Category Archives: Goodbye

Blank-Wave Arcade

faint
THE FAINT – BLANK-WAVE ARCADE (white vinyl)
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I used to have this tendency to be friends with people who were really cool, and the friendships were entirely shallow.  Now I make a point of only being friends with lame people, and now I love all my friendships!

Just kidding.  My friends are awesome!  But for a small period of time, I was dear dear friends with a very exciting and super cool girl named Melissa.  I met her at the end of junior year of high school.  Probably at a punk rock show.  We had a lot of mutual friends, and she liked talking shit about her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend with me because the girls at Melissa’s private school didn’t know her, but I did.  It also turned out that we went to the same horseback riding overnight camp, but we’d never gone at the same time.  We became fast friends (like you do at that age) and hung out all the time that summer as assistant counselors at the camp we had gone to as children.

Melissa was a grade above me, so at the end of the summer, she moved to Chicago for college.  We stayed in touch and hung out when she came home for holidays, going to shows in Detroit.  Melissa would say cool things like, “For Lent I gave up sobriety.” For Spring Break my senior year, I took the Amtrak train to Chicago to visit her.  She had a haircut like a vulcan and tons of hipster college friends.  She took me to see The (International) Noise Conspiracy at The Metro.  Somehow we ended up hanging out with the band after the show at a makeout party in Logan Square.  This sounds like made up shit, but that was what it was like being friends with Melissa!

Melissa and I had made mix tapes for each other and shared lots of music (she loved Promise Ring), and she was very into the indie dance band thing.  No dance band at that time was better than The Faint.  So catchy and sexy and dirty!  We definitely wore out (blank-wave arcade) more than it’s fair share.  “Worked Up So Sexual” is the sexiest track on this record.

When the summer after my senior came, we were so excited to reunite at camp, but our friendship completely deteriorated.  Somehow, we became bitter enemies.  By the end of the summer, it was obvious we were not going to become friends again, which was really disappointing because I was moving to Chicago to go to the same college as her.  It was a bright flame that burned out fast.

Perhaps our friendship is similar to my love for The Faint.  It was intense and exciting at the time, but it just didn’t last.  I still like (blank-wave arcade), as I still think of the fun times with Melissa fondly, but I’m pretty astute when I know it’s over.

Goodbye, (blank-wave arcade).

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Red

dia frampton
DIA FRAMPTON – RED (red vinyl)
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Dia Frampton was slowly making a splash on the indie scene as part of the sister duo Meg & Dia, but in 2011, she broke out on her own on Season 1 of The Voice.  Now, maybe you’re not a fan of reality TV or music competition shows, but I don’t fucking care!  Cause this is my blog!  But really, regardless of what you think of these kinds of shows, you can’t help but fall in love with Dia Frampton when you watch her cover of Kanye West’s “Hearltess” on The Voice.

I was totally glamoured by the new music competition show.  What most of my close friends don’t know is that I actually auditioned for Season 2.  That’s crazy!  What many of my friends do know is that I will do weird things just to know what it feels like.  Skydiving?  Check!  Cliff jumping?  Check!  Riding in a convertible with a millionaire?  Check!  So, I wondered what the process for auditioning for a music competition was like.

Let me tell you… it sucks.  I think it was June or July.  In New York.  Not even New York… it was in New Jersey!  I took a NJ Transit bus at 6am from Penn Station to who-knows-where near some stadium.  I had to walk on the gravel shoulder of some highway for 30 minutes just to get to the stadium.  And at 7:30am, I was at the end of a very long line.  People slept outside—in June/July stink-sweat weather—to get at the front of the line.  I finally go into the building at 11am.  Yes, that’s over three hours of sweating my baby-fat off while listening to cats sing.  It was not pretty!  And the big tease is that once you get inside, you’re still waiting in line!  And then once you check in, you’re still waiting in line!  And then once you stop waiting in line, you’re waiting in seats in the stadium!  And then the producer judges that pick who move forward in the competition wanted to eat lunch.  Lunch!  So I waited in that seat until 2pm.

Why didn’t I just leave?  I was so close!  I wanted to know what it felt like.  How it worked.  I kept acting like I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t care about the outcome.  But nerves are contagious.  Everyone else freaking out started freaking me out.

Finally, lunch was over and they took us into a private box suite.  We all sat silently as each of us was called up, one at a time, to sing one verse and one chorus of any song.  Everyone in my group was pretty awful.  You could hear a lot of nerves.  You have no idea how awkward you are going to be until you are facing a producer, looking them in the eye, and singing like you have a secret to tell them.  It was very uncomfortable!

