Sunday, December 20, 2009


Top albums of the past decade

I don't claim to be one of those kids who grew up listening to my Dad's Beatles albums. I didn't make mixed tapes that included bands like The Cure, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Depeche Mode, or Sex Pistols. I liked Tori Amos in high school. I listened to her every day (and was called a lesbian for doing so) the Smashing Pumpkins, Fleetwood Mac, and Fiona Apple. When I was sophomore in high school, I went through a period in which I listened to Three Six Mafia and Crucial Conflict only. I burned cd's for my school dance team that included some run of the mill dance music (Jock Jams anyone?) and didn't even know that music outside of pop and rock existed.

I wasn't exposed to different music genres until I moved to Chicago when I started going to shows and meeting music geeks. Tori Amos was my first concert on October 23, 2001 at the Arie Crown Theater. A troubadour named Howie Day opened for her. A few months later I saw Howie Day at The Vic Theater and a woman named Charlotte Martin opened for him. She covered The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and I realized how much I love that song. I bought two Cure albums the next day. That summer, I attended "Curefest" in Detroit and Chicago where I discovered Interpol, Mogwai, and The Rapture. It's been a glorious music cornucopia ever since.

My journey with music for the past decade has been enlightening, thrilling, and joyous. I have bought (and “illegally” downloaded) thousands of songs and albums, been to hundreds of concerts, and bonded with numerous people over music. I am still discovering "The Greats" (have you people ever heard of this guy named James Brown? Brilliant. Though I think he beat his wife. Jesus man, keep your abuse to yourself damn it) and am grateful to be able to listen to music at any given moment. Thank you internet.

I'm not a music critic. I try to keep an open mind about all music genres (except that twangy pop country shite). I know there is so. much. music I haven't heard, so this list is probably missing some effin' great albums. My "top ten favorite albums of the past decade" list include albums that continue to have profound effects on me; they continue to surprise me each time I listen to them, they inspire me and make me excited about life!

Here they are. And guess what? This list doesn’t include Radiohead’s "Kid A"!

Arcade Fire, “Funeral”

Thanks to the discovery of Arcade Fire's “Funeral”, I was exposed to the beauty of baroque pop. The arrangement of strings and brass, combined with emotionally loaded lyrics makes this album unparalleled. It explodes with life; the angst we all experience, death, love, growing up, and tragedy. “Funeral” is so ingenious that it exposes human suffering in an enlightening way. It is not a depressing album by any means. There is no better feeling than blasting the album and singing along with it (particularly the song "Wake Up").

The Knife, “ Silent Shout”

What I like most about “Silent Shout” is that it takes me into another dimension; a dream state world that no other album has the ability to do. “Silent Shout” is such a contradictory album; It's frightening, yet danceable; timid, yet explosive; rough, yet graceful (kind of like life). The numerous voice pitches, the use of the vocoder, with the layers of synthesizers and percussion make this album complement only itself.

The Kills, “Keep On Your Mean Side”

This is raw: a female, a male, a guitar, and a drum machine. It's a gritty, bluesy, garage revival album that, like their live shows, exudes madness and desire. Hotel’s raucous guitar riffs are unusually inviting. VV’s sinister presence surfaces with addictive and compelling attitude.

Santigold, “Santogold”

This album is new wave, indie rock, and electronic: some of my favorite music genres in one! “Santogold” is a refreshing album that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping one track. Each track is catchy in its own right, which is rare to find on an album. It is an exceptional solid album for Ms. Santigold.

Sigur Ros, ( )

Sigur Ros created an album in a language which I'm not sure exists. I find comfort in the entire enigmatic form; from its blank album booklet, to the song titles (or lack of song titles), to the album name, to the semi-language. It allows listener to tap into their imagination and create their own meaning for ( ).

Tori Amos, “Scarlet's Walk”

What would a top ten list of mine be without Tori ? “ Scarlet's Walk” is the first album of hers which the piano is not the most prominent instrument. Lyrically, it's her most ambitious work (“Carbon”, “Virginia”, “Pancake”, “Sweet Sangria”). She takes us on a journey through America where the album is surprisingly luscious and graceful considering the topics she covering (Native American genocide, the attacks on The World Trade Centers, the Religious Right continuing to lie and brainwash citizens, American Pornography, etc). The journey makes me nostalgic and hopeful. Two contradictory feelings as often times we are nostalgic because things don't seem as hopeful as they once were.

