Songs of the Week

Well I have been slacking on the songs of the week. Plus I have two concerts to review. So here is one big happy music post for you!

Guster
I discovered this band when they were the opening band at Barenaked Ladies concert I went to in 2000. I fell in love with Brian and the bongos. These guys and their music have gotten me through a lot and are always there for me. Seeing them live two weeks ago was like seeing old friends. Hearing those familiar songs, the ones I know all the words to by heart and in my sleep, felt like coming home. Does that sound silly or do you have a band like that? So the concert was great. And the past few days I’ve been glad to have Guster in my ways-to-feel-better arsenal. Particularly these two songs from their new album.

I woke up with this song in my head this morning.

Last weekend we saw Band of Horses in concert. I felt kinda like crap that evening and probably didn’t enjoy the show as much as I should have. But this song did touch me for some reason. It’s really kind of a sad, aching song, but gives me shivers anyway. The way their voices blend and weave in and out of each other, and the simple guitar. Beautiful.

Fake Empires Apple Pie

First off, my friend/coworker Jen and I are taking a work trip out to L.A. on Thursday and Friday. We’ll be carrying four giant checks with us to present to a school as prizes for our art contest. Two of my close high school friends live in L.A., so we’re going to spend some time with them. Does anyone have any suggestions on must-sees, amazing restaurants, or anything else for us? This’ll be my first trip to L.A., and California, and Jen’s second I think.

I’ve kind of wanted to name baked goods after songs or bands. Saturday night, as the National rocked my world in concert (I may have had a religious transcendental experience or two … I swear, and I totally touched Matt when he came into the crowd and walked around as he sang the last song), I came up with my first baked good with a song name after The National’s “Fake Empires.”

Stay out super late tonight
Picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it    with us
We’re half awake in a fake empire

Hence, Fake Empires Apple Pie. Oh hey, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s an apple called the empire apple.

I don’t have a strong attachment to how apple pie should taste. It doesn’t evoke childhood memories for me. But I know it does for so many people. Apple pie is one of those dishes that people feel very strongly about. It’s a classic, an all-American standby. So, though I contemplated doing things like throwing in some rum or mixing in ribbons of caramel sauce, I didn’t. I figured best to get down the standard, delicious apple pie first because that’s what people love. You don’t mess with a classic until you know it well. So I figured I’d need at least two attempts at this pie before it was worthy of bringing to a Coffin or Goodman Thanksgiving. Lo and behold, I fricking hit the jackpot on my FIRST TRY. You guys, this pie, it’s sweet and tart, it’s gooey, it tastes like autumn, dare I say it? It’s a classic.

A quick note on the apples you may want to use. I highly suggest either finding a local orchard and picking your own or buying local apples at your farmers market or grocery. You usually want to use some tart apples and some sweet apples. You can’t go wrong with Golden Delicious/Granny Smith mix. If you want to get creative, here are some tips. For a nice mix of sweet and tart, use Jonathan, Stayman-Winesap, Cox’s Orange Pippin, or Jonagold. Straight up sweet choices are Golden Delicious Braeburn, Fuji, Mutsu, Pink Lady, Suncrisp, Rome Beauty, or Empire.Tart baking apples are Idared, Macoun, Newton Pippin, Granny Smith, and Northern Spy. Stay away from apples that become mushy when cooked like McIntosh and Cortland.

And a quick note on your filling not being soupy. (I’ve had this problem and it BLOWS.) Bake the pie until the filling is really bubbling. This will give your thickening agent (flour, tapioca, or cornstarch) time to activate and work. To prevent the crust and top from burning, make a little tent over the top of the pie with foil about 15 minutes in. Let the pie cool ALL THE WAY, like an hour at least, before you slice into it to let all the juices thicken up.

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Song of the Week

I have this AMAZING apple pie recipe to share with you guys, but today I can’t. This pie deserves to be written about with the same excitement and enthusiasm with which  it was eaten. And today I just do not posses any excitement or enthusiasm. Only a sense of weirdness and unfairness. So, I’m begging you to please stick with me with great anticipation for the apple pie, the one that will be gracing your Thanksgiving table this year. Instead I’m giving you a song of the week.

