The opening sets Susanne up for some comparisons with the moon, the crow, the shark and the earth, all in a spiritual mantra of her being. It's an excellent and slightly eerie opening to the album, setting up the expectations there of. The strongest lyric, is verse 4: "I’m as empty as the Earth/An insignificant birth/Stardust in a universe/That is all that I am worth"
My favorite track of the album, the lyrics are poignant and fresh, the slide guitar sounds gorgeous and the build-up and execution is second-par to none. Susanne presents a lot of darkness, but in a way this song leans into the light. The morality and chaos around her seems to come to a pause in this song. I honestly want to quote the lyrics to the entire song, BUT if I'm forced to pick only one, it has to be the opening: "Do you believe in reincarnation?/'Cause I thought I saw your soul / Flashing and dancing on the horizon /Shades of jade and emerald."
#3: good luck, bad luck
Another top selection, the jazz which inspires the album is pretty clear now in this track which sounds like something you might hear in a delicious hole in the wall with strong cheap drinks and the best live music in the city. The binaries exposed on this track highlight the back and forth Susanne experiences with her man as dictated by 'good luck'/'bad luck', 'double trouble', 'empty / full'. My favorite lyric on this one has to be this beautifully written line, "Freeloader...wisdom from the books he never read"
#4: the sound of war
Another favorite of mine, this track clearly demonstrates the sound of war with the medieval guitar intro and the drones' signals at the end into the ethereal nothingness of a post apocalyptic nightmare which she has created. By the end of the track, you're left with some George Orwellian/Wells nightmare especially with her lyrical prowess, "Leave all that you were/ 'Cause you won’t need it where/You are going tonight"
#5: music for people in trouble
This song is more of a spoken poem over some glitches and minimalism, focusing on the center core of the album. The thesis is wrapped into the poem which divides the album in two layers. Favorite line has to be the ending, "We don't do life, we don't choose life, life does us."
#6: bedtime story
Another favorite, Susanne combines moody underground jazz to paint to question the mute problematics of a decaying (or decayed) relationship. There's a gem of lyrics here, my favorite being, "I'll think about the time you reassured me you were mine/
Oh, what is love but a frail little dreamcatcher?"
The lead single for the project, and no doubt the most uplifting and radio-friendly of the bunch (although both descriptors seem far from accurate on this track). Built with a booming chorus which borderlines on gospel music, the piano which holds the track evolves into new folk. Favorite lyric on this one is the one she says with such hummingbird melancholy, "You're a teasing little twister and/They're dancers in the dark."
#8: no one believes in love anymore
A solemn piano ballad that makes me sad even when I'm the most happy. You can tell Susanne has been hurt as she repeats lines with such factual brokenness that you certainly believe that love is over and gone. Among the lyrics, my favorite line is "We’ll all get there soon, looking up at the Moon." I can't help but feel that line is a warning of sorts of humanity's slow loss of love.
#9: The golden age
Another gem, this spacious track harbors an ABBA-like ballad chorus designed and wrapped in sheer celestial wonder. The lyrics are miminal, but the production is fantastic. If there's one song that bridges her past electronics, it has to be this one. The chorus is rather epic, building up to a climax before falling into descent: "It beats louder and louder and longer and longer/All the way to the border/And back to when I was young and out of my mind."
#10: Mountaineers - featuring josh grant
One of my favorite songs of 2017, (#10), Mountaineers is a sheer colossal giant which is almost indescribable. The opening with Josh Grant sounds like a Gregorian Choir and pulses forward with cosmic sensibility. In the middle, Susanne and Josh trade places, as the song begins to grow and sparkle with timelessness before the ending's gospel and organ shine through. Another oil metaphor is used, both for romantic and enviornment connections ("Swimming in the soil of your wasted oil" is a gem of a line). but the ending brings the record to an all-time high, as Susanne clarifies that people in trouble are simply troubled because tis is life. "What we are, what we want, it will never change."
So one thing to know about me is that I'm an absolute sucker for lists, top tens, you name it! This week I'm dishing out my Top Ten tracks from Florence and the Machine to prep for (RUMOR/SPOILER: their upcoming album 'High As Hope' to come this summer).
