About the author: Sarah Priscus writes in Ottawa, Canada, where she attends the University of Ottawa for English and Theatre. She has been published most recently in Likely Red, Luna Luna Magazine, Rookie Mag, and Atlas and Alice. She can be found on Twitter at @sarahpriscus.
Only a Motion Away, or Why I Flew Cross-Country to Paul Simon’s Last Show in Memory of My Mom by Kate Washington
To read this piece, click on the album cover below.
About the author: Kate Washington is a California-based writer and the dining critic for the Sacramento Bee. Her work has appeared in Eater, Avidly, Catapult, Dame, Southwest the Magazine,Sunset, The Bellingham Review, and many other venues. She is currently at work on her first book, a feminist cultural critique and memoir of family caregiving, forthcoming from Beacon Press. Follow her work on Twitter @washingtonkate, at kawashington.com, or via her monthly newsletter, tinyletter.com/alreadytoast.
Sweet Child O’ Mine (as sung by Taken by Trees) by Elizabeth Ditty
To read this piece, click on the album cover below.
About the author:
Elizabeth Ditty lives in Kansas City, where she is attempting to raise two children with good hearts and strong minds with the help of their father and Daniel Tiger. Her work can be found in Memoir Mixtapes, L’Éphémère Review, and Moonchild Magazine. Additionally, her set of children’s stories, “My Sister the Werewolf,” is available in theBedtime Stories app.
Minnie Riperton (aka Maya Rudolph’s mom!) was an amazing singer/songwriter who was taken from this world much too soon.
You probably know her best from her incredibly popular 1975 single, “Lovin’ You,” which you may even remember being featured on a Burger King commercial for mini cinnamon rolls a few years back.
But that’s not the song I’m here to recommend to you all today. Nope. Instead, I’m bringing you “Inside My Love,” a soulful, seductive track about sex.
Scratch that. This isn’t just a song about sex; it’s a song about making love. A song about two strangers, who despite just meeting, are soon to know each other as intimately as two people can know each other — literally getting inside one another.
It’s as suggestive as it sounds, and I wouldn’t recommend listening to this song with your parents. In fact, just to avoid any confusion or awkwardness, I wouldn’t recommend listening to it with anyone you aren’t actively trying to seduce. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out the chorus:
You can see inside me.
Will you come inside me?
Do you want to ride inside my love?
While the lyrics are X-rated on their surface, and the song might sound raunchy in another artist’s hands, Minnie’s execution of this song is almost otherworldly in its beauty. If this song doesn’t make you want to light some candles, pour some champagne, and slip into something more comfortable…then you probably need to check the quality of your speakers.
Madame X is the album that gives me everything that I have been looking for in other musicians for years; addicted to Pitchfork I must admit. Being a Madonna fan since I was a kid, I can tell this record is epic.
It’s “world music 2019”. Madame X sounds like many singers and musicians so different among them that it’s a delicious and explosive cocktail: Ibeyi, Daft Punk, Nneka, Liz Wright, Kali Uchis, Ayo, Uffie, James Blake or Richard Russell. She has elevated her music and style with these songs. God bless Portugal for the inspiration she got there.
It’s a concept and political album, but she also keeps a quite personal view about global issues. It’s full of hopeful messages in its lyrics and it has an outstanding production and sound. It’s her most experimental album ever I’d say! What fans didn’t expect, at least now.
The best tracks in the album are Dark Ballet (experimental collage), God Control (religious music meets 70s disco ball), Killers who are partying (fado 2019) and Come Alive (world music summer song). However, there are other great compositions like Medellin (Latin hedonism), Faz Gostoso (Michael Jackson), Extreme Occident (Evita meets Mer Girl), Crazy (sweet perfect pop) or I rise (epic final song).
Before the fans listened to the whole album, there was a backlash about Madame X. First single songs weren’t completely understood, and in fact, the Eurovision song performance didn’t help. But finally, when the album was released we all got it. There is a consensus among fans but also among music critics that “this is it”. Some critics talk about her best album since Confessions, others say since American Life, but what is clear is that it is a decisive moment for her and her music.
This is a masterpiece all together. It’s an album that must be heard from the first to the last song, no just individual songs, because they all work as one.
Madonna 1 — Fans 0.
Enjoy her protest song about gun control in which she becomes a writer and a 70s disco diva. Madame X can be everything she wants/we need.
I never thought I would be into K-pop. Like, ever. Korean pop groups were literally half a world away, and I try to avoid large groups of screaming fangirls at the height of something’s popularity (not that there’s anything wrong with loving something that much— I’m not one for noise and crowds generally!).
Then, my sister started listening to almost exclusively K-pop groups: EXO, BTS, NCT … and BLACKPINK. I’ve quickly lost track of her long list of favourites, but BLACKPINK stood out to me from the start.
On the one hand, they were the very first girl group she showed me. It was honestly a refreshing sight after weeks of watching groups of men dancing in brightly coloured suits (usually without a shirt underneath).
