Monday, August 31, 2009

Music Monday: Songs to Get Stuck in Your Head

Today's Music Monday is a mish mash of stuff as I'm in a rush to go North for the Iglu & Hartly concert. So, songs to get stuck in your head (or, a taste of possible music mondays to come).

First up, Aesop Rock's "None Shall Pass." Jon got me hooked on this guy. Check him out.

Next up? Tegan and Sara's "Back in Your Head." I heard "Walking with a Ghost" in 2006, picked up So Jealous and The Con quickly afterward, and am now looking forward to their new album, Sainthood, which is due to drop at the end of October. With "Back in Your Head," I've always felt like this summarizes a relationship when you're starting to fight and wondering if it's all worth it. Having been through enough of this in the past... well, yeah.

With EIGHT MILLION views on YouTube, does Mika really need my little rec here? Well, maybe. Mostly I want you to dig out your Queen's Greatest Hits album and think about a 'man' named Crowely. (Wikipedia Good Omens if you've no idea what I'm talking about).

Finally, one last recommendation. My sister came across Owl City at some point or another and forwarded me the video for their song "Fireflies." But I like this video, and you might as well have something FUN to do with your spare time, right? Right. (Apologies for the size differentials here. Dunno why it is, but I did my best to make sure all the videos were similar in size.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Music Monday: Amanda Palmer

I first heard Amanda Palmer as one half of the duo Dresden Dolls, not long after my eighteenth birthday. I'd heard of the Dresden Dolls long before that, and all I really knew is that they did 'Punk Cabaret,' which made no sense to me at all when I stumbled across them in AP magazine. But I loved the way the band looked in the photos I saw of them. I wanted to be the woman in the photos. Except... with my eyebrows, since hers looked drawn on. I liked my eyebrows.

The first song I heard from the Dresden Dolls was "Sex Changes." I loved this song. Loved the way it sounded, loved the way the lyrics worked, loved the pure energy that went into it.

(The option to embed the video I linked to is disabled, so here is a live version for those of you that hate clicking through to another page.)

But my interest dead ended there, at least for a time. A lot of it had to do with my limited access to high-speed internet and the pressure of school; I was constantly busy with classes and while I got a laptop last year, my folks didn't get high-speed until late last year. I still talk about it with a note of frustration in my voice, while many of my friends say, "Wow. I forgot about dial-up."


So my potential love of the Dresden Dolls got lost in the slush and snow of winter, and while I listened to the two songs I had on my iPod, I never went looking for anymore.

Then Neil Gaiman started posting on Twitter about a book he was working on called "Who Killed Amanda Palmer." This past spring he mentioned on his blog that he was dating Amanda Palmer. She was also on twitter. I followed her quickly afterward and loved her quirky style (they went on a road trip and she wore a horrible lime green paisley lonnnnng dress. My new love is things that are possibly ugly, thanks in part to her). I don't know when it came up, but it came to my attention that she was the lead singer of the Dresden Dolls.

Well, that stopped me in my tracks a little bit.

Then life went and swept me up again. Finals and helping friends move and then working 40 hour weeks because EVERYONE goes and decides to take vacation at the same time and... I still don't own a single Amanda Palmer or Dresden Dolls album.

But my youtube explorations have me reconsidering my failures. (This video is not for the faint hearted. Not many songs can gloss over rape, but this one kind of does.)

See what I mean about the eyebrows? Or the style for that matter?

One of the things I love about Amanda is she is an entertainer, and not in the straight-up crass manner that you so often see in female performers of late. It helps that she's not 16 and having to wait for her eighteenth birthday to be allowed to cut her hair. (For those readers who don't get bored and read Miley Cyrus's twitter, she is the particular pop starlet that I'm referring to.)

It looks as though the majority of the songs from Who Killed Amanda Palmer? are available in a series of videos through her youtube page. There is also a companion book, with pictures of her in various forms of being dead with words/stories by Neil Gaiman. (That link also goes to the WKAP website, for those of you that prefer to avoid youtube links.)

