Girlpool – Hire

Needing something to take my mind off the state of the world, work, money, etc., I fired up Spotify for my drive to work and went to see what was in the new release section. I was pleasantly surprised to find a new Girlpool album. I was then further surprised because I’ve been out of it and didn’t know that Cleo Tucker had transitioned. I was not expecting a male voice but I really like it and I think the new album is a reflection of who they are now. It’s not just Cleo’s transition but also they’re older and the songs feel more grown up. I liked this Stereogum review I read in case you’re interested.

In my opinion, people who are coming out as trans during the chaos we find ourselves in politically these days, are the most courageous people I know. To do so under the scrutiny of the music business and public opinion is really fucking brave. Way to go, Girlpool. ✊

I Am the Antichrist to You

Kishi Bashi – I Am the Antichrist to You

I’ll get back to the memorial service playlist (long version) in a little bit but I’m stuck on the Kishi Bashi show I went to over the weekend. Wow. This advice comes a little late as the tour only has two more shows (Charlottesville on Wednesday and Asheville on Thursday) before heading to the UK and no other dates posted, but if you get the chance to see him, you should go. For reasons I can no longer remember I have missed the shows that came within driving distance of me before. Not a mistake I will repeat in the future.

The musicians he has playing with him are really talented and versatile. I feel like the songs really soar in a way that the recorded versions just can’t match. The harmonies are fantastic.

When I’m at a show, I usually grab a couple of pictures when the opportunity presents itself but I don’t usually try to do more than that. Both because my phone’s capabilities are limited and my own concert-going protocol is pretty old school. Be present. Be in the moment. Don’t watch the concert through your phone. Now and then I’ve tried to record some part of a song but the results are usually bad and I’d rather be dancing than standing still filming anyway.

But just before he performed this song, he asked everyone to take out their phones to make a sound effect. If you and a friend call each other, then put the two phones very close together, just a few inches apart, it will create a chirpy, cricket-like feedback. Well, I was by myself. And since the people near me moved a little to be able to get their phones in position to make the noise, I had a clear shot and my phone in my hand. Watch it in HD and full-screen (my daughter always gives me a hard time that I forget to turn the phone for a horizontal shot but then I’d just have people’s heads in the shot) if it looks too small and blurry above.

That’s just him looping the violin and his voice, and the sound is so big. You can really hear the phone feedback clearly at the end of the song. That is not me you hear singing along. If you are in my car, you will have to endure me singing along, loudly, maybe even repeating a song enough times for me to be able to sing the different harmonies, but at a show, I am only going to sing along when the performers are encouraging the crowd to join in. I actually think I’m pretty good at singing along but I’m there to hear them, not me.

This was the only song he did solo, several they played as an acoustic four-piece, then others with everything plugged in and lots of additional instruments. It’s worth the price of admission just to see the banjo light show that Mike Savino brings to the outfit. Go. I can’t imagine you would regret it.


I Wanna Be Sedated

Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated

Half the day I spent trying to think of what song would capture how I’m feeling on this last day of Obama’s presidency. This one hit me past the 24-hours-to-go mark but I’m still going to post it. I’ve never been one for drugs but I’m currently on my third glass of wine. I have a feeling I’m not alone.

I wish I could be out somewhere in a mosh pit tonight. I went to the eye doctor yesterday and as part of the exam, they took my blood pressure. It’s elevated, though not alarmingly high, and it’s risen despite there being no changes to my life other than the impending disaster tomorrow. I blame the Cheeto.

We have to come up with something to use for all the stuff we are going to blame Fuckface von Clownstick for going forward. It can’t be, “Thanks, Twitler” because “Thanks, Obama” has to remain as is. I love that it transcended the slap it was meant to convey and instead became a rallying point. I want to come up with something clever, but which can’t be flipped to be a positive for the Orange Toddler. Please submit suggestions.

Tomorrow I plan to not watch or listen to any coverage from DC. I will be with friends and listening to music and trying not to freak the fuck out. Stay strong, friends. ✊

The Gloaming

Radiohead – The Gloaming

Oops, just had a Radiohead song two posts ago and another earlier during NaBloPoMo. Sorry, but I’ve been thinking about this album (Hail to the Thief) a lot lately. Both from the dark sound to the inescapable relevance of the lyrics. To say nothing of the title in this election year when the popular vote winner, for the second time in only 16 years, is not going to be inaugurated.

