Category Archives: the arts

songs i couldn’t stop listening to.

‘Tis (’twas, I guess?) the season of best-of list-making, and having always been one for bandwagons, I’m jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve been stupid lucky to enjoy a lot of great new music this year, much of it live, and it’s a nice year-end activity to reflect on what songs hit me hardest. Because I’m not a real music person and don’t pay attention to things like release dates, this is not intended to be a list of the best songs that came out in 2011; rather, it’s a list of the songs I couldn’t stop listening to last year. And with that, in alphabetical order…

ON REPEAT, ALL YEAR

Blind Pilot, “Keep You Right”

The stars wash over me, so far away that I can barely breathe from where I lay

I could have chosen a number of songs from Blind Pilot’s We Are The Tide (“We Are the Tide” and “New York” were contenders), but this one stands out. Start to finish, it highlights Israel Nebeker’s gorgeous voice and makes me happy and sad in all the best ways.

Cataldo, “Deep Cuts”

Let’s begin at the end of a bad year / With bad things at my back

Eric Anderson of Cataldo puts together perfect short songs that say a hell of a lot with every line. I love the way this one builds up such that by the second verse, you can’t not dance in your seat.  Maracas of all sorts, they get me every time.

Dawes, “A Little Bit of Everything”

It’s not some message written in the dark / Or some truth that no one’s seen / It’s a little bit of everything

The each-verse-tells-a-story style of this song could be trite, except that it’s not. It’s holy-shit powerful, and for me, pretty nicely sums up what this life thing is all about. I’ve loved this song from first listen, but loved it even more after hearing it live. Dawes sounds like an entirely different band when you’re watching them in a quiet room from a few yards away, and if you get the chance to see them in 2012, you should.

 Grouplove, “Naked Kids”

Raise your glasses, here’s to living out our dreams

This song IS summer. So joyful, so fun. Makes me want to go skinny dipping then drink whiskey at a beach bar.

The Head and the Heart, “Rivers and Roads”

Nothing is as it has been / And I miss your face like hell / And I guess it’s just as well / But I miss your face like hell

A lot of people I know have loved this song for a while, and though I’ve been a huge fan of THATH for the better part of the year (and the name of my Tumblr is inspired by one of their concerts), I was late in learning to love this song. Maybe it was the bare bones nature of it; maybe it was that I didn’t listen hard enough to the lyrics. Either way, I’m glad I learned to love it, because it speaks so accurately about this exact time in my life.

Mountain Goats, “Dance Music”

So this is what the volume knob’s for…

This song choice is kind of a cop out. I fell hard for the Mountain Goats this year (way later than everyone else) and I could have picked almost any of their songs. This one wins because for me, it sums up why we need music. And John Darnielle.

Radical Face, “Always Gold”

But I am fine with where I am now / This home is home and all that I need

I know I love a song when I consider it a running song even though no one else would. Meaning: though not necessarily pump-up-y, the song transfixes me such that I forgot about how much I hate running, which is no easy feat. This song is one of those songs.

Sarah Jaffe, “Clementine”

I wish I was a little more delicate

Dude, violins and kick-ass female singers and those little brush-like things that people use to play the drums? I’m so into them.

Typhoon, “CPR/Claws Pt. 2”

Then the suffering, one way or another, it will go away

Typhoon is a big band to begin with, and when you add in an entire cello group, the effect could be sloppy and overwhelming. Instead, this song becomes bigger and better with the addition of the Portland Cello Project, making you want to listen to it on repeat for weeks, which is exactly what you do.

Walk the Moon, “Anna Sun”

We got no money, but we got heart

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about music videos, but videos like this one make me hope bands keep making ‘em. This one-shot video captures the sentiment of the song perfectly, and it just looks like so damn much fun. Plus, lead singer Nick Petricca’s dance moves? Can’t be beat.

Here’s to a lot more of this goodness in 2012. Happy New Year, kids!

