Depending on the amount of amplification, a guitar can cut a listener to the quick, or it can bludgeon them into submission. That’s why they call them axes. Holding one is like holding a weapon. For thirty years, Kim Gordon wielded her bass axe as a founding member of the band Sonic Youth. The band’s noise-infused rock gave Gordon ample opportunity to pummel her audience and carve a space for herself in the pantheon of American punk rock, but her arsenal isn’t limited to music.
Gordon is also an accomplished visual artist, having exhibited works around the world, and 1993 she co-founded the fashion label X-Girl. In 2015 she adds the title of author to her list of credits with the memoir Girl in a Band.
The book begins with endings: first with Gordon’s marriage to fellow Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore and, as a result, her band. Being in a band with your spouse, touring the world in various cramped vans and buses, seems like a recipe for disaster, but somehow Gordon and Moore made it work. Until it didn’t.
Like her singing, Gordon’s voice on the page goes from menacing growl in one sentence to whisper quiet in the next. The breakup of her marriage colors her memories of her family history, her brother’s struggle with mental illness, and her work with Sonic Youth. There are tabloid details if you want them, but Gordon’s book reads more like purging than exploitation.
Sad but true: some of the best art is inspired by heartbreak. Bjork’s new album is no exception. Now those of you that are thinking she’s just too far out therefor your listening pleasure, remember that heartbreak is universal and something we can all relate to – a pain so intense and profound and utterly devastating. But at the end of that overwhelming sadness, there is hope. Vulnicura is Bjork’s brave musical interpretation of the end of her relationship with her partner, her love, the father of her daughter.
Vulnicura is definitely an album to listen to in it’s entirety, in the correct order. But if I had to narrow it for you, essential tracks are the album opener Stonemilker, Atom Dance featuring Antony Hegarty, and an epic ten minute song called Black Lake. In Black Lake, Bjork proclaims family was always our sacred mutual mission – which you abandoned…At the end of the phrase the strings sustain one melancholic note for several beats, a musical representation of the gravity of this abandonment.
Vulnicura is Bjork’s best album since 2001′s Vespertine, the album that was perhaps inspired by the beginning of the relationship with her ex-partner. Stream or download Vulnicura on freegal. Check out Vespertine through Hoopla. And from now through June of 2015, visit the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York to see a Bjork career retrospective.
Nothing says I love you quite like a mix tape. With a playlist of songs handpicked and shuffled into the perfect order, your sweetie will know just how much and how deeply you care. Listed here are songs guaranteed bring the love. Download tracks or create a streaming playlist. Grab that library card – that’s all you need…
The Very Thought of You, performed by Billie Holiday. I dare you to find another singer who exudes longing and love as well as Billie…
Open Arms, by Journey. “Haters gonna hate,” but in my opinion, Open Arms is one of the all-time best power ballads!
Drunk in Loveby Beyonce. Just to make sure your sweetie gets the point, let Queen Bey do the convincing.
At Lastperformed by Eva Cassidy. When you think of At Last, I know Etta James is on your mind. Give a listen to the second best interpreter of this iconic song, Miss Eva Cassidy. So sad both of these lovely songbirds are no longer with us…
Total Eclipse of the Heart, by Bonnie Tyler. Love likes over the top 80′s production, right? My sweetie and I go into hysterics every time we hear this song!
I’m not the only librarian who loves love songs! Here are recommendations from some of my esteemed colleagues…
Ryan Adams, formerly of Whiskeytown and formerly known for his wantonly reckless behavior, has a new album. This is his first recording in 3 years, self titled, Ryan Adams.
Ryan Adams was once regarded as the Joyce Carol Oates of American singer songwriters. Three years is a long time for fans of his sloppily compiled, pitch perfect songwriting to wait. Hallelujah, it was worth the wait and heck, it is winter and listening to Ryan Adams requires a climate that cleanses the soul.
The new album is full of instantly familiar songs that echo back to days of Ryan Adams stomping and stumbling through western North Carolina. There are slight hints of Lindsey Buckingham guitar chords and just when you think you recognize a riff, the lyrics call you back and require you to pay attention. You should always pay attention to Ryan Adams.
This one is available through HOOPLA.
“They don’t make coats for this kind of cold” – Ryan Adams
These are the tunes that rocked our world in 2014. No joke – there are pirate songs on this list! Arrrr! Luckily, special guest Sarah shows up to save us from Bryan’s terrible picks. Tune in, turn on, check out – its the best music of the year.
As a former writer of Duran Duran fan fiction, it’s pretty much a given I’d appreciate this book, which features not only the fab five, but many of my favorite bands from the 80′s. But even if you enter a rage when Take On Me comes out of your speakers, Mad World will help you understand the events that led up to and influenced the sounds of that decade.
