THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST // 9.24.13

I skipped a couple of weeks of playlists because I’ve been very busy with very strange new occupations.

Since arriving in New York, I’ve become a yes person. Yes, I’ll write an article about GMOs for your website. Yes, I’ll part-time waitress at your Lower East Side restaurant. Yes, I’ll assist with your matchmaking business. There’s no room for no’s right now, and that feels good. Busy as hell, but doing something different every three hours every day of the week. I feel like a human petri dish full of agar growing a dozen different fuzzy multicolored little cultures. Still hoping that one will take over the others at some point, but right now this feels just fine, walking 40 blocks a day.

Here’s to trying to hustle.

1. Q Lazzarus—”Goodbye Horses”

Watched the Elijah Wood slasher flick Maniac this week, which was gruesome, super psychological, and legitimately eerie; something I wouldn’t say about many contemporary horror movies. On the other hand, the second half wasn’t very good. But like its better-known predecessor Silence of the Lambs, it has this really great 1988 dance ballad with one of the hookiest synth lines ever and that haunting, swaying melody. All I can think about is psychologically disturbed people slow-dancing to it with corpses, and yet it maintains its romance. Tried to do karaoke to it last night but sadly it was not to be found. Someday. Great article about the cultishness and legacy of this song here.

2. Drake—”Hold On, We’re Going Home”

I saw Drake’s performance of this song at the VMA’s and was like OH WOW, he’s SINGING and THIS IS NOT BAD and then I totally forgot about it until three days ago when Drizzy’s album leaked and a gent mentioned how amazing this song is. Oh god, yesterday I was so gluttonously agreeing—I probably listened to it 15 times in the last 24 hours.

Okay, may we briefly reflect on the ongoing legacy of Degrassi: The Next Generation? I was up on Aubrey Graham/Drake/Jimmy years before he even ended up in that wheelchair that everyone loves to put him on blast for.

It’s only when seeing 14-year-old Aubrey pal around with Sean Cameron and Spinner Mason, taking middle school breezies out for Canadian milkshakes like it’s his job and giving them tender tongueless smooches, that you can truly appreciate the development of the Drizzy persona and the delightful novelty of him rapping “She just want to smoke and fuck / I said ‘Girl, that’s all that we do.'” (In “The Language,” not this track, which is the for-the-ladies R&B croon of the album.)

3. Desireless—”Voyage, Voyage”

When people wax about French New Wave, they’re usually talking Breathless, but don’t discount dark 80s dance music from the land of berets. Desireless was the cross-continent cross between Siouxsie, Human League, and Berlin. There was a time when I was fluent in French. Sadly, that time has passed, but I still find the language, especially when sung by a breathy lady, to be the equivalent of half a Xanax and a glass of wine. If you found yourself rewatching Megan Draper’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” o’er and o’er, here’s one for ya.

4. Ride—”Leave Them All Behind”

Embarrassingly, one thing that I got super excited about when moving to New York is the Topshop flagship store. Whether it was because of the impressive variety of angora sweaters and crop tops or just my unabashed materialism, I walked in and whirled around in wide-eyed glee like the kids in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

BUT I DIGRESS. I heard this in Topshop the other day. It’s been hard to leave behind my friends, family, and Sheltie-Corgi mix on the West Coast, and it was just really right for that moment. Which is all you can ever really ask for in a song, anyway.

Wheels turning around
Into alien grounds
Pass through different times
Leave them all behind

5. Lykke Li—”Silver Springs”

Angelic Scandinavian dark-pop dame Lykke Li covering one of Fleetwood Mac’s best and most earnest songs. Best song on this compilation by far, and the only one that does justice to Stevie and her brood.

THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST // 9.8.13

WELCOME TO NEW YORK. 

(I’ve heard that a lot the past few days.)

On Wednesday, I moved to New York. Well, to Brooklyn.

