Tag Archives: indie

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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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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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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One Year Later: I Still Wanna Be Adored

Hello again, little earbuds! Hard to believe that a year and a day ago I began this, my first public blog. (I’ve had various personal blogs, kept private save for close friends, on and off for several years.) I’ll admit, there have been times when I’ve debated shutting it all down in order to concentrate on other writings. Besides that, my anime blog, Otaku Haiku, gets many more hits than this one every day. But I think I’ll keep Hot Pink Headphones going for a while yet. I love music so very much that it’s nice to have a wee place to gush about the videos and artists who bring me such joy. And while passions come and passions go, music was one of my first true loves, and I can never stop listening.

There have been so many amazing artists and songs that I’ve discovered in just the past year alone that it would be difficult to name a favourite. BUCK-TICK spring readily to mind as a huge new and vibrant musical love of mine. Since I first heard their sexy opening theme song for Trinity Blood I’ve been completely head-over-heels for this Japanese visual kei band (and especially for Atsushi Sakurai, their enigmatic David-Bowie-as-vampire lead singer). Just last night I was watching (for the billionth time) the video of abingdon boys school in concert covering BUCK-TICK’s “Dress,” and when special guest Atsushi hits the stage, I get chills as though I’m in that audience, too. Come to think of it, anime has introduced me to all sorts of new and wonderful music (158 new artists, to be exact, according to my iTunes library). Writing my Music For Otakus series was definitely lots of fun, and something that I’ll probably expand soon, seeing as how I watch new anime practically every week.

But it’s not all in with the new and out with the old here. I continue to discover new albums by bands I already love as well as re-discover beloved albums from a few years ago (or even a few decades). And seeing those much-loved artists in concert is always a thrill. I went to many great shows last year, but finally seeing Dolly Parton in concert is probably closest to my heart, and a memory that I’ll always treasure. Then there’s all the amazing fan-made videos, such as this one for “Keep You” by Class Actress (which is my current fav-of-all-time-omg-I-can’t-stop-watching-it fan vid). Come to think of it, with so much incredible music to be seen and heard, how could I ever think of stopping this blog?

Today’s video is, in my humble opinion, very fitting for my one-year anniversary. When I first heard the original song by The Stone Roses back in college, my immediate and only thought was, “This is my life’s theme song.” It was so mellow and cool, but never pleading; the lyrics were a demand, not a request. To this day it remains an important and beloved addition to my musical library. However, just a couple of years ago, one of my favourite modern bands, The Raveonettes, covered the song. The Danish indie rock duo made something already amazing into a dreamy fuzz-fueled haze of musical bliss. To top it all off, if the excellent video doesn’t make you want to hang out with your grandmother or even just have a picnic and lie in the grass, nothing else will. And on that note, I give you The Raveonettes’s version of “I Wanna Be Adored.”

Thank you to any and all little earbuds for reading, and thanks for listening and sharing in these great tunes with me.

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Filed under Artist Love, Covers, Memories and Nostalgia, Music Videos

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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Where’s Dr. Jo Harding When You Need Her?

Today’s song is brought to you by the letter “T.” That’s “T,” as in “tornado.” Because that is what has been happening on and off all day in the area where I live: tornado watches, tornado warnings, and thunderstorms aplenty. Right at this second there is thunder booming ominously outside and raindrops pelting across my window. Wait, make that giant hail. My cats do not like this one bit, and neither do I.

When I was young there was a kind of thrill to big storms. My sisters and I would run through our big farmhouse and close all of the windows, make sure that all of our bikes and things were put away, and most importantly try to herd our fifteen (yup, fifteen!) outdoor cats into the garage. Sometimes one or two would take refuge in the shed nearby, but I never felt content unless all fifteen were safely tucked away in the dry garage (which had cat beds and food bowls and a litter box, not just cars, by the by). It was scary but exciting at the same time, gathering everyone and everything indoors, lighting candles, and bracing ourselves for the elements.

Now, however, it’s not as fun. Maybe it’s because I don’t quite have that unflinching childish belief that I am safe as long as I am home, or maybe it’s just that I have some sense of what loss feels like whereas before I did not. I still recall a time several years ago when my older sister and I were shopping in a craft store and a tornado touched down nearby. The power went out, and everyone had to remain in the store and away from the windows. We watched from a distance as a rogue shopping cart flew across the parking lot and crashed into a car. Even at that point, I was mostly concerned about our car, because I just knew that we would be okay.

As I grow older I try to retain a good balance of hope and caution when it comes to natural occurrences. I still enjoy rain on a day when I can stay indoors, and even storms on deliciously spooky evenings (except for when I want to use the internet, in which case it becomes annoying). Tornadoes I pay more attention to, and rightly so, though with cat carriers and my grandmother’s basement close by, I feel okay most of the time. In honor of the powerful weather today I give you one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands, “My Tornado” by The Raveonettes, a song that I was oddly listening to so many years ago before we were caught in the craft store. It’s a bit odd to have a theme song for such a memory, but there you go. Enjoy, and stay safe.

*Editor’s Note: Dr. Jo Harding was Helen Hunt’s character in the movie Twister. Remember that little cinematic gem?

