• What Fun!

    5 feb 2008, 21:31

    1. How did you get into 31?:
    Rufus Wainwright... I have to (reluctantly) give credit to my partner Peter for this one. I think his admiration for Rufus and constant spinning of "Poses" (a masterpiece) eventually wore off on me. At the same time, Rufus had been recommended to me by multiple people for several years prior to my relationship with Peter and was already very much on my to-do list. I believe I eventually would have been converted without Peter's assistance. With every new artist, I find that I need one album that is "my" album, with which I forge a very intimate connection at a very particular moment in my life, in order to become a full devotee. With Rufus, that album was "Want One." Altho I think "Poses" is incredible (maybe Rufus's best, objectively speaking), it was already too established as Peter's when I began listening to it for me to claim it as my own. "Want One" was my favorite album of 2003 and remains one of the great records of the decade.

    2. What was the first song you ever heard by 22?:
    I don't have a 22, so I'll go with 23, PJ Harvey. The first song I heard was "Down by the Water," on the Rolling Stone Women in Rock Collection, which I purchased as a high school student. Kind of a bad example, since I didn't become a full-fledged PJ fan until years later, and although "Down by the Water" is a perfectly good song, I don't think it's fully representative of all that Polly Jean is capable of.

    3. What's your favourite lyric by 29?:
    I don't have a 29 either. I'll go with 30, Andrew Bird, and that line from "Nervous Tic Motion," "you're what happens when two substances collide/ And by all accounts you really should have died." I've never put any energy into figuring out what this is about, but I find it very evocative of... something. And memorable.

    4. What is your favourite album by 49?:
    Duncan Sheik - I'm kind of shocked by how many men this exercise is highlighting!! Very unlike me... My favorite Duncan Sheik album by far is "Phantom Moon," where Duncan's compositional prowess is on full display, and where lyricist/playwright Steven Sater's poetry elevates the affair to high art. The title is a fully-earned homage to Nick Drake.

    5. How many albums by 13 do you own?:
    Bjork. I've purchased Homogenic, Medulla, the Drawing Restraint 9 soundtrack and Volta. I've collected all of the other albums via alternative means. I've never been obsessive enough to collect all the other extras out there. Homogenic remains my favorite.

    6. What is your favourite song by 50?:
    I don't have a 50, so I'm going to go with another 49 favorite, the inimitable Patricia Barber, who occupies a beloved position within my pantheon of all-time favorites. scrobbling patterns don't really reflect how much I treasure this artist. My favorite song is "Mourning Grace,"from "Cafe Blue," a song where Patricia transcends the "jazz" thing w/ a vocal that is haunting and unforgettable.

    7. Is there a song by 4 that makes you sad?:
    Kate Bush - Sad? I don't know if that would ever be the correct word. I can't think of any song by Kate ever being reducible to a single emotion -- most of my favorites are entire emotional journeys.

    8. What is your favourite song by 15?:
    Believe it or not, Cyndi Lauper's cover of "Walk on By" is transcendent and wrenching.

    9. What is your favourite song by 5?:
    Happy Rhodes, Happy Rhodes, Happy Rhodes. So many great tracks, but I'd ultimately go with "Find Me," the title track from her most recent release (AVAILABLE ON CDBABY.COM). It is quite intense.

    10. Is there a song by 6 that makes you happy?:
    Paula Cole. Hmmm. First off, I want to say that I think Paula is an incredibly gifted artist who has never been fully appreciated and who has unfairly received the brunt of the post-Lilith backlash. I don't think I listen to her to get happy. But her records' existence make me happy, in the grander scheme.

    11. What is your favourite album by 40?:
    I have several # 40's, but I'm going to go with Beth Orton, because I believe her masterpiece, "Daybreaker," still hasn't received the kudos it merits. In fact, most seem to consider it the low point in her career, which boggles my mind. It is brimming with artistry, intentionality, brilliant melancholy and rich details.

    12. What is your favourite song by 10?:
    Azure Ray - I think "Displaced," b/c of the Buffy connection (they used it in Season 6).