So, why am I recommending someone whose albums I don't own? Because in the few months that I have been following Amanda on twitter, she has been an amazing, entertaining person to follow. She started Losers Of Friday Night On Their Computers (LOFNOTC) on Twitter and will often respond to the @ replies she gets. She is someone who has become known and loved by her fans NOT for drinking or being naked, but for being a talented, hard-working musician/performer, who is willing to connect with fans. What's not to like?

I believe I read on her blog that she is planning on touring the east coast this fall (which I hope includes Ohio, as it is more East than West), so keep an eye on her twitter or website for an eventual tour announcement. I have a feeling she will be completely worth the cash to see.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quiet, furious rage

Is that title perhaps a bit redundant? I DON'T CARE.

It had been a long week for me, last week was, one that I was hoping would be brightened by a fun filled concert on Thursday. I had tickets to see Blink-182, with Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco. I was excited. It was an excuse to dance (the area I was going to be in was large enough that I wasn't too concerned about moshers this time 'round) and an excuse to visit my sister and an excuse to have FUN.

Overall, I had fun. But there was this one part, this itty-bitty part which has eaten at me like the worst heartburn a person can ever experience.

There were 20,000 people at the concert, and a majority of the people there had lawn tickets. I was one of the people who snapped up a lawn ticket (wrongly) assuming that the view would be reasonable enough to go without a decent seat. I was there by myself, unlike most of the people there. I ended up befriending a girl and two guys (who didn't know each other until we started talking before Blink took the stage).

I ended up in front of this girl's friend, a guy. I was dancing, having FUN, rocking out, generally rocking out more than I usually do at a concert. It was VERY packed, so we were shoulder-to-shoulder, front-to-back across the entire lawn. Every fifth person was smoking, and I was about six inches shorter than all of the people around me. I was very hot and, periodically, I would get dizzy from the smoke and the heat. Breathing problems for the win, yes?

So, I'm dancing to this one song. I could tell you which one if I heard it, but I imagine I'm already blocking this out, because the whole thing just PISSED ME OFF. Because, out of the blue, I feel a hand GRAB MY ASS like it is hoping to take a chunk off.


I stopped dead in the middle of my dancing, rigid as a board, my brain scrambling at what sort of reaction I needed to scrape up. I was on auto-pilot, so my initial reaction was to wave it off as an 'accident' like all of the bumps and slaps and slams I'd been getting up until that point. He leaned in, said "SORRY!" loud enough for me to hear. I couldn't think. What was I supposed to think? Do? Say? It wasn't a mace-level offense, but it was enough to... be worthy of a response.

When the song ended, he leaned in, again. "Sorry! I just like to grab things!"


I am angry and disgusted. My reaction ended up being slowly inching my way through the crowd, away from this man, quashing any major reaction at that moment because what could I do? There was no space to turn around, and the opportunity to hit him like he deserved for the unwanted action had passed. It was too loud to yell at him, dress him down. Part of me wanted to go the pure rejection route, make up some line better than "I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!" because so many people act like that is simply a paper barrier, no more strong than the gowns you wear when you visit the doctor for the yearly physical.

"Wow. My girlfriend is going to love having me fork over the twenty she bet me about tonight," I purred in my head, my voice both sweet and so cutting.

I stayed silent. The anger built as I found myself worrying over my dancing, where I stood, how much I knocked into the people around me. Focusing on things that had been background motion and noise to me seconds before, making me less confident, less able to stick a jump.

I was shot back to earth, furious and betrayed and, worst of all, worst than anything? I felt like a BAD PERSON. As if I had done something wrong, simply by enjoying myself.

