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.
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.
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.