tori amos

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Video hookup

1. The Music Slut leads the pack, of course, with:

A) New Ry Ry video, entitled “Follow the Lights.” Ain’t half bad either. It really sounds like Ry is getting his groove back on. “There was never anywhere to go / but home.” (Home is apparently where Donna lives.)

B) The Who on Jools Holland. Completely unironically singing “hope I die / before I get old.” Psh, I knew they were lyin’. Generation X salutes you, baby boomers! Sic transit gloria mundi, except when you can capitalize on your nostalgia. Oh well, the music is still hawt.

C) Cold War Kids in the Black Cab. I can never decide if I’m totally in love with CWK, or whether they’re just totally pretentious. I call this the Decemberists Dilemma. Haha. The violin on this song is just stunning.

D) PJ Harvey on Leno, circa 93. This is the PJ I was talking about a couple days ago. That quick slip between begging her lover not to leave, to talking about tying him up till he wishes he’d never heard of her.

E) Bjork Unplugged, 1993, “One Day” acoustic. TOTALLY AWESOME.

F) The Cure in Amsterdam, “the Forest,” 1980. Robert Smith, pre-persona. Twelve years later, this song rocked my world, I’m not even kidding. Oh Robert, I miss the days when you weren’t a caricature of yourself.

G) Tori on The Current, doing Leather. Oh Tori, I miss the days … well, whatever.

2) Via LAist, an amusing misheard lyrics video, featuring one of my favorite workout songs: Sean Paul’s “Temperature.”

3) Via Stereogum, a fun video for Bishop Allen’s “Click Click Click Click.”

4) At Fabulist, Olga takes us back to the early days of Rilo Kiley with “The Frug.”

5) Via Skatterbrain, some good old fashioned pop from Lykke Li: “Little Bit.” Feel free to chair dance.

6) Muzzle of Bees revisits last years’s #3 awesome album. “So how do you feel about being dead?” “I don’t know … my neck hurts.” I LOVE YOU BLACK KEYS.

7) Since Bodies of Water and Stereogum are BFFS, you can see clips there from BoW’s “Takeaway Shows.”

8) Awesome vid from *my* new BFF, LoveLikeFire: “I
Will.”
(via Rock Insider).

9) ECEU finds one of my fave James Taylor songs, You Can Close Your Eyes, It’s Alright.

10) LAist notes that KT Tunstall turned up to support the WGA a couple weeks ago and someone took a video of her doing “I Want You Back”.

11) Idolator puts the spotlight on Melissa Auf der Maur’s “Followed the Wave.” *sigh* She’s so beautiful. If Foo Fighters had a girl twin, Auf der Maur would be it.

12) Via Electroqueer, Roisin Murphy at the Swarovski fashion awards doing “Overpowered.” I love that hair!

13) IGIF brings us back to the 10 year old video for UNKLE & Thom Yorke’s “Rabbit In Your Headlights,” which I had never seen, though I love the song. What a creepy video, but perfect for the song.

14) And last but not least, new Postmarks video via Stereogum. “Let Go,” all hazy and sunny and green, showcasing one of the best songs on a great album.

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Video Hookup

“Tonight, we salute the silver anniversary of the Great Springfield Tire Yard Fire. Twenty-five years, and still burning strong!”
–Kent Brockman

LAist points out one early music video — Cab Calloway’s “St James Infirmary Blues,” animated in a Betty Boop video.

Via the Music Slut, video of Bishi. That woman can shred like no other — on a sitar (I think that’s a sitar! Doh). Heh.

Brooklynvegan has some videos from the very excellent Café Tacvba, plus tour dates.

From Culture Bully, Tori Amos on Jay Leno. I don’t revere Tori like I used to (that hair! oy vey!), but seeing her rock out on her two pianos brings back the old times.

And also from Chris, Sea Wolf on Jimmy Kimmel. *fans self*

Also via LAist, trailer video for the new film about Kurt Cobain. The film is called “About A Son,” and purports to be about Kurt in his own words. I’m sure there’s someone out there that hangs on every one.

From Idolator, the Hives give you more bang for your buck with “Tick Tick Boom.” It’s actually … kind of scary.

And from my high school via YANP, Win Butler does Violent Femmes while staring off into nowhere. But he still manages to rock — it must be the megaphones. Three, three, three for my headache, and four, four, four for my heartache.

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In ninth grade, I had such a crush on this guy named Lee. I used to stare longingly at him during drama class — probably drove him crazy. Not that I would have known what to do with him if I’d gotten him — I didn’t want him, exactly. I just wanted someone to stare at.

