What if?

•May 24, 2011 • 4 Comments

I’ve had a lot of conversations and thoughts recently about “labels”.  We all know them.  There’s the soccer mom, the gay boy, the goth, the prep, the good girl/boy, the bad girl/boy, the nerd, the athlete….the list goes on and on, everyone put into their convenient little corner.  It’s handy, isn’t it?  We can see someone, the way they are dressed or the way they cut their hair, and instantly put them into a category in our minds as we decide how to deal with them.

The problem is that we are not “labels”.  We are people.  Am I a soccer mom?  I guess…considering I have 2 kids, drive the requisite mini-van, and yes, have a child that plays soccer.  The thing is, I am so much more.  I’m a wife, a friend, a writer, a painter, a student, an assistant, and a dreamer.  I still carry with me longings that I had when I was in my teens.  I have gained new ones and dismissed others along the way.  Labels bother me in that they dismiss everything that people are, the fact that we (hopefully) grow and change.  You do others a disservice when you dismiss them as “just” a *insert label here*, for that is not all that they are, and you are missing some really great parts of them. 

As I was thinking about all this, a song has kept running through my mind.  It’s by one of my favorite singers, Emilie Autumn.  I have read a lot of people’s ideas about what this song is truly about.  For me, it is about the fact that no matter how well you may know someone, you really can’t know anyone completely.  The person who is your husband, wife, best friend, or co-worker may be surprised by a reaction you have, or the way you feel about an issue.  Quite frankly, I think many of us may surprise ourselves from time to time, and THAT is the heart of this song in my opinion.  Don’t put me in your box.  Don’t think you know me, because I don’t always know myself, and that’s what it is to be human. 

A little bit of Culcha….

•May 14, 2011 • 1 Comment

Last night was house cleaning night.  In usual fashion, I put in the ear buds and went to work.  Music is a must in general, but I was tired and mentally shot and seriously needed something to keep me going and get me through.  I scrolled through my playlists, searching for something I was in the mood for, something upbeat and fun, something that would lift the exhaustion from my shoulders and get me moving. 

Enter…..Culcha Candela.  I found this band maybe a year ago or more on the culture mix site that I have blogged about before.  Formed in Berlin, Culcha Candela is primarily based in Germany, BUT do not make the mistake of pigeon-holing them into simply being a German band.  Roughly translated, Culcha Candela means “bright culture” and consists of members from 4 different continents and even more countries (Germany, Uganda, Korea, and Columbia to name a few). Needless to say, this creates an interesting mix.  They’re lyrics are a mixture of German, English, Spanish, and Patois and they bring beats and hooks from each culture, mashing them up into an irresistible combination that will get your hips moving…guaranteed. 

One of my favorite songs by them is called “Hamma” which is basically slang for “coolest thing since sliced bread.”  The language is German, but sung in Reggae tones, and put to a latin beat.  Epic!  Plus, I just love the little dance they do to it.

If it’s straight up dance music you’re looking for, Culcha Candela has that as well.  One of their big hits is called “Monsta” and you’ll wish you had a dance floor to hop on when you hear it.  Personally, I use my kitchen.  It’s large and provides the room necessary for me to really get down to this song.

Looking for something a little more latin to shake your booty too?  Look no further.  Culcha is here for that too.  “I Like It” is a familiar song to most, but you’ve never heard it like this before. 

Another thing I love about them is that they are active in helping out charities around the globe and sing out on cultural issues as well. “Schoene Neue Welt” is a great one as well as this one called “African Children” (sung in english for everyone to understand…but the Hebrew subtitles might come in handy for someone as well. lol).

You can find Culcha Candela on their official site.  They are also on MySpace, Facebook, and YES…US iTunes.

8in8

•May 8, 2011 • 2 Comments

Silly me….I meant to blog this last week and totally spaced it!  Better late than never!  This is brilliance and MUST be blogged here.

On April 25th, a group of buddies I generally love to begin with, got together at Berklee College.  Their goal:  to create 8 new songs in 8 hours.  This group consisted of Ben Folds (great songwriter to begin with),  Amanda Palmer (also a great all around performer), Damian Kulash (from OkGo), and Neil Gaiman (yes, the author).  It was all part of the “Rethink Music” conference that happened in Boston and was streamed live for all to be a part of.  People were encouraged to send in title ideas for songs and the magic was created.

Are all the songs completely deep and meaningful?  Nope  Creative and highly entertaining?  Most definitely.  The fact that all these songs were created, written, and recorded from scratch in an 8 hour time period is a miracle in itself.  Add to that the humor of this troop of writers and you’ve got brilliance in my opinion. 