    13. What is a good memory you have involving 33?:
    I have no 33, so I'll go with one of my 34s. I used to listen to Madonna's Immaculate Collection" as a high school student on the train ride from Manhattan to White Plains. At the time, I was deeply infatuated with a boy from New Jersey named Stephen DiGiovanni, and nearly everything I listened to became the soundtrack to our fictitious, epic love. In particular, I remember composing a detailed cinematic scenario in which we finally "go together" on a dry-ice-filled dance-floor while "Crazy for You" played, and I felt I deeply identified with the protagonist of "Open Your Heart."

    14. What is your favourite song by 37?:
    No 37, so I'll go with one of my 38s, Anna Ternheim, and the incredible "naked" version of her song "French Love." Rips your heart out and feeds it back to you.

    15. Is there a song by 19 that makes you happy?:
    The Dresden Dolls. I suppose I kind of like listening to the uptempo tell-off of "Backstabber" when I need a pick-me-up. Dresden Dolls songs aren't exactly happy, but the band's sense of humor can make the oddly uplifting.
    Rufus WainwrightPJ HarveyAndrew BirdDuncan SheikBjorkPatricia BarberKate BushCyndi LauperHappy RhodesPaula ColeBeth OrtionBeth OrtonAzure RayMadonnaAnna Ternheimdresden dolls
  • Announcing the Heady Heart Project

    5 feb 2008, 05:06

    The Heady Heart Project harnesses the collective energy of fans to create alternative support structures for women singer-songwriters whose complex, multi-dimensional art threatens dominant culture.

    The Heady Heart Project applies a raced, gendered and classed analysis to the rejection of unconventional women by the various music industries, while helping listeners move beyond complacency to collective action.

    For more information on the project and suggestions for getting involved, visit

    Emily BezarCourtney BryanEisa DavisMonica DillonMarta GomezReba HaskoCarla KihlstedtAmy KohnElaine LachicaMonica McIntyreNatalie MichanN'DambiAngela OrtizLiz PappademasLourdes PerezHappy RhodesBeth SorrentinoSparlha SwaTamar-KaliJennifer TerranTreZure the EmpressImani UzuriNoe Venable
  • my impression of positive review copy for a new female artist

    24 aug 2006, 20:15

    Yes! Hope Sandoval and Beth Gibbons and Chan Marshall and Kristin Hersh. Oh my God, and a little bit of PJ Harvey and Joni Mitchell. Only more accessible. But don't worry, she totally has her own thing going. She's totally not like those other female artists... you know the ones I mean, the ones who shall remain nameless and unidentified but who are shrill and brash and angry and whiney and self-indulgent and melodramatic and granola. That's right. All of those things simultaneously. Childbirth. BWAH!
  • My Brightest Diamond

    24 aug 2006, 02:45

    I was surprised but excited to see My Brightest Diamond's "Bring me the Workhorse" getting props from a morally (and artistically) vacant behemoth: my local Virgin on Chicago's Magnificent Mile placed the album in a prized spot in one of the featured listening stations in their entryway.

    I'm not sure what precipitated this. Borders didn't even have the record in stock when I searched, and Shara Worden's intellectual and artful work seems better suited to that corporation's yuppified, espresso-soaked aesthetic. In contrast, my previous experiences with Virgin seemed to encompass a large number of obscure Eurocentric DJ compilations.

    Perhaps Asthmatic Kitty has developed some clout in the wake of "Illinois's" tremendous and well-deserved success. Or perhaps they have some corporate connection to Virgin of which I'm unaware. I did notice that the entirety of Denison Witmer's output was available on their shelves.

    At any rate...

    Shara Worden's voice has the breathy power of "Over the Rhine's" Karin Berhnquist (sp.??), and her compositions (and they are indeed compositions, not pedestrian "songs") are situated in the texturally varied, melodically unpredictable tradition of Laura Nyro, Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, Rickie Lee Jones, Tori Amos and Regina Spektor -- influenced in equal parts by contemporary classical and pop/rock traditions.

    If it gets the attention it deserves, "Bring me the Workhorse" is going to be one of the most important releases of 2006.