A year(ish) of music

Been a while since I’ve linked to pieces that I’ve written. I mean, admittedly, I’ve not done a huge amount of extra stuff this past year, but my usual glorious New Zealand Musician articles have kept on keeping on.

So here’s a wee round-up. (Excludes CD reviews.)

Anna CoddingtonMy favourite interviews are the rare occasions when I go to the subject’s house. Anna and I chatted while her little bub napped and giggled and had an occasional squawk. He’s delightful – so is she.

PrizegivingWellington gang who make good tunes! We had a good natter over Skype.

Huia. Another glorious home visit. We sat in her little lounge looking over the bush of the Waitakere Ranges and drank coffee and talked about music and communications and motherhood and cats.

Purple Pilgrims. Arguably my favourite musical discovery of the year. Dreamy electronica with all kinds of fascinating instruments to create their own unique sound. And both the sisters (Clementine and Valentine) are amazing beautiful fairy women.

Shunkan. Okay, so this was technically the end of 2015, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet. This was my first fully-fledged cover story, and I felt so goddamn proud. Plus their brand of up-tempo LA-meets-Invercargill rock is just perfection.

And coming soon on the website will be my interview with Paul Cathro and a piece on The Eversons. Keep your eyes peeled.

NZ Music Month – Day 1 – LADYHAWKE

Ladyhawke
Ladyhawke at Big Day Out 2010. Photo by yours truly.

I’ve been a combination of overworked, overwrought and overtired since I kicked off this site, so it has started to feel like a bit of a lost cause at times.

But projects with an end date sometimes feel more achievable, so how about this: my take on NZ Music month. My opinion doesn’t necessarily have any more weight than any other person’s, but I write about music on the reg for NZ Musician, so I have some sort of idea what I’m talking about.

Particularly, though, I’m a fan of the badass women of kiwi music.

So for my version of NZ Music Month, I’ll put up a song or two from a different female artist or female-fronted band each day. And talk a bit about my feelings around the musician and/or music. It’s only 31 days. What could go wrong?

Let’s kick it off with Ladyhawke.

I remember watching the My Delirium video on AltTV (RIP) in my dad’s lounge, back when he lived in a more accessible kind of middle of nowhere (the corner of Scenic Drive and West Coast Road, rather than the Solomon Islands). It wasn’t exactly the sort of genre that I was necessarily devoting myself to at the time – though I was in my first year of uni at the time, and starting to come to terms with allowing myself to like more than garage rock, riot grrrl and punk cabaret – but it was catch as hell. I realised that I’d also heard Paris is Burning not long before. It was such a perfect juxtaposition against the bush outside the window. I was hooked.

I still lived at my mum’s out in Botany at the time. When my friends and I went to town, and drove home together, we cranked Ladyhawke, and I can still remember one of my friends (drunk) attempting (so drunk) to sing along, but giving up except for each time that ‘HEY’ happened in My Delirium.

I bought the French language version of Paris is Burning on iTunes. ITUNES. It’s Paris s’enflamme, and it’s arguably even better than the original, accent aside.

I saw her at Big Day Out in 2010. Back when that existed. It was great. She is great.

I wasn’t as sold on the single from her second album, Anxiety, though given the name I really need to go back and give it another go. But album three is on the way, and my anticipation is back on top.

This is from Ladyhawke’s forthcoming album, Wild Things. It’s coming out the day after my birthday, which is excellent. I’m excited. You should be too.

Sleater-Kinney at the Powerstation February 29th 2016

AKA the most important gig of adult life.

In my teenage years, there were three bands that I ADORED at various times.

The White Stripes were my first ever true musical love. I saw them at Big Day Out 2006.

The Dresden Dolls were an integral part of my older teenage years. I didn’t make all of my American friends via Amanda Palmer’s management team and the Shadowbox forum just by chance. I saw Brian and Amanda play a song together in at a late-late New Years gig in New York in 2009, and then I saw an actual Dresden Dolls show in 2012 in Auckland.

Sleater-Kinney were another story. They were the first band I managed to convince my mum to lend me her credit card in order to buy shirts online. They played at the same Big Day Out as TWS, but I didn’t know who they were. They had a fun picture in the programme. We passed by their stage, then went onto something else. A few months later, they went on indefinite hiatus. A month or two after that was when I really discovered them.

