Wednesday, September 1, 2010

An Update and a Preview of "All Points North"

Hello again, blog world. Here's an update for you:

My twenty-fourth birthday is in two months, and I’m feeling myself shifting into getting older (Yes, I know, I know- twenty four is NOT old), although most of those feelings have to do with: 1)being more driven by my dissatisfaction with others for not doing things the way I would, and 2)realizing that within the next few years I’ll have to figure out how to stop relying on being “cute” and magically transform into an elegant, educated lady. I think I’m already working on the latter point by not being so angry about things anymore.

I have seven songs that make up what is essentially a new album and while there’s no song that’s completely happy or annoyance free (I find I can only write when I’m irritated with something but am too timid to hash it out with the person or I just feel the need to defend myself without being interrupted), I can see a marked difference between the lyrical content of these songs and the ones of “Cooler.” Cooler was me trying to get the Gin Circus out of my bloodstream and so a lot of the songs are either entirely sad or angry and very much into blaming the other person. Actually, all of the songs blame the other person.

But if that’s what I needed to write then that’s fine. Writing is how I process things that’ve happened to me and a lot of times it ends up sounding bitter because I was upset enough about it to need to process it in the first place. But if that’s my M.O., it’s getting a bit shaky now—I can’t hold anger or upset throughout a song long enough to finish it because I’ve learned in the past month or two that I only hurt myself when I hold onto things. It’s good for my blood pressure, but bad for my established writing style.

I think this new album will be a transition point for me. I’ll probably look back on it as the “Under the Pink” album that came between my “Little Earthquakes” and “Boys for Pele”—it shows the changes happening and while not fully formed yet it will, if nurtured, grow into a deeper kind of songwriting. That’s exciting, but also scary and inevitable. My songs are and always have been of a confessional style and I can’t very well hold onto things in my music I’m not holding onto in real life. That wouldn’t be honest. It’s also like a diary of my life experiences since I’m usually too ADD to write a journal as things happen.

Before I start waxing poetic about how lonely I feel about being the only local musician I know other than Computer at Sea who doesn’t ever appear on stage with a stringed instrument, here’s a rundown of what’s on the new album so far:

1)All Points North: the first song I wrote since “Cooler” and arguably the first one with any discernable structure to it. One night back in May, after a fight with my boyfriend during which I thought he’d broken up with me (I think it’s still open for debate, but he says he didn’t mean that to be what I took away from the interaction) I got into my car and, almost on autopilot, got on the highway with only a twenty dollar bill and a bottle of water and just drove. I ended up somewhere in Massachusetts before I realized I should probably be home asleep and I turned around and headed home around 4:00am. In that weird in-between state while driving home I just followed the “All Maine Points” signs to get home and wrote the song as I went.

2)I Am Your Local: around the same time as “All Points North,” I started a band which came to nothing with my friend Jenna Q. On a trip to Boston, she and I were talking about what songs we’d like to write and she told me about how her goal in any city she lived in was to be a local at a bar or coffee shop she frequented. This is probably as close as I’ll get to writing something that isn’t autobiographical.

3)Nothing: after it seemed like Jenna Q and I weren’t going anywhere with our band, I met a girl named Norita at the Phoenix Best of Portland awards and she and I pretty much became the best of friends and started our own band which, like the previous one, came to nothing. We were meant to be electro-pop and “Nothing” is the only song I wrote for the band that’s moderately good enough to survive the collapse of the musical project it was written for. The subject, like a few others on the album, comes from the two month period where my boyfriend and I fancied we could sustain an open relationship (if you’re wondering, it almost destroyed us, but at least I can say I had some interesting experiences). I wrote it about one of my other boyfriends who got tangled up in some bad judgments and inadvertently hurt my feelings quite a bit. Don’t worry, we’re on good terms again now.

4)Kiss and Run: this song and two others on the album were written about the same night where in the span of about four hours I had two unsettling experiences with different guys I’d thought I knew pretty well who then did a 180 degree turn from the people I knew them to be. I like the structure of this song and it marks the first time I’ve used any type of horn sounds in a song. I generally feel horns are too Rustic Overtones, but the subject in question is friends with the Rustic crowd so I don’t feel I’m betraying any artistic integrity by adding them.

5)Reproof: I work in an historic mansion here in Portland and in one of the rooms there’s a medium sized marble statue of a little girl who appears to be about to slap a kitten she’s holding for killing a bird that lays dead at her feet. On the base of the statue is the word “reproof.” I couldn’t get out of my head that the scene was pretty close to how I felt about a situation I’d had with a guy I’d been having a kind of open affair with that had recently gone all to hell. I alternately felt like the bird, the girl, and the cat, so I took the word “reproof” and wrote a bluesy jazz song using a rather dissonant piano as the background. I think it rivals “You Say Goodbye” in terms of getting close to the jazz tunes my voice was meant for.

6) One Night Stand: oh, dear…this song used to be known by its chorus of “You Have a Big Dick, But Don’t Be a Dick to Me.” It’s also pretty straightforward. There are few things emotionally worse than showing someone a bit of your vulnerable side and then feeling they’re ignoring you or, heaven forbid, are ashamed they’ve been with you. The subject/situation in question has, like “Nothing,” been resolved, but it’s a quirky little tune nonetheless.

7) Harvard Street Actor: I have a feeling if the subject of this song recognizes himself in the title I’ll get nothing but “fuck you” from him if I ever run into him in the future. It’s for the best and anyway I’ll take a “fuck you” in exchange for such a beautiful song. The companion song to “Kiss and Run” in terms of that disastrous night, “Harvard Street Actor” has been a surprising success with everyone I’ve played it for. It also has a cheeky little throwback to my Mad Ophelia days with the bridge where I rephrase some of Ophelia’s words to say: “quoth she: ‘before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed’; said he ‘oh, I would’ve done had you not come to my bed.’” Like “Backstabber” has become my “fuck you” to my Gin Circus days, I’m content to have “Harvard Street Actor” be the summary of the experiences that make up this album.

In the meantime, don’t forget you can still stream and download mp3s of most of my music on my bandcamp website:

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