My 11yo has been tagging along to shows with us since she was small. Usually, she didn’t care much about the music, even when her dad was in the band. She was there because we were there, and that was that. She would come prepared with a bag of small toys or a notebook and crayons. She would connect with whatever other kids happened to be there, or maybe a playful grown up, as she would call them. And that’s where she would spend the duration of the show. It has only been in the last couple of years that anything has changed.
It took a while, but eventually she started listening to the music we were playing. Even having favorites. Metric was one of her first favorites. Then Catbath, which became her first show where she actually cared about what was happening on stage. How’s that for a milestone?
This summer she hit another big milestone: her first show at First Avenue. Superorganism, if you haven’t heard them, is a weird, fun, poppy band that we couldn’t stop playing last summer. I love them as much as my 11yo did, and when they came to town, we were first in line for tickets, metaphorically speaking.
The show was as fun as we could have asked for. It was made even more memorable by the fact that lightning struck nearby and knocked out some of the sound equipment. The technical difficulties delayed the show by an hour or so. But once the band started playing, we forgot all about the wait. It was worth it to dance it out with my kiddo to a band we both loved.
By the kindness of an acquaintance, we happened to be given tickets to the Superorganism micro-show the day after the mainroom show. So we followed up one show with another. The stripped down set that they played for the micro-show was very different than the night before. First, we sat on the floor. Second, well, see for yourself. Watch how they made the sound effects. That’s not how they made the crunch sound on the mainroom stage.;)
It isn’t Monday morning, the usual time for these music posts, but don’t let my unusual timing deter you from listening to The Greeting Committee. I’ve been playing their EPs almost constantly for a month or two. I love their earnest, energetic sound with confessional lyrics that seem to defy the youthfulness of the band members. I hope I’m not the only one who can’t get enough.
Here’s “She’s a Gun:”
The Smoking Popes (a long-time favorite band of mine) meets ska. Thanks to a band called The Pomps, who recently released an album of ska covers of Smoking Popes songs. Ska has never been my preferred musical genre, but it is fun to hear these songs re-imagined. So if you happen to be a fan of the band or the genre, don’t miss The Smoking Pomps.
While I’m sharing re-imaginings of old favorites, I would be remiss if I didn’t direct you to Shoegazi (Fugazi songs done in the shoegaze style). Seriously worth checking out. Of course, shoegaze is my preferred musical genre.
How many female rock drummers can you think of? I could probably come up with five or so off the top of my head. But the girl in I am Drums by Mike Grosso doesn’t know of any other girl drummers, and other kids make fun of her for being the only girl in the percussion section of her school band. Not that she lets that stop her. She’s singularly focused and determined to play the drums no matter what. Even if her parents just think it’s an expensive hobby that they can’t afford or if her classmates say girls look stupid playing drums and have no rhythm. None of that matters to her.
Still, it’s always nice to know you’re not alone. after an assignment from her drum teacher to listen to amazing rock drummers, she discovers that other girl drummers actually do exist, including Karen Carpenter who sang while playing the drums, which is a bit of a surprise to Sam. She makes a whole list of women rock drummers to listen to for the assignment. I loved Sam’s dedication to her instrument. She didn’t always make good choices, and yet I couldn’t help but root or her in this cute story. Recommended for similarly music obsessed kids.
Today’s music choice adds to Sam’s list of amazing girl drummers: Katherine Seggerman of Lunch Duchess. Like Karen Carpenter, she is a singer/drummer. The quirky grunge-pop might not be everyone’s taste, but it’s well worth a listen.
If you’re looking for a happily ever after, that was my last post. This one is about Our Chemical Hearts, or to be more accurate, it was inspired by Our Chemical Hearts.
Readers know going in that Our Chemical Hearts isn’t a Happily Ever After kind of story. The marketing material that arrived with my advance reader copy listed “10 Things You Need to Know about Our Chemical Hearts” with the number one point being “The book you’re looking at is not a love story.”
This is the book for when you want to cry and remember how love can consume you completely and then spit you out. So if you’re looking for tragic romance, this is the book for you. And if you don’t fall in love with Henry Page before the book is over, you are a different person than I am. ;) The other side of the promo piece had a playlist of break-up songs for every stage of grief from Alanis Morrisette (anger) to Gloria Gaynor (acceptance). Honestly, when you’re through with the sad story of Henry Page and Grace Town, you’ll probably need the playlist to help you through.