I can’t understand why the Democrats in Congress are not screaming their heads off. I can’t understand why the institutions are sitting on their hands. The man is not even president yet and already the roadblocks that ought to prevent the disaster that is being assembled are failing. How can he be allowed to still be running a tv show while he’s president? HOW?!?! How can he be allowed to still run his companies? Have his children in his administration? Have taxpayers pay for security for his building in NYC because he doesn’t want to live in DC full time? How can he NOT attend security briefings?! It’s another 9/11 waiting to happen, which will be followed by another war. Just stop! Say NO! I can’t understand. When Obama entered the White House he had to give up his Blackberry and follow protocols. Why is this not happening now? Because the Orange One is saying no? Then we fucking say no. No. He’s acting like a fucking toddler, we treat him like one. You do not reward tantrums. You do not get to be president if you refuse to follow the rules for that office. You want to stay in New York and run your businesses and Tweet at actors? Ok then, that isn’t what the president does. You will have to pick. And hey, no hard feelings when you pick the more glamorous, easy job you created for yourself instead of the very ugly and difficult job that has turned every man gray during his tenure.

The Democrats had better get their fucking shit together, and fast. With each nominee he names it gets worse and worse and worse. It’s right there before our eyes, he’s looking to dismantle every agency in the government. He’s got three or four generals ready to swear allegiance to him. Oh my god, how much more evidence do you need that this man is going to be the end of our democracy? Your alarm bells, they should be ringing. Something has to be done. The recount efforts seem stalled. The investigations into Russian vote tampering won’t happen soon enough. I’m ready for the Electoral College option, even though I was against it at first and still feel it would probably result in deaths. I like Lawrence Lessig’s proposal more than others I’ve read but I suspect there isn’t enough time left for that. Then there’s two or three legal though frowned upon ways to get Merrick Garland confirmed. There’s the run off election in Louisiana for the Senate seat and while I doubt that will help us out, my last ditch hope is that a handful of Republican Senators who still have a shred of decency left and who have spoken out against Trumpenführer could be convinced to jump ship. Defect. I’m looking at you John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins. Do it. What do you possibly have to lose at this point? Finally, if nothing else works, the Democrats have to block every last piece of legislation and every appointment he tries to make. EVERY. ONE. Stop taking that goddamn high road and get down in the street and kick some fucking asses. Stop waiting. Stop expecting him to follow norms. Stop deferring to the ways things have always been done. He has no intention of playing that game so why on earth are we?


Help Save the Youth of America

Billy Bragg – Help Save the Youth of America

<political rant>

Do you know anyone who will be old enough to vote in November who isn’t registered yet? Do you know anyone who says they don’t vote because politicians are all the same? Or maybe even someone who is so devoted to one Democratic candidate that they claim they won’t vote in the general election if the person they’re supporting doesn’t get the nomination? Possibly more than ever before, there is no time for any kind of foolish grandstanding. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation this year and we are all going to have to be way more engaged in this battle.

I hope you don’t know any Trump supporters because I think turning one of them around may be an insurmountable task. It’s getting scarier every day. Truly frightening. Trying to get them to see that he’s only using them isn’t likely to work but perhaps it’s possible to get the disenchanted to realize how much is at stake. You have to tell them, yeah, it sucks when everything feels like a lost cause and you don’t like your choices. I don’t care. This is a true national emergency. I sometimes wonder if we’ll even make it to November or if the whole thing will implode before then.

What also scares the crap out of me is even in the best case scenario, what happens with all of those people that Trump has whipped up into a frenzy? He’s legitimatized their anger and given them the space and support to grow. To me this has always been the biggest threat. I don’t really think Trump even necessarily holds the beliefs he spouts at his rallies, he just says what he knows they want to hear. He’s just priming their fear and hatred. It’s all going to blow sooner or later. Do you think they’ll just slink quietly back into the shadows where they were hiding before? Not a chance. I don’t know who or what can diffuse it and it’s ugly. Really ugly.

</political rant>

I admit, I laughed at the Chris Christie memes, but this is no joking matter.


Talking Heads – Heaven

Yesterday I went to a funeral for my former boss at my previous job. He had been really ill from cancer and honestly, if he wasn’t going to beat it (which he wasn’t) then I’m glad he wasn’t suffering any longer. But. He was only one year older than me and he leaves his wife to raise their 13-year-old son alone. His older brother had died some years earlier so there were his parents, outliving both of their children. It was all very sad and it sure made you think about how unfair and random life can be.

He was not religious, pretty agnostic I’d say, so it seemed a bit odd to have the service led by the hospice chaplain. To hear him tell it, after just two visits, my old boss had become a believer.

Maybe I’m just too cynical. Maybe everything the chaplain said was true, or if not true, perhaps it was at least comforting to people who would feel better about the situation if they thought he had come to peace with god before he died.

Not being inclined that way myself, I found my thoughts drifting while the chaplain rambled on about what awaits us in the hereafter. I can appreciate that it would be a difficult day and probably your loved ones are not in a condition to be playing the role that the chaplain did, but this is why I have my funeral playlist. There were a number of songs played at my old boss’s service yesterday. Some unconventional choices which, while not what I was expecting having listened to his music booming out from his office for the better part of five years, were at least a nod to the man everyone knew.