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A Valentine For Everyone, or, Why I Don’t Hate V-Day

Valentine’s Day: love it or hate it, every February 14th it comes around, staring you in the face like a hungry squirrel. Some people seem to genuinely enjoy a chance for public-sanctioned p.d.a. while others loathe this holiday like no other. Me, I’m okay with it. I inherited my grandfather’s sweet tooth (we both knew that a meal isn’t finished without dessert) so I’m naturally inclined to love a holiday built on the exchange of candy and flowers. By sheer coincidence, yes, roses are my favourite flower. And I look darn good wearing either red or pink. What’s not to like? I’ve never had a significant other during the month of February, but I don’t feel left out or judged because of that fact (at least not any more so than the rest of the year). Sure, I run into the “smug marrieds” (as Bridget Jones calls them) but in my experience, the smugger the married couple, the worse the actual relationship is. Most people I know just seem to utilize V-Day as a chance to reiterate how much they love their partner(s), and I say, go for it, the world can use more love. Not that I don’t understand those who abhor said day of love: it can be stressful whether in or out of a relationship. And yes, greeting cards definitely make a tidy profit during this time of year. But regardless of your feelings about social norms and Hallmark conspiracies, I would counter that there is some form of Valentine that works for all of us. Whether you take a huge stance like Eve Ensler and turn “valentine” into “vagina” and initiate a political movement for women’s rights, or if you dig Chaucer (the man credited for introducing romantic love into St. Valentine’s celebration) you, too, can feel the love today. And so I dedicate my first Top 5 playlist, 5 Songs for 5 Types of Love, to the martyred Saint Valentine, the inspiring Eve Ensler, and to you, dear reader. Happy V-Day.

1.) Love for your family: Sister Sledge – We Are Family

Disco? Really? And not just that, but overplayed disco? Yes, dear reader. Though this song can easily be thrown into the “Sweet cheezus, no more!” bin along with “Macarena” and Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” I would ask you to give it one more listen. This song has real meaning, and the lyrics talk about having faith in yourself and love for your family. Keep in mind that when I say family I mean your family, be it the one that you were born into or the one that you’ve made for yourself. This is a love song to the people who love and support you no matter what, and hopefully everyone has at least one person like that in their lives. Personally this song always brings to mind the opening of The Birdcage, and I especially love this song in the context of drag queens. Some classics are just that for a reason.

2.) Love for yourself: Madonna – Vogue

I knew exactly where to look when I was searching for a song about loving yourself and taking shit from no one: Madonna. My mother once said that Madonna is the female version of Elvis, and that analogy has always stuck with me. I do love The King, but had Elvis survived into old age, how successful would he have been? We can’t be sure, but something tells me he wouldn’t have had half the staying power of Madge. She’s an artist I can listen to in pretty much any mood, at any time, because she has such a wide variety of songs. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel that Madonna reminds you of too many middle school slumber parties, and that she is no longer relevant. Maybe you think, as I used to, that “Vogue” is simply too overplayed. Well, take another listen. This song is not only quintessential Madonna, it’s quintessential badass. How many other artists are willing to stop singing about their own broken hearts, their family issues, or their bling long enough to proclaim, “You’re a superstar, yes that’s what you are.” Madonna goes through the media fire and emerges victorious in order that we might have an anthem. And of all Madonna songs, this is the anthem of anthems. Listen to her words, let them soak into your bones. (On my last listen with my younger sister we both began vogueing while in a compact car going 70 mph down the highway, which is quite a feat! That is the power of Madonna.)

3.) New Love: Class Actress – Let Me Take You Out

A funny thing happened as I was browsing the internet one night: somehow I came across this delightfully dreamy song called “Let Me Take You Out” by Elizabeth Harper. I bought it and then proceeded to listen to it on repeat, loving its bouncy pep and sweet lyrics. Fast forward to watching The Vampire Diaries one night and lo, it’s that same song! But it says it’s by “Class Actress,” who the heck is that? It turns out that Class Actress is Elizabeth Harper, just with some extra electronics thrown in. So I found the EP “Journal of Ardency,” and that has been one of my best musical purchases of 2010. It’s 80s-tinged and dancey and dark and so, so excellent. I can’t recommend those five songs enough. But for now, start with this little jewel. This is a daydream of a song that calls to mind the nervous excitement of a crush combined with the mellow ease of watching an entire city flash by from a cab window.

4.) True Love: KaiserCartel – Favorite Song

This song, and in fact this darling couple (Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel) sound like an idealized version of NYC, like the Brooklyn you see in quirky indie films, not the dirty, over-crowded reality that is Times Square. Their album “March Forth” is excellent folksy listening on those days when you have the windows down and you’re reading a book while a cool breeze sends shivers down your spine, yet it also warms you up during the long cold winter months. This song in particular is effortless, the perfect song for the matching bookend in your life, whoever or whatever that might be. Those who are prone to wooing, take note: this song is nearly guaranteed to melt hearts. Learn it on guitar or piano, warble it softly off-key, or better yet, hold up a boombox Lloyd Dobler -style and pipe it into your beloved’s window. No need to thank me, just name your first shared pet “Miss Pink” and we’ll call it even.

5.) Overall Song o’ the Day: OutKast – Happy Valentine’s Day

This song pretty much speaks for itself. It’s got a great beat, and the lyrics play both sides of the fence, moving from “Love will rule supreme!” to “F**k that Valentine’s Day!” by the end. It’s got something for everyone, and that’s what I’ve been trying to get at all along: no one wants to be excluded, which seems to be the main problem with Valentine’s Day. Other holidays fall victim to that as well (I’m lookin’ at you, Christmas!) but if we can disregard the social pressures to mate and reproduce, I think that deep down few, if any, would have real issues with a day set aside to honor love in all its forms. And if André 3000 is Cupid, I’m on board with making “every day the fourteenth.”

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