the oh so quiet show

First Aid Kit – ‘The Big Black and Blue’

The Big Black and Blue

Last night while curled up in a ball under my sheets in my flu-ridden attempt to fall asleep, I put on my earphones and listened to The Big Black and Blue by First Aid Kit. Did it put me in snooze-land? Not so much—I think my body was way too high strung to be put to sleep by anything. But that late night listening session made me appreciate the album more.

First Aid Kit is the Swedish sister duo of Johanna and Klara Söderberg. Johanna is 19 and Klara is 17. Oh god—what was I doing when I was 17? Nothing this good. (Note to self: Find time machine, tell 17-year-old self to do something awesome.) I first got into First Aid Kit about one and a half years ago when they put up their beautiful cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” by Fleet Foxes. Just two sisters wearing flannel, harmonizing in the forest (and even though I can’t see what they’re sitting on, in my mind they’re sitting on a giant log). And then I got hooked on their EP, Drunken Trees. And then just a few weeks ago I got their debut album The Big Black and Blue, a few months later than it came out because I’m just not “with it” when it comes to new music anymore, as evidenced by the lack of updates in this blog. Oops.

But better late than never. Initially, the only song that really drew me in was “Hard Believer,” but after repeated listenings I realized, “Oh nevermind, I like the whole thing.” So there’s your review: “I like the whole thing.” Yeah, I’m really selling it. If you like catchy tunes and sweet two-part harmonies and acoustic guitar and autoharp (er, that might only be on one song, but whatever) then you should be down with this.

Here’s another song few yew:


First Aid Kit – Waltz for Richard

They’re touring around North America in June. Perhaps I will be pulled out of my no-concert-zone. (If anyone wants to see them on June 15 or 16 in NYC, let me know!)

Random sounds

Although it’s unnecessary to say something is a note to myself, this is a note to myself: Taken by Trees (Victoria Bergsman‘s solo project)

While bleeping around:

I’m quite surprised I like the above album. It’s…dancey. And I recently had a conversation with friends about my undance-itude. There is visual evidence of me dancing, but it’s more like me being dragged around by other people in a dance-like fashion.

I actually have that Phonem album…on vinyl. Which is completely pointless when you don’t have a good record player. Which I don’t.

I’m tired. Thus ends this insubstantial entry.

Becky Stark, oddly funny

Becky Stark and David Byrne
Becky Stark and David Byrne

Thanks to my awesome friend Janet, on Friday night I saw Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond perform a few songs at the NYPL as part of a Miranda July fun fest. The night ended with David Byrne (who interviewed Miranda during the second half of the night) playing guitar with Becky during the song, “Garden Rose” from the latest Lavender Diamond album, Imagine Our Love. It’s perty.

Lavender Diamond – Garden Rose

Although I knew that I already liked Lavender Diamond, I wasn’t set on seeing them in concert at Maxwell’s this Saturday until seeing Becky perform solo. She is…she is…quite unique. In an awkward way. To the point that I couldn’t tell whether she was really that awkward or if she was being funny for the audience. But does it matter either way? Not really. Because she sings like an angel stuffed with the love of 10000 teddy bears. She spoke softly and lightly with a wide grin on her face most of the time, every so often breaking into a strained giggle, besides the one time she cursed herself for repeating something she had just said. I really wonder what’s going on in her head. Is it just filled with looove and joooy?

“She’s goofy!” remarked a woman sitting behind me. That wasn’t the first adjective to pop into my head—awkwardly hilarious was more like it—but I guess she fits under the category of “goofy”. You forget it all when she starts singing. Her voice rings so clear. Not mature, not immature. Just…I dunno. It’s nice. You know when you have a stuffy nose and it suddenly clears up? Like the mucus has all been whisked away by a magic nose…angel? That moment of clarity is like Becky’s voice. Kinda. I think the audience was hesitant at first, possibly wondering, “What in the…” when she started playing, but I think a little more love was spread after getting us to participate in a sing-a-long (well, I stayed silent for the benefit of everyone’s ears around me).


Marie Antoinette (Aphex Twin and Dustin O’Halloran)

Marie Antoinette

I saw Marie Antoinette this weekend not so much for the story (which is like 75% of the wikipedia entry) but to see the costumes and Versailles (heartstoppingly beautiful) and to hear how modern music would fit into a movie set in 18th century France.

