Brian Matthew :: Now Is Good :: Now Hear This

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Now Hear This :: Brian Matthew :: Now Is Good

Discovering music is a favorite pastime of mine, one that has taken a bit of a pause of late due to the push and pull of the holiday season, as well as some personal shifts and changes that had me burning the proverbial candle at both ends. But, as the year winds down, and the air clears, I find myself diving back into my quest for new sounds and wanting to share the gems I pick up along the way. So, settle down somewhere comfortable and prick up your ears, because some new, and some new-to-me music, will be coming this way over the next week, and well into the new year, when this space will be buzzing and spinning on the regular again.

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As the sun is setting just outside my favorite window, the air warmer than its been lately, but still with a wisp of Southern California December slight chill, I find myself listening repeatedly to track 4 and 5 of a new CD that fell into my hands this week. I keep trying to weigh in on which of the two songs are my favorite, but honestly I just can’t say. They seem to flow into each other perfectly, swirling about in my ears while I watch the world outside turn on, the moon taking over and saying “goodnight” to the sun.

Trailer Man

“Trailer Man” feels like a ride through the desert, the long stretches ahead and behind, the unknown just off the next exit, my gypsy soul turning the volume up while getting lost in that very best way. There is something late seventies in the vibe that permeates from this track, something reminiscent of the songs from the Laurel Canyon era, a little Crosby and Nash, a little Morrison and Manzarek, and a little Taylor and Mitchell. There is definitely a bit of Steely Dan in here, too (like I said, late seventies), and peel back the surface a little further, too, and there is definitely a Grateful Dead sensibility going on here which flows beautifully into that next track I find myself so fond of.

Passion & Chemistry

“Passion & Chemistry” take a slight turn from that desert road, upping the tempo just a bit, and pulling the sun out from behind the clouds. There is a sense of the ocean here, of movement and color. That Dead sensibility I mentioned before takes a harder hold of the reigns with this track, so much so that if you close your eyes you can almost see the crowds gathering, hands reaching out to smoke and sing and dance. This one almost requires getting up and taking the car out for a drive, turning the wheel to face the sun’s descent, hopefully somewhere over the ocean. Perhaps a drive to Venice Beach is in order with this one blasting out the open window.

Groovin’ On

Track 10, “Groovin’ On” is a close second (or is it third?) favorite on this album. Definitely the “jamiest” on the album, I’m tempted to play this one right after track 5, as it feels almost organic to come after “Passion & Chemistry”. Although this is a Winter discovery for me, I can’t help but think the entire album is ready made for a late Summer getaway. I may just have to have this on hand, and plan a slightly out of season road trip somewhere.

The album, “Now is Good” is available at iTunes here. Brian is a local Los Angeles singer-songwriter who also plays with the local band Harmonious Fits. You can catch up with where to see them, and listen to some other music on Facebook here.

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If you are in the Los Angeles area you should start off your new year with some  live music and check out the next Harmonious Fits show in Santa Monica, on January 2nd, at TR!P.

Keep updated on future shows by following here for Brian, and here for Harmonious Fits.

Grow With Me :: Harmonious Fits

Before we were lovers, I swear we were friends :: SOTD

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“After so many words,
still nothing’s heard – 
don’t know what we should do.”

Light

These silences break like the late arrival of an October morning
the sun a sudden shock to the system
like the vibrating sound of my 5am alarm
shattering a dream I was having
of you lying next to me

I will only half-remember it in an hour
hazy images weaving in-between the lyrics
of a first played song
Your smell lasting longer
then any subliminal  shade of brown eyes

I swear you still linger
in these thread-counted sheets
in the tangled tendrils
of my outgrown hair
In the contents of last thoughts before sleep
and in the first glimpses of another day

But there’s nothing left for us to say
we made choices
choosing not to wait
choosing her
over  me
a path of settling safely holding you bak

No morning light can break what’s come
no memory recall or half played song
the only thing left is to step out the door
squint at the beckoning sunlight
whisper I wish this was never our goodbye

Lost in the Light :: Bahamas
from the album, Barchords (2012)

For a second there I thought you disappeared :: SOTD

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Keep Art Alive :: Art by Sanithna Phansavanh

“I love you,
standin’ all alone in a black coat.
I miss you,
I’m goin’ back home to the West Coast.”