I sang “Through the Dark” by KT Tunstall.  I wanted to sing something in my deeper register that wouldn’t trouble me too much, and wasn’t popular enough to have been heard all day long (like the two girls in my group who both sang “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele).  That cocky thirty-something producer’s heartless eyes boring into my soul taught me something that day… I only want to sing for people who don’t give a shit what I sound like.  Which is why I love drunk karaoke.

But I still love The Voice.  I rooted for Dia the whole time.  Her voice is unique and quirky.  I love the song “Walk Away” from Red, her debut album after the show.  And I’m thankful I did not make it onto Season 2 of The Voice because Juliet Simms did, and she is who you want to hear on a music competition show.  Not me!  Her version of “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s Word” is mind-blowing.  My mom and Karen both agree.

Goodbye, Red.

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Back in Black

ac_dc_back_in_black
AC/DC – BACK IN BLACK
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Sometimes it takes a cover of a great song by a current artist to get a young heart interested in greatness.  For instance, Feist’s cover of “Inside and Out” by the Bee Gees, or Destiny’s Child’s cover of “Emotion” by the Bee Gees.  So at 13 years old when 3rd wave ska was taking over Detroit, I went to the Beat Hotel in Berkley and picked up American Skathic, a compilation on Jump Up Records.  Detroit was repped really well!  The Skolars (aka Telegraph), The Suicide Machines, and the Parka Kings!  So good!  Also on this compilation is “Shook Me All Night Long” recorded by Gangster Fun.  I had never listened to AC/DC before, but since I like the song so much, I took the leap out of ska world to take a listen.

AC/DC are just ridiculously good.  Loud.  Fun.  Abrasive.  Catchy.  My next glimpse of the band was the scene in Empire Records when the manager locks his office and plays drums along with “If You Want Blood You’ve Got It”.  Again, such ballsy rock n’ roll!  This is when I knew I was definitely a fan.

For any of my old college buddies, one of the most imposing forces in the Columbia College Audio Arts & Acoustics program was one Jack Alexander.  He is the head of the Live Sound department and used to run sound for AC/DC tours.  When he did reinforcement demos in the live sound suite, he would often crank AC/DC records. I can’t think of the band without being brought back to these intense sessions.  I was the only girl in the class of 25.  Jack called me “madame”.  I’m not sure if it was because I was the only girl or because he didn’t know my name.  Regardless, my love of AC/DC was revamped during college and I used to play “Back in Black” as loud as possible in the morning if I’d had friends spend the night.  I thought it was a great way to wake people up!

In a recent improv class, a girl casually asked me where AC/DC was from and I quickly responded,”Australia”.  Why do I know this shit?  How was I so terrible in history classes in high school, but I can remember inane information about a zillion music artists?  Maybe it’s because of Pop Up Video or something.  If high school teachers turned all classes into game shows and music themed video tutorials, I would most likely be an historian tenured at Harvard as we speak.

Or not…

Goodbye, Back in Black.

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Wild Like Children

tilly-wild like children
TILLY AND THE WALL – WILD LIKE CHILDREN
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If you have never seen Till and the Wall perform live, you are missing out on something special.  Not a “that party was awesome you should have been there” special, but an “I can’t believe this is real so glad I saw this before I died!” special.

Tilly and the Wall do not have a drummer.  They have a tap dancer.  That’s right, a tap dancer.  That’s crazy, right?  When someone (probably Michael) told me this (probably in college) I thought, “this can’t be real!”  It is.  And to see it live is worth every penny!

I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen them.  Somewhere between 1 and 3.  I can definitely remember 1, but I feel I need to chastise myself if that was the only time.  It must be more!  I have a vague memory of also seeing them at a very small venue.  But anyway, this one show I remember was in Seattle.  My friend Karen came with me.  Tilly and the Wall were on tour with Jason Anderson, and that’s not a line up I could pass up.  If you don’t know Jason Anderson, go see him perform as well.  He is incomparable.  I have seen him perform upwards of 30 times in 5 cities.  You don’t know what fun is until you’ve been to one of his shows. Just watch any Youtube clip of him and you will find yourself instantly jealous of every person in that loft/basement/garage/living room.

