Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Performer Magazine

I have been working for Performer Magazine, writing profiles and album reviews, for over a year now! I originally applied for their internship and ended up sticking around as a writer instead. Here is the "300-word review of a band I like" that got me into the job:

The Go Find – Stars on the Wall
Review by Lulu McAllister

Belgian Indie-pop group The Go Find takes a softer turn in their recent Stars on the Wall. Haunting melodies layered over understated electronics and strumming guitar riffs on the second album seem to delve deeper into the lullaby mentality of the group’s 2005 release, Miami.

Stars on the Wall varies slightly from song to song, contributing country guitar solos in some areas and nursery-ready electronic accents in others but remains generally down-tempo from start to finish. The uncomplicated, melancholy vocals of the songs “Beautiful Night” and “New Year” sound like something Ben Gibbard might have produced in the time between his Postal Service rendezvous and latest offerings with Death Cab for Cutie. “Beautiful Night” remains streamlined, building to a rich harmonic vocal breakdown toward the end of the song. “New Year” ripens when similar background vocals come in like a cannon, weaving together the song’s simple message (“This is the new year I’ve been longing for”). “We Don’t Wanna” moves completely into the acoustic end of things while also throwing in some drums where they were previously omitted. The single, “Dictionary,” maintains simple elements of the first few song but opens up when the drum track doubles up over the catchy repeated main theme. “Ice Cold Ice” builds with a tribal Bjork-esque beat but never really takes off. “OK Kid,” the last track, boils the previous songs down to a string of discreet instrumentals that seem to capture the essence of the album as a whole.

The Go Find have honed their downtempo sound in Stars on the Wall, seeming hesitant to break out of this calmer mindset. (Morr Music)

A year later, I still struggle with interesting substitutes for words like "upbeat" or "beautiful" or "moody" and it's hard to be technically specific when I'm not much of a musician myself (excluding, of course, painful piano lessons in the early years and that awkward 7th grade experiment called the euphonium). 

Furthermore, finding that delicate balance between hardcore musicology and abstract description is always a challenge. Is it going too far to inform the reader that a musician is singing in the hexatonic scale or is it better to simply state that the vocals are bluesy? Both would be accurate.

Either way, I keep ploughing my way through various music -- be it jazz, techno, hip-hop or any other genre out of left field. To see some of my other reviews from the past year, click here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Match Mead in Heaven

If you've ever heard of mead -- that ancient alcoholic drink -- and thought instantly of syrup and church pews, then you aren't alone (although perhaps I am).

Gordon Hull

I was intrigued but dubious going into a Slow Food USA workshop on pairing heritage pork (also interesting) with sparkling mead. Lo and behold, despite how much I enjoyed the Ossabaw pork preparations, the Heidrun sparkling mead really stuck with me -- so much, in fact, that I was inspired to purchase some off the Internet following the festival (I'll have you know that, before this transaction, I'd never purchased alcohol online before, so this was kind of a big deal). 

The sparkling mead is like all you hope a champagne would be. Given that it is made with honey rather than grapes, it's surprisingly very dry. It's like sipping a really great sparkling wine while smelling artisanal honey. 

Home-cured pork and Heidrun sparkling mead

I got my Club Mead order in the mail yesterday: California orange blossom, avocado blossom and buckwheat blossom sparkling mead. Now what to serve it with? Pork works pretty well, apparently, but what else could I do? I was thinking it might be fun to throw a medieval dinner party. If only WholeFoods offered fresh mutton, I'd be set.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Music for an Idyll Moment

Both the music and video for this track by Benoit Pioulard are beautiful. Check out "Idyll":

See more excellent offerings in XLR8R's curated music video section here.