09 February 2011

Summer in February

It's really cold here. Negative degrees cold. Multiple feet of snow cold. Hours of car window defrosting, car pushing, snow shoveling cold.

I like the cold much more than I like the heat. And in about four or five months I'm sure I'll be wishing for a little piece of what I have now. But sometimes it's nice to think of summer in the winter, when you aren't actual melting from heat. Just like it's nice to think of winter in the summer, when you don't get a brain freeze just from standing outside.

So with that I present a little mix:

Just some summery songs to listen to when it's really cold, when you aren't actually bothered by heat. And a nice Blingee complete with Justin Bieber and a font made of my own handwriting!

Here's the track listing:
1. Holiday Shores - Phones Don't Feud
2. Washed Out - Feel It All Around
3. Wavves - King of the Beach
4. Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
5. Surfer Blood - Swim
6. Kid Cudi, Best Coast, and Rostam Batmanglij - All Summer
7. Neon Indian - Deadbeat Summer
8. Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday
9. Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime
10. Best Coast - Sun Was High (So Was I)
11. The Beach Boys - Kokomo
12. Weezer - Island in the Sun
13. Cults - Go Outside
14. Toro Y Moi - Blessa
15. Ducktails and Panda Bear - Killin' the Vibe
16. Washed Out - New Theory

14 December 2010

Teen Dream by Beach House

I hate end-of-year rankings, particularly with music. I've said it before and I'll say it more. But I am dedicating this post to my favorite album of 2010. I'm not ranking anything except this one album, which is my #1. I also don't want to say it's the "best" album of 2010 because I hate that concept. And before the year is up I'll post my favorite songs of the year -- in no order, except for one song, which is my favorite of the year (but that's for later).

So if any of you know me at all, you know that my favorite album of 2010 was hands-down, without a doubt, no contest: Teen Dream by Beach House.

Before Teen Dream, Beach House meant, to me: mellow, sleepy, thick. I really liked Devotion and Beach House but they didn't particularly speak to me. I've never been one for more lo-fi sounds and with Animal Collective and Radiohead making music at the same time as Beach House and Devotion, I just wasn't into more sleepy sounds.
It was around this time last year that I heard about the new Beach House album leaking. I really try to stay away from leaks, especially of bands I really like. To me, possibly sacrificing quality and the intended finished product for sake of getting music sooner isn't worth it (the exception to this was the grand Christmas 2008 leak of Merriweather Post Pavilion because who am I to ignore a Christmas miracle?). My friends don't feel the same way about album leaks and I was slowly being repeatedly told how good Teen Dream was. I listened to "Norway," which was on Beach House's website. I was completely blown away. And I grabbed the leak immediately. I also bought the album the week it came out, which, as I suspected, was on a completely different level. Aside from the accompanying DVD of music videos, which added a whole other layer of interpretation, the quality of the actual album was so much better than the leak. I didn't even think the quality of the leak (a vinyl rip) was bad until I heard how it was intended to be heard.

