I'll Fall in Love With Anybody Once

I found him under the slides, conspiring with his friend. I sat down, criss-cross applesauce, next to him on the carpet, waiting for story time to start. I was crying underneath the overhang when he walked past, he followed me home flipping me the bird, I was pushing him down in the playground, I was running into him on the bus, I was sitting across from him on the grass.

I knew once that if we both had the same M written in the lines of our palms, it was meant to be. I knew once that I could make anyone fall in love with me if only I could blow a dandelion puff out with just one breath. I knew once that you were in love with me.

Love you once, shame on you. Love you twice, shame on me.

When can I stop hating my own heart?


Gravity Rides Everything

The Moon & Antarctica by Modest Mouse

Because it is my friend Cindy's birthday today, and her favorite band is Modest Mouse, I decided to review The Moon & Antarctica. I distinctly remember first hearing this album sitting on a lunch table out in the courtyard of our high school (my friends and I looking a lot like a collection of misfits). 

I've never truly listened to this album; not that day in the courtyard and not when I was trying to force myself to review another album. In truth, I never really heard it at all until last night, sitting with the lyrics and nothing on my mind. The lovely guitar strumming opening of "3rd Planet" caught me wildly off guard, and the lyrics completely snapped me straight out of my musical funk.

The album is truly significant because of its beautiful lyrics, at once deep and introspective, but cloaked in what can now be called classic Isaac Brockisms (that is, wonderfully cryptic but poetic and mind-blowing). In fact, if I were to attempt to call attention to all of my favorite lines and all of my favorite songs, this review would become so long that it would look is if I only copied and pasted the lyrics here. If any generalizations can be used at all, the lyrics generally manage to be existential and deep, yet painfully personal.

If there is an overlying concept being explored in the album, it could easily be what they shout in "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes": "Does anybody know a way that a body could get away?" The album opens with "3rd Planet" and the feeling that "the universe is shaped exactly like the earth/If you go straight long enough you'll end up where you were". This feeling of being trapped is expounded in "Gravity Rides Everything", in which everything feels inescapable. The album explores the themes of feeling trapped and wanting to find a way of escaping that feeling. Even so, there is the problem of feeling alone; in "The Cold Part", Brock sings "I stepped down as the president of Antarctica/Can't blame me, don't blame me, don't/So long to this sad, sad part of this world".

For me, I have never had much of an opinion on what the "best" Modest Mouse sound has been; whether it is raw and powerful, like their earlier albums, introspective and moving like The Moon & Antarctica, or glossy pop like We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, I have never really felt either way about their sound. Singularly, The Moon & Antarctica stands by itself as a very beautiful album, and one of my favorites out of this project.


My Mom Puts Raisins In My Captain Crunch

Today, I poured out my Captain Crunch and there were about twenty raisins from my sister's Raisin Bran in my bowl. Yuck.

In an attempt to rekindle whatever gusto I had when beginning this project, I watched Julie and Julia once again. I was reminded of the movie after reading about thirty pages of A Piece of Cake, a 500 page book on just cakes (there are over 380 recipes and entire chapters dedicated to real knowledge behind baking).

Even though it's been a very tough few months, I think it's important to remind myself that part of the reason I did this project was simply for the joy of discovering new music. I want to be more respectful in my future reviews, and to invest more time trying to understand them. There will be quite a few albums I will be reviewing again towards the end of the year, primarily those that I feel simply did not do enough. I always tell people that albums are meant to be understood, not brushed off, and here I am doing exactly what I chastise others for doing.

A third of my year has gone by, and I'm still struggling to find my voice. It almost feels as if I am starting all over again as a new writer, and so I am fairly certain that many of the next few reviews will be bumbling and cringe-worthy. But I am really going to try, and that makes all the difference to me.

And, a special happy birthday to Clemente, who turned 20 years old today!


No Excuses

Girls Can Tell by Spoon

I started listening to Spoon in 2007, following the release of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Despite three years of exposure, I never really got into them. After a healthy dose of Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, I was simply tired of everything I'd ever heard before. As 2007 drew to a close, I stopped listening to music altogether (and two computer crashes did not help at all). By the time I started listening to music again in 2009, I had already forgotten all about Spoon. It wasn't until I decided to listen to Spoon again late in the night (in order to get them off my list) did I begin to fall in love with Spoon again.