So my best friend through this whole crush thing was Carrie. She came up to me one day with a tape (that’s a cassette, for you young’uns. We rolled like that, back then) that had this ugly, swirly cover.

“Try this,” she said, “you’ll love it.”

“‘Mixed Up’?” I said, very dubiously. You may remember from a previous post that I was still at this point coming out of my country music phase and just dipping a toe cautiously into REM. I judged tapes by album covers for some reason. “This doesn’t look very good.”

“But Laura,” said she, very slyly, because Carrie was sly like that, “Lee likes it. He told me in art class that the Cure was his favorite band.”

How could I refute that? She and Lee had art together, and I didn’t. Maybe they had regular conversations about music. So I took “Mixed Up” home, determined that I would like it. But I didn’t even have to try very hard — in fact, my love for Robert Smith lasted a lot longer than my love for Lee.

Carrie had longish, dark-brown curls and a beautiful smile. She was very thin, had brown eyes, and had a wonderful sense of humor. She drew cartoons, and when she wrote me letters, they were always at least ten pages of her intricate writing and her cartoons. She introduced me to Nirvana, to Pulp, to PJ Harvey, to Monty Python. She made beautiful mix tapes with handmade covers and funny titles. You kids today, you don’t know what a mix tape is anymore. Carrie was a mix tape artist. It’s been ten years since I last spoke to her, and I don’t even have a tape player anymore, but I still have some of her tapes packed away, because I can’t bear to throw them out.

Without her, my musical education would have stayed stuck in the ninth grade. We had no indie radio play to speak of (AFN did not count, folks). I was fond of “Kokomo,” Weird Al, and even taped an NKOTB album from another friend. I was a mainstream dweeb, and I probably would have hung around in the pop mainstream and today I’d be a big old Kelly Clarkson fan. And I’d probably be just fine. But Carrie developed my music taste into something outside of radio play, outside of MTV, something that appreciates the fine music that can be traded, ear to ear, on a well made mix tape. Maybe this whole blog thing is just my way of paying it forward.

So thanks, Ms. McNear, wherever you are now. I hope you’re happy. I hope you remember the times that we sat in your basement watching “The Cure In Orange” and writing dark poetry. This one’s for you.

Videos (for songs I don’t own).

1. Enigma — Sadeness
2. Information Society – Think
3. Bettie Serveert — Something So Wild

Music

[All tracks removed. Please contact me for a copy.]

01. Tori Amos — Raspberry Swirl (Lip Gloss version)
02. PJ Harvey — Sheela Na Gig (live at the Forum, London, 5/23/93)
03. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin — Kill Your Television

04. The Cure — Subway Song
05. Victoria Williams — Crazy Mary
06. Sinead O’Connor — Ode To Billy Joe

07. 50 Foot Wave — Your Ghost
08. Pet Shop Boys — Go West
09. The Violent Femmes — Gone Daddy Gone

10. Cream — White Room
11. Shakespears Sister — Stay
12. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — Straight To You

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Here are some bands or albums I have had a chance to listen to. Most of them, I haven’t liked. Some of them, I’m pretty lukewarm on. And some, I did like. As always, you can make up your own mind.

[Note: All tracks removed. Contact me for a copy.]

Tori Amos – American Girl Posse.

Amos has transformed herself from naughty maiden to mother, and I’m not all that fond of the move. “Yo George” is ridiculous and “Big Wheel” is … well, we all know someone that’s old trying to be cool and using terminology that just tries too hard. I’m old and uncool, but even I know that “MILF” is practically antique, in slang years. And then there are all the new “girls.” These personalities of hers were weird but bearable on “Strange Little Girls,” but now they’re just overwrought. I know Amos has multiple personalities, and that’s cool and artistic, but I don’t want to be exposed to their blogs and their stockings over the shower door, so to speak.

I long for the days of “Pele,” when the songs were jagged and you cut yourself on them. Now they’re smooth and “Scarlet’s Walk”ish, but without the cohesion and interest that Scarlet’s journey across America engendered. There are some chipper numbers like “Secret Spell” and “Code Red,” and a couple returns to the early days, most interestingly in the short but pithy “Fat Slut.” I can see the girl from “Icicle,” finally driven to a point, yelling all the epithets she can at the people that hurt her. I don’t wish Tori would return to the grrrl-feminist days of yore, but this song, as well as the sly “Programmable Soda,” reminded me for a few short minutes why I used to idolize Tori.

Tori Amos
Tori Amos – Secret Spell
Tori Amos – Programmable Soda

Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars.

