Monday, December 31, 2012

New Music!!!

Since last week was Christmas and tomorrow is New Years, I didn't get a chance to do my normal routine for finding new music, but I did get a lot this week.  I made a wonderful trip to the local library and downloaded a couple of albums - some jazz, some classical, a soundtrack or two.  Then on Saturday night after work before heading out into the land of misfit toys, I hit up BandCamp for my weekly fix of all things random.  You find trash and treasure, but you can't know what's what until you dig for one and find the other.  So I hope you are ready for a long, long, long, list.

Almonds & Elephants - Almonds & Elephants

Almonds & Elephants cover artA little band from New York, Almonds & Elephants was a bit of a surprise find for me.  The opening track reminded me of what a buddy/buddy TV show from the late 70s/early 80s would sound like.  The album in a whole is pretty decent.  My only drawback is a couple of tunes they take on a little bit of a jam-band sound.  I think if they would have stuck to the first sound, then the album would be more complete. All in all, if there is a little more continuity in their sound and what they want the music to sound like, then they will be a band to watch for in the future.  If they want to be the Phish-esque sounding band that they also portray, then they can find success, but there is more work to be done.  I could find no link through soundcloud and the only videos from YouTube are old ones from college house parties.  The link for Bandcamp, here, provides a sound that is more grown-up and mature.  This album shows that they put the work needed into the sound they want, but hopefully we'll get some more direction on the next one.  My favorite track is the first one.

Ammanuel Christmas - Lo, How a Rose

Lo, How A Rose cover art- I'm not one for overly religious songs.  Nor am I overly excited about Christmas songs.  Only a few get my jollys all jolly.  This album is three songs long, well mainly two since the first is more of an intro.  I'm not sure if either of the tracks are hymnals or original songs, but they are beautifully sung.  If you are living in a place of white blanketed snow and waiting for your loved ones to arrive or enjoying a cup of cider/coffee on an early holiday morning, then these songs are a good way to start.  With a beautiful voice that seems to whisper more than belt, I found myself enjoying them.  Plus the background instruments are exactly that, in the background but subtle and timed right with the vocals.  If you need a song to listen to to get you through winter without feeling overly holidayish, then I would go for this album.  The link for Bandcamp is provided here.

Andrew Lawrence-King - Harp Music of the Italian Renaissance

Harp Music of Italian RenaissanceWhat you are reading is not a misprint. Yes, I picked up an album of harp music from the Italian Renaissance while I was at the library.  The library is more than just a place to pick up your weekly books and bum scented furniture, it is a great place for world music and soundtracks.  If you ever wanted to know what your house would sound like if the Renaissance Faire was at your house all day long, this album is a good venture into it.  I read a lot of history books, so I find this music to be more mood fitting and time/era perfect.  Plus, you can recite Romeo & Juliet anytime out of your window into the streets below with this playing and no one will think thee a fool.  Andrew Lawrence-King is flawless in his performances and I thoroughly enjoy listening to it.  Chamber music?  More like chambers of my heart music.

Bim Bam Productions - Open Mic - Le Train En Route
OPEN MIC - LE TRAIN EN ROUTE cover artYears ago, Guru from GangStar put out an album title "Jazzmatazz."  It was an amazing arrangement of jazz and hip-hop and I was introduced to something completely amazing, French hip-hop.  While digging through Bandcamp, I came across this album.  The cover is what drew me in initally and have been enjoying it since.  Preformed entirely in French, I have no freakin' clue as to what is being said.  What I do know is that the beat production is fluid, the flow flawless to my ears and the rhythm fitting for an 80s head.  This is more of the hip-hop that makes your head bob and your shoulders to slightly sway.  My favorite track is the third one "LES PLUS JEUNES DES MC'S OLD SCHOOL."  I will continue to look for more work from these kids and enjoy it the way that only a music lover can, without translation but with total understanding of what is spoken.  Here's a little treat via Soundcloud.  A Bandcamp treasure hunting gem.

Topsider - Topsider x Danny Brown - Ep

Topsider  x  Danny Brown - EP cover artA Chicago based DJ and Producer, Topsider has been doing some interesting work of late with mashups.  For this EP, he decided to mix the always dangerous Danny Brown with a  variety of background tracks.  The first is mashed over some Simian Mobile Disco.  It gives you a feel of what hip-hop will sound like when rappers and hipsters team up together.  The second track provides us with another "TNGHT" track.  The same one that the guys over at Hood Internet used for their "N's in Paris" mashup.  I don't think this one has the same buildup that the other one has.  Not to say that lyrically Danny Brown is a slouch, because he isn't.  He just ain't your brother's rapper.  He's your skateboarding cousin's rapper.  The final track uses Radiohea's "Paranoid Android" while rapping about dead rockstars/movie stars who died from drug overdosing.  It is a good mash-up album that also shows some djing skills too.  I hope for more variety and continued quality work.

Dollar Brand - Anthems for the New Nations

I came across this gem of piano jazz while at the library Friday.  I love any jazz where the piano is the focus.  If there were something to go back in time and retry, it would be to put more effort and thought into the piano lessons I had to take as a kid.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy them, I just had no reference for how awesome the piano could be.  This album is not your typical up-tempo, overly melodic, doped up bebop of the jazz world.  There is a slow rhythm of a growing sound.  If the title is to suggest what it says, then the music is portraying the growth of the new nations slow and deliberately.  The tracks get soft and soothing and then a little more joyous and uplifting.  The only thing you hear on this album though is the piano.  It is a beautiful piece of random jazz that you can only find in a library.  If you enjoy the piano, jazz, or just something that you only will hear on NPR, then I suggest you find this album.  I could not find any tracks that do justice for the sounds on the cd, so I do apologize.
EarlyBirds - Not Quite There..
not quite there... cover artWhile I slightly agree with the title of the album, I do feel that Earlybirds is actually closer than he realizes.  Coming out of St. Paul, MN, EarlyBirds is formed in the similar form as my favorite crew of all time, People Under The Stairs.  With a wonderful flow from the emcee, Earlybird, and production from Jaron McDaniel, these two are doing a good thing.  This album has all the feel of an underground debut, but with a little bit of the fine tuning of a true studio release.  From the sampling of Jefferson Starship on "White Rabbits & Bullet Wounds," to what I feel is a O.V. Wright sample on "Piano in the Darkness."  That track I can't stop listening to.  The story of an old piano player with a fluid beat that makes you feel that the old man is actually playing the piano on the track, it is beautiful.  "Piano" is probably the best produced track they did from all stand points.  It is mature and thought out, while the majority of the cd plays like a college stoner kids party mix tape at times.  Not to say that other major cats haven't made the same songs.  Plus, you throw in the song titled "Alec Baldwin," reminds you of the days in your youth when you would sit on the couch just sitting there and watching some TV.  I like EBs flow, even though at times he has a slight B-Real from Cypress Hill sound.  I look forward to more, especially considering the next little piece I will write.  Go to Bandcamp and have some fun, if you love underground hip-hop.
Earlybirds - Where We Left Off
where we left off cover artReleased as a one track single "Swing (feat Big Jess)" is a wonderful track that gets you ready for spring.  It's about the early day's sunshine and getting into the swing of things.  I love the 70s Jackson 5 vibe in the opening.  The lyrics provided by Big Jess provide a nice balance compared to EBs vocal styling.  You gotta get, yep yep you gotta.  Get into the swing of things.  If this is the first track, then hopefully we will see EB get into the swing of things with his progression as a professional and I can't wait to get into the swing of things too.  Go here to get into the swing of things.
For today, will we put our adventure in the land of music on pause.  Next up another 12 albums to introduce us into the new year.  Hope you all have a safe NYE and I look forward to continued treasure hunting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Music!!