I didn’t really know what music was on the soundtrack, so I was surprised when song’s from Aphex Twin’s Drukqs came up. The first time I heard that album I mainly though, “WTF.” It was like the auditory equivalent of a modern art installation involving random shit on the floor, ripped up fabric, broken glass, blah blah blah. I don’t mean that in a bad way; it just wasn’t something I could digest aside from a few songs, including the ones that happen to appear on the MA soundtrack. What’s different about these songs? WIKI KNOWS ALL:

At least 13 of the 30 tracks are piano compositions, both prepared piano (a style pioneered by John Cage), and normal piano. These tracks have an acoustic beauty not commonly associated with an electronic music artist such as James. The instrument used was a MIDI-controlled Yamaha Disklavier, which James programmed to play via sequencers, rather than from the piano’s keyboard. The Disklavier is a modern descendent of the player pianos of the late 19th and early 20th century, which were controlled by rolls of punched paper tape.

Uh huh. [nods] Avril 14th is one of my favorite tracks and sounds least like the rest of the album.

Aphex Twin – Avril 14th [removed]

I don’t know what I like so much about it, but it’s just…nice. It’s nice. Yes. That’s it. It makes me feel calm, not happy or sad. Just. Content. Until the next track on the album comes on and my head is shredded by random chopped up beats going at 100000 bpm.

Or maybe it’s a “sad little lonely song”. From Aphex Twin on Wikipedia:

In October 2006, Entertainment Weekly’s website reported of Kirsten Dunst; “Before a lot of scenes, she’d play Aphex Twin’s wistful solo-piano ditty Avril 14th to put herself in the right reflective mood: That was my sad little lonely song that I’d listen to a lot.”

Piano Solos, Vol. 2

One of my other favorite songs from the movie was also a piano solo by Dusin O’Halloran [myspace] (1/2 of Devics, who put out one of my favorite albums of the year) . When I heard it in the movie, I immediately went into quiet panic mode: “I KNOW THAT SONG WHY DO I KNOW THAT SONG WHERE IS IT FROM?!?!?!” After sifting through my iTunes I realized I had recently downloaded it without knowing who the song was by. Take a listen:

Dusin O’Halloran – Opus 23

The song is off Dustin’s latest album, Piano Solos, Vol. 2. Of course, you can also find it on the Marie Antoinette soundtrack. This is another one of those “Mm, I feel content” songs. Not especially happy or sad. Lullabye-ish.

..Which reminds me, I’m really tired.

Ian Love

really small tigers, or giant human?

I’ve been listening to Ian Love a lot lately, although by “a lot” I mean whatever’s on his myspace page since I don’t actually own his album. Yet. It’s only $10, less than what I spend on transportation for a work day, so I don’t have much excuse. By the time I finish this entry, I’ll have bought the album. Which reminds me, I have to pay credit card bills.

Even though I’m not a big fan of babies, I think the accompanying baby photos on Ian’s myspace page influence my opinions about his songs in a positive way. “Aw, babies…hey, this song is nice.” Maybe babies like his soft, sleepy, shuffling acoustic-y songs about lovey dovey things. Listening to his songs is very comforting and almost makes me feel like I’m sitting outside under a cool night sky and not in my humid room with the lights turn off because any excessive light will only exacerbate my sweat glands.

Yeah, I should just turn on a fan.

The only lyric so far that makes me go “Hmm?” is when he says, “As the stars jump side to side.” Why are these stars jumping? Are you nauseous? Is someone shaking you violently? I guess I’m taking things too literally. Thankfully, I don’t write songs; “As the stars stayed put because according to my astronomy textbook they shouldn’t be moving,” isn’t very heartwarming.

Listen to all his songs. They’re lovely. And feature different baby photos.

I wish I were that baby. Oh well.

Band of Horses

This site died for a while. :'(

But now it’s back! 🙂

…I don’t blame ya if you didn’t notice.

the trees are attacking

I have a problem with Band of Horses’s Everything All The Time; it’s too short. In the past week, I’ve listened to it straight through about…[counts in fingers]…jagillion times. Yes, I know that’s not a real number.

I’m not sure why I like them so much, but it’s kind of rare that I enjoy something to such a high degree all the way through. So what do Band of Horses sound like? Uh. Um. Kind of like “The Shins”:, but not. Sometimes shouty, sometimes soft. Lots of echoing. Possibly grating, high pitches that I happen to enjoy. Happy. Sad. Swirly. Sweet.

It’s got guitars and stuff, if that helps. Which it doesn’t.

I JUST LIKE EM. To prove my point, I even uploaded mp3s! Just fer youuu:

Band of Horses – Wicked Gil [removed]
Band of Horses – St. Augustine [removed]

Adam Stidham

I just want to note this artist, Adam Stidham, on MySpace because:

# He doesn’t have an effed up customized profile that makes my eyes bleed more than they already do while looking at MySpace. You know what I’m talking about. Like neon green shit with fixed backgrounds and things that are semi-transparent.
# His music is very sweet and pleasant. Boring description, yeah. Um. Admittedly, I first thought of John Mayer, but I’m not a John Mayer fan. Well. I suck at comparing artists to other artists.
# He hasn’t released anything, but sounds like he should.
# He’s 21. Damn young’uns.

