I think this is an excellent segue from yesterday, and it’s very on point. Lucinda Williams is always on point writing about love, from her position as a woman who has lived through some serious ups and downs, who has loved many troubled souls and watched them not make it, who didn’t find her personal and professional rewards until she was well over the expiration date that women are usually given for finding those things. From that vantage point she asks, what do we need and expect men to really do for us? And what can lovers ever really do for each other, in the end? What gaping existential void are we asking our mere mortal partners to fill for us? I remember a comment from someone – a poet – that the needs we expect our romantic partners to fill are the same ones that we used to fill with religion. We expect guidance and fulfillment and unconditional love and sacrifice and an ear and a shoulder and a heart to cry to, and the other person inevitably comes up short, because they’re also asking for those things. No wonder so many people would rather burn the world than accept living in a secular society. But regardless if you’re clinging to religious ceremony for comfort or putting all of your emotional eggs in the monogamous long-term relationship basket, those things are still a substitute for the hard work of finding fulfillment within yourself, and there’s no easy shortcut to that. Love and religion can help, or they can hinder you, but you still have got to learn to live with yourself.
There needs to be more baroque pop. There need to be more performers with a self-contained aesthetic and sense of drama. There needs to be more Florence Welch. She has no shortage of dramatic aesthetic wonders up her flowing gossamer sleeves. Listening to a Florence + the Machine record is like submerging yourself in a heady vision, a world filled with medieval and Pre-Raphaelite imagery and possible witchery. Those are things that spring to mind, and would do even if Flo didn’t contribute vividly visualized videos to flesh it all out. It doesn’t hurt that she has the kind of face that’s meant to be rendered eternally and larger-than life. In centuries past, she would have sat for painters. In decades past, she would have been a Hollywood icon. In today’s world, she commands the live-streaming video screens that loom over concert stages. It’s the kind of superhuman charisma that stands out, even in a field already dominated by the charismatic – and inspires florid prose from besotted armchair critics.
Is there anything more Scandinavian than a song about reindeer? I’m not sure how many reindeer pulks you’d find around modern-day Stockholm, but they’re still a fixture in Lapland and adjoining regions. Americans accept Santa’s reindeer as a piece of pop surrealism; in Scandinavia making a caribou carry your shit is just as realistic as having a horse do it. More so, really. Horses don’t do that great in the arctic. Anyway. What I’m saying is, this is a moment of cultural difference right here. The Knife are a Swedish group who are mostly concerned with universal things than know no borders, like love, dancing and lasagna. As it should be, since music is supposed to be cross-cultural and unifying like nothing else. But then you get a song that’s highly specific like this one, and it reminds you that these people live very different lives somewhere quite far across the world, and they get to see and do things that you don’t have access to, like hanging out with reindeer.
I haven’t seen St. Vincent play yet, and I would happily spend a lot of money to do so. That’s something that should happen soon enough, although not soon enough. St. Vincent’s current US tour has a pretty limited run, mostly focused on major east coast stops. It’s kind of a burn that instead of skipping Texas altogether, she’s playing a three day festival in Houston. However, I’m not worried about it; barring unforeseen circumstances, Annie Clark has decades of touring ahead of her. She’s going to be a major player for a while, I think. In the meantime, you can set the countdown for the new album, coming Oct 13th.
This is my second favorite Savoir Adore song. Dreamers is obviously the best Savoir Adore song, but this deserved to have been almost as popular. It sounds like the 80’s, which I’m a sucker for, as you well know. This would be great for the soundtrack of some ridiculously peppy TV show. Heck, it would be great in a commercial. Since those two things are the new modern measures of success in the pop world, and also the main avenue for artists to earn a living nowadays. But both of those things have probably already happened. I wouldn’t know.
This is a song for speeding through the Texas prairie at 100 miles per hour in a black muscle car, in the dark of night. The shrubbery whips past and there isn’t a single light to be seen on any horizon. The rhythm is propulsive but you feel a sense of stillness. You’re suspended in space and time. Time may be a flat circle, but Texas is a globe you can circumnavigate indefinitely. Your dog is snoozing in your lap and you’re in love with the drive, though only as much as the money he spends on you. At four minutes and 50 seconds in, David Bowie enters to remind you, for the nth time, that there is no resurrector. It’s September 9, 2013 the world premier of Arcade Fire’s soon-to-be hit single, brought to you by Sirius XM satellite radio. It’s one of the most unforgettable moments of synthesis between music and sensory experience, completely undrugged, for once, a memory to take to your deathbed. The rest of the album is pretty good, too. End of story.
Everybody’s favorite album of the aughts is Give Up. It really seems that literally everybody you know loves this record. They either straight-up unconditionally love it, or they’ll admit that they used to love it but they were just going through an emo phase and they’re totally over it now, which just means they’re fronting. Just, everybody who hears this record loves it. I love it, you love it, your dog loves it. That, of course, makes The Postal Service one of the most important and influential groups of our time. They invented dream-pop! They invented shoegaze! They invented chill-wave! I’m actually not entirely sure that any of those things are even a legit thing, but it’s true that most of the electronic synthpop that we’re glutted up on now can be traced straight back to this one record.