Tag Archives: artist love

I’m Gonna Watch You Shine, Gonna Watch You Grow

This week’s (belated) post is in honor of fathers. Y’know, it’s funny: when it came time to talk about Mother’s Day, I had several songs to choose from that praise moms. However, now that it’s Father’s Day here in the US, I couldn’t find as much selection praising the dads of the world. Apparently to make it in my music library (current song total: 20,973 and counting) you must have some major daddy issues. Almost every song with “father” or “dad” in the title was about pain, resentment, and abandonment. I think that this is a colossal shame, as I know some really amazing fathers. Most notable is my own dad: I am an unabashed daddy’s girl, and I know for a fact that my dad is one of the best people in the whole world. I still look up to him even though I’m (technically) an adult, and I hope that I can be as magical and full of wonder and joy as he is when I get to be his age. He’s one of the funnest people to be around, and every time we hang out we have a blast. Maybe that explains why I never followed my fleeting rock star dreams: I’m too well-adjusted, and I have a great relationship with my father.

If I can get back into songwriting (which I haven’t done in several years, but enjoyed briefly) I’ll certainly make it my goal to write a kick-ass anthem for great dads. Until then, I have at least two songs that always make me think of my father and smile.

It’s hard to go wrong with anything Paul Simon in my book, but this song in particular, “Father and Daughter,” really touched my heart. I remember the first time that I heard it: I was in my car, driving across a bridge, and I heard this song on the radio. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, but then the chorus came on: There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you. Suddenly I was listening intently. I loved the sentiment, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that’s how my own father felt (and continues to feel) about my sisters and me. Now whenever I hear this song I think of my dad and feel really lucky and really, really loved.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given how close I am to my dad, but A Little Princess has always been one of my absolute favourite children’s books. I recall watching the Shirley Temple movie based on the novel and loving it as well, but then Alfonso Cuaron came out with his film version and took my breath away. I can’t watch it without feeling waves of super intense emotions, so when my favourite remix artist, Pogo, came out with this song, “Whisperlude,” based on the movie, I literally sat transfixed in front of my computer screen as tears welled up in my eyes. After that I immediately popped the DVD in and rewatched the whole film, then I went and spent the day with my dad. It’s pretty amazing how Pogo can recreate all of the drama and wonder of a gorgeous and complex film into a remix less than four minutes long. It’s yet another reason why I am in awe of him, and another song to add to my repertoire of feel-good father tunes.

Happy Father’s Day, and thanks to all the great fathers of the world for being awesome!

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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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Break My Heart Again: Songs For Love Gone Wrong

Hallo once more, little earbuds. Miss Pink has actually been doing pretty well lately. I’m feeling healthy, and slowly but surely I’m getting through my huge backlog of projects and general stuff-to-do, such as catching up on emails with friends. In doing so, I discovered that one of my pals is going through some heartbreak right now. Of course I was sympathetic (because who hasn’t experienced that in some form or other?) but words just don’t feel like enough when it comes to matters of the heart. So In honor of my friend, today I’m bringing you another playlist: Top 5 Songs For Love Gone Wrong. Warning: Here there be F-bombs, so if adult language offends you, better skip this week’s post.

5.) Peaches – F**k The Pain Away

Who can resist Peaches and her electroclash-punk aesthetic? She tells it like it is, and even when her words are tongue-in-cheek, they leave a sting. What’s even better is this fan video of Miss Piggy singing “F**k The Pain Away,” because both Piggy and Peaches are total badasses.

4.) She Wants Revenge – True Romance

The name of this band alone should clue you in to the fact that a song titled “True Romance” might not be what it seems. “I know that you never loved me, I know that you never cared at all…” There are so many vengeful gems from She Wants Revenge, but this one takes the cake for love that’s gone sour.

3.) Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends

Back before Veronica Mars was on the air I found myself in the most upsetting roommate situation of my life to date with someone whom I once considered a close friend. Since I tend to invest as much of my heart into my friendships as I do into romance, it was a very scarring moment in my personal history. Luckily, during this period I caught the Dandy Warhols performing this song on SNL, and instantly I had a theme for my pain. Just listening to this tune on repeat automatically made everything a bit better.

