All female, all keyboard. Stay Golden is powerful because it’s honest and straightforward. Great for any rainy or grey winter day.
The man in front of me moved his fingers cautiously, as if one wrong move would demolish his chances. I watched over his shoulder – a quiet observer.
He stopped to stare out the train window, Oakland rushing by, tents hanging under highway ramps and an orange light reflecting against a shipping container.
We hit a tunnel and the man got back to work, his fingers springing upwards after tapping each letter. He began to edit, adding the date of the event, then the location, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
His last edit was his worst.
Totally fine if you can’t make it, he wrote.
His finger hovered over the “send” button, but he stopped to look back out the window. Maybe to wait for some sign that this was right, that whatever he had written would mesh with the ongoing narrative. Or would he hear silence?
He hovered over the “send” button again, then clicked his phone off, and placed it in his pocket, moving to get off the train.
I was in the bookstore today and it seemed each author on my list defined classification. Would Sebastian Junger (nods to D-man) be shelved in Philosophy or Journalism? Are the stories of Norman Maclean considered Autobiographical or that smoky Non-fictional style that turns my pages?
My grandfather was frustrated by the ambiguity, I was charmed.
Good music can sometimes share the same categorical equivocation and increasingly I value artists that headbang and headbutt cataloguing. Here, I think, are two:
Oxymorrons are genre-bending brothers from Brooklyn, whose most popular song, Hello Me, plays like a reincarnation of DeVotchKa and Kid Cudi.
Fantastic Negrito (makes for an an interesting, if not self-aggrandizing, read) “is black roots music for everyone, Blues with a punk attitude from Oakland.” His sound in soulful and spiced with heavy doses of rasp and rad.
I found some Junger in Northeast Maritime. Who knew?
Spring Break down here was big, and it was wild:
Last Halloween I tied a rope around my six-string as a make shift guitar strap and threw together a last minute Kurt Cobain costume. I used what was at my disposal – an orange flannel, ripped jeans and dirty high tops. But without his white bug eyed glasses, a blonde wig, or a pack of smokes, I made a terrible Cobain.
It was Halloween and everyone was drunk, so no one cared much. And after several hours of sipping PBR’s and 1800 at a friends house, we headed off to a bar. Rather than haul my dusty old Ibanez from bar to bar (kid, play us a song!), I left my guitar in the corner of the living room, planning to retrieve it later. And there it sat for six months. Alone. A decorative piece in someone’s living room. Upright and still. Unplayed and underutilized.
The Ibanez and I have some history. She was a birthday present from my parents when I turned thirteen. Right away I took to her, learning the basics from UltimateGuitar.com. My mom used to find stacks of printed sheets next to the printer – future songs to learn.
As a kid I secretly wished I had a Gibson Les Paul or a genuine Fender Stratocaster. The Ibanez was part of any “learn to play guitar” starter kit. But as we’ve grown older, making trips to Upstate New York for College, California for lord knows what, she’s become weathered. There are a few chips on the topboard from scraping up against doors and chairs and the strings are rusty and worn and easily slip out of tune. The body feels familiar on my knee.
Last weekend, my girlfriend retrieved my dusty old 6 string while helping a roommate move out her stuff from the Halloween apartment. Me and the Ibanez were reunited and it felt like rediscovering a long lost color, your favorite in fact – one that you hadn’t painted with for months. Old songs and pentatonic scales began flowing out of my fingertips and I smiled as my brain stretched relearning the old pathways of G, D, C, Em, A, Am.
Once again I was in front of the computer screen, looking up guitar tabs. This time it was the Bahamas, a self taught guitarist from Canada who has reinvigorated my love for acoustic music.
The drugs have worn off, the glitter has faded. This took years, but yes, it finally happened; I exhausted myself on EDM. My musical senses are over-synth’ed, out-based. I’ve taken too many drags with the Chainsmokers, the sun has set on my island of tropical house. I’ll be back someday, no doubt. But for now, it’s time to refuel.
Zöe Keating is a extraordinarily talented cellist and composer from Ontario. I most enjoy her solo performances. Here is a glimpse at how she samples, layers and loops to create symphonic originality.
Zöe doesn’t get along with YouTube, but has made the entirety of her 2010 album Into the Trees available on soundcloud. One day, I hope to have her compose the soundtrack to my debut film.