I thought it would never happen.

I was explaining to my friend Sam on the way to the gig that ‘Bury Our Friends’ is possibly my favourite Kinney song, because it represented the unimaginable – nearly ten years after they had released The Woods, here was a NEW album. And it was just as brilliant as ever, and my soul ached with joy for a long time after the single came out, and then again when No Cities To Love came out.

They were touring. I clung to hope. You never know if bands will ever make it down to the Southern Hemisphere, let alone New Zealand, let alone Wellington. Then, in October last year, the announcement. I was at the Wellington Central Library. I squeaked and bit my fist, because library. It was my day off, but I raced over to Unity (approximately 1 minute away, after all) and gasped at all and sundry. Sleater-Kinney are coming to New Zealand. Sleater-Kinney. SLEATER-KINNEY. I have been waiting a decade for this.

Tickets were going on sale that same day, so I went and sat in Civic Square and mooched the free CBD wi-fi and bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale.

***

That was in advance of the concert. It actually happened last night. I had a haircut after work and before the gig, and while walking to the salon I was palpably shaking. I hadn’t experienced this level of excitement for a concert since that first Amanda Palmer middle-of-the-night one, and that was enhanced by the adrenaline that fired every time I thought about the fact that en route to the gig I was probably going to mugged or killed. I was 18 and alone in New York and it was the first time I’d ever been there.

Anyway.

I got the haircut. I met up with Sam and Annelies. We caught up over drinks and Indian food. It was an important part of prepping, to be honest – it meant that I wasn’t getting entirely wild. Just somewhat wild.

We got to the Powerstation just as Mermaidens were taking to the stage. I love a gig that runs to timetable. I’m so not rock’n’roll. They were excellent – shades of Black Sabbath, Nirvana, even a bit of a RHCP funky bass towards the end of their set. They looked so young. They lacked a little cohesion within some of the songs, but the sound and the diversity of the tracks made up for it. I was impressed. Am I wasting my life?

I was never very good at guitar.

Damn.

Mermaidens
Mermaidens at the Powerstation.

I went to get water after they played. $5. I needed to take painkillers because I could feel a headache coming on, so it seemed like a reasonable investment. At the bar, a girl was freaking out at her friend and anyone else who would listen. Sleater-Kinney are in this building. They are going to play here. For us. We are going to see Sleater-Kinney.

I know, I replied. What that actual fuck.

This is amazing.

We cleverly snagged a spot on the step above the main floor area. So we were up nice and close, but we could actually breathe and see. I wore my new t-shirt over my dress because I had nowhere else to put it. It has animal arms on the back, like a hug.

And then, only about 10 minutes after they were scheduled to come on stage (seriously, when does that ever happen?) they were there. Janet, barefoot with a spangly top. Corin, drinking coconut water from a carton. Carrie, queen of high kicks and stage shuffles. What a bunch of babes.

sleater-kinney
Appalling quality photo, highest quality band.

They opened with ‘Pricetag’, followed by ‘Fangless’, both from the new album – but any worries that they would only stick to new material were allayed when they jumped into ‘Oh!’ (complete with me insistently oh-oh-ohhhh-ing along with them – I’m a chronic sing/mouth the words at gigs person, I admit it) and the ‘Get Up’, from One Beat and The Hot Rock respectively.

While they didn’t play anything from the first two albums (Sleater-Kinney and Call the Doctor), which to be fair, makes sense since Janet didn’t drum on those records, they played a really varied combination from the other six. Anything that I actively hoped they would play, they did (the closest I got to actual tears was during ‘Modern Girl’ in the encore). To be fair, I went in without any specific expectations. I just wanted to see them play.

And to be clear, they put on an AMAZING show. There’s always that slight element of fear that things won’t live up to your expectations. I hadn’t watched live footage of them for a long time. People had only said good things about recent concerts, but I was still worried.

But the singing was fab. Corin has a little more control than she used to, so its not quite such a wild sound as on some of the earlier records, but still a big beautiful captivating voice.  Carrie’s was wonderful too, with a little growl in there for fun – and Janet’s backing contributions were always on point.