Aside from nodding your head along to the song (or singing, if you are daring), smiling, or grabbing your friends by their shirt collar and saying "Listen to this!", there's something incommunicable about Spoon's music. I could say they sound clean, I could say they sound simultaneously angry and refined, but it would fall short of what Girls Can Tell really sounds like. I could attribute the aggression in the album from their being dumped by their major label, but that would be shortchanging the emotional artistry in the album.

Rather than analyze lyrics song by song, I will briefly mention some of my favorite tracks. Few albums open as tensely as "Everything Hits at Once", and "Believing is Art" is a lovely follow up to this track. "Me and the Bean" is one of my favorites, particularly for the lines "Do you remember when you were small/How everybody would seemed so tall/I am your shadow in the dark/I have your blood inside my heart". "Fitted Shirt" is enjoyable simply because how many bands will dedicate an entire song to spelling out the grievances of one-size-fits-all shirts? The entire album is so full of hooks that it's hard to pick just a single favorite.

I feel like I've done a pretty bad job on this one, but considering I'm very out of practice, I'll stop here and call it good. At least I didn't redirect you to Pitchfork, right?


Be Kind To Me Or Treat Me Mean

I've been useless. Like the one chipped plate in your dining set, like the one wilted rose in your anniversary bouquet (the one rose ruining your twelve month metaphor), like the one burnt light bulb darkening your chandelier.

In the last few days, I have been gathering my metaphors like homeless leaves, I have been tucking them way in the dark corners of my dresser, next to the high school I.D. with a suicide hotline on the back, with my mother's strand of pink plastic pearls (her favorite piece of jewelry, now with a broken clasp), the million dark treasures I can't bear to throw away.

I'll put away my metaphors, I'll vacuum the stairs. I'll hide in the kitchen, restless fingers sculpting your dinner, scrubbing your dishes. I'll sit in the corner with the unplugged fan, I'll turn myself into an appliance, if only to be useful again.

I've given up on being good. I just want to be useful to you.


The Universe Is Going To Catch You

I feel like I should elaborate on this "hiatus", simply as an exercise for myself to discover some ground rules of this hiatus.

Technically, I do not plan on not writing during this period. If anything, I am hoping that by the end of this week, posting for my 365 project will resume on a somewhat regularly basis. The reason for continued posting is simple: if there was any point in the year when it was necessary for me to do something on a day to day basis, it would be this period of time I find myself in.

This "hiatus" is really just a temporary reprieve from reality. I deleted my Facebook and will not be available for chat, and I am still up in the air whether or not I will even respond to my phone (I am tempted to say that I won't, but in all honesty, if someone were to call me, I don't know if I could be that cruel as to skip their call).

I plan to spend my time with a book and no disasters; I'd like to take a few days of not even listening to music, or turning on the computer. I'd like to just feel paper underneath my fingers. I'd like to never open my mouth again, or to make eye contact or feel someone's hand on my shoulder.

For those that want to know why this hiatus is suddenly necessary, I will do my best to elucidate without giving too much away.

I have already retreated from social life before (from about September to December, though by mid-December I was regretting it and trying to revive dead friendships), though it was somewhat less severe than what I am enforcing on myself right now.

The issue at hand here is the sudden and gross violation of trust perpetuated by more than one culprit. Though I want to forgive and forget (mostly forget), leaving myself open just seems like too much to ask. My trust has been broken in several different ways, so that I feel as if I can't trust anyone with anything.

This mindset is ultimately what has been blockading my thoughts; there has to be a basic level of trust in humanity as a whole to take what I write and to "get it", and I'm beginning to wonder whether people will always end up brushing me off or simply being incapable of understanding on any level. Or, even worse (and strangely the one that always happens to me), people will see what I write and hear what I say and use it against me to tear me down.

I'm simply tired of being told that I'm a terrible human being. I don't know how it's possible to cry and not sleep for half a year, to constantly make myself defenseless and to take the brunt of the pain everyone slings around, and for things to not get better at all. I take emotional abuse because I hope that in the end, these people who say they love me will relent, and that things will get better. I don't want an arms race of pain. I have been struggling with this for the last seven months (or, you could say for the last year, or even for my entire life), and I've come to the conclusion that the smart decision is to protect myself.

I honestly hate that it's come to the point where I don't feel safe with anyone, but unfortunately that is the state I'm in.