[Posted by Mallory]

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an unexpectedly delightful taylor swift cover.

By Butch Walker. That’s right. Perhaps it’s a little (a lot?) tongue-in-cheek, but I love it:

You also should read this. It’s an article about why Taylor Swift sucks. Even though I don’t hate Taylor Swift, I find these kinds of articles interesting. Maybe it’s because deep down, I totally agree with them, but I still have “The Story of Us” on repeat as I type. Hard to say.

Also, I just saw a really cool presentation (with Kathleen!) by Neko Case. It was basically her explaining a slideshow of photos she’d taken, and it was really interesting and inspirational. While she knows a lot about photography, most of the photos she takes (and the ones she showed us) were taken on an iPhone or a simple point-and-shoot. That made me decide I should take more pictures, which obviously led to a photo shoot in my room of all of the things I could photograph on my fancy Droid without moving. This, unsurprisingly, resulted in a series of shots of my room, and a MySpace-worthy self portrait. Like, look…ART:

Don’t worry. I’m kidding. This will not turn into a photography blog. And the whole reason I started that pointless story was to tell you that my eyes are still kind of blind-y from taking my self portrait.

The end.

[Posted by Mallory]

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today is a google holiday, hooray!

Today’s Google Holiday: Happy 125th Birthday Josef Frank! Now, like you, as of about 8:30 a.m. today, I had no idea who Josef Frank was. Naturally, I Wikipedia-ed him and found a surprisingly short entry that was only three lines long and told me that Herr Frank was a famous Austrian-Swedish architect who also did a lot of cool design stuff (evidenced in the funkiness on Google’s homepage). And just a few minutes ago, as I prepared to post this entry, I discovered that Herr Frank’s Wikipedia page had gotten a lot longer. I doubt that’s a coincidence. The Google rules the world.

I think I might be in love with Frank’s work. Color and fun patterns are exactly what I look for in interior design, and I think I’d be pretty darn happy if my home were filled with things like this:

What I was Googling: flow yoga dc.

It’s almost the weekend, woo!

[Posted by Mallory]

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lady gaga’s alejandro video. sex. yawn.

Gaga’s new video for “Alejandro” was released today on the Youtubes, and I just had to watch it. (Me and my roomsies are huuuuuuge fans.) From the very start, let me just say that I get a leeeetle irked with musicians who are so popular they think I want to watch a 9+ minute music video of them lip syncing (“Thriller” excluded, obvi.). Before I go on any more, feast your eyes on this!

This is one of those things where you have to sit back and wonder– is she trying to make a social statement or is she desperately trying to remain culturally relevant by being weird?

First scene: a commentary on gays in the military? Also, she looks like Johnny Depp.  Then there is the usual shocking scene that is sure to get every “pro-family” group (hey, did you see THIS?!) denouncing practically everything, where she simulates sex in nude undies! Yawn, Gaga. It’s been done. Cue the religious symbolism montage! A commentary on the oppression of women in the Catholic church, or a “Like a Virgin” rip-off? COME ON. Annnnnnnd then she is a fembot. Normal. That’s happened before, too. To sum up the rest of the video: sex, sex, gay men, sex, allusions to religion, sex, Gaga trying to have sex with gay men, fembot, obligatory rockstar scene with cool side angles and sun glasses, Gaga ooh la la, machine gun boobs, ambiguous social conflict scenes, sex. Oh, and sex!

I think I have some Gaga-trying-to-shock-me fatigue. But that song sure is catchy. ALE-ALE-JANDRO. ALE-ALE-JANDRO.

[Posted by Kathleen]

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youtube clip of today: boy gaga.

I came across this video while creeping around the internet late last night and I was more than impressed.  I’m not the only one, our delightful friend over at Art of the Record thought so too. Don’t be fooled by his Bieber hair, this kid is AWESOME. He’s better than the Biebs. His Youtube name is greyson97 (wait… was he born in 1997?! Oh my god.). Somebody get this kid a record contract!

