Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Few Thoughts on "Lemonade"...

Full disclosure: I would not consider myself a Beyonce fan. Definitely not a member of the Bey-hive, as her fans are called. I enjoy some of her songs but I don't own any full albums and I'm not sure I would personally buy a ticket to see her live (but definitely wouldn't say no if someone invited me). That being said, in my personal opinion, "Lemonade" was absolutely brilliant. Raw, powerful, and obviously extremely personal for Beyonce. I feel like it was her masterpiece, that she tapped into something she's been striving for throughout her career. I'll admit, I shed a few tears, the experience was so emotional.

Just a note - I'm a little late to the game because I don't have HBO and had to track down the full video on the Internet (which was unusually hard). Honestly, I probably wouldn't have bothered if Twitter wasn't all "you have to see this!" But I'm really glad I did.

This post is going to be more of a curated one, of articles that really grasp what I saw when watching "Lemonade." This was a concept album, telling the story of one woman's experience with infidelity. But it was also more than that - it spoke to the cultural and societal experience of being a black woman. And I don't feel that I'm qualified to speak on that. I'm not a black woman - I hardly feel like I can even call myself a Latina most days, even though that's my heritage. But I understand the pain and frustration felt from being disenfranchised. To have society praising the creativity and beauty of aspects of your culture, while simultaneously having to hear hateful words about the people. I've become more conscious of being Hispanic in recent years - more importantly, how people react towards me specifically as a person of mixed parentage. How (some) people prefer to focus on my Italian ancestry and ignore my Hispanic side altogether. I'm getting into the weeds now and I'm trying not to. It's a very personal thing that probably doesn't belong on a music blog. Suffice it to say, I had a heavy dose of the feels reflecting on the imagery and underlying themes in Beyoncé's "Lemonade." Anyway, I encourage you to read the following analyses of the album/video.

Culture and Community: Lemonade, Spirituality, and #BlackGirlMagic - This article was written by a member of the pagan community for The Wild Hunt. The author discusses the symbolism in the video, specifically in regards to African Diasporic religions and other pagan/witchy themes, and her perspective as a black woman.

Beyonce's Lemonade and What Black Girls Really Mean by Good Hair - Explaining the meaning behind the "Becky with the Good Hair" comment in "Sorry" and the cultural baggage it represents.

The History of Becky with the Good Hair - The significance of the name "Becky" in "Sorry." While a lot of articles dealt with who "Becky" is (Hint: It's none of your fucking business), this article goes into why Beyonce may have chose the name to signify the other woman.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

All We Are Is Dust in the Wind....

...Or ashes pressed into vinyl records for our loved ones to listen to when we're gone. Perhaps it's morbid, but I've actually given a lot of thought into what I want my family to do if I die. I haven't written it down on paper or anything -- I'm only 28 -- but maybe I should. Because I don't want a traditional funeral. I would think, after hanging around me for 20+ years, my family and friends would know that about me but you never can tell who's paying attention.

If I had to choose, I would prefer to be put into one of those pods that they plant under a sapling so that my life continues as nourishment for a majestic tree. Some Italian company came up with the design and I heard they are still illegal in some places. Damn regulations and such. My backup option is to be turned into an LP. In steps And Vinyly....

For £3000, Vinyly - obviously, a UK based company - will press your loved ones (including pets!) into a two-sided vinyl record. The base price gets you a customized cover - with standard "Rest In Vinyl (R.I.V) artwork, fun name, and dates of death and birth - and 12 minutes of audio on each side. The audio must be supplied by the customer and Vinyly does not take responsibility for any copyrighted material that you include. They will print up to 30 discs for the base price and will print more for an additional price. They offer include add-ons, like spooky music tracks written and composed especially for you, a portrait done by James Hague or Paul Insect, distribution of your record to music stores around the world (I see this becoming a thing), and, for £10,000+, they'll even plan a unique funeral.

Clearly, this will take some planning. With 12 minutes a side (let's assume I'm not going to pay for extra time because I'm cheap....no, seriously, I am), that leaves room for either 8 three-minute songs or 6 four-minute songs. Realistically, there's only room for 5 songs and a brief personal message. Naturally, I got to thinking about the 5 songs I want my family and friends to remember me by. They can't just be some of my favorite songs - I love "Blank Space" but I don't necessarily want Taylor Swift to be my death knell. It had to be 5 songs that mean something to me and the people who love/know me best. Here's what I am up with.

