Sharon Van Etten

There are two types of jobs — the ones you leave behind at the end of the day, and the ones that linger, like a habit or a craving, blurring the line between office hours and the endangered species we fleetingly know as “leisure time.”

Growing up, both my parents were college professors. Being on an academic calendar has some serious perks — my father’s tradition of blasting The Jamies’ “Summertime, Summertime” after he turned in his spring semester grades embodied the biggest perk of all — but teaching at any level means signing on for late nights marking up exams, early mornings getting last-minute lesson plans together, and who knows how many hours of worrying about the success of your students. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. It’s non-stop.

It’s the difference between leaving the house to go get a paycheck and leaving to put your passion on the line, for a reward determined only by your perception of your capabilities. And it’s the way artists have to live, both because of the uphill battle facing anyone who chooses to survive by their creativity and because of the elusive nature of the inspiration that justifies that pursuit. These were the things Sharon Van Etten got me thinking about when she tweeted the following a few weeks ago…

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David Vandervelde

Summertime Hits

“To every thing there is a season.” — The Byrds Pete Seeger Ecclesiastes III

For whatever reason, when I get ready to write a blog post for Friday publication, everything feels different. My appetite for meaningful analysis goes out the window, and I start asking myself things like “What was the funnest thing I heard all week?” and “Is ‘funnest’ a word?” and “Can I find a way to incorporate this picture of a giraffe helping his drunk friend Frank get home?”

In many ways, the same thing goes on throughout the summer months, albeit on a much bigger scale.

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Alma Deutscher

[UPDATE: Video embed and links fixed]

Can you remember what you were up to when you were 6 years old? I can’t, but I imagine it involved fair amounts of introversion and nose-picking, with dashes of tee ball sprinkled in here and there.

But thanks to YouTube, we know exactly what Alma Deutscher was up to when she was 6. She was composing a sonata. A sonata in E-flat, to put a finer point on it. A sonata that, to these admittedly classical noob-escent ears, is pretty damn amazing.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

When I first started writing this here blog, the idea was that each post would highlight a way of finding new music. There are a million-and-a-half avenues for discovering bands these days, and I thought it would helpful to sift through them and talk up the ones I found most fruitful. I still think about that each time I sit down to write a post, but I can’t deny that I’ve slipped in this area. (My self-control in the face of Super Bowl halftime shows and “Gangnam Style” is pretty much non-existent.)

With that shortfall in mind, I’d like to keep up the momentum I generated from yesterday’s posthere’s another link to the fantastic 70 Day Weekend — by dedicating this post to the people who are, without question, the reason I’m enjoying Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new album so much. In this case, though, it’s not about who recommended Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! Instead, I’d like to talk about the bands that paved the way for my appreciation of an album I might not have given a fair shake a few years ago — bands that have opened my eyes to the glorious, noisy rock being made here in Richmond and elsewhere.

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The Eastern Sea


So it’s Monday, which is, of course, extraordinarily lame. But I have something I think will help.

I’m sorry to say it’s not a time machine, nor is it a magic wand that can eliminate Mondays altogether, like the 13th floor of buildings in superstitious countries. (Quick side note: Did you know that some architects originally warned against letting skyscrapers grow above 13 floors, thinking it would result in daunting shadows, traffic congestion and lower property values? That has to be one of the wrongest things ever said, right? On par with “No online database will replace your daily newspaper” and “My cat probably won’t mind being given a bath“?)

It’s a song, one I came across last week on one of my favorite music blogs, 70 Day Weekend, and it’s here to make your Monday suck less.

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Easy Star All-Stars


For nearly three decades, I thought my mom was a fan of the ALCS-swept New York Yankees. She grew up in New Jersey, her brother is a Yankee fan, her parents are Yankee fans… I guess I just assumed. And there wasn’t exactly a shortage of opportunities for her true colors to show — I played little league for like 10 years, went to god knows how many Norfolk Tides games, and watched a ton of baseball at home during and after family dinners. So imagine my surprise when the following exchange took place over the phone earlier this season…

Mom: “Ugh. I hate the Yankees.”
Me: “What?”
Her: “I’m a Mets fan!”
Me: “What?!?”

Turns out, when she was a kid, she rooted for the Mets to stick it to the rest of her family. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. She also called a career audible when I was in high school and became an Episcopalian priest after 31 years of teaching American History. She’s just full of surprises.

So is Radiohead, apparently.

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Yellow Ostrich


Regrets. I has them.

My latest: Somehow I fell asleep at the switch and missed out on ordering the super limited edition version of Yellow Ostrich’s new Ghost EP. 100 copies — no more, no less (you’ll see why in a sec) — of the new release come packaged in an actual segment of the painting pictured above, which was done on a grid of blank record sleeves by New York-based artist Graham Parks. How cool is that? Very, right? How pissed am I at myself for not jumping on this opportunity and getting my order in before they sold out? Again — very!

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Does everyone here have a Soundcloud account? If not, might I humbly suggest that you sign up?

Not only is the service great for bloggers who want to embed songs in blog posts like this one, with a visually appealing, waveform-revealing player that’s strangely fun to watch, Soundcloud lets users follow bands, so you can find out the moment they upload new tracks. You have your own personal dashboard with the latest “incoming” tracks, and that’s how I found out that… wait for it

Holger is back!

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Mountain Goats

Moon Colony Bloodbath

So The Mountain Goats visited The National on Wednesday evening. Sadly, I couldn’t make it out, though I did see some fantastic photos on PJ Sykes’ blog, and it looks to have been a great time. But before the show on Wednesday, as excited, anticipation-fueled tweets started showing up in my Twitter feed, I was having less than a great time. Actually, I was miserable. But not because I couldn’t go.

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