Music fans and journalists Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein interviewed (I’m so jealous!) some of the most notable new wave artists, getting them each to talk about the genesis and recording of their most popular songs. You’ll also read in the artists’ own words tales of the scene, and how some had strong friendships with their fellow new wave bands. And while we’re on the topic, the authors talk about what new wave actually means. The band photos provide an instant step back into the 80′s hairstyles and unique fashion sense often parodied and misunderstood. You’re a fan of mixtapes, right? Majewski and Bernstein recommend some excellent themed mixtapes: bands with interesting names, songs about science, songs from new groups that grew out of old groups…
I’ve already mentioned Duran Duran is represented; other participants include members of New Order, The Smiths (Morrissey and Johnny Marr were obviously interviewed separately), Tears for Fears, Adam Ant, Devo, A Flock of Seagulls, and INXS to name a few. And don’t forget to check our catalog, Hoopla, and freegal when you’re inspired to listen to these bands.
When the Coen Brothers write and direct a film you know two things, you’re going to see a really good movie and you’re going to hear a really fabulous soundtrack. The Coen’s latest film Inside Llewyn Davis does not disappoint.
The film, loosely inspired by the life of American folk singer Dave Van Ronk, “follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.” Oscar Isaac plays the lead character of Llewyn. Not only does Isaac’s do a great job acting he also does an amazing job singing. His voice is soulful and impressive.
Inside Llewyn Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.
The moment I finished watching the movie, I ran to the computer to see if the library had the soundtrack….they did … was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
Earlier this week the Americana Music Festival payed tribute to the poet laureate of Rock, & Roll, honoring Jackson Browne with the “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award. Previous recipients include Johnny Cash, Steve Earle and Joan Baez.
Mr. Browne is a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), Nukefree.org, and the Success Through the Arts Foundation, which provides educational opportunities for students in South Los Angeles. He is also a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and was the fourth recipient of the John Steinbeck Award.
Now that we have covered the awards, let’s get to the music. The first time, the heartbreak, the deluge, the dreamers, the dancers, you know the early good ones. Then there came the pop ones, the political wake-up calls, the yearning and learning and finally the return to love. None of Jackson Browne’s albums from the past 40 years better reflects the spirit of Nashville than the 1977 release, Running on Empty. Sure, we all remember the load out, the roadies, Rosie, the falsetto, but “phone calls long distance” now knocks us to our knees. The return visit is better than you remember and you may find the listen more than just familiar.
I’ve never met hip hop artist/record producer Big Boi, but I happen to know he and I have at least one thing in common: a love of England’s fierce songstress Kate Bush. On August 26th, Kate will kick off 22 nights in residence at London’s Eventim, Apollo Hammersmith at a concert event she’s calling “Before the Dawn.” Tickets sold out in mere minutes. It has been 35 years since Kate’s first and only tour. If you’ve never listened to Kate Bush, trust me (and Big Boi) when I tell you she is an artist to cherish. You’ll be hard pressed to find a singer/songwriter with more passion, insight, bravery, and total commitment to her art.
Kate grew up in the English countryside listening to her older brother’s prog rock records, playing the piano, organ, & violin, and voraciously reading the classics. When she recorded her first demo in her teens, Pink Floyd Guitarist Dave Gilmour was one of the first to acknowledge her unique talent. He acted as an executive producer and guest musician on several of her albums.
Kate’s lyrics have always been inspired by literature and film. Her first album The Kick Inside included the sweeping and wondrous anti-pop hit song Wuthering Heights, helping create a whole new generation of Bronte fans. Her second album Lionheart features a song called Hammer Horror, a straight-up shout-out to Hammer Films.
Kate’s album The Sensual World is considered by many fans and critics alike to be her best. The title track is loosely based on James Joyce’s Molly Bloom soliloquy from Ulysses (loosely based because Joyce’s estate refused to grant permission.) This is an album filled with lust, love, and life.
I expect the excitement surrounding Kate’s 22 night concert series will bring her yet another generation of admirers. Big Boi and I will keep doing our part to sing her praises. Give Kate Bush a listen, and just try to resist her powerful charms!
A tremendous, thoughtful, tuneful, just over 36 minute work by Bob Mould – full of bittersweet, longing and often melodic tunes. I find myself letting it immediately play over in the car as the music washes over me in a comforting way during a somewhat stressful time.
Of course for those of you who remember or dug the mid ’80s independent force Husker Du provided – along with the Minutemen from San Pedro, Minneapolis’ Replacements and the Meat Puppets in their Heyday will know Bob once fronted (and thankfully didn’t blow out his vocal chords!) that seminal band. Then went on to form Sugar (Copper Blue a highwater mark) and has since put out several generally very impressive recordings.
This one has great songs from the beginning with the title track followed by “The Breach” - a great opening one-two. I find myself really enjoying snippets of lyrics and the overall, forward blasting yet melodic feel of this recording throughout. “Mile Marker 17″ is another gem as is the memorable “I’m Sorry, Baby, You Can’t Stand in my Light Any More”. The credits: Bob Mould, vocals, guitar, bass, percussion, keyboards, programming; with Jon Wurster, drums. (and very good drumming I might add). Mr. Mould’s guitar playing is stellar and instantly recognizable as being “his sound” throughout this recording. Great indeed.
Bob has written an autobiography a couple years after this was released (in 2009) and has dealt with a lot of painful issues including the loss of his father and addresses some personal demons here so it’s an emotionally charged album for sure. The past and present is refracted through a prism of reality, reconciliation and the need to move forward again. Many well thought out lyrics abound when you can get them…
Also available through Hoopla so check it out or stream it; you won’t regret it.