Red and Blue: A Bipartisan Election Playlist

Well, the mid-terms happened and we Americans have come out to prove that we cannot make up our minds to save our lives. This week, I humbly submit to you a bipartisan playlist: ten songs for the Republican victors and ten songs for the Democrat losers. It’s a list of songs you conservatives can listen to as you cheerfully tell Pelosi not to hit her ass on the way out and the Democrats can cry to as they make bad boner/Boehner puns in between sobs. Let’s crank up the jams for the Republican victory ho-downs and Democrat pity parties quickly folks, before the infuriating traffic jam that is national policy making begins and we all become hopeless losers.

Republicans

1: “Christ Our President” by Billy Bragg and Wilco

This little ditty is for all those Christian righters and Tea Party fiends who are so intent on taking the country back! It really should be their theme song. Given the Republican record for using songs like, “Born in the USA,” which is extremely critical of American policies, they probably wouldn’t care that it was written by the most famous American socialist, Woody Guthrie.

2: “Après Moi” – Regina Spektor

“After me comes the flood” is probably exactly what John Boehner was thinking when he woke up on that sunny Tuesday morning in November. There was a red flood. This song also has the added bonus of listing things conservatives can be afraid of, like the poor and the lame. They are so scary that they shouldn’t get any health care.

3: “Okie From Muskogee”- Mele Haggard

This song dates back to the Vietnam War protests, deriding the hippies and lauding those from the small all American towns. Just like the Republicans, this song is gleeful of ignorance and suspicious of intellectualism. Granted, it was also intended to be satirical.

4: “Fight the Power”- Public Enemy

“Fight the Power” is a rallying cry for the Tea Party and the insurgent conservatives, who see themselves as outsiders looking in on corruption and scheming. So this was originally a song for all the liberals out there looking to subvert the freakishly regressive politics of the 1980s– it works just as well for subverting the progressive politics of today.

5: “Celebration”- Kool and the Gang

To be honest, this is the only one of the songs that they may actually play at any of the victory parties. Still, celebrate now, because in two years, when nothing has gotten done due to gridlock let’s see if this red tide pulls back out.

6: “Rock You Like a Hurricane”- The Scorpions

Here the Republican Party is, America! And they are ready to rock both you and the Democratic Party like a hurricane. Not a hurricane Katrina though, because you forgot about how Republican leadership was in charge during that. And not a hurricane of foreclosures either, which the Republican Party oversaw. You know, a hurricane of amnesia, a hurricane like that.

7: “The American Dream” From Wag the Dog

This here will celebrate two of the things the Republican party used to win, both the maudlin and blind acceptance of “American ideal” without recognition of American problems AND deft manipulation of the media. If you haven’t seen Wag the Dog yet, this joke may be lost on you, so go see it.

8: “The Fear”- Lily Allen

“I’m being taken over by the fear” sounds a whole lot like what many Republicans were saying this whole election cycle and voters were being taken over, that is for sure. Let’s be honest, no Republican celebration is complete without at least some fear mixed in.

9: “The Knife”- Grizzly Bear

This one here is dedicated to all the “mama grizzlies” that Sarah Palin helped move to the spot light. When the beautiful harmonies kick in and hauntingly sing, “Can’t you feel the knife” you can practically see the gleeful faces of Rand Paul and Sarah Palin as they think about what they did to the democrats.

10: “Testify”- Rage Against the Machine

While Rage Against the Machine is known for their incendiary videos directed by Michael Moore and is widely considered to be liberal, these guys have a message the Tea Party can get behind, “we hate the government.” Ask any Tea Partier if they feel like they are raging against a machine, more likely than not they will say yes. “Testify” should be played as a hype song, because now that they have subpoena power, testifying is the only thing the President will have time to do.

Democrats

1: “Loser”- Beck

That’s what you are, dems: losers. Big fat losers. How does it feel to be such a loser, does it feel exactly like it felt in 1994? Here is a song so you can relive the pain and floral prints of the 90s.

