Happy Music Friday: Beach House Edition

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Beach House

“A lot of people listening to music now just go, ‘Good tones…’ and that’s it. But we’re obsessed with songs. Sometimes, I feel like people aren’t even listening to our songs, they’re just listening to the sound.” – Victoria Legrand

Even though I posted a Happy Music –>Insert Edition Here<– on Wednesday I can’t let a weekend slip by without some tuneage.

I’ve been listening to the hell out of some Beach House. I love their floaty, fuzzy sound. They’re technically classified as a dream-pop band, but whatevs. Labels are so…labely.

You can hear their influences on every album (60s pop/folk, Brian Wilson, Neil Young and The Zombies) and Victoria Legrand’s deep, throaty, husky voice carries the ethereal sound over the top.

Victoria is the niece of the lauded French composer Michel Jean Legrand so there’s no doubt where her musical chops descended from.

There’s a great interview in the Village Voice along with some of my favorite tracks (below) from DevotionTeen Dream and Bloom, which is the collective’s most recent album.

Now get out your bean bag and a fluffy throw and prepare to sink into a deep, dreamlike state in three…two…one…

Don’t forget to breathe.

You Came To Me from the album Devotion
We Have Signal: Live From Birmingham (The Bottle Tree, Birmingham Alabama)
This is where I first heard of Beach House. Hooray for Public Televison! 
 

Gila from the album Devotion

Norway from the album Teen Dream
Pitchfork Special Presentation: Beach House
This may be my favorite song off the album (Zebra is a close second). I love the off-key and kind of drunk-sounding keyboard. It adds a lot of texture.

Lover Of Mine from the album Teen Dream

Wild from the album Bloom
 Later With Jools Holland
I can’t decide which performance from this television apperance is better so I’ll just post both.

Lazuli from the album Bloom

Happy Music Friday (On Wednesday): Amurrrika Edition

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Fireworks Demotivational Poster

My dog (much like this poor child) does not care for fireworks. Nope. Not one itty bit.

No time machines were used during the writing of this post.

It’s just that Wednesday happens to be the Fourth of July and that does not jibe with my usual Happy Music Friday post. Especially when I had the idea to post some songs that somehow relate to America.

No real patriotic jibber jabber here. You will find enough of that on pretty much any available outlet on Wednesday.

This is more of a fun collection of music that loosely relates to good ol’ Amurrrika.

Yeehaw!

 

David Bowie – Young Americans

This song is filled with references to the not-so-picket-fence side of America (ghettos, Nixon, racism, violence against women, the Vietnam War). Hooray for realism disguised behind a poppy little number complete with saxophone.

 

The Doors – L’America (LA Woman)

I need a lava lamp for this one.

 

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – American Girl

I always liked this song because of the story it told. Not necessarily a happy one, but alas…that is life.

 

Bruce Spingsteen – Born In The USA

The Boss in East Berlin circa 1998. Consider this your history lesson for today.

 

Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t include this. I can totally hear the bombs bursting in air.

 

Team America World Police Theme Song

Because you can’t say “America” without also hearing this in your head.

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This is the second guest post on my new blog/project, Connective Individualism.

Connective Individualism

This week’s guest post is by another personal inspiration, Linsi Brownson.

I began following Linsi’s blog, Inspired Design Daily, last year while at the height of my interior design classes. I enjoyed her design insight as well as her honest and witty candor. She made me to want to begin blogging for myself, both personally and professionally.

Besides being in the same industry (design) she also has a knack for social media and marketing which also happen to be two of my other favorite things.

We share the philosophy that creating successful change for your own business revolves around creating connections with other people.

This is part of what led to Linsi and fellow blogger and wardrobe coach, Nicole Longstreath of The Wardrobe Code, to found Spark Collaborative — a team of creatives and social media geeks whose sole purpose is helping entrepreneurs and small business thrive online in an…

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Happy Music Friday: Chromatics

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Chromatics

“I drank the water and I felt alright. I took a pill almost every night. In my mind I was waiting for change. While the world just stayed the same.” – Chromatics, “Kill For Love”

If you haven’t heard of Chromatics you are missing out on one of the best electronic bands that Portland has to offer.

I knew their music but wasn’t a rabid fan until I watched Drive. The soundtrack is amazeballs and is totally worth a listen on it’s own. Cliff Martinez built the score based on 80s synth-pop loveliness and I think I’ve listened to it at least three times a day every day since adding to to my Spotify account this past weekend.