2.) Future Bible Heroes – I’m Lonely (And I Love It)

Even though this song is over a decade old, I miraculously discovered it on the same night that I was replying to the very friend who inspired this playlist. As much as I adore Stephin Merritt, I must admit that I haven’t explored his side projects as thoroughly as I have Magnetic Fields. Since previously I only had two Future Bible Heroes songs in my musical library, I’m delighted to have an entirely new catalogue to explore (small as it is, being a side project and all). As soon as I heard the plethora of electronic beats urging me to dance I was in love, but the beyond awesome lyrics take this song over the top. If there’s a more joyful song about heartbreak out there, I haven’t heard it. And I’ve heard a lot.

1.) Nine Inch Nails – You Know What You Are

As much as I’d love to end on a positive note like song #2, when it comes to pains of the heart, the guy I always turn to first is Trent Reznor. This entire list could have been populated with Nine Inch Nails, so extensive is his repertoire of anger and disappointment. What I really love about this particular song is how it takes pain and sadness and channels it all into pure unadulterated rage. In my personal experience, there is no song that can trump this one when it comes to the primal desire to scream “F*** YOU!!!” at whoever has lied to you, cheated on you, or let you down in your life.

There are obviously many, many more songs out there of every genre that cover this topic extremely well. J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” is always a classic choice, as is any version of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” (My personal preference is the upbeat 90s cover by Saint Etienne, because nothing gives melancholy the middle finger quite like being peppy.) Then there’s the newer indie classic, Gotye’s ode to faded romance, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” The Kills provide great, crunchy tunes that always make me wanna take a road trip and stay in run-down motels, and their ditty “F**k The People” is excellent not just for heartache but any ol’ time you feel like you’re surrounded by stupidity. Along those same lines, Combichrist’s “What The F**k Is Wrong With You?” is an industrial/emb version of the same feeling. And who could forget Amy Winehouse (rest in peace), the gal who seemed to truly understand when life gets messed up, with her song, “Love Is A Losing Game?”

The list goes on and on, and will continue to grow every year, because heartbreak is universal. I take solace in all of the great music created to cope with such harsh and uncomfortable emotions. How about you? What’s the song that you keep in your back pocket, the tune that you know will be the first to beat on your eardrums when your heart gets chewed up and spit back out? The choices are out there, and as vast as the channels of the human heart. As it should be, because great art is one of the only benefits to great sorrow, or so this music lover believes.

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I Have Come To Know Him, And He Is Immortal

Okay, music lovers, it’s 2012, which means that by now we know a few things about this crazy ol’ world. It’s generally accepted that the Earth is round, and that the moon is not made of cheese. In the event of a nuclear apocalypse, cockroaches will inherit the earth. Sharks are terrifying unless it’s Shark Week, in which case they are terrifyingly awesome. We also know by now that vampires are really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Oh sure, horror movies dating back to 1922 will try to tell you otherwise. I mean, Max Schreck made a fantastic Nosferatu, but seduction was not widely considered to be his forte. However, literature has taught us over the course of centuries that real vampires are drop-dead sexy. Seduction is their thing; it’s the way they lure in their prey. Ugly vampires are great for scary stories, but they don’t really function well in the real world. To survive over the centuries, vampires would have to either start their undead lives as breathtakingly gorgeous or evolve to become so, because humans are shallow creatures and tend to not automatically kill pretty things. This fact alone first alerted me to today’s topic: Atsushi Sakurai, the lead singer of BUCK-TICK, is actually a real-life vampire.

It’s not my place to “out” anyone here, but surely I can’t be the only one who’s noticed it. I mean, just look at him. (Yes, that is a link to my personal Pintrest board dedicated to Atsushi. Someone had to do it, why not me?) He’s lovely when he’s younger, but what’s really interesting is that he actually seems to be getting better-looking with age. According to Wikipedia, he’s supposedly forty-six years old. No human looks that good at forty-six. No one. It’s almost as though Atsushi is ageless. What kind of humanoid creature is ageless? Well, that’s easy. Vampires are ageless.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “literature is filled with all sorts of immortal humanoid creatures, from faeries to ghosts to gods to, well, immortals! How do you know Atsushi isn’t one of those?” Fair play, and I commend you for being so well-versed in otherworldly creatures. I have more facts that point specifically to vampirism, but for now I’ll share with you exactly what made me 100% certain that Atsushi is a vampire. That, friends, is the English translation of the lyrics to the stunning BUCK-TICK song “Kuchizuke:”

