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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

July Book Review...

Nessun Dorma by Peter Eksell

As the month of July wrapped up, I found myself very, very, very busy at work.  I suffered through another restaurant week and made it out someone sane.  Each night I got home from work, I found myself a little bit happy.  Each night I got home, I found the time to approach something I knew to be satisfying.

That something is Monte Cristo.  When I first found myself staring at Monte Cristo, I knew it was going to take everything I had to finish it.  I knew that it couldn't be done in one sitting, and depending on my energy maybe multiple ones.  So I sat down and got started.  Upon first looks, I told myself that is a big load.  As I started, I realized that it was a little dry.  It needed something, but I just couldn't figure it out.  It wasn't tough.  It was just needing a little something extra.  As I progressed, I found myself enjoying it greatly.  It was very satisfying.  Once I got to the middle I realized that I was in the thick of it.  The only problem was that it was a little too hammed up.  Plus, I found that it was a bit too cheesy for my tastes.  It tending to be overflowing with it and I wish that it was a little better contained.  Once I finally got to the end, I was feeling very satiated.  My only problem was that the end tended to be a bit crusty for my tastes.  I wish it would have been better at the end.  That just would have made it....complete, in my book.  I felt that something was missing.  Something to help you just put it away.  Or wash it down.

I'm happy to say that I did finish it.  Not many people will be able to say that they did, but I did.

I even have a picture for you.

You have to count how much you enjoy it.

This sandwich was freaking awesome.  It's called a Monte Cristo.  When I got done with it, I couldn't help but wonder what else out there could have such an awesome name.  They have a car named the "Monte Carlo" after the city, right?  So why can't they have something else called a "Monte Cristo?"  You know what would be awesome, a book.  I'm sure it would be written by A. Dumass.  Then some genius would decide to make it into a movie.  They would get Jesus and Momento to have some sort of role.  Then they would throw in some wizard to play a small role.  But, alas, this world does not exist.  Or does it......
Luckily we've been blessed to live in a world were something so wonderful as "The Count of Monte Cristo" has been written.  While many people have read the abridged version, I decided to read the full tome written by Alexandre Dumas.  The full version is about 1600 pages.  It goes on and on and on and on, but I loved it.  In reality, I read this book about a year ago, so I didn't reread it.  I do remember the vast majority of it.  I could give you a run down of all the storylines but I would rather you read it so you can see something so beautiful that your mind doesn't know what to do with itself.  For me, I came into it a bit biased.  One of my favorite movies is "The Count of Monte Cristo," starring Jim Caviezel (he played Jesus in Passion of the Christ) and Guy Pearce (he's the guy from Momento) and Richard Harris (the first Dumbledore).  That movie had me frustrated while reading.  Mainly because I found myself saying, "That's not how the story goes."  Then I would realize that the movie got it wrong.

It's not that the movie got it wrong, it's that they left a lot out.  When I say a lot, I mean A LOT.  There are more interwoven storylines than in all the daytime soaps put together.  That I loved.  The story of Edmund Dantes and Fernand Mondego is not as close as the movie tells you it is.  The book has more involvement with Danglars and Dantes early on than you realize.  I love the fact that Dumas uses the history of his current time in his story.  He allows the reader to feel involved.  To feel that they are taking place in 19th century France.  You see the naiveness of Dantes.  You feel for him when he is taken away.  You are torn in your heart when he goes to a secret prison of the coast of the country. (Wait, that seems a little to modern).  You are saddened when you find him taken from an old man who is to make him boss and a lady who wants nothing more than to be his wife.

He goes to this island prison hell and lives in a state where he leaves God.  That is the part of the book that I found most honest.  At least FOR me, not TO me.  But one day, an old man appears in his cell.  He was trying to dig out and found than he made a wrong turn.  The old man is a priest who has had to live a life in a cell for a horror from his past.  But he knows a secret. A great secret.  The book goes into more detail than the movie ever could.  Dumas makes you feel for the old man, but not for Dantes.  Mostly because Dantes does not see "God's" plan for him.  Eventually Dantes gets out of prison.  I won't tell you how, because you should read the book.  He is rescued by some pirates, saves one of their lives (who in turn becomes his assistant), and runs around the world causing havoc with the pirates.  This part I enjoyed because the movie showed no details of the adventures of Dantes.  Finally, he leaves the pirates and embarks on a journey of the most vicious revenge.  He returns to France and lets out the hell hounds.

Dumas's Dantes is more mysterious.  He carries more intrigue and travels in a different direction than Jesus's Dantes.  This irritated me at first, but soon I came to realize that I liked Dumas's Dantes better.  Mostly because I found that my inner soul side related to him more than my hopeless romantic side did.  Jesus's Dantes makes your heart and soul happy because he finds God again and his reunited with his lost love.  If you saw the movie, then you know what I'm talking about.  Dumas's Dantes is way better.  He goes about his mission to correct wrongs and to punish those that deserve it.  His punishment though is not quick and painless.  He turns the screws slowly so that everything they had dear is turned on them.  He even cares little about the children of his enemies and makes sure they are turned around.  While he doesn't return to his love, he lets her know in his own way who he is.  She realizes it, but knows that her life with him ended years before.  That might have been the hardest thing to swallow (no pun intended) out of the whole thing.  But leading up to that point, I should have known that Dumas would not let that happen.

While the prose and style are not the things I am best at reviewing, this book I truly enjoyed.  While I still love the movie, it can't hold a candle to the original.  The music that you hear at the beginning of this review was the same thing I listened to while I read it.  Every time I hear it, I see the passages in their full majesticness.  I see the details of the ship.  I see the details in the opera house.  I see the hate, hurt, love, pain, joy of all the characters. Mostly of Edmund Dantes.  While a vast wealth can  help you escape from your past, you can never run from the person you've become.  It takes a lot to change, but it is harder to change back to the youthful virginity of bliss and brighteyedness.  I appreciated Dantes for his honesty of self.  He knew that his life could not be complete without a sense of closure, but you cannot have closure if you don't forgive.  That's what they tell you, but Dumas does not allow for that.  He follows the times of the 19th century and plays to the fantasy and romanticism of sailing off to a new start and a closed past.  That might be the truest dream that "The Count of Monte Cristo" provides for all of us.