Sunday, March 30, 2008

Songs That Might Otherwise Pass You By

Lindsay Katt, "Is It You" (mp3 available for download on her Myspace)

I love the sound of marching drums. There's something stately about the sound of them--confident, as if the drums are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. That's comforting to someone like me, who often doesn't know approximately what she's doing, much less "exactly". This song, though it uses the stately marching drums, is not comforting. The emotions are familiar, but not comfortable. The singer seems both distressed by and slightly removed from the situation. The drums pound out a sense of urgency, ripping into the other instruments' territory and seeming to fray the singer's already-stressed voice. The guitar is slow enough to layer the song with sadness and soften the rawness a bit. Her lovely voice embodies both the sadness and the roughness equally, giving the impression of a whole person who both accepts her own flaws with humor (she looks for her pride in the mailbox but can't find it) but is still perplexed by the direction her life is taking--she "does what she does and doesn't understand" (paraphrased). In short, she sounds like me on a Saturday night.

Sonic Bids site
*Awesome video for her song "My Happy" is at the end of the post

Lindsay Katt looks neither distressed nor detached here

Bitch, "Highway"

*Caveat: I realize the below isn't about the music; it's more about the impact of the musician--the musician's name, to be exact. Roll with it, people--the music is so great it doesn't need any blah-blah from me to support it.

I'm trying to think of when I've blushed and stuttered when saying a band or musician's name. Pretty much, never, I think. I don't have a problem saying "Sex Pistols". I can think of a few other band names that would've made a modest person blush, but not me. Why is it that I have a hard time saying this musicians name? It can't be the musician herself, because I think she's made of teh awesome. Is it her music? When I first heard her song "Unstick" a year or so ago I played it over and over and over again. I would hum it to myself even when I wasn't listening to it. I absolutely love her music. So why do I have a hard time saying or writing her name? I think it's because it's a personally difficult word. It's the gender orientation of the song--if it were a male-oriented word, I'd have no problem--like the name of another of my favorite bands. In my case, I think her name is just a charged word. There are other women who have no problem with the word and use it gleefully. Is it her problem? No. Is it my problem? Obviously.

The question is: would I prefer she use another name? Absolutely not. I never realized until I heard this musician that I had a problem with the word. It wasn't a word I used, but I always considered myself mostly immune to the psychological connotations of words. I always followed the ancient philosophical doctrine of "Sticks and Stones". Words can't hurt me, but actions can. So why was I stinging every time I told someone this musician's name? Why did I instinctively shield my mp3 player when someone looked over my shoulder and it was playing? The urge is really strong when the other person is a woman, so maybe I thought they would think I was implying they were one, or that I was one.

I would not want her to change her name. I don't want to give in to my base fears. Her music is exceptional and I would never want someone I respect to compromise. I respect her for choosing that name--she confronts people's pre-judgments, insecurities and misconceptions on a daily basis, courtesy of the name she's chosen. It would take several acts of extreme bravery for me to do that. For her, though, it's probably natural, no extra ingredients required.

If you haven't listened to "Highway" or any of her other music, please do. She's one of the best musicians and songwriters I've heard.


Bitch in Green, The Sparkling Queen

Birds and Batteries, "Ocarina"

I like how they list "laptop" as an instrument on their Myspace page. It fits, though. The space-age-y disparate keyboard notes are the introduction to the song, slipping into the listener's consciousness like a weird dream you might have after watching 2001: A Space Odyssey too many times in a row. Then the instruments come in, the vocals start and a song is born, much like a new star: shimmering, warm and bright. It envelopes you wholly, swarthing you in smoothness. It reminds me of the sheer pop suaveness of XTC songs like "Mayor of Simpleton" and "Senses Working Overtime". The singer's voice is clear and even, rolling with the aquatic images he's invoking. The music and the vocals collaborate to form something resembling a memory...a memory of something that makes me feel hopeful and content, but is so removed from my consciousness that's it's become more of a feeling than an actual event. Sidenote: the ocarina is an instrument, but I'm not instrument-savvy enough to know if they use it. It's not listed on any of their sites as an instrument they use, so I'm guessing not.


I think Birds and Batteries got at least one of their members from the 70's TV show "Chips"


I was all set to include the song "Dan Gilbert" by Organ Beats, which I'd found at On the Download; however, the link's messed up. The song won't download (at least not for me), though if you click on the mp3 link you can hear the song. I even tried cleaning up the URL and putting it in my blogger software--it still didn't work. It just took me to a blank page. I really like the song, though, so hopefully you'll be able to hear it from On the Download's site.

Also, Lindsay Katt's video for her song "My Happy" is teh awesome:

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