2: “Stand By Your Man”- Tammy Wynett

This is exactly what congressional candidates did not do this election. In fact, they ran away from their man. Nonetheless, you are going to have to start standing beside him if you want to remain in power two years from now, otherwise there will be only pain and heartache coming your way.

3: “Political Science”- Randy Newman

“No one likes us, I don’t know why” is a sentiment that the Democrats are keenly in tune with. Why did the people run away on you? Could it be that you promised sweeping change and never delivered? Or maybe the comical infighting that makes congress look like an elementary school playground. Drop the big one, Dems, see what happens.

4: “Destroy Everything You Touch”- Ladytron

This is another sentiment the Democrats know only too well. While the country isn’t completely destroyed, all that good will from the last election is. When it was in the hands of the most disorganized party on the planet, I guess it’s a small wonder it didn’t happen sooner.

5: “In My Hour of Darkness”- Gram Parsons

Oh, it is a dark time for you Dems, a dark time indeed. This song asks for the one thing that you desperately need: vision. So sit around and cry a little bit, and hopefully, someone will grant you some vision–and quick.

6: “Optimistic”- Radiohead

There was so much misguided optimism coming into this election. Oh, you adorable little democrats, you thought you could keep the House. So sweet, so naïve. Well Thom Yorke and Co have something to say: “You can try the best you can, the best you can is not enough.”

7: “Changes”- David Bowie

Remember the good old days, the days when you promised change? Change we can believe in was the exact wording, I seem to recall. Well, here’s to those days. Maybe if you start shouting loud enough, the people will forget that there was very little change to be had.

8: “The Song Remains the Same”- Led Zeppelin

There seems to be so little different with the country since the start of the Democrats taking power. That could be, of course, that there has only been two years that have past and that the other party sat around yelling, “I can’t hear you, lalalalala, I can’t hear you.” None the less, Democrats get to hide back in their holes knowing that everything went back to being the same.

9: “Once in a Lifetime”- Talking Heads

Here is another one for sobbing over lack of accomplishments–and it’s got a killer beat. Things may still be exactly the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dance and cry at the same time.

10: “All Apologies”- Nirvana

You can dedicate this one to the liberals who feel disenfranchised.

From Sonic Eclectic, 11/8/2010: http://soniceclectic.com/music/2010/11/red-and-blue-a-bipartisan-election-playlist/

 

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What’s Up with the Ladies- 2 Broke Girls Edition

2 BROKE GIRLS has a whole lot of problems: it isn’t very funny, it appears to think that Brooklyn is Times Square in the 1970’s, it thinks that if you say hipster enough they will like you, it is more than a little racist — the list goes on. It packages stale one-liners into a stale three-camera structure (with a laugh track, THE HORROR) and the results are predictably boring and awful. Still, I tune in every week waiting for it to get better because I know there is a pretty amazing comedy buried deep under the canned lines — a comedy that is based on the sweet and believable relationship between two women.

Created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, 2 BROKE GIRLS sets up a pretty classic “Odd Couple” style relationship between poor waitress Max (Kat Dennings) and disgraced heiress Caroline (Beth Behrs). King is no stranger to female relationships on TV having been the executive producer of one SEX AND THE CITY. Now, no matter what you think about the four fabulous friends living large in a (fantasy) NYC, the relationships between them became a major part of pop culture in the last decade. Iconic relationships King can do — and with a certain degree of realism and care. Max and Caroline have the makings of an iconic relationship where the rest of the show seems content to be lazy their blooming friendship is kinetic and while it sometimes rests on lame plot points, it is always at least a little fun to watch. Most of the credit for Max and Caroline should be given to the spectacular comedic actresses that play the roles, they infuse life into something that would otherwise feel as ancient and out of the loop as the shows view of Brooklyn. Dennings and Behrs make the characters realistic, they make them seem like broke girls in Williamsburg.

The show is never able to capitalize on the spectacular job their lead actresses are doing because when the material isn’t just flat bad, it’s mildly offensive or offensively boring. The tertiary characters include: the walking sexual harassment suit Oleg who one of these days will shout out, “In Soviet Russia vagina masturbates YOU,” an owner who recalls the days when Mickey Rooney had the best Asian impression in the world and a African American cashier whose jive talking stereotype fell out of favor sometime after Ralph Ellison wrote “The Invisible Man.” When these characters aren’t interrupting the girls to do literally nothing, the two friends are being blasé about their sex lives for no other reason than to be blasé about their sex lives.

