Monday, July 28, 2014

Extended Play: Jack White: Lazaretto

Holy cow Batman, this has been sitting in my drafts folder for too long. So,  I'm a month late and a dollar short, and Jack White's new album really isn't new anymore, but let's chat about it anyway!

I know that some people have issues with Mr. White. A lot of these issues come from interviews; he can easily come off as smug or aloof when doing the talky talk, but he isn't a talker, he is a music maker, so lets put aside all the awkward interviews and focus on the music.  His newest album, Lazaretto, named after a leper colony, tells a wild musical story, there are gritty loud rock and roll assaults, there are soft country songs twangs, and simple sweet songs that are pretty darn addictive.  It is instantly recognizable as Jack White, but there are also elements that sound brand spanking new.

And one of the biggest new elements on this album is the physical album itself.  Jack seems to like the walk the thin line between cray cray and genius. The vinyl version, the "Ultra LP,  of this album is insane. When I first played it, I thought, "Man, why are you making this so complicated." One side of the album plays from the inside out, songs are at different speeds, there are hidden tracks, some tracks are endless loops, and oh yeah, there is a hologram. A hologram. That appears as you play the record. A hologram. Proof via moi:
It's an angel, right above the blue label. 

Here is a little clip of The Jack White talking to Jimmy Fallon about the all the features of the vinyl:



But are all these extras just gimmicks to distract from the music?  Nah. The songs stand on their own,  whether they are blasting digitally from your iPod as you walk the city streets or come from your turntable as you sit cross legged on the floor reading the liner notes.  The extra fancy vinyl just forces you to spend a little more time with the media, to once again be awed that music is coming from this magical spinning disc, and see music as art, rather than disposable entertainment.

Some of my own little notes on the album:

Don't get me wrong, I love a little raucous, go ahead and do a James Brown spin on the subway platform during rush hour, but I am finding myself more and more leaning towards the quieter songs on this album. Alone in My Home, which Jack and friends performed on Conan, looking way pale under mood lighting,  is probably, at this very moment, my favorite track:


"These stones
That are thrown against my bones
Break through
But they hurt less as time goes on"

Other favorites include:

 "Want and Able," is a little tune, and the only song that Jack plays solo, speaks to the tension between things you want and things you are actually able to do or have or accomplish:
"Want said it didn't feel so good
To never be fulfilled.
Forever stressed out, and impatient,
Saying 'just over the next hill.'" 

And

 Entitlement, with it's healthy dose of religious guilt:
"I can't bring myself to take without penance
Or atonement or sweat from my brow"

Jack White is currently touring with this new album, you can check out the tour schedule here. 






Monday, July 21, 2014

My DC


Segways parked outside of the Lincoln Memorial. The mixing of the old and new pretty much sums up DC as a whole, and my life right now as a little part of that magical mystical whole. 

 So many things are familiar and comfortable in this place that I used to call home and am calling it so once again. At times it feels that I never left. But I did leave and things have changed. I've changed. People have moved on. They don't even sell my favorite sandwich in my workplace cafeteria anymore.   And like the wobbling stop-and-go awkward movement of tourists maneuvering Segways among classy marble monuments, sometimes going too slow, sometimes going too fast, and often times missing their mark completely,  I am finding my own odd friction between my old DC life and my new DC life.  For good or bad, I am finding that I can't just pick up the life that I left a year and half ago, which was just silly to expect. So maybe this time it isn't a completely new start for me, maybe it is more of a rebuilding or reclaiming or a hopeful second chance.   

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Inspiration

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

--From "Song of the Open Road," by Walt Whitman (aka Uncle Walt). Pretty close to a perfect poem in my eyes. (Read the entire poem here)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Music to Not Go Crazy By

It took me way to long to think of that post title, and I still am not quite sure that it makes sense, but ((shrug)). 

During the week I can divide the music that I listen to into 2 camps: protest and repose. During my commute, which involves walking and waiting and riding and walking and waiting and walking, I need to blast loud protest songs in-between my ears. I don't know if it is fitting or ironic walking into the work listening to gritty songs of change and protest. Maybe a little bit of both, but I like to think that it reminds me why I picked this career and gets my heart all fired up for a full day of working for the man. Hey, I'm a not a jaded curmudgeon yet (but you kids, GET OFF MY LAWN!). But when I am at my desk, I need a more mellow soundtrack to keep me sane and grounded and focused. I kind of hate to use the word mellow, because I think that sometimes it implies boringness. I don't want or need boring songs. I need songs that makes you feel like you're taking a deep, long breath, a breath that completely fills you up. Here are some of my favorite listens this week:

Water Liars: Let It Breathe

 So beautiful.


George Ezra: Leaving It Up To You:


Every time I listen to him, I have to ask, where is that voice coming from?

Brown Bird: Fingers to the Bone
 
David Lamb, that marvelous voice, lost his battle with cancer earlier this year, but he left his imprint on the world with this music.

Gregory Alan Isakov: Stable Song

Can the soft banjo be anymore beautiful? 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Words: Wisdom

Some favorite quotes from a couple, or three, of this year's reads:

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
"Ursula craved solitude but she hated loneliness, a conundrum that she couldn't even begin to solve."

"What if we got the chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

"Most people muddled through events and only in retrospect realized their significance."

"Scars heal," Sylvie said. "Even the worst ones."


Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Brown
"Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” 

“Numb the dark and you numb the light.” 

“Hope is a function of struggle.”

