Category Archives: New Album Love

We’ve Only Just Begun

Hello again, little earbuds. Once again I’m dreadfully behind on, well, pretty much everything this past week. I recently got the news that not one, but both of my best friends are moving, and that’s thrown me for a bit of a loop. Though neither is moving terribly far (just to the next state over) the news has put me on a roller coaster of emotions. My goal is to keep it together, at least until they leave, because I want to be supportive, but selfishly I’m devastated. These are pretty much the only two people I’ve consistently hung out with for the past five years, and not having them close by (or at least as close as they have been) really, really just flat-out sucks. I see these folks on a daily basis: we talk on the phone, we go to movies, play video games, go shopping, attend concerts, have deep talks, eat long dinners… And all of sudden I won’t have that anymore, at least not every day. It’s been rough, I’ll say that. There were a couple of days filled with tears, but now I’m just focusing on helping them pack and supporting them both as much as I possibly can.

So that explains my tardiness, at least this week. I’m doing better now, though I’m trying to only think of the fun road trips in my future instead of how much I’m going to miss having them close by. Part of keeping it together, is, you guessed it, music. By sheer coincidence I had purchased The Wanted’s self-titled album on a whim just before the news broke. It was a $.99 download special, as was Beach House’s Bloom, so I treated myself to both. I assumed that I would listen to the latter the most because it’s dream pop, which is usually more my speed than mainstream pop. However, I’ve barely given Beach House a listen because I’ve been so enamored with The Wanted. I thought that I would get a couple of fun songs to add to my workout mix, but I never imagined that the entire album would be filled with undeniably uplifting dance tunes. Right now that’s exactly what I need to keep my head above water, so that’s what I’m sharing with you today: The Wanted’s infectious single “Chasing The Sun.”

I kind of figured that my boy band days were over by this point in my life. I mean, sure, I still have some choice ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys floating around on my iTunes for nostalgia’s sake, but I rarely make it a point to listen to them. When it comes to over-the-top pop I usually go for the divas: Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Madonna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and yes, even Britney. However, The Wanted have been a pleasant and welcoming surprise. What I like even better is that I’m not caught up in their looks or their biographies. I could care less who was born where and which one is growing a goatee. Hell, I don’t even know their names. I just enjoy their music, it’s that simple. This song in particular has that great mixture of peppy beats and hopeful lyrics that feeds my soul when I’m down and really in need of cheering up. And that, dear reader, is what I think music is all about.


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Filed under Memories and Nostalgia, Music Videos, New Album Love

Songs Of Summer, Part I: Sunshine From Finland

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means that summer is fully upon us, at least here in the USA. Every year I find myself craving new summer anthems to distinguish this season from the rest as well as mark each year’s passing. My summer anthems don’t need to be newly released, just new to me, and I prefer poppy, breezy tunes that meld well with driving with the windows down or just lounging away in the seasonal heat. By designating a particular song, songs, or album my “summer music,” I can instantly return to that carefree state of mind long after it’s become too cold to wear short sleeves, or even revisit a particular summer many years after the fact.

The summer before I moved from my family’s farm in the South to Boston for college was filled with an oddly fitting mixture of Radiohead’s OK Computer, Sarah McLachlan’s SurfacingLoved by Cranes, and Four-Calendar Cafe by Cocteau Twins. “Know Who You Are At Every Age,” indeed. Now, many years later, whenever I listen to any of those albums, I can vividly remember the feelings of hope and trepidation and excitement that swirled around me all summer long. A couple of years later I wanted to transfer to a different college, and that summer was spent with Mazzy Star’s glorious shoegaze album So Tonight That I Might See as well as Madonna’s infectious pop single “Beautiful Stranger” on constant repeat. I can clearly remember whiling away the days dreaming of the new adventures that were to come. Even today those songs fill me with a sense of anticipation.

Unfortunately summer loses some of its glamor as we get older. No longer is there the luxury of doing absolutely nothing; when you’re an adult you’re expected to keep going, keep working, keep taking care of things. Life doesn’t stop just because it’s hot outside. I must admit that I miss those days of low expectations and being left to my own devices, even when my devices were as simplistic as watching crappy movies on cable, or lying on my parents’ bed for hours while staring up at the ceiling fan because it’s just too hot to move. Despite being considered an “adult” by society at large, I still try to invoke those carefree summers of old by finding new summer songs year after year. Luckily one such song has already landed in my ear, and I can’t stop playing it: “Tapaa minut aamulla” by Regina.