In spite of the ravishing beauty of “Going To A Town” (and you should see the video, my friends, because it is Hot with a capital Haw), the songs on “Release” all blend into themselves sort of blandly. There’s only one other standout number (see below), unlike “Poses,” which was full of ‘em. The weirdest thing to me is the song “Tiergarten” — Wainwright’s conceit is that he pronounces it like “tear garden,” and uses it that way, but I haven’t forgotten all my German, and a Tiergarten is, well, a zoo. So it just doesn’t work when he invites his beloved to “walk [him] through the Tiergarten.” Unless they’re going to be looking at some zebras or something.

Notable exception to this is “Between My Legs,” which is as risqué as it sounds, but is also a commentary (as I read it) of the narrator’s willingness to take a chance on love even when he knows it will probably blow up in his face. I love the piano backup too, mixed with the odd spoken word guy at the end, and even a little showtunes in the form of … well, you’ll see if you listen to it. It’s rather wonderful.

Rufus Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright – Between My Legs

The Antlers, In the Attic of the Universe.

The very cool thing about this album is that you can download and listen to it for free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose. This is another album that I felt like I was supposed to like, but didn’t. In retrospect it seems completely passionless. I think in a genre where you aren’t even supposed to move at a concert, just sort of stand there and look dopey, it’s easy to make passionless music (or damp your passion to where the listener is barely aware of it). But it doesn’t appeal to me much.

The Antlers (site and download)

Young Galaxy, Young Galaxy

This one I go back and forth on. In spite of the strong start of “Swing Your Heartache,” I just didn’t like this album as much as I thought I would. If you like other Arts&Crafts type music, of course you will probably love this. And I do love some songs, like the sibilant, sweetly sung “The Alchemy Between Us” and the semi-gospel “Embers”. But inbetween there are clunkers like “Lazy Religion,” which is weird and goes on forever (or maybe there was some kind of timewarp, I don’t know). What do you think, oh faithful reader? Should I give them some more chances or what?

Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy – The Alchemy Between Us (video)
Young Galaxy – Embers

The Detroit Cobras, Tied and True.

Oh man, is this ever gonna be an awesome album. It continues the fantastic faux-motown-punk tradition of “Baby,” and though I have not heard all of it, it promises to be just as good. If you like Nagy’s wailing remixes of r&b classics, then please go to Bloodshot Records site and pre-order the tunes! You can download “As Long As I Have You,” a Garnet Mimms cover, while you’re at it. Or holler along to the Beatles’ “Leave My Kitten Alone.” Meow!

The Detroit Cobras
The Detroit Cobras – Leave My Kitten Alone

Amadou et Mariam, Dimanche A Bamako

Racing faster and further than the rest of the African pop pack, this Malian dynamic duo make music that you cannot, I mean cannot, stop listening to. I received “Sénégal Fast Food” on a mixtape from a stranger, but I wish I could find her and bake her some brownies. “Dimanche A Bamako,” released in 2005, is danceable and fun, and if you speak French you might even be able to know what they’re talking about. Of course that might spoil it, because it might be all serious and stuff underneath (like I suspect “M’bifé Blues” and “Politic Amagni” might be). I prefer just to chair-dance to it — I get crappy political songs stuffed in my ears all day. Let me have some fun, okay? And I pass the sparkly happy fun baton to you — please. Enjoy.

Amadou et Mariam
Amadou et Mariam РS̩n̩gal Fast Food
Amadou et Mariam РLa Realit̩

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This one’s for my two history buff friends, A.S. and R.St.A. They’re songs that mention actual historical events. Let the geekery begin! I did use wikipedia for some of the articles, but just out of general laziness. I feel wrong and dirty, because wiki is so not reliable, but I don’t have time to find a university library, sadly.

Playing Pianos Filled With Flames: A Historical Mix

[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you'd like a copy.]

01. Bishop Allen – The Monitor

Besides being about an ironworks fire that the fellows in Bishop Allen actually witnessed, this song also mentions the encounter between the Monitor and the Merrimack, which was the first battle between two ironclad ships. The USS Merrimack was scuttled by the Union, but the Confederates salvaged it and renamed it the CSS Virginia. In March 1862, the Virginia and the Monitor engaged in a four-hour battle that resulted in a draw. Unfortunately, ironclad ships weren’t the easiest to fight with, and the Merrimack/Virginia eventually had to be destroyed by its own captain. The Monitor was sunk by bad weather and its wreck was rediscovered in 1973. (history.navy.mil)