I need a paragraph dedicated to Carrie’s stage presence, though. She’s beautiful (they all are – it’s motherfucking Sleater-Kinney) but she is also so much fun to watch. Kicks, balances, shuffles, guitar up in the air, facing off with Corin – just constantly a delight to watch. Better than I could have hoped for.

And amazing, amazing guitar playing. From both Carrie and Corin, as well as the extra touring member (augmented Sleater-Kinney, Sam whispered to me), who research tells me is Katie Harkin. And Janet’s drumming – frenetic, constant, unbelievably physical. Special mention to her harmonica in ‘Modern Girl’ too.

powerstation board
Calendar at the Powerstation

The main part of the set wrapped up with ‘The Fox’ and ‘Jumpers’ from The Woods, at which point I was already basically in a can die happy mode. And then the encore. I don’t know how I’d forgotten about ‘Modern Girl’, but I did. They reopened with ‘Start Together’ from The Hot Rock (always has a special place in my heart as the first album of theirs that I bought), and then… that unmistakable opening to ‘Modern Girl’. For once, I didn’t seem to be the only one in my line of sight who was singing along. It was utterly magical (and a slight extra moment of delight when Carrie sung hunger makes me a modern girl, with the whole amazing memoir by that name thing).

And then, ‘Dig Me Out’ from the eponymous album to wrap it up. Lights, flash, heft, spectacular. The lights throughout were perfect. The performances were exactly what you want – faithful to the originals with a little extra kick here and there to remind you that you are in fact listening live. Everything I could have wanted.

Part of me is sad. It has happened. I don’t know when I’ll see them again, if I’ll see them again. If I were more flush with cash and time flexible, I’d be on a plane to see them at their Australian shows too. As it is, though, I just have to close my eyes, flick my mind back, and remind myself that I have actually seen Sleater-Kinney play. And that’s something that I never thought would happen.

t-shirt
The memento.

 

Planet Earth is blue

 

One of my very closest friends in high school was – still is – the biggest David Bowie devotee I’ve ever known. I knew a little – I was already trying to broaden my musical horizons, the way that you do when you’re a teenager with deep feelings of nonconformity.

But Changes gave way to Looking for Satellites and Golden Years and it heralded the start of my investigating music from the past. Apart from my parents’ Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel.

Sometimes we played records, even though it was 2005. There were windows all along the lounge, and the sun shone and so did our hearts. We were fifteen and took on affections of traditions that weren’t our own. Mostly, though, the click wheel of an iPod mini, whirring, stopping, whirring again as we realised we’d overshot it because D is awfully near the start of the alphabet.

We were sixteen and at the beach, and we listened to enough that I started to agree that he was the superior part of Under Pressure. I bought Best of Bowie. I bought Hunky Dory. You had a LiveJournal username homage to a track from Low. We knew all the words – you already did, I learned them by immersion.

We were in our version of teenage love, an impermeable bubble of joy and eternal phone calls. We were learning what love and gender meant. Queer wasn’t a word I could use for myself yet, I was too cautious, too saturated by the surrounding world, but as we unpicked our existences and what they could mean, Bowie was a part of that. Performance of gender, stories of Jagger relations, when you’re a boy, other boys check you out, ‘trisexuality’.

Everything helps.

I’ve never been afraid to be a little off-the-wall – one of my sister’s classmates in primary school told his mum ‘I’d rather be weird than cool’ at a tender age, and we’ve taken that on as a family adage. But at the same time, that particularly package of music and poetry and glamour and fluidity was new, and simultaneously enriching and comforting.

I’ve always liked the idea of getting a lightning bolt tattoo – an homage to formative childhood and teenage influences – Harry Potter (I’m a child of the phenomenon) and David Bowie. It’s been cemented now, with a loss that has been felt far more acutely than I could have ever guessed.

Take your place back up in the stars, you magical man.

BIG DAY OUT 2011

It’s still feeling peculiar writing ’11 for the year. I guess that tends to linger until the end of the summer. Which is creeping alarmingly close, actually. January’s really disappeared rather quickly.

But this blog is not to whine about my perception of time. Nay, this entry is about something far more exciting. For last Friday was the Auckland stop off the Big Day Out. And, unsurprisingly, I was there. It’s become my rule of thumb that if I’m in the country, I go to BDO, because there will always be some bands I love, even if I don’t know it yet. This year’s major drawcard for me was Ms Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, AKA the supergoddess M.I.A.

