Past Life Is the Best Life? Lost in the Trees’ New Album

Lost in the Trees - Past Life


Lost In the Trees approached their third album with a specific mission: To capture something less morose and somber than their second album, A Church that Fits Our Needs — an aural cathedral built for frontman Ari Picker’s mother, who committed suicide. They went into a more sparse, electronic direction, and even pared down their personnel from six to four. It’s a significant shift in the band’s direction, yet similar concepts to those on A Church reverberate throughout Past Life.

Narrators crumble into flames in explosive, emotional moments; death is a staircase meant to be climbed; angels speak; eyes house birds that flutter out in gestures of love; and still more angels float to and fro like some kind of stained glass window come to life in brilliant sunbursts. And those are just the lyrics. {Read More}

Xiu Xiu Goes Dark(er): Angel Guts Review

For an unflinching musical exploration of well, just about anything, we’re lucky to always have Xiu Xiu around, punching us in the ears and kicking us in the groin. From “I Love Abortion” to Dear God, I Hate Myself, Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart has never allowed his music or its subjects to be anything even remotely close to easy. Recently, he gave us an album of Nina Simone covers that was met with as much praise as criticism. This February, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Xiu Xiu has delivered the perfect album appropriate for twisted lovers everywhere. Save an ear, send Angel Guts: Red Classroom. [Read More…]


Xiu Xiu Angel Guts

Destroyer Goes Spanish: Five Spanish Songs EP

Trying to describe Destroyer’s Five Spanish Songs is complicated. On the surface, it’s exactly what you’d think it is: five songs sung in Spanish, each sparkling little ruby a cover of a song by Spanish group Sr. Chinarro and written by that band’s frontman, Antonio Luque. And like on most Destroyer releases, Bejar’s particular magic is suspended somewhere between our disbelief that this dramatically-voiced guy is making music and the peculiar sensation that he’s onto something — and it’s good. At least with English, we have the benefit of understanding the words and therefore get the dualistic nature of both what he’s saying and how he sings it. [Read More at . . . ]


Destroyer Five Spanish Songs

Painted Palms: Addictable Summer Sounds

Painted Palms’ debut full-length album Forever is something sweet. It’s an auditory Candyland. It brims with champagne, cotton candy, gumdrops (maybe?) and other tempting indulgences. You’ll want to head to the beach. You’ll want to roller skate or surf or make a montage of yourself doing all of that and then destroy it, because who wants to endure that kind of embarrassment? [Read More at . . . ]


Painted Palms Forever

Arcade Fire Predicted My Future and I Only JUST Found Out

Ok, so JUST found out is a bit of an understatement. I noticed it about a month ago when I was perusing the year’s music releases so I could compile my best-of list. I’ve told you that my newest book is loosely based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, right? I mean, I guess I could say that the Greeks predicted my future, if we’re going to suggest that things that came prior to me mentioning the myth had anything to do with me.

They didn’t. And Arcade Fire came out with their album after I’d already plotted my story. So in a way, we could almost suggest that it was ME who influenced THEM.

Or the Greeks.

Probably the Greeks had more to do with it than I do. Yeah. Probably.

Anyway, I thought it was cool to see that a cluster of such great musicians find the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice so powerful. I feel the same way. Guys (she says to Arcade Fire, the entire band), we should hang out. We have a lot in common.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor




“Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” Arcade Fire



Coming up someday, I review Destroyer’s new EP “Five Spanish Songs.” Spoiler alert: it’s no “Your Blues. ” I’ll also be taking a look at Painted Palms. Also, don’t forget that my new book comes out on January 14th. Put it on your calendars! If you’re a member of Netgalley, look for it soon. It’ll be up as an ARC.

Chlorinated Wasteland: Of Montreal’s “Lousy with Sylvianbriar”

Lousy With Sylvianbriar

Lousy with SylvianbriarOf Montreal’s 12th album, could almost be described a sloppy concept album, tied together by what we see in the borderline psychedelic cover art: a motorcycle parked on a patch of grass, handle-bars tilted to a casual angle, a couple of well-placed lens-flares suggesting something sunny about the machine, which is presented against the backdrop of purple trees and a green-skied world. It’s all kind of chlorinated — it reeks of chemicals. It seems cold and unfriendly. And those are concepts mused on and threaded like a wafting, poisonous cloud throughout the album, from the highlight opener “Fugitive Air” and the sultry “Obsidian Currents” to the mumbled wasteland-bleak “Colossus,” to the melodically redundant “Amphibian Days.” [Read More . . . ]

What the Hell Is My Blog, Anyway?

Confession. I still don’t know what I want my blog to be. If you knew me, you’d know that I’m notorious for being indecisive. The problem is that I have too much passion. Some days I want my blog to be a spot for me to assist fellow indie-authors and help them spread the word about their cover reveals and book releases. Other days I want to write confessional posts like this one.

Or I want to post an awesome song or playlist I’ve discovered or made for my current book. Like today. I’m going to post a playlist and maybe a couple songs from it.

If you stick around a while with me, I can promise you that you’ll get the full effect of my indecision in the form of whimsical posts, news related posts, and cover reveals. Possibly some drawings (literal drawings and giveaways, BOTH . . . why not BOTH?), music reviews, and other fun shiz.