Will you say that we can love… love each other? I’ll cover your lips
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

We can love… love each other surely, stabbing into the nape of your neck
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

I can’t ever return again, but that’s okay
I stare into the middle of the night and drink my wine dry

We’ll love… love each other more, seeming to go mad in our intense thirst
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

Your scent drives me mad
I wake up in the middle of the night and drink insanity and love dry

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll get confused and waver
It’ll turn eternal before long, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

Your scent drives me mad
I wake up in the middle of the night and drink insanity and love dry

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll get confused and waver
It’ll turn eternal before long, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll smile a little
With this, it’ll turn eternal, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

I started to highlight all of the lines that pointed to vampirism, but really, the entire song fits. A sinful kiss, like a vampire’s bite, stabbing into the nape of your neck. Seeming to go mad in our intense thirst…your scent drives me mad (vampires have a heightened sense of smell, as all vamp literature aficionados know)…the darkness over here is sweet (y’know, vampires and eternal night)…I’ll pierce you deeplywith this it’ll turn eternal…it really couldn’t be more clear. This song is Atsushi’s declaration to the world that he is what we’ve suspected: a vampire. He’s the real life embodiment of Anne Rice’s Lestat, a vampire rock star who’s pretending to be a human who is pretending to be a vampire. It’s the oldest trick in the book, and a very good one at that. If you watch any video of a BUCK-TICK performance, you can see Atsushi clearly feeding off of the energy of the crowd. He feigns indifference, but that just makes the audience crave him even more, building up to a frenzy.

BUCK-TICK very rarely play outside of Japan, and I have discovered the reason for this. One time, during a photo shoot in Nepal, Atsushi became deathly ill. He proclaimed that if he was going to die, he wanted to die in Japan, and so he was rushed back to his homeland. Once there, he miraculously recovered. Atsushi was ill, but he recovered once he was on his home soil. Hmm, who does that sound like? Oh yes, Dracula, another fellow who always had to have some of his home soil near him. Dracula kept his home soil in his coffin when he traveled in order to retain his full power. Atsushi simply chooses never to step foot off of his. (For more about this actual event in BUCK-TICK history, please see this article.)

Atsushi enjoys dark music, movies, and styles, yet he’s also secretive and hard to know, according to bandmate Hisashi. He love cats and red wine, both of which are favored by Goths and vampires alike. He also loves Bauhaus and David Bowie. Come to think of it, Bauhaus first hit it big with their single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which was used in the opening to the vampire movie The Hunger, starring David Bowie. Is it a coincidence that vampiric bits of pop culture seem to flock to Atsushi? BUCK-TICK provide the opening song for the anime Trinity Blood, which is about vampires. They also provided a song for Nightwalker, about a vampire private eye. More recently “Kuchizuke” was used as the opening song for Shiki, a horror anime that I have yet to see (but very much want to). Here’s the description for that series: “All hell breaks loose as the villagers discover their loved ones’ corpses are rising from the grave with an insatiable thirst for human blood.” What does that sound like? Yeah, thought so.

Obviously I’m not the only person who sees Atsushi’s paranormal side as plain as moonlight. A quick search for his name on YouTube and a great fan video pops up showing clips of Atsushi set to Lady Gaga’s “Monster.” Excellent song choice, fantastic Atsushi shots, and oddly telling, if you ask me. “He ate my heart,” indeed. Also, have you seen the video for BUCK-TICK’s “Romance?” (Hopefully you have if you’ve been reading this blog, as I’ve posted it before.) Unreal. The man is dark, the man is sensual, the man is, quite clearly, an immortal being obsessed with blood. And I, for one, am here to speak in his favor. If you’ve ever felt bad because you see someone who just seems to be way more awesome than everyone else, take heart. That person is probably not a “person” at all, but a vampire. And those immortal creatures (especially Atsushi himself) are more than welcome to come drink the red, red wine with me any day.

Here’s one more BUCK-TICK song to get you through the week ahead, little earbuds: their dark and delicious ditty, “Gessekai.” Enjoy, and don’t let the vampires bite. (Or do, if that’s your thing.)

