Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Music Musings from emerging artists: The Native Siblings, Humming House, Ariela Jacobs, Catfish&TheBottlemen, Broken Back, James Bay and Max Frost.

NOTE: I have NO advertisers, NOR am I paid by anyone to review music. I am just a lover of mood-making melodies, kick-drum beats and new artists.

A Sunday, of Palms or Lackadaisical moods it is, but also the week's end. March comes to a close and burgeoning in front of it, April will sing Spring into the reawakening of a season. A deep breathe of fresh and full air, wet mud and blossom scents swirl in the Winter's last wind-kiss of "good-bye."

Looking for good music and an ambiance to fit my mood, I went searching. I found the following, and have been encapsulated in the warm of my office. Outside may look gloomy, but within this room with these melodic artist's fresh take on life expressed, all is good.

Catfish and The Bottlemen:
Sounds to me like: A musical skin suit made of The Smiths' facial structure, RadioHead-ish body and The Killer's contemporary color.

My take: "Fallout" is exciting to listen to, front man (Van McCann) belts lyrics with unabashed fervor, or sings soft and penetrating like a sweet kiss chased by the taste of cigarette smoke. I hear him, but get lost in the drums (Bob Hall) and bass (Benji Blakeway) in songs like "Pacifier."  Lead guitar (Johnny Bond) is neatly reckless and so very powerful in every song. Together it has a core-piercing affect on me. (A laywoman/nobody) 
These guys will have epic biographies written by women or each other in two or so decades if they can "stay pure" to being sullied by truth. I first heard them two hours ago but I'm a fu@king fan for life.

Summary in a sentence:  I want to make THEM my business, you should too, while they are authentically creating music you haven't heard before; certainly not with this many "F-bombs" while still maintaining the mature sound needed to spit them without an eye-roll.

The Native Sibling:
Sounds to me like: The Civil Wars in their emoting duets, but all their own in tone, musicality and vision. 

My take: I bought this EP, as well as their older album : "Letters Kept to Ourselves" and I am moved, not only by how poetic the words are, but both of them sing with a wholeness and the sweet folksy appeal of humans that are actually affable. I feel like I know them. You will too. It's a hug, and the relating to who we all are that offers a compassion not often found in music. Siblings, they are, indeed. Ryan and Kaylee Williams make up this duo to be discovered by YOU.

Summary in a sentence: In the single "Carry you",  they sing "I know where you are, and I'm coming to carry you home." from that line, and in the substance of their harmonized voices is all you need to know.

Ariela Jacobs:
Sounds to me like: Sara Baralies with hints of Adele and Regina Spektor.

My take: The anthemic beat in "The Sound" is coupled with her floaty falsetto that bounces and flutters like wings of a butterfly, small wisps of fresh air, musicality so subtle it could slip into pop if it wanted to.

Summary in a sentence: Pretty and playful when you see her across the bar, but she has a depth and solid hold on herself, because of this, she can offer herself up, and she does.

Broken Back:
Sounds to me like: "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance at first listen, but they are spun uniquely in the layers of sound. The music itself is "cheery, folk-like" according to Cole Ryan. 

My take: Categorized as "Electro-Pop" but I think the limits of such labels keep listeners away. The music itself sounds like the feeling of Flamenco undertones riding waves on unique and uplifting vibes of vacation.  "Halcyon Birds" makes me so happy. The lyrics are more thoughtful than anything I'd put in "Pop."

Summary in a sentence  I dare you to try NOT to move while listening to any song on this album.  Good luck. Godspeed.

James Bay: 
Sounds to me like: James Blunt and Ray LaMontagne got drunk and took a blurred selfie of their souls to find it was "old" and born again as a love-child in James Bay.

My take: The single "Let it go" is a great example of his soulful lyrics and the whine of love, not a negative, but a very real part of the journey. "Why don't you be you, and I'll be me." The pensive promise of "If you ever want to be in love." reminds me a bit of Josh Rouse and his single: "It looks like love" -Which was written about me.*

Summary in a sentence: A true singer-songwriter with soul and wide range palatability for commercial success.

Humming House:
Sounds to me like: Absolutely no band or group I can think of. Not one.

My take: This Nashville band has so much diversity, it's hard to limit it to words. The melodies and drumbeats are unexpected and shift to surprise. "Fly On" reminds me of classic rock, then goes into Irish-folk sounds, then circles back to a great group shoulder-to-shoulder-sway-song of the great Americana harmonized music of yore. Yet, in "Carry On" story-telling and fun take over.