Maybe he wouldn't have done that if I hadn't kept dancing into him, my treacherous brain whispered, as if we were in the 1950's and men were still allowed to pass off the blame of any wrong to a woman. Maybe if I hadn't been moving around so much... Even though it wasn't on purpose that I knocked into him, even though I had done nothing wrong, the thoughts built, mounting, orienting themselves inward instead of outward. Anger at myself for enjoying the concert instead of at him for thinking that he could fix things with that stupid apology.

The fury eventually edged that out. It is now hanging out with regret, the horrid regret of not doing anything. My brain shut down and I didn't fight my way back out, didn't get to express how angry I was. He knew he did something wrong, sure, but he almost made it seem like it was my fault. My ass, the way he put it, was simply too tempting to not grab. This is the second time in a week (third, in some ways) that I have been objectified, reduced, made less than, by a person's actions/comments. These incidences have left me dumbfounded, wondering where feminism is, what happened to it, that men are comfortable, again, with reducing women to a pair of tits in a dress or an ass in a pair of shorts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Music Monday: Ingrid Michaelson

Apparently, everyone and their brother knows who this is, if the internet is to be believed. Ingrid Michaelson had a song in an Old Navy commercial a while back, "The Way I Am," and it ended up being fairly popular, so if you recognize this song, it's from that.

The reason I ended up finally stumbling across her music was pre-college. MemAud had a playlist for the evening, when I worked, that had this song in it. After two weeks of sitting there, wondering who is this and hoping I'd remember to google it when I got home, I finally asked the stage tech, who tracked down her name for me. The more I look into her music, the more I find out that everyone has probably known this artist for quite a while now, whether or not we knew it - if you watch Grey's Anatomy, you might recognize her music, because they've used her many, many times.

She has toured and recorded with artists whose names you might recognize, like Sara Bareilles (link is to a song they recorded together) and Jason Mraz. Basically, this woman has been making amazing music and been the background noise in some of the most popular shows on TV for a few years now. Shouldn't we embrace HER, now, too?

Not yet convinced that she's worth checking out? Then the only thing I can really say here is this music? This music is for romantics.

Ingrid is going on tour at the end of August to support her latest album, which is due out August 25. Check her out before you find yourself having to ask, "Hey, who is this?" while in your friends car.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh My God

Tuesday, I went up to Columbus with my fam, but this was different from the usual trips north, because I was in MY car. I had tickets to see Ida Maria, who is a musician from Sweden... I think. I don't know what I was expecting. I found her through some blog or another a few months back and instantly fell in love with her most well known single, "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked."

If you haven't heard of her, no worries. Most people haven't. My sister directed me to her before I 'found' her on my own, but, for whatever reason, I didn't actually LISTEN to her music until later. But it was catchy and loud and very, very punk-rock. At least, it was to my less than savvy ears.

So, when I found out she was playing the Basement up in Columbus, I instantly bought tickets to the show. INSTANTLY. There was no thought process, no dilly dallying or wondering. I knew I had the day off, and I knew that I wanted to see her live.

The opening act was Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, an interesting band that I wouldn't mind hearing more of. I was in the ten-by-ten foot concrete square directly in front of the stage, and I stood there, marveling at the fact that no one was dancing, at all, and that the guy in front of me kept moving to exactly where I was standing, ruining my view. I went from being able to see the whole band to seeing the top third of the lead singer, and that was it.

That little concrete square stayed relatively empty during EF&TH, so I (wrongly) I assumed it would stay empty for Ida. But the MINUTE they walked off the stage and the crew started setting up for Ida, it began to get very, very crowded. So crowded that the only reason I had any room to move is no-one was standing behind the tall guy, who was still somewhat in front of me.

Ida took the stage and everyone cheered. I was shocked by how loud and well-done the music was. It's rare to hear a live musician sound so GOOD live. As the crowd started to move, enjoying the music, I felt someone knock into me. It wasn't the first time someone had knocked into me, but it was a repeated hitting. I don't mind dancing at concerts - honestly, I LOVE dancing at live shows - but I don't like dancing when it is moshing and it is knocking into me. I scoped out my spot during the opening the act SPECIFICALLY so I wouldn't have to deal with asshole moshers. But this girl...