But that’s getting ahead of myself, really, if I want to describe the day in any kind of chronological fashion. I didn’t go for the queuing for the gates to open approach that I’ve taken a couple of times in the past, since the first band that came under the Need To See heading was The Greenhornes, who weren’t on until after midday. So I turned up around eleven, and caught a little bit of the Kids of ’88 (latest Big Thing in NZ techno-pop), enough to hear a song that I knew, anyway, and the second part of Luger Boa‘s set (although I thought I was listening to Die! Die! Die! – oops) – and then it was time for The Greenhornes. I managed to get a pretty decent front-and-centre type position, and they killed. I haven’t listened to much of them later, but circa ’07 I was pretty into them, what with their Jack White affiliations and the fact that they featured heavily on the soundtrack for Broken Flowers, and I was in my I WANNA BE INDIE SO BAD phase. I was suitably impressed, and intend to reintroduce myself to them.

The day progressed. CSS were adorable, and I’m madly in love with Lovefoxxx. The Silent Disco was fun, for ten minutes or so. What I heard of the Deftones was pretty decent, likewise Wolfmother. The Black Keys regrettably didn’t make it to BDO in the end, so they were off the menu, but Shihad‘s playing through of The General Electric was badASS. Pacifier is an amazing crowd song, it has to be said, and Jon Toogood has some serious flair.

Thennnn a little bit of Iggy and the Stooges was experienced, but we had migrated further up into the stands by this point as the heavens had decided to open. I’m not entirely devastated by this, as I saw them a few years back. C’est la vie. So instead of kind of experiencing them from a vague vantage point, I decided to bail and went to check out The Naked and Famous. I’d seen them open for Florence + The Machine back in August, at the time only knowing one song, and since then they’ve released an album and revealed themselves to be Thoroughly Excellent. Their cover of The Mint Chicks’ Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! was a little overlong, but cool nonetheless.

Post TNAF was Sia. Sia’s one of those musicians I know I should listen to and like, but to be honest, I haven’t really done so yet. I stayed for the first couple of songs, and she was adorable, but I had been informed by all and sundry that Rammstein was a set not to be missed. Pyrotechnics are always a good drawcard. So upon my return to the main stadium stages, I joined the crowd, and was blown away. They were beyond epic, even pyrotechnics aside. I’m currently doing some serious Rammstein investigation, and since many of my uni friends are of somewhat metal-oriented music taste, I’m in good company to learn more. Du Hast was the only song of theirs that I knew in advance, and when they played it the crowd at large went a little cray cray. It was awesome.

Tool were next, and I saw quite a bit of their set, both from ground level and up by the Summit Bar. And although big fans have said their performance this year wasn’t as good as concerts past, I was still impressed, and am also in the process of investigating them. New musics FTW! BUT. Viewing of Tool was cut short because starting at the same time they finished, but over in the Boiler Room, was the aforementioned M.I.A., and crowd permeation was all too necessary.

I had seen M.I.A. once before, at Coachella ’09, and she was spectacular, but I didn’t really know her music beyond Paper Planes, and since she was on the Coachella main stage, the experience was mostly had on the big screens from afar. This time around, with The Boyfriend’s skills and company, we were about two metres from the stage. Can I get a ‘HELL YEAH’?

She looked smoking hot – unfortunately I brought my new little Samsung camera with me which has proven absolutely shocking at managing unblurred concert photos, so I don’t have any of my own to share, and the internet is proving less than fruitful at this point in time. Alas alack. But she did. Let me tell you. She has a fine pair of legs, does Ms Maya. Aesthetics aside, she was in fine form, and the setlist was varied and awesome. She opened with The Message, appropriately, and it was excellent. Bamboo Banga was amazing, Galang filled me with glee and dancey dancey funtimes, Born Free was full-tilt  awesome, and Paper Planes was, of course, hugely crowd-pleasing. It would have been enhanced if she’d played Bucky Done Gun, Jimmy & XXXO, but still.

For the entirety of her set, I think, it was pouring down outside the tent – which kind of made me retract every feeling of malaise I’d had towards her being put in the Boiler Room. We were still damp from sweaty Boiler Roomness and the water spray, but not freezing like the rain had brought upon us all earlier in the day.