Summary in a Sentence: Listen to "I Am a Bird", the aforementioned two songs, and "Great Divide" and you might, but maybe not understand the versatility of this five talented musicians.

and DEFINITELY NOT LEAST, is the last Sunday song I share:
a single that makes me love the hurt of love and heartbreak for it's reminder of your pulse and all that lays ahead in comparison is :

Max Frost:
Sounds to me like: Beck and Jack White but not at all, so I say he sounds like Max Frost.

My take: This fellow Texan is brave and soulful. Referred to as a "Musical Prodigy"; his music, yet to be widely recognized, is something of a miracle and incredibly deep for ONE man, alone.

Summary in a sentence: He may make it look easy in his single: "Let Me Down Easy", but he doesn't let you down.

Every mood is subjective. Every artist has his/her own voice. It is through discovery we find what fits best, and that too can change, but for now, these six albums fit me best. 

Listen Closely. 
Be Open... to the emerging and the new, for that is living. 

* Of course it is NOT. I wish a man would sing about me, until then....I'll keep breathing.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tyler Knott Greyson just unknotted my tangled heart! A review of "Chasers of Light." by no one in particular...Me.

Some days I feel on fire with creativity. The whole world is offering up it's beauty by the minute on such a day. My efforts to pull down all the streams of interpretation, the colors and memories still fail me, even in scribbled notes, or notes to phone. The intake is far more than I have time to process and create from, for which, I guess I'm grateful. Today has NOT been one of those days

To be pithy is commendable. To be artistically profound AND pithy is a rarity.

On google+ there was a map, vertically formatted with some type-writer words that caught my eye. (This was at 11:45, Saturday March 28, 2015.) 70 minutes ago. It was the little structured ink-filled words on that image that stopped me and made me double click. This, sadly is a big deal now-a-days when the online presence is full of all types of writers...not only the "genius" or "talented". The quote was this:

"Oh, what we could be if we stopped carrying the remains of who we were."

The author is Tyler Knott Greyson. I did the natural thing: Asked myself why poets and/or those people known for deeply moving expressions always have three names?

While pondering such, I googled his name, assuming he must be far gone in time, dead and celebrated in the obscure circles of Laureates. Obviously, otherwise I would know of him. Ha.

Instead, he is the very living and alive published Author of "Chasers of Light." Poetry from a typewriter. (ding) "Sold."

I bought it, as an ibook and will order the tangible too. My patience, a virtue it is not. Two pages in, not even past the introduction, I had to stop and make note of a sentence. "The miracle in the mundane, The epic made simple." That is how he describes the lens with which he sees the world (and uses a camera) as well as capturing the moments that could otherwise drift by or evaporate unnoticed by the occupants of the very same life. Attention, both paid and given to, art like this too small and lost on mainstream, sadly.

The book is a remarkable traipse through love. A book centered on the declaration of eloquence and passion. His words, on different types of paper, including reverse side's of receipts or burnt-edged brown pages. The love-profession is unmatched to my eyes, by so many contemporary poets trying far harder than he.

"What good is a half-lit life? You can burn me to ashes, as long as I know we lived a life alight."

I, pull out some of my writings. I re-read them, scared and searching. I have so much work to do, so much better to be! This collection of poems pushes the best, and worst of my logophilia out into the open. I pause to read my own:

I know with a weight, nearly unbearable, how much pain I have caused him. His words are like delicate offerings, lightly let go from his mouth.
woman lost in haze of latter days, in the smell of his neck, the taste of that phase.She is found in the release of not needing, not being needed. Hair follicles rise as soft skin mounds at their bases. A field of electricity lined up to attention. A bubbling boils too much to the forsaken, and with his supple lip to her breast, not a fresh mess, she whispers the answer to his call for eternity; 'Yes.' 

Try as I am, to see a glimmer of his type of talent between the spaces in my sentences, those minutes and that doubt. And then I exhale. I am
not AS good, but not as inferior than I thought. Words, like life re-read, can remind you.

It hurts to read. My believed inadequacy pangs in fear and my heart itself aches at the beauty. I am inspired again, by the way his words, small and unassuming to the eye can lead to devastation. The knowing, depending on who you are, that which you have is also had by others, or worse,  never having had it all.

And the pain (of reading HIS words) endures...

"I am so tired of waking to the blank canvas of morning and knowing it won't be painted with you."