Teen Dream
, though only 10 tracks, is too big and vast in its perfection and my love for it to do it justice just talking about the album in a general way. So this is something I never do; that is, break the album down by song.
  • "Zebra"
Unlike "Saltwater" and "Wedding Bell," the opening tracks on Beach House and Devotion, respectively, "Zebra" opens Teen Dream with a single, crystal-clear sound: that of Alex Scally's guitar. After his guitar, the sounds delicately layer on one another rather than exploding all at once. Victoria Legrand's voice, Scally's back-up vocals, Daniel Franz's percussion are simple, clear sounds that just move along, meet up with each other, and continue along together. The second verse comes with more pronounced support of Scally's back-up vocals and Legrand sings with a slightly (very slightly) heightened sense of urgency. "Zebra" is all about building. Beach House is gently leading you into 49 minutes of bliss and they're doing it carefully. Incidentally, for a really long time I thought the chorus went "black and white whores." You might be thinking "But the song is called 'Zebra,' why would you ever think 'whores' before 'horse?'" I don't have an answer for you and it probably says more about me than not. The realization that it was "horse" and not "whores" came hand-in-hand with the realization that Victoria Legrand does the main vocals, not Alex Scally. Her voice is so raw and androgynous and that, mixed with me listening to music mostly sung by males without super deep voices (Panda Bear, Thom Yorke, etc), caused me to totally betray my feminist views and automatically assume it was Scally taking the lead and Legrand lending support.
By the time the chorus is finished, Franz's percussion comes boldly sweeping in. At this point it sounds less like the vocals are being supported by guitar and percussion and more like the three are coming at you at once. But all of the elements are still very simple and clear, making it just sound stronger, not chaotic. The sound gets stronger and stronger through the second chorus until there's a beautiful moment where the drums drop out and it's just Scally's guitar and Legrand's voice and very subtle percussion. But as Legrand sings the last vocals of the song, "among us," Franz's drumming again builds up from the background to carry the song with Scally's guitar and Legrand's keyboard until the end.
  • "Silver Soul"
Disclaimer: "Silver Soul" is my favorite song on Teen Dream. There are lots of reasons for it: the lyrics, the strength of Legrand's voice, how fucking sweet Scally's guitar is . . . but most of all it's how it all comes together to make this amazing, beautiful, sparkly gem. "Silver Soul" really is like crystal filled with fresh snow, but, you know, in song form.
This true for a lot of songs, especially Beach House songs, but listening to "Silver Soul" on headphones is totally otherworldly. I can do it over and over again (and have, and will). Which, coincidentally, is not something I've done since I was a teenager.
Legrand's lyrics have such great imagery without being too concrete. Not that I have anything against super straightforward lyrics . . . that's one of the main things I love about Panda Bear's songs. But Legrand's lyrics let you follow along with her, but she's barely holding your hand the entire time, your fingers are barely touching, so you're having your own entire experience:
The bodies lying in the sand,
They're moving in the dark
It is so quick to get us in,
Feel it moving through our skin

It's a sickness,
Infinite quickness, yea
Also, I don't know anything about guitars. So I can't say for sure what it is about Scally's guitar in "Silver Soul" that gets me. It just rips. It's totally sexy and powerful without overpowering any other elements of the song. There are times when I listen to "Silver Soul" that I just completely focus on the guitar sounds. It makes the song move faster than it does normally and totally underlines the steaming sexuality of "Silver Soul." And I'm not kidding when I say steaming sexuality. When you really listen to it, to the breathy vocals, to the full-on powerful guitar, to the delicate keys, to the light but insistent drums pounding, to the vocals with words like "the silver soul is running through," "it gathers heat without you," and the ever-present "it is happening again," . . . I think to say the song is about sex doesn't give it enough credit. It's about sexuality, sensuality, movement, heat.
In a lot of ways, Teen Dream itself is arguably a very sexual album. But its sexuality is not overt (no lyrical mention of sex or sexuality or any other slang version) while at the same time is, when it's present, is all-consuming. "Silver Soul" is the first really powerful suggestion of this sexuality, which will be really heightened by the time "10 Mile Stereo" comes along.
But sexuality aside, "Silver Soul" is such a great example of how far Beach House has come as a band: in terms of instrumentation and production, it's much more advanced than songs on Beach House and Devotion.

  • "Norway"
When you're coming down from "Silver Soul" you might notice that the music doesn't stop. The gentle lead-in of "Zebra" is far away now, you just heard Victoria Legrand wail "It is happening again" over and over in your ear along with somewhat inaudible back-up vocals from Alex Scally and you're left spent with only the buzz of Legrand's keyboard. Before you can tell if "Silver Soul" has ended yet, Legrand is back in your ears again with "Norway," being sexy, breathing in and out. And Scally's back, too, with some back-up sexy breathing and a liquidy guitar. Franz's drumming is more tribal sounding here, a constant backbone, even when Legrand switches seamlessly from feminine breathiness back to the commanding androgyny of her vocals. As she sings something that sounds almost fairytale-like:
We were sleeping 'til
You came along,
With your tiny heart