As we head into death by calender dates, I guess you should have new music to help you through this tough time.  Plus, with Christmas next week, maybe something new is needed.  Wednesday found me raking up 20 plus bags of leaves from my yard.  While doing this, I was able to listen to a lot of music before my i-pod lost battery power.  Thursday, I went and saw the Hobbit and upon returning home, returned to a regular scheduled program of going to Bandcamp.  Here is what I found.

The Henderson's - Indian Summer

Indian Summer cover art
Formed out of Fort Worth, Texas, The Henderson's provided me with a wonderful throw back feel.  Mostly to the days of Pet Sounds, by the Beach Boys.  While entirely not like them, I found myself fantasizing about a life in a different time.  These cats are very melodic and the rhythm of it all is right on time.  There are many people who can't get the mix of everything they are trying to do to fit perfectly.  The Henderson's do.  I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack to The Big Chill.  It makes you want to be in October again at the lake house with your closest friends and being reminded of why you are friends.  Reminded of why life has led you to the place you are currently in.  Everyone deserves to be 35 and have an Indian Summer and thankfully The Henderson's help us to get there.  If you look them up on BandCamp, you can actually download the album free.  All they ask for is your ear, your heart, and your time.  I could not find a song link from the album on soundcloud or youtube but if you go here for musical peace, you will find all that you need from this band.

Daniel and the Lion - Pretty Young Thing Cover (P.Y.T.C)

P.Y.T.C. (Pretty Young Thing Cover) cover artVery rarely do I find myself liking covers of songs.  Sometimes I enjoy a remix or a mash up, but covers are hard for me to enjoy.  When I do like it, I like it because the artist has found a way to make it their own.  Sometimes I am pulled to music by the artist name, a video, or even by the artwork.  This cover made me laugh enough that I had to give it a hear.  What I heard was something I wasn't expecting.  First, the piano struck me with the sound of an old black and white film's musical score.  Secondly, the vocals sounded more of the Usher variety.  Slow, smooth, deliberate.  Each syllable delivered with emotion.  No rush, no hurry.  While not overly awed with the electronic addition, I guess the artist felt that it had to be added.  If he could redo it, then I think it would be best if it was omitted.  Throw in the slowdown with the Kenny G sax element and wow, what a cover.  Once again, no location outside of BandCamp for the music, so enjoy it here.  Plus, another bonus - free download.

Portage and Main

Next up are two tracks from a group from Vancouver, BC.  The first track is called "Wake Up."  The track is smooth and flowing of what you want to hear when winter is starting to finish.  The band is partnered with "The Harpoonist and The Axe Murder."  Not too sure who is more of the influence on this track, but they all pull it off greatly.  Kind of like a little Allman Brothers, if they were modern.  That is a wonderful compliment in my book.

The next track is another single titled, "Never Had The Time."  It is decent in my view.  I've been listening to a lot of folk and chill music lately.  This track is good, but it's just missing something for me.  I've never been a big fan of country music and maybe that is what I find in this song that softly pushes me away.  You can check it out  here on their BandCamp page.

Ricky Eat Acid - You Get Sick, You Regret Things

You get sick; you regret things (remastered) cover artI've been on a slight ambient music kick lately.  I think that with the weather here finally turning to winter, it makes you sit inside and want to ponder things.  You want to sit by the fire with a good book.  You want to sit at your desk with a cup of hot cocoa and write something to someone somewhere.  You think of the end of the year and the seasons and just think about nothing and everything at the same time.  Ricky Eat Acid (great band name) is the music that plays softly in the background when I do this.  The album is smooth.  It is soft.  There is sense of effortless trying in it.  Everything picked for where and when it needs to be played correctly.  The music makes you ponder the end of things and your regrets a little bit.  For me, it helps provide just a bit of peace before I make the decisions that are going to change a lot of my life here soon.  Ambient music might not be your thing.  You might think of meditation and yoga and the such as "whatever," but I find that it is necessary to be calmed at certain times.  Once again, no true link for a single track but you can check it out on BandCamp here.
The Hood Internet - "Goooo In Paris (Jay-Z & Kanye West X TNGHT)

All I can say is these boys be crazy.  Straight cray.  Once again the guys over at The Hood Internet have found a way to take two tracks and make them into one completely new one.  I enjoy a lot of their mash-up work.  Sometimes it doesn't come out right to me, but then they hit one right on the head, dead center.  You find traces of the original, but then it disappears just like your sanity as soon as you get into.  The best part of The Hood Internet is that they take something you know and add it with something you've never ever thought to be introduced to. Then you start asking yourself, "Who is that other band and what does their stuff sound like?"  I don't know much about TNGHT, but I'm willing to go into the rabbit hole and come out of the other side.  Ball so hard.

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

Bat for Lashes’s avatarLastly is the newest contribution from Bat for Lashes.  This album actually came out a couple months ago and I finally was able to get a hand on it.  I love this band.  Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, has a truly beautiful voice.  The band has done great work improving and fine tuning since their previous release (Two Suns).  In a country putting out amazing bands, it is nice to see a British group trying to continue to do what they do best.  To not compete with The XX, but to compliment them by being true and wonderful only improves the music scene not water it down.  The highlight of the album is "Laura."  Just like "Daniel" from Two Suns was the highlight, so to is this track.  It is a fall/winter track.  It is heart pulling and felt.  It is a song for being the last one to the train tracks as the last train pulls away.  It is the moment when the boat pulls away and you never got to tell the person aboard what you felt.  It tells you that everything will be okay.  "You are the train that crashed my heart/You the glitter in the dark/Oh Laura/You are more than a superstar."  Yes BTF, you are more than a superstar.  You are a quieter, gentler Tori Amos.  You are a melodic change to a world of noise and chaos.

Hope the holidays find you well and warm.  Until next week.  Happy treasure hunting.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Music!!!

