Oak Recommends: “Dry” by Foreign Fields

There have been a handful of albums in my life for which I simply couldn’t wait, but none have ever driven me to such distraction as Foreign Fields managed to as they prepared to release their 2016 album Take Cover.

During the lead up, Brian & Eric steadily built a fire of anticipation with atmospheric, incredibly tense, stunningly filmed 30 second teaser videos. Following these, the band teamed up with director Bennett Johnson to produce a breathtaking Standing Rock documentary featuring their song “Hope Within the Fire” and five gorgeous music videos conceived with dance company Indie-Ballet Collab.

I had seen interpretive dance music videos before and had frankly been relatively underwhelmed. This was something different. There was story here, momentum, meaning. Foreign Fields’ layered and explorative soundscape began plucking against an intrinsic human nerve, one which causes the body to weave and bend in response to it’s environment. The movements of these dancers made obvious sense to me. I could feel it. Perhaps we are all hardwired to dance, even if we only express a limited capacity for it, foot tapping, nodding, swaying… this is a valid form of expression and communication, Which I never recognised in myself before.

All the swirling elements within these songs were harmonising in a way I simply hadn’t heard before, even the sudden wailing of a saxophone made complete and perfect sense, and sought my limbs to stretch and flail with them, the lyrics of ‘I ’ began to transform in my own mouth “I need this, I need this!”

The album was set to come out in October and by September, after obsessively watching these videos on loop, I was overripe with expectation. And once the album finally was in my hands, I couldn’t get it out of my ears or my limbs. I still can’t.

And I think you may end up feeling the same.

This isn’t dance music, but this is definitely dance music!

p.s. All the lyrics are beautiful as always! “I’ve had a year spent in dust and dirt, I am leather stretched thin…” *a million heart emojis*

Listen here to the beautiful track: “Dry”.

(Song recommendation by Oak Ayling)

Douglas Recommends: “Dead End Friends” by Them Crooked Vultures

My introduction to Them Crooked Vultures was in early 2011 with Elyse and Ian, my college roommates from senior year. I had heard of the super group featuring Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, but it wasn’t until someone shared Dave Grohl’s “Fresh Pots” video on social media that I dug deeper into the band with my friends.

“Fresh Pots” was filmed in 2009, during Dave’s time in Them Crooked Vultures. According to “Fresh Pots,” Dave Grohl drank five fresh pots of coffee a day. Dave’s coffee intake got so bad he was hospitalized. I showed the video depicting Dave Grohl’s wigged out state to Elyse and Ian, and the three of us started listening to Them Crooked Vultures after that. Music was what brought Elyse, Ian, and I together. In the Country House, a room in our house full of pillows, blankets, big speakers, and partitioned with a moth tapestry, the three of us listened to Them Crooked Vultures. “Dead End Friends” in particular got lots of play.

The song begins with an interplay between guitar riffs and rhythmic responses which escalate in tone. Every exchange creates a heightened tension in the song. With Josh Homme on lead vocals and Dave Grohl singing backup, they sing, “I ache for the touch of my dead-end friends.”

The song explores dark psychological territory through the quality of sound and speed of performing. Josh Homme sounds like someone on the edge with rapid guitar soloing. Dave Grohl’s caffeine induced beats and percussion unsurprisingly sound like a hospital visit waiting to happen. Jonesy sounds as good and better as he ever as he was with Zep, bringing medieval and fantasy ambience to this feverish desert road trip sound. Recently, I showed this song to a musician. She said the notes are played in an Arabic scale, and pointed out that you can hear it in the notes and sound.

Listening to this song with Elyse and Ian back in the day, I tried not to think about the fact that while I would graduate that May, Elyse and Ian had one year left of school. I felt sad I would be leaving my friends behind, and they would go on being together while life took me elsewhere. The future seemed uncertain, and it was hard to say goodbye to what we had.