I love sexual liberation as much as the next oversexed twenty something, but there is a line between being open about sexual appetites and experiences and saying vagina a lot — one can be funny and even a little satirical of a repressed society, the other makes it seem like you aren’t a very good joke writer (Whitney, I’m looking straight at you).  Hearing the words “vagina, masturbate, good nine inches” come out of a pretty girls mouth might make the 15 year old boy set go crazy — but this is network TV, not health class. If the nonchalant attitude towards sex was done with care and craftsmanship, it could be a great element of the show. Instead it, like most everything else in 2 BROKE GIRLS, is lazy and unfunny.

A good, hilarious woman can be a gold mine in comedy — plenty of recent television shows have taught us that. 2 BROKE GIRLS has two hugely talented actresses that are absolutely ready to become the next great comedy super-stars and a core relationship that is ready to be cemented among the best friendships of the medium. Too bad the writers are too preoccupied with these women’s vaginas to care about the women themselves.

From Reel Vixen, 11/2/2011: http://reelvixen.com/?p=1364

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Doctor Who – The Wedding of River Song Recap

Now is a great time to admit that the finales of DOCTOR WHO have never really blown me away. For the most part they were either over wrought or never felt entirely earned. I prefer not to think of the horror of the Master’s takeover in Season 3 and even last seasons amazing set up, “The Pandorica Opens” was followed by an overstuffed confusing episode for the finale. This season, however, ended beautifully.

In perfect Steven Moffat fashion, it never answered everything, asked a few more questions and had some wonderful moments of pathos and hilariousness. Its one of my favorite season finales of the new Who. Lets unpack this shall we? It is 5:02pm on April 22nd, 2011—the day the Doctor dies and something is wrong. How do we know something is wrong? Because there are cars floating in hot air balloons and train tracks running through that really phallic looking British building (this building looks like a giant penis). Who but Meredith Vieira (WTF?) should come on the TV and tell us that Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill is riding a mammoth. Aside: That is something I would pay a shit ton of money to see.

Anyway, Emperor Churchill is all, “Cleopatra is a bitch, wait! Why isn’t time moving- it’s always 5:02 on April 22nd!” And his Silurian doctor is all like, “Yes, and?” So Chruchill, the most intelligent and perceptive man in this universe calls for the “soothsayer.” Who, you guessed it, is totally The Doctor sporting a really scraggly, ugly beard. Creators of Doctor Who, Matt Smith is really attractive and trying to hide it helps no one. Churchill wonders what happened to time, the Doctor looks up all mysterious and wise and says, “A Woman.”

Now we are back in the earlier times and The Doctor is getting information from the only Dalek that has shown up in this season so far—good on you Moffat, I was suffering from over exposure to Daleks, I appreciate the self restraint. So he gets some information about The Silence and goes to see a monk will a terrible haircut and eye-patch ladies eye patch. But it’s not the monk guy he was looking for; it’s the little people in the man sized space ship from “Let’s Kill Hitler.” The tiny people give him the weakest link in the Silence’s order, and now he is playing chess with a Viking- except it’s voltage death chess. Voltage Death Chess, best game since Rollerball. So The Doctor concedes the game to the Viking in order to get information on why The Silence want him dead. The Viking takes him to Dorium Maldovar (fat blue guy) who was beheaded by the Headless Monks at Demon’s Run.

Can we take a moment to appreciate how scary some of the shit that Moffat comes up with is? Seriously, those moving skulls in the catacomb were nightmarish, and when they ate up the Viking (after he steps on a trap trying to kill The Doctor) and menacingly looked up the pit, I jumped about 10 feet in the air. After a nice scare we get the comic relief of Doruim’s head talking to The Doctor and asking how bad his wounds are (ha ha, you’re headless!)