I won’t gush on about the band but if you like sultry, floaty, etherial vocals and songs that offer a variety of moods and tempo then you owe it to your ears to find their first full-length album Night Drive. It’s by far my favorite.

Chromatics have also done some pretty solid covers of a couple of my favorite songs by Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. I never would have thought that their sound would have worked with two staples of the rock-and-roll-guitar world but they managed to pull it off and give the songs a new feeling.

They also covered Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”. Several bands have covered the song but this is by far my favorite.

Connective Individualism: We Are All Under The Influence

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I wanted to share the new blog that I have been working on over the past few months. It took me some time to hammer out the details, but the idea has been with me for the better part of a year.

Here’s a little excerpt from my first post. I hope you find time to visit my thoughts there from time to time and even feel inspired to include your own inspirations in life.

Cheers,

E

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CONNECTIVE INDIVIDUALISM

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accident of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” – Aurelius Augustinus

In the last few years I had lost a large number of friends due to the changes that life brings (promotions, moving out of state, traveling abroad, and the most permanent change of all, death). I still kept in touch with these people on a semi-regular basis and knew the basics of how their lives were moving along, but I really missed the closeness of our collective friendships.

I could always count on seeing them on a weekly — if not daily — basis. We went on road trips and vacations together. We attended one another’s weddings and funerals. We cooked together and threw parties together. We wrote books together, played music together and loved each other unconditionally. We were a family.

As each person’s life grew and expanded, we grew farther apart, even though we all expressed nothing but good wishes and luck in the new endeavors. It seemed that geography would separate us on more than a physical level — it would separate us emotionally and spiritually. As time passed, however, I learned that distance could not take away our connection to one another. It would only change it and transform it into something new.

Yellow Butterfly

Change and transformation are something that humans run from every day. We set up routines in life so that we do not have to experience change. We try to put the inevitable on hold in a myriad of ways by recalling the perceived magnificence of youth rather than accepting our present state of being and wisdom, holding onto relationships or careers that no longer fulfill us, remaining stuck in a behavior or thought pattern that no longer match our current emotional state, and even refusing to better ourselves or create new goals for fear that we are unworthy of the greatness that might lay in store.

We are all caterpillars who refuse to become butterflies. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for us, we have no choice in the matter. That is to be our fate. It’s sad to resist such a beautiful outcome, but we do it every day, and have done so since time immemorial.

While contemplating my perceived lost relationships, I realized that they were not really lost at all. They had simply transformed into something more beautiful and more real. These weren’t relationships that were to be short-lived and forgotten, or the opposite, life-long and stagnant. They were honest relationships that have proven to withstand everything that the world could throw at them and still come out swinging. They are champions.

http://connectiveindividualism.wordpress.com/

Happy Music Friday: The National

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The National

“It’s odd, very vulnerable, and slightly embarrassing to be standing and singing and playing music in front of a bunch of strangers. None of us are showbiz types, or entertainers or extroverts, so when we’re performing, we close our eyes, think about the songs, and just sink into the music. If we become self-conscious about the fact that we’re standing on stage it’s too weird.” – Matt Berninger

Yep! The time has arrived yet again. Happy Music Friday!

I would say today’s HMF is less on the happy side and more on the side of slight ennui mixed with a little liquor and a depressing French film. Not that I’m in a downer of a mood. I’m just really digging The National lately.

I love Matt Berninger’s deep baritone voice and how he kind of does this mumbly-talky thing rather than actually singing, even though he has a great voice. It’s very deep and melodic and soothing. Kind of like Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen.

One of my favorite songs. This video makes it all the more epic with the casting (Kristen Schaal, John Slattery, and James Urbaniak).

Bloodbuzz Ohio is one of my favorites. There are a few lines that never leave my head and I literally have them pop in and out of my brain’s airspace frequently: “I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees,” and “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe. I never thought about love when I thought about home.”

Some old-school material from The Cherry Tree

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

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Ray Bradbury

“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They’re Caeser’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal.’ Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.” [Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451]

While I can’t say I’ve read all of Bradbury’s books or short stories, the one I can vouch for is Fahrenheit 451.

It was one of those “required” books that I read because I had to, but that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it. I think perhaps the only book I was ever made to read for school that I did not enjoy at all was Animal Farm. Somehow it just didn’t work for me and I loathed even picking it up (and this coming from the girl who actually enjoyed reading The Good Earth).

