Saturday Waffling (March 1st, 2014)

(38 comments)

Sorry that posts have been late the last two days. I'm having a rash of Blogger problems where things I tell to post instead save to draft and don't publish. If you missed them, there was a Last War in Albion post on Thursday that contains a fantastically gratuitous visual gag (Figure 249) that I've been setting up over the course of a few posts, and for which there's really no justification. (See also my three-post long parenthetical. Somebody stop me.)

And there was an altogether more normal post on Mona Lisa's Revenge yesterday. Well, normal on my end. On The Sarah Jane Adventures' end, I'm not so sure.

Right. Your weekend update. Kickstarter stuff has one more day of work to do on it before I take it to the post office. My guess is Tuesday for the last day of work, and by Friday for the post office. After that I just have to edit the Soldeed video, get it to the backer so she can do what she will with it, and I'll be ready to post a Year-In-Review of the writing business, since I think I owe a degree of transparency for how often I shake the cup.

Not long after that, there'll be a fresh Kickstarter for a stretch of Last War in Albion, probably targeting about $2.5k and featuring mostly digital rewards. That will also include the occasionally mentioned Secret Project, which I will spoil is Doctor Who-related. If it succeeds, I'll be able to stick to the current status quo of regular blogging for the next year or so.

Let's see. I'm feeling like a music weekend. I'm terribly looking forward to Alex (co-author of the Flood book) having his new album out in early March. He's under a new band name called Seeming, has samples including the phenomenal pair of album tracks "The Burial" (my wife's favorite song at this moment) and "Everything Could Change" up at Soundcloud. Information about the album here. I'll probably do some proper promotion for it in a week or two, like a nice juicy interview with the gentleman. I've heard most of the album at this point, and yeah. I recognize that I'm biased, as he's one of my best friends, but holy fuck, it's good.

What music are you caught up in right now? Links to YouTube videos with a few sentences rapturously describing how the song will blow me away are strongly invited. I may even get around to adding some, having discovered the music video for Bat for Lashes' "Lillies" over a year after I was properly obsessed with the album. And I maintain that the CHVRCHES cover of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a thing of outrageous beauty.

(Example: The start of the second verse of "Everything Could Change" is an absolutely fantastic moment in which the song declines to crescendo when it's supposed to, instead deciding to be something altogether weirder and more disturbing than the synth-pop earworm the song keeps suggesting it could be. The song keeps almost having big, juicy, catch-in-your-head pop moments, and instead the song just slithers away. It's phenomenal. And when it finally does crescendo, it's a totally different song than you thought.)

Comments

T. Hartwell 3 years, 4 months ago

Ohhhhh, wow, so I opened this tab while listening to some YouTube tabs and going "man, wouldn't it be great if he asked like, what we were listening to so I could post some stuff". So...yeah. What to post what to post what to post.

Well, here's my absolute favorite song of all time- "Another Hundred People" from Company. Main reason I love it is the orchestrations, which are so densely layered and complex to really capture that moving and kinetic nature of New York (which is the subject of the song). Here's a link to the song itself, a well as a fun Seth Rudetsky video where he delves into the orchestrations:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LBP72HPVBE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFaWBmVrCAM

I've been re-falling in love with Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2", which I just find really great for how it teases and holds off the more up-tempo portion of the piece, and then bursting out into it in rapturous joy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQLjTQ8ouYU

Here's a song from my favorite musical, Pacific Overtures, "Someone in a Tree". It's apparently Sondheim's favorite song of his, and is built around a single passage that is built and expanded into the full song. It's also interesting on a structural level- the song is about this event that is apparently unrecorded, and an old man is telling what he remembers when he was 10 years old, *while* his 10 year old self is telling what he can see, as well as a samurai warrior telling what it is he hears. No one has the complete picture, but each considers their piece an important part of the puzzle. It's pretty great.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsLpmtK5iic

And for fun, here's the music video for "The Arbiter" from the musical Chess, aka the 80iest video to ever 80s the 80s. It's very 80s.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6uh7tRh9Jc

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 4 months ago

Recently I've had another of my frequent experiences of "shit, I wish I'd got into this music decades ago". This time it's Tori Amos.