I’m not sure if it managed to top BDO ’08, because, I mean, Bjork. And Arcade Fire. But between Rammstein and M.I.A, and others too, there was some seriously amaaaaaze musical action occurring at Mt Smart this year. I’m still debating whether I’ll go to the Laneway festival on Monday – probably not – but either way, it’s been a stellar start to 2011’s musical offerings. Woo!

the summer book et al

A couple of years ago my lovely lovely Welsh penpal sent me a copy of The Summer Book by Tove Jansson in a package of things. What this means for this moment is a) I’m a terrible correspondent via snail mail and should be imprisoned for crimes against Pen Pal Do-Goodery and b) I have finally read it.

Tove Jansson was an author I was vaguely aware of from a reasonably young age – my mother acquired one of the Finn Family Moomintroll books and it sat on my bookshelf forever. I felt it was beneath my eight-year-old dignity to read a book with illustrations of little white hippo-y creatures not only on the cover but throughout the pages. Shock horror.

So it went unread. And regrettably continues to remain in such a stasis because I have no idea where it has gone. BUT, said penpal was a longtime fan of Jansson’s books, and so I was gifted with a copy of one of her adult novels – The Summer Book, as I’ve already said. It took me a while to get into, as it’s quite a floaty narrative style that I have to be in a certain mindset to read for a long period of time, but I decided a couple of weeks ago that I had to Just Do It, as Nike would bid me do. It is summer, after all, and I’m trying to get through all my unread books, so mid-January was ideal The Summer Book reading time. And conveniently, for this matter anyway, I’ve been spending much time on public transport of late, which proved most fruitful in this reading venture.

As much as the book is a novel – or novella, perhaps, when length is properly considered – I found it read more like a series of individual short stories, and I’m sure I’m not the first person to have made this observation. The two key characters of Sophia and her grandmother remain the pivotal part of every chapter, as does the island setting, but each any one chapter’s story could happily exist in its own right, without the chapters on either side to hold it up – there’s really no overarching plot. So it felt more like reading a short story collection which happened to have the same familiar characters recycled than a ‘novel’ in the traditional sense of the word.

As for the actual writing and whatnot, Tove Jansson has a magical way with words – and I’d imagine this comes through to an even greater extent in the original Swedish, but super kudos to whoever the translator was (I can’t be bothered checking right now) because whatever that spark is like in the mother tongue, it still shines through in English. Sophia and her grandmother are both fascinating characters – the grandmother arguably more so, with Sophia being somewhat a quintessential creative-spirited question-asking young girl. The grandmother is SASSY.

Anyway. I recommend it. Go read it, and breathe in the landscape of a Scandinavian island world in summertime.

To keep up the summer theme, here I do suggest a few excellent tracks with ‘Summer’ in the title, to keep you in an appropriately sunshiney mood if you’re a fellow Southern Hemisphere dweller, or to lift your wintery spirits if you’re stuck in northern climes. Go youtube ’em and maybe even download them on iTunes.

SummertimeBeck (or alternatively the Sex Bob-Omb version, obviously)
Summer Love – The Brunettes
The Sweet Sounds of Summer – The Shangri-Las
Cruel Summer – Karen Elson
Summer House – Gold Motel
Summer Girl – Family of the Year
Summerboy – Lady Gaga
Summer in the City – Regina Spektor

Big Day Out related update to follow, y’all. Summer festivals fit in with summery updates, obviously.

Ciao, knives.

THE RETURN OF THE THING

Today, beautiful today, marks the first day of my return to more regular part-time work hours. No more excessive pre-Christmas shifts, no more 7am unlocking of automatic doors to be the Magazines Bitch because I’m nice and fill in for people when they ask. Just one evening and one weekend day chaque semaine, and occasionally an extra day if I’m feeling generous. Which means I can return to THINKING FOR MYSELF! And this includes BLOGGING. And reading, obviously.

So let’s get ourselves caught up. What things – books, music, movies, the usual suspects, duh – have tickled my fancy over the last couple of months as I lay in WordPress stasis?

– Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O’Malley / Edgar Wright)
– Room (Emma Donoghue)
– Voltaire (in general)
– /\/\ /\ Y /\ (M.I.A.)
– Arrested Development

And other stuff too, but for now these are focal points, I suppose.