"I promise to plant kisses like seeds on your body so in time you can grow to love yourself like I love you."

A collection like this is for lovers of love, seekers of elegance, and those inspired to write every word filled to brim with the infusion of how something feels. They (you) can read this book, as I did. I read it all at once in the solitude of awe.

Anyone untouched by these words in some way, I deem soulless.

"An ocean of difference exists between making love and being made by it."

Chasers of Light, Tyler Knott Greyson 

Sweet (Third) Child of Mine: Survival. Independence. Humor.

"Hi, baby, frog, wee-wee." - This kid is gonnnnnnaaaaa be a GENIUS!

Typical night for me. I went to bed at 2am, still in manic flurry-writing phase. I'm living on coffee, toast and children's bits of left over food....on a prayer? Didn't get it? Too young for JBJ. Ok. Moving on. Around 4am, my husband and I woke to strange banging, clinging and random spurts of heavy breathing coming from downstairs.

The sounds got louder and were followed by a glowing light (as if from a flash light) coming up the stairs. Both of us, frozen in panic, questioning, a bit of fear. When I write "fear" it refers to the dread of someone either being sick, awake at this hour, or worse, both!  "An intruder doesn't really use flashlights, that's just in cartoons right? Seems, defeatist." I said calmly. "Or its just a ghost." muttered equally as calm.

The light shone brighter as the footsteps got heavier. There may have been a split second I actually  worried about either aforementioned options. In the pitch black dark, the growing light cast a pretty creepy shadow and impending doom-type scene. Before we knew it, my son, who will be three in August, walked by our bedroom door. He did this without the slightest look towards us. Almost as if to say in his head: "If I can't see you, you can't see me." That, or he thinks it perfectly natural to awake in the early hours, fetch himself some type of Apple product and nonchalantly pad his way back into his room.

At first we laughed, then I said..." We should show him how to work the toaster and the remote." It's more my problem than my husband's. He goes to Crossfit at 5:15am, then work, so my day is directly run by everyone else's disposition, but mostly just the toddler's sleep schedule. Something that would have made me bananas with either of the previous children. Now, it's out-right comical that we, as parents, laid in bed talking about an intruder, knowing full well it was one of our children. I used to jump out of bed, and be half way through the door if I heard a baby cough.

With my first kid, I sat and watched her breathe all day. (and would put a finger under her nose throughout the night) I remember she would scare herself when her own hands would cross her sightline...she would jump, completely alarmed and shocked every time. Every four minutes or so. I know this, and can mimic it with exact perfection because I am NOT joking when I say I looked at her, like she (now 9) mindlessly stares at anything mine-craft or that rubbish-rambling-English guy on YouTube, playing mine craft. Yes, my child enjoys watching a bloke narrorating himself playing a game. It's a spectator-only role from her end.

The second child got a little less stare-time. She came 3.5 yrs later, and I was able to put her in an exersaucer for twenty minute increments, knowing she'd survive and might get fussy, but once ignored (baring no actual issues besides, "boredom") she realized I was cooking dinner, helping her sister do homework, and she just shrugged it off.

Even in long family-road-show car rides, she would scream and cry and we'd turn up the music, then she'd just give up. Karma is a B*&th, though. Easiest baby = hardest toddler. She pushed every limit and boundary, figuratively, and literally. During a nap one day, she kicked out most of the spindles of her crib, only to climb out, and fall asleep in the rocking chair. (Escape on principle only.)

I'm sure this sounds like you should call DCFS, but hold the phone, it gets better. My son, the third child, the golden boy- is hilarious. An attention-seeking expert.

He is resourceful when it comes to elelctronics and/or food. He can line up a series of scaled pieces of furniture to climb up to the fridge, or cabinets for self-retrieval.

He has been known to hide electronics in, say....the ice maker, or under towels in the laundry room so he didn't have to share. His voice has a full range of "Fake man-deep voice" that I take as normal now. He literally says, (chin-tucked, eyes looking up) "Moooomahhhh. Immm wakkkke, noooooo-oooow"( tone-deepens with each syllable.)

He knows his limits better than an Arab gold-market booth attendant. He has been sitting in 90% of my chair, as I type this, it's now 5am, and I have just realized I'm squatting, trying to balance my tailbone on the sliver he has left for me. Just as I turn around to lose my cool he goes to the tool-box. In a different tone with his perfected sweet-baby one-two punch of innocent high voice and inflection: "Mama?" in slight whisper adding a caress of my neck, I smile, melt and turn back to type-squat.