So I returned to the thoughts about what is a service for? My mother pointed out that a funeral, in her book an actual sacrament and religious rite, is more about sending that person off with all the appropriate prayers and solemnity one expects. A memorial service could be more of an occasion for friends and family to remember the person and celebrate their life, tell funny or heartfelt stories. More about the person, less about the death and dying.

I kept thinking, when this is over, and we are safely out of earshot in our car, I am telling my husband, do not let any service for me be like this. Do not, under any circumstances, let some priest who never (or barely) met me, stand up and tell everyone what his ideas are about what I was thinking at the end, or how I was feeling. What comes next. You take my now-renamed memorial service playlist and you hit play.

This song is on there. If it gives people comfort to think about me up in heaven (which I don’t believe in) then let it at least be a bar where the band plays my favorite song, plays it all night long.

Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas

Beach Slang – Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas

Thanks to a random retweet I caught today, I have been checking out Beach Slang. I love the title of their forthcoming album, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us. Pretty great.

The other day This Is My Jam, a music site I took part in, announced that it would be closing up shop. I first got the word from a Facebook post that a friend made, a friend I know from another music site that folded a year or two earlier (sniff! R.I.P. Turntable.fm). And I found that site through a friend I’d made on another music site that’s still in existence but a shell of its former self.

A lot of my friends aren’t really into music. I have a hard time understanding how they can have such a passive relationship with music and they have a hard time understanding why I get so excited about it. We have other things in common and they’re nice people that I like a lot. But there’s something about people who get the same high from music that I do. It’s how it makes us feel, or maybe it’s more accurate to say, it’s how the music expresses what we feel. The thing is already there. Music just gives it shape. When words aren’t enough, that’s where music comes in and fills those holes.

The things I do to find people who feel like I do? I go to shows by myself, I hang out on music sites with unstable futures, I follow total strangers on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. I write about how my life has been influenced by music in hopes that other people who have that same passion will recognize me as coming from the same place and say hello.

South Philly

Cayetana – South Philly

This whole album (Nervous Like Me) is really hitting the spot for me lately.

It’s summer. I’ve waited all through one of the longest, most depressing winters in a long time to get here. I feel like I’m not appreciating it enough. Soon, much too soon, it will start to fade and what will I have to show for it?

I went for a walk at lunchtime the other day. If it’s not raining or too hot outside I try to get out of the climate controlled office so at least I can feel like I haven’t missed the entire summer. There was a group of kids from a day camp playing on a grassy field in the shade. Some of the older kids were playing touch football, another group had a Frisbee, then there were these four little girls facing each other sitting on the grass. They were playing the hand clapping game “Miss Mary Mack.” I was close enough to hear them as I passed by and not a word had changed. It has to be more than 100 years old.

Old and new. Cayetana is one of a bunch of new bands from Philadelphia, an old city (for the US) and an old favorite of mine. Check out the whole thing at Bandcamp.

Alone at the Show

Girlpool – Alone at the Show

Last night I was alone at the show, as I frequently am. I went to see Waxahatchee with Girlpool opening up. I had heard some buzz about Girlpool but other than the fact that the band is two teenagers, I didn’t really have any idea what to expect.

The venue was some sort of former movie theater/small town playhouse. It was extremely quiet, with everyone sitting in their seats and the stage, a wide expanse of black, was nearly empty. They joked, “Welcome to the talent show!” and seemed completely at ease. Just two young women with a guitar and a bass and eyes firmly shut while they belted it out into the darkness.


The songs have a simplicity that’s not surprising given their ages and stripped down sound. As I sat listening to their lyrics and between song banter, with the audience and each other, they began to remind me of something. Ernie Pook’s Comeek.

That’s not another band but the Lynda Barry comic strip that used to run in the City Paper in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. They have a similar combination of innocence and insight beyond their years. Humor and sadness. Awkward yet confident. They felt like the kind of band Marlys would love. Girlpool, girl power. Like the lyrics from one of their songs, “If you are a Jane put your fist up too.” Right on! Even Super Right On!

If you’re not familiar with Ernie Pook and Lynda Barry, man, you are missing out. And if you get the chance to see Girlpool, you should do it.

Bottled in Cork

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – Bottled in Cork

Just like Ted Leo going to see his sister, we’ve been visiting my husband’s family in Sweden. We just got back late on Tuesday and I’m still pretty tired from jet lag and just traveling. I am not going to catch up on all the online finery that we missed without access to the internet, there’s just too much. I managed to grab a little free wifi here and there to add some pictures to Instagram but didn’t have time for much else. That’s mostly a good thing but I do feel like I’m playing catch up.

Hopefully I’ll be back on track with a weekend under my belt. Until then, please enjoy this great send up of Green Day and American Idiot.