2011 SAINTS. A musical salvation.


2011 has been a very good year for music.  While it’s not over yet, I got a jump on my end-of-year mix because of the urgency of the task. I’ve been so saved by much of the year’s music in many ways. I’m also including a nod to some of the nice surprises from 2010, but the balance is all new, all this year.

I used to do a mix every year but haven’t for the last couple of years. I’m happy to be pressing again. This one investigates the qualities and battles of light and dark — inside.  We’ve got it all.

  1. Muppet Show Theme Song • OK Go • Muppets: The Green Album • 2011
  2. Wake Up Your Saints • The National • High Violet (Expanded Edition) • 2010
  3. Holy Holy • Wye Oak • Civilian • 2011
  4. Midnight City • M83 • Hurry Up We’re Dreaming • 2011
  5. Hair • Lady Gaga • Born This Way • 2011
  6. The Change • Evanescence • Evanescence • 2011
  7. Dear Rosemary • Foo Fighters • Wasting Light • 2011
  8. Stamp • The Rural Alberta Advantage • Departing • 2011
  9. The Bad In Each Other • Feist • Metals • 2011
  10. Lily (Director’s Cut) • Kate Bush • Director’s Cut • 2011
  11. Only If For A Night • Florence + The Machine • Ceremonials • 2011
  12. Keep Your Heart • TV On The Radio • Nine Types Of Light • 2011
  13. I Don’t Want Love • The Antlers • Burst Apart • 2011
  14. Perth • Bon Iver • Bon Iver • 2011
  15. The Rip Tide • Beirut • The Rip Tide • 2011
  16. The Devil’s Tears • Angus & Julia Stone • Down The Way • 2010
  17. Like Me • Chely Wright • Lifted Off The Ground • 2010
  18. Mercy Of The Fallen • Dar Williams • Many Great Companions • 2010

it’s time to light the lights
wake up your saints
for the blessed
city is my church
this is my prayer
screaming on the inside
you’re part of me you know you are
i will save you and i don’t need you
the good man and good woman
as we journey to thy sacred feet
you came over me like some holy rite
these words are not a bit profound
climb up the stairs
something faint
the waves and i
she’s my home
they’ll love you
we have some of them inside us

PS: hands-down the best musical show of the year and certainly in the top of all time: Beirut at the Independent. Thank you Victor.

Mirah and Spectratone International at Swedish American

If you haven’t been to the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, you’re really missing out on something bizarre. I’ve been there a few times — it’s only a couple blocks from where we live — and it delights in its oddity each time. It’s like a cross between an old church and some sort of old nordic community center, replete with fachwerk, tall pointy pre-vatican-looking chairs, and dusty Market-Street-fronting windows up front, with a claustrophobic, usually cold music space at the back. (And yes, I’m babbling a bit because I’m flying on an airplane tomorrow and past blog posts, if tagged appropriately, attest to what happens to me when that happens.)

So it was the perfect place for the absolutely divine and bizarre Mirah — and Spectratone International — show this last Monday, September 8, revolving around Mirah’s latest Share This Space — revelations surrounding insects.

I admit, at first I did not think I was going to make it through the whole thing. The animation projected onto the circular screen directly above the band was technically awesome, but making me queasy. Various insects including dung beatles and glow worms — all fabricated — appeared to be burrowing into stocking-clad skin, while other slimy concoctions were sliding along the floor and some were breathing stickily in and out. Mirah’s vocal command and ethereal insect-related lyrics were fighting for my command — but I was losing track and I did want to vomit just a little bit. So that was terribly effective.

Let me say while I am at it that the accompanying four-piece Spectratone International was outstanding. The band suited Mirah incredibly well and blended together beautifully, nobody particularly outshining another but complimenting the vocals — and the insect presentation.

A fellow called Kane played an incredible instrument called the oud – a lovely guitar. Lori played just about the hottest cello I’ve ever seen. Kyle on accordion was great. And Jane Hall on percussion was utterly captivating, seeming to perform magic with her hands.

And I can say that by the end, especially with the revolving blue Q-Tip fuzzling (this was I believe a reference to a butterfly), I was utterly spellbound. OK — I guess I should finish with the superlatives.

Let me just close with this: The extra goodies that Mirah and the band threw in at the end neatly sealed the deal, and the set has been resounding through my head ever since. One standout was Windmills of Your Mind — and when Mirah was singing about the hands, I swear she could have been singing about the percussionist blending into her voice from across the stage. Nice chemistry, gals!

Play this one Really Loud

As a counterpoint to my recent swoon over Bon Iver, I offer M83.  I’ve got their 2008 “can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head” release Saturdays = Youth currently on ‘autoplay’ — but if you’re in the mood for an 80’s-like electronic wall-of-noise akin to a double-shot of Blue Bottle, you need look no further than to the song Teen Angst from 2005:

ps: thanks to Jen Robinson for today’s much-needed game of “have you ever heard of this band?” and for The Books, for starters… much more where you’re coming from, I can tell!

Did I mention Bon Iver?

We were driving down Olive street in Seattle a couple weeks ago listening to the excellent KEXP. DJ Cheryl Waters had just kicked off what was to be a great set with a sleepy kind of guitar-refrain-and -falsetto-voice song. It captured my attention; no need to do the “stay in the car till they read the track list” thing (though we did) because the station has a great playlist interface.

Bon Iver is the artist; “Re: Stacks” was the song in the set. I bought the album post-haste. While I was working at home the other day spinning this album, the song above, “The Wolves (Act I & II)” just sort of snuck up on me and now is my current obsession. It builds quite amazingly and I love the sparks / pounding / fireworks / chainsaw or whatever that towards at the end.

The backstory, also covered nicely here, is utterly captivating. Made me feel like I was right there by the campfire, decked in a blanket of raw emotion.

Recommended.

pat benatar

pat benatar

after arguing pointlessly and confusingly with the most unhelpful USAA car insurance agent i have ever had the misfortune to be assigned (“i can tell you right now, there’s no way your deductible will be waived in time even if you aren’t at fault”; “if Ryder’s insured doesn’t accept 100% blame, you’ll have to take them to small claims court to recoup the rental car fees; there’s nothing we will do about it” and additional doom and unfriendliness about how they might never contact their insured, thankyouverymuch for your help), i unexpectedly cheered myself up by taking home a pat benatar cd yesterday. it wasn’t enough to have seen her live (on september 10, 2001, speaking of yesterdays), but two years later as she’s still turning out new cds, i get to still take a new pat benatar cd home. i understand she’s got a ‘real’ new album out with an all new, different sound, however i took home more of the yesterday stuff yesterday: the double-cd/dvd called best shots. on the included dvd, you can see pat and her husband watching the old videos (back when music videos were so revolutionary!) along with you, and commenting about their hair and makeup and corny video stories the whole way through. it really brightened my day —– and i have no idea why. perhaps it’s because, along the lines of everything old is new again, i have a crush on pat benatar, again! maybe crushes on pat benatar make me happy. or probably, it’s the hair.

or maybe it’s because of leanne. she calls and she writes and she sleeps on only one side of the strange bed, as do i… leanne sends me greeting cards when she’s gone and makes silly rhymes. hmm. leanne pat benatar. hmm …

that settles it. leanne is pat benatar. leanne, come home!