Sometimes I say shiz. Sometimes I say shit. That’s just a function of my indecision (should I be upstanding or real? Should I be classy or fun? Why not both?).

Why not both?
My life encapsulated in a MEME.


So, regarding music. When I write a novel, I tend to listen to specific music–dream pop, chillwave, aggressive rock, etc–that helps me visualize a scene. Eventually I move past certain songs and can’t listen to them anymore EXCEPT when I’m working on that scene. Other times the song translates to later scenes and works for other places in the book with a similar feel.

Later, during editing, I generally have to find new music because I can no longer listen to those first songs. They’re overdone. And I need to feel something new or different when I’m revising.

This little playlist is a mixture of both:


1. “Flickers,” London Grammar (this has been good for editing, and if I was making A Boat Made of Bone into a film, this song would clearly be perfect)

2. “Guilty,” The Bee Gees (inspired the disco skating scene. What? What’s the disco skating scene? Mwah ha ha ha. Read the book!)

3. “The Cold,” ExitMusic (inspired pretty much the whole book. If I was making A Boat Made of Bone into a film, I would personally BEG Aleska Palladino and her man to do the soundtrack. Effing amazing.)

4. “Storms,” ExitMusic (I did a teaser with this song in it. You can listen here)

5. “An Artist’s Song,” Lost in the Trees (inspired a lot of the mythical type scenes in the last half of the book….)

6. “Demons,” The National

7. “I Should Live in Salt,” The National

8. “Tomorrow,” Niki and the Dove

9. “Hysteric” Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs

10. “Wedding Song,” Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs [Holy shiz. This song….kills. IT. AND ME. I love you Karen O.]

11. “Never Again,” Lightning Dust

12. “Atlantis,” Ellie Goulding

13. “Anything Could Happen,” Ellie Goulding

14. “Dream,” The Boxer Rebellion [No, I don’t watch Vampire Diaries. Total accident.]

15.  “New York,” The Boxer Rebellion

16. “You Belong to Me,” The Boxer Rebellion

17. “Amsterdam,” Daughter

18. “Human,” Daughter

19. “Post Script,” Typhoon [Beautiful love song.]

20. “Young Fathers,” Typhoon

21. “Prosthetic Love,” Typhoon

22. “Bravado,” Lorde

23. “Heart Beats,” Hey Marseille [Crap video, good song. If you can ignore the guy’s enormous features taking up the entire picture.]

So, as you can see, this playlist would not fit on an 80 minute blank CD. That’s how I used to create playlists and trust me, it was quite a personal achievement today to overcome the habit of cutting off the playlist at 80 minutes. Remember the good old days when you could totally just buy a blank tape that was 120 minutes long? Yeah! The problem was that they wore out faster . . . because of the thinner magnetic tape.

Right? I don’t know. I might have made that up.

You can also see from this playlist that I have a type of music. It’s not death metal. It’s not hard core. And if you can define it accurately, I’ll give you some . . . chocolate. A firecracker chocolate bar from Chuao. Because that is my new favorite. Also, the definition has to be spot on enough that my immediate response is, “Yep. That just about does it.”

Pretty much I consumed Daughter, The Boxer Rebellion, Lost in the Trees, Exitmusic, and Ellie Goulding in large quantities as I wrote A Boat Made of Bone.

I’m posting a couple of my EXTREME favorites below.

an artist's song



“An Artist’s Song,” Lost in the Trees





“Post Script,” Typhoon





“Wedding Song” Yeah Yeah Yeahs [Note, this is not the album cover. I officially loathe the album cover. This is the “Hysteric” cover.]

You Can Bring Back the 80s: Okkervil River’s Silver Gymnasium

The Silver Gymnasium

Will Sheff recently said that he “can’t make 1987 come back…this is the closest thing I can get to that,” while talking about Okkervil River’s expansive ode to his childhood, The Silver Gymnasium. Variously described as an aural bildungsroman and a return to his hometown in song, Okkervil River’s newest LP builds on Sheff’s ability to capture musical styles without sacrificing his artistic integrity….[Read More]

Catchy Hooks and Tons of Synth: “Ruby Red” and The Love Language

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 3.24.09 PM

My new review is up over at the music mag Treblezine. Check it out!

Here’s a teaser:

Stuart McLamb, the sole full-time member of The Love Language, recently divulged a secret about himself. “I can definitely overthink stuff,” he said, discussing the just-released Ruby Red. I’ll elaborate: The Love Language recorded the album in a flurry of enthusiasm and anticipation in 2012, and then listened to the finished product en route to SXSW that March. What they heard wasn’t what they wanted to share with their fans. They scrapped it and McLamb and producer B.J. Burton redid the entire thing over the next year with the help of 21 musicians in four states…[Read More]

Lightning Dust Review on Treblezine

Check out my review of the recent Lightning Dust release on the music site Treblezine! Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 11.31.01 PM

A quick look at Lightning Dust‘s top downloads on Amazon’s MP3 store shows that “Diamonds” is the band’s most downloaded track. One listen and it’s easy to see why — it’s endlessly catchy, its syncopated beat rolling like a flashback to a time when Annie Lennox and Fleetwood Mac commanded the radio. It’s in good company, though —  sparse synth-pop beats, drum-loops, and powerful vocals comprise the whole of Lightning Dust’s third full-length album, Fantasy……read more!