I'd heard Armand van Helden's remix of Professional Widow back in the day, of course: it was a huge hit and an instant dancefloor classic. Here it is for anyone who needs a reminder:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl9DkcBreNw

But I'd never bothered listening to the Tori Amos original. What a fool I was. It turns out that:

1. It sounds utterly different.
2. It is a bloody brilliant song in its own right.
3. Thrash harpsichord is totally a thing.

Hear for yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8NGWHZHZao

The context is widely believed to be Courtney Love's relationship with Kurt Cobain.

So anyway, I'm now on a much belated Tori Amos kick.

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elvwood 3 years, 4 months ago

Nothing new for me. I've only bought three albums in the last three years, and two of those were a best-of-the-rest-of The Who and a Fairport Convention anniversary set from Cropredy. Cropredy used to be a regular annual event for me, but I haven't been since 2000 (when my daughter was a baby). Through the years I moved from being as close to the front as possible (in my student days) to sitting in a chair towards the back of the field. The impressive thing about the festival was that it remained really good even as my manner of involvement evolved.

The third album was a chancier thing. I got Jim Mortimore's Plateau, which is an ambient work slightly reminiscent of Brian Eno's Neroli. I've been very happy with it - it's basically been the principal soundtrack to my writing ever since.

The only other thing is that I've been revisiting an 80s band that never quite made it, and I could never see why, giving others that did: Cruella de Ville. I've still got some of their singles, even though I don't have a turntable any more. They were quirky and talented; I wish they'd carried on.

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Jack Graham 3 years, 4 months ago

Blogger has NEVER let me schedule posts. I tried it with post #1 of my 50th anniversary countdown. I wrote 1 and 2 ages before the 23rd and tried to queue them up to post automatically, but my test runs all failed. I really don't know why I'm telling you this. It's of no interest even to me.

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Jarl 3 years, 4 months ago

I mostly keep music on as an ambient thing. There's songs I can recite the lyrics to and hum along with and recall very vivid images of what I was doing when I first became "aware" of the song, but I have no idea what their titles or sources are. Just the other day, I was watching JFK for the first time in years and realized that the title leitmotif of that movie has come up on shuffle so frequently that it's become completely engrained in my consciousness, and all I could say to its identification was "That really mournful, taps-like piece that's almost certainly by John Williams."

That said, there's certainly songs I've gotten stuck in my craw lately. I recently started playing Far Cry 3, which is a fantastic game with a similar problem to Bioshock in that the gameplay reflects the story almost to its detriment at times (the second island has been a bit of a slog is what I'm saying).There's a part in it where the hero moves from reactionary violence to active violence, a level called "Kick the Hornet's Nest". Fittingly, it's one of the few segments (so far) with overtly bombastic or lyrical music, the game mostly relying on ambient and dynamic tracks elsewhere.

Up to this point, you've been on the run from pirate slavers and trying to ingratiate yourself to a local support network just to stay alive, and this is when you really step out and start taking the fight to the pirates by burning their marijuana fields with a flamethrower. The soundtrack gladly takes the opportunity to play up how different this is from everything that's taken place before it with this song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR_u9rvFKzE
But just linking the song doesn't do justice to why it's such an earworm, you have to see it in context:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdThgzuaPA

So that's a new addition to my playlist.

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klausjoynson 3 years, 4 months ago

If you're having a music weekend, you could do worse than have a listen to the Doctor Who concept album I sent you! Would love to hear your opinion, particularly as you directly inspired at least one song on it.

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jane 3 years, 4 months ago

My interest in new music died about ten years ago when I developed Meniere's Disease and lost about two-thirds of my hearing, almost all of it in my left ear, which has been replaced by a constant hissing static.

Not that my musical tastes were ever what I'd call oriented towards to the contemporary. I've always been a few years out of date, save for some brief exposure to the latest and greatest when I was in college, and even then I was listening to way too much Pink Floyd.

For example, in the early Naughts I was listening to Velvet Belly, late-Nineties shoegazing. It also was about that time I found Sonia Dada, yet somehow didn't find my theme song for several years. But sadly, most of my listening pleasure is even more nostalgiac. Love. Three Dog Night. Chicago. The Smiths. Movie soundtracks. All horribly out of date.

