Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Top 5 Favorite Bands and/or Musicians

I have a solid hour before class and rather than doing something productive with my time (perish the thought) I decided to make a list of my favorite musicians. Bear in mind, I like a LOT of music. This barely scratches the surface. These are just my tippy top favorites in no particular order.

1. Kate Voegele

If you're a friend, you probably know of her because I yammer on about her constantly and pretty much exclusively play Kate Voegele songs on guitar.

Anyway--yes, she does star on One Tree Hill, but I liked her BEFORE that. Ahem. I discovered her on iTunes when one of her songs was featured as a free download. That song was "Only Fooling Myself", which is still my favorite song by her, although I love every single one. I got to see her in concert with my darling Fox and she was incredible. She hugged me. She also is teeny, like a foot shorter than me and half my size. I love her because whatever she's going through, she puts into her writing, and when I listen to it, it inevitably will be something I'm going through too. Or--something I will go through. Case in point--when I first heard "Hundred Million Dollar Soul" I thought it was okay, but not her best. Then a few months later I met someone who reminded me of the song--now it's probably my favorite song off her latest album. Her songs have helped me get through my dark days--"Sweet Silver Lining", "High Road", and "Gravity Happens". Her romantic entanglements have been similar to mine--"Only Fooling Myself", "Unfair", "Impatient Girl", and "Say Anything". She also has my coloring and we both love Gibson guitars. See why I love her so much?

2. David Bowie
You had to see this one coming.

For the full details on the progression of my love for David Bowie, click here. What do I love about this musician? I love that he just doesn't give a flying flip. I love that his lyrics range from deep and insightful, to goofy, to romantic, to deep fried crack on toast. I love that he went through various musical phases and transitions and each of them had something fresh to say. I love how none of his music sounds the same--you get hard rock numbers like "I'm Afraid of Americans" or acoustic indie "Seven" or what-the-hell-is-this "We Are Hungry Men". He is an enigma and I love it.

3. Scouting for Girls

These guys make me go weak in the knees.

I really really REALLY wanted to see them while I was in England over the summer, but unfortunately they never played in a city that was accessible to me. Drove me nuts. Anyway, they are a British Indie-Pop band and they are wonderful. I discovered them on a youtube fan video someone had made about the SyFy miniseries Alice. It all spilled over from there. I love these guys. Every romantic song they croon--"Heartbeat", "Love How It Hurts", "This Ain't A Love Song", "Take a Chance On Us" makes me want to marry each one of them simultaneously.
They are so darling. My one gripe with them is they haven't toured in America or released their deluxe edition of their album to the US.

4. Hayley Westenra

Ah, Hayley Westenra. I've had her music for a while now, but it's been just recently that I've come to appreciate how beautiful it is. "What You Never Know Won't Hurt You" brings me to tears, "Dark Waltz" is so haunting, and her cover of "Both Sides Now" is breath taking. She has a gorgeous soprano voice and is the singer whose voice is closest to mine. (As much as I love Kate Voegele, she is an alto and I always have sing her songs in a different key.) Hayley Westenra is calming. Listening to her is akin to sitting by a lake or walking alone in a forest. She is incredible--if I ever make it musically, I would beg her to do a duet with me.

5. Saving Jane
Can I just say, that when these guys broke up, a little part of me died? I know, I know, they formed a new band, Union Rose, and so far they sound pretty solid. But it still breaks my heart. If you've heard of them, you probably know them for their one-hit wonder, "Girl Next Door". Don't be deceived. This band has some incredible songs and I will never understand why they didn't catch on. "What I Didn't Say" is fantastic, as is "Nicotine", "One Girl Revolution", and "Imperfection". My favorite--"Love Can't Save Us Now"--is one they never released--they just posted the demo on their myspace.

Two years ago, the lead singer also wrote two songs during the Twilight madness. They were about vampires--"I'm in Love with a Vampire", which was clearly modeled off of Twilight and "Immortal" which could probably apply to any vampire series. Still, Saving Jane was known for their badass female empowerment songs--the lead singer has written several SCREW YOU MUSIC BUSINESS songs--so, I was horribly disappointed with her writing a song about Twilight. So I messaged her on Myspace. This is what I wrote:

Dear Marti,
First of all, I want you to know how much of a huge fan I am of your band. You're going to Indiana in December and me and my compadres will totally be there. :D And let me also say that your new song "I'm in Love with a Vampire" is damned catchy and is some pretty great tuneage.

Here comes the but.

But I'm a little disappointed and hurt. You've been writing these AMAZING songs about female empowerment and girl power for years--songs that have been my anthem as I take on male-dominated world. And now you write this song, while it's very good, that is clearly inspired from the Twilight series which is the exact opposite of female empowerment. I know you're a fan and I respect that, but surely you can see all the anti-female themes within the books? When does Bella ever save herself rather than have Edward (or Jacob) save her? How is it healthy for adolescents to read about a girl who jumps off a cliff when her boyfriend abandons her? What about all the times Edward orders Bella around and takes control of her life? He watches her sleep for goodness' sake (which your song even mentions). That's not love, that's obsession. And it just hurts that after all the ways your songs have helped me I get a new song about how cool dominating-females-is-cool-cuz-I'm-a-vampire song.

