, covered in pink flowers and let him go the rest of his way on his own. I turned around to make my way home, and turned on my ipod. John Coltrane's In a Sentimental Mood came on in the shuffle and I smiled. I knew him so well, that I felt him leaving me forever and when I should have been crushed, the warm breeze shaking the pink petals from the trees, and the sun light breaking through the branches mixed so perfectly with the tenor sax and "scrambled eggs" brushes on the drums completely transformed that moment from one of my trademark overly-dramatic sadness to a warm sweet memory.

and maybe it's because of my tendency to associate the men in my life with music, but now, when I smell the same warmth in the air, or In a Sentimental Mood id playing, like a lite motif, he is brought back to me and I smile. His picture is still hanging on my wall and it doesn't make me sad like the thought of someone I once cared about that walked away normally would. Instead I feel good, better for the time with him, and confident in the fact I wouldn't change a moment of our time together.

Now, of course not every guy I encounter in my life will be as important as others, and of course not every guy will be as great as others, but I hope that I can have more sweet memories, more positive experiences... and I think I am on my way. I have too often tried to hold the men in my life up on a pedistool and when they turn out not to be the people I want them to be, I get upset. Now, I am focusing on how much I like talking to someone or how they make me laugh based on who they are... not who I want them to be. Maybe that's where I went wrong with the last one, the one I still miss, the one whose voice I havent heard in weeks... but I know that I don't want to go down that road again...

so, as much as I miss my friend from Grad School, and as much as I miss the last one, and as much as I am sure I am going to miss the next one... who ever they may be... I can look back and feel warm and feel good and remember them.

but what does this have to do with music you ask?

That's simple...

Push play, close your eyes, and think about a bittersweet memory of someone you miss... and see that it has everything to do with it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm Sorry Neil, I Swear I Still Love You!

I used to have this habit of "assigning" Pink Floyd songs to the important men in my life as a way of keeping them close and compartmentalized. Being an organized control freak, it was important to me that I had a place for each of them. The songs would either describe them or the way I felt about them, or my relationships with them. Us and Them for the guy with whom I would always try to make it work, but it never did. Wish You Were Here, for the friend who made a life choice that was very difficult for me to accept. Time, for the guy who was stuck in a rut, who wanted to escape but didn't think he could. And of course, Comfortably Numb... the sexiest Pink Floyd song. Period. This one was for the guy who didn't know how much I loved PF and tried (successfully) to seduce me with their music...

I have nice memories of those people when I hear any of those songs, and it's always lovely. However, associating music with a person in your life can backfire... and it is for that reason, and that reason alone, why I can no longer listen to Neil Young.

Neil Young, you ask? You may be thinking... "Renee, you love Neil Young, how could you forsake him in this cruel manner?" The truth is, I made the mistake of going way beyond investing myself in a guy... I invested my music.

I think too many people make that mistake. They say, "I'm in love with this person, I want to think of them every time I hear one of my favorite songs... I am going to make it "our song"." KISS OF DEATH!!! They say time heals all wounds, and I suppose that's true, but will time ever give you back your songs? Your music? Doubtful... like our sense of smell will instantly bring a memory back, music can take you back... but unlike smells, music is a cathartic outlet with emotional meaning.

When we tie someone to a piece of music, they become part of that piece for a long time. When you hear the first chord of that particular song, it all comes back. Unfortunately, it's not always a good thing. I used to look for guys who liked the same kind of music as i do, but I learned somethings about myself in the process: 1. I don't care fore hippies and Bluegrass guys tend to drink too much and 2. when you have music in common and things fall apart, your broken heart and anger stay within those notes, and lyrics for way too long.

We already give so much to the people with whom we become involved, that it's not necessary to give them your music, too. Keep that for yourself, because guess what! Your music will never dump you while your standing in a towel in your bedroom, or at the airport, or over a G-chat. it will never cheat on you or borrow your stuff without asking. Your music will love you and care for you until you're ready to move on, and it will always be there when you are ready to come back.

So, while I made that mistake and lost Neil Young for a while, I know I can come back to him whenever I want. Just as soon as the sound of his voice stops making me sick to my stomach.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


NO! Ryan Adamns can't get married!!!


Now he's going to write happy optimistic music and start covering the optimistic songs by Fleetwood Mac...


Monday, February 2, 2009

Bobby for you and Trey for for meee!!


Last week, I discovered that I "won" Phish Tickets for Star Lake (which I learned was what they call the Post Gazette Pavilion) through the Phish Lottery... which was an unexpected event, in that... well... It bounced my checking account. Which was bad news, but as I was told by my friends and even the bank manager that I went to for assistance in the matter:

"Well, at least you got the tickets".

everyone was damn right! Over the weekend thousands and thousands of Phans attempted to purchase tickets from Live Nation's website with horrible results. This is a big deal, as demonstrated by these happenings and goings on being featured as the top story on all the jamblogs...

So, yeah bitches! I'll see y'all at Starlake 6/18/2009!!!

I believe, in the second week of May, when my tickets arrive... I will make out with whichever fedex driver brings them to me, and then I will proceed to make sweet, sweet love them. (the tickets, not the driver... well.. maybe the driver.. we'll see)

It may seem like a million years away as we huddle though the coldest LONGEST winter EVER, but if you close your eyes you can almost feel the sunburn on your shoulders and if you listen carefully you can hear Bobby Weir playing a 25 minute slipknot... Summer is coming, and This show, along with the Dead at the Spectrum and my trip to Red Rocks, will make Summer 2009 pretty effin sweet!

Of course, it's no Bonnaroo... but you know what? There will ALWAYS be a Bonnaroo... I never in a million years thought that Phish would be back together... especially cause Trey's solo stuff is really good, and Mike Gordon is a tool. So, "CampKiz" will have to wait till Roo 2010, which is cool, cause by then maybe Joan Osborn will be back with the Phriends, and I will be able to afford the VIP passes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

30 Minutes of Pure Bliss

So, I have this new job that has many fabulous perks, but one of the best is I am only 6 blocks away from WXPN and World Cafe Live. WXPN holds a weekly Free at Noon concert every Friday, which is beyond amazing because this week's concert was the incomparable Adele!

If you don't know Adele, here is the poop!

She is an AMAZING soul singer from the UK
Her voice is very rich, and she doesn't do all of that horrible curly singing to get her point across
She has been nominated for 4 Grammys
She writes most of her own stuff, but kills the Bob Dylan covers she does
She is a size 14
She is 20 years old

her show was amazing, she has this intense quality to her voice that has the rare ability to come through on a recording the same way it does live.

The only real problem I have with her is that she didn't get up off of her stool the whole time, and didn't say thank you at the end of her set... she just walked off of the stage after her last song... it was very strange.

however, you should check out her music, download this from ITunes:

Chasing Pavements
Right as Rain

it's worth the $.99