You may recall that I’ve posted about break up songs before with a rather embarrassing story about a break up from my past and my break up song of choice (Bjork). I won’t repeat that here, but I will offer a choice from the Our Chemical Hearts playlist from the “Bargaining” section. Here is “Goodbye Goodbye” by Tegan and Sara:
This past Saturday morning, I woke up with a bit of a cold, and my plans for the day looked much less enticing than they had the day before when I promised to take my daughter to see her favorite local band play an all ages show in the middle of the day. I tried to convince her that a movie marathon of her choice was just as good for the chilly Saturday, but her disappointed eyes ate at my mom-guilt enough that I took some cold medicine and off we went to Indeed Brewing for the Hullabaloo.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned Catbath on this blog before. My husband recommended the band to me after he caught their set at Cause Spirits & Soundbar, which has been closed for a while now. “Trust me,” he said, “This is going to be your new favorite band.” He was right, of course. Though now he probably laments introducing me to them given my habit of listening to my favorite records over and over again. If it were possible to wear out a CD, we would have worn out our copy of It’s Bathtime a long time ago.
Somewhere along the way, our eight-year-old daughter started singing along with the Catbath songs I played in the car or at home while we went about our business. Then she started requesting Catbath when I let her pick the music. Recently she talked about how Catbath is her favorite band at Sharing Time in her third grade classroom. She was genuinely surprised that none of her classmates had heard of them. I never set out to raise a hipster child, but somehow it seems to have happened. ;)
In any case, she loved the show. It beat a movie marathon any day.
How could you not love the feminist pop-punk that is Tacocat? If the “feminist pop-punk” didn’t hook you, how about these song topics: cat-calling, mansplaining, menstruation, and late public transportation? Seriously. Some of those topics might make you mad, but Tacocat will make you have fun.
Here’s a video of a song from their latest record, Lost Time, because we all love Dana Katherine Scully, right?
“Girl Groups: Because no one can do it alone.”
As you’ve probably figured out by now, I have particular affection for YA novels that reference music that I like. So when the BFF character in We Were Never Here by Jennifer Gilmore gives the main character an “old-school” mix CD of girl bands with the words above stenciled on the case, I cheered. She’s right. We can’t do it alone, and while music can’t fix our problems, it can save us. As the protagonist notes in the book: “There are different ways to be saved.”
On that note, here is some Sleator-Kinney. Because you can’t do it alone.
Also on my girl group playlist: Bruise Violet.
I have always tried to avoid getting stuck musically. The chances that the music of my youth is the only music worth listening to has always seemed preposterous enough to keep me searching for new music. And when I say “searching for new music” I really mean listening to the bands my (musician) partner suggests to me. Hey, he knew I would love Catbath as soon as he heard them. He was the one who put Lookbook and Matt Latterell CDs in the car for my commute. It’s a good system.
But lately, it’s been all about the music of my youth. In a fit of cleaning and organizing one afternoon, I unearthed a box of CDs that probably hadn’t been unpacked for our last two moves, and it was like Christmas. My commute music for that week was at least fifteen years old as I pulled out a handful of CDs each morning. Old Death Cab for Cutie. Old Modest Mouse. Old stuff from bands I’d forgotten I even liked. It was really, really fun.
Then I happened upon this list of the 40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time, and my musical nostalgia grew even larger as I found myself listening to Braid and Sunny Day Real Estate and feeling seventeen again. But it was when I put Cap’n Jazz’ Analphabetapolothology in that I really recaptured something. Cap’n Jazz, arguably weird and experimental music that wouldn’t appeal to everyone, had been my Get Stuff Done music. It was what I played when I was doing/working/ making. It seemed like I was always in the middle of a project back then, and Cap’n Jazz was project music. It made me want to do stuff. It still does, it seems.
I think I finally realized why people get stuck musically. It isn’t about the music of their youth being the pinnacle of musical expression as I judgmentally assumed. It’s about staying connected to the time when you felt most free. For me, that was the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when I was writing every day and making zines regularly with Cap’n Jazz keeping me going. I might not be putting Analphabetapolothology in my regular rotation, but I can say that I won’t go for as long without listening to it again.
Adam Levy has been mostly known to me as part of the Bunny Clogs since I had taken my daughter to a few of their performances as local events, but he is best known for being the lead singer of the Honeydogs. In the last several years, though, Levy has added another role to the list of things he is known for in the Twin Cities: Mental Health Advocate.
In 2012, Levy lost his son to suicide. Since then, he has become a vocal part of the mental health community pushing for a world that works for mental health rather than attempts to respond to mental illness when it becomes a crisis. His new record, Naubinway, delves deeply into the loss of his son. The songs are personal and, at times, quite raw. It is a tribute to loss and the healing power of art and sharing.
You can hear him speak about the record and listen to the title track from the record in this video:
I am very glad that people like Adam are sharing their experiences with mental illness, and I hope that this openness leads to less stigma and more people getting the care they need.
For my fellow librarians: I will be reading the Mental Health in YA Lit series at Teen Librarian Toolbox in 2016, and I hope you will be too. After all, as quote from TLT:
“According to the NCCP, approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosed mental health issue. Most mental health disorders begin to present in the adolescent years. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents. According to NAMI, 50% of children who present with a mental illness will drop out of school.”
This is too important to leave unspoken. Thank you to all those speaking out and all those listening.