Monday, December 9, 2013

Personal Plug (for my favorite band)

Warning: This one gets pretty personal and whatnot. If you read my blog only for the social critiques, you can probably avoid this post. Except go to this link and donate. 

I've mentioned The Damnwells at least once before. I think if ever I could say I have a "favorite" band, it'd be these guys. Their sound  is a mesh of country and rock and pop and folk. The lyrics are usually pretty "high level" poetry with respect to the metaphors and phrasing, but the messages are sometimes pretty friggin' emo. I find a lot of them have sort of a naked honesty quality, and one less, um, whiney than stuff like this* or this**- they're more complex, I guess is the best way to put it. Also, while a lot  of their songs are rather sad or what-have-you, they can also have fun and be silly sometimes. And yet whether serious or not, every song I've heard by them (and I think I've probably heard everything they have out so far) is pretty, for lack of a better word.

I hate that. "Pretty." That word has so much baggage attached, but it's the best word I can think of to describe what I hear. Like if you turned the music into a physical thing, it'd be admired and maybe sparkle.


Anyhoo, yeah. Like I said in the post from my own blog I linked just now, I know I want this song to be playing when I have my first dance as a married woman (if and when that happens- hope it's the latter):

So to expand on that blurb a little, this, like a high concentration of the songs in their catalogue, is painfully earnest and vulnerable. And real. I felt long before I heard it that love isn't like Disney. It's sometimes really messed up and awful. And that at some points, it's a choice- but that's what makes it beautiful. "Give me Heaven with a bit of Hell." Choosing to hold on through those moments of Hell is what matters and makes the Heaven all the more Heavenly; being willing to take those bad moments in exchange for the good, that's love. I don't expect someone to like me all the time, and I don't expect or remotely want them to worship me or think I'm the best person ever or that I'm flawless. No, I want someone  that'll be honest with me, that will be willing to be cruel to be kind, so to speak. But that will still want me, love me, even when I'm at my nastiest, or when life is doing nothing but throw shit in our eyes.

"Tonight and Forever" follows my firmstanding belief that love is chock-full of oxymorons and paradoxes and dichotomies. That it's not always easy, and often involves risk. Pain shouldn't be the default, no, but one should also be ready for at least episodes of discomfort. 

There are a lot of other songs by them I relate to on more than just the "I've  sorta felt that way before" level. Alanis Morrissette is the only other act I can say that about, and I've blogged about two of her songs before. What I'm talking about is phrasing and themes I've felt and thought on my own, without the aid of the music to get me there.  I'll prolly blog more about her in the future, but this post is dedicated to The Damnwells, and I actually take their songs too personal to blog about them individually. So I'll spat a few of particularly poignant meanings here and that'll be the end of it.

This is another favorite of mine, "Sleepsinging." I feel like this every time after a dude tells me he'd rather be friends than be romantically involved with me (even if he's willing to fuck me) (yeah, I don't get it, either). There's always a part of me that hopes he realizes he made a mistake later, but at the same time, I realize I was an idiot for thinking I had a chance with him, even if he had given me every reason to believe he actually felt "that way" too; I blame myself, for the most part, each time, even if that's not really objectively fair, and the more-removed part of me knows I did nothing wrong and any "misinterpretation" had to do with them leading me on (even if without realizing it- I mean, saying, "I wish more women were like you," and expecting it to be platonic? Kissing me in front of people we both know, but expecting it to be a "friend" thing?). And even if it hurts, being rejected, I can't help it if I'm not good enough for them whilst being rejected, but that doesn't mean I'm going to change for them. Besides, I could probably never be what they want or need, anyway, because chances are they either don't actually know, or they have some disgustingly high standard, a standard they can't admit to themselves is prolly impossible to meet. 

