Music for Mondays: Covered The National IV

Sharon Jones, Matt Berninger and Booker T. Jones

Welcome back this week to Youth Like Hubris and our Monday regular post “Music For Mondays.” This last week was crazy due to some new personal and professional growth for myself. I will be making an announcement soon.

Now that we are back and because this is part IV of our covered series, instead of looking at a cover of the featured band, I want to take a look at a cover the band did! Well not so much a cover as an original song paying tribute to an artist’s career but I will explain this in better detail soon. This week we will be looking at the Song Representing Memphis ft. Matt Berninger and Sharon Jones off of Booker T. Jones newest album the Road From Memphis.  Continue reading

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Music For Mondays: Covered The National III

Ah yes, another monday, another day sitting around talking about last night and the amazing of blackouts, too little-too late comebacks, and Destinys Child 5 minute reunion. But let’s be real, a lot of these are going to be forgotten about in their due time. I mean, even this morning I couldn’t figure out if Left Eye was or was not in Beyonce’s band. (Update: She’s not. Thanks ladyfriend)

But because last night was such an enjoyable experience I think for everyone that I thought for this week as part of our Covered Series on the National, we should look at a more upbeat cover. Let’s take a look a the National’s song England.

Add color to convey happy

Off of their latest release High Violet,  England is the second to last song on the album and it is pry one of the three happiest songs they have ever recorded. Even in it’s melancholy piano and foggy feelings of a love long lost, you can’t help but look positively at the world and see the beauty in the clouds in multiple shades of grey.  Continue reading

Music for Mondays: Covered The National-II

An amazing National poster

With a new Monday on the horizon and the 50/50 chance of good weather and snow in Colorado it only makes sense that you play the odds and decide to go to work instead of taking the day off. In doing so you may be miserable and stuck in sleet and snow with all the other louses who are stuck in the sleet and snow. But at least you will have a little bit of the National to console your feelings and bitter rat race pains. In part II of your Covered set of the National we will look at St. Vincent’s live cover of Mistaken for Strangers.

Now one of my favorite songs of all time is LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends. The song talks about the tumultuous-ness of your 20’s and as I quote:

You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan and the next five years trying to be with your friends again…where are your friends tonight?

The song really is about that sad but true painful awareness that you gain post college about how much of your life is dictated by by following the standards equation of go to school and get a job rather than your relationship. Not only that you come to the realization that you will now have an uphill battle trying to redefine success to find that happiness in your relationships rather than your job. It is one of those songs that you listen to late at night cruising in your old hometown remembering all the good times and feeling lost in your own personal direction.

In a similar vein the National, a band very aware of the sadness of life as an adult is, have a whole catalogue dedicated to trying to find meaning in life and wanting to not be forgotten. One particular song, Mistaken for Strangers,really addresses that feeling of being lost and alone when returning to your life after your twenty-something personal growth. In fact, the whole album Boxer really looks at the awareness of your life around you and questioning your meaning and purpose in a world that is so against you. Part political statement and part feeling a sense of being lost, Boxer really feels like the statement of many young Adults. Remember that Boxer was released during the Bush Administration and around that time there were many young people who were becoming more and more aware of how much of their world was out of their control. Not only that it was during the height of the hipster deconstructionist period of constant criticism and tearing down with no real understanding or drive to make it better. This makes an album like Boxer a great expression of this period.

In the song Mistaken for Strangers in particular, there is a  really harsh resonant sound that gives a sense of tenseness to that idea of going home and failing to connect with people from long ago. Not only have you changed but they have changed as well leaving you with strangers that you can’t feel connected to. I think the song is really more from a perspective of a man who left his life only to return and realize that his life has gone on without him. He has changed so much that he can’t possibly ever be remembered and the bitterness that you feel from that moment.

As the song states:

You have to do it running but you do everything that they ask you to
cause you don’t mind seeing yourself in a picture
as long as you look faraway, as long as you look removed
showered and blue-blazered, fill yourself with quarters
showered and blue-blazered, fill yourself with quarters

You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends
when you pass them at night under the silvery, silvery citibank lights
arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes glazing under
oh you wouldn’t want an angel watching over
surprise, surprise they wouldn’t wannna watch
another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults. 

The song, similar to LCD Soundsystem address that idea of going to college and following a predisposed path that you are to follow. To sacrifice everything to be on the “right path” only to look back and see that life has passed you by and your friends along with it. That last line of the chorus really strikes me in that pain and disdain that we have for becoming adults and really losing out on life. But unlike LCD Soundsystem where you try to find that meaning of life again, the National pull the victim and just wallow in that pain. What I really think about when listening to this song is the wild lion that is put into captivity at a zoo. When other wild animals look at him all they see is a stranger with glazed over eyes and sense of defeat and loss of direction and purpose.

