Okay. It’s not the future really. I’m mostly referring to the fact that I haven’t written here since…well….last year! And that’s a bit tragic. There was a time where my posts to this blog were frequent, and that has obviously not been the case lately.
I think right now would be a good time to do a recap of why this blog exists, and the purpose behind it.
When I began this blog, it was primarily as a venue for me to write about the things that interested me, which happen to be topics like feminism, music, lgbtq issues, pop culture, and so on. And as time went on, I found myself separated from the college community that helped encourage my thoughts on these various topics. And thus my postings became sporadic, at best. There have been a few posts here and there about the artistic community here in Salt Lake, various other poets worth noting, and a whole slew of posts about my ridiculously awesome open mic, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution, but other than that, the blog’s been pretty dead.
I’d like to change that. Because here’s the thing: this blog is a chance for me to express myself. And as shy and quiet as I can be, I LOVE EXPRESSING MYSELF. I love sharing my passions, I love sharing the music I discover, and most of all, I love having conversations with people about music, feminism, pop culture and other forms of activism.
So I would like to make this year the year this blog is reborn into a source of interesting material. I know I have had similar thoughts and have even made similar statements on this blog, but I’d like to make this one stick. And since there’s no time like the present to start, I’m going to share my playlist of the music I’ve been listening to. Because let’s face it, it’s been a long time since I’ve talked music here. And music has been the primary factor in this blog’s existence. So with no further ado, here’s some music for your listening pleasure.
It’s no secret the banjo has been making its way back into popular music. It seems like everywhere you look bands like the Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers are making folk accessible and fun. And while I enjoy these bands, I’ve discovered two bands who are some of my favorite indie/folk artists. And they’re worth sharing.
1) Black Prairie: “How Do You Ruin Me?”
If you’re familiar with the Decemberists, then you’ll probably know a good chunk of the players in this band. Chris Funk (dobro), Nate Query (bass), Jenny Conlee (accordion) and John Moen (drums) are all well known thanks to their work with The Decemberists, and with Black Prairie they’re creating some very new and interesting music. Other band members include guitarist Jon Neufeld and singer/violinist Annalisa Tornfelt. I discovered the band through the single, “How Do You Ruin Me,” and immediately fell in love with the haunting nature of the song, and Annalisa’s vocals. The song was from the band’s then forthcoming album, A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart, and at the time the only album I could find was their 2010 release, Feast of the Hunters’ Moon. That album only solidified my love for the band. It’s an album full of musical adventures and landscapes reminiscent of scenes as diverse as open prairies and Parisian cafes. What fascinated me most, personally, about that album in particular was its mix of songs that were purely instrumental and songs with vocals, and my ability to connect with every single song, with or without vocals. It’s definitely an album worth checking out, as is their 2012 release, A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart
2) The Shook Twins: “Window”
The Shook Twins are hard to resist. They blend folk with catchy, fun songs, adding a touch of quirk here and a dose of seriousness there. In addition to that, their instrumentation isn’t exactly what one would call typical of a folk band. I mean–how many folk bands do you know that include the art of beatboxing? Add to that the telephone microphone and you’ve got some intriguing elements added to an already intriguing band. The Shook Twins, as their name suggests, is made up of twin sisters Katelyn and Laurie Shook and the core quartet is completed with Kyle Volkman and Niko Daoussis. They were easily one of my favorite discoveries of 2012, thanks to songs like “Window”, “Pink and Purple”, and “Time to Swim” and “Way to Wake.” Really, their 2011 release, Window, has very few songs that aren’t worth listening to, and is a brilliant album from the beginning to end.
3/4) Album Pick: Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude.”
Music genres are like people. We love putting them into boxes. When someone starts talking about punk, it’s practically impossible not to think of the late 70s and tight jeans, ripped clothing, paperclips, and “fuck the system” attitudes. But let’s face it–the elements that we now consider punk had to come from somewhere. Art and society and culture and history are all intertwined, and all of them influence and inform each other. To say this compilation is worth having is an understatement. If you are interested in punk, if you are interested in music, this 2-disc album put together by Kris Needs is a MUST HAVE. It’s an album that as soon as I have sufficient funds plan on buying. In addition to representing a wide spectrum of music that helped influence punk (and Dirty Water 2 goes even father, including artists such as Bo Diddley and Dizzy Gillespie), Needs also took the time to write the liner notes which serve as a primer to why the songs were included and their histories. The songs I’m including in this blog posts are two of my absolute favorites. I couldn’t actually tell you how many times I listened to the Deviants track, but I can tell you it was a lot. Partly because it’s almost an exact definition of the image of punk.
Last Poets: “Subway”
The Deviants: “Garbage”
5. My Brightest Diamond “We Added it up”
From the very first notes of the song “We Added it Up”, I knew I would enjoy My Brightest Diamond’s 2011 release, All Things Will Unwind. And indeed, I loved every moment. From the cheerful, optimistic to the more dramatic turns, to the quietly beautiful moments, every song felt perfectly placed. There’s not much that I can say about Shara Warden that hasn’t already said before, so if you’re not familiar with the music of Shara and her project, My Brightest Diamond, I suggest you fix that now.
Sometime last year I checked out Regina Spektor’s Live in London album from The Salt Lake City Public Library. If you’re familiar with the album, you know that the album also came with a live dvd. I made sure that I watched it before I had to turn it back in, which was wonderful, and ended up being the reason I fell in love with Regina Spektor all over again.
Not a week goes by that at least one of her songs does not grace my ears. And the funny thing is, it wasn’t any of the super familiar songs that had me falling head over heels once again. It was not “Samson”, it was not “On the Radio,” or “Apres Moi.”
It was a song that she performed without accompaniment and truly showcased not only her quirk, but her knack for making something quirky into something more, something…deeper.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of being acquainted with this song, I shall help fix that for you right now. Enjoy.