Grant Me This Wish…

December 9, 2010

I can’t stop listening to this.  This guy awes me.  John Grant’s entire Queen of Denmark album is incredible (definitely in my Top Three for the year), but it’s the closing title track that reaches out and takes a hold of your heart in an iron grip.

John Grant’s similar to the Lumberjack Rock artists that I naturally gravitate to (Bonnie Prince Billy, William Fitzsimmons, Damien Jurado, etc.), but with one key difference:  resilience.  This is the voice of a guy who’s gone THROUGH a shitstorm and not only lived through it but has also learned from it. 

There’s an underlying strength and self-awareness to Grant’s music.  He’s not pretending that there is no pain in the world; instead, he’s looking it in the eye and  not running away from it.  And if he isn’t living life with fear, he seems to be singing, why should you?  Good question indeed.

Queen Of Denmark – John Grant

Kate Bush: This Amazing Woman’s Work

December 4, 2010

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sleeping with Kate Bush. Okay, okay, let me clarify. I’ve been putting her music on my CD player each night to listen to while I’m falling asleep.

I was aware of Kate before. I knew and loved “This Woman’s Work” from years back, and I also liked the duet she did with Peter Gabriel. And of course, I heard that she had been an influence on Tori Almighty. But I had ordered her “Whole Story” collection back when I was in high school from the BMG CD Club (remember the “Get 10 CDs for a penny” ads?), and when “Wuthering Heights” started playing, all I could think was “What the hell is with this shrill woman?” I ended up selling the CD to a used CD store and pretty much lay Kate to rest for good, I thought.

But then a few weeks ago, I was watching The Amazing Race where the racers had to plant potatoes in a Russian field while several babooshkas cheered them on. As I was watching, I knew I had heard that word in a song before, so I went tracking it down, and it led me back to the Kate Bush league. Since then, I’ve been digging through her back catalogue, and it’s been like digging my fingers into a treasure box dug up from the bottom of the ocean. Her music: it’s just genius piled on genius piled on genius. I can’t think of better music to sleep with.

You Can Close Your Eyes (And Just Listen)…

October 5, 2010

My love for William Fitzsimmons continues to grow by leaps and bounds (apparently, I’m not alone; Michelle Kwan named him as one of her favorite singers in a recent interview!). Seriously, I could just listen to this cover forever and ever on an endless loop…

You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor Cover) – William Fitzsimmons

The Best Workout Song Ever

September 2, 2010

I was at the gym today when I reached a milestone. I did a set of ten pull-ups without pausing.

Okay, I know there are people out there who can do twenty, thirty, maybe even a hundred in a row with one finger, no sweat. Well, good for you, whoop-de-doo-dah, but I gotta live with my own standards, and for me right now, ten’s a number I can be proud of.

Anyhow, that’s not the point of this post. I wanted to present what I think may very well be the best song ever to work out to: DJ Deckstream’s “This Is” (feat. Spree Wilson). It’s dancey, hip-hop-happy, and jazzy all at once, and really delivers that extra dose of adrenaline when you really need it. So put down your needles, all the steroid-freaks out there, and just put on this song. I’m telling you, it does a body good.

This Is – DJ Deckstream (ft. Spree Wilson)

The School…

July 3, 2010

I hated school, but I love The School.  Self-contradiction?  Not quite, as The School is a modern band specializing in the Sixties bubblegum sound.  They’re absolutely fantastic, and they make me wish I was alive during the sixties.  My favorite track from their new album is “Is He Really Coming Home.”  It leaves me desperately missing the feeling of having a big, old, still-a-teenager-at-heart crush on someone.  Sigh.  (I’m all-committed to my novel-to-be for 2010, but I’m counting on you in 2011, Cupid!)

Is He Really Coming Home – The School

All the (Piled-Up) Lovers…

June 24, 2010

Speaking of being back, so is Kylie Minogue.  And she’s brought back a whale of a pop nugget with her:  “All the Lovers.”  It’s the audio equivalent of confetti endlessly falling over you.  Easily one of my favorite pop tracks of the year thus far.

All the Lovers (Extended Mix) – Kylie Minogue

The World Is…

April 16, 2010

Maybe because it’s my brother’s birthday this week and I’m an ocean away, but I’ve been listening to a lot of music that I’m sure many people will find lugubrious.  It’s perhaps strange, but I don’t find it depressing at all.  In fact, I find it uplifting.

This is Matthew Ryan, an incredible indie singer who’s got an awesome new album out called Dear Lover. (buy it here )   His old stuff is great, too (he’ll be showing up on my Top 101 Countdown some time later), but this album is just amazing, full of moody beauty.   And like his fellow brothers of Lumberjack Rock (apparently the correct term is ‘alt-country,’ but I like my name better) Bonnie Prince Billy, Damien Jurado, and William Fitzsimmons, he sings like he’s on the top of a roof cabin singing to the stars. And the world is better off for it.

The World Is – Matthew Ryan