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Archive for April, 2010

i think the song “fireflies” is really pretty and really musically interesting, but i don’t really like the synth-pop, overproduced sound of owl city.  i heard my college a cappella group sing “fireflies”  last semester, and their version was really good.  a friend of mine sang it whose voice is just naked and simple and unadorned — her voice has this raw joni mitchell-ness that i’ve always really liked, and it was just perfect for the song.  i wish someone would come out with an acoustic cover of “fireflies”, or maybe that owl city would just play it unplugged somewhere, because i think the pitch correction and reverb are so annoying.

one reason it’s frustrating is that i really appreciate the complexity of the arrangement.  he wrote a new melodic line for practically every verse and chorus.  and i absolutely love really textured music — i adore vampire weekend and the new pornographers and a fine frenzy because they’re so ornate — but i think that when you write ornate music, adding flattened, quantized vocals sort of takes the piss out of it.  i do like the postal service, maybe because their songs are more simple, so i don’t feel like an extremely complex background is just glossed over with a patina of overproduction.  but i think if you’re going to write a lovely, complex arrangement, the arrangement can stand up to a human voice — the voice doesn’t need to become just another instrument.

and of course, voice as instrument standing alone is incredibly powerful.  witness “soon love soon” by vienna teng, “down to the river to pray” by alison krauss, or “hide and seek” by imogen heap.  (incidentally, i have heard really gorgeous collegiate a cappella versions of all three of those songs: smith college’s smithereens, groove, and smiffenpoofs.  ok, fine, in the interest of full disclosure, i arranged the vienna teng for the reens.)  but those songs work so well precisely because the vocal parts aren’t competing for space with instrumentation.  in “hide and seek”, those vocal parts are incredibly intricate (and heavily synthesized), but it works, because there’s no synth-laden instrumentation fighting with it.

neko case thinks that the faintest whiff of musical inauthenticity is “like that taste in diet soda, i can taste it– and it makes me sick.” i don’t entirely agree. i think audio engineering has an important place.  voice can be a medium, a substance, and engineering can be a method.  i saw a guy at an open-mic night at hampshire college a few years ago use a loop pedal to play an incredibly rich guitar piece by himself  — i can’t even call it a song, it was too majestic.  it was a lovely work of art, and i didn’t care that he couldn’t play the eight parts at once by himself.  but when overused, engineering is just too saccharine.  owl city is a little too polished for my taste.  i would trust the music more if i could hear it as it is.

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this post, i think, is little more than an aimless update on some pleasant things:

i had an absolutely lovely night last night.  it started with a little leftover filet mignon, melt-in-your mouth delicious and flecked with peppercorns.  it continued with whiskey and mint and god knows how many meyer lemons.  it continued with harpoon crystal wheat, which as of yesterday is my new favorite beer, and which i just learned to my sorrow is a limited edition only available through september.  go ahead, break my heart, harpoon.  break my heart.

i’ve had some absolutely delightful things to drink lately.  molly and i made this wonderful cucumber water with mint and gin a couple weeks ago, and we’re eager to try it with basil or rosemary instead of mint.  recently i also became acquainted with spanish coffee, which, in addition to coffee, involves rum, kahlua, cinnamon, sugar, and plenty of fresh whipped cream on top.

lily allen continues to impress me.  i know i’m about a year late, but i’ve really been enjoying “not fair” and “22.”  also, i just discovered air traffic last week.  it was a weekend morning and i was dozing in dan’s bed while he was in the shower, and all of a sudden, somewhere between nightmare of you and kay kay and his weathered underground, i heard this extraordinary, heavenly SOMETHING.  absolutely angelic.

i’m craving this for dinner.  i don’t have any chard, so it will necessitate a trip to the grocery store.  which will tempt me with kettle chips.  worse things have happened.

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there are buds beginning to ripen and burst all over my neighborhood.  from the forsythias on my block, to the peach tree that belongs to that sweet old man on warner street who offered me fruit from his harvest when i first moved here, there’s been a little more life around these parts over the last few days.

i’ve had a lot of life around me for the last week.  last wednesday some of the people i love best spent an evening with me over cocktails and/or steak fries in celebration of my birthday.  last saturday some more of the people i love best helped me fill my house with laughter and food and plenty of good cheer.  and on sunday i spent the day drawing with crayons and eating dinner mints with an almost-six year old who showed off his brand new tooth and proclaimed that if he were president, he’d help people avoid foreclosure.

after staying late at work for a few days in a row, i decided i was entitled to leave a mere half-hour late today.  i took the opportunity of arriving in my neighborhood while it was still 80 degrees and sunny to explore a bit.  tried on a marvelous peach dress that broke my heart when i found it was made for someone two inches shorter and fifteen pounds lighter.  sipped a thai iced tea at diesel cafe, the place that made me feel least like a transplant when i first moved here.  walked by signs heralding microbrews, the red sox, and a dozen types of homemade ravioli at the corner bar, and smiled to myself thinking about my plans for tomorrow: d. and c. make ravioli, la troisième fois (est la bonne?).  moseyed home in my flip-flops.  leftover gazpacho, day three — still just as good, this time with a dollop of sour cream on top, while i sat in my room and watched the daylight fade into a warm spring night.

this is my favorite time of year for a reason.

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