Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Everything's Coming Up Trannie

I’m sometimes perplexed to find myself in a body. By some random chromosomal dice-roll, my body is female. Whatever.

Since this is partly a music blog, I wanted to share with you a couple of musicians who defy the stereotypes of the gender they were born into. However, I must emphasize that is their music and singing I find wonderful. The fact that they identify with a gender other than the one that matches their chromosomes is just an added bit of intrigue, and an opportunity to provide a unifying theme to this post.

Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk. I’ve been listening to Cindytalk since the 80s but somehow only recently became aware that vocalist Gordon Sharp dresses like a woman more often than not. His vocals for Cindytalk reflect so much discontent and yearning, and  --- you know me --- I just can’t get enough discontent and yearning. I live for music like this. If only I could stream “Camouflage Heart” into your soul. You’ll have to settle for this lo-fi demo recording of “It’s Luxury,” or turn on your Cocteau Twins John Peel BBC Sessions version of “Hazel” to hear Gordon wailing in the background.

Here's Gordon:

Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons.  The first time I heard Antony sing, I pictured an Italian lounge singer, dressed like Liberace. I was so wrong.  He exudes melancholy, hopeful innocence from every pore. The real story though is Antony’s music: timeless lyricism and complex melodies…the kind that meander and shift like a river, varying the melody ever so slightly with each musical turn. 

Here's Antony:

Friday, May 22, 2009

The "bet dieting" trend

I recently heard that bet dieting is the new thing in the US and UK. Like my plan to lose 7lbs within 85 days under the threat of having to return my new iPod if I failed, these dieters are betting they will lose a certain amount of weight in a certain time, too. If they fail, some of their money will be donated to charity: usually a charity they don't approve of. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weigh-in Day is Here...

..and I’m down to 142 lbs, which was my goal. Now I’m officially keeping the iPod! I even got it a little case. My intention is to not only keep the weight off but also see how much more I can lose. This should be easier in the coming months, since there will be lots of seasonal fruits and veggies around.

Over the coming months, the focus of this blog will likely shift from “weight-loss and music” to “food, health and music.” Hope you’re staying with me for the ride.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Soundtrack to God's Orgasm

I’ve listened to Sigur Rós since 2000 or so but about six months ago decided I finally had the time and inclination to be one of those nutjob fans; the kind who downloads their concerts from the web, who carefully peruses their back catalog to make sure I have every song the band ever performed, and so forth. (The latter is no easy feat. Sigur Rós have a tendency to give multiple names to what is actually the same song, like Untitled A combined with Untitled B is also called Smáskifa, and Untitled 4 is also called Njósnavélin, the Nothing Song, as well as the Spy Machine.)

One of the things I’ve done in my insanity is setup a comprehensive Google Alert for “Sigur Rós” which gets me everything that everyone in the freakin’ world is saying about the band is on the web. (If you haven’t played with Google Alerts, I highly recommend it. You set an alert for anything you are interested in, and I mean anything). The end result of alerting is a whole lot of crap in my Google Reader, and a few diamonds. But those diamonds are totally worth it. Because of Google Alerts, I was one of the first to hear about their acoustic performance of Við Spilum Endalaust at La Closerie in France, and I got ahold of an unmastered “rough mix" of the new Riceboy Sleeps album (a collaboration between Alex Somers and Sigur Rós’s Jón Þór Birgisson).

Perhaps the most comforting thing about reading other people’s spewings about Sigur Rós is learning that I am not alone in my obsession. I came up with the phrase “soundtrack to God’s orgasm” to describe their music and then was pleasantly surprised to read that others are thinking along the same lines.

This article speaks of their music as charged with the grandeur of God. “There's such a hugeness to this music--the melodies are clearly in service of something more than entertainment or selling CDs.”

Another discussion (in the context of being a pastor) centers on Sigur Rós’s gibberish language (sometimes called "vonlenska"). In sum: the feeling of the words is more important than the words themselves.

God may not have a gender, but I couldn’t help but notice that many Sigur Rós songs follow the pattern of the female orgasm…building up to a plateau, building some more, coming to a climax or crescendo, then slowly melting into detumescense. If you don’t believe me, listen to Glósóli from “Takk,” Untitled 7 (aka Dauðalagið or the Death Song) from “()” or Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása from “Ágætis Byrjun.” I think this person (who suggests listening to Sigur Rós while getting busy between the sheets) would probably agree.

Photo below is Jónsi Birgisson with typical performance-face, somewhere between weeping and ...?

Nice example of "vonlenska" here in Heima:

This one is in Icelandic and has one of the best crescendos I've ever heard:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hoppin’ back to Hip-hop

[Me in 1990]

Whenever I see a female with a drawn-on moustache, I get a flash of recognition, a sense that I might be seeing a kindred spirit. As a woman who has been known to wear a fake moustache from time to time, I feel a sense of fellowship when I see another woman who does the same. So when I stumbled upon CocoRosie one night while surfing YouTube, I spent more time considering their music that might have otherwise.

CocoRosie started as a kind of lo-fi freak folk band, but have morphed into a kind of fairy tale hip-hop group. And you might say it took cross-dressing Bianca “Coco” Casady to remind me that I actually enjoyed rap back in the 80s: Public Enemy, Schoolly D, Erik B and Rakim, De La Soul, Tribe Called Qwest.

So now I am back seeking beats, rhymes and good times. Send me your rap recommendations.