#1: queen of peace
This song is everything I love about this band, the orchestra, the timeless feeling of both new and old, the story and narrative, the production, an explosive chorus, pure emotion...it goes to show you that with each new album, this band has the possibility to top their previous efforts.
In the 'Album Analysis' series, Matt examines a favorite albums and breaks apart the lyrics and production.
When Tegan and Sara went synth, most people were probably confused given the duo's past as a grungy punk band. I didn't really know Tegan & Sara too well to be that closed off to their new material, and Heartthrob become a pop favorite from 2013.
Heartthrob was very present on the Best of 2013, coming in at 33 on NME's list, 13 on SPIN's, 30 on Rolling Stone's, 7 on Idolator's and 19 on Stereogum's.
The album opens with the lead single 'Closer', which indeed harks to teenage heartthrob with a catchy chorus and a delicious synth line.
"You never really knew me, never, ever / Never, ever saw me, saw me like they did / You never really loved me, never really, Never really loved me, loved me like they did."
Track three cuts a bit deeper, losing a bit of the synth and replacing it with piano. It's still very different from the punk band's previous sound. I love the line, 'How I climbed your city's walls'...it's a stand out for me.
In the progress of the album, the piano gets replaced for guitar as we transition to the fourth track, "I'm Not Your Hero". The album, which is a concept album about early romance and young love. I wonder what the band is trying to communicate on this track, maybe this is about a man/woman who breaks up the relationship to the thankfulness of the other?
While Closer demonstrated a fun attitude towards the unknown and present of love, Drove Me Wild continues to break down the crash that apparently happened after track one. The song gives us good strong 80s pop, and thankfully cheers us up considering how sad the last few tracks had been!
'How Come You Don't Want Me', is the sixth track and the beginning of act two. It's a rather needy song, but we've all experienced the question which the duo pose as well as the feelings. The song's happy bridge is really my favorite section:
On an album that talks about love, one phenomena that is definitely worth investigating is 'trying to be friends' after a breakup. To Tegan and Sara, this is not going to happen as they describe a rather psychotic ex.
With all the songs that aggressively pull and push relationships and break-ups, Love They Say is perhaps the only tender love ballad here. You can tell this song was cooked up acoustically before overlaid with dripping star night synth. It's funny how cheesy the lyrics might be, yet how honest and right on the money they are.
Track 9, the penultimate, Now I'm All Messed Up, is probably my favorite song. It's kind of an enhanced version of the earlier somber tracks, 'Goodbye, Goodbye', 'I Was A Fool', with a double chorus punch that really hits home. I love the filtered piano and the way they utilize the double sides of feeling, I want you to go vs. I want you to stay.
One would hope that the album would end on a happy note, but it probably ends the way a true heartthrob ends: lonely. There might be hope of a new tomorrow, but in that moment when the relationship ends, it indeed plays out as a 'shock to your system'. There's something rather haunting that an album about love and the feelings of initial romance ends with the line, 'What you are is lonely'.
So is that the true feeling of a quick relationship or maybe a string of dates? The ups and downs, the rollercoaster and the heartthrob. Leave your comments below!
So two little things happened in the last two weeks: one, I'm going to be trained as a bartender. And two, I bought a 'Color Your Own Tarot Card' Kit for two dollars.
Both of these are opportunities but both presented themselves differently. I asked to be bartend, got approved through the chain of command and immediately poured hustle into securing the new position. It's not a new career for me, but it's definitely a new job. It's a part-time job I've always wanted to try, and I'm glad to cross it off my list.
There's a few things I want to do in the future, two of them I'm quite certain on: I want to get my doctorate in sociology and I want to own a bar. Now, granted I haven't bartended before. And I may hate it! So owning a bar might sub out for a coffeeshop or a teastore.
The opportunity to become trained as a bartender is an active opportunity. I actively had to seek the opportunity, demand it and prove why I deserved it.
On the other side, me stopping at a two dollar clearance bin and picking up a Color Your Own Tarot Card collection provides a passive opportunity. I put in two bucks (nothing to cry over), and I receive a tarot card collection. You don't even have to color it in if you want to.
