Spring Break Music Report

Spring break started today here at MIT (and also at Harvard up the road). It’s a great opportunity to catch up work without all those annoying distractions like, you know, my job.

Working in coffee shops brings out the music nut in me. I spend a lot of time with headphones on, listening to Indie Pop Rocks! and hearing the music a little more closely than I do when I’m in the chaos of working at the office. This of course brings up the irony of finding it more peaceful to sit with headphones on in a cafe full of people and activity, as opposed to sitting in a quiet office behind a locked door, but we’ll have to address that weirdness at another time.

So I just splurged a little on new records for spring. I suppose it’s something I do at the start of every season change, perhaps a little moreso when I’m trying to get a lot of work done. Before I say what I just bought, I’ll list what I’ve been listening to thus far these long winter months. The are:

  • Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther. For its depth, its non-pop, pop feel, for its ability to make me enjoy long electric guitar solos. Lyrically, it feels regretful and seems to long for nostalgia that doesn’t really exist. But still, I wake up every morning wanting to hear this record on my walk to school.
  • Mellowdrone, Box. Not so much synth pop, not so much dance, but it’s the kind of stuff you might hear in a great television commercial and wonder, “who does that song?” Less transparently boring than Jet and less creative than Massive Attack, Mellowdrone writes stomach-able happy songs that keep you walking to that meeting you don’t want to go to.
  • Fischerspooner, Odyssey and Silversun Pickups, Carnavas. Both good-to-midland records I put on when I’m sick of everything else in my collection. Fischerspooner is, indeed, synth/dance/pop and has that early ’90s darkness that we used to love Nine Inch Nails for, except these guys clearly don’t do drugs. Well, not enough to make their music have more depth. The Silversun Pickups made a solid altrock/indiepop record that has a little bit more “aw, yeah” with every listen. It sat on my shelf for the first few weeks I had it, but turning back to it now, I’m appreciating its experiments with atmosphere and mood in a way I hadn’t before. It’s much better when I’m sitting still.

So, what’s on order? The new Modest Mouse. The new Arcade Fire. The new Of Montreal. The new Panda Bear. Tegan and Sara’s So Jealous and My Morning Jacket’s It Still Moves. And, at the suggestion of Jane McGonigal, Vernor Vinge’s science fiction novel, Rainbow’s End. More on all of those once I’ve had some time to process them.

In the meantime, here is a short list of songs at the top of my playlist:

  • DeVotchKa, “I Cried Like a Silly Boy”
  • The Dodos, “Men”
  • Brunnen, “Cover Me”
  • British Sea Power, “Remember Me”
  • The Wedding Present, “Click Click”
  • Troubled Hubble, “To Be Alive and Alone”
  • Loquat, “Internal Crash”
  • This Mortal Coil, “You and Your Sister”
  • Edith Frost, “Loving You Goodbye”
  • The Elected, “Would You Come With Me,” which includes the lyrics “I had this sadness/ creeping like vines over me/ I didn’t get what I want/ so I just took what wanted me.”

By the way, one of the things I’m continually reminded of in coffee shops is that I really don’t have a taste for tea, hot or cold. I have tried over the past year to give tea a chance. I’ve had many different kinds–expensive and cheap, beautiful and ugly–but none makes me happy. Earl Grey tastes like I’m drinking perfume, fruit teas are too sweet, green teas often taste like grass, and even the seemingly tame gen mai cha and ginger lemons of the world end up tasting a lot like strained dirt to me. I’ve almost given up.  And don’t even get me started on iced tea. Sweetened, unsweetened, I really can’t stand any of it.

Iced coffee and flavored coffees are also on my yuck list. Gimme a strong shot of plain espresso anyday but flavored, sweetened, creamy and cold coffees just don’t do it for me. A double espresso (if prepared like an espresso and not a cappuccino) is it for me. Nonfat milk is preferred, but I’ll take 2% in a pinch. If you’ve only got half and half, I’ll take it black, thank you.

So, now that the world knows my beverage likes and dislikes, I will think in the future about telling you how I take my eggs. But I might make you buy me breakfast first.

2 responses to “Spring Break Music Report

  1. Thanks for such an indie-pop friendly post, Alice. I’m SO checking these bands out. In the meantime, I’ve picked up the new Arcade Fire, Of Montreal, and (thanks to Corey) the new Bloc Party. Neon Bible has a wierd and appropriate fake nostalgia for the 80s and two of the songs sound like they were written by Springsteen fans that happen to live on the moon. BTW, I totally name dropped you at Cs. At Corey’s panel (looking at video games and literacy) I actually said “You know, Alice Robison’s work at MIT looks at a lot of the sort of application you’re interested in.” But I misprounced your last name. The cool thing: the guy I was talking to nodded like he heard of you. Maybe he was being polite 😉

  2. You have blasphemed! Earl Grey is my favorite! 🙂 The boig question is do you buy actual CDs or do digital downloads? We bought my mom an iPod for her birthday 2 years ago and now we just send her a $100 iTunes gift card every year and it makes her extremely happy. She hates the idea of paying for cable, but she subscribes to several cable shows via iTunes. Yeah, figure that one out! My partner says that it’s because the cost is spread out so she doesn’t feel like she’s spending $40-50 a month (even though she is) LOL!

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