Click for Side A

Side A

1. "Frankly, Mr. Shankly" by The Smiths (2:19)

I once read in an Amazon review that "we all go through a 'Smiths' phase, but not everyone grows out of it." I am definitely one of those people that has yet to grow out of it. My best friend and brain twin, Anabel, can attest to this, as she has frequently seen me scrawl the following lyrics across many a shady bathroom wall: "Fame, fame, fatal fame/It can play curious tricks on the brain/But I'd rather be Famous/Than righteous or holy/Any day, Any day, Any day." Those lyrics, my friends, are from "Frankly, Mr. Shankly" and are still as true to me today as the day I first heard them. I think it's some kind of instinct for people to know who you are. And there's no other song I would choose to begin my descent into Hades.


2. "Killer Queen" by Queen (3:02)

"Killer Queen" is one of my favorite Queen songs. Some people may be thinking, "If you're going to include Queen, why not go with 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'" Don't get me wrong - "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a masterpiece and a classic. But when I needed to be pumped up before a play rehearsal, it was "Killer Queen" that I would have my dad play. I don't know what it was about that song, but it made me feel powerful and unstoppable. In my head, I imagined it was a song about a transvestite prostitute. I have no idea why or why teenage-Me would consider that a message of empowerment but I did. It also brings back happy memories of my dad - back from whatever deployment he'd been on - would drive me to choir practice or to theatre rehearsal or French club. Well, that and "Safety Dance," which - I shit you not - is going to played for the Father-Daughter dance at my wedding, assuming The Boyfriend ever proposes.



3. "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac (live version) (6:41)

Another song that reminds me of long drives with my dad. He saw Fleetwood Mac perform this song live at New Mexico State University. Before she performed this song, Stevie Nicks would tell the audience that it was inspired by a story of Welsh witch. I feel this song deeply, not just because I identify as a witch, but because I want to be a woman that exists only "once in a million years." On "American Horror Story: Coven," Misty Day had Zoe listen to "Rhiannon," telling her that Stevie was the only witch before Zoe that she'd ever known. "Listen to the lyrics. This song was her anthem...doesn't it just penetrate your soul and tell the truth about everything you've ever felt in your whole life?" "Yeah, totally." Indeed. I'm not a witch because of this song, but that doesn't mean it didn't have an influence.

I chose the live version because we'd listen to "The Dance" on long drives to grandma's house or when he was driving me back to school (like my parents, I attended NMSU). The lyrics are slightly different from the "Greatest Hits" album version and I always get tripped up when singing along to that version. I prefer the lyrics from the live performance - Stevie Nicks gets so wrapped up in them - but both versions are pretty amazing.


Side A Total = 12:02 (a little over....hopefully, they don't charge for 2 seconds extra)

Flip for Side B

Friday, March 27, 2015

Discover Friday: Girl in a Coma

So.....the radio station I was raving about a few weeks ago....it devolved into typical radio station bullshit, like repeating songs I enjoyed until I wanted to stab my ears, pretentious Whole Foods commercials, and ticket giveaways. Okay, that last one isn't so terrible but I don't ever seem to win those things so fuck 'em. Long story short: I need to start a pirate radio station or something.

Anyway, several good things came out of that post. 1) The radio station retweeted the link, so I now have several new readers, 2) those readers are local and were also kind enough to retweet said post, and 3) some of those people (namely, a person named @DoyleSATX, to whom I will be forever grateful) provided the names of some awesome bands that I didn't find in my cursory Google search for San Antonio music. To those bands....be patient, you will each be written about soon, je promis.  That was a few weeks ago and I apologize for the delay....my day job as a technical writer has been somewhat draining. Today, I literally had to explain to someone that semicolons cannot be used in place of commas. I'm serious. This is my life now.

To start off this Discover the Awesomeness of the SA Music Scene campaign, I wanted to introduce to y'all to a new favorite - Girl in a Coma.
Credit Daniela Rojas
I got this from the Press Kit area, I hope that's okay...Please don't Taylor Swift Me...
I've been think a lot about why I like them so much, mostly while listening to "El Monte" on repeat.  Upon further in-depth analysis, I've boiled it down to this -- these girls' style incorporates: good old alternative indie a la The Smiths (they list Morrissey as a big influence), some post-punk goodness (I heard "Love Song" on the radio - the Cure version, not the 311 cover -- and I was like, "yeah, they sound kind of like that...sometimes), hints of surf rock (similar to The Pixies....especially the "naming songs in Spanish but singing them in English" thing), and the occasional rockabilly twang.  At first listen, Nina Diaz's voice sounded familiar but I couldn't quite place it. It was driving me crazy. The closest artists I can compare it to would be with Sia and Lorde, a sort of mid-range croon that you could imagine at home in the background of a 1950s dance hall.