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert 
“You are still young, so you think only of your own self. You do not notice the tribulations that occur all around you, to other people. Do not protest; it is true. I am not condemning you. I was as selfish as you, when I was your age. It is the custom of the young to be selfish... But someday you will understand that nobody passes through this world without suffering--no matter what you think of them and their supposed good fortune.”

“She wanted to understand the world, and she made a habit of chasing down information to its last hiding place, as though the fate of nations were at stake in every instance.” 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bits and Pieces

** I love it when the rest of the world catches up to (and validates!) my hipness. Is hipness even a word? It sounds funny to me, maybe I should go with another word . . take-over-the-world-with-my-awesomeness? That sounds about right.  I have been raving about The Family Crest, a lovely band from California for a couple of years now. NPR Music has just now named them one of their favorite "new" bands.  I am so under appreciated in my time. But I am super happy that the band is getting more attention, because outside my own head, I guess, NPR has a little more pull in the music world than I do. 

** Maybe I am just acting my age, (finally), but I have become a Golden Girls addict. Sometimes I frantically scroll through the channels, hoping and praying that there is a marathon of every body's favorite feisty Floridians, on somewhere in the universe. I totally forgot how funny that show is. And here is another question for you: is the show retro and/or ironic enough for me to publicly announce my fandom and still keep my  hipster cred, or is it one of the those things you keep to yourself? And since, I am posting about it on a public blog, that's go with the first thing. 

** Discovery of the week: Trader Joe's sells poutine. Poutine! Several years ago I went on a random road trip to Quebec, Canada. I am pretty sure that 95% of the reason I was invited was to help split the cost of the gas, but it was beautiful trip. Everything was beautiful; the people, the countryside, the cities, and the poutine. Poutine, for those who haven't had this foodie delight, is french fries, covered in gravy, and topped with cheese curds. It is everything you crave when you are craving salt. We pretty much it ate it every single day during out trip up North, with no regrets.  I've tried to replicate it stateside, but it hasn't turned out quite right.  But finding a little kit at Trader Joe's which turns out a pretty good taste-a-like, is a game changer. Or it will be, after I figure out what game I am playing. 

** To everyone, and there are a lot of you,  that have told me that I should watch the new version of Battlestar Galactica: YOU WERE RIGHT.  After not being able to find that most hoped for Golden Girls marathon, I finally started watching Battlestar, and I started to feel all the feels. It's intense, it's exciting, it's fun, it has strong female characters, and it has ethical dilemmas.   I love it. My family told me that we used to watch the original show, but honestly, all I remember about the original show was that the Cylons attacked during the Universal Studios ride in California. So I don't have to play the --let's compare this version with the original version-game. But any show/movie about machines taking over, makes me nervously glare at all my appliances and wonder which will be the first to raise up in revolt. I am betting on the blender.  I am resisting the urge to binge watch all four seasons and turn into a real life episode of Portlandia, by telling myself I can only watch it at the gym. It is perfect running distraction for me, because omg, what is going to happen? who is the traitor? please don't let them kill off the president, we finally just got a female president. The bad thing about being a full decade late to this trend, is that everyone is already over talking about it. 

** A little while ago I texted a friend, who I consider to be a superhero expert, asking if there are any superheroes who developed their super powers later on in life. I wanted to know if there is still time for me, and should I start learning how to sew capes. My friend never got back to me. Just by chance, I was listening to old episodes of This American Life this week and I came across this episode, that talked about superheroes. I found it super (get it? ha!)  interesting that when asked what superpowers adults would like to have, ones that had the potential to make our current lives more convenient topped the list. No one really wanted to use their new powers to fight crime or save the world, just get to work faster or not work at all, or impress that cute guy/girl. Everyone wants the flash, no one wants the responsibility. Maybe that is why a lot of superheroes in the comics are young, they still have optimism, that the world is worth saving.

** OK, back to food, because substance of life and all. I'm not going to lie, one of the reasons that I am happy to be back on the east coast is Wegmans, the grocery store. Yes, a grocery store. It has the feel and quality of a very fancy pants gourmet store, but with very reasonable prices.  They also have almost every single strange ingredient for that recipe that that one food blog talked you into trying to make. When I walked through the doors this last weekend, I wanted to hug all the workers, but I didn't because that is just weird. But I did fill my cart with homemade caramelized onion hummus and chocolate croissants as fast as I could.  . .and . . .um . . .fruits and veg, because, healthy. 

** Another reason I love this area: the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival. This year it is being held early, on August 30, and at the Convention Center downtown, instead of on the National Mall. I guess the National Park Service is starting to get all ragey about constantly having to replace the grass on The Mall.  I was pretty neutral going through the list of authors that are going to be there, until I saw . . . . BILLY COLLINS, one of favorite modern day poets.  I might of squealed with delight! I am going to be so ridiculous that day. 

** I love that my new little neighborhood is very pet friendly, especially dog friendly. I think that pet owners usually have a level of compassion that make them great neighbors and great people in general. And usually I don't hear any of the dogs in my building. This all changes during big, loud, booming,  storms when the place practically echoes and shakes not only with thunder and lightening, but with barking. People, please hug your dogs. 

** Friends, can we stop having the paper book vs. ebook date? My usual response is, well, elevators didn't make stairs obsolete. We can have both, we can all be special snowflakes. I have found that I am actually reading more (!) now that I  have access to both paper and electronic collections. And isn't reading the point of if all? And by all, I mean life.