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Callum Leemkuil 3 years, 4 months ago

Recently I've been listening a lot to Daughn Gibson's bizarre country/hip-hop/many other things genre collision of an album All Hell. An excellent sample of his style is the song Lite Me Up, which combines 808s, a cheesy piano sample, chopped up vocals, and Gibson's distinctive baritone to great effect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7z_X8fYKVw

Scott Walker's recent album Bish Bosch (which was really excellent and totally bizarre) got me on an old school Scott Walker binge, and he released some truly excellent baroque pop back in the day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7z_X8fYKVw

Speedy Ortiz have recently released a wonderful EP full of distorted 90s-style guitars and Stephen Malkmus-esque lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waSNAdBm_Jg

On the hip-hop side of things, the rapper Milo put out a crazy amount of stuff last year, including a great album called "Poplar Grove, or how to rap with a hammer." A good introduction to his stuff is a song called "post hoc ergo propter hoc (for Schopenhauer):" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dv_wT6Dnmo

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 4 months ago

I am jealous as hell. Getting into Tori Amos was one of the absolutely formative experiences of my life. Led me directly to Sandman, and thus back into comics, which in turn led to Alan Moore... Under the Pink will always be one of my all-time favorite albums.

I envy you the opportunity to experience it for the first time.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes, I do owe you that. Sorry. Arrived while I was out of town, and got put in the pile of Stuff That I Now Need To Deal With, where it languished. Have just moved it to the top of said pile in a bid to have things happen.

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Triturus 3 years, 4 months ago

A Doctor Who concept album?! What genre? Is any of it available online? I'm intrigued!

The song I've been listening to over and over again lately is Vacuum Cleaner, by Tintern Abbey:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS-ULwge-x0

I just love this sort of dreamy psychedelia. Could listen to it all day. In fact, I think I will.

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BatmanAoD 3 years, 4 months ago

I loved The National's new album since it came out last year, I feel pretty "meh" (sad to say) about The Jezabels' new album, and I'm pretty sure Beck's new album is deserving of all the NPR hoopla it's been getting, though I've only listened to it once so far.

Since Ethan Iverson reads this blog and sometimes comments, I'd feel remiss mentioning that I love "Seven Minute Mind" from The Bad Plus's new album, but need to give the album as a whole another listen. (Ethan, if you're reading, 1: you're awesome, 2: I hope you post something interesting here in this music recommendation thread, and 3: I've yet to see you live but I hope to be able to make it to see The Bad Plus in Denver in April.)

I also just recently finished listening to The Last Waltz, a fairly extensive collection of recordings from Bill Evans' final engagement at The Keystone Korner. 9 nights of music; he died the next week of some mix of drugs and depression. The final track ends with him saying "we hope to be back soon." Chilling and gorgeous stuff; listen to any of the recordings of Nardis from that week and you'll be blown away.

On the "classical" front, as a pianist, I love being able to introduce other pianists to new rep; just this week I introduced someone to Rautavaara's Fire Sermon sonata. Amazing piece.

But my current favorite musical group is SHEL; they're four sisters from my home town of Fort Collins, CO, and they'll be releasing their second album soon. The have some of the most intricate and beautiful vocal harmonies I've heard in non-classical music since The Beatles. They have a four-part-harmony cover of Gregory Alan Isakov's "Stable Song" that's just incredibly beautiful, but I don't think there exists a recording yet (I was lucky enough to see them the first and second times they performed it), so you'll just have to wait for their new album to come out and hope it's on there or just find an opportunity to go see them live. Their cover of Led Zeppelin's Battle of Evermore is also pretty excellent and might be a good introduction to their stuff. Last and Greatest Blueberry Rubber Band is perhaps my favorite piece of musical whimsy ever recorded. Paint My Life and When the Sky Fell are haunting and sublime. When the Dragon Came Down is wonderfully dramatic. Just … listen to everything you can. I do not think you'll regret it.

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BatmanAoD 3 years, 4 months ago

That first "I" was initially an "I've," but I accidentally changed it because my cursor kept jumping back to the beginning of the text box. Oops.

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Callum Leemkuil 3 years, 4 months ago

Oh yeah, I totally forgot my centerpiece: Avocado, Baby by Los Campesinos!. It kicks off with jagged post-punk guitars over a strutting post-punk beat with frontman Gareth Campesinos! distastefully spitting lines about Greek mythology and daytime TV as the drumming gets funkier and then it crashes into the chorus, a synthpop-inflected continuation of the song sung by Gareth's sister Kim Campesinos!. It continues along this pattern twice before suddenly colliding itself with a group of pre-teen cheerleaders chanting the deliberately ridiculous couplet "A heart of stone, rind so tough it's crazy/That's why they call me the avocado, baby" over the post-punk and synthpop background, before briefly pulling back into a false ending and then crashing everything together again and stuttering to a halt.

