Wow I barely blogged last week and I really felt its absence. Work got busy, life got busy, "Sorry I Haven't Posted." I'm back, and this week there are some killer blog posts in the pipeline featuring great musicians...excellent music...a guest post??...all kinds of shit. Anyway to dust off the blog cobwebs, here are some musical moments I experienced over the past few days while I was too busy to blog.
Car Leasing Party Rocking
I leased my first-ever car yesterday. I lived in NYC for 11 years and my car was the damn F train. Before that I was in college, carless, bumming rides in my friend's Honda CR-Vs. And before that, I was in high school and drove a 1995 Volvo sedan that got passed down through all the O'Brien girls. That Volvo was legendary, it blasted bass notes rather unprecedentedly for a piece of Swedish machinery.
Anyway, now we're in LA and we need to drive. We went to Kia Car Pros Glendale, by their count the busiest Kia dealership in the nation, and after many questions about how much money we make a month and where we have lived in the past, we drove away in a leased car of our own (well not our own...their own). We were there for several hours and therefore experienced several hours of loud party music that blasted throughout the dealership. It was in megamix mode, with blends and fades, similar to when a radio station hits 5pm on a Friday and gets especially 'turnt'. This mix had no IDs / tags, no intermittent Enjoy your interminable stay at Kia Car Pros Glendale! shouts in between songs. I could not see a live DJ playing, and I have to assume they were streaming some kind of DJ Muzak? Might email them to follow up.
Readers, I heard every Jason Derulo song ever released as a single. I heard quite a lot of Pitbull. I heard "Pepas" by Farruko (if you don't know this song by title, rest assured you have heard it) twice in normal form, and then once again as a minor key tech house remix. Lady Gaga was represented with "Just Dance"; Kesha with "TikTok." I heard "Break Your Heart" by Taio Cruz for the first time since it hit number one in 2010 (and I didn't even realize that it was a number one hit until Tom Breihan wrote about it). I heard the song "In The Dark" by DEV, a song I didn't realize was by someone named DEV until I looked it up — I only remember the stuttering da-da-da-dance, dancin' in the dark pre-chorus and the little saxobeat, because dear LORD, in 2011 you couldn't throw a rock at the Billboard chart without hitting a SAXOPHONE.
I left the dealership in a daze. I like to style myself as something of a party rocker, but it's one thing if you hear this kind of music while out at the club, dancing and getting slizzard, and quite another when you're sitting in a fluorescent-lit room and getting grilled about whether you know how gap insurance works. Which, now I do, so I guess it was a productive environment in the end. I could probably take my SATs successfully if Pitbull was playing at full blast.
Olivia Rodrigo, GUTS
Speaking of high school standardized tests, Olivia Rodrigo put out her new album and I love it. Not a sophomore slump, not the comeback of the year, just a great second record from Ms. O Rod. Because my blood is made of speed, I'm always going to choose her uptempo rockers over her ballads. "Get Him Back!", "Bad Idea Right?" and "Love is Embarrassing" are all solid gold hits, baby. People seem determined to make a Story out of this young woman, but I would invite them to shake that off and just chill and enjoy the pop music.
There's a lot to love about GUTS, but I think my favorite element of it so far is the last little bit of the "Dancing With Myself"-esque "Love Is Embarassing," when she adds in a taunting counterpoint to the chorus: I give up, give up, I give up everything / I'm plannin' out my wedding with some guy I'm never marryin'. As a 33-year-old woman in her thirties, it's been a while since I've been a twentysomething lovefool, but Olivia's tendency to semi-ironically tease herself for her outsized emotions and irrational actions reminds me of my own reactions to my indiscretions of yore: how many times have I made dumb mistakes and acted like an asshole and then cradled my forehead in my hand, wondering how could I be so stupid? That's what that counterpoint sounds like to me. Also, it's just fun to sing.
Olivia Rodrigo needs to provide the signature music for a teen movie, just as Simon and Garfunkel did for The Graduate.
The Social Network soundtrack
Speaking of signature movie music, I watched one of my favorite movies again this weekend: Da Social Network. And I just couldn't get over the Reznor / Ross music even after all these years. The movie would not work without it. The score clarifies the movie's thesis from the very first scene: rejected asshole Zuck walks through the warmly lit campus, everyone he's passing has somewhere else to be, the campus looks lovely, idyllic vibes for everyone, busy Cambridge street noise, all contradicted just slightly by the melancholy piano, which hits a final-sounding low note, and then BWOMMMM. A synth jumpscare that starts repeating, unstoppable: the bug in the system, the persistent desire to be Liked and Known.
This is an aside but I wonder if anyone who started college after, say, 2014? will ever totally understand how important Facebook was to millennials. We lived and died by that shit. You would meet someone at a party and then they would add you on Facebook, and then you could look at everything they'd ever posted and try to figure out who they were. Drama related to the relationship status was real. You might check your Facebook on someone else's computer, leave yourself logged in, and then they'd impishly post something embarrassing as you. And getting a notification was exciting because it meant that someone you knew, or wanted to know, had interacted with you in some way. It did not mean that your relative had complained about critical race theory, or that Taco Bell just posted a new Thread. It was a fresh and exciting time. You could feel how the impulse to backstalk and to refresh your page for new birthday wall posts was ultimately corrosive. You knew it probably wasn't good to spend that much time online. The little warning bell — BWOMMM — was playing, but the likes felt too good to turn off. Now look at us!
Donzii live at Zebulon
Speaking of synths, let's discuss the Miami band Donzii. I have loved Donzii since seeing them open for New Order in Miami in early 2020. They took the stage and incorporated a complex spaghetti dinner set piece into their show, and I was instantly smitten. I would describe their music as dark, slinky, sly, heavy, industrial, dance-y, punk-y, synth-y, and addictive. My favorite song of theirs is the asymmetrically groovy, deeply strange song "John Wayne," which to my knowledge they still haven't released on streaming but here's a good live version:
They just played in LA at Zebulon last week and it ripped. There was a performance art segment with a dancer emerging slimily from an egg. There were other egg-based shenanigans. The Zebulon sound system seemed quite supportive of Donzii's grooves, and the bass vibrated thru my bones. Watching lead singer Jenna Balfe do her thing is such a treat; she can cast a real somber spell on the audience over the course of a song, then break into cheeky between-song banter like nothing ever happened. The fluctuation between gravity and silliness, clowning and witchcraft, is so fascinating to watch.
I love Donzii! Listen to Donzii!