Now kids, sit around and I shall tell you a story.

I was listening to Suede on my iPod on a beach in South Carolina last spring break. I had found this compilation of British music from the 1990’s at my local library which introduced me to Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and a great many more. I just closed my eyes and pretended it was 1992. I’m so infinitely cool, I know.

The particular song from that compilation that strangely led me to feminism was Metal Mickey by Suede. It’s pretty catchy:

I had to find out what on earth dashing lead singer Brett was singing about. Google told me that Metal Mickey had been written about some band called Daisy Chainsaw.

I quickly looked up Daisy Chainsaw on Wikipedia. Courney Love was a Daisy Chainsaw fan? Wasn’t Courtney Love the wife of Kurt Cobain, I asked myself? Wikipedia described Daisy Chainsaw as being an influence for riot grrrl bands, though it was not directly aligned with the movement. Whatever that meant.

After another google search I happened across the riot grrrl manifesto, which completely changed my entire life.

After reading it I was like YES YES YES! I felt free. I walked down the beach and felt like I was truly myself, and like I had just stumbled upon something absolutely fantastic.

I pasted a copy of the riot grrrl manifesto inside my locker at school, so that if anyone tried to hurt me in any way I could just look at it and say “Eff patriarchy!”
and feel so much better. Because if you’ve ever tried to be a 12 year old girl who doesn’t fit the norm it’s hard.

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I went from wearing skinny jeans that made my hips bleed to wearing sweatpants and skirts and whatever the heck I wanted. I questioned the world around me and became so much more comfortable with myself, my sexuality, my body, my everything. Because society made us expect certain things of each other that just aren’t healthy. Girls are told to be “feminine” and boys “masculine” and that’s that. But who says we have to follow that? Girls and boys, if you’re reading this know that gender norms are a pile of rubbish.

I know that riot grrrl wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t completely inclusive and according to Courtney Love via Wikipedia it was too doctrinaire and censorious. But can’t we put this aside and just appreciate what a positive influence it was in certain people’s lives (ahem, mine)?

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Kathleen Hanna and company taught me that I can be who I want. They gave me power in a time when it was not easy to even be alive. Thinking you’re the queen of the neighborhood is pretty awesome.

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From Rookie.

Okay, so I haven’t posted anything in quite some time. Sorry about that. I’ve been gathering material!!

To make up for four weeks of absence from the internet, I will do four album reviews of four albums that I have really been getting into recently.


Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt, 1995 on Trauma Records

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Gwen Stefani=Fashion

I’ve been hiding my love for No Doubt for too long. Well here I go. I love them with all of my heart. Gwen Stefani, the guy with the mohawk. The lot of them.

Maybe I’m just listening to this album as a sort of ironic nostalgia thing, since I was really into No Doubt in my earlier middle school years. Everything about this album is amazing, though! I am convinced that no life is complete without being obsessed with No Doubt at least once.

Sunday Morning was my theme song for a whole year, and no one understood. Everyone in my math class was hating on No Doubt one day, and I felt so alone. Maybe you will understand, internet people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiBX-ESFDF0

There’s something so catchy in Gwen Stefani’s voice (I could just lock myself in a room and listen to it forever, seriously) and the instrumentation and the subject matter of the songs (being sixteen, having a bad Sunday morning, etc.) that just make Tragic Kingdom a dream.

No Doubt isn’t necessarily “cool”. They deliberately tried to not be a part of the early-nineties grunge scene, and were thought of as a “dork band” for a very long time. Now No Doubt is uncool more because Gwen Stefani is in People magazine a lot. But it’s still so relatable, and just darned good music. It’s mainstream, but it’s also kind of a “cult favorite”. You have to hear it to understand.

Tragic Kingdom is a beautiful little well-crafted pop album that covers ska and Indian music and disco, but isn’t corny at all. It’s loveable, guys. Every song is an anthem for early teenagers. It’s danceable and relatable, which is all I can really ask.

For those of you with Spotify:

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

How I Learned to Write Backwards by The Aislers Set, 2002 on Suicide Squeeze Records

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Reminds me of Lemony Snicket a bit.

I found this record while looking for Henry’s Dress CD’s in a record store. That was before I found out how impossible it is to find these artifacts anywhere. (ugh!) (I found out about Henry’s Dress here on my favorite website ever, by the way. Download that stuff!) But at least my failure to find Henry’s Dress resulted in giving me The Aislers Set, since the label for the section of CD’s in the store read, and I quote, “Aisler’s Set Henry’s Dress”

I could tell it was a good one because the descriptive sticker on the packet mentioned “Slumberland melodies” and Amy Linton, as well as the fact that this was a good album. If you’re not already “clued in”, Slumberland is a very good record label and Amy Linton was a member of Henry’s Dress and afterwards became a member of The Aislers Set (and Go Sailor for that matter).

