Christine and the Friday Five

I’m such a Johnny-come-lately. Story of my life, really. I’m forever falling in love with bands who are no longer together or putting out music, or artists who have been active for a while and now have a large enough fanbase to make those smaller, more intimate concerts out of the question.

Many years ago, I listened to the album “Cloak and Cipher” by Land of Talk and was instantly transfixed, but then discovered that they’d stopped making music and were on some sort of unconfirmed indefinite hiatus. I was devastated. Thankfully they started making music again, and I was able to see them in Brooklyn this past spring, so all is well in the Land of Talk realm.

But I wasn’t so lucky with Wild Flag. Oh, Wild Flag. My biggest music regret is that I didn’t discover you until it was too late. By the time that single record release hooked its way into my heart, the dust had already settled on the band, and from what I hear, there is no possibility of a reunion. Not by a long shot. I console myself by purchasing every Wild Flag item I can get my grubby little hands on, whether it’s vinyl or buttons or posters or whatever. I have a ton of Wild Flag gig posters, though I never had the privilege of seeing them perform live. [Insert heavy sigh here.]

Over the past year, I’ve tried to immerse myself in all things music so that I don’t miss out again. I cruise around Bandcamp listening to anything and everything, trying on bands and artists like an armload of discounted clothes at Kohl’s. I’ve found some truly amazing artists this way. And I’m following all the necessary music news sources like Pitchfork, CoS, and a million others. I’ll admit that I don’t always check everything out that they recommend, but I do my best to give featured tracks and artists a listen. Of course, by the time they get to Pitchfork, chances are they’ve been around for a bit, or people have been following their careers for some time, even if they aren’t a household name. And it drives me kinda nuts when I’ve already missed out on all the cool limited edition vinyl releases, or tiny shows at basement clubs in New York. Those handmade Eskimeaux cassettes? Augh, I’m so bummed that I have to wait until one shows up on my preferred vinyl marketplace and then fight with other rabid fans to be the first to pay the outrageous mark-up fee. And that applies to so many artists for me.

And now that’s me with Christine and the Queens. Not that I can’t purchase a lot of the vinyl and such fairly easily, but I’m just here, scratching my head, wondering how I hadn’t heard of Heloise Letissier before a clip surfaced in my Twitter feed of her performance on Jimmy Fallon. I was captivated. Who was this dimpled, pint-sized firecracker of androgyny with mega Michael Jackson moves and a killer voice? She wasn’t simply a singer with backup dancers. There was something so different and refreshing and compelling about her routine. So of course I pulled up a Rolling Stone article on Heloise and her stage persona of Christine and the Queens, and I read about her struggles, her search for identity that challenged preconceived notions of gender and sexuality, the story behind her stage name and the events that led up to it. I loved the way she looked at the world, and what she was trying to achieve with this music, this persona. She’s awkward, she’s different, she’s outspoken, she’s tilted. And it’s not like she’s the first artist to come along and bring that energy, but somehow this resonates with me far more than other efforts. She’s David Bowie and Michael Jackson and Price rolled into one. She’s Hedwig. And Hedwig, for me, was transcendental. Transformative. When I first heard John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s brilliant story and music for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” I felt like everything just clicked. To paraphrase a quote from a favorite movie (“Little Children”), it was as if I had been listening to a radio, and someone turned the dial just a hair and everything suddenly came through crystal clear. The static of life as a bit of an outsider, as someone tilted, faded a little, even if just for the time when the music was in my ears. That’s what music should do, right? It should transport you. It should elevate you. It should draw emotions and ideas out of you that you didn’t know existed.

The static was gone last Friday as I watched YouTube video after YouTube video. I was so impressed by the entire package of Christine and the Queens — the singing, the dancing, the OUTFITS, the expression and individuality. And once again, I felt something click. I felt uplifted. And I haven’t stopped listening all week, despite my crushing disappointment that I was such a Johnny-come-lately to Christine, I discovered her two days after she performed in Boston (the one shot I would have had at seeing her live). Curses. And I’m also still perplexed that I hadn’t heard of her before last week when she’s been so popular in France for years. And I like music out of France.

But it’s okay. I’ve got her in my wheelhouse now, and that’s what matters. Until I can procure all the Christine and the Queens vinyl, I’ll make do with the YouTube videos. Which leads me to the Friday Five portion of this post…

It’s all Christine and the Queens. Listen to it. Love it.

1.  “Tilted”

This song has gone through a few iterations. First it was “Cripple,” I think. And then “Christine” for the French release. And then it was rewritten again as “Tilted” for us non-French-speaking folk. I dare you not to dance.

2.  “Saint Claude”

She’s Michael Jackson. Seriously. I love the way they twist and stretch her body in this video, too. But those moves, man.

