Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kiss each other clean

Spring is a time for all things new. New life, new dresses, new skirts, new ideas, new music. The world itself seems shinier and newer, even if it's actually just slightly more radioactive and disruptive. Us bears, we awake from hibernation, look around carefully, lumber into the sunlight, prick up our ears and hear new melodies.
The man from the water
The trouble with getting older, is that you are less and less effected by new things; music, art, film (Or music videos!?! I think that last music video I actually loved was like 3 years ago...).

This isn't because you're not interested, though it's true you no longer follow these things as obsessively as you did when you were younger; it's because you already own the greatest albums of the world. No, seriously, there's a time in your life, often in your teens and twenties, when your music taste begins to settle. There are songs, records, that can move the whole world inside you. And after that, after families and remodels and loans and kids and the long nights spent painting the bathroom, you just can't get fired up about the New Album by Some Flannel Clad Hipster. So you go back to the family room, put on some headphones and silently bob your head to There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out. Again.

Which is fine. Because it is the best song in the history of pop music and frankly, it reminds you of a time when you could still go to places where there was music and people who were young and alive. And maybe you lived in London when you were just 22, and listened to it on the top floor front seat of a double decker bus with a boy you thought you loved from one earbud each...(okay, so maybe this is just me;)

But the trouble with this is that you might end like one of those old fogers who believe that nothing worthwhile has happened in the world of music since 1973 (if you have to ask...).
So you reach out and search and listen, for other voices and other rooms (if you have to ask ;).
And maybe the songs and bands and singers you find won't move the sky inside you and send rainbows through your brain, but they might just be perfect for the moment. Like a beautiful spring day who's passing I've documented for your pleasure. (Lots of gratuitous cat-shots follow.) Consider this a springtime mixtape.

Sometimes you get music and then just forget about it (especially if you have emusic), and then when it plays at just the right moment you fall in love with it, like those idiot guys in romantic comedies when they finally realise that the girl of their dreams has been under their noses all along. Shearwater's last album, Rook played a lot at our house, but I wasn't really taken by The Golden Archipelago (in spite its Island theme) until this spring.

For the past few years I've been very taken by music with folky-connotations, new folk, freak folk, just plain old Railroad and Union and Coal-mining songs. I'm one of those obnoxious people who just keep claiming that they like "all kinds of music", but my musical tastes really are pretty varied.

C. likes to complain that my music is too moody, and normally I don't agree, but when you get a birthday package all the way from Turkey you need totally to crank up some cheerier tunes.

Especially when it contains a new Gunne Sack previously seen on a girl you obviously adore, a bear-pendant AND an awesome piece of non-fiction hand-picked for you. Vampire Weekend's eponymous debut is another album that was actually released a while back and pure silliness to boot, but sure fits into twirling in your new dress and doing chores in the sun. Sometimes I like to have a little dance party to its beat all by myself.
It was the perfect day to hang out the season's first laundry beneath the cedar tree. I love the smell of air-dried sheets and clothes. The spring air sticks to you like a perfume. While I'm normally all about reality based blogging, I will admit that I hung the prettiest laundry first. What can I say, it's all staged...
The two Bowerbirds albums probably get the most airtime at our house, we both blast them while we work, burst into sing-alongs to The House Of Diamonds and In Our Talons and dissect the environmental, elemental lyrics (how could we not love a band that states in their website that they're spending their winter building a cabin and chopping wood ;). They are one of the three points where our musical tastes fully converge. The other two are Elephant Revival and Gogol Bordello (The former is playing here next weekend and we just bought tickets to go see the latter in Bham! Wheeeee!). Go figure.
cat crime?
You're witnessing some hideous cat-crime. Kissa decided to make some bedding available for the illicit lolly-gagging in the sun.
I don't know how she feels about the Cure, but I play this tribute album a lot these days. I know it's not entirely new music and even this album is about three years old, but I've only recently rediscovered it and love all the versions of these songs.