So, Tilly and the Wall perform, and as expected, they have a tap dancer.  She doesn’t just pound along with the songs—she really dances the rhythms!  She is the hardest working performer in the music industry, hands down.  Needless to say, I enjoy them very much.  I have two videos below so you can hear my favorite song from Wild like Children, “I Always Knew”, and you can watch a live performance with the dancing in action!  Man, I love this band…

Goodbye, Wild Like Children.

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The Pretenders

pretenders-st
THE PRETENDERS – THE PRETENDERS
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As a young female songwriter, I was always looking for icons to look up to.  There was Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, but I needed someone a little tougher.  For any of my friends who have ever seen me with a loofah on my head—especially circa 2005-06 while working at Whole Foods in Seattle—I stole the idea from Chrissie Hynde.  I loved the idea of wearing a bathroom article as a hair ornament.

One time, I was driving my Subaru Outback through Interbay to Ballard to see Billy Childish read poetry with my friend Benny, and I had a loofah on my head.  I needed to hock a loogie, so I opened the door to take care of business at a red light.  Of course I had a million pieces of paper above the sun visor, and as I turned to hock, the loofah knocked all the papers loose.  I reached to grab everything, and then didn’t see where the loogie went.  Like a scene out of There’s Something About Mary, I did the deed but the evidence went missing.  When I reached Ballard, I found the loogie inside the sleeve of my sweatshirt.  Inside!  Don’t ask me how.  But I had to ditch the hoodie and ended up buying a new shirt to wear at Cupcake Royale.  It probably said “Legalize Frostitution” on it.  The moral of the story: don’t loofah and drive.

In 1995, I was 13 years old and right in the beginning of my punk rock revolution.  I had started dying my hair with punky color hair dye, I played electric guitar, and I lied to mother all the time about going to see local bands play The Shelter in Detroit.  Also in 1995, the VH1 Fashion Awards had The Pretenders perform.  I was way too cool for VH1, but I’m sure it was on a Sunday night and I was bored and I had no homework.  Oh, who knows what the circumstances were!  I was watching!  And damn, Chrissie Hynde strutted onto that stage singing “Brass in Pocket” and blew my mind.  I had never seen a woman so feminine and tough all at once.  She looked like she would stab you if you crossed her, yet she was wearing a super short skirt and oozing sex appeal.

I never forgot this moment.  It is really powerful to have a performance leave that strong of an impression.  Musicians perform all the time and can only hope of being as memorable as that 3 minutes from 1995.  I still worship Chrissie Hynde, and I promise to dress up as her from that VH1 performance this coming Halloween.

Goodbye, The Pretenders.

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Genealogies

secret stars
THE SECRET STARS – GENEALOGIES
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I know I already sold a Geoff Farina album (Karate – The Bed is in the Ocean).  It’s not a reflection of him!  Damn, he is a fine songwriter!  The Secret Stars is another of his projects.  Part of the charm of The Secret Stars is their relationship with the band Ida.  These two bands have a history of covering each other’s songs and mentioning each other in their lyrics.  Très adorable!  One of the greatest songs either band ever recorded is The Secret Stars’ “Shoe In”.

Lyric: “Up in heaven you’re a shoe in if you open up your heart to me.”  It just melts your guts.

This, again, is a song that my college friend Andrea put on a mix tape for me.  It’s moody, sad, and lovely.  It makes me feel like riding a train in Chicago on a winter day.  It makes me hopeful and nostalgic.  It makes me yearn for simple love and easy times.  Farina doesn’t need a lot of words or time to paint a picture.  It’s hard to write a song that can make someone cry without feeling depressed, and somehow Farina is a master.

Farina is most definitely a prolific songwriter, but his efforts with The Secret Stars are limited.  Genealogies is the best (in my opinion) of TSS releases.  It is with a heavy heart that I bid adieu…

Goodbye, Genealogies.

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A Rush of Blood to the Head

coldplay_rush
COLDPLAY – A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD
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When I was 17, I went on an ill-fated trip to Europe with my grandma and cousin.  Oh man, do not send your teenage children to a cool destination with their grandmother!  Grandma Jane and I fought the whole three weeks we were gone.

Ten days of those three weeks were on a cruise of the Mediterranean.  Have you ever been on a cruise?  They are awful!  Cruises are for people who don’t like to do stuff. I can tell you I went to Ex-en-Provence in the south of France, but we must have only been docked for 2-3 hours.  Same with Pisa, Italy.  That’s not really seeing a place!   So, don’t go on a cruise.