The National

I’m sorely behind on songs of the week. They’ve been more like songs of the month during September. I give you no excuses. Instead, as an apology, I give you The National. This is quite a gift I give you, and I hope you cherish it. The National is this super band with kind of a haunting sound. The lead singer, Matt Berninger, has a very unique, deep voice, almost calming in a weird way. I think I must have first heard these guys when I was working in the coffee shop in Raleigh. The manager had good taste in music and our playlists were always filled with the newest and coolest bands. When I moved home and met Adam, I was excited to find that two of his friends were also into The National. Lucky us, we’re going to see The National in concert on Saturday with those friends! I’ll try to take some pics or vids. (haha, see how I shorten things to be cool?)

So please, soak in fall with this band, and dream about apple pies.

The National, Secret Meeting

Song of the Week

Guster’s new album comes out in one month!! Excitement? Yes, I think so! They’ve put out a video of one of the songs on that album called “Stay With Me Jesus,” and it’s this week’s song.

This song really made me stop and listen. First off, Guster is not a Christian rock band. Quite the opposite in fact, as all three members are Jewish. So I wonder why they wrote a song basically all about Jesus.

A quick excerpt from their newsletter in which they debute the video. “Track 5, “Stay With Me Jesus” — sounds like a Christian Rock title on the surface, but it’s not.  Guster is not Christian Rock.  Guster had Bar Mitzvahs.”

I listened to the song and came to the conclusion that I really like it. And that the song’s not so much about Jesus in the Christian religious sense. It’s more about Jesus being the name for some inexplicable protecting force, the comforting idea that something is watching over you and snatching you up, or stepping in, or keeping you sane at the last crucial second. And that is a universal sentiment. I do wonder why they chose Jesus as the way to explain that feeling though. I’m not at all pissed. (though honestly, I may feel a little weird belting this one out at their concert. But hell I’ll do it anyway. It’s just a word here.) Listen to the song, I doubt you’ll be offended once you do, because you’ll probably be able to relate to the lyrics, whether you believe in the actual and literal words they’ve chosen to sing or not. And maybe that’s their point. It doesn’t matter what word, person, belief you associate with that feeling of being protected and saved. That feeling is still the same across the board.

Or maybe I’m reading way to much into this song. Just listen, OK? And leave me a comment. Tell me what you think. Because I’m extra curious about this song!

Song of the Week

Carolina, someday I’ll, one day I’ll come home. (Avett Brothers, Salina)

Last night Sam, Jen, and I went to a house party. We wanted to pretend we were nineteen again. We struck up a conversation with a girl who really was nineteen, and moving to Minneapolis. She said Asheville had been her second choice. Of course, I started blabbering about how wonderful Asheville is. She said, “That’s what everyone tells me, and you lit up the second I mentioned it, so it must be a great place.” Was I that insightful when I was nineteen? Doubtful. Unless you consider leaping down an entire flight of stairs insightful.

I like this song for more than the fact that it mentions Carolina. Something about running around the country trying to find Somewhere. I relate to that.

Oh, the song is Salina by the Avett Brothers. This is them performing it at Bonnaroo this past June.

Song of the Week

This week, in honor of Arcade Fire releasing their new album (listen to it here), my song of the week is “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire (duuuh).

I don’t know why I love this song so much. I really fell for it when it was on the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are (which, by the way, is an awesome movie if you haven’t seen it). I played the trailer over and over again to listen to the song until I realized that I have it on my iTunes. The lyrics are kind of dark maybe, and they’re not the reason for my addiction to this song. I think it’s something about the big sound that explodes from your speakers when you play it, and the chorus of voices singing out. It feels full of hope and potential and flyingness. (Did you know I like to make up words?)

OK, so here’s the song.

In other news, Happy Friday!