How To Write Backwards didn’t have as much of the same loud pop-punk guitars I was hoping for after listening to Henry’s Dress, but as the guitarist from Stereolab said once, when you learn not to use guitars to cover up your music you are a fine musician indeed.

And this record is full of amazing Slumberland melodies and harmonies and every song is golden and I can’t listen to it without smiling. It’s one of those albums that you can just listen to over and over and it just gets better and better as you learn it and anticipate the best parts. It sounds like Chicago in the winter. (Getting all poetic there.)

Maybe you’ll like it too. I hope.

The Aislers Set – How I Learned To Write Backwards

Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, 1980

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You know when you’re just going through your life and the perfect 1980’s album just kinda lands on your lap and makes you feel complete? Well that’s what happened with Unknown Pleasures.

I listened to the first track, Disorder, over and over one restless night for about two hours.  (You know those nights where your pillow is too hot and you keep tossing and turning and thinking and it’s terrible?) Disorder is possibly my favorite song ever.

This album sums up everything that I have ever gone through ever. It is a beautiful artistic feat that is so incredibly sadly underrated. I watched the movie Control to gain a deeper understanding of the album, and I am so glad that people like Joy Division exist to spread their art into the world.

Side note: You. Must. Watch. Control.

Saying it’s an album about despair is too general. It’s an album about losing your place in the world, about having too much homework to do and having to go to school and do all these things that you don’t want to and just wanting it to be over.

The album is the purest, rawest album I have heard in a long time. Please fall in love with it.

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

It’s You by Holy Balm, 2012 (because I listen to new music too!) on NOT NOT FUN.

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Holy Balm is a weird, beautiful band. Internet people have described them in the most strange ways:

“Their synth melodies are always prone to slipping saltily off-key and the beats are basically functional – lumpy kicks and squirmy, acidic synth pop bass – ridden with alluring nonchalance by Anna John in a hybrid of basement minimal wave and ’90s dance pop memes.”- Boomkat.com

a three piece psychedelic dance jam band”-last.fm

an LP’s worth of distressed beats and teetering synth lines”- thefader.com

I was not expecting this record to be so perfect, but it is.

Favorite lyrics: I washed my favorite sweater, oh yeah. There it is, on the line, very clean and dry!

This album requires you to dance, or at least bop your head rhythmically. It’s literally required. It sounds jolty and simplistic and just cool. I would literally go to one of their concerts and actually dance.

It sounds at times like Crystal Castles and Kraftwerk and like Peaking Lights and a bunch of other things too that I’m not knowledgeable enough to make comparisons to.

Holy Balm – It’s You

 

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My new favorite shoes.

To be completely fair I got this idea from NEO magazine, which I was flipping though at Barnes and Noble. They only gave the entire DIY two paragraphs and a picture though, so I figured I was doing something little to benefit society as a whole by posting this.

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The “before” picture…

Materials:

  • Mod Podge
  • Shoes that you are willing to sacrifice to art
  • Hot glue gun (not necessarily needed, but it’ll make life easier.)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • A MANGA!! If you’re not “clued in” to the world of manga, it’s basically a Japanese comic that’s beautiful and emotional and just awesome. If you want to read them I recommend Mars as the absolute best series ever. (Rei Kashino❤❤ <3) If you want to glue them onto shoes, it doesn’t really matter. You can buy them basically anywhere that you can buy books. I got this one (Fruits Basket, vol. 2) at a used book store for two bucks.
  • If you don’t like manga, you can do other things as well: comic books, antique books, sheet music, pictures from the internet, basically anything you can stick on a shoe. But manga’s pretty cool, you have to admit.
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Ain’t it pretty?

You’re now ready to cover your shoes in awesome.

Steps:

  1. Cut out as many pictures as you can. Find ones that really mean something to you.Image
  2. Tape the pictures onto the shoe,  (by making a little loop of tape and sticking it to the back of the picture) to get a feel for where you want everything. You can go straight to gluing, but I like to play around with themes and stuff, and tape allows you to take your time and nitpick. Remember that you are putting flat pictures on a rounded surface- you might have to play around with this a bit so you don’t get all crinkly. Smaller pictures work better on more rounded areas like the toes.

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3. Now you can start gluing on everything. I like to leave the tape on the picture and glue around it, but you can do what you want. Don’t get upset if something doesn’t work out, just peel it off and glue something else over it!

Remember: If you used a shoe like mine that stretches out when you put it on your feet, you should probably stretch out the shoes while you glue on the images or they will crack when you try to wear them.

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She’s so sad that the paper cracked.

4. Slather them in mod podge, and you’re ready to go!

And just remember:

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I’m so proud of my babies!

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Looks so pretty with theroses!

I hope you can try this. I’ll be making tons of these, you can rest assured.

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A picture from the very best concert ever.

Oh my gosh Arcade Fire.

I can’t even begin.

