Paperweights

I think I’ve said this about a hundred times but if you’re not listening to Calhoun you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your life.

Calhoun - Lola's 10/20/2013

Their new EP, Paperweights, comes out today and it is phenomenal. I was lucky enough to get my hands on it several months ago thanks to the unending generosity and awesomeness of Tim Locke and it has, as pretty much all of Calhoun’s music does, become a staple of my playlists.

When I saw the official tracklist for Paperweights I was amused and also glad I didn’t write this post earlier, because four out of the six songs’ names have changed. I knew this was the case with “Don’t Look Strange,” previously known as “Shit On My Face” because according to Tim at the show the other night, there were “objections.”

This EP is a definite departure from their previous album, Heavy Sugar, and light-years away from Year That Never Was, and I mean this in the best possible way. With each album, Calhoun’s sound becomes tighter and more focused and evolves in ways that deliver some of the best lyrics and music since David Byrne fronted Talking Heads. Tim Locke likes to call Paperweights a “dance party,” and he’s not wrong. There are plenty of synths and more danceable beats than you can shake a stick at and the combination is sublime.

“Fatal Flaw” and “Paperweights” are my two favorite songs on the album, and they are the opener and closer, respectively. The former has a definite Erasure feel to it, something I first thought when I caught it on the Local Edge, while the latter’s final moments feel like the end of a fireworks show – setting everything off for the grand finale.

Mister E, on the other hand, is firmly in the “Reap/Sow” camp. He has stated on more than one occasion that this is his favorite music by Calhoun because it speaks to him in a way their other stuff hasn’t. He was quick to point out that he likes their other stuff – he seems particularly fond of “Knife Fight” – but Paperweights is it for him.

“Reap/Sow” is their first single off the new EP, so sit back, have a listen, then go buy the album because the rest of it is just as awesome.

I cannot recommend Calhoun and Paperweights strongly enough. You can get it today on iTunes and Amazon, with potential vinyl happening in the future. Go now, and dance on.

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The Resplendent Quetzal, Part One

Even before I wanted my Bucky tattoo, I wanted one of the Resplendent Quetzal.

Resplendent_Quetzal_JCBThe quetzal, you see, is an amazing bird. It is the national bird of Guatemala, and it is both on their currency and the name of their currency. Because they have a tendency to die or kill themselves in captivity, they are considered a symbol of freedom and independence. They are also exceptionally beautiful birds. The males are vibrant green and red with tail feathers that are ridiculously long and beautiful. I had plans for a tattoo of one, then Bucky died and I put it on hold so I could memorialize my dear kitty.

Now, it’s time to Put A Bird On It.

Quetzal Tattoo 1Behold, the result of my first session. It took about 3 hours to do this outline and the more I look at it, the more I love it. Imagining what it’s going to look like when it’s finished is blowing my mind.

Gotta admit, I was a little nervous about the whole thing. You see, my usual artist is a fabulous guy who goes by the name Per. He’s the one who did three of my small tattoos and my big Bucky piece. I also knew that he had done a quetzal before so I was looking forward to having him work on me again.

And then he moved to Temple.

Bastard.

I asked my piercer to recommend an artist at the studio and he turned me over to Miles, who I remember from 14 years ago when I got my first piece at Dandyland. He’s been working there since Hector was a pup but it’s always a little nervous-making trusting someone new with your skin, especially when it’s a piece this size. However, I think it’s obvious that I picked the right man for the job. The detail work and delicate lines on the tail feathers are ah-mazing.

As an interesting aside, when I got my first big piece back in *ahem* 1998 it was at Dandyland by a guy named Chris Lyons. I spent a lot of time in his chair tucked away in the back of the shop. Imagine my surprise when Miles took me to the very same station and motioned for me to sit down. It was comforting. Tattoo studios are comforting to me anyway; the hum of the gun, the smell of disinfectant, and the vibe I get from the guys there. If you’re in Lamesville, I HIGHLY recommend Dandyland for both ink and piercings. They’ve won lots of awards, too!

I’ll post more pictures as I have more sessions. Next one is October 5th!

I Have Learned Nothing: The O’s

So Friday was another long ass day at work and I was ready for a little rest and relaxation when I got off at 7:00. Thankfully, my break came courtesy of The O’s and a little venue called 502 Bar.

I did not even know cute little bars/venues like this existed in Lamesville! If I had to compare it to one in Austin I would say that it is like Skinny’s, but a little bigger. They had an extensive drink menu and had Tito’s on special, so I knew what I’d be having. After an epic drunk at the MC Chris show (more on that later) that ended with my stomach returning its contents to the ground from whence it came, I had instituted a one-drink policy for the night.

Best laid plans, y’all.

Anyway, I got my Tito’s and Sprite, picked up at Shiner for Mister E and a couple of shots of Jameson for Taylor and John, better known as The O’s. They’re a little indie band from Dallas that is mighty fine. I met them at The Mohawk in Austin (I have been having quite the concert summer, you see) last month and they are some of the nicest guys you ever want to meet. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since they hang out with the guys from Calhoun on the regular. We even talked about what an asshole Tim Locke is (just kidding, he’s awesome).

First things first, I dropped off the shots and greeted the guys. I said hey to Taylor and introduced him to Mister E, and then he said possibly the greatest thing ever. My favorite song by them is Lighten The Load, which is my go-to “stop worrying, it’ll be fine” songs and I had expressed a wish on Twitter to hear it. He told me they had never played it live but they were gonna do it for me that night. There aren’t enough less-than-threes in the world.