On the other, they’re simply talented. Not only is this group of girls absolutely stunning, but they’ve got more than enough talent backing it up. Singing, dancing, rapping — they’ve got it all.
Like most K-pop hits, their music is catchy. I’ve grown to like many of their songs (and, I’ll admit it — my sister made me a full K-pop playlist that I listen to frequently). But Kill This Love was the first of countless BLACKPINK songs my sister introduced me to, and it’s remained my favourite.
As said sister so kindly puts it, “This is the one song you can kind of sing along to.” In this, she’s referring to both my absolute ignorance of the Korean language and a rather lengthy section of English lyrics in this song in particular:
We all commit to love
That makes you cry, oh oh
We’re all making love
That kills you inside, yeah
We must kill this love (yeah, yeah)
Yeah, it’s sad but true
Gotta kill this love (yeah, yeah)
Before it kills you, too”
Contrary to my own expectations, yes, I’ve gotten into K-pop, however mildly. Thanks to BLACKPINK, I’ve been able to share in one of my sister’s biggest interests as of late, and it’s actually brought us closer along the way. Not to mention, I’ve got some new favourites to get stuck in my head!
In case you’ve never tried it, writing is really fucking hard!
So if you ever need to be reminded how bad you are at it relative to the abilities of others, might I suggest listening to the song Andrew In Drag by The Magnetic Fields. In two minutes (and while rhyming the end of every single line of the lyrics in a simple “-ag” stressed syllable), Stephin Merritt puts on a clinic on how to establish, develop, and pay off characters across a core narrative conflict that illuminates themes about personal identity and love.
I, on the other hand, one time was able to semi-coherently express my feelings to my wife.
Oh, and I wrote a couple of books that maybe, maaaaaybe achieve a sliver of the narrative impact and clarity this song achieves in TWO GOD-DAMN MINUTES!!! What, exactly, did I ever do to you, Stephin Merritt? Seriously. I want to know. Touché, motherfucker!
This is the part of the recommendation where it would make sense for me to synopsize the song’s narrative, but it truly cannot be said any better than it’s said in the song. So I’m not going to take the bait and drag my stank all over it. No. I’m just going to politely stand back and recommend the song with the added disclosure that listening to it and really thinking about the effortless efficiency and complexity of its storytelling might make you give up on using words ever again. In fact, if it doesn’t, then listen to it one more time. You’ll get there. And if we all listen to it, then you’ll be living in a silent world, Merritt. A lonely, desolate and silent universe just like the one my soul is now trapped in when all I wanted to do was write!
I was never a huge fan of Paramore. Not even in high school, when their earliest releases were solidifying themselves as one of the most iconic pop punk bands in that genre’s heyday.
In the decade that has lapsed since those days, I can’t say that much has changed between me and Paramore. I’ve never purchased one of their albums or gone to one of their concerts. But what I have done is become obsessed with one of their most recently released singles, “Hard Times,” from their 2017 album After Laughter.
I was still relatively new to Los Angeles the first time I heard the song. A friend played the music video for our group after an epic night out that included a lot of alcohol and a trip to Jumbo’s Clown Room. I couldn’t deny that — despite the sadness conveyed in the lyrics — the song was catchy as hell. The music is peppy and upbeat, and the visuals in the music video are just as dazzling. It’s the musical embodiment of a dark cloud’s silver lining. Except this silver lining is actually a technicolor rainbow that pops and glimmers like lightning.
Since then, “Hard Times” has become one of my standard go-to tracks on bad days when I need catharsis in the form of musical commiseration. I hope it can bring you some joy, light, and color on your own dark days.
The night sky once ruled my imagination.
Now I turn the dials with careful calculation.
After a while, I thought I’d never find you.
I convinced myself that I would never find you,
When suddenly I saw you.
The year was 2017. I had hated my name for years upon years. As a child, I assumed it was just because my name was common.
I won’t tell you the exact name but think along the same vein as “Jessica”, “Megan”, or “Kelly”.
I wanted to feel special and different and like my name meant something, something I could identify with. Every time someone called my name — I just felt fear and disgust. Coincidentally, I happened to have Sleeping At Last’s “Atlas: Space” album recommended to me around the time that I started heavily questioning my name and gender.
Each song is named after a different planet and the lyrics embody this kind of broad intensity that can only be captured by thinking of something celestial. I remember staying up late one night with a close friend and telling him about how I didn’t feel like a girl, how I hated my name. I told him that I wanted to be called something unique but was afraid of being judged or made fun of for my choice of name. I jokingly said, “I can’t just go by a name like Sunflower. People would tear me apart for that.”
I remember he just looked at me and laughed. He told me that a sort of hippie name would suit me well. That’s when it clicked, I wanted to be called Venus. I played “Venus” by Sleeping At Last constantly in my dorm room and while I was out and about. The decision didn’t feel spur of the moment or rushed at all. It just felt right.
I came out as nonbinary and texted my friends about my name change and from then on — I was Venus. Suddenly, I saw myself in a way I never had before.
Maybe, if you give this song a listen, you will find a piece of yourself in it too.