I Hope That This Shaking Will Help Us Awaken

No Way Down by Air France

I have to be honest, I've never listened to Air France before. I wasn't really sure what I was expecting. I actually missed out on getting into the Tough Alliance and other Sincerely Yours artists. I didn't even listen to Since I Left You by the Avalanches (and still haven't).

So, all I can really say is that I enjoyed this release. The EP lasts just barely 23 minutes, and in that short time frame, Air France manages to take you to an idyllic place ("Collapsing at Your Doorstep" features the lines "Sort of like a dream, isn't it?/No, better"). The entire album is an exercise in happiness, and whatever few sparse lyrics you might stumble upon through the course of the EP, the majority of them will be blissful and carefree ("No Way Down" winds down with a repeated "Hallelujah").

If there is any real lasting impression, however, it would be this: I want an LP from these guys. Though stunningly beautiful and concise, No Way Down is almost too short.


The Emptiness of Talking

Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home by The Angels of Light


Everybody, just say no!


I Want To Recreate What Love Is

I haven't really been interested in my project the last few days. It isn't like I wouldn't love to slip into someone else's mind right now. I'd love to find a lyric that could validate the inner workings of my own mind. It's entirely possible that I will, by the end of tonight, find some album that I want to review and share.

However, predominantly I just want to share some songs. Sometimes enjoying music for the sake of music is just as rewarding as whatever it is that happens when I review an album.

If I had to be honest, which I do because I want to be a good person again, I simply haven't been in a place where it feels right to talk. Things aren't always as they should be. Whether I want to admit it or not, I am in the midst of a musical dry spell. Though I am pretty much up to my neck in good music, my mind is completely closed off to it. I don't really hear anything, I don't really register any meaning at all. I am enjoying music for the sound that it makes, and left feeling cold.

So this is why I haven't really been able to post anything since last Sunday, when I reviewed three albums at once. After being told "I'm sick of you", I just couldn't feel music anymore. I don't know when that will change, but until then, here are some sounds that I like.

Oxford Icebergs - "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead"
Forest Fire - "Fortune Teller" (thanks Angela for sharing this song with me)
Ganglians - "Voodoo"
Röyksopp - "Poor Leno [Silikon Soul Remix]; There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Ada - "Luckycharm; Intuition"


When the Cactus Are In Full Bloom

Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

I only remember Franz Ferdinand being played on the radio. Coming out in 2004, I was in the middle of catching up with the entire decade of 90s music. Because of this, Franz Ferdinand always seems much older than they really are in my mind.

Listening to the album now, it's hard to remember that this probably came out when I was in high school. I can't help but think "This sounds like it was released alongside Oasis and Blur". In the haze of my memory, Franz Ferdinand blends with Interpol and Arctic Monkeys, dance-able rock musicians that I only ever heard on the radio. They all just feel old.

Out of boredom I will link to Pitchfork's review, simply because I don't want to think right now. This will just be edited at the end of the month, when I have time.

I Don't Want To Know

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix

It's been almost an entire year since I last listened to this album. On the cusp of summer, "Lisztomania" and "1901" were the perfect summer-welcoming songs. I didn't care to know the lyrics, I didn't care to analyze why I was listening to the album so much, it was just playing morning day and night. At some point towards the middle of the summer, I finally exhausted the album, and put it to bed.

At the time, I honestly had not put much thought behind the album. I held a certain amount of disdain for people that relied too heavily on lyrics to enjoy music (I often found myself snottily saying "There's more to it than just the words!"). It wasn't until months later I realized the Wolfgang Amadeus was a reference to the Wolfgang Amadeus Beethoven. When I had listened to it before, I had focused on its pop accessibility, I had focused on its clean hi-hats and slick guitars. My assumption that there was "more to it" than the lyrics had strangled the meaning from the album.

Listening to the album again a year later is proving to be difficult. I can't help but feel sad; comparing where I was a year ago to where I am today, and it just doesn't make any sense to me.

The subject of time is the predominant theme in the album, and the band explores this very thoroughly. The opener "LIsztomania" begins with Mars singing "These days it comes and goes", describing the end of a relationship. In "1901" he asserts that the "past and present they don't matter", elaborating in Fences that what was "once remembered now forgotten". "Love Like A Sunset", the album's 8 minute center, simply asks "When did we start the end?" "Rome" parallels the collapse of an empire to the end of a relationship ("2000 years remain in a trash can"), as Mars explains in "Countdown" that "true and everlasting, it didn't last that long." The band closes the album with "Armistice", summing the relationship between timelessness and love with the single line "for lovers in a rush/for lovers always."

