28 February 2008

What I've Been Reading Lately...

Since I've started my research on music and memory, I look for any research that may exist that seeks to make the same connection. Luckily, I came across Tia DeNora's Music in Everyday Life. Certainly, DeNora went above and beyond my focus; however, she is able to walk the fine line between academic and general press- in that her writing is academic (in that it is well researched and places her own research in the canon of knowledge that exists about the subject), but it isn't so academic that it was a struggle to make it through the text. DeNora conducts research similar to my interests- in that I want to understand how individuals make use of music, as well as how they attach meaning (using an interpretive and symbolic interaction approach).

I've just started this book on Dylan. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I (somehow) was left out of the Dylan experience. I think the years of my life when many people are attracted to his music for the first time, I was too busy listening to Jawbreaker or Superchunk. After seeing Todd Haynes' I'm Not There (which I enthusiastically recommend that everyone watch), I became more interested in Dylan.

And lastly, I'm also reading Peter Martin's Sounds and Society, which thus far has been extremely informative for my upcoming entry into a doctoral program. Martin touches on many of the themes that DeNora also discusses; however, he also places this research within the context of theory- in the hopes that the sociology of music will become more "scientific". I'm thoroughly enjoying it, but as opposed to DeNora, it takes more of my focused attention and interpretation.

09 February 2008

Top Five Songs of January

I've already started the process of thinking about the 2008 Christmas mix, believe it or not. I generally begin putting some of my favorite songs in a folder in my iTunes in January, so as the end of the year approaches, I won't forget those hidden gems that get overshadowed by end of the year big albums.

I decided it might be a good idea to archive the songs and albums that I listened to each month, as well as to share this information with you. I will post at the end of the month the top five songs I have been listening to during the month.

So, without further ado....in no particular order...

1. Serious by Richard Hawley

Hawley ended up on my 2007 mix by happenstance. I was looking for a song to fit in between part one and part two of the mix. Hawley's The Sea Calls seemed suitable given my location and the sentiment helped put the mix into context. It wasn't until after the holidays that I explored his latest release, Lady's Bridge. I think the first couple of weeks of the new year will always be this album.

2. Middle Distance Runner: Sea Wolf

There was a similar experience with Sea Wolf, as Hawley...it wasn't until after the rush of the holidays that I was able to really explore this album. I like the fact that upon revisiting the album, there were others songs that appealed to me. I'm generally like this with an album, the obvious hits and singles overwhelm me. I immediately fall in love with them and it isn't until months pass and with continued listening or surprising shuffle listens, I discover that different songs move me...Middle Distance Runner is one of those songs.

3. The Logical Song: Supertramp

Most of you are probably already familiar with this song. I revisted this song after driving one day and hearing a song that I thought was by Supertramp on the radio. I immediately came home to buy a few of their songs. I discovered not only a secret, hidden love for the band, but also that the song I heard on the radio was not among those I had purchased. Turns out- it was a Styx song. I'm glad I made the mistake though.

4. All I Want Is You: Barry Louis Polisar (Juno Soundtrack)

This soundtrack (as previously mentioned) is one of my favorite albums so far this year. All of Kimya Dawson's music is of course fantastic, but this song initially stood out to me. An extremely sweet love song. "If you were an ocean, I'd learn to float."

5. The Rain Like A Gentle Dream: The Port Huron Statement

Many of you may be unfamiliar with PHS and that is a pity. I'm not sure if this album is being formally released, though it appears you can listen to it on their myspace page. Pressure them to release, pressure them to play a show in your town. You won't regret it.


05 February 2008

Brad the Bartender

I've been thinking about movie soundtracks recently. I suppose it started with buying the Juno soundtrack. Which is not only excellent, but was ranked at #1 for numerous weeks. I can't remember the last time I felt compelled to buy a movie soundtrack (wait...I can check that...) Apparently I haven't felt compelled to buy a soundtrack, the entire time I've been purchasing items on ITUNES. I have a few songs from Footloose and Purple Rain which were helping me work on the book, as I transitioned through my own musical history.

When I think about soundtracks that I adore...Amelie, Garden State, Vanilla Sky, Everything Is Illuminated, Rushmore, Manhattan (strike that- all Woody Allen movies), Brokeback Mountain, The Motorcycle Diaries...and the latest one is Juno. I suppose the real impetus for making me think about soundtrack music and memory is that I have recently been listening to Supertramp. I downloaded Goodbye Stranger and can't help but always be reminded of the scene with William H. Macy in Magnolia, where you realize the reason he wants braces and is sitting in a dark bar ordering soda. You realize it is all for Brad the Bartender. The point is that this song is always tied to this movie. My own memories also accompany it...who I was at the time, what this scene meant to me, the frog that Tim bought me from the movie for Christmas one year...

A good song in a perfect scene will do this. Forever. I will never hear Goodbye Stranger without seeing this scene in my mind.

It didn't stop there. On Sunday, while watching the Superbowl, well actually watching Tom Petty's performance, I found myself reeling back when I heard the song Free Falling. I not only saw the music video and could remember as a young girl identifying with the skater girl, but I also couldn't help but recall Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. I know this may be one of the cheesiest movies...but I will never hear this song without thinking of this moment.

Just in case you want to remind yourself...

And I will never hear Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue...with that clarinet, without seeing and feeling the beginning of Woody Allen's Manhattan.

03 February 2008

Lightspeed Champion

One of my favorite things in this world is when I happen upon new music. Not just a new album by a band I already adore, but rather a completely new artist. I particularly love when this happens just at the time in your life when you feel like you needed to hear this particular artist/album/etc.

Last week, I was listening to NPR's All Songs Considered, which is one of the best ways I have found to discover new music(Thanks to Bob Boilen and folks). I was in the middle of doing various tasks (grading papers, recording attendance) and I heard Boilen remark that the next song he was playing was by a fella who recorded his album with Mike Mogis in Nebraska. Between Boilen and Mogis, I perked up and listened to this new music. Not surprisingly, I immediately fell in love with the song.

The artist is Lightspeed Champion, well, rather the musical project. Lightspeed Champion is the project of Devonte Hynes. I think Hynes is pretty incredible. I anxiously anticipate more of his music to listen to, but this ep- which is called Galaxy of the Lost- was just what I needed.

Check out his webpage here.

Not only is he very talented, but if you read the last post...you have to love someone who gets a kick out of the fabulous spelling errors of others. I urge you to now buy this ep and love it.

Also, Tim and I visited the flea market...where people with record players can still find tons of great records for only $1.00. Tonight, the Superbowl will happen to the a Supertramp soundtrack. Of course, you might could argue with me the "great records" part of this statement.