New York City is a place that I’ve long peered at with endless fascination, a hive of both strangeness and obviousness (like, they aren’t lyin’ when they say that it’s humongous, and there truly does seem to be an unparalleled concentration of pizza and saxophone players). Also, it is clearly the best place on the continent for people-watching.

When I was a kid, maybe six years old or so, I learned of Brooklyn through a combination of the Super Mario Brothers series and cop shows. My impression consisted of an assemblage of very large, very impressive brick buildings filled with brave, mustachioed, virile Italian men with caring grandmothers. When I told my mom that I wanted to live there, she laughed at my naïveté. Brooklyn was a different place back then, a far cry from the mixologized leather-bag craft fair and emporium of long-legged women with competitive sunglasses that it has become in the post-American Apparel era.

In my teen years, I developed a new mental archetype of New York based on my obsession with The Ramones and Lou Reed. This time, I imagined an endless sea of tough-talking ripped-jean ugly-hot 20something men flicking cigarettes into gutters, tinkering on drums in warehouses, breaking hearts, and generally being “cool.” You know, occasional knife fights, The Warriors, that sort of thing. This concept is actually considerably closer to the modern reality of Brooklyn, but with fewer shankings and face-paint gang wars due to Giuliani’s much-discussed transformation of da big apple.

I never quite shook the desire to “check it out,” and when my 27th birthday passed, it became clear that my opportunity to experience it—even in its current incarnation—wouldn’t last forever. So I quit my emotionally crippling job, packed up, hopped a plane, and here I am.

Here is a list of the emotions that I’ve experienced since I arrived: enthrallment, anxiety, terror, joy, depression, exuberance, wonder, fear, sadness, excitement, happiness, exhaustion, and mostly being totally overwhelmed by everything.

The day before I left to come here, I finished a mixtape that I had been working on for weeks for someone very dear to me. I had made mixes for this person before, but this one would be different; it would serve as a physical embodiment of our goodbye. I deliberated over the inclusion of each song, the flow from melody to melody, and the imagined experience of listening to this musical sequence in a variety of contexts, even if most of them are unlikely. I don’t know how often this person will listen to the mix that I made for them, but even if they skim it and bury it, find comfort in having made it, in trying to please someone other than myself in spite of the pretty selfish act I’ve just committed; the act of following some strong but abstract whim and leaving behind many people that I love beyond words to join a crowded ant farm of hustlers.

Here are five songs that are found on that mix.

1. Julian Lynch—Terra

This is the opening track. I couldn’t remember where I had found this album or this song—I thought perhaps Julian Lynch was one of these cult-followed 70s songwriter types, a Chris Bell or a Nick Drake or something. Then I suddenly remembered today that the person for whom I made this mix actually introduced me to Lynch and that he’s contemporary—Pitchforky, actually. But the fact that this song is timeless enough that I couldn’t immediately recognize that should serve as a testimonial to its qualities. Something about it reminds me of Coltrane, or psychedelic-era Beatles, or looking at pictures of my dad when he was my age.

2. Beach Boys—Diamond Head

Aside from maybe Debussy’s “Clair De Lune,” there is no piece of music more relaxing than this obscure, instrumental, hammock-swaying tune from the Beach Boys. An audible piña colada.

3. Lungfish—Fearfully and Wonderfully

This band is beyond underrated. The sense of straining, wanting, trying in every Lungfish song conveys a sense of masculine passion that I can hardly describe. I wish that this was always the second-to-last song at closing time.

4. Slowdive—Joy

It’s very interesting that this song is called “Joy” since its subterranean production seems to convey more of a tone of mystery, even a conversation with hidden subtexts, like staring at a lacy thing through a roughly cut crystal.

4. Fleetwood Mac—That’s All For Everyone

Does anything off of Tusk really need a footnote at this point? I don’t think so. But I will mention that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks went to high school three blocks from the house that I grew up in in Menlo Park, and that for many other reasons it was hard to put the Bay Area in my rear view mirror, even if it’s not forever. I really miss every lovely and terrible little thing, all the time.