The beauty of the album comes from its disjointed and often cryptic lyrics. The album sacrifices lucidity to more perfectly capture the emotion of looking back, using perfect phrases and words to capture the feeling but not necessarily the thought.


I want to make my life a bedroom

"There's a world/where I can go/and tell my secrets too/In my room, in my room/In this world/I lock out/all my worries and my fears/In my room, in my room..." - "In My Room" by Best Coast, Make You Mine
"I'm sick of you."

They teach you in psychology about the "just noticeable difference", the minimum amount of difference necessary between two objects to notice a change. The JND, as they call it, is susceptible to changing "magnitudes"; that is, the difference of, say, the weight of two items is easier for us to notice when the objects are smaller. But as the magnitude of the weight increases, our ability to notice a difference becomes muted, requiring a larger actual difference to trigger detection.

"I'm sick of you."

If the weight of our sadness had been smaller, would I have been able to discern our just noticeable difference?

"I'm sick of you."

In my mind, I am looking for the signs, the JNDs I must have noticed but chose to brush off. "Life changes fast, life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends," Joan forewarned.

"I'm sick of you."

These four words, so truthfully uttered, were the larger actual difference, the trigger for me to finally understand that everything in my life has changed.

I didn't realize how much I actually relied on you being there for me until you were gone. You promised you cared about me, you promised to be my friend. "Life changes in the instant." Life changes in the moment of just noticeable difference, when you realize everything you were relying on has changed.

I want to make my life a bedroom, I want to close the door and be able to pick and choose what belongs here. I want to feel safe again. 


And Other's Hearts Are Guarded From The Blows of Random Pain

Lie Down in the Light by Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Prior to tonight, I've never actually listened to Will Oldham. This is a truly shameful feat on my part, considering his almost ubiquitous presence in folk music. Immediately evident is that Lie Down In The Light explores themes of comfort, God, love, and emotional aches, all with the air of finality and peace.

Musically, Oldham uses many standard veins of American music (gospel, folk, and country), but remains fresh and inventive. Overall, the album feels at once familiar but surprising; "So Everyone" features a washboard-sounding type of percussion, while the title track (if you pay really close attention) makes use of a little springish "boing" in the background and "For Every Field There Is A Mole" also features a surprising jazzy clarinet solo. The lyrics follow this pattern as well — "So Everyone" seems like your usual girl/guy duet until Oldham and Webber sing "O kneel down and please me/O lady O boy/Show how you want me/And do it so everyone sees me." Oldham and Webber again take the girl/boy formula and take a refreshing twist in "You Want That Picture", depicting a romance in ruins.

Thematically, Lie Down In The Light is a comforting album of reassurance in the light of doubt. In the opener "Easy Does It", Oldham sings "I number the friends and the family that love me/I welcome the ring of the moonlight above me/and I wander, and lay in whatever old bed/With good, earthly music singing into my head." The song itself opens on a note of resignation in which Oldham is faced with "only one thing [he] can do", but by the time he's numbered his friends and family, a happy little piano breaks through and Oldham admits "There's my brothers, my girlfriends/my mom, and my dad/and there's me/and that's all there needs to be". This feeling of deriving simple pleasures is present also on "You Remind Me of Something (The Glory Goes)", in which Oldham sings "I like the places where the night does not mean an end/where smiles break free/and surprise is your friend/and dancing goes on in the kitchin/until dawn to my favorite song/that has no end". There are also two standout tracks that directly reference Gospel; "For Every Field There Is A Mole" is a different take on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 while "I'll Be Glad" references Psalm 23:1 and explores (and testifies) Oldham's faith and trust in God.

"Missing One" and "What's Missing Is" explore different facets of something being missed; in "Missing One" Oldham refers to the specific melancholy of missing someone, though he ends with "I know I will continue/to try and please you/and even in some ways/to try and be you." "What's Missing Is", however, discusses the emptiness of meaningless relationships.