It's been awhile since I've posted some music on here for you to escape into.  While many different websites are putting out their end of year lists, I find it is time that I provide you with some music that is just hitting the streets.  Some of what's included is also a bit old, but I find it to be completely amazing and happy to have stumbled upon it.  I am also going to include what will soon become a regular feature called "Bandcamp Thursday."  Bandcamp is an amazing website in which artist can put their music out and tell you how much they want to charge for it.  Sometimes they just say download it and enjoy.  Free of charge.  Who can't want that during the holidays?  I know I enjoy it.  So here we go.

Today I downloaded two albums off of Bandcamp from a kid from the UK.

Jae Genius - Sundance

- Jae Genius describes his music on Bandcamp as funk, but I find it to be something totally different.  Not to say that it isn't funk, but I have a different idea of what I think of funk to be.  What I love about this album is that it has traits of funk with electronica interwoven into it.  It makes you want to move, but at a smoother rhythm of most bad electronic music.  It isn't bass heavy nor is it too wah-wah.  There are essences of a little disco-house that I remember listening to back in the day.  It is more of a chill-funk, disco-house mix.  If you are into a change of tempo, then this is going to get you going.  The opening track is also the title track.  "Sundance" sets the tempo greatly.  With a smooth syncopated rhythm, you start to feel your shoulders start to move.  Once that happens, you know the rest of you is going to follow.  The second track "Faster," starts out a little opposite the title name.  While, I find the track to be good, I do wish that it was a little faster. "SheetMusic%(WheretheSheetsRemix)" is the third track and you get the feeling that you are being set up for something that should take you somewhere else.  With the hook, I feel that I was hearing a missing lyric from an old 80s London dub song.  The song is a wonderful remix, but I find that there was a chance to make it something a little more.  Track four, "Everyday Miracle" is more to the idea of what I thought the whole album should be like.  With a smooth build, an identity to English roots in music, I find it to be a nice track.  Smooth and flowing, there is little escape from what the start and finish sound like.  The final track, "Relax," is exactly that, relaxing.  You start the day with a sundance, but you need to finish with some relaxation.  That is precisely what the final track does.  You feel some of your day wash off of you and your troubles just lift up and sail away for a bit.

Jae Genius -  FunkHaze

- Jae Genius's other offering on BC is an album titled "FunkHaze."  It starts off just the way I think it should.  While still not what I would call "funk," I get the feel of a more electro centered album.  The opening track gets your head nodding at the drum beats while finding a relaxing rhythm in the remaining elements.  This album I find is more laid back than Sundance.  There is no hurry-up, nor is there anything over powering.  It is smooth like funk can be.  It is rhythmic like house music can be.  It is as if there is a haze being put over you and I like the way it makes me feel.

Also on BC, I came across this crazy house track from Greece.  I don't know if the DJ who produced it is from Greece or if the owners of the production company are.  His name is Afefe Iku.  The name of the track is called "Mirror Dance." The remix, which is also provided, has a great spoken word poetry segment in it.  These tracks will get you moving.  There is an over abundance of repetitiveness in the track, but that is understandable in house music.  You get a great flow from the track to your body and a little bit of some moombahtan vibe as well.  The tracks are 8 and 10 minutes long respectively, so proceed with the desire to move and have it play in the background.  And for you djs out there, this might be a little treat for you in any future mixes you are trying.

<------  Here is the original.
  <------  Here is the remix
Next up is another little steal from BandCamp.  The name of the artist is Port St. Willow.  These cats are completely amazing.  They placed their album under the genre of "ambient."  To me, ambient means that there is no real vocals and that it is nothing but random sounds made from whatever the hell there is to use.  These cats do something different.  In all honesty, it reminds me very much of what The Antlers are doing these days.  The album may not truly be a concept album, but I feel very much like a journey and story are being told over the course of the tracks.  There is a compete mellowness to this album that anyone who finds themselves in a stressful day should listen to at the end of the day.
The following track is from the song "Amawalk."  While there are plenty more tracks I could give you, this one to me seems to find the right mood and rhythm for these moments in my life.  The weather is grey because it's winter.  The house is cold because it's winter.  Life just needs to have that moment to just be finished with this year and this song to me hits in the right places.  I suggest getting this album if you like to read and playing it in the background.  Not overly vocal nor too sleepy, it is the perfect fireplace reading music.
Next off of Bandcamp, comes a little duo from Chicago.  I don't know how I stumbled across this little treasure, but if you like Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeah, or anything somewhat similar, then you will love My Gold Mask.  The are an unbelievable duo in which the lead singer plays the drums and sings and the other guy provides backup vocals and plays the guitar.  While not some overly heavy drum and guitar driven band like the White Stripes, these kids get it right.  They have a new album coming out in February and I will get it when it appears.  The first track released is called "Further It Gets" and is provided below.  The song I picked up is called "Violet Eyes."  I find that it drives very similar to some of the things Metric has done, but there is a difference in the rhythm. 
Next up is a little crew from Portland, OR called StarFucker.  Yes, that is their title and what else would you expect from the hipster capital of the world?  Their album "Reptilians" came out a couple of years ago, but I was happy to find its way into my collection.  The album very much reminds me of a band trying to find a sound, but not too shy about where they show their influences.  There is a bit of Passion Pit and MGMT in them, but I love some of the things they are doing that help make them who they are.  It starts out the way I think a movie about summer camp would start out.  Then they move into the rock stars they should and one day might be.  What I love in the tracks are the little surprises to be found.  When they use the laid over vocals from movie clips to make a side track seem out of place yet the uniting factor of the album.  I love the use of the Alan Watts speeches in two of the tracks.  There is nothing more to add to the track "Hungary Ghost" that Mr. Watts says himself.  I was a little worried at first when I heard it, but have been very happy with the resulting album and I enjoy the wait for more.
"Hungary Ghost"
- "Bury Us Alive"
Finally, we get to the coup of the year.  There is a cat named Captain Murphy.  He has a concept album called "Duality."  He is a hiphop phenom in my book.  I liken him to the first time I heard Del the Funky Homosapian and Wu-Tang Clan.  Mostly because both those cats came out of way, way left field with their resulting products.  Wu-Tang, I don't have to explain to many of you, but Del was the first real skateboard kids, extra piercings, tats galore rap star.  He has always been that little bit extra hit of acid musician, but just in the hiphop world.  That is how I think of Captain Murphy.  He release a video that you just have to watch a little bit of it to believe it's awesome artistic appeal.  Some people say, "That's not art" because they don't understand it.  Well, I can tell you 100% that I believe something to be art that I know many people won't get.  Lyrically, there is nothing super genius in his words.  There is some hilarity to the word play, but if you never played Street Fighter, you won't get it.  Plus, you can download both the regular and instrumental versions free off his website.  The following video is 30 minutes long.  If you are somewhat intrigued by the sounds you hear, then please venture forward and join me on the other side.  You can retrieve the download from the wonderful folks over at GorillavsBear, right here
Until next time kids.  Enjoy the tunes and see you next week.  Or maybe before.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

P's for Posers

While digging for more music, I ran across this little bit of wonder and joy.  Hope you love it as much as I did.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The True Life of the Walking Dead

On this last Sunday, I sat down to enjoy a lovely night of tv and fat with one of my housemates, Ryan.  We usually watch the Simpson's, Family Guy, and then The Walking Dead.  We time it pretty perfectly with Family Guy, that when it is finished we can start W.D. on the DVR and never watch one commercial.  After months of watching Walking Dead, I've finally realized what the show is really about.

