Since early October I have been listening to Deathfolk Magic by Bye Bye Banshee, a musical exploration of death and grief crafted with magic, myth and folklore, by songwriter Jezebel Jones. Deathfolk Magic is the ghostly melody, hushed and humming softly, ominously, as your rocker creaks a rickety midnight lullaby on the rotted wooden floorboards of a ramshackle cabin. Sleepless at the swamp’s edge, you rock, slowly, steadily on, shrouded in darkness, a shotgun slung across your lap. A loon’s mournful, wavering cry almost obscures a slithering rustle through the tall grass just beyond the crumbling front porch steps, and imagining cold, reptilian eyes, pitiless and patient, watching your vigil this night, you shudder, a moan trapped low in your throat. I’m not sure that’s exactly what Jezebel Jones was singing about, I mean it probably wasn’t… but her haunted, husky warble is so hypnotic and evocative you’ll forgive me for letting my imagination run away with me. To sum up; murky, mediative musical memento mori.
Also worth mentioning: Emma Ruth Rundle’s On Dark Horses is a knife-point listen of intimate shadows and fevered secrets that softly slice beneath the skin. “Mariner’s Apartment Complex” by Lana del Rey, is an introspective single over which I have been obsessing for months, with a somber tone and sly lyrics, which kinda gives me Leonard Cohen vibes. And for extra LDR goodness, have a listen to Cat Power’s excellent new single, “Woman”, a resonant manifesto of sorts, wherein Lana effortlessly and beautifully complements Chan Marshall’s raspy, vulnerable vocals. And lastly, the new Suspiria soundtrack, which I know is a pretty divisive topic–but I LOVE it. I also adored Goblin’s intense cacophony of a prog-rock score for the original, but this new film needed something as unexpected and unorthodox as its take on the story itself–and think Thom Yorke’s brooding, moody, minimal vision, whispering with skeletal strings, weirdly lilting piano, dreamy, dreary electronic drone and vaporous sighs, gets it just right.
DeVotchKa – This Night Falls Forever – Oh, DeVotchKa, you’ve never put out an album I didn’t love, yet somehow I love this one more than most. For those who’ve never listened to them, I’m afraid I don’t know how to classify this Denver-based ensemble. They’re a four-piece band that sounds like an orchestra. Some call them Gypsy Punk. Some call them Dark Cabaret. I call them…one of my favorite bands and one of my all-time favorite live performers, never to be missed. (Fortunately for me and my fellow Portland area fans, DeVotchKa performed here not long after this marvelous new album came out.) There’s something about Nick Urata’s bewitching voice, his beautiful lyrics – as intoxicating as they are heart-wrenching – and this magnificent ensemble’s seemingly endless array of instruments, all played masterfully, that defies description and makes my heart feel like it’s endlessly expanding and shattering at the same time. Also I’m a sucker for a well-played theremin.
Devotchka’s music simultaneously makes me want to dance and weep. In fact, that’s precisely what I do at their shows. I can’t stand still. I also can’t stop the tears. For me, every show has been an ecstatic experience. Their music is invigorating and cathartic. Sweet, gentle, and dreamy one moment, boisterous, roisterous, and defiant the next. Even at their saddest, DeVotchKa celebrates the beauty of being here at all, for as long as we get. Forever embracing the heartache that comes with love, that comes with life. The ephemeral nature of all things, loving them all even more because, for all of the loved ones gone, forever’s not so long and you already know how this will end.
I’ve been almost exclusively listening to Last Podcast on the Left the past few weeks. It completely feeds into my fascination with things that go bump in the night, and the hosts make enough (maybe too many at times) loud and obnoxious dick jokes to keep me from zoning out on the road during my daily commute. Covering the full spooky spectrum of fringe topics: aliens and our reptilian overlords FTW, alongside hauntings, serial killers, and general weirdness in each episode. It feels much more sincere and authentic than Lore – I sort of can’t stand the Lore host, he sounds like he’s wearing khaki shorts and is way too smug for me – in that these guys are the types of dudes that you’d actually hang out with and talk about all this weird shit with at the bar in the middle of the night.
Full disclosure : it took me a little bit to not get super annoyed by the way off topic silliness, but the research is super thorough and backed with their legitimate interest and passion that I can get past the fart jokes.