The most explored theme on the album, however, is starting a new family. In "(Keep Eye On) Other's Gain" begins with Oldham stating "there's only so much here upon the earth to go around", coming to the conclusion that it's necessary to "keep your loved ones near". By the second half, Oldham describes familial needs ("You need me at the table/sitting down and nodding grace/and holding you just by/laying kisses on your face"), coming to terms with one's responsibility to fend for the family and protect them from harm. By "Where is the Puzzle?", Oldham finds himself disappearing from his family and ready to start anew, singing "And I want only you/and I trust only you/and I want only to/sing you". This theme of beginning a new family culminates in "Lie Down In The Light", where Oldham juxtaposes the sadness of life ("time and again one of us falls behind") with starting a family together (Who's gonna hold my heart/Who's gonna be my own own own?/Who's gonna know when all is dark/that she is not alone?"). Oldham wisely does not promise ease and bliss ("Heed this word: beware/for my heart's ways are unclear") but invites you all the same to lie down in the light.


Don't Even Ask The Question And I Won't Tell The Lie

Robyn by Robyn

If I've been listening to pop music, or those that are heavily influenced by it, it's because I'm tired. It's been winter here since September (as my friend so aptly put it, "If I have to put a jacket on to go outside, it's still winter."). Everyone around me wants to spread hate and negativity. The constant, constant, jabbering and squabbling is driving me crazy. It's not that I need sunshine, or everyone to fake a smile. I don't need a hug, or for people to tell jokes to the point that it's just humiliating. I just want people to forget their burdens for just one day, to let go of their need to talk, and to just stop the hating and needing and resenting. So I've been listening to pop music, trying to incur something other than the negativity I'm surrounded by.

Robyn opens with a cliche, but a cute one at that; a spoken introduction to Robyn ends with the lines: "In this world of tension, pressure and pain, she's known by men and women of all origin and faith for her wisdom, compassion, and relentless determination in the quest to get paid." From here on, Robyn manages to be both endearing and just kind of funny (she uses lines like "You're a selfish narcissistic psycho freaking bootlicking Nazi pimp and you can't handle me").

But what draws me to this album, personally, is the way it reminds me of pop music I might have listened to as a child (kind of Spice Girls but better). Admittedly, my music tastes have changed drastically since childhood (they change drastically on a week-to-week basis), but I think my inner child and I can find some common ground with Robyn. For one thing, Robyn manages to offer both mature enough content to warrant a parental advisory sticker while being simple enough that the ten year old in me would have idolized ("Who's That Girl?" might have been her personal anthem for quite a few years). On the other side of things, Robyn is a wonderfully dance-y album, dabbling with electronic beats and making stunningly cheeky lyrics.

The first two tracks serve as a the stereotypical introductory tracks; "Konichiwa Bitches" depicts Robyn as "so very hot that when [she] robs your mansion/You ain't call the cops, you call the fire station" while in "Cobrastyle" Robyn finds herself stating "I press trigger I don't press people button" (does the album really need three cliche opening tracks?). The album doesn't actually delve into more substance until the fourth track, "Handle Me" (which features the interesting little quote at the end of paragraph two). Most songs on the album deal with love, both the ups and the downs. In "Handle Me" Robyn is turning down some bar fly, while in "Bum Like You" she sings about her devotion, singing "Your car's a dump and you're broke/that's alright/I never liked them fancy guys". "With Every Heartbeat" Robyn is trying to "make it alright" to the point that "it hurts with every heartbeat". From "Eclipse" to "Anytime You Like", Robyn slows it down a little with slightly sweeter and more serious lyrics, but ends the album off with "Jack U Off", which is about jacking off your partner in various locations.

While Robyn is no work of art, it is mercifully short, never staying too long in any given cliche. And, since it indulges my inner child (who is woefully malnourished since I stopped listening to Mariah Carey when I turned 12), Robyn is one of the few pop albums I actually enjoy.


You Used To Be So Pretty, But Now You're Just Tragic

Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend

The majority of music these days are dressed in fuzz and distortion. Unless the music is high-brow, pretentious and "sophisticated", a clean sound is utterly unpalatable. We want our musicians to look like hippies, we want them to sound distorted and scuzzy. Vampire Weekend disregards both of these things, choosing to make completely unpretentious pop music, keeping it clean and direct.

In fact, as Koenig and Co. would themselves say, "Through the pain, I always tell the truth".

Most people I know either love Vampire Weekend and everything they do, or they don't. For those that love them, their "Afro-suave" pep and clever lyrics (managing to sing about Dharamsala, referencing Lil' Jon and Peter Gabriel, kefir and keffiyeh) are a source of unbridled enjoyment; for those that hate them, their clean sound, obviously college-influenced lyrics and "preppy" image seems a little too Ivy League.