Girl in a Coma released their first album, Both Before I'm Gone, in 2007 and was a success, landing them on Billboard's Heatseekers chart at #23.  Their first single, "Clumsy Sky," won an Independent Music Award.  They are signed with Blackheart Records, which may sound familiar - it is the record label founded by Joan Jett, patron saint of female rockers. Since then, they have released three more albums, including one with only covers. That album includes covers of two of my favorite songs.  First, there is "Walking After Midnight" by Patsy Cline, a go-to for me when I'm feeling particularly lonely, which GIAC's puts a sultry rockabilly twist on. Second, they did a cover of "As the World Falls Down," which is everyone's favorite song from Labyrinth (if it's not, then you have no soul). It turns David Bowie's glam rock lullaby into a dreamy indie ballad and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Definitely a great band in my book. I'm sure they're going to keep being awesome and I'm excited to hear more of their work. When pay day rolls around, I'll spend a few bills to help these ladies keep rockin' ....and I hope you'll feel inclined to do the same. Check out more GIAC stuff here.

Enjoy the following song and keep on listening, Music Sluts!



Saturday, March 7, 2015

They said it was a myth....

So, as you may know, for 'lo these past 300 years, I've been on an epic quest for a radio station that doesn't make me want to spoon my eyeballs out, a la Fish Mooney. ::sorry...spoilers:: Awhile back, I even lamented the fact that San Antonio radio stations were worse than the ones in Podunk, AZ. Well, I think I may have found the exception to the rule.

It was a cold February day and, as per usual, I had forgotten to connect my mp3 player or phone to the jack and I was already barreling down Highway 90. Haphazardly, I began pushing the seek on my radio and, after a few stations, the search landed on a station that was mostly static with a hint of awesome. I figured it was a college station with shitty reception so I kept searching....and ended up listening through "Raspberry Beret" for the umpteenth time. ::sigh:: I used to like that song so much....

Fast forward to three days ago....I'm on my way to the gym and again, my radio lands on 103.3 but this time, there's no static and it's basically playing everything in my music collection....well, not the questionable stuff, but considering it's an alt rock station, I guess it's too much to ask to have them play the stray Selena Gomez song. Although, that would be fun...if for no other reason than to troll the hipster snobs who would probably also enjoy this station.

In summation, The App -- that's the "name" of the station -- plays the requisite amount of Weezer and Phoenix, an acceptable quota of early 90s grunge, very little repetition, and a bunch of new stuff I'm digging. And, for the next 10,000 songs, they are commercial free. Fuck yeah. I mean, I don't begrudge radio stations commercials, because they kind of need that shit to survive but, honestly, like everyone else, I don't enjoy commercials. Especially that damn "Cutie Curl" one. Fuck those guys, even if their product is amazingly delicious and healthy.

Anyway, here are few songs that they play that have found their way onto my list (i.e., the ever-growing list of music that I don't have enough storage space for). Enjoy!

"Beggin for Thread" by BANKS

"Cigarette Dreams" by Cage the Elephant

"Dangerous" by Big Data feat. Joywave

There's more but I think that's enough for now. Happy Saturday, Music Sluts!

Oh, and by the way, tomorrow is Daylight Savings Time. I won't get into how much I hate this antiquated bullshit but I will remind you to go to bed early tomorrow so your Monday isn't all fucked up. I wish I was back in Arizona....then I wouldn't have to deal with this nonsense....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Must See: "Just One of the Guys" Video

Just a few thoughts on the new video Jenny Lewis directed for a song off her upcoming album. The album in question will be called The Voyager and is slated for release July 29th, 2014, which also happens to be my parents anniversary. Coincidence? ....yeah...probably.....