But what's the problem here? You might already see it! In order for me to become a tarot-card reader, in order for those tarot cards to become colored, I have to work at it. I have to physically color the cards, learn the cards and use the cards.
Opportunities may come in passive or active forms, but in order to create action or change, you must become active.
Those tarot cards didn't have to come home with me and I certainly don't have to be coloring them right now. Coloring these cards has been not as relaxing as I thought it was, but it's definitely something to keep me busy if I feel like I need something to do while I watch an episode of Law and Order SVU.
You might be passively asked to become a bartender. But unless you actively accept the role, actively work hard in the role, you might find that opportunity is taken away. There are many ways we come across the right set of circumstances, but there's only one way to succeed, and that's by acting.
I talk a lot about opportunities on this blog. But anyone who knows me knows that I try any opportunity presented to me.
And who knows, maybe in a month or two I'll have colored my tarot card set and I'll be ready to give you a reading.
I know it doesn't feel like spring in Cleveland, we're almost halfway through March and we're still battling blizzards. But I've been doing a little spring cleaning lately and I wanted to give a reminder of how fulfilling it is to take the time to purge in a multitude of ways.
Last month I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Maire Kondo. And let me tell you, the book definitely changed my attitude regarding all the collections of clothes, books and accessories I had been holding onto. Marie called out all the thoughts I had experienced: "Well I could use that one day", "Well I might need that in the future", "I kind of want it'. And frankly, she read me for filth. She was right, and now I've been able to end my nostalgia over random pieces of paper (okay, it wasn't that extreme but still!) So far I've gotten rid of four bags of clothes and four boxes of accessories.
I've had to tackle my books and journals, which will be the hardest part of the 'spring cleaning process'. I've amassed hundreds of books which have sat on about six shelves and a trunk. Knocking down that collection of books will be tough, but as long as you're slowly cleaning out all the access, you're doing what you need to do.
But spring cleaning has also involved being healthier (says I, after eating pizza earlier today). I've been a bit stricter, still lax on occasion (which is ironically healthy), and instead of viewing what I'm doing as a diet, I'm thinking of it as spring cleaning too. And trust me, after eating a lot of salad I feel pretty clean.
I'm really digging my latest workout regime and I've been eating a lot more protein. I might be able to debut a beach body, we shall see how it goes. And weird enough, I do feel like I'm losing a bit of weight. My stomach doesn't feel as excessively prominent as it usually does.
Spring cleaning can be an emotional/mental metaphor as well. Lately I've been struggling with some of my current obligations and opportunities and I think I've come to a consensus about where I want to be and what I want to be doing. And that feeling is glorious let me tell you.
So whether it be the luggage in your house, the baggage in your heart, a mix of both or somewhere else, I hope you can get to some spring cleaning this spring.
Okay, so since I've had troubles uploading audio from The Killers before, I figured it might be better suited for a blog post. On the March 6th version of Matt's Gamut, I went through this list live. If you want to listen to the playlist on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/1249003745/playlist/5tWrYCnfc6sPzEvBTY0FCU
It's been a second and I apologize for people who were ready to jump aboard on my blog posts. Sometimes, life gets in the way and it's hard to prioritize what needs to get done. I think I do a good job in putting life in order, which is why the blog had a two-week siesta.
My busiest season is most obviously the summer! All the events and programs I do mainly come together in the months between April and September. However, I have managed to have a busy winter! I've tried new work opportunities, while gearing up for the upcoming summer.
I've changed up my diet a bit, adding more protein and more greens. Granted, I've always eaten rather healthily (not a word, but let's let 'healthily' slide), although I'm sticking to getting rid of the few frozen meals I'd supplement my week with. My workout didn't need adjustment, but I needed to include more protein in my diet. As a vegetarian weight-lifter, it was clear that I was lacking a chunk of protein input!
I'm not a hoarder, but I have a bit of clutter in my clothes, books and knick-knacks, and I've slowly been getting rid of the excess. I read an excellent book (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo) which really cut things into perspective. I've gotten rid of three large bags of clothes, cutting my closet to half. I felt a lot of joy getting rid of clothes I was holding onto till the end of time (as if I was going to wear a medium-sized Slurpee bear t-shirt).
