At night, fingers wrapped around that fragile cord, I whispered lyrics laced with my secrets into your ear. The night you came home, I couldn't find any other way to say it. "We will grow old", I sung, "and when we die, we'll bury ourselves, 'cause no one wants to die alone". And then I hung my head in my hands and cried.

I loved "Shelia". I promised to grow old, to share my life, to die alone together. What could be better than having that "familiar kind of love, like when married couples stop having sex or something"?

When you came home that night, I cried, because if you had died, I would have been alone. I sit on the park bench, watching the rain pattern the pages of my book, and I know that I'm going to die alone.


I'm Not The Dark Center of the Universe, Like You Thought

This "Rumble in the Jungle" has finally finished. We've gone our eight rounds. I've been stuck on the ropes, I've been doing the rope-a-dope. I'm walking away tonight, but it hardly feels like a victory.

I tally up the punches we've exchanged, and neither of us are innocent.

I'm not the dark center of the universe like you thought. But, I have to admit, neither are you.

I would say, I only ever wanted good things for you, but you wouldn't believe me. I would say, I tried to bury pennies underneath your window frame, but you wouldn't look. I would say, please forgive me, but you won't.

After all this, I'm still hoping we'll stay friends. But you're no Foreman, and I'm no Ali. We've only walked away from this injured.

Pull Up The People

Arular by M.I.A.

Odds are, everyone reading this has heard of M.I.A., and they likely have a very strong opinion of her. Because she blends so many different genres in her music, and her voice is very unique, M.I.A. tends to have very ardent supporters and very ardent critics. I have very little qualms in admitting I am not a fan of M.I.A. I'm not a critic, either, however. Hearing the occasional M.I.A. track on the radio, I really felt very passive towards her music. This passivity has persisted to this day, primarily because I was never truly interested in learning much more about her music.

It seems that it is necessary to know a few things before digging into any music by M.I.A. First, a lot of her music is autobiographical. Therefore, knowing about her is a necessity to understand some of the lyrical brilliance behind her seemingly innocuous dance songs.The album name is actually M.I.A.'s father's revolutionary name, who was part of a Tamil military group in Sri Lanka.

The album starts off with "Banana Skit", a short 30 second clip brought about by M.I.A.'s experience learning English. From there the album launches into "Pull Up The People" and "Bucky Done Gun", in which M.I.A. asserts that she has "got the bombs to make you blow/[she] got the beats to make you bang bang bang". Throughout the album, there is a liberal use of political subtext to all of the songs, ranging from prostitution, terrorism and Stockholm Syndrome.

Though I still don't listen to M.I.A. very much, I do recommend the album. There is enough substance to the album that it is enjoyable to think about, and it is danceable enough that if you become tired of thinking, you can just dance along to it.


Passive Neurotic Aggression

Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again by Tim Hecker

I originally chose this album because I was in the mood for some artsy music. Or at least, when I was sitting outside in the sun, listening to "Romeo" by Basement Jaxx, the thought struck me that I've been dipping too far into the more accessible stuff from my 365 list, and it's been a while since I stretched the limits of my musical tolerance.

Starting out, I'd never heard of Tim Hecker before, and actually chose his albums to put on the list based on this album's title (it brought a smile to my lips, and I figured it couldn't be that bad) as stuff to fill it out. So I won't hesitate at all to admit that when it comes to ambient drone, or abstract electronic music (or whatever you want to classify this as), I am absolutely no expert.

Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again can be described as almost cinematic, and indeed some of the track titles (like "Music For Tundra") seem to lend to this idea. The album spans 20 tracks (with actually 9 central songs that are stretched over multiple tracks) and lasts for nearly an hour, and from the beginning it is clear that this is an album meant to be heard in its entirety.

The album opens with "Music For Tundra", which is stretched over three tracks, in which we are introduced to the style throughout the album: that of rolling undercurrents of drone and buzz, with unpredictable cuts of noise. The album seems almost to grab onto an emotional current and is pulled along through those 20 tracks, exploring the depths of that emotion almost like one would explore a conceptual idea.