Their honesty is perhaps the reason they're so clean; you don't have to hear Ezra featured on The Very Best track "Warm Heart of Africa" to know their influenced by Afropop. Vampire Weekend manages to be adorably unpretentious despite the World Civilizations lingo and Ivy League learning precisely because they do what they're good at, and leave the rest behind. This translates to a lot of sonic space, the guitars, bass and drums so completely refined that it feels spacious.

Generally, the songs explore themes of materialism and life. In "Mansard Roof", Ezra finds himself describing mansard roof through the trees while "the Argentines collapse in defeat". "A-Punk" is a clever little song about a punk (aha!), and "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance" seems to be a song globalization as imperialism. However, on the other side of things, "Oxford Comma" hits on a more personal note in which we wonder, "Why would you lie about anything at all?". "I Stand Corrected" is the standout, a serious apology ending with the lines "Lord knows I haven't tried/I'll take my stand one last time/Forget the protocol/I'll take your hand/Right in mine/I stand corrected".

When I first heard Vampire Weekend, I kind of blew them off (mainly because of "One (Blake's Got A New Face)" distorted on the car radio was not very appealing), but I stand corrected.


My Ghost Inside You Soon Will Be

Crystal Castles by Crystal Castles

There are only a few things I will admit to listening to in 2008, Crystal Castles being one of them. Aside from not listening to music in general, in the rare cases that I did find something to listen to, I somehow managed to be listening to something stupid. It's honestly no wonder I didn't enjoy 2008 — I was missing out on Neon Neon, Hercules and Love Affair, as well as Burial and so many others.

Whenever I listen to Crystal Castles, I remember sitting in the car singing along to "Crimewaves", no matter how strange the chopped up syllables became. I remember listening to "Untrust Us" and trying to explain sampling and remixing, and failing because it felt too rudimentary to be explained. But somehow, I never seemed to make it past those two tracks. In fact, as the year drew to a close, I felt less and less need to go further than that. "Xxzcuzx Me" was so thoroughly off-putting I typically gave up on the rest of the album by that point. It wasn't until riding the bus today that I finally really listened to the entire album.

Though it's true Crystal Castles isn't the best album ever, the music itself is mysteriously enigmatic, undulating between barking shoegaze ("Alice Practice", "Xxzcuzx Me", "Tell Me What To Swallow") and glossier, more accessible synth-y music ("Untrust Us", "Crimewaves", "Vanished", "Good Times"). Though the album features 16 tracks, in under an hour Crystal Castle takes you to so many different places it's hard not to enjoy at least some portion of the album.


La-la-launch the Pad!

Transparent Things by Fujiya & Miyagi

When I first saw the name "Miyagi", I panicked, thinking it was this guy (Miyavi):

Thankfully, no, it's not. As Fujiya & Miyagi admit themselves in "Photocopier", they were only pretending to be Japanese.

Transparent Things is more or less a collection of singles. Though the songs may seem somewhat goofy (like admitting they're only pretending to be Japanese, or repeating their name Fujiya/Miyagi over and over again), the actual contents of the songs run surprisingly deep.

Unfortunately for me, all of this is already pretty much unscrambled here, which makes my writing about it kind of useless.


I Want To Be Under The Sea In An Octopus's Garden In The Shade

As I walk behind her, in the fluorescent lights and the suspiciously odor-free grocery store, I can't help but think she is perfect.

From behind, she looks amazing. Her hair is perfect, full and black. The oversized silk jacket she is wearing is hiding her frail frame, her legs don't look any worse than the ridiculously skinny 20 year olds on campus. She looks so normal, healthy even.

I'm following her, swinging the little basket, and I add this to the things I'm going to miss. I've been thinking about death too much, particularly hers, and I know that when she's gone, I'll still be looking for her in the grocery aisles, I'll still be expecting her to be peeling all the corn, even though they've put up signs saying not to.

I had a dream once, my mom and I were driving my 100 year old handmade brass bed to Safeway. We parked in the middle of the aisle, all of the colorful boxes, plastic wrap and signs hanging from the ceiling seeming more like party decorations than the insides of a store. We sit in my bed, speaking Mandarin, arguing about what to get.

As she picks up heads of lettuce and tosses them aside, complaining about how bad they look, I want to cry. I have weird memories of grocery stores, no one has memories of grocery stores.