As cool as a Them Crooked Vulture reunion would and should be, it’s the friendship of Elyse and Ian I really miss when I listen to “Dead End Friends.” Seven years later since the three of us were together, and I still feel nostalgia for our times. In “Dead End Friends,” Josh and Dave sing, “No more wandering/ Just me and my dead end friends again.” While it would greedy to ask for more, from either Them Crooked Vultures or Elyse and Ian, I wouldn’t want this all there is or ever was for either of them, because I ache for the touch of my dead end friends.

(Song recommendation by Douglas Menagh)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.7, B-Sides

The Outcast Loser™ and The Popular Boy™ by Emily Townsend

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Emily Townsend is a graduate student in English at Stephen F. Austin State University. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Superstition Review, cream city review, Thoughtful Dog, Noble / Gas Qtrly, Santa Clara Review, cahoodaloodaling, Watershed Review, The Coachella Review, The Coil and others. A 2017 AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, she is currently working on a collection of essays in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Jon Recommends: “Be Thankful For What You Got” by William DeVaughn

                               (Gangsta whitewalls optional.)

Life is challenging.

You get a bit over a century (at best) to kick around in the sand before you are buried under it. And the story always ends the same.

Tragedy at its finest.

Yet while the whole “ World going to shit” paradigm is a spicy aesthetic for your dashboard, as a way of life it is… well… fucking awful.

While seven minutes of effortless sounds and a tasty vibraphone solo isn’t going to change your worldview or alter your gut flora, the feeling it offers may have you glimpsing a different way of looking at things.

Listening to this song is the smoothest of reminders. No matter where you’re at, you’ve got something. If all you’ve got today is ten toes and a heartbeat, well I guarantee there’s someone out there with 9 toes who just had a heart attack.

 Just be thankful for what you got. Not because “This too shall pass” or some other meaningful-but-now-clichéd hashtag, but because the alternative is quite literally hell.

Baby steps, baby.

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)
Originally published on October 24, 2017

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.7, B-Sides

Guided by Guided by Voices by Marc Lazar

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Marc Lazar recently moved to the LA area from Chicago to work with college students with disabilities. He is also a storyteller and musician, who has performed in an a cappella punk band and played the triangle in a community orchestra. He is a fan of books, TV shows, and music about outsiders and misfits (including The Misfits), and recently discovered the joys of vegan elote pizza (it’s better than it sounds, but kind of messy!)

Seigar recommends “As One” by Suede

Suede at the blue hour.

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

Go down, press play, and then, read.

There are days that the music you listen to is connected to the things you do. Some weeks ago, I listened to The Blue Hour, the new album of the unpopular 90s band Suede. The set of songs is as dramatic as a Queen record.

I felt strongly connected to the opener “As One”, the track I’m bringing you today. It’s a composition full of strings and quite dark. Lots of songs came to my mind while I was listening to this one:

Mónica Naranjo — Europa

Moulin Rouge — El Tango de Roxanne

Archive — Controlling Crowds

Queen — Bohemian Rhapsody

That day, I had an opening at an arty café called “Craft” in Tenerife, La Laguna. It was a Halloween Exhibition and I had there one of my plastic people, a work based on images taken in shop windows (mannequins). The photo was a bit creepy, the plastic person shown seemed to be about to fly, it reminded me in a sort of way to the ascension of Christ. “As One” was sounding in my head all day long.

That night, I met a great artist. It was a collective exhibition so I had the chance to get in contact with other artists. Her name is Eileen’s Artcave and she is a great illustrator. She mixes fantasy with horror. I was impressed with her works and also because of her goth / punk image. She is also a smart, young girl full of new ideas and energy to show them. We talked about London and all it means to us. Alejandro O’ Mora and Joan Bells, other painters who are also based in Tenerife were there too, showing their darkest masterpieces. Both painters were showing eyes in their paintings.

Driving back home, I listened to “As One” on repeat, feeling it was the soundtrack of my Halloween. I suppose we will soon listen to this track on a TV advert or on a Netflix show.