In other, other news, the heat index in Indianapolis on Wednesday was 112°. Yes, you read that right. Heat that presses down on you and fills the air until you feel as though you can hardly breathe. Thankfully the weather broke last night and I was able to ride my new bike into work!

Ellie the bicycle

Lissie

Fridays at work have become quiet days since summers hours started. By 3 pm most people have cleared out. Today, my side of the building is even quieter than the normal summer Friday. Both the other editors took yesterday and today off. My (I say “my” not in a possessive way, but in a I-love-this-girl-and-am-so-lucky-to-work-with-her sort of a way) art director works from home on Fridays with her sweet little boy Niko. The other kids magazine art director is on vacation this entire week.

So I’m sitting in my office, desperately trying to make a dent in my towering stack of manuscripts, with my music cranked up almost too loud for work. I follow this music blog called Some Velvet Blog (he works for WXPN radio in Philadelphia). He posted a review of an artist named Lissie and her upcoming album Catching a Tiger (out on August 18) a few days ago. I listened to the song in his post, listened to the the songs on her web site, and then to the NPR World Café show she played on. I have a new girl crush. She’s labeled as Americana and blues, but I think there’s a little rock in there. And maybe some Dixie Chicks?

Anyway, please do yourself a favor and at least listen to these two songs. I know this is the second girl with a strong voice I’ve posted about, but it’s so refreshing to hear girls stepping up and away from the coffeeshop/guitar/singer-songwriter genre. I can’t get enough.

This first song is called “Cuckoo.”

This one is “Oh Mississippi.” I got chills when I heard her sing it on that NPR World Café show I mentioned up there.

Song of the Week

Well, I hope you all had a great fourth of July weekend. Mine involved cooking out and fireworks. How all-American!

I’ve picked Jesus, Etc. by Wilco from their album Yankee Foxtrot Hotel for this week’s song.

I was introduced to it maybe four or five years ago by one of my dear camp friends Mary. This song made her cry on cue, for no apparent reason, and that’s why I originally loved it. Any song that can rouse such emotion out of someone has to be great. Especially because Mary is one of the most sunshiney and smiley people I know.

For some reason I think of this as a love song. Really the lyrics are kind of depressing. The world’s kind of ending, the girl has tears streaming down her cheeks. But then he’s telling her, despite all of this ickiness around us, it’s all ok, don’t cry, because I love you and we have our love. To me, that’s incredibly sweet.

So here it is on YouTube. Hope you like it as much as I do.

Sun-soaked Gold Motel

OK, I know I just posted a song the other day. And I swear when I get home tonight I’m going to put up the most amazing recipe for the most amazing cake. But I was just scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across this band via Spin. They’re called Gold Motel. I’d say just about perfect summertime music. Play at barbecues (particularly 4th of July ones), in the car with your windows wide open, on your porch, in your living room while you dance and sweat, by the pool while drinking beers, etc., the list goes on.

So, here’s one video for “Perfect In My Mind.” I love the lyrics.

And here’s a link to a video of theirs posted on Spin.com. It’s  exclusive and brand new and shiny so I couldn’t find it on YouTube. Just click the link already.

Song for the Week

I like discovering new songs. I also like old songs that I’ve been listening to for years, the ones that I know by the first chord, whose words I could sing in my sleep. But sometimes I need a reminder to mix things up and listen to both the old and the new. After all, as much as I LOOOOOOVE Guster, I can’t play them every day on my way into work.

So each week I’m going to post a Song for the Week. One week it’ll be a new song that I’ve just heard for the first time. Another week, it’ll be a “Julia Classic.”

This week’s song is a cover of Tonight, Tonight by Passion Pit.

Passion Pit

The original song is by the Smashing Pumpkins from their album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995).

The Smashing Pumpkins

I bought that album in seventh grade because my best friend was really into the Smashing Pumpkins. Tonight, Tonight was…is…my favorite song on it. I was also really intrigued by the album art. It’s still pretty cool.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

So here’s Passion Pit’s cover of Tonight, Tonight, done for the Levi’s Pioneer series.