You might think that it is about a zombie apocalypse, but it's not.  You might think that its about the struggles of one man and his mind and the shit he has been dealt, but it's not.  In reality, the show is about the natural survival skills innate in all of us.  At a deeper root, there is something else.  Something scarier.  Something primal and darker.  I will get to that in a moment.

While watching the latest episode, Ryan and I were discussing how the life in Woodbury is no different that the life we live now in the present day.  You see, Rick and the others are staying in the prison.  They have found a way to learn how to survive.  They know how to scavenge and hunt.  They understand the dark sides of nature and have learned how to adapt to the world that is now in front of them.  Everyone of them can hunt.  They can use a weapon if needed.  They can defend themselves.  The residents of Woodbury live their lives in comfort.  They have decided that they would rather relinquish their natural rights for the comfort of security.  Only a select few know how to use a weapon.  Only a select few do the dirty work.  The killing.  The protecting.  The hunting.  All the others in the town live life as if there is nothing any different about the world.   All they know is what the "Governor" tells them.  They believe it because knowledge is what they decided to concede upon gaining security.  They know the world is dangerous, but they have no knowledge of how to survive.  This is what the show is about.  It is about what you would do in the event of such a world.  Would you rather live in computability and be able to do nothing or would you rather know how to survive?  Me, I would rather want to know how to survive.  As Ryan and I discussed this, I realized how much of our world is actually this world.  We have sacrificed everything for comfortability and convience.  We would rather have someone tell us that we are safe than actually go out and secure it ourselves.  We believe that someone else is taking care of the monsters out there, but would never once think of doing it ourselves.  Nor would many of us take the risk of finding out just how bad it truly is.  Maybe it's not all that bad.

What is the scariest thing I've learned about watching this show is this:  when the shit hits the can, mankind will resort back to the primal, tribal actions that he started with.  Mankind will find a way to group itself into little pockets and then fight to the death over a small piece of land.  They won't work together to solve the problem of the "zombies."  They will fight over the resources and kill each other endlessly to make sure that they are secure, for them and their tribe only.  They won't venture out to find others and help them, because inside all of us somewhere is the super-asshole gene.  We have a society where we know each other to be assholes, but we don't know how much.  This causes each of us to distrust each other.  We know that there are many who have no understand of preparing and protecting.  All they know is raping and pillaging.  This is what the Walking Dead is showing us.  How much of a world of assholes are we that when the world is ending, we can't work together.  We can't all contribute and create peace.  Maybe that is the "socialist" ideal, but in the end, when the world is tribal again, it will be a world of small, small communities.  We live in cities where we have to talk about the small section of it we live it, not the grander location.  The Walking Dead is showing us that mankind a)can not survive if everyone is protected like a princess and b) we are more prone to kill each other for basic stupid survival even if there is a greater threat to all of us out there.

I love watching this show a lot, but sometimes I realize that there is a bigger message to things.  Then again, it could just be a tv show and I'm too analytical.  At least I got that going for me when the shit hits the fan.  Just don't come into my village.  No, seriously we can't afford to feed anymore of you fat asses that can't even out jog a super slow zombie.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A little perspective is needed.

When yesterday's hurricane struck into the mid-Atlantic states and into New Jersey/New York, I found myself being annoyed at the constant declaration of this destroyer of mankind reeking havoc upon us all.  At the end of the day, I realized that a little perspective was needed, both for myself and for all these idiot northerners who have no idea what they are talking about.

First and foremost, the north was struck with a Category 1 hurricane.  I personally have been through enough of these storms from my 6 years of living in Florida.  I understand the difference and the destruction that the different types cause.  While I do have sympathy for the people living there without power and water and now about to deal with snow, please do me a favor.  Stop crying about the wrath of God bearing down on you with high winds and limited storm surge.  While NYC is the "center of the world," it was not as bad as it could have been.  I understand the city got flooded.  That happens in category 1s.  It's a constant wind with repeated bands of rain at different intervals.  Last I checked, I saw people constantly on the news out in the streets during the storm.  If you are outside during a category 1, then it ain't that bad.

Secondly, stop calling it a storm of the century, as a hurricane.  It wasn't.  It isn't.  It never will be.  During hurricanes that are storms of the century, your house, lives, and towns are wiped out the face of the planet.  I don't see anything completely leveled and destroyed in NYC.  Granted the Jersey Shore is washed out, but lets tone down the anxiety of a sense of destruction.  The last storm of the century was about 7 years ago.  It was called and is still called Katrina.  That was a massive force of nature that showed the earth could care less for mankind.  Sandy was like a limpwristed slap in the face.

 This is Hurricane Charley.  A Category 3 that hit Port Charlotte, Fl.

 As, is this photo.  If you watch the news, then compare what you see to this for a little perspective.  I'm not saying it's not bad, but lets not talk about the "utter mayhem" of Sandy.

If you want t true perspective on a "Storm of the Century."  This is all you need to ever see.  Stay calm and stop crying.  You will be lucky if you never ever get to see anything close to this.

Last night, I had to listen to people explain to me, in my face, that I didn't understand what was happening.  It took me the hardest bit of restraint to not curse them out and explain that they needed to shut the fuck up.  It took me think back to something my cousin wrote on her blog about suicide.  A couple years back, my cousin's husband committed suicide in front of her.  She has come a long way in how she deals with it.  She wrote about how people would unconsciously make comments about "this being the death of me" or "I could just shot myself."  It offends because people who make comments like that have never had to deal with anything of the sort in their lives.  But you also learn perspective on what is dire and what means the world to you.  For me, when it comes to hurricanes, I understand what a 1 and a 5 are and the difference.  Yes, I would take a category 1 lightly because I've been through them.  Hell, I went through 5 hurricanes in 1 year.  I went through a storm so large, it covered the entire state of Florida.  The weatherman had to guess where Tampa was on his map because he couldn't see anything.  Then, I dealt with Katrina. 