They went up on stage to finish setting up and Mister E and I set up shop at the table right beside the stage. There was this thing on the menu called an Orange Whip that consisted of Ketel Oranje, St. Germain, something else, and an orange wedge. It looked promising so I thought I’d relax the policy while I bought Mister E his very first Moscow Mule and another couple of Jameson shots for the guys.The Orange Whip

They played my song, y’all. They said it was a “very special request” and played the song I listen to every time I’m stressed about dental radiographs, whenever I know I’m gonna get snapped at, whenever the anxiety threatens to overwhelm me. I play it so much Mister E was able to sing along. Taylor thanked me for getting them to play it and I thanked them back. With words and booze.

Lighten The Load

The show was so good! I’ve only seen them live twice but I am constantly fascinated by how John can play the harmonica, the banjo and the tambourine at the same time while Taylor sings, plays guitar and kick drum. Seriously, if you’re not listening to The O’s you are missing out. I don’t like pigeonholing music but I suppose you’d have to call them alt-country or maybe even alt-folk. Just go listen to them, already.

The O's

After the show I picked up another Mule for Mister E, some Jameson for Taylor (John wasn’t finished with his yet) and um, another Tito’s and Sprite for me. SHUT UP I KNOW. According to my practice manager, alcohol is a solution. To what, I’m not sure. Social anxiety?

We had a great time talking to the guys, talking about music, burgers (veggie and otherwise) in Austin and the fact that driving north via 281 is a lot nicer than 35. They’re the kind of guys you could just go hang out with and it’d be cool. They’re so cool I bought them beers. Yeah, more of them.

Finally I just said fuck the policy and picked up two Jameson shots for the guys and a shot of Tito’s straight up for myself, which we used to close out the night. There were hugs and goodbyes, and I staggered out of there with my husband to drive home and pass out in my clothes. Good thing my Bee and Puppycat shirt is so comfy.

If things work out, Mister E and I might be going back to 502 to see Mega Ran very soon.

I plan on recapping the other concerts I’ve seen this summer in the next couple of posts, so look forward to it if you like hearing about these little adventures!

Life’s Like A Jump Rope: Blue October

Yesterday was my day off and I was on Twitter (as usual), when I saw Blue October tweet that they were having a free show at the Barnes and Noble out in Moneyville. As you know, Lamesville isn’t known for its music draw and the chance to see one of my all time favorite bands in my town for free was not to be missed. So once the traffic died down I put on my Yee-haw Kitty Shirt and started the drive.

It did not go smoothly.

First, I missed my exit. Then my GPS refused to reroute it. Then the map server fell off the face of the earth and I found myself circling a fancy-pants area of town called The Rim. After giggling like a 12 year old boy, I stopped a gentleman in the Bass Pro Shop parking lot and asked him where the hell the B&N was. He gave me some circuitous directions and I finally found my way to the “venue” with only about 10 minutes to spare.

Then there was a line. The upper deck where they were having the show was filled to capacity and they weren’t letting us up. I decided I would have to content myself with just hearing the concert. Then the kind manager let the rest of us up and I squeezed myself in with a bunch of other people, all of whom were taller than me. By some amazing stroke of luck, two people moved a certain way and I was able to see Justin from between their heads.

blueoctober

The set was awesome. I finally got to hear songs from their newest album and the story behind Bleed Out made me get teary. Then he had everyone in the store sing Into The Ocean and I really got teary.

Then I found out they were signing CDs. I immediately ran down to the music department, bought a CD and got my group number (I) for the signing line. My plan was to get some Starbucks, grab a manga, and just chill ’til my group was called. Unfortunately when I got back upstairs I discovered I was in hell. I couldn’t get to the manga. It was behind where they were signing. So I made a new friend. Her name was Alex and she was like 20 years old but we bonded over nail colors and Blue October “oldies.”

When I got up to the signing table, I got the VERY LAST poster of the night. They were all “you’re the winner!”  I was all “What did I win?” What was the answer? “The very last poster!” Which they then signed for me.

swayposter

The signing was great and everything, but the real moment of the night (probably the week or possibly the month) for me came when I got to stand in front of Justin and thank him. Thank him for all the times I felt alone in my mania or depression and his words saved me. Thank him for letting me know through his songs that he had been where I was and was still going as best he could. Thank him for giving me the chance to sing along and know that someone, somewhere knew how I felt.

My voice shaking, I told him thank you. I told him I went through some really heavy stuff last year and that his music helped me through and let me know that someone else had the same issues and was keeping going. Justin shook my hand and told me he was glad to be there for me, then he said the one thing that matters to someone like me and to people with mental illness all over the world.

“You’re never alone,” he said.

How I didn’t start crying right then and there is beyond me. I gripped his hand and thanked him again, then moved along so everyone else could have their chance to thank him. I’m crying right now, though. But they’re happy tears this time.

At this time last year, I was still hiding in my house. I was hearing voices and wondering why I was even alive. I was scared all the time. I never would have been able to put on clothes, get in a car and drive myself to see a show, even if it meant meeting one of my heroes. I never would have been able to see a tweet, toss on a pair of shoes and head to Moneyville. Every day, I’m still amazed at how much I’ve been able to do since then. And through all of it, Blue October has been there to tell me that “Life’s like a jump rope.”

Thank you, Justin. More than I can ever say.

Tasuki Project – Brittney Sabo

Let me tell you about Brittney Sabo. She is an awesome artist, really likes cats, shares my love of yaoi, has a distressing fascination with mermen, and does the webcoming All Night, which you really should be reading. Brittney enjoys anime, so she was a natural choice for this little fanart project of mine and let me tell you she did not disappoint!

Art by Brittney Sabo, 2013Thank you, Brittney! I adore it!