You led us in the wooden
To share in all the wealth

Scally's guitar whines behind her and by the time Legrand repeats "Norway," it seems oddly fitting: there's nothing in "Norway" that directly cites the country but, as an American who has never been to Norway (or out of the country at all, except to England), it matches perfectly this vision of Norway as a snowy, otherworldly place, possibly inhabited by gnomes or something.
But "Norway" is sensual, too . . . you can just hear how Scally's and Legrand's fingers are dancing over the strings and keys of their instruments. And you can also hear the song's heartbeat in Franz's drums. When Legrand sings "Where you thinking that you're gonna run to now, with the beating of a tiny heart," it's as if she's giving Franz a little shout out as well as an urge to keep going because she knows we are not going anymore, not in the song, not in the album.
Legrand's ultra-feminine breathing that backs up the chorus is a perfect display of her power as a vocalist. You can have her womanly sounds (which nearly sounds like moaning), but she's not a little woman there to breathe in your ear. Legrand is no doubt a talented organist but her most powerful, and most personal, tool is her voice, especially when she yells out "Norway" amidst some drum bashing and guitar strumming and still takes the lead of all the sounds.

  • "Walk in the Park"
I think Beach House did a really wise thing with placing "Walk in the Park" here. Teen Dream isn't exhausting; it still has that mellow feel Beach House is known for. But after "Silver Soul" and "Norway," Beach House has taken you up up up up and with "Walk in the Park" they're going to keep you up, but gently.
"Walk in the Park" is also another really great showcase of Scally's guitar. It's deep in the beginning, bass-y even. Paired with Legrand's deep opening vocals, it's a classic build-up to the chorus, which sees Legrand's voice going higher and Scally's guitar getting higher, too, and more complicated. Her voice and his guitar have always been the hand-in-hand driving force of Beach House and here you see just how well they support each other.
"Walk in the Park" really shows Beach House as a pop band. I don't mean "pop" as a negative here, as it so often tends to be with more "indie" bands. The way Scally's guitar and Legrand's voice descend back after the first chorus and ascend when the chorus comes again is so classic sounding. It has distinct parts, which can easily be a bad or boring thing, but of course, this is Beach House, so it's not anything but awesome and beautiful.
I think one of the things that makes "Walk in the Park" so good (besides everything else I already said) are the last repeating lines:
More . . .
You want more . . .
You tell me,
More only time can run me
Which repeat over and over until the end. But really it's just the words that repeat: Legrand does not sing it the exact same way each time and Scally's guitar, again, changes along with her voice. The feeling in her voice changes too: calm, absolute, insisting, almost angry, powerful. Describing the end this way makes it sound completely schizophrenic. But again, this is Beach House. The changes in the way she sings each repeat are super subtle and it's really one of the nuggets of brilliance you find after multiple and close listenings. And the end of the song is fitting, for the beginning: a classic fadeout. Not only is this another pop song signal, but hearing Legrand's voice fade out slowly reminds you of the gentleness of the band you're listening to.