Please don't get the wrong idea, I'm not trying to slam you, I will ALWAYS be your biggest fan. I just wanted you to know how I felt.

Much love,

So I wrote that, and you want to know what happened? SHE ACTUALLY WROTE ME BACK. This was her response:

Hi there Phoenix,
Thanks for sharing you opinion! :-) I can see your point, though I'm not sure I necessarily agree that the books are degrading to women. I think there are some good points as well, like the characters of Rosalie and Alice, who are pretty tough, and I also like that the character of Bella is vulnerable, yet still independent (she leaves her mom and moves to Washington by herself, which is not something I would have been bold enough to do at 17) and is a bit of a loner at school, but doesn't seem desperate to fit in like so many young girls do. And while 'vampire' is definitely Twilight inspired, 'immortal' draws more from vampires in the Sookie Stackhouse stories, and she is definitely an empowered female character.

All that said, this was just something fun for me to work on. At the time, I wasn't attempting to write for Saving Jane, it just turned out that the label liked the songs and wanted to release them, and thought SJ would be a good venue for that. I write all the time, songs about all kinds of topics, some of them are empowered, some are sad, some are silly...I do it for myself because it's something I love, and I am fortunate enough that I do what I love for a career, but I don't always have control over which songs get a release. I'd love to do another full length album, but at the moment, our record label is only interested in releasing singles because that's what's more economical for them. So in the meantime, I write and write and wait to see what happens! :-)
See you in December,

HULH. It's nice to know when I've piqued. It's also nice to know that one of my favorite bands wasn't offended by my critique and actually took the time to address some of my issues. Rock on, Saving Jane. Rock on.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let My People Go

WARNING: Blatant Christian themes and thoughts and meditations, up ahead!

My friends Regan, Avlbane, and I have a habit of occasionally being badasses. By this, I mean we will sit in one of our cars, belting out Disney (or Dreamworks, as the case may be) songs at the top of our lungs and then proceeding to analyze them far beyond what the creators of such songs intended. It's what we do.

As we're doing so, I noticed something truly epic about this particular song. Have a listen.

If you don't hear the inherent the awesomeness of this song, get off this blog.

But as we're singing this at the top of our lungs, I noticed something incredibly chilling and epic about the lyrics. The lyrics of this song can parallel not only Moses and Ramses, but God and Lucifer. I think of it as a conversation between God, Michael the Archangel, and Lucifer. Let's have a look-see.

Thus saith the Lord, Since you refuse to free my people, All through the land of Egypt, I send the pestilence and plague into your house, into your bed, into your streams, into your streets, Into your drink, into your bread, upon your cattle, on your sheep, upon your oxen in your field, Into your dreams, into your sleep, Until you break, until you yield, I send the swarm, I send the horde, THUS SAITH THE LORD.

I'll let the awesomeness sink in. These plagues make me think of the upcoming battle between God and Satan--God using all the horrors and powers of earth He's created to destroy Satan's armies. Think of the full might of God. Tornadoes, volcanoes, locusts, blizzards, hurricanes, lightning storms, thunder storms, wildfires, lions, tigers, wolves, oceans, mountains, and deserts. All of these in tandem, determined to destroy the enemy.

Next lines!

Moses: Once I called you brother, once I thought the chance to make you laugh, was all I ever wanted.

God: I send the thunder from the sky I send the fire raining down!

Moses: And even now, I wish that God had chose another, serving as your foe on his behalf, was the last thing that I wanted.

Lucifer wasn't always Satan. He wasn't always the devil. Once upon a time, he was one of God's most glorious angels, the morning star. How hard it must've been for God to see his beloved turn from him and actively seek to destroy His creations. How sad Michael, the Archangel, must've been to fight against his brother.

God: I send a hail of burning ice on every field on every town.

Moses: This was my home, all this pain and devastation, how it tortures me inside. All the innocent who suffer, from your stubbornness and pride!

I don't think God necessarily likes sending His full wrath upon Satan. After all, Lucifer was beloved once too. But God isn't going to let this fallen, prideful, angel hurt His children.

God: I send the locusts on a wind such as the world has never seen, on every leaf on every stalk, until there's nothing left of green. I send my scourge, I send my sword, thus saith the Lord.

Moses: You who I called brother, why must you call down another blow? Let my people go!

God: I send my scourge, I send my sword!

Thus saith the Lord!

This is a battle that's been going on for millennia, in a place where there is no time. When the Prince of Lies took over our earth, God snarled. "Let my people go!" Or He will storm your camp, Satan. He will raid and take back all the prisoners of this war.

Now let's look at Satan's point of view.

Rameses: You who I called brother, how could you have come to hate me so? Is this what you wanted? Then let my heart be hardened! And never mind how high the cost may go! This will still be so! I will never let your people go!

Lucifer isn't some villain dancing on a table squealing, "I'm evil! I'm evil!" He legitimately thinks he's right. He doesn't understand why God is fighting him so hard. How could you have come to hate me so? Lucifer has always saw himself as better than humans, higher above them. Which causes his pride to become more intense and his stubbornness to be even harder. He doesn't care about the cost anymore. He is never going to release this world.

Lucky for us, God is never going to stop fighting for us either. Even better, He's already won. He won the day a carpenter's son was born in a stable. Because there is nothing, nothing, God wouldn't do to get us back. His love is that intense.

Phoenix out!