There are ways we decide to express ourselves; be it in the way we write, talk, think, dream, invest our time, or as I tend to do, more often than not, through the music we listen to. I may wake up with invisible tape over my lips, rendering me silent and wordless, but what spins in my car’s stereo, or pours out of my headphones, well that’s where most of my truths may lie. Sometimes, I get lost in the twists and the turns of a simple lyrical refrain, other times the pleas of a singer wailing into the mic reduces me to a pool of tears, or brings on such strength and renewal that I swear I can fly.

Inside of songs I often hide confessions, longing and unnamed pain. It seems easier to tuck them away in a melody, throwing them out into the ether of existence and airwaves – the music holding tight all my secret wishes, keeping them safe and sound. Sometimes, I tie ribbons around the songs, leave soft kisses on the curve of each note, sliding them into a brown-paper package and sending them off to the hands, and ears, of someone else. They are my gifts of heart and mind, they are my love, my anger, my logic, my imagination, my emotional insides, and my dreams. Music is connection to me, and if the receiver is too far away to touch, well then the songs are my offered hand-to-hold, my fingers entwining with theirs, my arms wrapping around them in a long embrace.

At times, the songs are enough to fill the ache and the pull of distance and regrets. Other nights, though, they are the strung-out reminders of a damaged heart awash in loneliness. The liner notes are etched in a scrawl too convoluted to see clearly, but if I could make out the words they would sound something like “I miss you, I wish you woulda put yourself in my suitcase.

And your unwritten replies? Well, I imagine them alight in the burned spirals of that CD you sent me once; the one I still carry around with me, everywhere.

West Coast :: Coconut Records

We hide our emotions under the surface and try to pretend :: SOTD

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Patterns in a single drop of water

The water runs.

I prop myself against the door, holding it shut, knees tucked to my chest. I breathe in steam, watching liquid pool and turn itself into drops of illusions, of memory. It tries to flood, to leak out, to take over, but ends up just like me, crouching in the corner, off to the side, avoiding the closing credits of this dream.

I finger paint letters around the bathtub rim.

I run my fingers through them, staining my skin with my own dirt and decay.

I watch as the patterns spread, placing signs that point back to my own hands.

These lines, they are supposed to tell the truth.

I’m the only one left to tell our story now.

Promises, escape routes, twist and turns of broken pathways that lead me far from home, they speak up, pushing me to spell out each name.

I wonder if I carve up my skin, slide the razor across the center of each palm, could I mark my way to freedom, to disarray, to the start of something new?

I close my eyes.

I return to that moving truck.

The last load.

The final three boxes.

I trace the past back into me. I trace an outline of you.

We were riding along a cross-country change, a tri-state killing of self, an us just about ready to end.

I keep turning up the radio.

You half-heartedly sing-a-long.

But no matter how far we ran they still found us. Those sweepstakes calls pushed through telephone lines, and mile markers, inviting us back into the gambler’s game of “I do.”

They find you even with a change of address, of hair color, of birth names.

I wonder what happened to that picture we took that day, the polaroid with your sun-squinting eyes, and mine with worry swimming inside the gold specked brown and all those sleepless red lines.

We were trying to resurrect desire in the middle of that desert, summoning up want and need, offering a lonely heart’s trade to cactus, pretending we weren’t just a mirage.

I try to wash it off me, this memory.

I try to chase it down the drain, out to sea, and beyond.

But your voice keeps ringing in my ears. And all the broken pieces that scattered on that passenger seat, and bled into the coffee-stained floorboards, they still cut me open. I’m still bleeding that would-be firstborn out of me.

We’d sat there the next day, side-by-side in a hospital parking lot, offering each other temporary tattooed resolutions.

Playing the game of what if we’d never gone, what if we’d driven through the desert at night, and not in the mid-day sun, what if we’d made just one more stop.

You offered me some platitude about a higher plan, forgetting that god and I had broken up years ago. That he’d been the first one I’d ever asked to go.

At month’s end we’d found ourselves in another parking lot, this time in a red hatchback, smack in the middle of a “you go your way and I’ll go mine” goodbye. The sound of the car door slam behind you startled me, but I’d sat there, unmoving, flash-frozen, waiting to see if you’d turn around one last time.

Were you afraid of turning to salt? Of becoming part of the Santa Monica sand? Of disappearing?

Or were you afraid you’d just come back for more?

I step into the bath.

My body sinks beneath the surface, lemon rind bubbles tickling my nose.

My breath has gone electric. Senses set to high volume, switching over to the frequency of catastrophe, of colliding memory, of my pulse beating itself into a rhythm of youthful dismay.