  • "Used to Be"
Every time the song changes on Teen Dream, you hear the care that Beach House put into the record. The songs aren't just on the record for a reason, they're there on the record for a reason. There's a few seconds of silence at the very end of "Walk in the Park" that clears away for the clean, crisp, light, champagneish opening of "Used to Be." I almost don't want to call the sound a thump, even though that's what it is, because it's so gentle. "Walk in the Park" let you go easily and "Used to Be" isn't about to just throw you into the deep end. And leave it to Victoria Legrand to somehow sing the opening lines both softly and powerfully:
You are coming home,
Are you still alone,
Are you not the same as you used to be
Each syllable she sings is enhanced by a key she's pressing, which makes her words sound even more like crystal or glass. And when more sounds are added (percussion, back-up vocals), they are done so softly. It's a "Zebra"-like layering of delicate sounds, which Beach House has done so well in the past with Beach House and Devotion. And as the first chorus ends comes the build-up that Beach House is also so good at: Daniel Franz's drums come up again, from the darkness somewhere in the background, Legrand's voice gets stronger, the overall sound of the song gets fuller.
I want to devote some space to the vocals after the second chorus, the repetition of "Coming home any day now." I'm not about to compare my own singing voice to that of Legrand's but I can say this: it physically hurts me to sing this part. I'm a 22 year old girl who sang soprano in choir and I can't come close. And yes, she has a naturally beautiful voice (unlike me) and years of training (unlike me) but it just totally blows my mind that her voice can do this. It is so high and feminine she sounds like a fairy singing. This is also another factor in my initial belief that Alex Scally was the main singer: I thought Scally sang the main vocals and then Legrand came in for parts like this one. Because surely someone can't sing so high and so low so equally beautifully. But it's in a section like this how apparent it is that this isn't someone: Victoria Legrand isn't some singer, Beach House isn't some band. If she was and they were, moments like this wouldn't exist. And I can also say, from my own first-hand account, that moments like these are replicated so beautifully and flawlessly live that it's hard to not feel compelled to bow down at Scally and Legrand's feet.

  • "Lover of Mine"
"Lover of Mine" marks the beginning of the second half of Teen Dream. When you look at the last five songs in a really vague way, you can sense the ultra-slow build that will peak with "10 Mile Stereo," dip with "Real Love" and then level out with "Take Care" on the same plane that "Zebra" started with.
A lot of sounds open "Lover of Mine" and they continue to add onto each other until Legrand's vocals come in and the other sounds step back slightly. The beginning of the lyrics add to the cohesiveness of Teen Dream:
You hear my cry
Lover of mine

No tear in the eye or
Fear in my mind

The forest is thick
And we don't recognize
We parted our lips and
We reached from inside

You've got this imagery, this sexuality, this woodland-ness that the vocals of the past five songs have touched on.
I also think Legrand's voice does something cool with these lyrics:
In a wide open field
We know we can feel
Awake and unreal
When she sings these lines, "field," "feel," and "unreal" sound almost identical, making the lines sort of meld together. The following, repeated line, "Off to nowhere," is more distinct, but is supported by back-up vocals from Scally. I wouldn't expect Beach House to have a song called "Lover of Mine" without sounds and feelings joining together and whirling around. Even when the sound is from a single source (like Legrand's voice) . . . because, after all, no one says a lover has to be someone else besides yourself (though, the lines "Need more people to be satisfied" might suggest that this lone-love is not optimal).
The name Teen Dream is abstract (unlike other similarly-titled albums that were released this year . . . don't even get me started on that) but at the same time so concrete, especially for those of us who were a teen not too long ago (four years for me). But Legrand and Scally aren't old . . . 10 years ago they were both teenagers, too. Ten years is a really good amount of time to provide perspective without clouding memories. To me, "Lover of Mine" might be the best illustration of the idea of a teen dream:
The only thing you've got
You know you're
Better off without it
If you're a lonely teenager and all you've got is this dream of a lover you don't have but cry out for . . . when you look back at it, those terrible, soul-engulfing crushes, they might be embarrassing if for no other reason than their pointlessness. You might even be inclined to realize you're better off without it. Analyzing lyrics, especially ones like this, is sort of silly and don't do the songs justice, in my opinion. But I just can't help, after so many listens, to think about this kind of stuff.