[Posted by Kathleen]

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from the creator of the smize…

Before we begin this post, an important statement from your favorite SWTCTW bloggers: “As of Tuesday, May 11, your fearless bloggers now prefer to be referred to as “intoxibellas”, for so many reasons. We will not answer to anything else. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.  Thank you.”

The world as we know it changed today with the announcement of Tyra Banks’ new project, appropriately titled Bankable Books.  Professional smizer TyTy, who claims to be an avid fan of fantasy novels and says she shakes when she enters bookstores, has written (read: paid someone to ghost write) a new series of books that will whisk us away in to a magical land. I cannot even begin to explain… it’s better to post what she wrote.

The story happens in a make-believe place called Modelland – every girl in the world wants to go there because it’s where “Intoxibellas” are trained.  Intoxibellas are drop-dead beautiful, kick-butt fierce and, yeah, maybe they have some powers too.  (But I’m confirming NOTHING! Ha. You gotta wait for the book.)  The story follows a teen girl and her friends who find themselves magically transported to Modelland, even though they’re really not supposed to be there. (Okay, now, that’s ALL I’m saying!)

Modelland has always been a part of my mind and my heart.  As you might know, I step into a bookstore and I shake (really!) because I love books so much.  Ever since I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to pick up a new book and see what worlds the writers had created for me. I especially loved books with strong girls and women – you know, girls with guts, smarts and attitude – and then one day it came to me… MODELLAND!   I’m getting it ready for you through my new division called Bankable Books and now I’m shaking for a different reason…  I’m excited that you’ll be able to read about this magical world that’s been living in my dreams for so many years.

Ahem. That explains so much. Clever points for the name… Modelland (in case you were wondering, it’s pronounced like Model Land) must have been a real stretch!  Secondly, “intoxibellas” sounds like it could be Italian for “drunk girls”. Perhaps it is.  Is it, Mal? Gah, I don’t have all day so I’m going to stop before I really get going. Please share your thoughts on this in the comments section.  You owe it to the world.

I just hope the folks on the Nobel panel are taking notice of this literary contribution.

[Posted by Intoxibella]

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“liddy’s orange”: poem by sharon olds.

Google tells me this is Sharon Olds.

This morning on the Metro, I read the word “adolescence” in my book, and for some reason it reminded of a poem that my class read on one of the first days of AP English my senior year of high school. I love this poem, so I thought I’d share it with you: 

Liddy’s Orange 

The rind lies on the table where Liddy has left it
torn into pieces the size of petals and
curved like petals, rayed out like a
full-blown rose, one touch will make it come apart.
The lining of the rind is wet and chalky as
Devonshire cream, rich as the glaucous
lining of a boiled egg, all that protein
cupped in the rich shell. And the navel,
torn out carefully,
lies there like a fat gold
bouquet, the scar of the stem, picked out
with her nails, and still attached to the white
thorn of the central integument,
lies on the careful heap, a tool laid
down at the end of a ceremony.
All here speaks of ceremony,
the sheen of acrid juice, which is all that is
left of the flesh, the pieces lying in
profound order like natural order,
as if this simply happened, the way her
life at 13 looks like something that’s just
happening, unless you see her
standing over it, delicately clawing it open.

(“Liddy’s Orange” was published in Olds’ 1987 book The Gold Cell, but it seems to have first appeared in an August 1982 issue of The New Yorker.) 

A quick search on the Internets for some background on Sharon Olds led me (obviously) to her Wikipedia page, which included this interesting story: 

In 2005, First Lady Laura Bush invited Olds to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Olds responded, declining the invitation in an open letter published in the October 10th, 2005 issue of The Nation. The letter closes, 

“So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.”  

Get it, girl. 

Happy, er, academic Wednesday? 

[Posted by Mallory]

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