She did not stop. Ida played for maybe 45 minutes, and during that time, several of her friends took turns 'watching' her, which seemed to consist of helping this girl throw herself into the crowd in a stupid, reckless attempt at crowd surfing. EVERY SINGLE TIME she did this, she got dropped very quickly and smacked her head on the concrete floor. The second time it happened, Ida asked, several times, "Are you okay? Honey, you okay?" After that, I think she (and the majority of the crowd) accepted that this girl adhered to the idea of 'I get knocked down, but I get up again.'

I hated this girl, and her friends/family. Mainly her friends and family. She was so far gone - Jon and I nearly had an argument over this, but I still hold to the fact that she HAD to have been blitzed or high. She had this wild look in her eyes, a look of absence. She was not there. To me, when you go with people to a concert, especially if you are going to be drinking, you are there to take care of your friends. She should have been taken home, especially given how she was acting before the Ida took the stage.

The concert was all right - I would've liked a little bit more banter and interaction between Ida and the crowd. She was truly good - she sounded GOOD, and was very passionate.

At the end of the concert, I raced out of the crowd, knowing, instinctively, that I did not want to be in the central area for the encore. I was right - the girl lived up to Ida's penultimate song, two songs too late, and stripped off her top and bra, to the wild cheers of everyone not in the actual pit with her.

In the light of day, outside of that crowd and away from that girl, I can say that the concert was fun. Would I go see her again? I honestly don't know. I wouldn't stand in the front again - I kept getting pushed closer and closer to the stage, which meant I was closer to the girl, which caused me no end of anxiety. I got kneed in the face one of the times the girl tried to crowd surf, and that was enough injury and moshing for me. I screamed along to "Oh My God," the only way I could calm down. It was exhilarating and terrifying and awful and fun.

Tonight I get to see Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco. Maybe that concert will treat me better.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The fruits I used to hate? Check

Coming in at number 12 on my list is 'try the fruits I thought were gross when I was younger.' One of those fruits was the mango.

I can't say WHY it offended me so much that I decided it was not for me, years ago. It might have been something as simple as it was a weird fruit, exotic, and not in a way that I was willing to embrace.

While at Kroger's a while back, I stopped in the fruit section and admired a beautiful red-and-orange mango. Part of me whispered, prodded, poked, reminding me that I wanted to try again, see if this fruit was worthy of my hatred, or if it was the usual childish 'ew, YUCK' without actually TRYING IT reaction that had prompted this lifelong ban.

I brought the mango home and left it on the counter for a day or two. I wasn't sure how to cut a mango. I knew the skin wasn't edible; my grandfather is a fan of mangos, so he'd explained that much to me at some point during my childhood. So, I googled 'how to cut a mango,' committed the instructions to memory, and eventually went about the process of getting the mango to an edible point.

The mango was painfully ripe. It was almost impossible to get a firm grip on it.

This is the mess that I ended up with. The mango smelled sweet, almost perfume-y, and I wondered if it would taste right. It hadn't looked rotten or anything, so I assumed it was good.

Here I am, preparing for the first bite:

Oh, dear skeptical face from the past, how'd I love to cuddle you and reassure you that everything will be all right.

And here I am, on my second or third bite. Trust me, this is the face I made with every single bite:

I was fairly certain I was going to die. It was citrus and sweet at the same time, like eating an orange after it has been dipped in mango scented perfume. I can't stand citrus, except on the rare occasions when I crave orange juice. I've tried to make nice with oranges and grapefruits several times, and it always fails miserably. There are some oranges I like (the little ones? I don't know their name), but the mango did NOT remind me of any GOOD oranges.

I could see myself trying it again, one day. Maybe one that isn't quite so ripe, though Dad and my brother insisted that it tasted exactly like it should. Maybe I just need to put mangos on the list of things that only taste good when pulverized and mixed with other things.

