Favorite Songs: “Stolen Flowers” by Japanther

An occasional series where I write about songs I love and why.

I’m writing today about “Stolen Flowers” by Japanther. More info on who they are as a band can be found here.

This song is taken off their album Eat Like Lisa, Act Like Bart. Aside from being good life advice, the album’s name captures the snottiness and internal contrasts of “Stolen Flowers.” The song describes a girl (“my darling”) who is clearly at a punk show – and yet she “stands still.”

Ian Vanek’s delivery in this song is very disaffected, which fits the band’s punk/DIY aesthetic. This aesthetic spreads to the chorus of the song itself, where Vanek describes how “stolen flowers decorate her room.” His punk darling doesn’t care about “when the static stars and the music starts/And it all begins to blur.” All that matters to her is these snatches of beauty – wherever she can find them.

Favorite Songs: “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells

An occasional series where I talk about the songs I love and why.

Ooooh that “boom-boom-crunk” of “Rill Rill” gets me every time. It takes me back to high school, to freshman year of college. “You’re all alone friend/Pick up the phone then/Ring, ring call them up/Tell them about the new trends.” That line always hits close to home: it talks about how you might be alone, but “they” are just on the other end of the line, ready for a connection…even if it’s as small as talking about the “new trends.”

It’s such a heavy song: Derek Miller’s powerful, static-y guitar riff is layered neatly over those pulsing drums. And yet Alexis Krauss floats so easily over those instrumentals – she’s got light pop vocals that fit her status as a former girl group singer.

And that’s what I love about this song. “Rill Rill” has weight. It speaks to that time in high school/early college when you’re just waiting: maybe you don’t want to be the one picking up the phone all the time. Krauss’s breathy voice sings about how “we form the tarot pack/and I’m aware of that.” She’s as clean and dismissive as any Mean Girls clique, with a guitar wall that forms the weight of high school emotions to back her words.

Claiming the ‘Crazy Girl’ Narrative: Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Gonna Show You Crazy”

The age-old gender divide – you know, men are from Mars, women are from Venus – shows up in music, too. In Matchbox 20’s “She’s So Mean,” Rob Thomas talks about this insane party girl that he’s in love with: “all you want is just to hold her but she don’t go for that.” Ultimately he dismisses her as “so mean” because she’s crazy and he can’t understand her behavior.

However, many female singers are taking the story of the “crazy ex” or the “crazy girlfriend” – or even just the “crazy woman” in general – and completely transforming it. Today’s post is about a singer who is doing just that: Bebe Rexha.

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Non-Spiritual Spirituals: “Weighty Ghost” by Wintersleep

You know how sometimes when you hear a song, you know that right away you’ll love it?

That’s how “Weighty Ghost” by Wintersleep was for me. I discovered it through a playlist on the music-streaming site 8tracks. It got me immediately. I fell in love with the way the beat starts out high and a little shaky, then gets right into this deep, heavy tone. The beat almost sounds like a spiritual (that rhythmic oh-na-na-na-na-na) which is fitting for the lyrics themselves. Paul Murphy talks about coming to terms with this “weighty ghost,” which could be interpreted as putting his soul to rest.

I also love the contrasts in this song: not only is there an obvious oxymoron in the title (how can a ghost be “weighty”?), but Murphy’s vocals are a little reedy compared to the driving, thumping rhythm he sings over.

The song always makes me think about the ways we use music as an outlet. When we listen to artists that are so intimate, as Wintersleep is on “Weighty Ghost,” it helps us confront our own demons.

Are there songs that have been helpful for you in overcoming your own “weighty ghosts”?

The “Sad, Skinny Girl” Trope in Indie Music: Ed Sheeran’s “A Team”

It seems like this is a recurring theme in indie music: you know, the girl who’s just so skinny and sad and broken that the singer has no choice but to write about it (instead of…helping her?) The Toast wrote about this a few years ago, but seeing as it’s a consistent issue, I felt like writing about it – specifically, as the trope occurs in “A Team” by Ed Sheeran.

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