  • "Better Times"
I really love how "Better Times" starts out. Simple keys, light percussion, Victoria Legrand's voice getting extra deep. And the first verses are a great buildup: the end of the second verse, which is "Thought I wasn't looking anymore," is a great way to start telling a story. Not to mention it's paired with some increased Daniel Franz percussion and the addition of ultra-smooth, bass-y sounding guitar from Alex Scally.
These lyrics:

I don't want to know
I don't want to know
We don't need the sign
To know of
Better times
to me are a nice, subtle continuation of the thoughts behind "Lover of Mine," as the lover in "Better Times" is real, part of the story. Not a teenage obsession, but a relationship that comes out of more maturity. Which I think is a sure mark of better times, in general.
There's a really nice part when Legrand repeats this verse:
Running around cause you beat yourself up
And you made a crack
And the one that you love is gone
How much longer can you play with fire
Before you turn into a liar
and the music sort of pauses (but not completely) a little to let Legrand's voice be undoubtedly front-and-center. And, like any other repeated lines in any other Beach House song, there's nothing identical or over-processed sounding. The second time she sings the lines sounds even fuller and more mature than the first time. Plus she says "fire" like fiyah and "liar" like lie, which, with a voice like her's, sounds awesome.
AND THEN we come to one of my favorite little moments on all of Teen Dream. After "lie," Legrand breathes "huh" and "oh" and then there's a pause. She stops singing but the music doesn't stop completely; it's the same sound here that opens "Better Times" and it's alone for just a couple of seconds before all of the other sounds we've heard in the song AND THEN SOME come back at you along with Legrand belting a long, raw, "I" to begin "I've been around before." It's a really small moment and hard to describe in words, but it's beautiful, goosebump-inducing stuff. My car used to have extra sensitive windshield wipers; the slightest bump in the road could send them off on full-blast. I can't tell you how many times, when Legrand's voice and the rest of the music came bursting out that I would involuntarily bang the palm of my hand against my steering wheel in time with the music and set off my windshield wipers, and startle myself every time.
And one last thing: I defy to find someone that sings the word "smoke" more awesomely and sexily than Victoria Legrand in the last verse of "Better Times."

  • "10 Mile Stereo"
The single, constant percussion thump that begins the first four seconds of "10 Mile Stereo" lets you know what song this is going to be: BUMPIN'. But, more eloquently, this heartbeat-like drumming sets you up for what's going to be the glittery climax of Teen Dream. Though by climax, I don't mean "highest point" and I certainly don't mean it to imply that the remaining two songs that follow are an afterthought or not as good. I mean it in a much more primal, sexual way.
The beginning lyrics contain two challenges:
They say we will go far
But they don't know how far
We'll go
followed later by

They say we can throw far
But they don't know how far
We throw
I think it would be really easy to equate "they" with "critics" and "we" with "Beach House," which I think is an oversimplification but might not be entirely off the mark. By the end of the second challenge Legrand poses to her listeners there's still over four minutes left in the song. To me, more than anything, it's the sense of a challenge that comes with these words that are most powerful and rather than imagining it as Legrand saying "Beach House will be around for a long time," I think it has much more of an immediate effect of "check this shit out." Especially since the sounds build more and more with each line that she sings. Like I've said before, Beach House is not about in-your-face music. They're not going to push you into anything. They're building you up slowly, like the good lovers that they are.
The first time Legrand sings the chorus, it's not quite as grand and expansive as you might expect. She sings it rather softly, for a chorus, and clearly. But by now you should know that just because Legrand sings something one way now, doesn't mean it's going to be same next time she sings it. And the more complex-sounding guitar and keys that follow afterward further suggest to the buildup, as does the line "In the heat of a night, We would cry, You are not mine."
The second chorus comes with the music bumping faster behind Legrand, who draws the words out a little more this time, which really allows her voice to fill the sound. And here a line from the first chorus, "Tear a moment from the days, That carry us on," is changed to "Bright pyramids at night, That carry us on." I just want to say here how beautiful and amazing it is to hear Legrand belt (and she does belt) that line live on the Teen Dream tour with their stage set-up. Though the stage changed throughout the tour there were ever-present pyramidal shapes that stood bright against the usually-dark, usually-nighttime stage.
It's the second and third chorus that the whole climactic feeling is really present, as both choruses are back-to-back. Legrand does not hold back at all when she's singing the third chorus, and neither does Scally or Franz, Scally's guitar sliding back and forth along Legrand's voice and Franz punctuating her words with cymbal crashes. And when she ends the chorus (and the song) with the new lines "Love's like a pantheon, It carries on forever," I can't help but think not of an architectural dome but of the pulsating orgasm that Legrand's voice is emulating here, which not only does not sound like it will end, but you don't want it to end.
But of course, Beach House is not going to just cut you off. Her voice fades out slowly, the instruments scale back, and the song ends in a glittery afterglow. Oh, and also, the album's not even done!