He is the child that eats food dropped on the floor, watches more TV than any of them (mostly tween shows his older sisters watch) only gets "new" things because the pink onesies didn't go over well and if we're being truly honest, sometimes has finger nails longer than a Fredy Kruger. BUT, He laughs often, rolls with the punches, is self-reliant and brave.

So, if his most intellectual sentence* is, indeed, "hi, baby, frog, wee-wee."

He will survive. He will noodle a way, and figure out how to do get ahead. 

*I jest. He say way gooder sentences than that. i.e: "Me no go nigh nigh." or "I have more peeease?" (the manners, not the little green seeds)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

John Mayer and Me writing: Lyrics to "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967"

Did your dad like swimming? She knows this answer, but finds it funny or playful to ask all the time. Yep. You know that, hon. 
Was he good at it? she asks me, also knowing its answer.
He was amazing. He saved Aunty A and I at least once or twice in Hawaii, but you know the story about him punching the shark? He was an incredible swimmer. The ocean was home to him.
 She said nothing more, but just nodded as if approving my passing a test she gave. 

I turned in my chair; the squeaking swivel sound now triggers me to be creative. It feels as if the first step of launching a mechanism. The second step is to light my candle, (always cactus and sea salt) and lastly, for this month anyway, I go to iTunes music and put John Mayers album Born and Raised. Something about it is quiet and calming enough but still floating lyrical waves and emotions around me.

Strangely, my favorite song from this album that I play straight through is "number 9." I looked it up to see what it was called and to both my dismay and excitement it is a horrible, non-assuming name: Walt Graces Submarine Test, January 1967.  It is the beat and the slow intro of a song you think it will be, and then the song that it actually is. Juxtapositions of preconceptions vs reality are my favorite chocolate in the box of humanity. 

It was the beginning that still surprises me, that beginning with a shift always livens emotion in me, good or bad, but either way my feelings, as if little cilia in my heart, all stand at attention and begin to sway to the bouncy sound of it. Words from the title that stick out to me are Grace January and the date 1967. I cant, however, for the life of me remember a single word from the song I have listened to over two hundred times as I write this. I shall look it up now:

Holy shit balls! John Mayer can write poetry! The layers upon layers of meaning wash over me, and I'm stunned. 

Desperately hating his old place
Dreamed to discover a new space and buried himself alive
Inside his basement
The tongue on the side of his face meant
He's working away on displacement
And what it would take to survive

'Cause when you're done with this world
You know the next is up to you

And his wife told his kids he was crazy
And his friends said he'd fail if he tried
But with the will to work hard and a library card
He took a homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride

That morning the sea was mad and I mean it
Waves as big as he'd seen it deep in his dreams at home
From dry land, he rolled it over to wet sand
Closed the hatch up with one hand
And pedaled off alone

'Cause when you're done with this world
You know the next is up to you

And for once in his life, it was quiet
As he learned how to turn in the tide
And the sky was aflare when he came up for air
In his homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride

One evening, when weeks had passed since his leaving
The call she planned on receiving finally made it home
She accepted the news she never expected
The operator connected the call from Tokyo
'Cause when you're done with this world
You know the next is up to you

Now his friends bring him up when they're drinking
At the bar with his name on the side
And they smile when they can, as they speak of the man
Who took a home-made, fan-blade, one-man submarine ride.

Nothing surprises me anymore. Nothing. I'll say no more of this point, but it is astounding and yet elicits a hushed "Of course." spoken with a turned mouth, into a smile. 

.....and everything was shaken yet again, like the snow globe of my life in a bubble, on display to be seen.

So I wrote on, until the single digits of this morning,
I wrote. 

( Thank you, John.) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What's your dosha-flow? Ayurvedic quiz. My quest to be a turtle, with wind.

Front of card

I used to joke with a good friend that I thought MIT students were inserting time into minutes, and that was surely why the days passed so slowly. Deep thoughts shared in the cubicles.  Surely, quantum mechanics and graduate students were creating worm-holes and time suspension tricks whilst we sat  in a maze of partitions only to notice that the computer screen clock had increased by two minutes since last we checked. This memory came to mind only because I can't imagine that luxury anymore. Time is flying. I am trying to keep up, and failing. There really isn't enough time in the day to me. After checking the mail, I opened a card from a friend who has known me a long time. It had a turtle on the front, and inside it was hand written in different colors:

"Channel the turtle. Smell the flowers. Take in the vastness of the sky. Breathe Silence. Breathe Spirit. Keep Moving forward. Truth no one can deny."