I was instantly drawn in by this Finnish indie pop outfit’s mellow sound as well as the beautiful trill of lead singer Iisa Pykäri on the chorus. I have no idea what the lyrics are, but the feeling is breezy and hopeful, making this a perfect song for summer. Regina’s song “Unessa” has an even more summery video accompanying it and is quite lovely to boot, but it’s “Tapaa minut aamulla” that grabbed my heart and got me primed for sweltering heat, ceiling fans, sundresses, and mid-afternoon naps. Viva la summer!

More songs of summer will surely follow as they make their way to my headphones, so stay tuned!

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I Left My Childhood In The Garden Green

Yesterday I finally made it out to the cinema in order to watch The Secret World of Arrietty. It was really just…breathtaking. Something about that film completely captured my heart. I wrote about it in great detail over on Otaku Haiku, where I couldn’t stop myself from gushing about the beautiful soundtrack, which caught my attention as soon as the film opened. To quote myself:

…the music is stunning. The entire soundtrack is by Celtic musician Cecile Corbel, and while a Japanese film with a Celtic soundtrack doesn’t seem like it would necessarily be a good fit, it’s actually incredible. The vocals are lovely and lilting, and the harp makes the natural setting come alive, especially in the rain scenes where every pluck of the strings mimics a drop of water on the leaves. As a longtime lover of Celtic music, I know that the genre can get a little heavy at times, hearkening back to those 90s Pure Moods compilation CDs. However, the soundtrack to Arrietty is as far from the Celtic clichés as night and day. It would be a gorgeous album on its own, but paired with the film it perfectly enhances this Western tale in an Eastern setting.

I bought the album as soon as I left the cinema, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop ever since. The delicate harp and gentle vocals are the most prevalent, but the dancing flute that recalls wind and the soft beating of the bodhrán as footsteps all play a part in making the woodland setting of Arrietty come alive in a really astonishing way. I’m of the opinion that you don’t have to already be a lover of Celtic music to enjoy this album, but take a listen* to the opening song, “The Neglected Garden,” and decide what you think. Music this lovely that plucks at the heartstrings speaks for itself.

*SPOILER ALERT: This fan-made video, while excellent, shows many scenes from the film The Secret of Arrietty, including almost the entire end of the movie. Watch at your own risk.

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Filed under Movies, Music Videos, New Album Love

The Only Girl I’ve Ever Loved Is Andrew In Drag

I’m trying to remember how I first got into The Magnetic Fields. They’re one of those seminal indie bands that you feel like you’ve known forever. I think perhaps I received a few songs on various mixed CDs over the years, but it was the film Pieces of April that made me seek out their albums. I say “their,” but The Magnetic Fields is mostly the genius of one man, Stephin Merritt. The Gothic Archies, The 6ths, and Future Bible Heroes are all his creations, too, but The Magnetic Fields is really where he shines. The simple instrumentation and Merritt’s deep voice highlight the pure poetry of the lyrics, but everything works together so well that it doesn’t feel preachy or boring. Each song is a story, and The Magnetic Fields write some of the most unique and interesting ones in music today.

The newest single from their forthcoming album, Love At The Bottom of the Sea, is no different. This is a song that illustrates how fragile gender lines really are, and how much false facade is involved in what we consider to be “feminine” and “masculine.” However, true to form for The Magnetic Fields, this is also a really sweet and wistful love song. Be warned that there is nudity, so this video is probably NSFW. Without further ado, I give you “Andrew In Drag.”

The lyrics flow in a rhyming poetry, but the story, which is sentimental while making a statement, never gets lost. That’s the beauty of The Magnetic Fields: everything works together, and no one aspect outshines another. Their entire catalogue is full of gems like this, beautiful short songs that are so much fun to listen to. I’ve been a big fan of Merritt’s work for many years, and this video makes me extremely excited for his newest album, which comes out on March 6th. Leave it to one of my favourite musicians to poke fun at gender norms while singing an actual love song!

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Think About The Future

It’s dreadful how I’ve neglected my blogs this week. What can I say? I’ve been looking to the future, little earbuds. I’m hopeful that this year my future will include a return trip in May to Leipzig, Germany, for Wave Gotik Treffen, the world’s largest “dark” music gathering. The two that I’ve attended thus far have been amazing, a real feast for the senses. Though I look forward to seeing friends from around the globe as well as viewing lots of incredible outfits, the music is, at its core, what this gathering is all about.