The music video's not half bad either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-M_m1I1uKU

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Callum Leemkuil 3 years, 4 months ago

I love "Trouble Will Find Me" as well. That album (like all the National's albums) has an uncanny knack for worming its way into your emotions, probably due to Matt Berninger's absurdly melancholy voice.

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 4 months ago

Rest assured I am enjoying it all the more for coming to it late.

When Tori Amos first came out, I dismissed her as a poor man's Kate Bush. That turned out to be a massive mistake.

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peeeeeeet 3 years, 4 months ago

True story: around the time profwid was a hit, I was at uni and the theatre studio at my college had a harpsichord in it. Showing off, I said I could play Professional Widow by Tori Amos, and proceeded to give them a verse or two of the original. Cue a sea of very confused faces...

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 4 months ago

Cropredy turned out to be a formative experience in my relationship with my wife Joanna.

We went to Cropredy long before we were married, in the first flush of our relationship together. It was the year that Jethro Tull played.

I wasn't a massive Tull fan, but by God they kicked ass that night. They were headlining the Friday, and we went back to our tent having seen an outstanding rock show.

The next day did not go quite as expected. Crucially, the real ale ran out mid-afternoon, and I didn't fancy moving on to the fizzy lager, so I was quite sober come the evening.

Then Fairport Convention came on to end the festival, playing their headline set. I had no preconceptions about them - less than I had about Tull, to be honest - but compared to the ass-kicking of the previous night they just seemed uninspiring.

After a few songs, I turned to Joanna. The conversation went more or less like this:

Me: What are you thinking?

Joanna: I can't tell you.

Me: Oh, go on.

Joanna: I wish we were under our duvet watching Robin of Sherwood.

Me: Me too.

So we made our way out of the festival, pushing against the tide of fans still flowing in to see the headliners, pulled up our tent and shoved all our stuff quickly into the back of our car, drove off to our home in Cambridge, and were under our duvet watching Robin of Sherwood before Fairport had finished their set.

That was one of the main occasions when I realised this was the woman I had to marry.

(The other main one involves Sylvester McCoy, but that's a story for another day.)

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peeeeeeet 3 years, 4 months ago

Since Harold Ramis died this week, I could do worse than link to a beautiful track from the Ghostbusters OST. One day... One day I will own an Ondes Martinot...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVnMNbcU3M

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peeeeeeet 3 years, 4 months ago

... oh, and with the Final Fantasy X HD remake out around now, hows about this transcendent version of Hymn of the Fayth?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SZ5lYfln5U

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Reinder Dijkhuis 3 years, 4 months ago

Lots of music by West-Africans-in-exile: singers Dobet Gnahoré and Rokia Traoré, the latter of whom I'll be seeing live in a week. It's exciting for me that after a year of listening to music from that region on and off, I now understand it enough to have clear favorites and recognise the different genres and distinctive individual styles.

Also, new St. Vincent album. Previewing bits from the new Kelis album as well.

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T. Hartwell 3 years, 4 months ago

I adore the Ghostbusters score- Elmer Bernstein was a fantastic composer, and the score has so many lovely pieces. Such a shame it's not more widely available, though, aside from that limited edition Varese Saraband album from a few years back.

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dm 3 years, 4 months ago

An lofi EP of very personal, very funny yet oddly moving garage folk/country/pop/rock stuff by a Sydney band called The Cathys (all members of other well known Sydney bands, but that's quite a qualifier) has been on regular rotation for me since it came out. Three warm, fun, bitter, clever tracks with one of my best friends fronting it. 'Sounds like' things are always lame but I highly recommend this if you like Silver Jews or Smog or The Clean or... similar. The best track is definitely 'Benefit of the Doubt'

http://thecathys.bandcamp.com/track/benefit-of-the-doubt

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dm 3 years, 4 months ago

"Oh what an ordinary day/Take out the garbage, masturbate." is one of the most perfect, concise and downright beautiful opening lines in pop music since "Dirty old river, must you keep rolling/Flowing into the night"

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Anna Wiggins 3 years, 4 months ago

According to last.fm, lately I'm really enjoying Suzanne Vega and Against Me!

