I had an interesting conversation yesterday evening about music, and the relationship to music, and other people. The person I was talking with had discovered communities of people who listened to the same music as she did as a teenager, and it made her feel that finally she wasn't an alien / geek / weirdo, and that there was somewhere she belonged.
I started thinking about my own relationship with these things, and realised that when I was a teenager, the only people who listened to anything else than mainstream stuff were mainly boys, and they were mainly listening to metal and things I didn't like, and showing a bad attitude to girls like me who was trying to knock on the boys' club door. There was basically hardly anyone my age around me who had similar tastes as mine, and trying to play music with the boys was very intimidating.
So at an early age, I decided that music was something to keep secret, in a kind of protective attitude, to avoid mockery or that feeling of not belonging, not being cool enough, etc. And these days I'm changing my mind about this. I've met more and more people with very great musical tastes, and those boys from school seem like little brats after all. I still don't have a feeling that I have somewhere to belong to, but I do feel more and more comfortable talking about the stuff I like, and share my feelings about it with others. So! I'd like to share my favourite albums that I discovered last year... A lot of them aren't new, but they were new to me. Hopefully someone out there will enjoy this :)
Agesandages -- it's one of those bands my friends make fun of me for, because it's got far too many bandmembers singing together. they sing about finding oneself, bravery, relationships to other people, journeys and hope... i love the harmonies and rhythmic explorations, and the general feeling of a little community of musicians.
The Accidental -- I love listening to them when I'm drawing or reading or talking with a friend, it's this kind of electronic-ish/acoustic gentle music with beautiful male / female vocal harmonies. listening to this album makes me feel relaxed and opens my mind.
Arborea -- Arborea is a duet who write very eerie melodies, long tracks with a lot of space for me to dream. The singer's voice is so beautiful, and the sonic landscapes make me feel like swimming. They also have a blog where they show nice photos, in the same vibe as their music...
Givers -- Givers are amazing. Once again, a "too many people in this band" band, but hey. They're wild, beautiful, excited, exciting, energetic and put a big smile on my face. Again nice vocal harmonies, lyrics about life journeys, hope, self-discovery, pleasure and beauty, but also and very importantly, super nice and deceivingly sophisticated arrangements. They just make me want to dance around.
Bowerbirds -- Again, again, again beautiful male/female vocal harmonies, calm music that paints long traveling landscapes, with progressions, contemplations, gentle ascensions, and the feeling I could close my eyes and get lost in the lyrics and the music will take me through an interesting dream world.
John Fahey -- This one is an alien album among the others... John Fahey apparently is a self-taught artist, who wanted to invent a new style of music, "american primitivism", with folk vibes and sonic oddities. Some of his music is very straightforward folkish, and some of it sounds more experimental. I rarely listen to him, because it's kind of challenging, but once in a while, it feels energising to hear him play.
Hey Marseilles -- Another too many people band, lots of vocal harmonies, beautiful melodic themes, lots of instruments, and encouraging lyrics about, again, life journeys, love, hope, fate, and growing up. Perfect for walking around the city with an open heart and a smile on your face.
The Red River -- Lots of people, lots of harmonies... And a slow exploratory soundscape that I feel is taking me by the hand to visit someone else's life gently. The lyrics are simple and beautiful, honest and present... I like listening to them in the morning.
Tiny Vipers -- A woman, a guitar, long eery, reverby songs, I only listen to late at night with some wine, a one on one conversation and something deep to share. Her voice and melodies make me very emotional and introspective.
JBM -- Another eerie one, this time it's a gentle male voice who guides you through melancholy and low-energy high-emotion melodies, with some tear-jerking buildups. I usually listen to him when I'm sad and I want to spend some time crying and reveling in my sentiment.
The Shaggs -- The Shaggs were sisters, who made music under their dad's pressure and direction, a bit like the jackson 5, but in a kind of out of tune, outsider artist way. Their lyrics are beautifully simple and straightforward, and their music playing is just mindblowingly unselfconscious and unique. I know some people find their songs too simple and unskilled, but that's what makes me tick. I love it when people make music the way they can, and share their world with the rest of us, whatever their skill level is. If only skilled people played music, the world would be so much more boring.
Kimya Dawson -- She is my most favourite number one singersongwriterperson in the whole world. My friend bought me this CD, saying I might like it, but maybe the guitar was a little too aggressive for me, because I usually like lethargic music. And then every lyric unfolded in front of me, every sparse guitar playing, simple chords that have still so much to say struck me straight to the heart. When I heard this CD, I thought "ok, I'm allowed to make music and talk about everything I want to", and started recording my songs. Kimya is generous with everything. She isn't ashamed to show that she is nervous, she gives hugs to her audience, and talks about anything in her songs, on her blog, she protests against crap and stands up for stuff that matters to me, and seems like a parenting champion. Kimya is a huuuuge role model for me.