I love getting to indulge my appetite for industrial, ebm, new wave, death rock, and classic goth all in one weekend, but the bands that I get the most excited about are usually somewhere in the ethereal/neoclassical/medieval realm. Not to say that I necessarily love Ataraxia more than Alien Sex Fiend, but living as I do in a decidedly rural section of the American South, the chances of me getting to see my favourite neofolk acts is slim to none. I was able to see Alien Sex Fiend play a club in London several years ago, but until I went to WGT 19, I didn’t even realize that Ataraxia were still together, let alone touring. That’s one of the great things about WGT, in my opinion: you not only get exposed to tons of new and fabulous bands, but you also rediscover some that you used to love a lifetime ago.

The band selection has yet to be posted on the main WGT site (which is the norm this early in the game) but once again seems to have the hook-up. I’m excited at the prospect of getting to see Qntal, Steven Severin, and Funker Vogt live, but I’ve also been checking out bands that are new to me, such as this one, Irfan.

I definitely hear Dead Can Dance in there (who are supposed to go on tour this year, squee!) but it’s also a bit more Middle Eastern and earthy. Overall, not too shabby. I’ll probably end up buying at least one album by this group, and should the gods smile favorably upon me, I hope to see them perform live at WGT this year. I can already smell music festival season in the air. With any luck, I’ll get to hear some in person, too.

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Filed under Concerts, Music Videos, New Album Love

Gritty Goth-Tinged Rock Gives True Blood: Volume Three Its Bite

Yesterday True Blood: Volume Three was released, aka the soundtrack to season four. Though I may have entered the game late, I am now a 100% dedicated Trubie, so I bought the album as soon as it was available. I’m quite liking it, though not as much as Volume Two. Then again, I’ve been listening to that one for many months, and this album is new, so it might need some time to marinate. I didn’t immediately love the last one, to be honest, but now I do. As for the latest offering, there are some gems that stick out immediately on this new collection of tunes for the southern supernaturals among us.

Nick Cave and Neko Case do a sultry-yet-peppy lil’ cover of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There.” (Quentin Tarantino fans might recognize pieces of the song since Malcolm McLaren did a melancholy take on it for the Kill Bill Vol.2 soundtrack.) Then there’s the Karen Elson/Donovan version of “Season of the Witch,” how very appropriate for this particular season of True Blood. And of course, you can never go wrong with Siouxsie and the Banshees, so I was pleased as punch to hear “Spellbound” during the closing credits of episode eight. However, my current fav track on this album is “Me And The Devil” by recently deceased poet Gil Scott-Heron.

This song has just the right mixture of menace and groove that I come to expect from a gritty southern show about blood and creatures that roam the night. I think that it gives a good overall taste of what season four is about. Speaking of which, I keep reading rave reviews about the current season, but what do you think? Do the witches add or detract from the lives of Sookie, Bill, Eric, and all of our other fav True Blood characters? Which has been your favourite season thus far?

I’m not loving season four as much as season three, but who knows, maybe next week’s season ender will knock my socks off. At any rate, as far as the soundtrack goes, it’s a worthy purchase, in this Trubie’s opinion. The rockin’ cover of “Burning Down The House” by The Used isn’t included, so be sure to find that one separately. True Blood: Volume Three will certainly give you musical food for thought while biding your time until the finale this Sunday, because as every fan knows, waiting sucks.

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Filed under Music Videos, New Album Love, Poll

New Band Love: Make Some Time For John & Jehn

Well, new to me, anyway, even though they’ve been around since 2006. I found these two through another new-ish band that I love (thanks O. Children!) after they posted this very video on their Facebook page. I think that this song would appeal to most anyone who enjoys upbeat rhythms with just a hint of darkness. And yes, lots of bands seem to be attempting that combination at present, but not everyone does it so well. This song, “And We Run,” is from their second album, Time for the Devil.

As soon as I saw this video I knew that I needed more John & Jehn, so I bought the entire album, and I must say, it was a good purchase. From the instrumental opener, “Intro,” which ironically brings to my mind a haunted church in the 60s, to the Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel-esque bonus track “Long Way Home,” the whole thing is a time warp trip made fresh in modern ways. I like that both “John” and “Jehn” take turns with the lead vocals, giving each song a different spin than the one before. I have too many favourites to name them all, but I have to mention “Vampire,” which is kitschy and cool, as well as the more 80s-sounding “Shy.” I can’t speak for their earlier work, but Time for the Devil is well worth making time for yourself.