At this point, Churchill butts in, apparently he has a problem believing that there are skulls that eat people whole. The Doctor explains that in his universe they were friends, and he senses that, like he sensed there was something wrong with time—apparently Churchill accepts that. Basically he is showing here the same instinct he showed at Yalta. Back in the tomb The Doctor asks about The Silence and we get this gem: “On the fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature will speak falsely or fail to answer, the question will be asked […] a question that must never, ever be answered a question hidden in plain sight.” It’s the first question, the one that silence falls after. Do you want to know the question, Dorium asks, YES we all yell back. The skulls look at the Doctor, and then he answers weakily, “of course.”

The Doctor takes Dorium to the TARDIS where Dorium says, “you know the question, you see why you have to die.” WAIT- says Churchill, what was the question? The Doctor starts explaining that there are some secrets that you would kill to protect, and that is what The Silence are doing. But what is that on his arm, a hash mark, and Churchill has a gun. In the TARDIS Dorium revels that The Doctor’s death is a fixed point in time, which we know from being giant Doctor Who fans means it has to happen. But time is not the boss of the Doctor, he can help Rose Tyler with homework, go to all Capt Jack’s stag parties– to prove it he calls up his old friend Brigadier only to find that he died. That could be the saddest thing that has ever happened on Who, for those of you who don’t know Brigadier died a few months ago. It was a great moment that worked beautifully. This makes him realize there is no avoiding death, and so he gives the blue envelopes to his tiny friends in the man spaceship- they ask if they can help in any other way, and he sadly leaves.

At this point Churchill makes a really good point, why did you invite these people you care about deeply to come watch you die? Are you really that much of a narcissistic douche—imagine how awful that would be, watching your best friend die. He says something about not dying alone, but I think its crap. So we are back at the lake and The Doctor goes over to the astronaut rising out of the water and talks with River. The suit is in control and she will kill him, he says she is forgiven and then, “Hello, Sweetie.” Nothing happened, River re-wrote time and now everything is fading to gray. Back in 5:02 time, Churchill and The Doctor realize they were defending themselves and look up only to see a nest of Silence! Gas canister goes off and there is Amy Pond speaking like James Bond and she is wearing… an eye patch!

Awake on the train we find out that Amy is ok, and remembers everything because she is a girl who can do that. She gives the Doctor his suit and bow tie, he asks about Rory and she says, “my husband?” And shows him a picture she drew that looks NOTHING like Rory. In walks Captain Williams, who gets a big smile from The Doctor and nothing from Amy, cause she apparently can’t figure out that she’s insane in love with him. It’s adorable watching those kids fall in love over and over again. They go into a pyramid called Area 52 where there are hundreds of Silence imprisoned and where River is waiting and nasty eye-patch lady is a prisoner. Isn’t the design of the Silence terribly cleaver? They look like what human lore has postulated Aliens look like, with the big head and eyes, throughout most of modern history. It is a nod to their power, they erase themselves on site, but humans have still been seeing them for all of our history and instinctively know what they look like. They become all the more frightening because we recognize the nightmare.

The Doctor goes over to River who starts confessing her love to him and he’s all, “why can’t you just let me die!” Doctor, I know a lot of ladies have confessed their love to you through the years, you could be a bit more sensitive. Yes, River screwed up all of time and now it’s disintegrating, but still. SHE DID IT FOR LOVE! The Doctor touches River and it makes time go forward, see they are the opposite poles of the disruption and if they touch things go back to normal. River is not able to accept this, so she has the Doctor handcuffed. Everyone is bantering when they notice water is leaking from the ceiling. The Silence are coming, they are coming to kill you with electricity in the eye-patches that they short out. Even eye-patch lady’s eye-patch starts to kill her, and she is very peeved.

 Everyone runs upstairs to where there is something that The Doctor needs to see except Rory who is defending the door despite being in immeasurable pain. He is a mensch that one! The Silence come in and say to Rory, “Rory Williams, the man who dies and dies again. Die one last time and know she will never come back for you.” But, it’s Amy and she does come back, and mows those big headed dudes down with a giant machine gun. Eye-patch lady asks for Amy’s mercy to which Amy says, “Ha! Bitch please- you stole my baby, suffer the consequences” and puts the eye-patch back on her so she can have voltage fry her brain into fried jell-o. Amy Pond, one ruthless bitch.