DREAMING OF STEVIE

In mid-2013, is there any girl who doesn’t want to embody Stevie Nicks? Putting aside the insufflatory drug use and personal afflictions, her combination of unmatched sincerity (nonexistent in today’s meta-ironic cultural wasteland) and je ne sais quoi has afforded her a golden resurgence in recent years.

On top of that songbird voice, Nicks is a wild heart, an ignited femme. She is strong, but vulnerable; pained but hopeful. Fragile, but set ablaze with her convictions. (Her only worthy contemporary in these respects would be Kate Bush. But more on her another time.)

Forever draped in velvet, metal, and lace, she is a hippie, a Victorian, and a moon child. And a blonde, to boot.

Oh, and that necklace.

That’s not to mention that her iconic sartorial sensibilities.

It’s difficult not to want to chase after her mystique. From my own efforts, I offer the following, most of which I cannot afford.

YESTADT MILLINERY LEATHERBOUND TWIN PEAKS HAT from Bonadrag
Enchanting Dress from Pixiemarket
Enchanting Dress from Pixiemarket
Crochet Poncho, from Free People
Crochet Poncho, from Free People
Selected Fringed Wrap Coat from ASOS
Moon Necklace, from What About Phoenix
Moon Necklace, from What About Phoenix
EFFREY CAMPBELL BLACK SUEDE BRUNI BOOT, from Bonadrag
Yukata Kimono, from Lindsey Thornburg

Wrap around your dreams.

BRIT IT AND QUIT IT

This is much delayed. Everything has been much delayed, and here’s why: ex-patriate inclinations arose, and I ducked out to the UK for about a week.

ATP girliez

I was blessed last time I was in the UK (March 2011) to meet a couple of wonderful girls who have proven to be great transcontinental friends, and we in turn introduced each other to our respective social networks in spite of minor cultural differences such as what to call a lift/elevator and disagreement over the merits of marmite (sorry, it’s gross). But after scoring a ticket to the Deerhunter-curated installment of All Tomorrow’s Parties, I ended up in a chalet at Pontin’s—a circusy, somewhat dilapidated British version of Club Med on the south east coast of England—with five of the loveliest girls imaginable, each possessing her own facets of badassery, beauty, and sweetness. Our chalet sported four different accents (American, Londonite, Spanish-English, and Australian) and as many styles of bangs.

We meditated to Steve Reich’s orchestral therapy, bounced to Black Lips like we were in a dirty Atlantan basement, sang along to Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” alongside Bradford Cox, and stood in delightful awe of Verity Susman’s cosmic Star Trek: The Next Generation-inspired feminist musical tome. We found our way to the front row for Deerhunter’s performance of Halcyon Digest on our final evening together, smiling at the twirling, glassy opening notes of “Earthquake.” And there is something so special about being with other lovers of music when Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” comes on while you’re sharing ciders in an unfamiliar place.

I also spent some time in London, where I explored overgrown graveyards, urban animal sanctuaries, and—needless to say—a fair number of pubs. I wish I’d had more time there, but the time I did have was spent well.

The aforementioned graveyard.
The aforementioned graveyard.

There are still so many places on my to-go list: Iceland, Greece, Japanese forests, Norwegian fjords, Madagascar jungles. But I’ve been blessed to move around a little bit, and the more I do, the more I feel like a strange, morphing, shining human being on a big, big planet, and not just a housecat licking my fur and collecting the occasional mouse. I feel everyone I meet, every sight I see, every sky I look up at tracing my eyes, sculpting my nose, massaging my brain.

I’m moving to LA for a month and then New York in September. I don’t know what stamp each will leave on me, but I’m already imagining LA putting a little flower in my hair and New York putting a little bit of subway dirt behind my ears. I don’t know how long I’ll stay. I just want to jump in and swim, swim, swim until my legs are tired and I find my next shore.