My favorite songs are Because The Origami, The Problem with Saints (hilarious), and I’ll Be My Mirror (which actually has a pretty deep message).  Just clickety-click on the link below to hear the creations of 8 in 8.  Enjoy!

http://music.amandapalmer.net/album/nighty-night

Horror and opera? ooohh yeaaahh!!!

•April 30, 2011 • 1 Comment

In 2008, a movie came out that blew my mind.  An all-star cast was put together to make a movie version of the rock opera called “Repo”.  I’m not necessarily a fan of horror in general, but not because it grosses or freaks me out or anything.  Usually, it’s because I think they’re stupid and I don’t think they’ve created a really good horror movie in years. 

The thing about “Repo: The Genetic Opera” is this…..it’s not necessarily overly horrific.  Yes, there is some blood and gore, but anyone who has a semi-solid stomach could watch it, and more importantly, there’s a REASON behind it. 

Without giving too much away, the basic storyline of Repo is that a plague has hit the human race.  It attacks the body and begins destroying organs.  In the wake of this tragedy, one company has risen from the ashes to provide needed body part transplants.  It works much like a standard loan.  Need your spine replaced?  Absolutely!  Just sign the dotted line!  But (and this is the important part)  should you not keep up on your payments, we reserve the right to repossession.  Yes!  We will send out the Repoman to reclaim that spine directly out of your back.  That liver you required?  We were happy to give it to you, but you haven’t paid for it.  Now, we require it back!  Plastic surgery becomes common and every day.  A new drug is invented called Zydrate.  It is gleaned from the dead and is  highly addictive, creating an underground culture of grave robbers in a highly lucrative business.  

This, however, is a music blog, so why am I talking about this movie?  Because it is, above all else, A ROCK OPERA!  The music is brilliant and tells the story of a world gone to hell in a way that is both clear and complex.  The cast of the movie is truly star-studded and they do all their own singing!   This includes Alexa Vega (from the Spy Kids movies), Paul Sorvino (did you know he’s actually a trained opera singer?), Sarah Brightman (Phantom of the Opera fame), Paris Hilton (ok..generally eww…but she’s REALLY good in this!), Anthony Head (younger brother of Murray Head), and Terrence Zdunich who plays the graverobber and originated the score. 

The music varies from some heavy dance/rock beats, to operatic, to soft and touching.  It truly is a whirlwind ride through the storyline and the music fits every twist and turn in the story perfectly.  In the following scene, Shilo has met up with the graverobber and is learning about this underground trade in a song called “Zydrate Anatomy.”

Another of my favorite songs from the movie is a scene with Sarah Brightman who plays Blind Mag in the movie as she goes to visit Shilo.

I did say some songs were touching…and they are.  However, they come towards the end of the  movie, and I’d rather not give the ENTIRE story away.  This is something you should discover for yourself.  If you absolutely cannot stand the sight of blood at all, at least give yourself a chance to check out the soundtrack as it is truly epic! 

I will leave you with one last song.  It’s a short one, and this is about as gross as the movie gets, just to give you a taste of what you might see if you’re squeamish.  Plus, the song just cracks me up.  “No one ever thanks me when I’m done.  How self-absorbed people can be.”

There are times when something comes along that is truly a gem in the pile of rocks.  Rarely do these gems become box office smashes or gain the attention that they truly deserve.  Instead, they will be found by the few who will truly treasure them and see them for what they are, a true work of art.  Repo: The Genetic Opera is one of these.  Watch it, enjoy it, see it for the treasure it is and then let me know what you think!

The truth about Teitur….

•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

OK, OK….I’ll fess up now.  I have no great truth about Teitur at all….it just sounded good.  The only truth I really know is that I love his music.  His full name is Teitur Lassen and I discovered him (unusually) from his very first album.  Usually, I can tell you exactly HOW I discovered an artist. Not so with Teitur.  I can’t really remember how I came across his first album, Poetry and Aeroplanes. Fate perhaps?  He’s not been on any video channels that I can remember and I don’t recall hearing his song in a commercial.  I just don’t know, and the truth is, it doesn’t really matter. 

Teitur’s music is, in two words, simply lovely.  It’s not complicated, although it isn’t uncomplicated either.  He has beautiful orchestration and there’s a lot going on there, but it all blends so well that you don’t really notice it unless you stop to listen.  His music and voice create a sound that lulls you.  I say that not in a bad way, as if he puts you into some sort of instant coma or something.  What I mean is that it transports you, perhaps back to a time when you were nursing a broken heart, perhaps to private dance you shared with someone in your living room, or perhaps to a windswept rocky beach where the waves crash below you, the cold spray leaving little specks of itself on your wool sweater. 

