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.
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.
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.
Other-wordly in its antique beauty.