Imogen Heap, “Speak For Yourself”

The first song I heard off this album was "Hide and Seek". Holy shite. She uses a vocodor and layers the lyrics like it’s nobodies business, but the song sounds completely genuine. Track after track has innovative and audacious soundscapes. She plays all of the instruments on this album, ranging from the piano, the keytar, a hang, cello, guitar, and array mbira. Some music critics and people compare her to Tori and Sarah McLaughlin. Please don’t do this. It’s not right.

Justin Timberlake, “Futuresex/Lovesounds”

Ooh La La. If this album doesn't make you dance, I don't know what will. Not only is it dance music, but some of the best songs (“What Goes Around Comes Around” and “Lovestoned”) have rock elements to it. The album proved that Justin is more than a cog in the "boy band" era. He has some real talent and can hit a falsetto pitch pretty damn good. It's a feel-good album, a classic from a man who is a great entertainer.

Fever Ray, “Fever Ray”

This album is haunting and enchanting. On sleepless nights, I put my white ipod buds in a play this album on repeat. The Knife is a definite influence on her solo work (I guess she is one half of what makes up The Knife), but this albums explodes with much darker and enigmatic themes than "Silent Shout" or "Deep Cuts". Fever Ray is definitely in a class of it's own. It is the only album on my ipod which is labeled "unclassifiable" (my ipod did the labeling, I didn't). The use of the vocoder is probably what makes her sound so incomparable and unusual. The video that accompanies "If I had a Heart" is so frightening you won't want to stop watching it.

Neko Case, “Middle Cyclone”

The first time I heard this album in its entirety, Evelyn and I were driving on Highway 1 after an awesome weekend at Coachella Music and Arts festival. For this reason, it beat out her "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood." The arrangement of her music makes me say "Damn, this woman knows how to write a song." This album is genuinely beautiful; she has a luminous voice and her lyrics about nature are graceful and definitive. Many music critics describe Neko as a "Tour De Force". I think they are right.

MIA, “Kala”

Dudes, if I'm lost on a dessert island, I hope to God I have this album with me. (Let's pretend I have a magical record or cd player with me too). I would play this everyday, all day, and dance. I don’t know whether to categorize this album as electronic-dance, hip-hop, or pop, but it doesn’t matter. M.I.A. is bold, unrestrained, and authentic.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Fever to Tell”

A groundbreaking debut album; there is not one dud on it. One of the greatest love songs ever written is on to boot. If you don't know what song I'm talking about, Google this album, listen to it, and figure it out for yourself. Nick Zimmer’s guitar + Karen O’s seductive lyrics and voice + Chase’s drum = Rock N’ Roll.

There you have it. These lists could go on for days (especially the top ten tracks of ’09), but who has a finite list? Nobody. Not even Pitchfork.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Second...really last, but posting it second.

Top songs of 2009

(I wrote these descriptions last. I am unintelligible at this point).

”If I Had a Heart”, Fever Ray – This song is stoical as stoical gets. "If I had a heart I could love you, if I had a voice I would sing" are unforgettable lyrics that haunt me on a regular basis. In a good way.

”Lust for Life”, Girls – Catchy as hell! I always catch myself singing the first line of this song “Oh I wish I had a boyfriend, I wish I had a loving man in my life” even though I do have a boyfriend and loving man in my life. This is a great song to sing in the shower or dance like a fool in the middle of Danny's dance floor.

"Blood Bank, Bon Iver - Justin Vernon is the only musician I've fallen in love with while listening to his sorrowful and humble love songs. Vernon can use a line like "chewin' on a candy bar" sound so.fuckin.sad

”When you Hear The Bassline”, Major Lazor – Sexy, dancy. Give it to me baby!

”Empire State of Mind”, Jay Z featuring Alicia Keyes - I actually don't like Jay-Z. But Alicia Keys? Wow. That hook lays New York flat on it's butt. It’s out of this world.

”Sleep Alone”, Bat for Lashes – I always philosophize about love to this song. I would have picked her song "Daniel" but there are a couple personal reasons I didn't. I'll spare you.

”This Tornado Loves You”, Neko Case – The lyrics are absolutely dynamite. The power of this woman's music can not be matched. Rarely do I cry to a song (just for the sake of crying, not because I am sad), but "Tornado" definitely has that affect.

”Right Hand Hi”, Kid Sister – Get yo ass on the dance floor. K? Thanx. Bi.

"Basic Space", The xx - Apparently there is a genre of music called chillout and The xx fits the bill. The Yin and Yang of songs.

”Woods”, Bon Iver – A song that uses a vocoder to strike the listeners emotions. I am obsessed with songs that use a vocoder.

”Heads Will Roll”, Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Dance til you’re dead! Or until your head rolls on the floor.