3.  “Jonathan” feat. Perfume Genius

This song. This video. After watching it twice, I proclaimed that I wanted it to be played at my funeral, and I was only half joking. I mean, come on. What a perfect marriage.

4.  “Half Ladies” (live in Boston)

So, the sound quality is pretty shaky, but the energy in this performance is unreal. Those moves!! I want to learn that dance. I want to dance it in my living room every morning so my day will be awesome.

5.  “Do Not Despair”

This video creeps me the fuck out, but it’s also mesmerizing.

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Three Canadian Bands You Should Know

I love Canadian music. Yes, it might seem like everything I show in my videos comes from the Pacific Northwest, but I have a fairly large collection of Canadian music too. Most of the albums I collected prior to becoming a member of the YouTube VC were from Canadian artists, so you guys haven’t seen those records.

Since I’ve slowed significantly with my vinyl purchases, I decided that I had to do another kind of video to stay involved with the vinyl community on YouTube. I thought it would be fun to show older pieces of my collection, and talk about the music I love. And because I love Canadian music so much and feel that not nearly enough people in the States (or abroad) know about it, this was the perfect opportunity to show off some of my favorite vinyl acquisitions while also introducing some of my non-Canadian followers to some really awesome tunes.

I’ll likely have a few videos devoted to Canadian artists, and this is the first one. I talk about three very different bands: DIANA, PS I Love You, and July Talk. Whether you’re into rock, indie, or synth, I think you’ll find something you like here. Check it out and please, if you like something you hear, consider diving deeper into the music and make a purchase. Feed these bands so they’ll keep making amazing music!

The Friday Five – October 14, 2016

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It seems like a lot of great albums are coming out on October 28th.  I know I have some records coming in the mail that are being released that day, and there are others too.  I’ve been tripping over fantastic, new-to-me music all week, and each time I research the artist, bam — new album coming out on October 28th.  Maybe the music planets are aligning that day or something.

I had an extensive list of songs I’ve been accumulating since last Friday, but I’ve narrowed it down to the five that have stuck with me the most.  Some are new, some are new-to-me, but all are introspective, haunting, beautiful songs.

1.  Emily Reo – “Spell”

This track is gorgeous.  It’s Imogen Heap’s “Hide & Seek” v2, though to simply relegate it to a comparison is really doing it an injustice.  It stands firmly on its own.

2.  Julianna Barwick – “Crystal Lake”

I can’t even remember where I stumbled across this song, but it captured my attention immediately, and then I proceeded to listen to all the Julianna Barwick tracks I could find.

3.  Salvia Palth – “I Was All Over Her”

Lo-fi, shoegaze, bedroom pop at its finest.  I always seem to come across these little musical projects long after they’ve disbanded.  It’s my curse.

4.  Foxes in Fiction – “Ontario Gothic”

I’m just a super fan of everything Orchid Tapes is putting out.  Seriously good.  Why don’t I own anything by this band??

5.  Gord Downie – “The Stranger”

This is the new song and video for the reconciliation project Gord Downie’s been working on.  It’s part of an album/graphic novel/film release based on the tragic story of Chanie Wenjack, who died after escaping a residential school and attempting to make the trek home to his family.  Gord’s doing some amazing work during his last years on this earth, and this project is not only haunting and stunning, but so very necessary for Canada.

Another day, another haul

Even though I’m “not buying records right now,” I seem to have amassed a good enough haul to do another video. This one, though, might be the last for a while. I’m currently readying myself for a move, and moving is expensive. Also I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to sell my current house, so I’m on a limited budget until I’m fully moved and have sold my home. I do have some pre-orders coming, and will be buying a few things here and there, but the quantity will be greatly reduced. Never fear, though — I have plans for other vinyl-related videos, so I’ll still be active in the YT VC. This will give me a chance to show everyone pieces in my collection that I purchased prior to my joining YouTube.

Check out my video below, and if you haven’t subscribed yet, please do!

The Friday Five – October 7, 2016

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I missed the Friday Five last week. I had planned to pre-write the post and then publish it from the road since I knew I’d be traveling, but I didn’t remember until it was too late. Last Friday I was in Canada at the Kingston Writers Festival, attending a talk/performance by Anna and Jane McGarrigle, moderated by Sarah Harmer. What a great event.

But I’m back this week with some tunes to share. Some of these are recent releases, and some are a little older, but most of them are from new-to-me artists. Check ’em out and let me know what’s been on your playlist this week.

1.  Flock of Dimes – “Semaphore”

2.  Yohuna – “Golden Foil”

3.  From Indian Lakes – “Blank Tapes”

4.  Hazel English – “It’s Not Real”

5.  Forty Seven Teeth – “All the Feels”