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do everything too fast. I'm not even getting broad and philosophical here. Yes, it applies under that umbrella as well, but I'm referring to daily life. My family and friends complain after meals, movies or anything completed, that I am up and moving to the next task, place or venue. I type at lightening speed, talk fast, and believe it or not, my thoughts make those things look sluggish.

It wasn't a purposeful behavior, my intention was never to rush through things, it's just the speed of my thoughts, my processing of senses, people, and circumstances. I "know" or I "don't know" immediately. If the latter is not entirely a repulsion, I stick around and learn more. I've been guilty of walking right out of a Church service that felt too stuffy or formal. I will shut down a conversation with someone I feel is hurtful or unkind, there are books I've never finished because I value my time more than the "completion" of something no one is score-carding. Other examples: peeing faster than humanly possible, changing a diaper on a child standing up, while on the phone, completing both tasks in under a minute. To this day, I can get ready (including shower/bath) under 12 minutes flat.  That's just who I am. (or was?)

"Slowly" has been something of a pet-peave to me. Based on the 5000 yr old science of Ayurveda,
A yoga master once called me "PITTA"(Fire) -dominated and always encouraged me to focus more on the other Ayurvedic forces such as "KAPHA"(Earth) or "VATA"(Wind). I laughed it off back then, never truly understanding his gentle suggestion. Fire is powerful, no? It represents strength and heat, right?

L.O.L. I was so silly.

As a cautionary tale look at me. Historically, I spoke without thinking, jumped without looking, ran before walking...etc. You get the point. Living this way had a precise way of exploding, much like fire, all around me.  For the first time, I actually see the benefits of sitting on thoughts or scrutinizing risks. I now wait until I'm decent, if at all, at anything in my life, before I continue onto the next stage. This, we call....learning to live. Yup. I'm just now getting that one down. Skip ahead if this is taking too long, or going on and belaboring a point. (tee-hee)

Inside of Turtle Card.

To slow down is an art. I have more respect for it than I do the capacity to master it.  This is why I have engaged in two major things to slow my roll:

1. Meditation. It is not as hard, or "strange" as some people think. It's akin to restorative sleep, but you are awake and actually have some control on what to focus your attention. Be it nothing, releasing anger, asking a question of yourself, or gratitude for instance.

2. Be IN the moment. Not just "when you eat, focus on your food, TASTE it." That's obvious..."play with your children, not while on the iPhone." or "Listen in a conversation, instead of prepping your next thought." I am presuming you are smart enough to know those things.   It's simple, right? Wrong. Those four words have so much more meaning. Own it or surrender.

I'm saying take that entire philosophy and blanket the thought over all things in your life. Stress doesn't change an outcome. Regret doesn't unravel events passed. By focusing only on whatever is at hand, you can actually listen to all your awareness. Bodily actions, hear your words, tap into your instincts. It is NOT simple, but it is so rewarding. When you can trust each decision you make as it presents itself, you can live with a lot less complexity.

As I typed this post, my 2 yr old was on my lap, playing with the card.
Such is life. Getting annoyed or mad does nothing to help me, so I laugh.
Surprisingly, when I reassessed myself today, I was more VATA(WIND)-dominant. It is a beautiful thing to be in better balance, and less on fire.

My Ayurvedic (Dosha), now: VATA ! Woooo-hoooo. A decent improvement in a decade.

Your scores are Vata: 6 Pitta: 2 Kapha: 2
Based on your results, you are a VATA:
Vata Characteristics
Mind:Creative, quick, imaginative
Body:Thin, light frame 
Appetite:Delicate, spontaneous, often miss meals
Routine:Variable, spontaneous
Temperament:Welcomes new experiences, excitable, friendly, energetic
Conversation Style:Loves to talk!!
Shopping Style:Buy, buy, buy.
Stress Response:What did I do wrong? Tendency to blame oneself

Know your " Dosha- Flow"! Take the quiz: On Deepak Chopra's website.

I certainly believe the Ayurvedic way is pretty in tune. It has been around for over 5000 years, and before hyper-marketing of pharmaceuticals, people actually passed down the knowledge and remedies that helped. It can't hurt to at least see what it says, right?  Take the test.

Learn more. Know better. Be your best self... in balance.