River and The Doctor are on top of the pyramid which has a space beacon and has sent a message out that The Doctor is dying and millions responded with a resounding, “Oh No! Can we help?” River tells the Doctor she loves him some more though The Doctor seems very intent on dying. So he asks to be un-cuffed and wraps his bow tie around he and River’s hand and asks the parents of the Bride to say, “I consent and gladly give.” The Doctor leans forward and whispers something in River’s ear and she brightens up considerably. “I just told you my name,” he says and then he and River kiss as everything goes bright. Time is set right and The Doctor has died.

Amy is in her yard with two glasses of wine and in pops River, fresh off the adventures with the Weeping Angels last season. River is a sweet and good daughter so she tells Amy a secret, a secret that makes them jump up and down for joy!

Back in the tomb with the horrifying skulls a hooded figure brings Dorium back to his resting place, and Dorium being the smarty that he is knows it is The Doctor. How did he escape? Well, he wore the tiny people in the people sized spaceship to the lake, and what he whispered in River’s ear was to look in his eye- where the real Doctor was waving about happily. “But your fall at Trenzalor is still coming,” and so is the question, the question that Dorium shouts after him as The Doctor enters the TARDIS, “Doctor, who?” So there you go, more questions were asked than answered and Moffat and Co. have set up some serious consequences for the fall of Eleven. There was a lot of exposition in this episode- so much that I think I just got carpal tunnel from writing the recap, but it moved quickly and was great fun. See you at Christmas!

From Reel Vixen, 10/5/2011: http://reelvixen.com/?p=920

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Doctor Who- Closing Time Recap

Hello fellow Whovians and welcome to the inaugural DOCTOR WHO recap- yay! Unfortunately, we happened to start re-capping DOCTOR WHO right when it’s almost over. Still, that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the last three episodes of the season, especially since this one had the always lovable Craig and the final two parter looks to be about as insane and action packed as about eight Pandroicas opening! So, let’s just jump right in.

If you work in a shop in England, never let the girl who is with you leave early while you stay to close up. This can result in only one thing- death and destruction.  After the lights go on and off a couple of times in a department store where only one pretty lady with bras in cleaning up- we discover this week’s mode of death and destruction THE CYBERMEN (OH NO!). The pretty lady with the bras is taken, there are some lights flickering and—look who it is, our old buddy Craig!

I sincerely hope that Moffat era WHO always ends with a social call to Craig and Sophie. Like last season, the penultimate episode allows for relative calm and humor of Craig’s little life. Turns out that the Doctor’s meddling in Craig and Sophie’s romantic life in last season’s excellent episode “The Lodger” resulted in a baby. The kind of baby that prefers to be called Stormegeddon, Dark Lord of All and refers to everyone as “not-mum” and “peasants,” you know, the kind of baby that shows up in Moffat era Who.  So Craig has a baby, Sophie is away and The Doctor comes to say hello, and notices that something is wrong AND SUDDENLY has a job in a shop selling toys to kids. I would wonder why people are always so keen to give the Doctor a job when he needs one, but I would imagine he gets them the same way he just “shhhhes” and people stop talking- timey-wimey charm power. I like how this Doctor doesn’t use the stupid name “John Smith” whenever trying to not be weird and just has them put on his nametag, “The Doctor:  Here to help.”

Who should walk into the nice department store but Craig and little baby Stormy. Now, Craig, though a little exhausted from baby duty, is not stupid and knows that because the Doctor is there, something is up. He gives a wonderful little plea for information with the lofty, “my son lives here,” line and we learn that not just the pretty lady with the bras went missing, but several people and that those people went missing around the time of the energy fluctuations. Craig says there’s new cabling and because of what some new found guilt The Doctor latches on to that and throws Craig and the baby in an elevator with a big DANGER sign on it (after a sonic screwdriver wave, of course) and then, because he is the Doctor, jumps in to explain what he thinks is going on. See, there is a teleporter that something is using to get down to earth- a teleporter that could look like anything and—HOLY SHIT, there they are, in a spaceship. The Doctor, intent that Craig doesn’t know confesses his love and really awkwardly tries to seduce him, basically giving Matt Smith and James Corden a vehicle to show off what spectacular comic chemistry they have together.  Of course, Craig notices the spaceship and screams just as the Cybermen start walking towards them and the Doctor un-does the teleporter.