I’m not that girl anymore; the one so quick to leap into lips and lashes, twisting herself inside out and backwards, opening wide enough to hold another’s gaping need.

I remember her though, that blue streaked tragedy girl. I grab hold of her now and try to drown her. I try to drain her out of me, so I can pull myself out clean, new, dripping in denial.

I imagine you in the next room sleeping, hands twitching in a REM patterned dance, your eyelids flickering in tandem – could the water remnants bring back life into your caramel coloring, your murmured heartbeat, your once needle free existence?

I wear the remnants of you on my own skin, you cling to my edges, your words collapsing into sinew streaks and white blood cells, leading, misleading, becoming mistakes covered in pale pink flesh, flushing red from the too hot tap water.

I wore a silver ring once.

I wore it with a borrowed dress made of doubt that matched your thrift store suit perfectly.

You held tight to my box of messy indiscretions, complimenting all my dressed-up issues, even when they tore at the hem and hung ragged around my ankles.

You painted over them, my body a canvas, turning my breakdowns into something just shy of beautiful.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss it sometimes, the artist strokes, playing the part of lover, and partner, and muse.

I’d be lying if I said I never miss you.

Dying never ended the missing.

I stand up.

Not sure where to step, where not to slip, where to balance as I let my body run dry.

I feel colder, older, and lost somewhere between the recollected wonderment of what if and that familiar clamor of responsibility that shouts out from the other side of the door.

The should-do lectures link arms with this memorial. We spin together, circling the drain, flirting with fatality.

I know we once dreamed all our dreams together, blowing bubble-gum kisses across a crowded room.

Even in sleep we used to swap secrets, stories, lies.

We traded skeletal confessions, and childhood fairy tales, pretending that monsters never win.

You tried to make me believe in the impossible. Your words doing their best to convince that there’s only one true love.

I never quite believed you. And you never could see past the confines of jealousy.

Even in the throes of our ugliest fights, though, I used to reach for your hand, ever trying to connect us without words, to transcend the confining labels, definitions, body language.

Trying to make us fluid.

Sometimes we both succeeded.

Some days I believed in ever after’s.

Other days you saw possibilty beyond our own bodies.

But most of the time we never made sense at all.

The last time, that last night, you asked me if happy enough would ever be enough.

For me.

I said I could ask the same of you, babe.

I could ask the same of you.

Maybe we traded those fleeting moments for all the marks of adulthood.

Maybe we let go of desire when the last box was lifted.

Maybe I had just too many permanent scars.

“I won’t be the one to let go first”

Those were the last words I’d ever here. From you.

But it wasn’t me who let go first.

No, I just bricked up a wall around me, of wishing, of wanting more, of defying impossibilities.

I’d peek over in the morning, forward leaning, defying more rules.

You threw a daisy at me.

I have it etched forever on my skin. It wraps around a name that’s no longer mine.

The first time we met I handed you a cherry lollipop. You bought me a box of Band-Aids, enough, you said, to mend all the pain that came before.

We tried to wear the wings of karma’s change maker.

I mean, this is the city of angels, isn’t it?

I can still hear the lilt in your voice, the tremor in your laughter.

I can still feel the way the curve of my spine once bent a little father at the sound of your voice.

But building those walls cut my hands up bad. They are still so bloody and torn. And these look backs, these glimpses, they make my stomach burn. Like too much caffeine. Like the back throat drip of cocaine. Like the taste of regret.

You never filled me up. No, you just mixed yourself up with me, never adding a not to my vacancy.  Prolonging my fixated insomnia as I’d lie there on my left side, eyes to the wall, counting the steps along my rib cage, counting each step towards our finish line.

Sometimes I can hear you still.

Sometimes I still hear you.

You calling me your “Wonderwall”.

Me saying you’ll always be my “Troy”.

Maybe in these echoes, in this admitting, in my voice singing softly to your ghost, I have found my way back to okay. In this steamed up bathroom, in song titles and track listings, this tape unravels and frays. It finally breaks.

Music speaks where words fail, you see.

It’s always been that way. For me.

Those who can speak to me in songs, who accept that I can do the same, are cord-connected people, the ones you never forget, or cut out easily. Even in absences, in evolutions, in getting the fuck over it, I will still remember a song someone gives me.

I will still define each “us” in a lyrical array of feeling, and finality, and forever.

The music did not die with you.

It never dies.