If you do go on a cruise, hopefully you’ll meet a nice Asian-British boy to distract you from the cantankerous berating from your grandmother.  That’s what I did!  My cousin Lauren and I, along with about 8 other teenagers on the cruise, would sneak into the bar to go dancing at night.  Somehow, even with them checking IDs, we still got in.  My favorite moment on the cruise was when Lauren and I went to the bar during the day–they didn’t check our IDs!  So when the waiter came over, Lauren ordered a Fuzzy Navel and I ordered a Screwdriver.  Then the waiter asked for our IDs.  Lauren says, “I meant a virgin Fuzzy Navel.”  So I mimic her and say, “Yeah, I meant a virgin Screwdriver.”  He looks at me and says, “So, you want an orange juice?”  Totally humiliating.

So, at night, we would somehow sneak into the bar with all of the other teenagers and get drunk and dance to Toni Braxton songs.  I met this Asian-British boy, who may or may not have been named Jeff or William.  Jeff or William took me to his cabin so we could talk (seriously!) and a video came on the TV by Coldplay.  The song was “Yellow”.  I had never heard this band before.  Jeff or William is astounded that I don’t know who they are.  “They are the biggest band in England.  Just wait, in six months, they will be the biggest band in the world,” he said.  I laughed at him.  What an idiot!

Six months later, Coldplays’ Parachutes was released in the States and they were the biggest band in the world.  And damn, if that wasn’t a great album!  So that’s how I came to know and love Coldplay.

As for A Rush of Blood to the Head, “The Scientist” has to be one of the most beautiful songs ever written.  I don’t care if you like Coldplay or not, that song is amazing.  I sing it at karaoke all the time.  My friend Nithya can attest to that.  I think I first heard the song in the movie Wicker Park, which if you haven’t seen it, is actually a really great movie.  I think the previews for it made it seem like a psycho killer kind of movie, but it’s actually a slow-paced mystery and the soundtrack is amazing.

Anyway, “The Scientist” is ridiculously good.  The video makes it even better.  Chris Martin learned how to sing the entire song backwards so they could reverse the footage and make it look like he is doing everything in reverse.  It’s mind-blowing.  Watch it.  And…

Goodbye, A Rush of Blood to the Head.

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Like A Virgin

madonna-like a virgin
MADONNA – LIKE A VIRGIN
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I was not like the other children growing up.  I didn’t take dance class or watch Sesame Street.  I wasn’t even a regular Jew—my family celebrated Christmas.  One of my earlier memories is the Christmas of 1990.  I was eight years old.  I don’t remember much from old memories like this, just glimpses.  But I do remember 3 presents I received that year: a walkman and two cassette tapes.  Aunt Marcie sent me Madonna’s Immaculate collection and Richard Marx’s Repeat Offender.  These were two of the first albums I ever owned (others included New Kids on the Block’s self titled debut, Mariah Carey’s self-titled debut, and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band).

I’m not totally sure why Marcie sent me Richard Marx.  God only knows what she was thinking!  (Okay, “Right Here Waiting” was huge at the time.  Fair enough.)  But Madonna’s Immaculate Collection was genius on her part.  I loved music.  While my peers were watching Eureka’s Castle, I was watching VH1’s Top 10 Countdown.  I thought it was a serious competition.  Was I routing for The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” or Guns N’ Roses’ “G N’ R Lies”?  Oh, who can remember?!  But I wanted to know who was going to take that number 1 spot!  My mom began to worry that music videos were too sexual and warping my mind.  Perhaps she was right?  The world may never know.

I love love loved the video for “Material Girl”.  Yes, okay, music videos were most likely warping my mind!  I remember having vivid daydreams of Madonna being my vocal coach, cone bra and all.  She may have been a salacious performer, but she was simply an icon to me.  A beacon of creativity and abandon.  I wanted to be a singer!  Much to my brother’s annoyance.  I would sing on and on into the night, in bed, after bedtime, serenading Berry the Bear and Swisty the Mouse to the pounding on the wall from my next door neighbor.

Old memories are so curious.  They make simple things seem larger than life.  Liking Madonna when none of my friends knew any music outside of Sharon, Lois, and Bram made me feel like I had this big secret.  I had discovered Madonna!  She was mine!  Along with just about every other human on the planet.  But that is neither here nor there.  This is pre-internet.  I had no idea what was happening outside of Ealy Elementary School, let alone other countries!