The idea of talking animals just rubbed me raw. I would have preferred them to be human. I did like Charlotte’s Web, though, and read it several times. I guess I just prefer dancing pigs to talking porcine revolutionaries.

It didn’t help much that no one explained to me that it was a freaking treatise on the evils of Stalinism and how absolute power corrupts absolutely. I just thought it was a barn yard full of talking animals. Way to go, public education!

Upon hearing of Bradbury’s death I decided to read 451 again but I’ll have to buy another copy. I lent mine to someone in college and it never found it’s way back to me. I honestly can’t even remember who I gave it to but hopefully it still resides on a bookshelf and is repeatedly taken down, read lovingly and dog-eared to death.

Books are the stuff of miracles. They transport you to a different place and time and give you an experience that you could not otherwise have. They are one of my first loves and it took me years to be able to actually write in and mark my books. I felt like I was betraying them! They kept me entertained like no fancy device ever could and the way the smelled and felt — especially the older ones — was like holding a bit of history in my hands. They are perfect in every way. I love them.

Fahrenheit 451

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.” [Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451]

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

Happy Music Friday: J Tillman’s Latest Incarnation

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J Tillman

“I thought that playing music professionally was kind of the be all and end all. It was kind of the only thing I imagined myself doing.” – J Tillman

In case you aren’t up on the American folk music scene, let me introduce you to a little known but much beloved artist, known simply as J Tillman.

J (Josh) began playing in 2001 with Philadelphia’s Saxon Shore and then moved it on over to Seattle to join Fleet Foxes as their drummer and one portion of the three-part harmony sound that the band is best known for.

Since 2009 I’ve seen Fleet Foxes three times and I can say every time is a new and beautiful experience. When I heard that Tillman was leaving I was sure that there would be no one who could replace his humor and musical talent, and most especially, his voice.

His new gig under the name Father John Misty brings him again to the spotlight (much like when he did with previous solo albums) and I’m happily digging his new adventure.

Father John Misty

“Jesus Christ, girl. I laid up for hours in a daze. Retracing the expanse of your American back with Adderall and weed in my veins.” [Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Father John Misty]

“ ‘Misty is a drunk, shamanic drifter character offering you a cup of his home-brewed ayahuasca tea,” is how Tillman describes his musical alter-ego, a persona that has decidedly more in common with Charles Bukowski than Ziggy Stardust. There is nothing naive or sentimental about him. He’s a loner who doesn’t see the world as being worth saving. ‘Father John Misty’ is not really even meant to be taken as a literal person, more like an avatar of mischief. He likes to needle people a little and freak ‘em out. But I could’ve called him ‘Steve.’”

There’s a great interview over at Apes On Tape where he explains his thoughts on music, his process, the literary influences on his work and his interest in pagan rituals.

And now for some tunage from a few of Tillman’s many incarnations…

DIY: Moss Paint…It’s What’s Up | My Latest Project at Inspired Design Daily

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Moss Covered Chair

Moss can be used to cover a variety of items, from chairs to brick walls to garden art.

“Moss. Huh. Good God, ya’ll…what is it good for? Absolutely everything.” [To the tune of “War” by Edwin Starr]

If you haven’t already discovered that my brain’s neural pathways are fraught with lyrics and useless pop culture then you obviously haven’t been reading my mindless drivel often enough.

Besides Starr’s groovy 1969 Motown hit, the other thing that popped into my head when I was researching how to make moss-related stuffs was Moss Manfrom He-Man and The Masters of The Universe.

My best friend from childhood had pretty much every awesome toy that was made for boys back in the 80s. Along with my slightly more condensed She-Ra collection we ruled the neighborhood, taking down Skeletor and his nasty brother Hordak, all before the street lights came on.

Now back to the moss.

Moss From My Backyard

I love moss.

Everything about it.

It’s texture, smell and color are so…mossy!

It will cover almost anything, from bricks to roofs to rock-covered forest floors. I have always wanted to have a moss garden of my own, but I never really thought about how that would happen. I just thought it was something that only nature could do — until now!

I stumbled upon a couple of recipes for making moss paint using milk, buttermilk, dry milk, beer and yogurt. Considering that none of these products would be useful in our home after the moss paint was made, I opted for the beer.

What’s DIYing without a little alcohol, right? Especially on the weekends.

The recipe I used came from green art maven Helen Nodding and it is nothing more than moss, 12 ounces of beer, half-a-teaspoon of sugar, and a paint brush.

Supplies

Just wash the moss with water to remove as much dirt as possible (a rinse in a colander was enough for me) then throw into a blender with the sugar and beer.