Another that's really important to me is called "Ragged Reprise;" it hasn't been on any albums except the soundtrack to their autobiography DVD that you can't actually buy (I have a copy, thank goodness) (and I somehow have the soundtrack, I think maybe iTunes?). So the best I can do is tell you what it's called and hope you find it somehow, sorry- I'm not linking to pirate sites on my blog. But the main refrain is, "So come, wrap me in sheets/ And walk me down all your streets/ And lead me from the darkness beneath/ Burn the light over me/ Sing this ragged reprise." I guess it relates to how I feel about people. The singer makes  a lot  of mistakes and is kind of broken, and is kind of scared of himself; and he basically begs for someone to understand him and ends up being dissatisfied. Because people suck- they let you down, they don't actually help you when you need it. They make you cry, they reject you, they turn away when you need them. The laundry list of shit I've lived through makes it so hard to relate to people, and even when I try to lean on them, it ultimately fails because I'm so... My shit is at a level that's just so far from anybody else. I just want to be forgiven for it all (as if I'm culpable for it, which I know isn't true- it's the guilt from pain), but even if it happens, I'm not as "whole" as the next person. Any "reprise" I get would, indeed, be "ragged." 

I also like this one, which isn't as straight-forward as the title suggests. The lyrics hit at a lot of the complexities of American citizenship- militarism, capitalism, excess, sexism, the prison-industrial-complex, religiosity v. materialism, alcoholism, and hypersexuality, colonialism and globalism, racism, propaganda... And it sounds cool. I'm a sucker for  3/4 time and  any other compound time signature. You'd prolly think I'd hate the US, given how uber-anti-oppression I am, but I don't. I don't ascribe to blind patriotism, but I don't see myself moving anywhere, even if I had the money. Unless Benedict Cumberbatch decided to marry me; I'd move to England in a heartbeat for him. But anyway, 'Murica... not quite Fuck Yeah,  but more like, "America... Alright."

This one is kind of heavy on the nigh religious imagery. But I like the image of a woman opening her arms to the sky and the stars that this song puts in my head, and I can relate to the singer in feeling as if I have nothing left to give because I've been trying so bloody hard for so long. I'm getting exhausted with life- I'm not quite thirty, and I feel eighty. I don't know how much I'll have to offer if I ever meet someone willing. Sigh. But it's both metaphorical and literal- there's a dual theme of nothing to give in the emotional/energy sense, but also in the practical, monetary sense, through their music, and I can relate to that, too. I sometimes wonder how different I would be if I had been wealthier. Not even wealthy, just not so poor. Between being emotionally exhausted and practically penniless... What a catch I am, eh? 

I enjoy this one- it's fun, but still very poetic. And the former almost-classicist in me loves all of the references- "Let's sing Grecian lullabies/I'm Dionysus in disguise," etc. These guys may get kind of sad sometimes, but they know how to have fun. And that's important. Even when being very sexual, they're still poetic and write actual lyrics- as said above, it's still pretty

Lastly, a brand new song  by the lead singer and songwriter, Alex Dezen. This is very typical of his pre-band  recording  stuff. I have samples and acoustic versions of a lot  of their  stuff when it's just Alex coming up with the original idea. I sometimes prefer the  demo to the final studio version- there's an almost painful beauty in the simplicity of just Alex's sort of gritty voice alongside the guitar. I don't know if  "None of These Things" will make  it onto the new album  they're working on, but for now, I'll just say this is the prettiest new song to my ears in a long, long time***.

So, new album?

They used a crowdsourcing website for their most recent album, one specifically for musicians, and they  have another going for the one they're working on now. The site is called "Pledgemusic," and it works slightly different from Kickstarter in that you pick  specific perks, rather than getting all previous ones a your donation increases.

Here is a link to the new album's page. Look and pledge. 

When I pledged for the first one, I got a few hours' worth of extra music on top of the digital album. And a shirt, and a signed CD version of the album, too. I opted for the poster and the extra music part this time. I thought they were closer to the goal than this a few days ago, but I must have  been mistaken. I hope they make it. As of this moment, they're at 63%. 

*Yeah, this is the song with prolly THE MOST emo bit ever: "The truth is that you could slit my throat/ And with my one last gasping breath/ I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt."

**And don't get me wrong, I liked emo when it was new in the late 90s and early 2000s, and, frankly, I still do. It, too, has that kind of naked honesty, but it's youthful in its simplicity, a simplicity the Damnwells's breed of emo overcomes. I mean, they never reference "making out."

***The song  linked there, another of Alex by  himself, is actually the prettiest song I've heard in a LONG time; note it's only like two months older than "None of These Things." The point, though, is Alex and The Damnwells release great music, reliably so, and it blows other stuff out of the water.

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