  • "Real Love"
Before Teen Dream, when I thought of a song called "Real Love," I thought of The Beatles. The Beatles' "Real Love" is not exactly super upbeat (no "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" or "Twist and Shout") but it is undoubtedly optimistic, not dark, and, above all else, a classic-sounding pop song.
But the opening sounds of Beach House's "Real Love" are a different story. And for good reason: after what you've just experienced with "10 Mile Stereo" an upbeat love song wouldn't feel right. You know right away that you'll still be coming down with "Real Love" with the deep, dark, opening piano and the faint sounds of what sounds like clacking crystal in the back. There's some very light percussion in the background, but the beginning is very much just Victoria Legrand and her keyboard. Her voice is, I think, the most soulful it's ever been here and still without being overbearing. And when she sings, "There's someone in that room, That frightens you when they go boom," she does it with such care that she sounds nearly heartbreakingly nurturing, even when she goes on to repeat that frightening "boom."
And you know, the real beauty in Victoria Legrand's voice is her ability to juxtapose such different sounds seamlessly, and to do so both on record and live. When she sings the line, "The color you say is black," it's almost indescribable how she enunciates "black." But it is big and it is powerful and it totally emphasizes the darkness of "Real Love." But she immediately follows it with such a gentle, almost cracking, "Is the one you might lack." Her voice is not scary or diva-ish or even entirely sad (though there are touches of that here) but it's instead just lying in bed with you, trying to discuss your relationship in that emotional, post-sex time (this song does follow "10 Mile Stereo," remember).
There's also a moment (which happens twice, actually) in "Real Love" that is another one of my favorites on Teen Dream because it highlights my love for the English language. I would argue that my confusing "horse" with "whores" in "Zebra" is another instance of this, but that was unintentional, so it sort of doesn't count. What I'm talking about it Legrand repeating "I met you." First she says "I metchu." Then she says, very clearly, "I met you." I can't quite place what it is I love about this. It sounds like something that comes out of a serious talk: she says it once conversationally, blending the words together. But then the repeats it, more distinctly, more profoundly, more seriously. That, followed with a few painful "oh"s, some more sound coming in from both Scally and Franz, and the lines that follow:
There's something wrong with our hearts
When they beat pure they stand apart
brings out the sadness in Legrand's voice, the likes of which haven't really been shown until now, and I'm including in that Beach House and Devotion. This continues with the lines:
Real love
It finds you somewhere
With your back to it
This is certainly not the "Real Love" of The Beatles, who sang:
No need to be alone
It's real love, it's real,
Yes it's real love, it's real
Are you getting really sad?? Hold on! After the second pair of "I met you" and "oh," the tone of the song shifts. The piano gets lighter and higher and some lighter percussion comes in. Legrand ends the song with the lines
You know, you know,
We belong
By the stream,
To the dawn
repeated a couple of times. Though not identical and not necessarily related, the lines "We belong by the stream to the dawn," ties back, at least in feeling if not in a little bit of the imagery, to the lines "With our legs on the edge, And our feet on the horizon," in "10 Mile Stereo." "Real Love" is not a breakup song. It might be a "serious talk" song or a "relationship evaluation" song, but it's not over. And neither is Teen Dream . . .