This is where I had to learn perspective last night.  Those guys will never understand what I nor my family dealt with.  They'll never have to experience the worst week of a son's life.  Nor will they ever understand a fractured government response or the struggle of years of recovering sanity in the rebuild.  I realized that it was a waste of my breath to explain to others last night, but not today.  My father, stepmother and sisters all live in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area.  My aunt and uncle and cousins and their families live in New Orleans.  When Katrina hit, it took over a week before I was able to hear that my father, who stayed, was alive.  Northerners have no power, but they still have phones.  My dad had neither.  I worked two jobs at the time, 80 hours a week.  I would leave one job and go to the other daily with no news at all.  I checked in with whomever I could but still no news.  At my job, people could see my stress but they couldn't understand.  That is was a "storm of the century" does.  It leaves you with nothing.  It takes your house forever.  It takes you prized possessions and childhood/family heirlooms away forever.  It takes away your family forever.  Luckily, my father was able to make contact with our family and I was able to receive the news that the family was all safe and accounted for.  The same went for my family in NoLa.

While this storm has caused damage that is replaceable for many, there are some that have lost everything.  My sympathy does go out to them.  I understand what the loss means.  This storm has also taught me a lesson in perspective.  I will never understand what a blizzard is like because I won't live north of the Mason-Dixon.  If I saw about a foot of snow, I would be lost.  Northerners understand that a foot of snow to me is like a category 1 hurricane to them.  Or vice versa.  I also learned a bit that my frustration and anger is not helping.  I can try to explain that it is not that bad, but then I don't know if maybe they aren't in touch with someone they care about and don't know what is going on.  I've learned a bit of my lesson, but I hope that many people out there now understand why Floridians take hurricanes a different way. 

We understand nature differently.  We understand it the same way that mid-westerners do.  You live with what nature throws at you.  You get together and rebuild.  You don't act like you're better than it all.  You respect it, but live your life.  You don't treat it like the end of the world, unless a part of your world is ended.  Maybe now I understand myself a little better, but for the love of god please stop calling it the storm of the century.  Stop referring to it has a cataclysmic event.  Get a grip and get some perspective.  Make sure your family is safe and don't be wasteful with what you have.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Death by a constant papercut to the brain.

Now that fall is in bloom and things are finding their way back to a sense of order, I guess it's time for me to do the exact same.  With the return of Walking Dead, Modern Family, and Parenthood, I'm happy to have a sense of stability to my autumn.  While I embrace the weekly anticipation of these shows, I find that I have lost my way a bit in the things that I am supposed to be doing.  The biggest of these is to continue to participate in my cousin Amy's book challenge.  Or as I like to call it, "Death by a Constant Paper Cut to the Brain."

During the month of September we were supposed to read "Middlemarch" by George Elliott.  I think I am on page 30 right now.  Luckily I have already read the books for October and November, "Portrait of Dorian Grey" and "Brave New World."  Both of these books are wonderful in their own rights, but I will discuss them on a later day.  I will tell you that I did enjoy the August book and plenty others over that time period.

"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers is a wonderful piece set in a time in which none of us can ever relate to.  It is the story of a deaf mute who lives in a tiny town in the early 30s.  The novel reflects not his journey, but the journey of four distinct individuals from different places through their interactions with him.  At times, I found that I felt a sorrow, not for the mute, but for the others.  Trying to struggle to gain their identity and dealing with the constant changes of self.  It was a wonderfully written piece and I would suggest it to anyone who wants to see a different side of Americana.  There is no drawn out destitution.  Nor is there a glorification of being poor.  It is the story of being from a small town and dealing with life.  I thought it was great and would never have ever read it if it had not been suggested.

"Thunderstruck" is a novel by Erik Larson.  I read "Issac's Storm" a long time ago and thought it was great.  It had the wonderful mix of both history and fiction.  It makes you feel like you are there, even though you are reading a history book.  "Thunderstruck" is the story of a brutal murder in England and the creation of the wireless telegraph by Marconi.  I felt myself feeling more sorry for the "murderers," there is a dispute these days over DNA, than I did for a genius who had trust issues.  I liked it very much, but not as much as "Issac's Storm."  It is nicely written and gives you a real life murder-mystery without some of the literary fluff.

Of course, I read another Agatha Christie mystery novel.  I almost got this one, but still didn't solve it before the end.  I swear I will solve one before the end one day.

I just recently finished a wonderful history book about the blues, Robert Johnson, and the Delta music scene.  "Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues," by Elijah Wald is a must read for anyone who professes themselves a music lover, music historian, or blues fan.  I was happy to read something that I was little informed of.  This book goes through the obvious Delta backwoods history of juke joints and smoke-filled bars to the origins of the blues.  Mr. Wald does an excellent job of disassembling the myth of the blues being a "sad" music.  To summarize in my own words: "You can't go to a concert and listen to the blues for 2 plus hours.  No one wants to hear sad songs about the hard times of life for that long."  That's what I thought the blues was and now know it to not be that.  The first half of the book is about different musicians and how they got to where they were.  A short history of the field hollerers and how they affected the Muddy Waters of the day.  A summary of the Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas "blues" scenes and the effect that the Delta put into them.  The second half of the book reflects back on Robert Johnson's only known recordings.  It is a track by track review and I can't wait to be able to listen to the music more with a better knowledge and heart about it all.  If you love music, if you want to know what a true American music sound is, then this is the book for you to read.  Wonderfully written, real life recollections from the artist themselves, and myth-debunking included.  What more can you ask for from a historical work.

Finally, I think my favorite book I've read over the last two plus months is call "The Poisoner's Handbook."  It is a book about the history of the creation of the toxicology department in the New York City Coroner's department.  Each chapter is titled with a different poison and each chapter follows a progression of the crimes that had to be solved.  Some are famous murders, some are company deaths.  I enjoy reading crime novels that I try to solve before the end.  This book is more like a where the hell did CSI come from meets Agatha Christie history lesson.  Each chapter provides you the details and you get to see how much two men changed the way the world deals with murder.  It is an amazing work and I highly suggest it.  Plus, if you are having issues at work, you can set it down at your desk and many people will stop bothering you.

While the next month or so is going to be spent reading just two books, "Middlemarch" and then "War and Peace," I would suggest the last two to anyone who needs a change of pace in literature.  If you haven't read "Brave New World," then you definitely need to read that too.  While I think my cousin is secretly a literary masochist who likes to induce paper cuts to the brain, I'm happy to take this journey.  It helps to broaden your horizons and standards to learn something new.  If in the end I hate these books, at least I know what to put into the cake I send her.

Friday, October 19, 2012

This past month I have been working with a local charity called Mustache's 4 Kids.  We have gentlemen here in Charlotte grow mustaches throughout the month of October and raise donations for a lovely organization called Pat's Place.  I haven't done a lot of work of this kind in my life and for the first time in a long time, I feel a sense of fulfillment and joy.  While doing this work though, I have found an insight into myself that I never truly accepted and now and learning to do.