I do a lot of my music immersion while I bike up and down this Island, make whole mixes around what routes I plan to take. Sometimes I play the pensive, delicate tunes that C. so dislikes, but more often I like to blast my eardrums with energetic, adrenaline moving music.
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, have been a mainstay for a while now when I speed down these hills, and what could be more suiting when the band itself has an unlikely connection to these here Isles; Siri who hails from around here, is the one and only of the band's bassist.
Another recent biking favorite, is also a current New Yorker of a completely different musical persuasion. These spring days, I'm swooning to Justin Townes Earle in the sunlight while I bike to the Dump for some sweet finds.
One album that has not left my ears this season though, as you maybe have guessed from the title, is the new Iron And Wine. While there has been mixed reviews on the different musical turn one Samuel Beam is said to have taken with this, his latest album, I have embraced it whole hearted in these last weeks.
It is so light, melancholy, with bursts of unexpected energy. Perfect soundtrack for the frogs to croon to and the bugs to dance in evening sun.
And for me to walk around, close to home, in my new dress, pondering the mysterious cycles of death and rebirth, of frogs and tadpoles and eggs and birds unfolding right here on my doorstep.
And a tiny part of its sweetness was hearing Darin discuss its merits one night at Heather's house.
Happy Spring My Loves! And do tell: what are you listening to?


  1. this bowerbirds song is haunting and beautiful, thanks for the intro. I'll see if I can get their music to bring to Europe with me :)

  2. What I look forward to the most about spring (and moving to the countryside in a few days) is being able to hand wash and air dry our clothes again. You're artificial freshener can beat that

  3. there is something about hanging laundry that i love so much. more than just because it conserves energy. the light on different fabrics and the shadows they make and the dancing around in the wind. love it. what a nice dress!

  4. been listening to that iron & wine album a lot at the shop. last weekend, with all my long trips to and from SF, i could not remove BPB's "the letting go" from the cd player. fleetwood mac's "rumours", buffy and devendra's whole catalogs, and fleet foxes' stuff are in rotation, and i am [im]patiently waiting new recordings from the buffalo killers and golden animals while listening to their previously released albums.
    you inspired me to figure out how to add a video to a post. i think i did it. woo hoo.
    we are supposed to get some sun this week. happy spring...for real...finally :)

  5. I have been reading (and loving!) this blog for a while but this is my first comment (nervous...). I really love what you wrote about how your enjoyment of music has shifted in 10 years. You expressed this shift that I think most of us go through in that 20 to 30 time frame in such simple and perfect language. It kind of made me feel a little less lame for not knowing "about the New Album by Some Flannel Clad Hipster" (ha!). Thanks for this post, and for the blog in general. I enjoy your honest, positive and thoughtful writing, the island dispatches (I'm in WA, too), and the lovely photos.

  6. Music sweet music. The Cure. Always pulls at my heart - indelibly linked to so many poignant memories. Your Spring day looks to be just as Spring gladness should look....pretty washing, clear skies and still waters. You sound happy, friend, which is music in itself don't you think! I also have to agree to your choice of Vampire Weekend...I instantly felt like hopping on my (imaginary) bike and going places. cheers to best days. xxx

  7. No better way to kick off a new season than with a Milla Mix! I always love them :)

    You in that gorgeous dress and the sunlight pouring over you is quite a site to behold. Such package love!

    I've been pretty lazy about music lately, I think emusic would be a good idea for me.

    Listening to the Elephant Revival cd you sent in anticipation of their arrival down here too, yippee :D

  8. Believe it or not, I had Hymns For a Dark Horse right next to me on my desk as I read your post. I'm not listening to it yet though, because I'm in the middle of Rod Stewart's Gasoline Alley.

  9. Dearling Milla!

    I love this. I know the feeling so well when an album or song just HITS you, even after it has played many a time before your ears. Suddenly, one day, or one year, you just fall for it! THanks for sharing all these audio and visuals. I have fallen for some kind of poppy sounds of late, REALLY a victim of Mumford & Sons 2010 album Sigh No More and have taken a recent liking to new albums by Sufjan Stevens, The Boxer Rebellion, The Naked and Famous, and of course always enchanted by The Cure and new wave old standards!

    Did you know Art recorded that Cure song for Mariee? In our bright little "music room" in our house in Grass Valley a couple years back!? Oh the small world.

    I really love that Pains of Being Pure At Heart song and the Shearwater one too! The Iron and Win album....well...I haven't quite given it the chance as of yet cause Art won't HEAR of it! But in time....perhaps when I least expect to one day circa October, it will just catch me by surprise and I will fall for it completely...The way I did for Nick Drake, Tom Waits, and Jeff Buckley.......

    All my love to your golden castle!


