The Joup Friday Album: The Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia

ec7d9936Don’t forget you’re stuck with it tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”

It’s weird that some things can feel so relevant in a moment when in truth, they have nothing to do with the situation at hand. I can’t get this line out of my head in light of many recent events – all of which have an indelible effect on our world.

A combination of personal life and mainstream news has left me broken, bitter, and cynical. This ship is sinking, and there’s not much we can do about it. I chose The Dresden Dolls’ second album, Yes, Virginia for this week’s album because it gives me something to yell without sounding like a crazy person.

The Joup Friday Album: Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

HumbugSometimes, when life takes a swing at you, all you can do is tune out and wait for it to blow over. That’s pretty much where I’ve been since last I posted. It’s not a bad thing by any means. We need to get a little selfish from time to time. This week, for this reason, I chose an album that really doesn’t have any personal significance to me. It doesn’t require a load of analysis to be enjoyed. I just like it.

The Joup Friday Album – Primal Scream – “Chaosmosis”

chaosmosisAs I believe I have stated in an earlier review, I seem to have gradually fallen out of love with music over the past twenty years or so. That’s why almost all of my previous reviews have been for very old albums, released back when listening to music was my reason for living. This time, I decided to try something new, literally, by reviewing an album that just came out recently and that I haven’t listened to before. Admittedly, it is a band that’s been around for about 30 years and a band I loved back when I loved music more than anything.

The Joup Friday Album: Ice T – Power

powerLet’s have some fun. This isn’t going to be my usual, long-winded rendition of a Friday Album because, frankly, I’m exhausted. I’ve recently realized that I’m suffering from sleep deprivation – self-induced by pigheadedness and probably going on a duration of four years now – and it’s adding up something fierce. There are questions as to whether or not I’m spending parts of my day in drifting fugue states; luckily I haven’t gone out to a 711 naked yet or wound up trading bullets with a whacked-out meth psycho, but then again, who knows? What I do know is that this weekend I need to get some rest and then re-think my priorities on sleep. In the interim however, I intend to have some fun, and what better way to have fun on a Friday than with some old school rap.

The Joup Friday Album: The Callas – Half Kiss Half Pain

CallasI’m going to do something different this week. Normally the idea behind the Joup Friday Album is to post an entire album that the you can click to, hit play on and then go about your business preparing for your weekend. You know, sync the phone or laptop to the stereo, turn it up and then move around your house; start prepping the night’s dinner or sit and work on some writing while the sounds that Joup’s wonderful contributors have chosen usher in the potential inherent in your two days of freedom. It’s a nice way to start the brief respite from work, having someone curate a new experience and personally I hold it pretty holy. That said, this week I am not going to post an entire album. I’ve been thinking about this for a while – the fact that it has become harder and harder to find ‘full albums’ on youtube and the fact that our WordPress theme fights like a little bitch when we try to embed from spotify or bandcamp. So maybe this is all just an excuse to break protocol. Or maybe it’s just that I am excited as hell about this new album by The Callas.

The Joup Friday Album: The Cure – The Head on the Door

Head on the doorThe Christmas when I was 13, my elder siblings decided enough was enough. It was time for me to stop listening to Madonna and Whitney Houston and whatever else Top 40 radio was serving up in late 1986. It was time for me to start listening to “real music” like they did. And to that end, I was gifted with three cassettes that I’ve come to think of as the Holy Trinity, the albums that informed the musical taste I’d hone for the rest of my life. I spent all of eighth grade poring over these albums, memorizing every lyric, relishing how my burgeoning gothiness discomfited my Catholic school teachers and classmates.
I’ll probably get to the other members of the Holy Trinity in later reviews, but for now let’s talk about the one that was most important to me at the time – The Head on the Door by the Cure. Though I would have claimed back then that every song on this album was a flawless gem, each song perfect in its own way, the truth is that even back then there were songs I fast-forwarded through a lot more often than others. Assessing it now with old lady ears, the songs seem to fall into three categories: those I still adore with every ounce of my being, those that get a “meh” of varying magnitude, and those that make me want to slap my former self for being such a miserable little goth.
I wish everyone could spend a day as a teenage goth girl and feel the joy of swirling your long black skirt around yourself as you spin and twirl to “In Between Days.” Who cares if the lyrics are about lost love – who can resist those jangling guitars and calliope keyboards? Then you fast forward through “Kyoto Song” and keep on dancing to the flamenco guitar of “The Blood.”
Though you can’t necessarily dance to it, “Six Different Ways” is still cheerful and optimistic of tune if not lyrics. It sounds cut from the same cloth as “Close to Me” a bit later in the album. In giving it a studied listen for this review, I’m a little bummed it never occurred to me to place “Close to Me” in the running for first dance at my wedding.  The pretty little flute lilt, the xylophone driven melody, the hand claps – all complement the nervous excitement of the lyrics.
These days the dance beat and big bass of “Screw” remind me a bit of Gang of Four, a band I’d not yet discovered back in the day when this album was my everything. Back then, I just giggled like the silly adolescent girl I was at a song titled “Screw.” “Push” has a huge, epic sound, all ringing guitars and shouted vocals, that’s almost U2-esque, and I don’t mean that as even a little bit of an insult. “A Night Like This” comes across a little INXS-ish, like a deep cut from side 2 of Listen Like Thieves, and I do mean that as a bit of an insult. Just a straight forward, guitar-driven rock song of the 80s that does nothing particularly interesting. If I’d never heard it, and today someone told me that the Cure had a song with a disco guitar riff and a drum machine, I’d strap on my dancing shoes and get ready to be impressed. If what I got was “The Baby Screams,” I’d be sorely disappointed.
I suppose I’ve always been kind of a lousy Cure fan since I am far more partial to their upbeat songs than the slow, moody  dirges. “Kyoto Song’s” Japanese tinkle laid over a funereal beat is the perfect soundtrack for the world’s most boring opium den. The album ends not with a bang but a whimper in the form of “Sinking,” one of those songs best suited for driving home on a rainy night after something that was supposed to be fun but ended up depressing, like a hockey game where a guy gets Malarchuked by a skate, or a Rob Schneider movie.
Though I’ve always had a hallowed place in my memory for this album, I found it mostly unlistenable in my late teens and early twenties, as I scorned all that I thought was cool as an early teen. These days, I think I give it a pretty fair shake – that scorn tempered by middle-aged nostalgia. I’ve recaptured the joy of the truly joyful songs, while being willing to admit that the clunkers clunk. I probably wouldn’t have said so ten or fifteen years ago, the happiness this album has brought me over the course of 30 years of intense music fandom earns it a spot in my all-time top ten.

The Joup Friday Album: Daft Punk – Alive 2007

Alive2007Big news, people! The sun is shining in Chicago, and it’s not scheduled to set until after 5PM! The 10-day weather forecast indicates a mere 2 days below 30 degrees. Things are looking up. The temps are rising. People are creating and reuniting. Supergroups are forming. This all means one big thing.

Summer concert festival season is upon us.

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