A long time ago, I used to chat with a dear friend about life and issues and dramas and unresolved problems and such.  My friend and I became closer because we had past issues in common.  I used to joke with her about us being "damaged goods."  I meant it as a joke at first and then realized that it was something negative and stopped saying it for a while.  She helped me through some personal shit and lead me to a great place where the ceiling is an off-white color.  I spent many days looking at that ceiling.  If you don't know what that means, it means I went and sat on a therapist couch and got some help.  While I never really got to a lot of my own personal issues resolved, I was able to get to the root of many others.  The work I'm doing with M4K has helped me to understand more of myself and being honest about who I am.

Yes, I spent a childhood that was decent.  I got many of the privileges of chance and opportunity that many kids don't get.  I had the honor of traveling overseas and touring parts of the nation and world that many never get to know about.  At the same time, I had a childhood of trauma and self-doubt.  My stepfather was and still is a world class asshole.  He caused many of the seeds of issues within me to be planted.  He taught me a lot, but he also ruined my life for many years after.  I have since been able to stop hating him.  It took a long, long time to get to that point.  I've never gotten to the point where I can say "I forgive you," because I don't think about him much, if ever, at all.  Plus, I've learned to own what is mine about me.  My parents were divorced right after I was born, or at least that's what I think.  My sister was born a year and 9 months after I was born.  I don't know the whens and whats, but I've been able to do the math and lived with it.  The one thing that I've never seen is a picture of me and my mother and father together in my infancy.  There are many things from my past that I could care less to remember, but this is one thing I wish for more than anything else.  I have pics of me and my parents from different parts of life but nothing from day 1.  I have pictures of my as an infant with my mom and pictures of me with my dad, but none together.  My whole life has been the personification of split.  I have learned many things from traveling and cultural mixing to know how to act, behave, survive in unknown circumstances.  I think this is what makes me truly me.  The wonderment that my close friends and relatives love.  To be the one full of stories about everything and anything.  I have learned to be a chameleon to both myself and my surroundings.  Sometimes I don't know who the liar is anymore, me or them.

Most people who don't know me probably would never understand that I deal with a lot of self doubt.  They wouldn't know that I am happy in a melancholy place because those places never produce any drama or justification.  Justification.  I can't stand it.  Why?  Why?  Why? - Why not.  I don't like the fact that people need to have to know.  My stepfather always wanted to know why.  I never knew the reasons because I was too young to understand the subconscious mind I have.  As an adult, I don't like justifying because I believe people to be nosy and gossipy.  I don't justify because why should you need to know.  This is the embodiment of the hardest thing I have to learn to do, let down my guard and let people in.  It's really hard.  It truly is, but I find I do it in the strangest ways.

Ever since working for the charity, I find myself explaining about Pat's Place and the wonderful things they do for kids.  I wish I knew a place like this in my childhood or 10 years before I saw a doctor.  I find myself helping to justify why people need help and I end up telling them about myself.  Recently I met some random girl.  We were talking about something that I don't recall and then we ended up chatting about personal drama.  She is about 10 years younger than me and going through hell from her childhood.  As I listened, I made sure that each time I spoke it was still about her and her issues and providing some insight that can help her.  Usually I don't tell people about me, but the work for M4K is helping me become vocal about help.  I told her things that will stay where they are, between us, but I told her that she would be okay.  That it's okay to need help.  It's okay to reflect.  It's okay to hate.  It's okay to cry.  It's okay to be happy and walk away from somebody.  It's okay.  That's what I've learned to do.  I've learned to be happy in my own accord.

This year a lot of different things have happened.  I lost my grandmother.  Though I was never really close, there is a since of a lost unification of the family with her passing to me.  I finally dealt with my teaching issues and understand that I will more than likely never get to do the one thing I'm truly passionate about.  I've accepted the last bit of responsibility for my actions from 10 years ago and am now free.  I work for an amazing group that benefits people who don't have the voice to speak out, nor do they have the mass social backing that many kids groups receive.  I finally got a tattoo.  While that might seem trivial to many, to me it is a sign of family, of a starting point, of history, of where I belong, and where I want to see it continue.  It's also been a year of finally living my life for me.

In the end you have to draw the line and just walk.  Whether it's away from something or not, I've learned to finally do my life.  I'm finally living my life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Cost of Milk

Tonight is the second national presidential debate, and while I am normally not super political, there is something that bothers me greatly about these debates. (Outside of the fact that there is no Parenthood tonight).
It simply seems to reason that the vast majority of people in this country do not vote for the simple reason that they are simple.  Not just in mind, but in life.  The first part is an insult, while the second is not.  What I mean by this is that we all have been effected by the national economy going down the drain.  While many have had the opportunity to rebound and recover the lives they once lived, there is a vast majority that are still trying to find a sense of stability.  This means that we all are learning to live a life of simplicity.  Finding the value in things that before we took for granted or realizing that the things of value actually had none.  This is how you live a life of simplicity.
Tonight's debate is of the town hall forum style.  I wish for the life of me that I could be there to ask one question.  There is no greater question to ask someone who expresses how much they relate to you than one question.  Every politician wants you to know that they feel for you.  That they understand what is going on in your life.  That they relate and want to help you.  This is what they will express tonight and in all actuality, forever, until we start asking the right questions.  It all starts with one simple question: "Do you know how much a gallon of milk costs?"
This question is more hard hitting than the price of a gallon of gas.  We can all live without gas to a degree.  Rising gas prices cause a change in the dynamic of the urban population in causing us to all be more "local" in are activities and shopping.  It causes the smaller towns to become more isolated and dependent upon each other than venturing to the "big city" for whatever the fuck it is they want.  While societies change, the importance of milk does not.  If you have children, you want to raise a healthy child.  The virtues of drinking milk help in bone development, etc, etc, etc.  I'm not going to go into why milk is important or about the alternative types of milk you can have.  What I am going to say is that NO politician can answer this question.
Not Obama.  Not Romney.
The price of milk is the greatest corollary to how people live.  We all must grocery shop.  We all must find a way to feed ourselves.  We all must find a way to live a healthy, happy lifestyle.  If you don't eat right, you can't live right.  If you don't take care of your body, then you become fat, lethargic, and a waste of something productive.  If you can't take care of yourself, how do you expect to take care of anybody else.  The price of milk and groceries lets you know where your finances truly lie.  The price of milk tells you what you can and cannot have for the next pay period.  It tells you what you must live without and what you may never have again.  This pricing index is something that no politician can relate to.  You ask me how I know, well here is how.
The president gets a yearly salary of $200,000 paid for by the people from taxes.  Do you think that Mr. or Mrs. Obama goes to the local Giant grocery story or the corner bodega to get a gallon of milk when they run out?  I don't need to answer that for you, you should already know.  This leads to the idea of how can they understand the sacrificing that people have to give up in a down trodden economy.  How can they relate to you?  You, who are struggling like I am.  Living week to week and trying to save your money and you sanity but not finding the middle road of comfort without feeling you are making a massive sacrifice to one.
Mr. Romney we all know has plenty of money.  Let alone the fact that he too is a government paid employee.  Do you think that he goes to the local grocer to get milk?  Is Mrs. Romney going to the store?  No, odds are they too have someone who does it for them.  How can someone who wants to create a change for the 47% understand life, when they don't have to do anything themselves?  How can you relate when you travel on private terms?
The price of milk is not the real question, but it is the catalyst to how we create the change that is needed.  If you think that voting for the president is the answer, then you also thought voting for your senior class president was more important than voting for the school board.  You thought that promises of more pizza, less homework, and shorter days was the truth and going to happen.  You truly thought that.  That is why you think the president is the position that matters the most.  I am going to tell you that you are wrong.  You are wrong!!!
The most important thing you can ever vote on is your local election.  If you don't like the schools, change your school board not change the president.  If you don't like the roads, find out who is responsible and vote a change for that.  The president doesn't care about you.  Understand that and let it sink in.  The president doesn't care about YOU.  He cares about US, as in the United States not us, the collective we.  The president is trying to make 300 million people happy and 150 million of them won't like him, whomever he is.  Your mayor cares more about you than the president, but then again he/she too is probably just pandering you to get into office.  Elect you city council first.  Someone to represent your neighborhood and district.  That person cares more about where you live than anything else.
In the end, both of the idiots think that they know who YOU are.  They relate to you because they've been unemployed, on welfare, had no health coverage, never known what a retirement plan was, constantly worried about their children's safety at school, wondered where the next paycheck was coming from, fretted about their hours being cut at work, etc.  They know what it's like to question which groceries they can get this week and what the kids won't be able to eat.  They understand completely what shitty Christmas presents are like and seeing the look of disappointment on their children's faces.   They too wonder what the rest of the world looks like or even what the rest of the country looks like without having to watch TV, because vacations aren't something you can take very year.  They have lived a life of hardship.  They know too well that one day their children will come to them and hug them and say "Thank you for everything.  I'm sorry I was such a brat, but I know what you did for me."  This is why they are asking for your vote, because they know what life is like for the vast majority of us.  The only thing I don't think they will ever know is one thing:
"How much does a gallon of milk cost?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mustaches 4 Kids