Somewhere, I'm still six years old, my nose to the ground, searching for lost pennies. I'm still standing at the checkout, looking at the cards while my family all walk off together, laughing at their absentminded daughter. I'm still 13, realizing the grocer who's packing up the twelve boxes of cereal and eight packages of hot dogs my mom made me go in to buy (so she wouldn't look like a crazy person) is good looking, and wishing he'd find me good looking too. I'm still 15, sitting in the car, my mom quizzing me about how much an item costs, making me figure out how much change I should be getting back before I even go in the store.

I thought I had wasted my youth in those fucking groceries. I thought that I had missed out on childhood, that I never had a chance.

My mom looks absolutely perfect. She turns to me and says, "You'll have to know these things for when I'm gone. I won't live forever, you know".


I'm Sorry, Nick

Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I'm sorry, but no. Just no.

It's my own fault, really. I can't get past the first track, let alone force myself to get through the whole thing. So I have no idea if it's really as bad as my screaming brain says it is.

To read about this album from someone who has probably listened to it, Pitchfork.


Our Particles Are In Motion

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? by of Montreal

When Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? was released in 2007, it was immediately my favorite album of the year. I was playing it in the car (hijacking my friends' car radio to play "We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling"), playing it in the art room giving my friend a headache, stealing my friends' iPods to listen to "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal" one more time during Chinese class, accidentally playing "Gronlandic Edit" for the entire chemistry class (with Barnes singing "Physics makes us all its bitches" over the speakers). Even when my mom tried to ban music in order to punish me for staying out too late, I memorized the lyrics to "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal", singing them to myself constantly (it was this, or singing "Ice Ice Baby" to myself). Trying to write about it now, three years later, I don't even know where to begin.

Though there are no shortages on break up albums, there are few that are quite so personal and emotionally accurate; chronicling Barnes' exile in Norway, his struggles with his wife, chemical imbalances and his transformation into a glam rock alter-ego named Georgie Fruit, Hissing Fauna manages to be completely honest but not once becoming self-pitying or just plain annoying. Instead, Barnes contemplates embracing violence and "slut[ting] away the pain".

Barnes himself describes Hissing Fauna as a concept album (of Montreal seems to have a lot of those), and it definitely almost feels this way. The album opens with "Suffer For Fashion", inviting us into the album with the cry, "Let's all melt down together". In "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse", Barnes describes his struggles with depression as being a chemical imbalance, urging them "Chemicals, don't flatten my mind/Chemicals don't mess me up this time". Barnes also mentions his wife, singing "Nina Twin is trying to help and I/Really hope she gets me straight/Because my own inner cosmology/Has become too dense to navigate". By "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal", Barnes' impending psychological breakdown becomes a 12 minute transformation into his alter ego, Georgie Fruit (who takes over for the second half of the album with his sexual escapades in "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider").

From its first cry to all melt down together, Hissing Fauna is surprisingly personal and compellingly emotional. 


I've Got A Big Big Big Heartbeat

Waiting for the bus, I suddenly became aware of the insistent drumming occurring within the confines of my chest. Protected by a cage of skin, bones and sinew, my heart has been beating timidly, frailly, uncertainly, for the last two years. But today it is beating happily, insistently, against my ribcage, making its presence known.

I can't help but feel as if my heart is something else entirely, something outside of the inside of me. This is why my heart sometimes seems to seize itself in a panic sometimes, when it seems to be racing towards something.

My mind and my body are not the same; my stomach gurgles in the middle of class when I'm not hungry, my lips like to smirk, even when I don't find anything interesting. Fingers reach for fingers without conscious thought. My heart continues to beat when I've forgotten how to live.

At night, my body likes to write love letters to you in my sleep. In the dark my body positions itself to spell out "I miss you" and "I still worry about you sometimes", my entire body aching to say the words my mind censors. In the morning my body aches when I haven't finished writing my love letters to you, stiffness from silence.

I don't love anyone. That is the reality of the world that I live in. There is no one who wants my love, no one who cares. But I love anyways, I keep myself brimming with it. I remind myself "You love", and that's enough. I don't need a body next to me, I don't need fingers to hold. I just need to love. My heart beats contentedly, I continue to write my love letters with my entire body, I continue to smile when I'm not happy.

I've got a big big big heartbeat, yeah...