Pastemusic.com closeout sale

Before there was Paste Magazine, there was the Paste online CD store. It has been open for about 10 years, but they are closing it down and have a bunch of CDs for about $5.

Check it out


Quick update

Not that I am not always horribly busy, but the last 2 weeks have been the worst. Now that my 11-week stint of being gone every weekend is over (for at least a few weeks), I can do some updating.

First, some new music from the work rotation. I love these 20 minute songs.

Yndi Halda: We Flood Empty Lakes

Also, many many congrats to Diablo Cody for the Oscar and to everyone else who got nominated. Diablo was so adorably terrified when she got the award. So well deserved, though I was afraid she was going to lose to Lars and the Real Girl. I was hoping to see Michael Cera there, but I'll settle for seeing Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill looking like twins.


the happiest place on earth

is Berkeley in the morning, when the sun is just rising and you are eating a hot Strawberry Lemon Sugar crepe and it is cold outside and you are warm and happy.

You know what else makes me happy? This song:

MGMT: Kids

I have no idea what the hell it is about, but I've listened to it about 60 times in the last 3 days.


you're running in circles, darling

When I was a little girl, and the hibernating world was just waking up from icy winter, I would open my window at night, turn off the lights and stare out into the darkness. There was something about that suspended moment, in which the cool air in my room and the shiny black of night enveloped me and I felt like I knew myself, as I was, unmarred by the room enclosing me or the scary world that was outside. I was that window frame. Things flowed through and around me, but nothing could change who or what I was. Those are some of my best memories. I always wrote about them in my childhood diaries, and now, on a similar night, I feel compelled to blog about it.

Those moments of sitting and staring out of my window are the first memories that I have of the weather in any way affecting my mood. I had no idea what affect even meant then, but I knew that I was cleansed of it. The air, like a good friend should, blew away the metaphorical dirt clouding my window pane. Yet, in those moments, I was always filled with a longing I could not name. I feel that now, perhaps as a flashback emotion, but likely because I am reminded of how trapped I have always felt. Now, more than ever, every decision I make will entirely change the course of my life, of the history of me. Every place that I've touched seems to try to call me back to it, but something is telling me to leave, to migrate, to displace myself, my identity, my sense of self, to rupture who I am and to create myself anew. I've been seduced by it before, and I cannot say that I regret it. This is why the open window calls to me, a portal to another unfamiliar place that can never be what I have, but may fulfill my desire to finally be content.

It seems that to do that I have to let go. I am not sure that I am ready to let go. Letting go means abandoning a lot of things that I care about deeply to move to another place. Letting go also means abandoning things that plague my soul and make me unhappy. The worst part is that I cannot guarantee that the new place or surroundings or people will be any better than this one. I have never been satisfied with my environment, especially when I've spent a lot of time in one place. It is as if my ancestral ties to diaspora and displacement are repeating themselves over and over in my life. Do I stay here, and keep looking out of this window until it becomes unbearably hot and I am once again shut inside, or do I leave in search of other liminal spaces to inhabit? Can I reinvent this place by inserting new personalities and events into it? What is a place, anyway?

Some fellow old city dwellers of mine, who seem to understand me more than I do myself:
The Good Life: Rest Your Head
The Good Life: So Let Go



This is kind of hilarious. I was flipping through some channels and heard the Stars song, "Barricade," in this movie, on the Lifetime network, in a wedding scene.

Not the strangest thing that has happened today, but certainly worth noting.


Review: The Magnetic Fields-Distortion

Can I just say, the only thing more obnoxious than music snobs is music snobs trying to be grad students, who think they are interesting and “European,” and who think they are “rock writers” because they interned one time at a music magazine. The aforementioned music snobs are also terribly unexciting when you try to engage them in conversation because they can’t even do simple album or band comparisons, making them intellectually useless to me. I won’t mention any names, and I really hope that the person I just had dinner with does not read my blog.

I’m stuck in a hotel room without internet access, so it appears that fate is forcing me to finally write down some of my thoughts about Distortion. I can’t say that I am happy about this, because The Magnetic Fields have always produced these visceral, indescribable experience for me, and to translate what I feel into text or speech not only feels wrong, but comes out poorly, like a vivid dream that slips further and further away the more I try to record it.