Maybe this will read like denial. Resolution can sound more like attempted resurrection.

But all I’m really saying is life is sometimes beautiful, and sometimes terrible, and always strange.

If I could hand you a pen.

If I could hold the paper still.

We could rewrite perspectives, trade wish you were here postcards through some afterworld postal service.

I’d scrawl out the words I think I’m finally ready now.

To open the door.

Stepping out into the mayhem of now, letting you go.

My fingers are water-logged, creased up and marked on each tip. But my eyes, they are starting to clear.

Sometimes it takes an ocean’s distance to clear out the you in the me.

Sometimes it takes saying yes you once existed, and once we did love.

Sometimes it takes a water logged bathroom to say I can finally let you go.

Oceans :: Seafret

August Music Challenge :: August 3rd :: The Letter C :: SOTD

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August Music Challenge
August 3rd
The Letter C

Counting Crows

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Round Here (live)

“And in between the moon and you,
the angels get a better view,
of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.”

We stack memories up like bricks, one on top of the next on top of another half dozen. But we forget to bring the mortar, so all it takes is a breeze, an exhaled breath, a sigh, a moment of hesitation, for them to tumble to the ground.

Anxiety is more than a breeze, more than any exhale, or pause in time. No, anxiety is like a hurricane, like a volcano’s eruption, like the loudest scream you can make. So the bricks, the memories, they shatter as they fall, leaving shards and shrapnel everywhere.

I race around to clean them up, broom in one hand, bottomless bag in the other. But the wind kicks up, it blows doubt everywhere, its sticky and insidious, and gets caught on the crumbled up pieces of brick, making it harder to clean, making it harder to break free from.

But, I try. We try. “Round here” we are always trying.

This song reminds me of the weight of the past, and the persistent nature of doubt. It also reminds me of the way love sticks too, keeping us going, keeping us trying, keeping us stacking the bricks back up again, even if they’ve been broken.

August Music Challenge :: August 2nd :: The Letter B :: SOTD

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August Music Challenge
August 2nd
The Letter B

Bear’s Den

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Agape (live) 

“Even though your words hurt the most,
I still want to hear them,
every day.
You say let it go,
but I can’t let it go.
I wanna believe every word that you say.”

Love is complicated.

Love is simple.

Love is like a carnival ride, dangerous, slightly unhinged, music playing too loudly, but some of the songs are my favorites, and others I at least know all the words to. Sometimes the ride goes upside down. Sometimes it stalls at the top. Sometimes it falls fast and hard, my eyesight blurring, my heart racing, as I silently wish that we will live through it.

Sometimes it packs up and leaves for the season. And I try to follow, packing two bags and a backpack, carrying along all the things from my past, good and bad, racing to catch-up. Hoping the maps in my back pocket are still good, that you will recognize me when I arrive, that you will let me in.

This song, it reminds me of love, in all its simplicity and complications. And it reminds me of what it feels like sometimes, to love.

August Music Challenge :: August 1st :: The Letter A :: SOTD

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August Music Challenge
August 1st
The Letter A

Ryan Adams

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La Cienega Just Smiled (live)

“I’m too scared to know how I feel
about you now.”

La Cienega Boulevard.

It used to lead to Tower Records. A steep, uphill climb to the place where music lived. My first car, the first night out in it, despite the warnings from my mother about “not driving to Hollywood”, we did. At the top of La Cienega the light turned red, and I panicked, my feet tense on the clutch and the brake. My wheels spun and smoked when the light turned green, as I desperately pleaded with my car not to stall. I had an open-eyed fear-fantasy that my car would just slide back down the hill, taking all the cars behind me with it, like metal dominoes, crashing. The sound of my mother’s “I told you so” echoing in the back of my mind.

We survived. No dominoes of cars. We ended up buying cassette tapes in Tower, and swearing to never drive up that “boulevard” again. But I swear off a lot of things, at one time, or the other. I hardly ever stick to the swear.

Tower is gone, but the boulevard remains.

I kissed a beautiful boy there once, on La Cienega Boulevard, as we walked up the steep Hollywood hill. He tasted like peppermint and Marlboro Reds and new love. My insides they spun and smoked, the lights turning multi-colors in my mind. And I fell, I fell hard and fast, tumbling into that unnameable space that sometimes turns into love.

Malibu (1998) :: Hole :: SOTD

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“And the sun goes down,
I watch you slip away.
And the sun goes down,
I walk into the waves.”