One of my favorite songs is called “You’re the Ocean”.  I would try to describe it to you, but I’ll let the song speak for itself.

Another great one is called “Sleep With the Lights On”.  I think we have all been in this “place” before and it speaks to that person that we used to be. 

His newest album is called Let the Dog Drive Home.  He’s still as brilliant as he was on his first album and if you’re looking for something a bit moody, a bit mellow, but always delivers, check it out!  Here’s the first single off of it, called “Betty Hedges”.

You can find Teitur on his Official page, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and all of his music on iTunes.

One of my fave blasts from the past…..

•April 17, 2011 • 2 Comments

Why is it that we find a song we love and then forget about it?  I do it all the time.  I am constantly finding new music, so things from a while ago tend to get lost in the shuffle.  I think it is that way for many people.  Then, we hear it again on the radio, or someone brings it up, and we’re hit with a wave of nostalgia and are left saying to ourselves “How could I ever have forgotten?”  I find that happens a lot with this band.  Remember this?

Yep.  It’s Concrete Blonde.  Everyone remembers that song and I’ve never come across anyone that didn’t love it. Yet, it’s a song that is often forgotten in some dark corner of the CD closet in our minds.  It’s a shame, really, because Concrete Blonde was an all around great band.  Johnette Napolitano is, in my opinion, one of the most distinctive and amazing female voices out there.  I love her singing and always will.  They had great musicianship. Their lyrics were interesting and meaningful.   

One of my favorite songs of theirs is called “God Is A Bullet”.  Crank it!

Concrete Blonde reunited for a short time in the early 2000’s, but have officially retired, leaving behind this message:   “Thanks to everyone who heard and believed in the music. Music lives on. Keep listening. Keep believing, keep dreaming. Like a ripple, the music moves and travels and finds you. Drive to the music, Make love to the music, cry to the music. That’s why we made it. Long after we’re gone the music will still be there. Thanks to everyone who helped us bring the music to you & thanks to every face and every heart in every audience all over the world.”

Yes, the music is still here.  We are still listening to it and love it.  Thank you for making it and let’s not forget what we loved about it in the first place. 

In the name of all that is Unheilig….

•April 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It should be no surprise to anyone who knows me that every once in a while, a German band will pop up in this blog.  Granted, most who read this don’t know the language, but really….does that even matter?  Music is universal and it can move you whether you really know what they’re saying or not.  Or, you could be as obsessive as I am and learn the language so that you can understand.  What’s the saying? Learn something new every day?  So here’s your first German lesson.  Unheilig (pronounced oon-high-lig) means Unholy.  There.  Don’t you feel smarter already? 

Unheilig is a band that I discovered on the Culture Mix spot that I blogged about in an earlier post.  Knowing what the name meant, I wondered as I clicked on their link what I was getting myself into.  Was this going to be some ranting, screaming noise with the lead singer dressed all in black and damning us all to be Lucifer’s next meal?    Nope.  The lead singer calls himself “Der Graf” which means “the Count.”  His deep voice can get rather spooky at times, but it’s interesting and different and he uses its potential well, molding it from rather dark to extremely beautiful depending on the song.  The music is a great mix of rock, electronic synth, and orchestration.  They sort of specialize in doing concept albums in which all the songs revolve around a certain theme (Moderne Zeiten or Puppenspieler.)  Listening to Unheilig often covers all of your needs within one album.  There are songs that make you dance, some that make you cry, and some will give you neck cramps from head-banging.  I love that about them.  They are a one stop shop.  The thing is, it’s done so well and so artfully that you don’t even notice.  “Der Graf” makes it all flow together so nicely that you don’t even notice the changes as they come.  It turns each album into one large production of pure genius. 

The first song I listened to is called “Geboren Um Zu Leben” (Born to Live).  I won’t translate the whole thing (if you really want to know, google…it’s out there), but the chorus says this: We were born to live, with the miracle of time, never to forget oneself into eternity.  We were born to live for this one moment.  Because every one of us felt how valuable life is.   WOW!!! 

This song is called Ich Will Alles (I Want Everything) and gives a taste of their more electronic side.  Plus, you just gotta love a band who leaves their stage dark and covered in candles. 

Another beautiful one is called Astronaut (I’ll let you figure out the translation on that one…duh).  The piano in this is heart wrenching.  I am here, by you, your astronaut. I’ll admit it.  This video makes me cry.

Last, but not least, I’ll leave you with a song they did in English to give your ears a German break.  Plus, I’d hate to leave you totally depressed after that last video.  Children, this is Armageddon.

You can find Unheilig on their Official Website, MySpace, and Facebook.  Some of their music is on US iTunes, and some has to be ordered from across the pond.