Mother Cabrini Statue just outside of Denver, Colorado is one of my favorite places to think, although the Sunday I went up there was smack dab in the middle of the Spanish Mass and a charity BBQ. Not quite the serene afternoon I thought, but just as comforting and hey! Hot dogs! Growing up Catholic, I never knew you could drink the Holy Water, assumed it was a sin. Here though, you can buy a jug and fill ‘er up from the spouts that come out of the famous spot where Mother Cabrini said there would be water. It’s the most delicious water you could imagine, especially after climbing all those steps. In the chapel, I lit two candles for my grandmother and her sister, Sister Geraldine, the most devout Catholics I’ve ever known. Later when I got into my car, what looked like a bright cotton ball lazily floated toward me from the floor of the passenger side, then went over my shoulder as a second ball followed. I pulled over and looked in my backseat, but there was nothing back there, and the windows had been up. As much as I love ghost stories, I don’t actually believe in ghosts, but I called out their names and felt deeply comforted. Mother Cabrini’s is a special place.
When I saw that Juliana Hatfield covered Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” for the new Wes Anderson tribute off American Laundromat, I flipped with excitement at the thought of her breathy vocals doing the song justice. She performs a beautiful version that doesn’t stray far from the feel of the original, but when the drum machine comes in it’s pure Juliana. I love when she layers her vocals, and here they sound beautiful and odd, lending a discordant turn to the end of the song.
I’ve been in the processing of moving and had over 800 viruses cleaned off my computer (thanks, Spotify), so haven’t had a chance to listen to any new music in a few weeks. Things are now settled and I spent all morning dancing around to bouncy sunny off kilter beats, and here are ten of my favorite new songs to listen to this weekend:
French Style Furs “Solitary Life”- Cold War Kids side project with lead singer Nathan Willett singing poems written by 20th century monk Thomas Merton. Using found materials and putting them to a Latin groove, “Solitary Life” takes elements from David Byrne’s playbook as Willett’s distinct vocals sound more pleading than ever courtesy of Merton’s philosophical thoughts.
Old Smokey “All the Way Slow”- Composed of veterans from the Athens, GA scene, Old Smokey make catchy songs with a perplexing AM sound that has elements of Bollywood and spaghetti western throughout the onslaught of beautiful strings. “All the Way Slow” has a great psychedelic extended bridge with a fitting public access looking video.
La Femme “Welcome America”- French electro-surf powerhouse brings the frenetic energy with uptempo synthesized clapping and a ridiculously bouncy bass line.
Sylvan Esso “Hey Mami”- Overlapping the crystal clear vocals of Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath, producer Nick Sanborn creates a perfect sweet pop song that gets harder and more complex with every measure.
Tyson Meade “Nihilists Need Love Too”- legendary 90’s alt-rock former Chainsaw Kittens member loved by the Flaming Lips shows that weird never dies in his new single.
BOSSK “Albatross”- This Fleetwood Mac cover maintains the beautiful dreamy mood of the original and is best heard over and over.
Yonatan Gat “Escorpiao”- mesmerizing guitarist from Tel Aviv now residing in NY spends time in Portugal and tweaks his fuzzy psychedelic unhinged sound.
Teleman “23 Floors Up”- incredible songwriting and melody from a UK group who sound like they listen to a lot of Bowie.
Cretin Stompers “Eye of the Storm”- super fuzzy light as a beignet deliciousness. So fuzzy I thought a speaker had blown out. Yum.
Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea “Problem”- I’m sure Ariana Grande is a nice girl, but I go straight to Iggy’s part in this song. Reminding me of Lady Gaga’s “Teeth”, saxophone and marching drums never sounded so good with Iggy as the perfect Drum Major.
The French Quarter is so thick with history and juxtaposition, you don’t even need Bourbon Street alcohol to become intoxicated. I attended a wedding there a couple weekends ago, and it was my first time back since I quit drinking (today is 990 days, almost to 1,000!). Before the trip I was worried that I would have a frustrating time, but the second the plane landed and I heard the first Louisiana accent, all was at ease. My family goes back generations in Louisiana, and it felt like a warm hug just walking the streets that zillions of cousins had also pranced upon. I got up early to get some photos with minimal people in them; just dozens of skaters and German tour groups.
William Faulkner house. A literary tour came into the lovely quiet bookstore inside and the tour guide said “No one knows where the Creole people came from.” What? Almost wanted to take over the tour. Instead I went to the serene historical Catholic church next door and thought about loved ones, as these are my mornings now that they lack hangovers.
LaLaurie House- famous house where a famed socialite tortured slaves, owned by Nicholas Cage for awhile and used as a location on American Horror Story, read more here:
Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop- a bar you can still have a great time in even if you aren’t drinking. Just sit in the dark, cool back of the bar and soak in the history. This place is so mythical to me, that I once lived in an old Victorian carriage home that looked like it:
Always have to pay respect and sit and judge people with Ignatius from The Confederacy of Dunces.
Of course, you can’t forget the music. Preservation Jazz Hall was invigorating and fresh as always, but the street buskers stole my heart. I came across 13 Strings and a 2 Dollar Bill and immediately thought “that’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen” about The Notorious Nora Jean. The next day I came across them again, and she was tap-dancing on a wooden pallet while playing the mandolin and singing wearing the cutest Gunne Sax dress. Not to dwell on her looks and style, but I admit that I’ve been wearing railroad stripes, hats, black and dusty boots ever since. They are everything you’d want in a traveling busker duo:
I’m a sucker for an outfit shot in an alley, and the wedding at the House of Blues more than provided. Dress by MSGM