Malibu (1998) :: Hole
Song of the Day

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Malibu. This song reminds me of something I wrote, and it reminds me of the someone, and the moments, I wrote the thing about. “Malibu”, the song, reminds me of long drives up PCH with this song playing LOUD and the windows half down. Smoking a cigarette even though I quit, tears teasing at my eyes, but I pushed them back, singing louder, breathing in the salty air.

Malibu. Sometimes I dream of it. I see the footprints we left in the sand late at night, and how we watched the waves wash them away. All evidence leaving almost as soon as it was laid down. “Malibu” the song came out before Malibu meant much of anything to me. But, I still felt the lyrics, they still felt relevant, necessary, as many of Courtney, and Hole’s songs, seem to.

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“Malibu” the song is from Hole’s third studio album, “Celebrity Skin”, which was released on December 29, 1998, just days before the year changed. Courtney Love, Hole’s lead guitarist Eric Erlandson and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins wrote “Malibu”. I hear shades of The Smashing Pumpkins’ song “1979” when I listen to it. They sound great paired up together.

The music video was directed by Paul Hunter, and was shot in Malibu, mostly on the beach. Eric is seen waxing a surfboard, and lifeguards hold up plastic dolls, which are supposedly representative of the TV show “Baywatch”, as Courtney walks into the ocean. The video also features the band’s new drummer, Samantha Maloney, who replaced the original drummer, Patty Schemel, who had left during recording sessions of “Celebrity Skin”.

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Live on “Later With Jools Holland” (1998)

Here’s what I wrote…about Malibu…and memories there…

Three left turns

Early morning at that house in the cliffs,
three left turns from Malibu.
I woke to find you watching me sleep,
the salty ocean air sneaking through half-open windows,
gifting chills across our naked bodies.
For hours we said nothing,
becoming a tangled mess of hair and skin,
your body inseparable from mine. All language deemed unnecessary as everything fell silently into place.
That line creased between your dark eyes –
I made a baker’s dozen worth of wishes on it while you stared down at me,
your hands holding me so still.
Before the words arrived, before we broke the spell,
after you kissed lyrics into the curve of my spine, playing me like one of your guitars, strumming a new song for our bodies to sing –
I smiled at you crookedly, offering my name up to yours.
We breathed a future into our lungs that morning,
exhaling complications, ignoring the mark on your left hand where a ring should be.
I wonder now while you’re away from me, the buzz of a lawn mower and a three crow caw startling you awake,
while you lie there in her arms, and I’m still here next to him.

Do you feel me reaching inside your memory
pulling the sheets back over us as we return to that house in the cliffs, three left turns from Malibu, up there far above the sea?

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There’s nothing left to lose :: SOTD

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“I know men aren’t supposed to act this way,
but things they got too real;
I couldn’t stay.
Now I know one day we will both feel good..
But if I could be with you,
you know I would. ”

(Rewrite of an older writing ~ originally written 4/28/15)

Untitled (and unfinished)
by me

I don’t know how to write this
this thing
between
us
this thing away from us

We meet up at the endings
touch down for a spell
circling each other’s indecision
lips colliding
into the breath of a broken promise
ane the feel of fabric can’t help but unravel

And you
with the darkest eyes
signaling this pending disaster
while we spin
in all this untethered hope

While you keep singing
okay
okay
okay

Its been a lifetime
since I felt this way
And another lifetime
since I fell this way

Would you have known me then?
Would I still ask you to go?

Because one of us needs to go.

I just don’t think
it can be me.

Don’t Wanna Cry :: Pete Yorn

Casting shadows on my face :: SOTD :: TBT

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“Cause everywhere I seem to be,
I am only passing through. 
I dream these days about the sea,
always wake up,
feeling blue;
wishing I could dream of you.”

Older writing/rewritten 
Throwback Thursday

For him
by me

Bed sheets thrown aside
half-hanging
somewhere beneath your hand shows through
fingers folded inward
clinging
holding on so tight
to something I can’t see

I watch with the wonder
of new sight
wishing I knew how to sketch all I see
and not just write it down
words
they fail sometimes

And I want all of this
to take with me
this moment
this early morning memory
this temporary room
and make it mine

I want to capture the way the sun
casts its shadows over us
while your hand hangs there
holding on
for life
for love
for one extra hour

My keys on the table
the only reminder
reality interrupting
as I lie here with you
and wonder
if this is our last time

I know it should be
but I want so much
more

Wait :: Alexi Murdoch