The Sorrowful Wife

Nick Cave really makes marriage sound like a life sentence with no chance of parole, although, by all accounts, he has a lovely one himself. Well, for many people, that’s exactly what it is. For anyone who looks at ideal models of romance and sees a life-sucking bottomless void, Nick Cave is your man, your guy, your guru, your creep at the door. He’s your ringmaster of why everything is bad and wrong. And that, perversely, makes the dark nights a little more comfortable, if not brighter.

Soren Grey

Today’s mood is the hypnotic electronic goth music of ThouShaltNot. It’s more nighttime or rainy day music, but I find it quite relaxing without being overly gloomy. My inner goth kid, meanwhile, wants to be entertained by something besides the same five dead bands from the 80’s, so if anyone wants to play “you wouldn’t have heard of them”…

Sons & Daughters

No other contemporary band has been as intellectually satisfying as the Decemberists, and so consistently over so many years. The satisfaction, of course, stems from the feeling so rare of being exactly the target audience. Nothing wrong with being a lowest-common-denominator pop fan, but have you ever experienced a mind-meld of esoteric interest with a complete stranger? Colin Meloy writes for people who want listening to a record to feel similar to submerging into a good book. The Crane Wife, out of all of the albums (Decemberists or otherwise) really provides the satisfaction of a series of well-told stories.

Songs of Love

I’m especially fond of The Curse of Blondie because it was one of the first records that I was excited to go out and buy with my own money. I thought it to be an excellent purchase. As it happens, Curse is probably Blondie’s most experimental album, often straying very far from their usual post-punk pop formula. That didn’t exactly connect with the critics or the public, who only want upbeat dance tunes from Blondie. It really depends on how big of a fan you are, if you want to hear slow ballads with saxophone, among other weird things.

A Song to Pass the Time

I have not listened to Fevers & Mirrors in ten years. I’ve continued to play some of the other Bright Eyes records over the years, but this one somehow has just felt wrong. I was never an emo kid in the having-side-bangs sense, but like a lot of sensitive kids, my formative years were blighted by alienation, and in my early 20’s I spent a lot of sad evenings getting ugly drunk to the shoegaze poetry of Conor Oberst. Many of those songs I am now able to untangle from those particular memories and I appreciate them for the writing. I love the lyrics, and though many people are turned off by Oberst’s quavery voice, I love that too. Sometimes, I like remembering what it felt like to be that young and emotional. But this record, it just zooms me too quickly and too hard into memories of being 22, 23, 24 and those – the years that are supposed to be everyone’s best years – were not good years. They were not the worst years, but in hindsight they were the saddest, because I thought that I was happy and living a good life. But perhaps everyone thinks they’re having a good time while they sustain damages they don’t know they’re going to have to learn to live with for the rest of their lives.

Song to Bobby

I love how Cat Power reinvented – or rediscovered – the covers album in the mid-2000’s. This is the thing that everybody does now, like a musical version of the trend for vintage fashion. But it seemed very subversive and anti-pop in 2006~2008 era, just as it had when Bowie, Nilsson and Ferry shook the songwriter-as-demigod cult in the early 1970’s. Doing covers is really all about imprinting other people’s material with your own persona. Having said all that, the song that’s making me wax poetic is actually an original composition by Chan Marshall herself, eased in among classics by Dylan and Holiday. What’s great is how well it eases in. It’s the right intimate mood, the right contemplative thoughts. Who is Bobby, in this context, I wonder. Is it Bobby D himself? Or just some vague Bobby who serves as a songwriter’s casual muse? There’s no right answer, of course, but it’s nice to ask the question. Jukebox, in short, is the kind of record that makes one muse about muses.

Song for Shelter

You’ll either find this epic or exhausting, depending on how much you enjoy the mixological stylings of Fatboy Slim. I think it’s eleven and a half minutes of pure epic. The kind of throw-everything-at-it epic with ambitions of deep import that psychedelic rock bands used to produce because the acid told them they needed to turn the people on, man! It may not sound much like what you’d recognize from your late 60’s “experimental phase” but it’s in the same spiritual wheelhouse. Fatboy Slim wants to uplift you, send you off with a feeling of wellbeing, tune your vibes up, etc. etc. It’s the perfect song for that slow afterglow as you leave that basement acid rave, and the drugs are wearing off and you come out and see the sun rising.