Can't wait until I try kiwi.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Music Monday

A few weeks ago, I was going through my iTunes, and found a SXSW sampler that I got from Amazon back in March. I have this habit of downloading many of the free songs Amazon offers every week, because I've found some of my favorite musicians through samplers. For whatever reason, I ended up playing the sampler all the way through. It features Anberlin, honeyhoney, Paper Route, Rocco Deluca and The Burden, Tyrone Wells, and, finally, Iglu & Hartly. If none of these bands sound familiar to you, don't worry, most of them were completely unfamiliar to me, too. (I saw Anberlin at a music festival in 2007, which may have been why I ended up listening to the sampler.) I threw the sampler on as background noise as I cleaned or something, and then "In This City" by Iglu & Hartly started playing.

It was catchy. It was different. It instantly drove me to google them. I found their site insanely annoying, and assumed they were British, given the color choices (it reminds me of Lily Allen's first album cover: busy and colorful).

But that song. It stuck in my head. I turned it up to dangerously loud levels as I drove, blasted it in the background as I raced through the Twilight books, and it very quickly took over all of my other music.

I ended up going to the neighborhood record store, because I refuse to give iTunes my money, and amazon didn't have the album available as a download. I had to order & Then Boom, and wait four days before finally getting the album into my hands. I knew I would like it, because I checked out the songs that were available on first, something I've been doing whenever I find an artist I really dig. The entirety of & Then Boom is available on there for blipping to your heart's content, and it let me listen to the entire album through their 'preview' option.

I got the CD on Friday and have been playing it non-stop since then. I don't just like this album, I love it. I'm going to see Ida Maria in Columbus on Tuesday, but I can't stop listening to & Then Boom. Day Glo has replaced In This City as my favorite song by them, and I'm wondering when my love of them will fade. I'm hoping that it'll be a while, because I'm loving this band, SO MUCH, and I'd rather it be a long lasting love, and not just a summer fling.

I really feel like Iglu & Hartly isn't going to be an 'unknown' band for too long (I say unknown because one of my friends, the ultimate person when it comes to knowing about every band ever before they are even relatively popular, hadn't heard of them until I asked him about them); their music is much too catchy and addictive, and it's impossible to resist sharing their music. Hope you guys like 'em as much as I do. If things work out, I'll be letting you know how they are live at the beginning of next month; they'll be playing the Grog Shop in Cleveland August 31st.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Packed to the gills

This heat has heat me like a swift right hook to the face, knocking me out and leaving me woozy and nauseated. It has been, in short, unpleasant. Yesterday found me in the kitchen, hands braced on my knees, focusing VERY HARD on keeping my breakfast in my stomach while everything spun and my entire body decided sweating excessively was helpful.

Tomorrow I'm going to the Ohio state fair with a friend for her birthday. Then I'm going back on Tuesday with my family. I like the fair and have the day off. Don't judge me. They have a place that is devoted to SLUSHIES. Which I love dearly. Hopefully my body acclimates to this weather and I stop getting dizzy and wanting to puke all the time before tomorrow.

As of right now, August looks as though it will filled with a lot of Mighty Summering. I've started taking care of the 'eat fruits I used to think were gross' thing, and, trust me, the pictures tell the story. I'm gonna try and hit Pittsburgh the middle of this month, so if anyone has any recommended places to hit up, I would appreciate the suggestions. I'm spending a day or two in Cinci (for the Blink-182 concert), and my time in Cleveland is in limbo as Jon's stuff is also in limbo, for various reasons.

After my multiple concerts between April and June (three major ones), it looks like I'm about to stuff in three in August alone. That should be interesting...

This post doesn't have much of a point, other than for me to admit that the next few weeks should be crazy and a good smack of fun before school starts. I'm officially signed up for 20 hours again, lets hope I kick butt without getting it kicked this time.