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Every Time You Overdose I Rush To Intensive Care

Hello again, little earbuds. Sorry I’m running a bit behind this week: I got started celebrating Cinco de Mayo early. (By that I mean that I spent yesterday evening cooking Mexican food and hanging out instead of blogging; you thought I meant that I was hungover, right?) Anyway, I had a totally different blog entry I was working on for this week, and it’s still in the works. However, I’ve also been inspired to begin a new writing project. It literally came to me in the night and kept me from sleep early in the a.m. of May first. I love creative projects that take hold of you and won’t let you go until you answer their call. Heaven knows I need an aggressive Muse, otherwise the call of TV, video games, and general internet faff sinks its claws into me and I have massive trouble escaping.

This new writing project is all about a certain quest I’ve had in my life that I’ve now given up on, so I’m exploring what put this fervent desire into my head in the first place. I go on to chronicle the ups and downs, the near successes and inevitable failures I’ve had on this quest. I might publish it online, because maybe some other readers out there will be able to identify with me. Maybe some won’t, but still, it’s something I need to do right now. When the Muse calls, I answer! Well, today, before I began working on the new blog entry, I sat down and wrote about my most recent (and possibly most devastating) failure, the one that shut down the dream factory for me, as it were. I didn’t intend to, but of course I got pretty melancholy as I remembered in painful detail how high my dreams got before they fell crashing and flailing to the depths below. I was writing in silence, and I got so depressed that I had to stop writing and just hit “shuffle” on iTunes to try to drown out the sad memories overtaking my brain. The music was okay, nothing particularly great… and then The Raveonettes just shook me out of my funk completely.

I love this band and I love this song, but for some reason I hadn’t heard it in yons. And then to have it burst forth from my speakers when I was feeling so low, and to be such appropriate music for what I was thinking about, too, was amazing. The situation I was writing about was indeed my “last dance” with this particular dream. I was overdosing on nostalgic bitterness and heartache, and The Raveonettes provided intensive musical care. It’s such a joyful and sweet song, I couldn’t help but feel my spirits lift as I sang along.

So instead of my planned post for this week I decided to bring you yet another true tale of the power of music. When things get crappy, I hope that you have a song or two that you can turn to, dear reader, in order to overcome the crap and get back to feeling awesome again.

Next week: A real-life vampire brought to light! You don’t wanna miss this!

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A Black Sound Selection

Kuroshitsuji II (aka the second season of Black Butler) is finally available this week here in the States. As you can imagine, yours truly is pretty freakin’ stoked. I’ve seen the subbed version, but I can’t wait to hear J. Michael Tatum’s smooth English version of Sebastian as he battles a new boy and his butler. To celebrate, today’s video is a live performance of “Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa,” by Kalafina, which is used in season two. I think it’s fitting since the first season of Black Butler introduced me to this fantastic Japanese band, and my love of one keeps fueling the other. I could listen to these glorious ladies sing all day (and many days I do just that). This video proves that they are just as incredible live as they are on their albums. You can be certain that if the chance ever arises for me to see them in concert, I’ll take it in a black and bloody heartbeat.

Happy hump day, little earbuds. May you find something in this week that gives you just as much joy as this music and my new limited edition DVD give me.

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Musical Grab Bag: It Never Rains

Hello once more, little headphones. I’ve been behind on pretty much everything this week, partially due to illness and partially because I just couldn’t be arsed. Hopefully that second part is due to illness as well and will dissipate as I get better. All of that aside, I had earmarked a delightful musical treat to share with you this week, then I discovered that not only could I not find a video for it, I could barely find any information on the artist! So I decided to make my own YouTube video in order to get this great song out there and onto the internet… but then we have the sickness coming into play, and the tiredness, as well as constant storms keeping me off of the computer. And so, after getting halfway done, once more I just couldn’t be arsed. (Having zero energy and being unable to eat seriously super sucks.)