Sondre Lerche at the Housing Works Used Book Cafe

Sondre Lerche

You know you’ve waited too long to write about something (or you take too many photos on a regular basis) when the photo you’re trying to find is on the 12th page of your photostream. BUT THERE HE IS. Sondre Lerche, I mean. I’m not uber-obsessed with Sondre, but I do like him enough that I’ve seem him two times before. Both times were free shows, but still! Friday night’s show was for charity. I will see a proper “with a band” show later.

So…I don’t remember a great deal about the show besides that it was great. How could Sondre do wrong? Well…he can’t. What he can do is bop around with hair in his face and babble endearingly about random stuff (NYC is hot, Norway is cold and has polar bears, we find celsius foreign, someone said his songs are feminine, he really loves the Duper Sessions album) while testing out his new electric guitar and being overly humble. I recorded one song since it was the shortest (even though the original file works fine for me, it’s not in sync in youtube):

He mainly played new songs (I only recognized “Minor Detail”), but threw in a few old ones as well. Music Slut wrote a more detailed review so you may as well just read that.

Devics – Push the Heart

Devics - Push the Heart I’ve been listening to “Push the Heart”, the new album by “Devics”:, for the past week, over and over and over again, so that I’m quite sure that I love this album. But why? WHYYYY?


…Well, that’s a bit of a lie. The album is very pretty in that sad/eerie/happy way, if that makes any sense (probably not). Members Sara Lov and Dustin O’Halloran have beautiful, soft voices that go very well with the…beautiful, soft music (that makes more sense, but still sounds moronic). Sara sings solo on most of the songs except for the duets “Song for a Sleeping Girl” and “If We Cannot See”, whose words and music are written by Dustin, as opposed to the other songs whose music is by Dustin and words, by Sara. Take a listen:

Devics – Song For a Sleeping Girl [removed]

I _do_ want to fall asleep to this song. Outside. Breezy. Squirrels. …Wait, no squirrels; they’re annoying. Reminds me a bit of Yo La Tengo for some reason. This song eases the throbbing on the side of my head. That’s a good thing.

I’m going to pluck words from “Janet’s”: review at “kevchino”: Sweet, sad and bitter: yup. Mazzy Star: a bit. Waltz beat: sleepy goodness. Radiohead-esque “Just One Breath”: uber (Paranoid Android-esque to be more specific).

I’d upload more songs I like, but I like _all of them_. ALL. It’s probably sad that I’m genuinely surprised that I like an entire album, lead by a female singer (it’s much easier for me to get into male singers for whatever reason)…but I can’t explain it. Actually, if I do have to pick another favorite song, I’d go with “A Secret Message to You”, which features a toy piano, accordian, glockenspiel, and tappy sounding percussive objects. You don’t even have to listen to it to know it’s awesome.

The album comes out on March 7th. “Get a copy”:

**EDIT:** More places to hear songs from the album:

* “Their official site”: (click on “mp3 player” in the top navigation)
* “rbally”: put up two mp3s
* “Devics on myspace”: (OH GOD, NOT MYSPACE…I mean…yay, _myspace_)

Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse - Quiet Town I don’t *love* this song/video, but I really like it, which counts for…something. Not having listened to “Josh Rouse”: in roughly forever, I decided to watch his new video, Quiet Town, “a homage to the little Spanish community Altea, where Josh first laid roots upon arrival” [“filter”:]. It’s…comforting. Like home videos stitched together, except in a nicer fashion than most home videos and with a more artistic feel, because that’s what black and white does to you. _Mm, monochromatic!_

I don’t know why I haven’t listened to Josh in forever; there’s no good excuse. The first time I listened to him is memorable because it was kind of…random. In 1998 or 1999, I received a free cd from and out of the gazillion mp3s on the cd, Josh’s was the _only_ good one. The. Only. One. Out of a lot. I guess it’s not like the other ones sucked, but…well, maybe they _did_ suck, a judgement I made after sampling a few seconds of each track because I have the attention span of an excited puppy. Here’s the song I was drawn to, off the album “Dressed Up Like Nebraska”:

Josh Rouse – Dressed Up Like Nebraska [removed]

There are other good songs on this album, but for some reason I didn’t like most of them. I wore out the songs that I loved (roughly three of them) and then not long ago while cleaning out my CDs, I sold it on Amazon. Hm. It had a good resell value. Anyhoo, it’s probably time for me to listen to his newer stuff.

…I just realized I didn’t actually verbalize what his music sounds like. Wellll. That’s what the mp3 and video are for. Sorry. Too lazy to write real stuff.

“Chris reviews Josh Rouse at Joe’s Pub”:

[PS: “Hipsters are so nice and soft”:]