ESPECIALLY SCOTT PILGRIM.

If you haven’t watched the movie, please go beg/borrow/steal it from somewhere IRL or on the Internet and FIX THIS. Because it is actually hilarious, so… a-maaaaa-zing and various other positive descriptors that may or may not be stolen from the movie itself. The storyline is ridiculous/epic, the visual effects are stunning (apparently the film’s in one of the longlisty things for the SFX Oscar) and the music/acting/EVERYTHING are all badass. Even Michael Cera goes a bit beyond his usual typecast quiet-indie-boy thing. I watched it THREE TIMES in one night a week ago. Three different commentaries, and it was still awesome every time.

And can I return to the brilliance of the soundtrack? It’s not quite the Indie 101 Mixtape that the Twilight soundtracks have been – Eclipse‘s OST was amazing, and redeemed the atrocity that was the movie somewhat – but it may be even better. I would pretty much call it flawless, with no tracks pulling down the overall sound of the album. Deciding to put Metric‘s original version of Black Sheep on the OST instead of the version performed by The Clash At Demonhead in the film was a good call, I feel, because as much as Brie Larson is amazing, she just isn’t Emily Haines, and the instrumentation in the TCAD version is a little lacking. But putting on the Sex Bob-Omb versions of their songs was definitely necessary (although the special edition album does include the Beck originals and they are arguably better… but still. SBO for life)

This has just been movie excitement so far, you’ll notice. But the original Scott Pilgrim-ness (Plumtree song titles aside) comes from the Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novels. And they kick so much ass that it’s hard to deal. There are six of them, and you should buy them and read them all. The characters are more interesting in written/drawn form, I think, mostly due to there being more space and scope for development on the page than with limited screen time. Scott himself is a much cooler character in the graphic novels, for the most part, and you get more insight into supporting characters that the movie alone doesn’t show.

It’s becoming an obsessive thing. I’m probably going to be cosplaying as Ramona Flowers at Wellington Armageddon. BECAUSE I CAN. And because she’s my hair-soul-twin, AND on that note, it gives me a good excuse to keep my hair interesting until then.

But enough with the Pilgrimage. Onto other things of Significance.

If you recall, many moons ago I stated an ambition to Read Important Books That Win Things And Stuff. My most recent addition to that list has been Room, by Emma Donoghue, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year. And by this year, I mean last year. Damn January. It’s an amazing book, with one of the most interesting narrators I’ve encountered recently – I have to say, novelists who manage to convincingly pull off the mind of a ‘different’ child for the duration of a novel impress me no end (case in point – Oskar in Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Giving away the plot would be mean, so instead I will just say GO READ IT. It nearly won the Booker for good reason. Now I just have to track down a copy of The Finkler Question

Next on the list – VOLTAIRE. He was one of those musicians (well a jack of all trades, really) that I knew of, knew I ought to listen to and investigate, but never quite got around to it. But I finally did investigate him, a few months ago, and have been doing more significant reconnaissance in the last couple of weeks. He may be the current king of the goth scene, but that doesn’t mean you should be expecting traditional ‘goth’ sounds à la The Cure’s more sombre and less New Wave moments. It’s macabre, rather than depressing, and I for one take great delight in this particular facet of supposed goth music.

Plus Brian Viglione drums on one of his records. SOLD to the girl who thought about flying to San Francisco for New Years in order to see the Dresden Dolls play. I mean, what?

Basically, go listen to him, and I very much doubt that you’ll regret it. There are Balkan influences, and moments of mariachi-esque glory and every song I’ve heard so far has definitely gotten a tick in the ‘good’ column.

