The thing about burying the people you’re closest to is that cemeteries assume new dimensions. Every patch of grass is personal and every gravestone a headboard, because you envision the ones you’ve loved sleeping peacefully below ground. Or rotting, depending on your mood. Grief is a gray area: you pray for inconsistency and secretly revel in its constant companionship because as long as you hurt, you’re still connected to those you miss.
In this headspace, two songs have been on constant rotation for me. And I do mean constant. The first is “Churchyard” by AURORA from her album Infections of a Different Kind (Step 1). The album is solid, front to back, but this particular song is blasting from my weak iPhone speakers in the morning during makeup application, through my car’s surround sound on the ride to work, and running through my head as I fall asleep. “He told me I belong in a churchyaARD. He told me I could walk away, but I wouldn’t get FaAR.” It’s the perfect pop song with sneaky substance that functions as the tie that binds. If I were Mary Tyler Moore, this would be my opening credit.
If I’m in a mellower mood, I lean on Soko’s “We Might Be Dead Tomorrow” from I Thought I Was an Alien. I encountered this amazing tune on the dark British comedy series The End of the F**cking World, which has one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. Lots of midcentry soulful throwbacks and heartbreaking acoustic currents.
These two songs have been bookends for me this week. Some weeks are more challenging than others, but music is always there to provide context and solace; like when you heat metal–forcing the impurities to surface so they can be cleaned away, music makes the molecules move and friction makes the heat that purifies. As long as the sounds waves vibrate, everything is fine.
I’m just gonna say it: who has the financial capital and industry clout to revive Lilith Fair? With feminism re-entering daily discourse as the #MeToo movement exposes the rank sexuality of power, and as music festivals make moot the role of calendars in indicating the arrival of summer…how has Lilith Fair not made its foregone return?
Somebody please get on that, and, when you do, please make Lisa Hannigan a headliner. Swan is one of her latest, released in June, and it’s lovely. It hooked me from the first line: “And what he wanted was a house, to fill the house with things he loved.” This might be the perfect epitaph on my headstone, with a quick pronoun replacement of course. Somebody please get on that…in the (hopefully distant) future.
If I ever get married (an act that is looking increasingly unlikely), this is the song that will walk me down the aisle.
Go ahead and steal the idea, future Mrs. and Mrs. Just be sure to message me with recorded evidence so I can have the thrill of seeing the concept enacted. ; )
There are few musicians I’m more devoted to than Gregory Alan Isakov. I’ve seen him live numerous times, and the poster they doled out at his last Fillmore show is one of the few I’ve deemed worth the framing price.
Evening Machines, his forthcoming album, is officially released October 5th, but a few singles are now streaming. “Caves” has been a replayer for me this week, and, in my attempt to put my money where my mouth is and buy more music, I’ve pre-ordered a special autographed copy.
Cat Power is one of my true first loves. My early 20s would not have existed if it wasn’t for Cat Power. I’ll be seeing her for the umpteenth time with The National next month, and I almost can’t contain my excitement.
Here’s to lifelong loves. I promise you, they do exist.
Max Garcia Conover is from Portland, Maine, and he releases weekly songs through Patreon that are beautiful. Beautiful in the way that poetry makes truth immediate and gives it shape. Beautiful in the way that it reminds us how music is a living, daily ritual. Beautiful in the way it reinforces constancy and the importance of repition to creating something worth having–a body of work by which he will be remembered fondly.
I hope he finds himself in California soon, so I can find my way to this concept performed live.
Some songs are as delicate and fragile as they are strong and lovely. Perhaps it’s the secret depressive in me that so authentically connects to music that warbles with vulnerability. Or maybe that’s just the undercurrent that makes good music, and it’s natural to like good music. Regardless, this track isn’t new…just new to me. I like it very much.
What I like most about Mike Viola’s music is that it feels unique, a la Elvis Costello. So many songs and albums sound the same these days, and, while it’s clearly influenced by vintage songwriting structures, his approach feels fresh at a time when 80s synth pop is dominating a market that wasn’t alive to remember the 1980s. It certainly feels honest. These are things I appreciate.
If you’re wondering if you should keep listening, maybe his pedigree will intrigue you. Viola co-wrote the theme song for That Thing You Do, and also composed much of the music you heard in Judd Apatow’s Rock Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. He’s worked with Ryan Adams, The Monkees, Jenny Lewis, and Rachael Yamagata. These are also things I appreciate.
Greg Hughes and Tess Murray make enjoyable music. I love the synthy, outer space surf western vibes that emanate from this new track; it’s very next-horizon. Their new album, Slow Air, has been on constant rotation when I’m working: the perfect music to make the research less stultifying. I love music, and I love workflow grooves, and Slow Air is the tits.
Californians can see them live this Fall: at the Casbah in San Diego on October 30th; at Resident in Los Angeles on November 1st; and at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco on November 2nd. Go see them.
I love Valley Maker so much I just pre-ordered Rhododendron (set to release 10.12.18) while writing this post. Seattle-based, gritty folk artist Austin Crane wrote his first eponymous album as part of his PhD work in Human Geography. His music is smart and addictive, with its soothing rhythmic inspections into the human core. Now signed onto a new label, Frenchkiss, and in the production hands of Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi) and Trevor Spencer (Father John Misty), I’m excited to see how he expands on this next album.
If you want to see him live, he comes through California in December: at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco on December 10th; Resident in Los Angeles on December 11th; and Soda Bar in San Diego on December 12th. I highly recommend seeing him in any of these appropriately intimate venues.