I'm about 20 years late to the game on Suzanne Vega, of course. But if you haven't heard Against Me!'s newest album, I recommend it.

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elvwood 3 years, 4 months ago

Well, sorry you didn't enjoy Fairport, but sounds like it worked out alright in the end! Folk Rock is kind of the middle of my musical net, so Cropredy is generally right up my street. Mind you, I don't remember the beer ever running out (I'm not a lager fan either) so maybe I wasn't there that year? I do remember the toilets proving entirely inadequate in 1983, when I think the organisers were caught out by the popularity of the event (it was still growing rapidly at the time). We hung on until after the show and used the first available ones we came across in Banbury. It was the only time I've ever been really happy to go into a Macdonald's...

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Reinder Dijkhuis 3 years, 4 months ago

I saw Ian Anderson with his band last November at the end of their Thick As A Brick 2 tour, and they were as disciplined as Jethro Tull were the five or six times I saw them during the 1990s. Ian Anderson is a perfectionist who also knows how to get the best out of the musicians he works with and there's a baseline of quality they never ever drop under, no matter how bad Anderson's voice gets, and regardless of the quality of the album they happen to be supporting right now. They do kick ass live.

Fairport's approach is always more raggedy, and as far as I can tell (I've only been to Cropredy once and have listened to quite a few of the live recordings from there over the years), they're rarely at their best musically at their own festival. Give them a second chance when they perform at a concert venue near you; they're usually tighter and on better form, and with not as many guests.

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klausjoynson 3 years, 4 months ago

It's every genre! 12 songs for 12 Doctors, each song in the musical style of the time. Not available yet, as we've only just finished it and waiting for a release date. I sent a copy to Philip because he inspired some of the songs.

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Triturus 3 years, 4 months ago

Sounds really interesting, thank you. I hope you'll let us know on another Saturday waffling thread when it's released.

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Andy H. 3 years, 3 months ago

Owen Pallett, who used to perform as Final Fantasy, just released two tracks off his forthcoming album which have me pretty fixated.

"On a Path": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMr51844ybw
and "The Riverbed": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt8wR8CagQo

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Marionette 3 years, 3 months ago

Current and recent faves have been Amanda Palmer - Theatre us Evil, and Digital Daggers - Close your Eyes.

I do love the video for King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A76a_LNIYwE

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Triturus 3 years, 3 months ago

Ah, Amanda Palmer. Sorry if this is old hat to everyone, but the Dresden Dolls cover of War Pigs is one of the best things in the world ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WimY82SpGhY

Skip to c3.06 if you want to miss the bit where they start off too fast.

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therichfox 3 years, 3 months ago

Half Man Half Biscuit

'Tending The Wrong Grave for 23 Years'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP2TxPY3TX4

(proper gloomy Sunday music)

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AJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Definitely hooked on the new Against me! and going back and listening to Reinventing Axl Rose (and the acoustic album of that era) a lot.

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encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

Philip, I could have written your comment word for word myself -- that's exactly what happened for me, and in that order. I feel the same way about Under the Pink, though I have to say Scarlet's Walk gives it a run for its money sometimes.

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encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

YES. The new St. Vincent album. Good grief. I really liked her first album, loved her second, and felt dismayed and let down by her third. Then this one comes along and as soon as I saw that wacked-out cover art, I thought, "oh, I'd better check on this." Sure enough, it's the BEST.

Here's the first video, which is not even the best song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVAxUMuhz98

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encyclops 3 years, 3 months ago

In addition to being suddenly, violently in love with St. Vincent's music again, I listened to one Dum Dum Girls song and like half of a Quadron song and ordered their albums on the spot. Video links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHeNvsb4Qpw (no video, just music)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P7N_vlvU8w

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storiteller 3 years, 3 months ago

I love Tori Amos! My first album by her was actually From the Choirgirl Hotel, but my favorite is Little Earthquakes. It's just so raw and honest. If you haven't seen her in concert, you have to. I saw her when American Doll Posse came out, so she actually came out and played as the different characters. My husband and one of my other friends saw it, neither of whom are Tori fans, and they both agreed she was amazing.

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