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Cherish The Light Years, F*** The Rest

Today is exactly the kind of day that only music can make better, dear reader. Today is the kind of day that inspired this entire blog. I do try my best to be upbeat as much as possible, because wow, there is a crapload of stuff wrong in the world that we can easily take to heart and allow to affect us every second of every minute of every hour of every day. However, even the unsinkable Miss Pink has her rough days, and this is one of them. So what do I do to make this day better, dear reader? I’ll share my tips with you here and now:

1.) Ignore Facebook/Twitter/Myspace/whatever social network you are plugged into. Chances are you have some “friends” on there who annoy the living s*** out of you. Or perhaps everyone is just rubbing you the wrong way lately. Or maybe it’s all of the depressing news that people just love to post and repost until we all just wanna slit our wrists and be done with it. Screw it, and screw them. You don’t need someone to “like” your life, it’s great just the way it is, thank you very much.

2.) Imbibe something comforting. Hot tea, popcorn, chocolate, whatever. Take in something physical that gives you pleasure and makes you feel good. Better yet, pet a cat.

3.) Play some f***ing music, and TURN IT UP LOUD. I SAID LOUD! A beloved song is good. New music by a righteous band is even better. Behold the newest offering from Cold Cave, Cherish The Light Years. I personally recommend “The Great Pan Is Dead.” Turn that s*** up loud enough, and you won’t be able to hear any of the voices that try to bring you down, including your own. Happy Friday, little earbuds.

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Forever haunted
By the roads I know
And if not above
I’ll see you below

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New Album Love: Get Some “Wounded Rhymes”

Hey music fans. Remember that new album review I’ve been promising for a week? Here is the place, now is the hour. Swedish chanteuse Lykke Li has a second album that has been in stores (and online) for two weeks and a day, so chances are if you’re already a fan you’ve got this gem in your collection. If not, oh my dear reader, you are in for a treat.

I still remember when I purchased Lykke Li’s first album, Youth Novels. Downloading entire albums was still relatively new to me, as I always preferred the feel of the CD in my hand: I enjoy flipping through the album’s booklet eagerly while listening to each track, unsure of what is to come. I still prefer purchasing a physical album to add another notch to my music library, but seeing as how cheaper costs allow me to download twice as many albums as physically buying them, well, it’s really a no-brainer for a music devotee. A-hem. I digress.

It was late at night, and I just happened upon Lykke’s debut album via random searches, as magically happens every so often. I was struck by the purity of her voice, and the simple but lovely rhythms that balanced it out. To me she sounded like a wintry Alice in Wonderland, not lost but coolly exploring her surroundings. It sounded like music made by a young girl for other young girls, and even though I have not considered myself “young” for some time, I found myself thoroughly enjoying her exploration of what it’s like to be a young lady setting out in the world. Even with the youthful overtones of the album, there was an unabashed feeling that this gal is 100% sure of herself, of who she is and what she’s here to do.

After that came her stunning and heartbreaking contribution to the New Moon soundtrack, which is aching and emotionally raw. Despite being listed among some very popular musical heavy-hitters, Lykke held her own on what is arguably the most memorable song on the entire soundtrack.

And now we finally get her gorgeous second full-length album: Wounded Rhymes. This album starts out with the banging of drums, followed swiftly by a playful electronic swooping reminiscent of doo-wop. The overall effect produces a sexy noisy fuzziness not unlike Jesus and Mary Chain or The Raveonettes along with instruments not unheard of on a Rusted Root album. The first song alone proves that Lykke has grown up quite a bit since her softly innocent debut; Alice has been through the looking-glass and back, and she has some new tricks to show off. This entire album is more primitive and powerful than the one before. These are no longer the songs of a young girl, but those of a woman embracing her power, sexuality, and maturity deliciously. Check out the fantastic video for her single “Get Some” below, with a chorus so catchy you won’t be able to stop yourself from singing it. Be warned, though: this song, and this singer, take no prisoners.

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For the record, I did indeed purchase the physical CD of this album. And it was worth every penny.


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Filed under Artist Love, Music Videos, New Album Love