  • "Take Care"
It would be unlike Beach House and Teen Dream as a whole to end the album on anything less than hopeful. And so, "Take Care" comes waltzing in as Teen Dream's closing track. Are you feeling a little anxious or a little down after "Real Love?" Don't worry, Victoria Legrand (and her keyboard and Alex Scally and Daniel Franz) is here to reassure you:
Stand beside it,
We can hide the way
It makes us glow,
It's no good unless it grows,
Feel this burning
Love of mine
In fact, I would argue that "Take Care" is all about reassurance. Not necessarily in a super concrete way, though it does have Legrand repeating "I'll take care of you," and it's hard to feel troubled with that being sung into your ears.
There is a sense of longing here as, as always, Beach House is not about to force you into anything: "I'll take care of you, If you ask me to." Beach House is here for you, you know. And I'm sure to say Beach House here rather than just Victoria Legrand because while "Real Love" was very much centered on her voice and her keyboard, "Take Care" has that familiar full-band feel that is not so much supporting Legrand's voice but, as they've done before, strolling along side her.
If I had to use one word to describe "Take Care" it would be: nice. Especially as the song winds down and Legrand adds the further reassurance:
I'll take care of you
Take care of you
Take care of you
That's true
And it is true. "Take Care" is the longest song on Teen Dream because Beach House has just shared this beautiful experience with you and they're not just going to turn you loose. They're going to let you go gently. With each repeat of Legrand's voice and Scally's guitar and Franz's drums reminding you that they'll take care of you, Beach House, which has been holding your hand with varying degrees of pressure for the past forty or so minutes, is giving you a soft pat on the hand. "Take Care" is like lovers saying goodbye after spending a night together: it's over, but it's not the end.

If you immediately begin Teen Dream again after listening to it, it's beautiful how "Take Care" works into "Zebra." It's almost like a mathematical formula: "Love's like a pantheon, it carries on" = Teen Dream = love = "like a pantheon, it carries on forever."

I'm no expert on music but I've listened to a whole lot of it and Teen Dream is one of my favorite albums ever. It is so beautiful and perfect it simply just stands on its own: Beach House's fourth album can't top Teen Dream and can't be a let down from Teen Dream; it's too complete for that.

If you haven't bought (or, my god, even listened to) Teen Dream yet, I urge urge urge urge urge you to do so.

Thank you music, thank you Sub Pop, thank you Beach House, thank you Teen Dream.

10 December 2010

The Future Is A Scary Time

Reading old journals of mine makes me feel like I can tell the future. I've always kept journals, and pretty meticulous ones. When I read back on them and read about something and say now what's going to happen, like seeing a cute boy and wonder if he's going to talk to me ("he won't") or wondering if I'll ever get out of New Orleans ("you will") or thinking of a future that includes all of the friends I had at the time ("it won't").
But another interesting aspect of these old journals, which range from around 1st grade (1994-1995) to present, is the cultural stuff. Music and movies I loved and hated, the evolution of technology. Some of the journals, especially the really old ones, contain illustrations that I'm pretty sure only I can understand. Think of Charlie Kelly's dream journal from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and you'll get a feeling for what I'm talking about here.

