Must-See: Rose Droll @ Amnesia TONIGHT

When you review music as part of your daily bread, you hear a lot of music. You can usually tell within the first 20 seconds whether or not you want to keep listening, and by the second song you get to know an artist.

Within one minute of listening to Rose Droll I thought, “This girl needs a recording contract.” I want to see what she can do with unlimited resources and support. Droll has an innate ability to write songs that aren’t overthought but are thoughtful. They are truthful, they are beautiful, they levitate with depth but are soft enough to experience on multiple levels–with investment, committing to the complexity of every note and lyric, or within distraction, as a soundtrack to your transitional life. This is music at its best–fresh and raw, with a unique viewpoint.

Droll has unleashed mucho music this year from a massive reservoir of unreleased tracks, and you should support both her and the amazing venue she’s gracing this evening, Amnesia. Then you can say you knew her when she played an intimate Mission District lynch pin after she’s climbed the ladder out of relative obscurity.

So sad to be missing her tonight. Don’t be like me; drop what you’re doing and go! Missed her? No problem. We can see her together at Cafe du Nord on October 15th. PHEW.

These are a few of my…Breakup Songs

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View over Torrey Pines State Beach, Del Mar, California / 08.19.17 

There are many ways to break a heart. The newest method I’ve learned is when a man you’ve loved for eight years leaves you for the final time (for another woman) one month after your Mom is diagnosed with cancer. You really do learn something new every day.

Life isn’t kind enough to stop and let you heal; you have to do that on the run. Friends, family, work that inspires and distracts you is key, and…slowly…through the pain…you take away the things that made you better, even if, in the pain, you see time and youth wasted. Blame feels good for a moment, but the truth is no one leaves an eight year relationship without blood on their hands. I am certainly no saint. Human beings are tragic mishaps, which is why you can love someone deeply but can’t find a way to make it stick. That’s the crux of the human condition.

But if something is taken from you, replace it. If you can’t fill the void with something new, then stitch yourself together, mend the tear from what you have left. And if there’s power in numbers, then music is the way to reclaim mine–as the notes in each song add up to a rhythm that reminds the heart to beat, the lungs to breathe, and keeps the nervous system in check. The last time I had my heart broken, I remade myself as a music journalist and found my footing.

So in that spirit I’m launching a new feature on Nostos Algos with this post. These are a few of my… will be a regular(ish) series that shares a few of my favorite things by theme, and, if musical, will be tied to Spotify playlists. The playlist that corresponds here is titled “…favorite breakup songs, and is composed of songs previously featured on Nostos Algos because I’m stitching myself together with what’s sustained me for years. One exception to this is an entire album by Daughter, since this indie British outfit is my spirit animal. Content runs the gamut in tone, from angry to sad, nostalgic to uplifting, and the order is mixed because that’s the reality of emotions: they are not linear.

There are many ways to break a heart, but there are just as many ways to mend it. Here’s to starting that process by sharing it with you, since there’s power in numbers, and healing…one song at a time.


Daily Dose: Tame Impala, “Let It Happen”

The first Daily Dose back from a long absence is the first track from Tame Impala’s newest and most amazingest album, Currents. This band has been a talking point on Nostos Algos many a-time, and here they are again–delivering a synthed-out sixties trip for the modern era. Love these guys, love this album: an album that you should buy since they’ll actually get royalties from it now!

Album Review: Villagers

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Villagers is the critically acclaimed brainchild of thirty-something Conor J. O’Brien. Although the outfit has  been around since 2008, it’s REALLY been around since the 2010 album Becoming A Jackal became bonkers popular and jettisoned the band onto an exhaustive tour that lasted for two years.

In a 2013 interview with Neil McCormick of The Telegraph, frontman O’Brien discussed tour fatigue and his struggles as a songwriter, criticizing his post-tour work as lacking in depth. He ruminated, “I felt, in a very childish way, I had romanticized sadness, and I was using the music to wallow.” This is understandable given the fact that he was coping with a family tragedy, but it’s also a common occurrence; how often have we penned a poem or sought a song for immersion, to validate our feelings but also give them authenticity in a time of crisis? Particularly with the loss of a loved one, it’s sometimes hard to let the pain go because, in doing so, it feels as though you’re that much further from the one you lost.

His newest work, however, shows a remarkable amount of maturity–one that uses loss as an underpinning instead of as a focal point. While the overarching tenor of Darling Arithmetic is pensive and bends toward sadness, it never actually breaks under the weight. True, the album has its melancholic valleys (“No One To Blame”), but it also peaks frequently with optimism as the lyrics offer measured notes of hope. Not the kind of hope that grows blindly in a vacuum of naiveté, but one that is fought for and found, one that pays homage to and draws strength from the paths we forge together and sometimes alone. In “Courage”, the album’s opening track, O’Brien sings:

Do you really want to know about these lines on my face? Well each and every one is testament to all the mistakes I’ve had to make to find…Courage, it’s a feeling like no other, let me tell you, yeah. Courage, in harmony with something other than your ego. Courage, the sweet relief of knowing nothing comes for free.

In that same Telegraph interview, O’Brien relates how he came out of his writing slump by using synthetic instruments and experimenting with “ambient soundscapes.” Most poignantly, he notes his inspiration from Carl Sagan “to put the story of the evolution of human intelligence into a personal perspective.” This, perhaps more than any other sentence, describes his effort on Darling Arithmetic for meWhether describing a hot scary summer or chameleon dreams, the full breadth of the human experience can be found somewhere on this album if you’re receptive to looking because, in a very intimate and personal way, this album is about being part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Throughout listening I could not help but to recall the words of a favorite poet, W.H. Auden, in his poem The More Loving One, which I’ll leave you with here to chew on:

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That, for all they care, I can go to hell,

But on earth indifference is the least

We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn

With a passion for us we could not return?

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am

Of stars that do not give a damn,

I cannot, now I see them, say

I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,

I should learn to look at an empty sky

And feel its total dark sublime,

Though this might take me a little time.

See & Read: 1/21/2015


So love-starved that a look is all it takes for lust to leap up from its lair and be a presence once again–the dust falling in sheets from its dormancy.

A glance falling from that face, with eyes inspecting downward: eyelashes to lips, clavicle to shoulder tip, and down into desire.

One touch, that taste, these memories to keep through our hibernation–through the times when the No One and the Nothing are near, not even the outline of a thought.