My neuron misfires, in the order they occurred:
  1. OMG, Jenny Lewis! I LOVE HER!!! Oh, god, I miss Rilo Kiley.....
  2. Kristen Stewart went up a few notches in my book. Her range of facial expressions in this video alone surpasses anything she did in the whole Twilight Saga.
  3. Anne Hathaway looks gorgeous. Haters gonna hate....but shit, she makes short hair look hot. Almost makes me want to ditch my Rapunzel-esque locks. Well, that and 99 degree weather. Seriously. Fuck Texas.
  4. That suit. 
  5. That guitar. Where do you even fucking find one of those?! Is it even street legal?!
  6. Holy shit....is that the girl from 21 Jump Street? Yes. Yes it is. (Her name is Brie Larson. She also played Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs The World in case you haven't seen 21 Jump Street. Seriously, you need to see 21 Jump Street. Fucking Hilarious.)
  7. Kristen Stewart is kind of hot as a guy. Is that just me?
  8. I really like this song. Story of my life when I was at school. Because, no matter how cool you are, girls are never considered "bros." Learned that lesson the hard way. Cool story, Jeopardy Kid.
  9. I am so excited Jenny Lewis is releasing a new album -- she's a great artist, solo or otherwise. 
I love it when famous people do seriously cool shit like dressing in drag for an indie music video. Quite frankly, I wished it would happen more often. Because that's what I would do if I were famous.

I'll shut up so y'all can watch the video.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Special Edition: Adam's Rant - Grimes New Song

You may remember from an earlier Adam's Rant (approximately 2 years ago -- again, sorry about the hiatus....I was seriously trying to get my shit together), I introduced you to Grimes on the premise that, since I like her dreamy dubstep, you must hear it, too. In case you didn't know, last month, Grimes released her first song in .... well, approximately 2 years (apparently, that's how long it takes to get your shit together). Well, roughly two weeks ago, I got the following message on the Facebook:

Clearly, Adam was distressed. Like ALL CAPS distressed. Oh my.

To be honest, I hadn't taken the time to listen to the new track, "Go" ft. Blood Diamonds. Sure, I shared it on social media and filed it away to listen to later. Later turned out to be over this past weekend.



First, let me just say -- and this may be to Adam's dismay -- I actually really liked it. But I do understand where he's coming from and he made valid points. No, it is not typical Grimes. The strange yet ethereal vocals a la Alex Winston mixed with Enya....are gone. Not that the vocals on "Go" are bad, it's just -- they're too pretty. I know that doesn't make sense so let me elaborate. If anyone has seen the new "Les Miserables" film, I'm just going to use that as an example. There are scores of people who could sing "I Dreamed A Dream" better than Anne Hathaway, but the fact that her voice broke in places made the song better. It is possible to sacrifice prettiness for raw feeling. It almost sounds like a different person at times. Of course, on the positive side, it does demonstrate her range and I'm not hating hearing her sing at full voice.

The actual music is cool but I feel like I've heard it before. It's very similar to Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" or, let's be honest, any R&B duet with a solo female artist--especially a soprano. Please don't get me started on Katy Perry. I will say only one thing about her -- she knows how to get on the fucking radio. And I would say that this song definitely was aiming for the radio.

As for the Rihanna comment.....Oh my god totally. Don't get me wrong...I like Rihanna. She has a unique voice -- but so does Grimes. I think it really underscores the sorry state of the mainstream music industry that they feel they need to latch on to the hottest artist of the day just to sell music. Then, in turn, new artists feel that in order to be noticed they need to emulate what's already out there. Culture doesn't evolve with this mindset. It just sort of festers until we get Justin Bieber.

But, although I deeply sympathize with Adam's disappointment, there is a silver lining. A bunch of people who have no idea who Grimes is may fall in love with the cozy familiarity of "Go," and then subsequently, her older stuff. I feel that this is a good thing.

Besides, it's only one song. I'll try to reserve full judgment until the album drops.

Oh, and Adam....If you do decide to put The Rumble Pack on the back burner and become a legendary dubstep artist, I will gladly man the vocoder.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rest in Punk, Tommy Ramone

It's a sad day, fellow Music Sluts.
Tom Erdelyi, aka Tommy Ramone, has died at the age of 65. He was the last surviving member of the original Ramones. He played the drums, essentially providing the heartbeat of the music we know as punk.


To this next generation, The Ramones are just a cool logo on a Hot Topic t-shirt. That punk is what Green Day does, that it's a throwback to the 90s. No....no....Children, the Ramones shaped what music became in the late 70s and early 80s. They are considered the first American punk rock band and any rocker worth their salt lists them as an influence. They boiled rock & roll down to its bare essentials and the genre was better for it.

So,Goodnight, Tommy Ramone. And thanks.