I have one pretty long entry from around third grade, complete with illustrations, of this magical box I really wanted. This magical box:
- glowed
- played music
- was a little TV
- had computer games
- went with me everywhere
What I envisioned was essentially a small cube with light glowing out of it that pretty much did whatever I wanted. I alluded to this magic box's impossibility in my journal, but I was so into the idea of having a little music player and TV and computer game thing that I totally bought into it anyway. Along with flying cars and jetpacks and all of that.
Fast forward less than 15 years and I have an iPhone. Which is everything I imagined my magical box to be, except more and better. I didn't really realize this until somewhat recently after re-reading an old journal and laughing at my naivety for thinking some sort of little magic box thing could exist. Until I realized that it does and I own one.
Like most things, since I followed along with technology, the magic box/iPhone didn't hit me because it was a natural progression. I didn't even notice that this crazy magical thing I thought up was real.
Which totally freaks me out in terms of the future. What will be here in 15 or 50 years. It shouldn't freak me out because my magical box dream came true and iPhones are great and awesome. But it makes me wonder what seemingly crazy or outlandish thing I could think of right now that would be embarrassingly far-fetched will be a real fucking thing not too far into the future.
It's like watching an old movie almost. Like Casablanca. Watching it now, it's a World War II movie (and romance and all that, but let's stick with this theme). And now, we (basically) know everything about World War II: what happened, towns that were destroyed, people who died, how it ended.
But Casablanca came out in late 1942, early 1943. When it premiered in New York in 1942, anyone could say "Pearl Harbor happened less than a year ago." Less than a year ago! Casablanca was a movie about World War II during World War II. The people in it, the people who made it, the people who watched it, didn't know what was going to happen. It wasn't a historical movie or a World War II movie. It was a movie.
It's just things like that that make the future and history and time very tangible to me. Tangible and overwhelming.

27 September 2010


I am madly in love with all of my friends. I'm completely serious.
Tonight is my last night visiting Savannah. I've been here almost three weeks. I had a job interview in Atlanta and then kept on going to Savannah to see Ben and Allie. I got to Savannah on a Wednesday and when the next Wednesday rolled around I figured, might as well stay for the next weekend. My days were filled perfectly: naps, good food, good smokes, awful movies and TV, and most importantly, time with my two best friends. Although I did get food poisoning during my second weekend here . . . from licking brownie batter off a spoon. But even that wasn't so bad because Ben took care of me; after I boarded myself up in the bathroom and lost all color in my face and was covered in sweat, I laid in Ben's bed while he put frozen peas on my head and fed me a bagel and Diet Coke and played a history podcast for me.
I knew that the next weekend a ton of friends were coming to Savannah, but I wasn't planning on staying. They were all coming to a wedding I wasn't invited to and I was a little nervous about it seeming weird for me to be in town but not for the wedding like everyone else. Plus Chase and Lesley were going to stay with Ben and Allie and I didn't want to burden them with putting up three people. But then Robert, whom I hadn't seen in over a year, convinced me to stay. And by convinced me to stay I mean he offered me a place in his hotel room and the thought of seeing him and other friends that I also hadn't seen in over a year sealed the deal pretty quick.
I'm not going to go into details about every little thing we all did because that's boring to those who weren't there. And I can't even describe properly how I felt . . . to see everyone back together again after what seemed like forever and at the same time as if no time had passed. Especially Friday night when everyone was in town by then and the looming knowledge that in 48 hours everyone would be gone again hadn't settled in yet. I can't remember the last time I was so happy. Or had so much fun or was bursting with so much love for so many people. I gave and received so many hugs and kisses and dances and winks and smiles.
Meeting new people and living in new places and doing new things are all great. But it just really can't beat being in the arms of the boys and girls I love desperately. I used to be jealous of people who met their husbands/wives in college since, after a certain point, it was clear I wasn't going to meet a husband in college. But instead of one soul mate, I found a whole group of them.
I love them all. I love that they all love me and they all love one another. And even though the short length of the reunion was sort of devastating, that sadness could never beat the happiness of being together, of everything being the way it's supposed to be.
Pictures of the Special Friend Times
Song of the Weekend

15 September 2010

This "man"

Everyone knows Hitler. I would argue that he's one of the most iconic figures, in terms of looks. Particularly because of the fucking 'stache.
But you know what's crazy? Really looking at a picture of him. I mean really looking. Forget for a second who he is, what he did. And just look.
What's striking is how harmless he looks. He just sort of looks like a dick. But if you take away the stupid mustache he's not super masculine. He's not feminine or anything, but he's a little only the jowl-y side. Especially when he was older. But he doesn't look like a mass murderer.
But then of course, he does look like a mass murderer because he's probably what comes to mind when someone says "mass murderer." But when I look at his face it is so terrifying to me how this man, who was just a man, was behind the Holocaust.