So for this week’s video I once again decided to play musical grab bag, and only a few clicks in my lovely iTunes provided me with this classic Siouxsie and the Banshees song, “Happy House.” This was one of the first Siouxsie songs that I heard knowing it was Siouxsie; perhaps the very first, now that I think about it. I received it on a mixed tape, and I instantly loved how maniacally playful and creepily happy it was. As I listened to the song again today and heard the line, “It never rains,” I knew that this was my destined tune of the week, as it’s currently quite dark and stormy in my little corner of the world. The video is clearly ancient (in terms of music videos) but we do get Siouxsie Sioux dancing around with her punk/soccer mom hair, harlequin clown outfit, and ugg boots, which certainly makes for an amusing visual. All in all, it makes for a fitting end to a strange week that for me has been filled with insomniac daydreams and tiny cups of watery, unseasoned rice for dinner. Here’s to the end of another week, and may the next one be more fruitful, or at the very least more pleasant.

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Cheer Up, Sleepy Jean

Y’know, I must admit that I was never a huge Monkees fan. Their heyday was a bit before my time, and since I grew up on a remote farm with all of five TV channels (one of them not being MTV) and my parents didn’t get cable until after I left for college, I missed any opportunities to watch reruns of their television show. At present it’s almost difficult to imagine growing up in an era before YouTube and smartphones, but I most certainly did. Luckily I’ve spent my years at college and beyond catching up on all sorts of anachronistic pop culture, though still never checking out the other fab four. In high school I had a friend who was really into The Monkees, and in fact kept insisting that she and I (plus two other friends) needed to begin a similar television show of our own. I just nodded and smiled, because I had no idea what kind of show that would be. And I still don’t, truth be told, other than I imagine it would involve music. Perhaps bell bottoms as well.

Even so, I felt that this week’s video should mark the passing of Davy Jones. When I finally did see a picture of The Monkees, I remember thinking that he was pretty darn cute. Then, after reading up on his life, I can dig where he was coming from. He was a theatre kid who saw The Beatles at the start of their stardom and wanted a piece of the pie for himself. And by gods, he got it, going on to be named the number one teen idol of all time by Yahoo Music in 2008. Not that Yahoo Music necessarily holds much sway in the world of pop culture (at least no more than any other music outlet) but the fact that even a girl on a distant farm who only listened to classical music until she was fifteen years old had heard of him and his band speaks to how far-reaching his stardom was (and still is, and will probably always be).

Sure, everyone’s heard “Daydream Believer.” It’s one of the only two Monkees songs that I can actually name off the top of my head. But damn, I really do love it. It’s simple and sweet and summery, hearkening to some innocent teenage years that never really existed outside of retro movies and Brady Bunch reruns. But we all kind of wanted to go there at some point. That opening piano is so familiar that it kind of lights up your heart from the get-go. You almost have to nod your head or tap your toes or even sing along under your breath as soon as you hear it. It’s universal and far-reaching and incredibly memorable, just like Davy Jones himself. May he rest in peace.

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Gone Is Another Day

Another Wednesday, and honestly, all I can listen to is Class Actress. “Keep You” is amazing, but so is the rest of Rapprocher. Even so, another Wednesday calls for another music video. So, in keeping with the electronica vibe, today’s song of choice is a dream pop ditty that I haven’t listened to in a while but recently re-discovered it thanks to the glorious shuffling of my iTunes. I remember that I couldn’t stop playing School of Seven Bells when I first got their debut album, Alpinisms. This song, “Half Asleep,” was the reason for that initial purchase. After I saw this video on Logo’s NewNowNext video block, I was immediately entranced with the dreamy vocals and upbeat synths that sound like showers of glitter exploding at every chorus. There’s so much movement in both this video and this song that it always makes me want to dance or swim or fly on an airplane; basically it feels like diving into the great flow of life. It’s completely enchanting, which is why I’m sharing it with you today.

I had the fortune of seeing the band members in concert when they were touring with Interpol in 2004, though at the time Benjamin Curtis was with Secret Machines and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza were part of On!Air!Library!. Later on I was lucky enough to see them together as School of Seven Bells at Moogfest in 2010 (sans sister Claudia, who had recently quit). Let me tell you right now that they are just as glorious live as on their albums. It was a powerful performance, one that commanded attention even in the hippie hustle and bustle that is Moogfest. I adore their second album, Disconnect from Desire, and I eagerly await their forthcoming release, Ghostory, due in spring of this year. However, this song was the initial seed from which my undying love for this amazing band bloomed, and no matter how many times I go running after a new musical crush, I always find it blissful to return to the dreamy waters of “Half Asleep.”

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