Craig insists on staying with the Doctor to investigate what the Cybermen are doing and why they haven’t invaded yet- and Craig responds with a hearty, “you always win, you always survive.” Craig, bad timing—The Doctor is coming to grips with the fact that he is supposed to be killed at Lake Silencio soon, he’s going through some heavy shit, Craig and you just totally made him remember that. The Doctor isn’t mad though, no, he gives Craig a nice hug and tells him to go investigate. The Doctor goes to a nice lady, who thinks that his “partner” and the baby are very cute- it’s a nice reverse gay panic joke! And it is adorable. The Doctor wonders if partner is better than companion and it’s a nice meta joke! Investigation is done, Craig looks like a perv in the lingerie department asking around and The Doctor finds out about a silver rat robot thing that’s been zipping around.

Then the Doctor then sees Amy and Rory and wants very badly to talk to them- but hides behind a rack while he watches a little girl get Amy’s autograph. Then behind him he sees a big perfume called Petrichor (call back to The Doctor’s Wife!) ad with Amy’s face on it and the slogan “For the girl who’s tired of waiting.” So Amy is a model now, and apparently a perfume magnate because the name and slogan totally came from her, so good for you honey, make that money!

But back to the task at hand- the store closes and the Doctor, Craig and a really well behaved Stormy look for the silver rat thing, which they find and capture with great ease. A security guard is taken by a Cyberman and the Doctor, after running to find him, is knocked out by the Cyberman. He isn’t compatible though so he is ok and they head to Craig’s place. Craig pops out for some milk, opening up the time for the Doctor to teach baby Stormegeddon about existential dread and, of course, how pretty the stars are. BUT WAIT- the silver rat has woken up and wants to eat you for its dinner! The Doctor and runs out of the house with the baby, but Craig comes back just in time to get attacked. The Doctor saves him from being eaten, and they have a nice chat about how the Doctor is going to die. Tomorrow. But Craig doesn’t notice cause he’s asleep. Again Craig, seriously, there is some heavy shit the Doctor is trying to work through and you are all about the crap timing.

The Doctor then leaves in the morning to figure out what is going on, and Craig is determined to help him. So he follows the Doctor to the store with baby Stormy in a papoose because as he says, “the doctor always needs someone.” Very sweet. The Doctor finds a secret underground Cyberman factory through a dressing room and the Cybermen come and get him cornered—but in comes Craig to save the day! Or, to get captured and “upgraded” into a Cyberman. Luckily, Craig left the baby with a nice lady in the store and through the security system can hear baby Stormegeddon crying as the Cybermen begin to erase all his emotions. He fights off the Cybermen’s conversion of him THROUGH THE POWER OF FATHERLY LOVE! Yes, love saved the day- but not in a corny way, in a really sweet way. The power of love blows up the Cybermen and the day is saved. All is good- because of love. Craig gives the Doctor a Stetson for his trip to the USA, the Stetson he wore in the beginning and The Doctor leaves.

He stands outside the TARDIS getting ready to go in for his last journey when he sees some kids and says to them, “I am the Doctor, I was here to help and you are very, very welcome.” It should end there but we cut to RIVER! She is looking at eyewitness accounts and playing with her TARDIS diary when- eyepatch lady and THE FUCKING SILENCE come out of the darkness with an ASTRONAUGHT outfit. The next thing River knows, she’s in at the bottom of a lake. Holy.Shit.