”Kissy Kissy” (reissue), The Kills – Play this song for a lover you are really angry with. And don’t end your sentences with prepositions.

I know there is more than 10. And this list will probably change tomorrow because there are too many great songs of 2009.


Top shows of 2009

(Yes, poor editing and half-baked descriptions).

The Presets at Coachella Music and Arts Festival on April 17, 2009. – This Australian duo is always a crowd pleaser. It was a crazy, sweaty dance party in a ginormous tent. The pumping beats vibrated through my entire body as the crowd jumped up and down wishing we could live the rest of our lives like this.

Fleet Foxes at Coachella Music and Arts Festival on April 18, 2009. - Imagine this: the sun is setting, a backdrop of swaying palm trees and a cloudless pink sky accompany the crystal clear harmonies of Fleet Foxes in the middle of the dessert. Life doesn’t get much better than this my friends.

The Kills at Metro on May 9, 2009. - VV and Hotel exude madness and desire onstage. Mosshart’s stage presence is unparalleled. I hate to say it, but they could make doing heroin look cool. They have some mean style.

The Dead Weather at The Vic Theater on July 28, 2009. Now, that was a ROCK show. The inimitable Jack White and Alison Mosshart tore that stage up with superior presence and personality. The term “supergroup” is an understatement when we’re talking about The Dead Weather.

Tori Amos at The Chicago Theater on August 10, 2009 - This was 17th time seeing this woman play live and probably the best. Not setlist wise, but performance wise. She brought it with “Strong Black Vine.”

Lykke Li at Lollapalooza on August 8, 2009. Dance, dance, dance. Lykke Li is a perfectionist. It’s apparent by her sweet songs that are accompanied by her sweet voice, her cute dance moves, and stylishly clad in her black mod.

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s at Lollapalooza on August 8, 2009 - I danced my heart out. Karen O is a fierce frontwoman and Nick Zinner’s guitar riffs create a crowd whose heads rolled all over Grant Park.

Lupe Fiasco at Congress Theater on October 29, 2009 - A very diverse crowd. I had not listened to much of Lupe’s music before, but I am definitely a fan now. I could have done without the movie bit, but otherwise I was enthralled. And dudes, I saw Crucial Conflict get crazay with “Hay” and Dude N’ Nem throw down “Watch My Feet”. What a treat.

Fever Ray at Metro on October 3, 2009. - The stage props included numerous lamps. At one point I felt I was tripping acid in my grandmother’s living room. At another point, I felt I was involved in some strange séance. Not once did I get a glimpse of Fever Ray’s face (she is constantly covered with make-up or costumes plus fog and strobe lights hovered the stage) , which made the whole experience that more intriguing.

Imogen Heap at The Vic Theater on November 24, 2009. - She is the only artist who compels me to blog a “review” of her show. She is moving and inventive; a sonical scientist. There is always a deep sense of community at an Immi show.

Geek Status

It’s official. I’m a music geek. I have compiled “top 10” lists regarding music. I know writing top 10 lists (top 10 books, top 10 movies, top 10 positions in bed, etc.) is a bit pretentious and self-indulgent . Sometimes I feel I should be writing about the injustices in the world (key words in this sentence are sometimes and should). I decided to write these top 10 lists to remind myself that music moves me and makes me smile, which is helpful when thinking about the injustices of the world. With that said, I am going to post my top shows and songs of 2009. And follow it with my top albums of the past decade. I didn’t make just one top 10 list, I made THREE!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Bird.

Damn it. I was looking for Sesame Street all night last night and never found it. Can somebody please tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street? I said, Can somebody please tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

Friday, September 28, 2007


I have mixed feelings about almost everything in my life right now. I don't like this. I want to either like something or not like something. Be happy or be sad about something. Want something or not want something. Or at least if I want something and get it, not feel guilty about what I wanted and recieved.

I am a woman of extremes. Somewhere, somehow, I learned to see life in black and white. I'm not sure how to balance everything out. I know the Universe wants balance to sustain our being. The signs and answers of how to reach equilibrium are probably at our fingertips. If only we'd pay attention. And care.

Native Americans use the medicine wheel as a tool to strike balance and continue the circle of life. I hope to learn something from them, because whatever I'm doing now, isn't working for me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Timing Destiny?

Perfect timing? Strange timing? Is everything about timing? You know, our lives could end if we were simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Or, we stumble upon serendipity and great things happen thereafter. Is the Universe aware of our existence, one person in this enormous world? Is she watching after us and playing destiny with our lives? Or is it all timing?