Here I am
Here I am
Talking to my shadow
Head in my hands

Here I am (here I am)
Here I am (here I am)
Run to me
Come to me

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.7, B-Sides

Avril Lavigne Battles the Girls of 4 A-L by Libby Cudmore

About the author:
Libby Cudmore is the author of the novel The Big Rewind (William Morrow 2016). Her work has been published in stories and essays have appeared in The Big Click, the Stoneslide Corrective, PANK, Vinyl Me Please, Albumism The Writer magazine and the anthologies HANZAI JAPAN, WELCOME HOME and MIXED UP.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.7, B-Sides

Rock ‘N Roll is Here to Stay by Mary J. Breen

To read this piece, click on the album cover below.

About the author:
Mary J. Breen lives in Peterborough, Canada. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in national newspapers, essay collections, travel magazines, health journals, and literary magazines, and she was a regular contributor to The Toast. She has been an ESL and literacy teacher in Canada and overseas, a health worker, and a writer and editor. Now, among other things, she teaches memoir classes while trying to complete her memoir.

K Recommends: “Love That Burns” by Fleetwood Mac

Long before the Stevie Nicks scarves and the big hair days of Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac was a blues band that emerged in the late sixties. Peter Green was the guitarist and one of the original members. Looking back at this iteration of the band, they are practically unrecognizable.

Sometimes credited as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, the depth and soul of the group at this time just oozed bluesy riffs and entrancing vocals. They could stretch through and explore styles on more upbeat rock songs as well as the their slower instrumentals. Always with a nod to influences that preceded them. It’s still amazing to me that the more popular version of this band had such a vastly different sound at first.

“Love That Burns” is one of my favorite songs from early Fleetwood Mac. It simmers with an intense heat and yearning. Even the title attempts to explain a sort of dual aspect of love that can lead to a boiling point: love that burns so bright it pops and bubbles over with affection or love that burns with hurt and leaves scars on the heart. The music is so tender yet sensual while the lyrics are filled with wait, worry, lust and pining. It’s a litany of side effects to most any relationship I have known.

That drum roll at the beginning is so unlike the drum rolls I have heard anywhere else. It crawls up the spine while that first lick of guitar climbs the neck. The vocals come in and hang around the ear as they plead for answers and make declarations.

“Give me your mind and your heart but please don’t leave me with a love that burns.”

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Oak Recommends: “The Great Despiser” by Joe Pug

Joe Pug.

I just love Joe Pug.

Joe Pug is one of those people I quietly wish was one of my long lost relatives.

To tell me that I could no longer listen to Joe Pug’s music would be more devastating than if you were to tell me I could no longer drink coffee! Please, take the coffee, take all the Mexican food, take my wallet, just don’t take Joe!

Joe was one of the first musicians who really taught me what poetry could be. His often biting social commentary, out of the box declarations and extraordinary, relentless heating and bending of the english language opened up the mind of my younger self to the possibilities on the point of my pen.

“And you’ve come to know me stubborn as a butcher, and you’ve come to know me thankless as a guest. But will you recognise my face, when God’s aweful grace, strips me of my jacket and my vest, and reveals all the treasure in my chest.” — Hymn 101, Joe Pug.

Whether it’s raw live performances or glossy full band studio recordings Joe’s words are like a wave; and what’s more intoxicating than the initial crash, is the draw as you’re pulled under, as the songs soak through to your skin, as the salt of his expressions linger with you ever after, haunting you with phrases like “It ain’t rare to hear the streetlights call themselves stars”,“I do my father’s drugs”,“If I see the mountains, they must see me”,“I was born into a circus, but I ran off to join a home”,“We’ve got two dollar soldiers & ten dollar words!” or “Every good idea, kills at least a thousand men”.

I’m recommending you start with The Great Despiser (Joe has a terrific flair for song titles, almost every one sounds like some great literary classic!) Great Despiser is a little less a barrage of words, as some of his other tracks can be, and a little more tender, perhaps more personal, beginning, “Hey little brother, did you hear I made it back to town? I’m getting sober, there’s some things I gotta figure out…” it’s a downright anthem & I hope you enjoy it!

The Great Despiser by Joe Pug

(Song recommendation by Oak Ayling)