From Reel Vixen, 9/28/2011:http://reelvixen.com/?p=843

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Zola Jesus- Conatus

Zola Jesus Conatus ZOLA JESUS CONATUS [8.0]

Vessel – Zola Jesus

If Riddly Scott is looking for someone to write the soundtrack for his Blade Runner prequel, he should look no further than Zola Jesus (@zolajesus). The Wisconsin singer is able to weave her cold, cyborg beats and deep voice through an electronic landscape that feels just as stark and brutal as the nightmarish science fiction cities of the future. Conatus, the newest album released under Nika Roza Danilova’s Zola Jesus project, expertly creates that dark Blade Runner-esq atmosphere — dark and nihilistic, layered but sparse.  It’s haunting and beautiful all at the same time.

Conatus begins with an atmospheric statement of intent with the minute long “Swords”, pairing electronic glitches with the far off echo and unsettling beauty of Danilovia’s voice. The tone stays the same throughout the record, at times adding strings and larger synthesizers, but always remaining desolate. She simply never lets up on the darkness. Even the single “Vessel”, a spectacular track with an almost dance-worthy beat, is clinical and severe. When her songs build toward a noisy break, Danilova holds back the cathartic beat drop, instead allowing the song to fade and end.  There is no catharsis here, only vague discomfort, and that’s exactly what she was going for.

Not all the songs are stark and empty, though. Some like “Hikikomori” and “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake” add backup singers, ethereal ahhs and orchestral strings. Though these do nothing to make the album less of an aural science fiction nightmare, the larger sounds succeed in adding a more soulful and enticing twist to what could have been an incredibly alienating record.

What makes Zola Jesus such an arresting project is Danilova’s extraordinary voice. Her deep croon has often been compared to other gothic voices, like Siouxie Sioux, but her opera training puts more power behind her low rumbles than those who came before her. Her voice fits perfectly with the industrial influences of the music she creates. Unlike many singers in our current “America Idol” age, Danilova understands that a slight whisper can be as powerful as a scream, a restraint that makes the moments when she puts true power behind her voice absolutely breathtaking.

At times, Contaus can feel too isolating and harsh, though songs like “In Your Nature” and “Vessel” add levity by using more traditional electronic structures. By and large, Contaus is a stunning work by an artist with stunning vision. Danilova has matured greatly in the years that she has been releasing work as Zola Jesus, and her third album sounds like a long standing vision finally congealing into a whole.

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Alexa Wilding at Mercury Lounge

alexa1 550x368 ALEXA WILDING CHANNELED HER INNER STEVIE NICKS AT MERCURY LOUNGE [PHOTOS]

Photo credit: Eric Luc

The chilly New York night was complimented by the melancholic folk that Alexa Wilding (@alexawilding) and Cristina Black (@cristinablack) brought to Mercury Lounge. The lovely, large-voiced girls held their small but attentive crowed in enraptured silence throughout each set.

Cristina Black began the night with accompanying piano and stand up bass. Without much movement or banter between songs, her clear, strong voice and intricate songwriting were the centerpieces of her set. While the slow, sad aspect of the songs tended to blend them together, the refreshing frankness of her voice kept her listeners waiting patiently by the stage.

At 10:30 Alexa Wilding took the stage, immediately silencing the half full room. Having grown up with a cinematographer father and avant-garde actress mother in the same village building as Thurston Moore, her upbringing is absolutely apparent in everything she does. From her quirky stage presence to her wispy voice and songwriting style, everything about Wilding screams 1980’s West Village. She moves and sounds a bit like a mixture of Stevie Nicks and Joan Baez and holds the room like a girl who has been performing all her life. Her breathy voice moves quickly from a brittle whisper to a powerful and soulful croon, adding intensity and emotion to music that would lack those qualities otherwise.

Wilding preformed with two other musicians, a singer/pianist and a guitarist that, with Wilding’s own guitar, created a full sound that kept the music from being overly reminiscent of slight female folk from the 1990s. The most welcome addition came with the harmonies from Wilding’s singer/pianist (who is pregnant- Congratulations!) that added a great depth to the music.

The highlight of the night came with the song “Knife”, a dark ballad off Wilding’s upcoming record that features idiosyncratic rhythms to cradle her dark vocals. The performance proved that Alexa Wilding is more than an interesting back-story and an odd resemblance to Stevie Nicks — she carries real musical weight.