Today’s the 10th of January, which means that  it’s only ELEVEN DAYS until the Big Day Out here in Auckland-town. And this means M.I.A. Hell. Fucking. Yeah. I’ve seen her once before, at Coachella 2009, and she was one of my favourite performers of the whole festival. Which was three days long and basically had the best line-up ever, as far as I was concerned. One thing that IS perplexing me regarding her BDO showings is that she played the main stage at Coachella (and that’s a stage/crowd BDO-goers can’t even fathom in size, really. I mean, it’s HUGE.) and is only playing the Boiler Room at BDO. It takes an extremely good reason for me to enter the Boiler Room at all, but M.I.A. is more than enough to persuade me in, even if she should really be taking her rightful place on one of the blue or orange stages. I’ve only gotten my hands on her latest album, Maya – or /\/\ /\ Y /\ if you want to style it correctly – quite recently, but it’s already being spun with alarming frequency. I think overall I might still prefer Kala, but there are tracks on the new record that I adore – Born Free andXXXO probably being my favourites for the moment. Even if XXXO does have that awkward twitter/iPhone line.

And finally, another item in the ‘I know I should like it but let me get around to it’ files – I have finally watched a decent chunk of Arrested Development. And it’s just as fantastic as everyone has always made it out to be, and I really need to further my viewing and embrace it entirely. Jason Bateman’s awesome, Portia de Rossi is an obvious combo of attractive and badass, and both Alia Shawkat and Michael Cera are SO. ADORABLE.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have books to read and movies to watch. In case you’re interested, my current book pile includes
Anansi Boys
– Alias Grace
– The Hobbit (I JUST HAVE TO GET IT FINISHED)
Middlesex
The Summer Book
– Kafka On The Shore
– Dune
– Three Vampire Tales (includes Dracula, Carmilla and The Vampyre)

I’m going to TRY to finish all of them before summer’s up, but we’ll see how that goes. If I vow to do so, I’ll be more gutted if I don’t manage it, so instead I will merely promise a valiant effort.

Ciao, knives.

Ég er ekki í raun að tala íslensku en hægt er að nota á netinu þýðendum.

I haven’t said much about music lately, aside from grammatical references in pseudo-indie songs of yesteryear. Sure, this blog is called ‘Raw Library’, but it’s not meant to be exclusively about books. Oh no. Because, in fact, I do a lot more music-listening than I do reading/writing, truth be told – probably because it can be more of a background activity, but still. My eventual career ambitions lie around words of the penned variety, yes, but my musical obsession is also significant. I’m the kind of girl who flies places for concerts, wastes her meagre pay on CDs – actual CDs! they still exist! – and is a somewhat badass flute player. Actually, given that my other ‘primary’ instrument is ukulele, I decided I should call myself a ‘fluke player’. Maybe this should be a thing? Maybe not. And because my iTunes shuffle just threw me a track from an album I hadn’t listened to for a while, I decided that the time has come for a vague let’s-poke-around-music-a-bit type post. And this is it.

The track in question is Pad Sést Ekki Sætari Mey (I hope your browsers don’t turn that into Windings) from Gling-Gló by Björk Gu∂mundsdóttir & tríó Gun∂mundar Ingólfssonar – aka Björk and some jazz-tastic friends. AND IT IS SO GOOD. I picked it up on a Wellingtonian adventure a few years back for $5 or something at the Real Groovy on Cuba Street and have appreciated it ever since. The CD is mostly in Icelandic (which is among the most excellent languages on the planet, and which I intend to try to learn some day) save for a couple of tracks in English, and it’s all jazz-ish, and all fantastic. I particularly enjoy the songs which are standards that one recognises EXCEPT THAT THEY’RE IN ICELANDIC.

Anyway. Go listen to it.

A little more shuffle-based clicking was supposed to present me with opportunities to talk about some other CDs too, but nothing inspired me to write anything much except that I rediscovered one of the few songs on the second Raconteurs album that I really liked (Five on the Five, the album being Consolers of the Lonely. It’s not a bad record, it’s just not a patch on their first one. Go listen to Broken Boy Soldiers if somehow you haven’t yet done so). And also the awesomeness of a few OSTs was reminded. Thus, go find the soundtracks for –

  • Whip It
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Mean Girls (obviously)
  • Coffee & Cigarettes
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Ghost World

I’ve also been listening to Unicorn Steak and Fino + Bleed by Die Mannequin, and both records are awesome and deserving of your attention. If you’re in a punk-y mood. They’re Canadian, which obviously makes them a little bit cooler than you automatically. Unless you’re Canadian. Or a kiwi. Or, actually, it depends on the individual in question

Thus ends an entry of a musical nature. Somewhat. Back to reading Trickster and debating the merits of tidying my room. PEACE OUT.