"The Work of Art In The Age of Cultural Overproduction" is by far the standout track. The title itself is a reference to an essay titled "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" written by Walter Benjamin in 1935. Whereas most other tracks are either a practice of distance, alienation and loneliness, or a practice of depth, invitation and warmth (as much as it can be applied to ambient drone), "The Work of Art In The Age of Cultural Overproduction" is neither; 7 minutes long, the song is surprisingly tense and forceful. When the song gives way to "October", it is almost a welcome reprieve from the stirring yet sparse noises (and strangely, even though the song is seven minutes long, it almost manages to feel as if it is over too soon). From there, the second half of the album lends itself over less to static and more to synths, and almost seems to transcend into some kind of starry romanticism (even the song titles suggest this, with "Boreal Kiss" and "Night Flight To Your Heart").

Though the album presents itself as almost alien and strange, Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again manages to be beautiful and patient. The album is highly rewarding, and though it is to some extent haunting, the album invites you in to be haunted again and again.



"When I was young, so much younger than today / I never needed anybody's help in any way / But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured / Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors" — "Help" by The Beatles, Help!

I've been silent lately. Every word has failed me thus far.

Everyday I live with the stigma of being myself.

"You are sad."
"You are too negative."
"You are thinking wrong."
"You are pure evil inside."

In my life, there is no discussion. There is no understanding, forgiveness, patience. I am Amanda, I am sad, negative, wrong, evil. My throat reluctantly swallows this bitterness, then resigns itself to never open again.

I don't have to defend myself. To love someone is to be vulnerable, and I am utterly defenseless. The only words I ever use is a plaintive, "I love you", and it is truly amusing how this supposedly meaningful phrase becomes so absolutely meaningless in your ears.

I stand here, the unnamed sister in The Twelve Brothers, on the pyre, unable to defend myself. I am Faithful John, whose good deeds are misinterpreted, incapable of explanation lest I be turned to stone. The Brothers Grimm understood this kind of defenselessness.

I've never known how to ask for help. Help me if you can, I'm feeling down, and I do appreciate you being around. Help me get my feet back on the ground. Won't you please, please help me?


Didn't Want To Be Your Ghost

I Am A Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons

I've been listening to this album for the past couple of weeks now, and was puzzling over how exactly I should start it. When I first listened to Antony and the Johnsons, I had somehow stumbled on "Fistful of Love" on some random blog in 2005, and one night laying awake with my CD player (I didn't get my first iPod until 2007), I fell asleep mistakenly believing "Fistful of Love" was some sentimental love song, and no deeper than that. When I attempted to listen to I Am A Bird Now, I found the subject of gender confusion something I was incapable of understanding or even wanting to spend time to understand. And so for many years, Antony and the Johnson was only "Fistful of Love", and that song by itself was misunderstood.

The album opens with "Hope There's Someone", opening the album on a note of loneliness, in which the singer finds himself incapable of going to sleep at night for fear of dying in his sleep. This fear of "the middle place/between light and nowhere" could be assuaged if only there was "someone who'll take care of [him]". "My Lady Story", on the other hand, describes a body devastated by cancer, singing, "My lady story/Is one of annihilation". Here, the singer feels as if their body is broken, singing, "My womb's an ocean full/of grief, then rage/And still you're coaxing me/To come on out and live/Well, I'm a crippled dog/I've got nothing to give/I'm so broken, babe". "For Today I Am a Boy" has surprisingly simple lyrics, and poses as a song from the perspective of a hermaphroditic child, who sings "One day I'll grow up, I'll be a beautiful woman", later elaborating to "One day I'll grow up, I'll feel the power in me", but sadly sings "But for today I am a child, for today I am a boy". "You Are My Sister" is truly touching, opening with the lines "You are my sister, we were born/So innocent, so full of need". The singer describes their relationship, in which he "was so afraid of the night/You seemed to move through the places that I feared", and expresses a feeling of living inside their own world ("You lived inside my world so softly" and "But there's nothing left to gain from remembering/Faces and worlds that no one else will ever know"). The song ends with the sincere lines, "You are my sister/And I love you/May all your dreams come true/I want this for you". "Fistful of Love", which presents itself as a very innocuous love song, describes the relationship burdened by domestic violence, in which the person sings, "I tell you I love you/And I always will/And I know that you can't tell me/So I'm left to pick up/The hints, the little symbols of your devotion", finally singing "I accept and I collect upon my body/The memories of your devotion". The album ends with "Bird Gerhl", in which the singer has resolved all of their troubles, singing "I've got my heart here in my hands now/I've been searching for my wings some time", and feels that everything will be fine "'Cause I'm a bird girl, and bird girls go to heaven".