From The Wild Honey Pie, 10/6/2011: http://www.thewildhoneypie.com/alexa-wilding-channeled-her-inner-stevie-nicks-at-mercury-lounge-photos/

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20 Fave Bjork Songs

In the pantheon of those who are truly original, the iconoclasts who did whatever the hell they wanted and damned the consequences, Björk (@bjork) has a cemented place. Her influence can be felt far and wide, from The Knife and Radiohead to, most obviously, Lady Gaga. Björk’s stunning creativity is only amplified by her extraordinary voice.In celebration of the (slow) release of her new album/app Biophilia, we compiled our absolute favorite Björk songs — the ones that make us dance and the ones that make us cry.

Graphics credit: Dylan Clancy

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20. “There’s More to Life Than This (Recorded Live at the Milk Bar Toilets)” – Listen
19. “Hunter” – Listen
18. “Possibly Maybe” – Listen
17. “Venus as a Boy” – Listen
16. “Violently Happy” – Listen

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15. “Innocence” — Listen
14. “Hidden Place” – Listen
13. “Oceania” – Listen
12. “Alarm Call” – Listen
11. “All is Full of Love” – Listen

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“Earth Intruders” — Buy

The driving tribal beat, the blaring horns and Bjork practically screaming “Turmoil! Carnage!” is infectiously catchy and incredibly unique, obtuse and immediate. This track is the perfect definition of the artist herself.

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“I’ve Seen It All” — Buy

Collaboration between Bjork and Thom Yorke is about as close to musical perfection as you can get. While the use of a train’s thumping as the primary beat is incredible, the aching sadness and hope that it portrays in the devastating film Dancer in the Dark is truly where the song’s genius lies.

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“Big Time Sensuality” — Buy

Pure dance music, this is the song that branded Bjork as a flighty pixie. It  bursts with joy punctuated by her guttural animalistic noises near the end. It was her first song that charted in the US, and it’s not hard to see why.

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“Isobel” — Buy

The combination of strings and light electronic beats, a theme in many Bjork songs, is never more stunningly beautiful or haunting as it is here. “Isobel” is a celebration of nature, independence and beauty that unfolds slowly and wraps itself around you.

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“Unravel” — Buy

This is a fair time to admit that the album Homogenic almost always makes me tear up a little, and “Unravel” is the primary reason why. Thom Yorke, in fact, named this melancholic love song his favorite of all time. Bjork uses her vocal power here to sound like she is breaking down, and as a result, so do I.

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“Army of Me” — Buy

Industrial darkness is not one of the many reasons I worship at the feet of Bjork, but “Army of Me” proved that she could create nightmarish music as well as the best metal bands. The depth of her voice, and of course, that amazing grinding beat, make it an impossible song to forget.

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“Bachelorette” — Buy

This is a perfect example of what I love most about Bjork — the epic stings, the crushing electronic beats and that damn voice. Can anyone else in the world place that much emotion into a note or belt with such sustained power? Bachelorette makes me quake every time I hear it.

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“Pagan Poetry” — Buy

Delicate, serene, spacious and erotic, “Pagan Poetry” has to be one of the most romantic songs of all time. The beautiful harp and its dissolution into the monk like repetition of “I love him, I love him” is absolutely devastating.

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“Hyper-Ballad” — Buy

There is probably no better illustration of the fear and tension of giving yourself over to someone than “Hyper-Ballad”. Amongst all the morbid throwing of “car parts, bottles and cutlery” off the cliffs, there is always the promise to be “safe again with you.” It is optimistic and realistic about relationships and has the power to make a lover out of anyone.

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“Jóga” — Buy

I hold firm that “Jóga” is one of the most beautiful and affecting love songs of all time. The orchestra softly cradles Bjork’s extraordinarily tender voice while she sings, “All that no one sees, you see deep inside of me/ Every nerve that hurts you heal, deep inside of me,” easily the most romantic lines I have ever heard. “Jóga” is the reason I fell in love with Bjork.

From The Wild Honey Pie, 9/28/2011: http://www.thewildhoneypie.com/20-fave-bjork-songs/

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