After nearly 70 listens over the past few weeks, I still do not feel qualified to write this review. It appears that other historians of Stephin Merritt perhaps feel the same way, with the roundabout way they describe the album, writing and commenting without tackling it directly. It is like the sun—direct exposure produces a blindness that makes the eye a palimpsest of what it has seen. That sunspot can be analyzed to the heart’s content, but it barely cracks the surface of the true form it represents.

I have probably, at this point, read almost every review of Distortion on the internet and disagreed with all of them, positive or negative. To my surprise, the album’s release was a huge event, even to the least caring of anti-fans. I should qualify that: I expected there to be an event, but I did not expect every random person who listened to 69 Love Songs maybe once to think they had something to say about it. Unsurprisingly, however, they, too, had barely anything to say.

So why does an album with such a simple concept provoke such a failure to speak or write about its essence, form, or hidden mysteries? Perhaps because I have attached an almost religious significance to an album that is, in reality, quite simple.

Distortion is a rock album made by a man with an intense ear problem that makes loud noises seem shrill and painful, who responded to his disability by producing distortion, reverb, and amplification with the most melodically soft sounds that electric guitars can produce. The liner notes emphatically note “NO SYNTH,” and for good reason. The instrumentation plays tricks on the mind, especially when one is used to hearing Stephin Merritt through fancier versions of the Casio. But, like I’ve said before, after listening to Psychocandy, Distortion’s purportedly biggest influence, one can understand that guitar distortion is what made synth possible.

So here are my few unintelligent observations about the album:

Best Songs:

“Please Stop Dancing”
The most classically 1990’s Magnetic Fields-style song. The backup female vocals from Shirley Simms are impeccable.

“California Girls”
Not the least bit ironic, though catchy, funny, fast, pleasant to listen to, most relatable for bitter intellectuals.

“Three Way”
A novelty song, like “experimental music love,” except with substance because it actually sounds good (this is why I think it could be the last track and still go out with a bang).

“Drive on Driver”
Can’t help but be reminded of Papa Was a Rodeo (one of my favorites from 69 Love Songs) when listening to this one.

Best Elements:
1. No Claudia Gonson vocals (Shirley Simms is exponentially better in every way, especially given the almost asexuality of her voice).

2. The album is intellectually and bitterly funny. “Nun’s Litany,” “Too Drunk to Dream,” and “California Girls” are probably the best examples.

3. Experimental composition (see above commentary about “NO SYNTH”). Does he out JAMC the JAMC? In an interview with the Village Voice, SM says that he saw the JAMC perform live and was still able to listen to the distortion despite his ear problem, because they kept it so soundly melodic, so in a lot of ways this album pays more homage to that compositional element than it does to the idea of distortion itself.

4. Maintains the band’s character and is performed in true SM style while showcasing his best influences.


I really only have one. The album is top heavy in terms of quality. Mr. Mistletoe isn’t as great as everyone says. It only sounds like Christmas because of the sleigh bell sounds in the background. I also don’t really like Stephin’s vocals very much in it—I realize its supposed to be slow and sad sounding but it is kind of ridiculous. Like I’ve said before, listening to the album in reverse produces quite a different effect that makes it seem more complete. As is, Distortion is a little bit like reading the chapters of a book backwards, starting with the last, in anticipation of how the story began. This doesn’t make much sense to me. Why start at the denouement and work your way down?

How does it rank among other albums from TMF?

This is a hard question to answer, though everpresent in my mind each time I have listened to it. As a concept album, it is probably behind every album but i. In terms of production, it is on par with Holiday and Get Lost, but not as novel or interesting to listen to as 69 Love Songs. It definitely has as many, if not more, memorable songs than Get Lost, which I consider to be the pinnacle of SM excellence.

you've been nighttiming brother, uh huh

I haven't even begun to finish my Distortion review, and between work and interviews I may not have time for at least 2 more weeks.

HOWEVER, did you know that JASON MF-ing SCHWARTZMAN makes MUSIC?!?!?! He's not bad either, though from the look of his Myspace top friends list, his music taste leaves something to be desired. There's a great video for his song, "West Coast," here.