"Movement I: In the Countenance of Kings" by Sufjan Stevens The BQE
One night last year on the tail end of a really hard day I took a dark rainy taxi ride with all my luggage from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge down by the Williamsburg piers and onto the BQE. It all seemed so beautiful. I fell in love with Brooklyn that ride.
Oh Christmas Song, Oh Christmas Song: Take 2! by Mercy Bell
So my friends Dan Malone (piano, percussion, general production skillz) and Meredith Mitchell (violin) helped me whip together this demo one chilly afternoon. There’s a bigger better mixed version coming down the pipeline, but I thought y’all might get a kick out of one of our first takes. MERRY CHRISTMAS FOLKS!
The roll call:
Saved from Captivity Jones
(These come from one of my favorite history professors at UMD Dr. Len Travers who has a habit of diverging from the topic at hand with bizarre anecdotes and photos of people afflicted with smallpox because “otherwise you won’t quite grasp it”. My sister relayed some recent finds from his research of Colonial America.)
"Song of Purple Summer" from Spring Awakening by Duncan Sheik
A good friend once asked me when I went through my punk phase. I didn’t. I had a Broadway phase. Before I became ensconced in indie music, I was a chorus nerd. Something about the weather today reminds me of when I first heard this one.
“Bernstein always told me that a composer spends his entire life writing the same piece, trying to answer the same unanswerable questions.”—Marin Aslop
I talked to a banjo player named Banjo Joe Crow Ryan last night at Sidewalk cafe who I’ve watched many a 2 am night post-gig at the Bedford Ave stop, who said sometimes when he listens to music it’s a proof of God moment. That means some musicians are prophets.
Since forever there’s been Lenny in the wilderness.
Try The Oath as well. This is by a war surgeon during the never ending war in Chechnya. You might not think Chechnya is relevant until you read it and realize it’s a case for everywhere we’re not looking.
Everyone knows about the tremendous crush I have on Annie Clark.. and if you don’t, basically, I’d go gay for her, I’d be her best friend, or I’d just like to be her. I’m very jealous not only of her adorableness and talent but also cause she gets to play and hang out with people I’d give a toe or finger to be friends with. Here’s another album I didn’t get into right off the bat (I loved Marry Me but this one took a few spins). What I love about her is that she can go from being cute and lovely to ripping it up on guitar at the drop of a hat (Have you ever seen her play Your Lips Are Red live? Take me now). I love the dichotomy between sweet and aggressive. If Actor has any fault it’s that it relies more on the sweet side but it’s alright because, despite my preferences, if that results in songs like Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood, The Bed, and The Party then I can’t really complain.
-Death: Sailor found torn to pieces on the beach, most likely by a bear, Shanter
-Desertion: Lewis Phillis jumped overboard. Police returned him, New
-Dreams: Of departed friends, 2/18/54; of being home with my children, 1/1/55; of
home, 6/20/55; of home, 8/19/55.
-Drunkenness: Several of the sailors sick. Got the horrors for the want of more
rum, Guam, 4/19/54.
-Homesickness: First on Sunday, 6/5/53, and regularly on almost every Sunday
-Illnesses: Stoppage with symptoms of fits, 8/22/53; sore finger, a felon, 9/21/53;
broken leg, 12/12/53; Capt Cash of ship Oliver Crocker, Sunday Island, 1/18/54; Joseph
Chase very sick with the BooHoo fever, prevalent at the Sandwich Islands and brought
there from California, 11/24/54; Jack Jones, sailor, had two fits. Capt. bled him,
8/23/55; mumps, 5/3/56; dysentery, severe, 5/13/56.
-Prisoners: Jack Jones put in safe keeping for stealing a dog from a native and
striking an old chief, 2/17/55, fined 25 dollars. The captain refused paying so large
a sum and he was carried back to the calaboose, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 2/19/55.
-Punishment: Blacksmith in irons for disobeying orders, 2/22/55; Capt. gave the cook
a thrashing for striking and other misconduct to the steward, 6/20/56.
-Recreation: Have whiled away the time in reading, writing and knitting, 6/1/53.
I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard this so there’s probably not even anything to say. I like how Phoenix makes pop everyone can enjoy but it’s not brainless. It’s good songwriting. It’s an album that appeals to all kinds of people - NPR listeners, Top 40 listeners, hipsters, moms. I’m hard pressed to find a record with more crossover appeal this year. It’s universal but it doesn’t sacrifice anything to become that. I don’t think it’s better than It’s Never Been Like That but it’s pretty close. There’s actually nothing wrong with this album at all except maybe Love Like a Sunset Pt. 1 and 2 might be a drag when you’re trying to have a good time but when you’re sitting at your computer with headphones on it’s not a big deal. Now if only I could go the rest of my life without hearing 1901 in that car commercial 5 times a day..
Effortless. Dance. Party.
Hands down my favorite song of the year. Sheer joy.
“There’s more, it gets worse. I always knew the Cherokee owned slaves, that they owned them in the east, and that they owned them in the west. Only in the course of this roadtrip did it occur to me that the slaves got to Indian territory in the same manner as their masters: on the Trail of Tears. Can you imagine? If being a slave wasn’t bad enough, to be a slave to a tortured Indian made to walk halfway across the continent?”—Sarah Vowell This American Life ep. 107 “The Trail of Tears” rediscovering her ancestor’s footsteps, in the meanwhile discovering the Chatanooga Choochoo and dancing on gravestones of dead enemies aka Andrew Jackson.
puppyalert: Abbey in the Oakwoods is my favorite 19th century painting, EVER!! Friedrich picks the most interesting spaces to paint. His representations of German landscapes are so romantic, spiritual, and eerie! The entire Romanticism movement is like an engrossing dream antagonized by the sublime and supernatural. Super overwhelming!
sometimes you’ve got to learn to love what’s good for you
PS: i saw st. vincent the other night in a red hat on 1st ave talking to someone on the sidewalk. it was dark and cold out but the street lamp lit her up and she looked gorgeous and luminous and kinda crazy. kind of like this song.