Just recently I have found my way to doing something both worthwhile and charitable at the same time.  I was asked to help a friend with a local charity and I couldn't be happier for doing it.  Now I am asking you to help me help those in need.
The charity I work for is called "Mustaches 4 Kids."  It is a national organization that has many chapters that do great things to help out the children in their local communities.  Here in Charlotte, we are raising and donating money to Pat's Place. 
Pat's Place is a child advocacy center that helps sexually abused children.  A child-advocacy center is a blessing for any child dealing with abuse.  When a child is abused, they tell their story to a counselor.  Then they retell the story to either an officer or a DSS agent.  Then they tell it again to a doctor or PA.  When this happens, the child is forced to relive the trauma of being abused again and again.  At Pat's Place, the children get to talk to a counselor, while in a separate room a DSS agent, a police officer, and a physician's assistant watch on a closed circuit screen the interview process.  This allows the child to only have to tell their story once.  At the same time, if there is any immediate action needed - ie, the child needs to be removed from a situation immediately, then the action can be taken swiftly.  Also, the local hospitals provide on-call PAs to assist in checking the children for any health concerns.  When the children are finished with the process, they are taken to another room and given the opportunity to pick a toy before they leave.  This allows them to have a chance to have a smile on their face when they leave and to be happy.  Pat's Place also provides a life-time open door policy.  This allows the child to return at any time in their lives to receive help, if needed.
Here at the local chapter of Mustaches 4 Kids, we are asking men of the Charlotte area to grow mustaches and raise donations to help support Pat's Place.  The rules are simple.  You have to start clean shave and grow a mustache from corner to corner.  No handlebars.  No fu-man chus.  Nothing but the top of the lip there Mr. Selleck.  Throughout the month of October we are having wonderfully coordinated checkpoints to provide all of our growers the opportunity to meet each other and realize that they are not alone in their quest for the upper lip treasure.  Each of these checkpoints are at local watering holes that we couldn't be happier to have involved.  It shows that while, you don't have a 'stache, it doesn't mean you can't help.  Not only do we have growers, growing individually we have local companies participating in our first ever group grow off.  Thanks to the lovely staff at Suite Charlotte and Dixies Tavern for wanting to and enthusiastically growing for us.  Plus, we have included many of the local Charlotte fire stations in our quest to conquer Charlotte with mustaches.
At the end of the month, we are going to celebrate our growers with a 'Stache Bash.  This is a festive night in which the growers will dress up in a Halloween costume that is centered around their mustache.  It is a great night and a great celebration.  We have wonderful trophies for different categories including "Best Costume," "Best Mustache," "Biggest Fundraiser," and "Worst Mustache."
The thing to remember that is important is this.  While we have the March of Dimes and the Jerry Lewis telethon for Muscular Dystrophy, there is no loudly spoken and displayed drive for children who are sexually abused.  Silence promotes Violence and those of us who are supporting Mustaches 4 Kids are happy to yell as loud as we can.
If you are interested in helping, here are a couple of links for you. - This is the first giving donations page for our local fundraiser. - This is our local chapters page and it will also help answer any questions about what and why we do it.
Plus, you too can be the proud owner of one of these t-shirts that we had for our local Queen City growers.  Everyone should have one.  The money goes to Pat's Place as well.  If you want one, please email the website for more details.
I personally couldn't be happier to be part of this and emphatically ask any and all people with or without children to take a moment to read more and find a way to help.  While I already have a wonderful mustache, I'm happy to have people ask me about mine and tell them about Mustaches 4 Kids. So, my question to you is, "Are you going to grow one, too?"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Best Show on TV...

How I feel now that it is Tuesday's in September:

After many long months, the best tv show returns tonight.  While I will run up and down about how awesome "The Walking Dead" is, it is more of the guilty pleasure of unrealistic reality that I enjoy.  The base level of man being forced to start again.  Of being forced to be primeval and just surviving each and every day like it is your last.  "Breaking Bad," while completely awesome, has some of those guilty joys inside it as well.  It makes you want to release the inner demons in your soul and just go completely ape shit whenever you want. "The Killing," which is wonderful, takes it's time and draws out the broodiness of each of us.  You want things to move along quickly, but they just can't.  While it's frustrating, you realize that that is life.  Dammit if they didn't find her killer sooner, but now I wonder what they are going to do in Seattle now that Rosie's death has been solved.  On "Madmen," I love the sense of style that the show evokes.  While the sexism, racism, and alcoholism are front and center, the show reminds you of a time in which people actually got dressed.  They presented themselves each and every time there was a chance to.  In this day and age of cargo shorts, t-shirts, and hipster apparel, it is nice to be reminded that fashion once matters and that it can again.