You may want to start on a low setting and gradually work up to the highest. It seems that the more you incorporate into the mixture, the better. It forms a kind of foamy slurry that sticks to the surface of the objects you wish to paint.

Moss In The Blender With Beer And Sugar

I chose to paint one of my terracotta torchiers.

I had originally planned to scrape and repaint them, but somehow a moss-covered piece seemed more interesting. It hasn’t had enough time to grow yet, but I’m hopeful that in a few weeks I’ll have some fluffy greenness sprouting.

Painting The Moss Slurry

[Original Post: http://www.inspired-design-daily.com/2012/05/17/diy-moss-paint/]

Where The Wild Things Mourn: Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

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Maurice Sendak

. . .from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions. Fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives. They continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things. – Maurice Sendak

I heard about Maurice Sendak‘s passing today while listening to NPR’s Morning Edition.

I have to say that it broke a little piece of my heart.

A tiny piece that still believes I’m a seven year-old sitting in the floor of the library at Webster Elementary listening to Mrs. Gonce reading Where The Wild Things Are  for about the fortieth time.

I was a pretty voracious reader and could easily spend hours lying on my bed and devouring anything I could get my hands on.

Almost every weekend I would either check-out books from the school library, or if we were out on summer break, I would go to the public library and get books for the summer reading program.

Between playing with my sisters, tromping through the woods with neighborhood kids and the lure of a brand new Nintendo, I still found time to read.

Call me a dork. I don’t mind.

To me, reading was this sort of sacred time when I was able to be alone with my thoughts and absorb these magical words on a page that turned into movies in my head.

I became the characters and felt their emotions, embarking on their journeys of discovery and awakening, and learning more about myself in the process.

Besides Shell Silverstein, Madeline L’Engle, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, Sendak was one of the most-read authors from my childhood.

I appreciated these writers for not feeding me the simplified drivel that fills most children’s books. They gave me difficult words, uncomfortable concepts and disturbing mental images — and I loved it all.

Where The Wild Things Are

If there’s anything I’m proud of in my work–it’s not that I draw better; there’s so many better graphic artists than me–or that I write better, no. It’s–and I’m not saying I know the truth, because what the hell is that? But what I got from Ruth and Dave, a kind of fierce honesty, to not let the kid down, to not let the kid get punished, to not suffer the child to be dealt with in a boring, simpering, crushing-of-the-spirit kind of way. – Maurice Sendak

Sendak’s illustrations from Wild Things are something that will always stick with me.

I would stare at them for hours, taking note of the colors and lines and the playful-yet-terrifying personalities of the monsters.

I liked the idea that Max could get so close to these grotesque things but still remain strong enough in his own mind to avoid being eaten. He was able to assert his own will (unlike a in his real life) and still be loved.

When Spike Jonze began work on his movie adaptation of Wild Things it was almost more than I could stand. I would scour the internet for photos and interviews, patiently waiting for the day when I would get to see one of my favorite childhood memories come to life.

I was not disappointed.

Between the amazing puppetry, the production design and the music (Arcade Fire and Karen O. from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) I have a new and more adult understanding of what the book was really about.

It’s amazing how beautifully the original 10 sentences were interpreted into a full-length movie.

It was much darker than I anticipated but then again that’s really what is at the heart of the book.

At an early age, Sendak became acquainted with death and loss, as his extended family was killed during the Holocaust.

His brother Jack, however, understood Sendak’s creative imagination and helped him retain his own sense of self, even as his parents longed for him to be different.

As Sendak well knew, children feel the same emotions as adults.

They feel the same love and joy.

They hurt the same and feel betrayal, loss and despair, just like their parents.

“I said anything I wanted because I don’t believe in children. I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true you tell them.”

Mr. Sendak, you will be forever cherished by me and countless generations who demand truth, imagination and a certain darkness in their bedtime stories.

Thank you for believing that kids deserve more from their literature than a freshly-scrubbed hero who always does well in school, says “thank you” to his mother and father, and happily eats his broccoli before going to bed without a fight.

That’s an adult’s idea of what a “good” child should do.

That’s an adult giving a moral treatise to an eight year-old and it’s simply not true or real.

Children want to see themselves in their books.

They want honesty.

They want to know that life isn’t all ice cream and puppy dogs and rainbows but that we’re all in it together — and we’ll all survive — even with a few scars and bruises to serve as trophies of experience.

That is truth.