I was going to put a picture of her doe eyes but you can’t stop staring!

Singer and Songwriter St. Vincent aka Annie Erin Clark aka Doe Eyed Princess aka noise rock girl second only to my ladyfriend, has done a fantastic job of reinterpreting that sadness that really leaves you feeling empty and hollow with nothing but an empty space to contemplate your own personal meaning. For those of you that know St. Vincent, songs like this don’t usually feel like her forte. In fact, when I think St. Vincent I think collaborations with David Byrne and a lot of happy go lucky noise, noise, noise. For her to really have accomplished such a strong committment to the eeriness of the song that is very subtle is just something to be admired. Recorded live at the Allen Room in New York it is a true testament to the influence the National has domestically. Next week we will look at the National abroad!

Music for Mondays: Covered The National

A day late, a buck short, but since it was MlkJr. Day than I can justify a Tuesday post for Music for Mondays.

Seeing as it was MLK Jr. Day I thought it would be good to talk about American things. You know, true American things. Things like the cynical approach to the American Dream. Angsty men and women looking at challenging the status quo and pushing our thoughts past cynicism and into inspiratations for growth. To those ideas of change that can only be brought on by a few brave soles willing to tread into our darkness and truth to help us find the light. Mlk Jr. was a true inspiration and has spurred on many people to find their passion and push the limits of the status quo. Especially in music I have always felt that it has been a strong outlet for people who want change.

So dapper, so cool

Modern American Band the National has encapsulated that sense of somber hope in their songs and albums. Each song that you listen to really addresses the sadness behind our lives and the pressure of following blindly some sort of mundane pattern only to feel as though we are forever perpetuated into this cycle of failure. But at the same time, when listening to their albums, you feel this sense of hope because someone out there feels the same pain that you do and that at the end of the day it’s going to be okay because of this companionship through sadness. You feel that you have the strength to get up and keep going.

The National is made up of two sets of brothers, Aaron and Bryce Dressner and Scott and Bryan Devendor, and lead singer Matt Berninger. The band came from quintessential American town of Cincinatti, Ohio. Together starting in 1999, they pioneered and helped define this somber melancholy depressed American sound. In fact in the book This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilists Guide to Music, the have claimed The National as the quintessential depressed American band. What I really like about the band is that all of their songs are bar-soaked gems. I imagine me in my middle age years sitting depressed in a worn out suit at the bar with a whiskey and hearing Fake Empire blasting on the Jukebox.

My favorite and 1st albumf

But what is funny about how sad this band is, I can’t help but feel like they inspire some sense of hope and pride in America. The song Mr. November from the album Alligator was this fast paced and loud song that inspired political hope and was an integral brand identifier for President Obama’s 2008 campaign of Change. Even though I can get swallowed up in my shallow and depressing situation, listening to the National always inspires me to persevere and push on. More about that later this month.

Needless to say I am not the only person that likes the National. Many artists have always stated that the National is on their top albums. Mumford and Sons, Frightened Rabbits, Spoon, Nick Cave and many others see them as the quintessential American band.

 

Australian artist Julia Stone has done a fantastic cover of their song Bloodbuzz, Ohio off of their most recent album High Violet. The song is a focal point on the album focusing on Matt Berninger’s deep vocals and his feeling of being lost in our modern world. In fact the video depicts Matt lost in thought wandering New York City in a worn suit and dress coat. A sartorial inspiration for a real man. Julia Stone’s cover of this song highlights the most important part of the song which is that intimate relationship the singer builds with their audience. Stone has stripped most of the instrumentals away to soften the song and really make it a moment of pure emotion and give you five minutes of time to be lost in thought. I think she did a great job capturing the mood of this song. Compare them both here,

 

 

Music for Mondays: For the Job Hunt: Aloe Blacc-Good Things

The lady, in all her hipster music listening glory

I really like music. It brings a lot of good feelings out in me. It is also a really good motivational tool when I am doing a project. For instance:

-Apostles of Hustle- National Anthem of Nowhere (Used for relaxation and zoning out)

-The National-Boxer (A great casual drinking night with the boys in suits album)

-Mos Def-The Ecstatic (I like cleaning to hip-hop. So what?)