So I did become a singer songwriter.  Not with aspirations on the level of Madonna, but a songwriter nonetheless.  I believe we know what we want from a very young age.  The Immaculate Collection cassette and video for “Material Girl” really were the beginning of it all for me.  I am a material girl in a material world!  Just look at my record collection!  And I finally got to see Madonna perform last November.  My friend Chad and I saw her at Madison Square Garden.  She didn’t go on until 11pm, the bitch.  But damn, girl can still work a stage!  She blew my mind.  And even with my mind blown and my memories thrumming my heartstrings, it’s time to say…

Goodbye, Like A Virgin.

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Get The Knack

knack
THE KNACK – GET THE KNACK
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Man, I have never listened to this entire record!  I am terrible about buying a record for one song and only listening to that one song or just the side with the song I like.  But Get The Knack is actually a great pop record!  So fun!

So, obviously, the song I bought this for is “My Sharona”.  The reason I love that song so much is because of high school drama club.  Before every play and musical every year, all of the first show people would get hazed into theatre.  Our hazing was called wu wei.  We would do wu wei on the night of our last dress rehearsal (or was it opening night?).  We would amp people up.  Make them worry.  I say “we”, but I was once a first show freshman!  Freshmen are the best because they get really scared and do things like show up to the theatre wearing goggles and garbage bags over their clothes.  Some people even cried and told their parents.  Babies!

While I absolutely cannot reveal what happens at wu wei because every WBHS thespian is sworn to secrecy in that regard, I can tell you that the climax of the hazing is The Knack’s “My Sharona”.  We all ran around the theatre singing and dancing to this song before every single performance.  It got us really excited!

To this day, I can’t hear “My Sharona” without wanting to run around singing and dancing like an idiot.  But now that I’ve listened to the whole album, I am pleasantly surprised at how solid the whole album is.  It actually makes me think of Weezer’s blue album—great songs and pop mentality.  New songs to like by The Knack: “Oh Tara”, “Maybe Tonight”, “Lucinda”, and “That’s What Little Girls Do”.  I am reluctant now to sell this record, but it’s always going to be hard to say…

Goodbye, Get The Knack.

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Happy Songs for Happy People

Mogwai-happy_songs_for_happy_people

MOGWAI – HAPPY SONGS FOR HAPPY PEOPLE (Out of print)
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You know how everyone has the worst time at prom?  Well, not this gal!  Okay, the first time I went to prom was actually pretty awful.  I was a freshman and my friend Andy, who was a senior, asked if I would go to the prom with his friend (Ben?).  Now, when a senior asks a freshman to go out with his friend, it’s pretty likely that that friend has no social skills and that’s why he couldn’t find anyone to go with him.  I’m not gonna beat around the bush about how I felt about (Ben?)… his favorite band was Stabbing Westward.  I think I’ve made my point.  So anyway, I was in my oddball-punk-rock-emo phase and would not dare to wear a traditional prom dress.  This is 1998 people.  I wore a camouflage dress to prom with (Ben?)!!!  Needless to say, I endured a lot of “Where’s Jayme?  I can’t see her… she’s incognito!” bullshit jokes.

So when it was my senior year, I was not fucking around.

prom

I asked my friend Nolan to come with me.  We ditched school the day of prom and bought outfits at a vintage store in Ferndale, MI.  I got a mod dress.  He let me dye his hair black.  You know you have a good friend when he lets you do something stupid like that.  We had our prom photos taken at Harmony House, the record store I worked at.  What’s more punk rock than prom photos at a record store?!  We went out for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza.  We showed up an hour late.  And after about 45 minutes of “boy, this sucks”, we ditched and went to see Mogwai perform at The Majestic Theatre in Detroit.

Now, I realize Mogwai doesn’t come to the US very often, so not everyone has the opportunity to ditch prom to see them.  But if it’s at all possible, you should definitely make it happen.  It was so loud and intense.  They played a 45 minute “encore” that was just one song.  I recently spoke about this show with my friend Kellan, who also ditched prom that night to be there (See?  Best idea!), and he told me that Mogwai has specifically talked about this show in interviews as being a particularly incredible one.

I haven’t been able to see them again since.  Their shows always sell out.  Two years ago I bought tickets see them and the show got cancelled because of visa issues, and then they cancelled the rescheduled dates for medical reasons.  It was not a good year for Mogwai.

Perhaps I will never get to see them again.  But I will always have prom.  And on that note…

Goodbye, Happy Songs for Happy People.

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