I haven't yet touched the hundreds of books in my library. Mainly because I know that's going to be a bit more painful. But I know what I have to do...but yikes, it's going to be tough.
I'm also in the process of (potentially) moving to the west side. I say potentially because I'm super indecisive and never know what I want (typically Libra here!). But you know what, like I scream a hundred times a day, I'm going to live life day by day.
Okay, that's enough 'look at me'. Aiming to post a bit more regularly, no worries.
I ran into an acquaintance at the gym today, who for the sake of this article, I'll name Wren. Wren and I aren't 'besties', and maybe using the friend might feel too deep.
But there are many people like Wren who I've encountered in my life. We've done social events together and we've had conversations in group settings but we've never engaged really one-on-one.
So Wren hugs me, asks me how I've been and of course I give her a bible-length explanation of what's going on with my radio shenanigans. Wren squeals with excitement and has me blushing with all the kind things she says.
So then I ask, "you're a senior right" and she nods, kind of apprehensively. Wren proceeds to tell me how upset she is and stressed out, especially because she's still in the process of applying for higher education.
The first thing I told Wren is that "successful people succeed no matter what". And it's true!
My colleague Rebecca once told me that she sat in on a meeting with an college department who asked professionals (of which Rebecca is) about what students are lacking. She said that the entire table mentioned that 'successful people are going to do well, fight for what they want and land the jobs they want'.
I have to admit in my own moments of doubt, I didn't think I could get to the places where I am today. Doubt is an important weapon for successful people. Doubt stops you from being cocky, it reaffirms why you want something and makes you question whether you're doing enough to reach your goals.
It's hard to be a successful person in today's society. With the many disadvantages some are geared with and the privileges that others receive, Other times, series of failures may seem like a setback (see my previous post about 'three strikeouts'). But there's plenty of people who continue to succeed with their goals, no matter what they are.
So if you don't consider yourself successful, then start creating some successes! Bake a batch of delicious cookies, start a small garden, clean your house, apply for some new jobs, have a meaningful conversation with a friend.
Not every success needs to be a million dollar check. But not to be corny, but any kind of success is going to feel like a thousand bucks.
I recently was dealt with a few minor blows which can best be summarized as three strikeouts.
We all know what happens during a singular strikeout: the team's fanbase becomes rather upset, the music kind of fades out, people stop drinking their beer to angrily say something about the strikeout (whether it be their own batter or the other team's pitcher). It's a moment of defeat, but only a moment. A strikeout doesn't mean it's game over (unless you had two outs), but it's still a rather sour experience. You'd rather get on a base or at least hit the ball. But instead...well, you let the other team get the better of you.
But three strikeouts in a row? It's not impossible, but when it happens it feels like the baseball has hit you in the gut. You didn't even a chance to touch a base. Instead you got sent back to the dugout three times in a row.
Can you imagine what the audience feels now? Upset becomes fury or sadness, the second without beer becomes a minute as you can't even move your hand to raise a glass to your lips. The angry comment becomes a rant, the rant becomes a thesis and that moment becomes a hard obstacle to overcome.
For me, my three strikeouts made me rather ticked. And I'd rather be ticked then sad, because at least I channel my anger into energy. It's easier to siphon anger then it is to recharge sadness (at least for me!). And while I was on the phone with my friend, ranting about how the pitches were terrible and how the referee needed glasses, I came to the realization that there will be a new inning.
In a game of baseball there's usually a minute or two (or a commercial break) before the next inning (and for the sake of this metaphor, the game never ends and the other team doesn't get to bat). You get time to be upset, you get time to kick over a bucket of chips and toss a cold one out for the baseballs your team missed. But by gone, you can't let those three strikeouts get to you. You can't let that change the flow of your game. Because whether you want to admit it or not, more baseballs are going to be tossed at you and you're gonna have to swing, and hopefully land on base.
So what's next for the strikeout king? Well, I'll enjoy my commercial break writing blogs and whatever else comes across my desk. Then I'll put the helmet back on, spit out some gum and take my place at home.
I keep saying "I write" but don't share anything. So here we go, let's share.