-Spoon-Ga Ga Ga Ga (It’s really good running music)

and many, many more examples. Needless to say, music fills a motivational role for me or an emotional need and helps me get through the day. In fact, this weekend I finally watched Shut Up and Play the Hits the documentary on LCD Soundsystem’s final concert.I was in tears because it was so inspiring watching such a humble man succeed and be able to choose to exit gracefully. I want to have that much respect, talent, and pride in what I do someday.

But for now I am broke and unemployed. Listening to any of my inspirational music is not making me happy. I am very lost and can’t be encouraged right now to follow my dream because I am so overwhelmed with debts that I can’t pay and the inability to do any traveling to find a job or even know what job I want. Hell, I was going to start pawning off assets of mine and the only thing of value I own is my dignity. I really am at the lowest a middle class post grad living at home with his parents can get.

Fortunately though, in my vast and slightly pretentious modern album collection, I have something just for my depressed unemployed anxiety.

The album is called Good Things and the artist  is Aloe Blacc.

“Hip-hop educated me about other forms of music, because it sampled from all different styles,” Blacc says. “Salsa, classic rock, soul music, jazz … all of that was a part of my education in making hip-hop music.”

Aloe Blacc is modern soul artist who got his original start in hip-hop as one of the duo in Emanon. Officially he began as a professional in the business world as a consultant but was laid off and decided like many of us do after we lose our job to follow our dream. Fortunately, he had the talent to back his dream up. Being inspired by artists like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, and other golden age crooners, Aloe Blacc has created a sound that resonates with pure passion but addresses many of the issues us twentysomethings are dealing with including lack of direction and little financial success.

On his album Good Things, Aloe Blacc’s sound includes a lot of gospel and chain gang style but has given them this modern and fresh feel full of hope and optimism but still bearing the pain and insecurity of being financially lost. Many of his songs talk about financial ineptitude and the pressure and success/failure of the daily grind. His hit single and as well as my favorite song on the album “I Need a Dollar” really addresses the desperation and need we go to for some financial security. In fact, HBO picked it up as the theme song for their series How To Make It In America. Sadly short lived  the show and song are a perfect representation of the angst ridden American dream. The rest of the album plays a lot with these themes but also touch very personal and emotional needs of one who is lost. The song “Momma Hold My Hand” is so emotional and raw. It talks about the love and adoration a son has for his mother and how she can give him the inspiration to pursue his dreams. The album is full of these jubilant and depressing themes and beautifully encapsulates all the best parts of soul music. The crooning and ability to make you feel the up’s and down’s of life but at the end of the day know that it will be ok.

 

This album has really been great motivation for my job hunt because it reminds me that times are hard for everyone, but as long as you keep working eventually something good will come out of it. Not only that, a little pain is good for you to realize your true potential and dream a better dream for yourself. So I will have this on repeat for the next few days/weeks/months till I find a job. Definitely worth a listen.

*Interesting fact, Good Things was one of the albums NPR missed in 2010 and was in my top 10 of that year! Who is ahead of the curve now?

Merry Christmas: Polyphonic Spree Tiny Desk Concert

Can’t you just see yourself hanging out with this family for the holidays? I know I can.

Happy Holidays everyone! Whether you celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, I hope you are having a gay old time! I currently am trying to put myself together and no matter how vainly tween like I take my picture for the holidays it still comes out poorly! But nonetheless, I have the Christmas spirit.

Well as all of you are celebrating with your families and hanging out I hope you can take some time out of your busy holiday schedule to take part in what will become a new tradition for me. A little Polyphonic Spree Christmas! This video is courtesy of a favorite podcast of mine, the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert series! Merry Christmas to you all and know that everyone is truly loved.

 

*This especially has gone out to my brother who I miss dearly. I always wanted him to experience the Polyphonic Spree but I guess I will just have to settle for enjoying music like this for him.

http://www.npr.org/event/music/167564228/the-polyphonic-spree-tiny-desk-concert

Friday Morning Coffee Break: Christmas Playlist

Finally put my Christmas Tree up!

Happy Holidays! I love the Christmas time. Especially when it snows. Which for some reason in Colorado, there is a large lack of it! Which means really bad news for the Spring and a destitute wasteland Mad Max Road Warrior kind, but I am in no way worrying about it. It’s Christmas time after all and all I can do is just be merry and enjoy it. So what better way to do that than to create a nice playlist to accompany your favorite brew! So grab your Mug, brew method of choice and your Novo Holiday blend and come enjoy a nice holiday playlist! Also, don’t forget to hug your children if this so happens to be the last day on earth!

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