Now each of these shows, while on AMC, are not ranked number one in my list of best show on TV.  That resides with the wonderful story of the Braverman family.  Each and every Tuesday, I run home (if I'm out) to make sure that I am in front of my tv at 10 pm.  I have to wait to post anything I say until about a half-hour after because of family in other timezones who haven't seen the show yet.  I have to wait until Wed mid-day to find out what songs were played during the show, because no show since Entourage has had a better song selection for each scene.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, this just about sums it up.


Parenthood is about dysfuntcion and love and trust and growth and the joy of family.  If you aren't watching, you need to.  If you are already, then there is little I need to say.  If you are just getting started, hurry up and finish the last three seasons.  This one is going to be great.  See you on Wednesday.

When people say they don't like Parenthood, I feel like your soul looks like this:

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Music and Parenthood

Yesterday, I was digging through the crates (or the internet if you will) and came across some awesome music.  Not only has my most recent additions to my collection been dead on great, but I found that I think most of it would fit great into my favorite tv show: Parenthood.

If you don't watch and wonder what is going on with the Braverman's then you can never talk to me.  That entire family tugs at your heart.  They make you sad.  They make you happy.  They make you wish they were your family.  Not that the one you have isn't great.  It's just they aren't the Bravermans.

What I love about Parenthood though, is the music.  They always find a way to have the right songs for the right moments.  I'm a firm believer in the idea of music always being a part of your life.  You need a theme song for when you wake up.  You need a song for when you work out.  (Thank you Jake Gyllenhaal and The Shoes).  You need a song for when you go for a walk.  For when you sit on the porch on a crisp Autumn night.  Music helps you get angry.  It helps you cry.  The music in Parenthood does all of that.  That is why I love watching the show and finding out what songs were used.

This brings us to a great Wed/Thurs exploration.  These are the artists and their music that I found.  Hope you enjoy them and hopefully they might just randomly get onto Parenthood.

Del Water Gap - EP

"Hailing from upstate New York, S. Holden Jaffe is a song and dance man. His solo project, Del Water Gap, launched in October of 2011 as a means by which to put music to words written over the last two years. His self-produced EP was released in May of 2012 as a compilation of songs inspired by romantic encounters and dimly lit rooms."  These are the exact words from his website.  The last sentence couldn't explain it any better.

Del Water Gap by Del Water Gap

His music is great.  The last track I heard first and I loved it the moment I heard it.  There is something very mountainess in his voice.  It makes you think of a young man singing out his emotions while living in a remote town in the hills of Montana.  You hear the harmonica and you are lost.  You've found a way to be walking in the woods and enjoying the weather.  I hope to hear more from this amazing young man.  The wonderful thing about him is that this is his first release.  While he sounds like he's been playing for years, you know that the product is new but the material is life-long.  The greatest bonus is that you can download his music free on his soundcloud page.

Bear Mountain - XO

Bear Mountain is a Vancouver, BC music group.  I found their music randomly while reading about another band.  They just released their debut LP, XO.  While they music definitely has an electronic base to it, there is something that transports you out of your house and into the wild.  The song I came across that I liked the most is called "Congo"

Congo by Bear Mountain

This song is amazing.  It makes me think what music would be now if songs like this were out 30 years ago.  Part of me thinks about Paul Simon and his music.  Part of it makes me think of Toto and that plains of Africa song.  But it makes me happy that now is when great songs like this come out.  There is a twinge of the thought that Cee-Lo is singing it, but then I realize that it's not him.  While the rest of the album has yet to sway me, this song has me hooked.  When I walk to work and I listen to this track, I soon realize that I'm walking with a little swing in my step.  It makes me smile.  And me smiling is a hard thing to do.

D I A N A - Born Again

Based out of Toronto, D I A N A is a wonderful group.  While only two singles have been released, the definite show stopper is "Born Again."  The plan to have their album drop next year.  And that is just way too long to wait when they start with such a great opener.

Born Again has a very distinct "(insert hipster adjective)-wave" sound.   While calling it chill-wave is an insult to the sound, there is something about the song that is very chill.  I feel like I'm back in the 80s listening to what music has the potential to be.  What is should be if you keep the industry and radio and business out of it.  When you let people make music how they think it should be made, this is what you get. 

Born Again by D I A N A

It's an amazing song.  "We were guilty"  Yes we were.  Thankfully music has found a way to Born Again.


Jesse Merchant, or JBM, is a Canadian singer who last album "Not Even In July" could make the cold-hardest man cry has released his newest album, "Stray Ashes."  The first thing I found upon listening to this album was how much I thought the album cover truly conveyed the music inside it.  I feel when I listen to it that I should be in the mountains.  I should be snowed it and thinking about a love lost.  I should be sad and somewhat brooding.  More importantly, I should be learning to get over it.  While "Not Even In July" makes me think a lot about a dear friend who is gone and how much I miss him, this album makes me think about how I move forward.  JBM doesn't play.  You feel a lot of emotions in his songs.  Whether they are his emotions or yours is up to you.  But you will feel them.  You'll play this album and you'll be doing whatever you are doing at the time.  Then all of the sudden you will stop and listen.  You'll move to the patio at night with your gin/whiskey/scotch/bourbon/vodka and a smoke and just stare out into the stars.  Even if you can't see them, you will stare.  Then, something that you haven't thought about for a long time will find it's way to the forefront.  You'll close your eyes and your heart will slightly heave.  Your soul will move and your head will nod forward.  You'll nod your head in agreement with your heart even though your brain will have no idea.  Your soul will find those stray ashes that you haven't truly scattered.  It's not a bad thing.  It's not a sad thing.  It's an easing thing.

JBM - Stray Ashes by western.vinyl

The Antlers - Undersea

If there was a band that could just stray chill you out anytime you put them on, this is that band.  Their newest LP is "Undersea."  I was a little disappointed when all they were releasing was a 4 track LP.  While "Hospice" is a great album, it doesn't compare to the growth and emotion that "Burst Apart" holds.  "Undersea" is truly the growth of the band, but it is also the continuation of the story the others start and provide.   While a discussion of those is for another day, I do enjoy this album.

The Antlers always seem to provide a dreamy feel to their music.  This isn't for clubbing.  This isn't for working out.  Nor is it for anything that involves anything.  If you're reading a book, this is the band for you.  You'll be transported farther into the novel than you'll ever realize.  You'll never hear their songs without reliving the pages turned.  While JBM might make you go outside and look into yourself.  This makes me just want to walk up to someone I care about and give them a hug.  To say nothing at all.  Just to hug them and let them know that, well, they'll know what I want them to know.
The Antlers - Drift Dive by antirecords


I hope you've enjoyed some of this weeks music.  Next time around, we'll probably get a little more funky.  Next time, I might just start my collection review.