02. The Decemberists – Shankill Butchers (live at the St. Louis zoo, Aug 10, 05)

The Shankill Butchers were a group of serial murderers who tortured and killed people, mostly Catholics (or people they thought were Catholics), during the 1970s in Dublin [ed. note -- I stand corrected; the city is actually Belfast]. When the gang was eventually apprehended, the court handed down 42 life sentences to the men involved in the slayings. The gang was nominally reformed in 1983, when its leader was released from prison, but he was shot and killed subsequently, and the slayings ceased. However, in 1998, all the convicted men were freed under the Good Friday Act, and remain free to this day. (wiki)

03. Tori Amos – Josephine

Josephine Bonaparte was first mistress, then wife, to Napoleon. They married in 1796, but she was not faithful. She was such a political help to Napoleon, however, and he loved her so much that he did not divorce her. This song reads like one of Napoleon’s letters to her — in one letter, he writes, “To live for Josephine, that is the history of my life I long. I try to come near you. Fool! I don’t notice that I am going further away. How many countries separate us! How long before you will read these words, this feeble expression of a captive soul where you are queen?” (Probably nicer still in French.) (napoleonguide.com)

04. Beyonce – Bonnie and Clyde 03

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow met in 1930, while Clyde was in prison and Bonnie was married to a prisoner there. Between 1933 and 1934, the FBI hunted the two of them for committing 13 murders and various other crimes (robbery and burglary). They were killed in a hail of bullets on May 23, 1934. They are seen as very romantic criminals — Crimelibrary.com notes that “With police and government detectives constantly on their trails, sometimes literally by inches, they time and time again risked their own lives to protect the other.”

05. Chicago Motion Picture Soundtrack – Cell Block Tango

“Chicago” is based loosely on two murders that occured in 1924. Belva Gaertner, a cabaret singer, stood trial for shooting her lover and leaving his body in a car; and Beulah Annan, a laundress (washerwoman?), also stood trial for shooting and killing her lover in her house. Maurine Watkins, a former reporter, then combined the two crimes when she wrote the play “Chicago” in 1926. (nationalgeographic.com)

06. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes – Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina

The biography of Eva Peron is too much to review here; if you like, you can go to Evitaperon.org to check it out. This song is from the musical “Evita,” and of course it’s very romanticised, but it’s generally agreed that Eva Peron loved her country. No matter whether you agree with her social policies, I don’t think anyone can argue that she thought she was doing the right thing. She was asked to be the Vice President of Argentina, but had to decline, as she was ill. She died soon thereafter, in 1952.

07. Nirvana – Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle

Frances Farmer was an early screen star; she lived a wild Hollywood lifestyle and eventually became depressed and abused alchohol. In the 1940s she returned to her hometown of Seattle, where she was eventually committed to a mental institution by her mother. In the 1950s she left the hospital and tried to make a screen comeback, but was only marginally successful. Many sensationalized stories (including Cobain’s) allege that Farmer had a lobotomy performed on her during her time in the mental hospital, but that’s been refuted. (wiki)

08. Mississippi John Hurt – Stagolee

In 1895, a man apparently named Lee Sheldon shot another man who had taken his hat and refused to return it. The man died; Sheldon went to prison. Someone wrote a song about it, calling Lee Sheldon “Stagger Lee” on account of his being drunk at the time. It became a traditional blues tune, and Nick Cave wrote a version for “Murder Ballads,” but I don’t like it. I do like Mississippi John Hurt’s version; listen to that fantastic guitar picking. (wiki)

09. Mountain Goats – Raid On Entebbe

On June 27, 1976, terrorists from the PLO and Baader-Meinhof hijacked an Air France plane carrying 250 passengers and diverted it to Entebbe, Uganda. By July 1, many of the hostages had been released but all the Jewish/Israeli passengers — over 100 — and the flight crew were still being held. On July 4, an Israeli strike team went into Uganda as a rescue force and killed all the terrorists in a 35-minute battle. The strike team’s leader and three hostages were killed as a result of the firefight, but the rest of the hostages were freed. (BBC)

10. Jeffrey Foucault – Secretariat

Secretariat was the winningest horse ever. He set a world speed record for the Belmont Stakes; he won 21 races in 2 years. And, according to Secretariat.com, he was the father of 653 baby horses. Way to go, man! Way to go. (The song also mentions Rodin (sculptor), Joe Frazier (boxer), and the burning of Atlanta.)

11. REM – Man on the Moon

“Man on the Moon” is about Andy Kaufman, a comedian of many personalities. Kaufman died in 1984 of lung cancer, but since he had told many people that he was going to fake his own death, the legend persists that he is still alive. (wiki)

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