  10. Beautiful laundry my dear!
    I started reading through this post yesterday but waited to comment until I had spent some time with the music.
    I think I dig the Bowerbirds most of all. Or Justin Townes Earle! That fiddle! I have to admit pure envy on my part when picturing you biking while listening to music mixes. The only way I engage with music these days is in front of my computer. I need me an iPod. Haha, I know what you mean about the husband who dislikes "pensive, delicate" tunes :-)
    (So rad that Art recorded Mariee's song! I have yet to listen to what she did with Will Oldham, which is pure insanity on my part. She is here recording right now, so more good music is on the way!)
    I love that I&W song (somehow, again, I just haven't listened to the rest of it yet). Did you know he has 5 daughters? Is that not the cutest thing? I really just wanna know that they're names are.
    Sara's package looks soooo darling! I really need to take some package-packaging tips from you all. I'm so ghetto about that kind of stuff (hello, dollar store). I wanna see close ups of each item, especially the clothes-looking things.
    You are a vision of pure spring renewal. With that ever present mischievous glint in your eye ;-)

  11. Love this medley of tunes! Yes, I know just what you mean about growing up and becoming too staid and curmudgeonly to seek out new music. My favorites currently have been my favorites for years: Joanna Newsom, Leonard Cohen, The Bowerbirds (realatively new, right? right?), Iron and Wine, Neko Case, Cat Power, Joni MItchell, Nina SImone, Belle and Sebastian, The Mountain Goats, Bach. Am I boring? Old?
    I listen to TIlly and the Wall and the New Pornographers when I need to get zesty (cook something spicy in the kitchen, run)....

    I have hip friends who recommend me the latest tunes and even Dropbox me some good ones. But I must admit, I always reach for Joanna Newsom first!


  12. Listening to lots of new stuff like the new Family Elan and Nalle albums - you might like those! I know what you mean about older stuff, though and folk music. Lot's of wonderful stuff.

  13. I was walking far from home...

    Thanks for reminding me how much I love this new Iron & Wine album.. I played it practically nonstop for the first few weeks but haven't put it on for a little while.. so thanks to my little wake up blog read in bed this morning it made the perfect soundtrack for my breakfast.. mm that first track just draws me in everytime. I too am really enjoying Sam's progression, as each album becomes more layered and layered and intricate and in a way more interesting than his earlier stuff.. although it will always hold a special place in my heart. When we saw him play a few years ago in our closest city (brisbane AUS) I was ridiculously excited and he only played a very small venue and I didn't expect it but he opened with The Trapeze Swinger (which I never thought I'd get to hear live) but my oh my, it floored me and I spent the entire 9 or so minutes bawling my eyes out silently in the crowd. You can't beat that feeling, sometimes melancholy music can bring on the most intense of feelings within.. good feelings I think. Oh and we love Justin Townes in our household too, and the Bowerbirds.. Justin is just the most delightful to listen to, not bad to look at either he he.. do you listen to JTE's namesake Townes Van Zandt much??

  14. Thank you for giving me a soundtrack to my morning! I loved all the songs here... I actually liked Mariee's version of Love Song better than The Cure's (and I am a devoted Cure Head)! Thanks too for the nudge towards the new Iron and Wine. When I got The Woman King a few years back I played it perhaps more obsessively than anything I have ever owned.... I actually think I wore my brain out on Iron and Wine for a few years from doing that, cause I had no desire for his follow up at all, which I thought was weird! But maybe this one is going to reel me back in. (-:

  15. the music i listen to changes with the seasons and my surroundings. i was just in la, so listening to gene clark was imminent. though he is entwined with los angeles in my mind as a member of the byrds, one of his best albums (and my favorite), no other, was written largely in mendocino, a rocky, treed and kelp-strewn place much like your island.

    music is everything to me. i so enjoyed reading this post. it's been interesting to observe and attempt not to judge my own transition from complete, utter music obsessive from childhood through my late twenties, to this rather calm and somewhat detached at times, but still absorbed when i have time, early thirties gal. i hate to say it, but i really didn't think it would happen to me, and yet, of course, it has. it's nice to know i am not only not alone, but in such good company! :)

    i feel weird saying this, but i feel like i am, over the past few years and for the first time in my life, having trouble expressing myself in writing, which has always been my place to do so. (notice how non-wordy and maybe too impersonal my blog is.) sometimes i think my brain has been all used up by work and life and the speed and intensity of it all (and not much sleep! ;) reading your posts is very inspiring. thanks for still creating and doing what you do!

  16. Stumbled upon your blog. Love it! Just saw the Pain video on here. We are friends with Peggy, that is my band. Love them! Happy Spring!