Though the album explores many themes (mostly that of gender ambiguity), the album is tied together with an overarching expression of trying to find love, even in the hardest moments. The album expresses a desire for someone to be there when you are at your weakest, when your body, your identity, or your situation is not what you might have wished for. If, when listening to the album, you focus on only the gender confusion aspect of the album, you are sadly oversimplifying it. Though Antony chooses a different aspect of struggling to explore the themes of identity, loneliness, death and love, the themes itself and the outcome of the album is accessible to everyone.


Better Sell It While You Can

Fever to Tell by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

It was on some night, probably near 11:11 PM when I first heard "Maps" playing on the radio. It wasn't just "Maps", though, it was an acoustic version that bled immediately into an extremely subdued "Y Control". With Karen O's beautifully emotive voice (cracking at times as if the emotion was more than her voice could handle), it was hard for a 13 year old girl who was convinced she was in love to resist.

When I finally got on a computer and really learned how to use the internet, I tried listening to Fever to Tell, believing it to sound like "Maps". In fact, the first half of the album was so noisy I couldn't even get through it, and I didn't listen to the album ever again. Songs like "Tick" seemed almost juvenile, and through the years I brushed off Yeah Yeah Yeahs as mostly a rock 'n' roll band only young girls could love.
Sitting through it again, the "noise" doesn't seem to bother me quite so much. It isn't even that noisy, and though it lasts for about half of the album, it passes by so quickly that it's almost over before you're aware of anything. Of course, the entire album is almost eclipsed by "Maps", which is so beautiful that it by itself makes the album.

As for being "juvenile", there are surprising moments (when they're not trying to imply incest like in "Cold Light" or making little yelps in "Black Tongue") when it feels truly honest, particularly in "Maps", "Y Control" and "Modern Romance".  There are moments of lyrical brilliance, like on "No No No" in which Karen sings, "He'll always come back as the man you dropped/He'll never come back as the man you loved". "Y Control" also has a few moments of brilliance, when she sings "I wish I could buy back/The woman you stole", lamenting how she "believed them all". In "Modern Romance" is truly touching, never relying heavily on repetition of words or any yelping. Here Karen testifies that "there is no modern romance", and that time "stops who it wants" (eventually this line changes to time being able to "stop who he was").

Fever to Tell manages to be good not in any in depth sort of way, but it is enjoyable in the sense that it feels very carefree. The album passes by in a rush, lingering for a moment with "Maps", "Y Control" and "Modern Romance" before it breezily says good bye with "Yeah! New York"


There Isn't Much That I Feel I Need, A Solid Soul and the Blood I Bleed

Ahhh, sorry folks!

I haven't been posting anything lately, but I promise to work harder this month! Summer is just around the corner, and there is a newer and happier me. But, just like Washington's weather, my moods seem to fluctuate erratically — one moment, I am beaming with excitement over the success of a tasty batch of cookies, the next minute I am grouchy and biting everyone's heads off, and then I start crying and fall into a depression, only to bounce right out of it happy and chipper again! No one knows what to expect anymore.

So I definitely felt as if I was in some type of music funk for the last month, but it's a brand new month and a new chance to work harder and get through this albums!

Happy May, everybody!