I saw them for the first time on the Grammy’s. They were the weirdest band ever, all French and energetic and neon.

Through iTunes Concert Tracker I found out that they were doing a concert in my area. I begged my dad to buy me tickets, and for whatever reason he actually bought them.

The concert was the most beautiful thing ever. To my dying day I will remember the way my knees got all wobbly as I walked in and The National (the opening band) was playing. The lead singer had this baritone voice that kind of bores into your soul. I almost felt like crying for the entire set.

I will never forget Regine’s sparkly dress or the way the crowd literally EXPLODED for the last song. Or the way everything smelled like aloe shampoo.

After two hours of watching Arcade Fire cry and sweat and dance and sing, I was a changed person. There was this whole world that I didn’t even know about, which had suddenly just come running up and knocked me over.

After that I spent all of my free time listening to Arcade Fire, watching them do these adorable interviews that I literally thought about for days after, and practicing violin so I could one day have similar levels of violin virtuosity to Sarah Neufeld. My Arcade Fire t-shirt is still one of my prized possessions.

Also, their whole aesthetic of broken-down, suburbia, the backs of signs, rust, combined with neon and brightness and noise really seriously affected me.

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As well as their earlier weird folk black and white creepy film noir aesthetic with trees.

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It’s amazing the effect music can have on you at the right times in your life. Even though I no longer live for Arcade Fire, the whole experience has sort of shaped me and how I look at music.

What band(s) have you been (are you) obsessed with?

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageGlass Candy

This week was a very Glass Candy week for me in terms of what I wore, so I will write about Glass Candy.Glass Candy is a two-piece electronic band currently residing in Canada, I believe. The lead singer is named Ida No, which I realized sounds like “I dunno” after weeks of having first read that name on Gorilla Vs. Bear. She’s really weird and always reminds me to wear green, pink and blue together like the most mod, Andy-Warhol -inspired Buddhist plastic flamingo. She seems to exist in her own private fantasy world of dreams and color. And no wonder the music makes me think of fashion, it was used in about 3 different high-profile fashion shows, including Chanel Haute Couture and Chloe.

It’s melodic! It’s pretty! It’s pop! It’s disco! It’s inspired by Marilyn Monroe and Kraftwerk!

The music is really melodious and fun-sounding, but still interesting to listen over and over and over. It seems like it would be really fun to dance to if you knew how to dance to music like this. Johnny Jewel, the guy who does all of the instrumentation in the band, is the most amazing guy to ever draw black eyeliner tears on his face. He’s been a part of so many other musical projects that I’ve loved too, like SYMMETRY and The Chormatics.

The music bursts and wobbles. There are big, brassy synths and violin-sounding synths and bell-like synths, some of which you don’t even notice until listening to the music 50 billion times. It becomes a sound that I’ve fallen so in love with. It gets stuck in your head for days. It sounds so vintage, and yet so new, especially with Ida No’s vocals which sound like a slightly bored and extremely fashion-forward French 60’s it-girl singing from a bright stage in an underground nightclub. The vocals often merge into a sort of idyllic-sounding half-spoken monologue about fantasy and truth.

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Ok so maybe part of the reason I bought it was because I like the cover. It’s certainly an “aesthetic of it’s very own”. Retro. Pink. Blue. Bubblegum. Crazed undead Where’s Waldo guys. The promise of weird music.

I like weird things. Heh heh.

Favorite lyrics: (spoken) There’s a dune buggy outside! Let’s go!

It’s not a life-changing album or anything. That said, it was interesting and definitely worth listening to. A solid Pitchfork 7, if you must know. The whole album, though not doing anything that bands haven’t really done before, had this weird Midwestern ghoulish candyish vibe. They really pulled off the whole candy/ghost/retro theme well.

It sounded country-tinted and garage rock-y. It has these pleasing melodies and guitar hooks but there wasn’t really enough there to keep me listening over and over. Just a kind fun, harmonious, playful bubblegum album. My sister thought I was a freak when I was listening to it in my bedroom. Once you hear it you’ll know why.

A plus: it’s on this gray/pink vinyl that is very pleasing to look at. Makes me think of brains.

Go off now! Listen!

I am sorry to be writing about old music. I will do that a lot.

Youth Lagoon is the stage name (I guess, if you want to call it that) of a college student from Idaho or something named Trevor Powers, a name that reminds me of Timmy Turner from the Fairly Odd Parents.

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 I like the earnestness of it Youth Lagoon more than anything else. The careful patience. The hesitation, the not saying too much too soon. I mean, The Year of Hibernation isn’t perfect, but it’s the imperfection that can make it perfect to listen to at just the right times.

Trevor Powers said in an interview that he suffers from severe anxiety. The music doesn’t sound anxious, but certainly like an anxious person slowly recovering, being their self again.

He also said that he likes the Cocteau Twins, a character trait I admire in anyone.