Thursday, October 22, 2015

A retrospective of my past year, ish, in the music that defined it

I'd encourage anyone reading this list to listen to as many tracks as they can cos I have a pretty broad spectrum of things I love although maybe lean heavier towards electro-y artists on the key tracks list because hey those are the ones I'm discovering at the most rapid rate. Just how it is right now. But really at least try the tracks by the key artists I've named below...I guarantee you'll find something you like. Also Harvard by Diet Cig always makes me grin.

Key tracks:

Time Will Tell - Blood Orange
Claret - Sophie
They All Want You/Hold On We're Going Home/The Habit/Pursuit of Happiness - Lissie
Say My Name - Odesza
Harvard - Diet Cig
These Arms/Lazarus - Active Child
Don't Wanna Fight - Alabama Shakes
Pedestrian At Best - Courtney Barnett
Red - Mt. Wolf
Drive - Marissa Nadler
Water Slides - Mew
Makes a King - The Very Best
Life Coach - Fang Island
Chandelier - Sia
Meet Me In The Park - evan^patrick
Cold Nites - How To Dress Well
Ego Free Sex Free - Autre Ne Veut
It's Not Right but It's Okay - Chrvches
Broken Blue - Hundred Waters
The Right Type - Chromeo
Distance - Emily King
Think I Need It Too - Echo and the Bunnymen
Oblivion - M83 ft Susan Sondstrøm
Gutter - Baeb Rxxth
Geneva - Kindness
Don't You Worry/Night Bus - Lucy Rose
Float On - Modest Mouse
Nothing Even Matters - Lauryn Hill
EarthEE - THEESatisfaction
Soul on Fire - Spiritualized
Beside You - Van Morrison
Cigarettes and Coffee - Otis Redding

Key artists - new favourites
Blood Orange
The Very Best
Courtney Barnett

Key artists - returning favourites
Active Child
Modest Mouse

Old made new -
Otis Redding
Lauryn Hill
Van Morrison
Echo and the Bunnymen

Important questions for New Yorkers

Written on Monday when it was cold:
It is officially chilly. Not yet freezing but chilly. I'm into long sleeved jammies, boots, parka and scarves that are both decorative AND warm.

Why any woman or man in NYC would walk around with a long, expensive, high quality wool coat - and HIGH HEELED COURT SHOES WITH NO SOCKS
And trousers that are cropped to a chic just-above-the-ankle. Why? What the fuck is the point of the huge ass coat if you're going to have frozen blue feet and ankles? Idiocy to the degree of unbearable. Today I did also see people in tshirts and denim jackets as their entire upper body coverage so apparently the weather makes people not just cold but stupid.

Question two is for people with tiny bags. Small handbags or satchels. Small. To the carriers of small bags I want to say 'how?'
How is that you can get through your day with the minimal amount of stuff you can carry in that bag? Do you live everywhere? You can always go home and get stuff that you need because you live everywhere? Is the person next to you with the backpack actually someone you have hired to carry your real stuff? Or is your life just incredibly empty?
I don't buy the 'Tessa they are just better than you at taking only the bare essentials' argument I can feel hanging in the air. Assuming you are going out in the morning for a fairly typical day, here are the bare essentials: phone, keys, wallet, water bottle, lip balm, book, headphones, snacks/packed meal, change of clothes either for going out/rehearsal/audition/working out/going to your signiciant other's place/whatever it is you might do after work, canvas bag/alternative bag to put purchases in so you don't need a plastic bag, emergency layer for when the temperamental New York weather unexpectedly drops a few degrees without warning, hand sanitiser, moisturising lotion, makeup/personal grooming stuff, tampons when necessary, work projects, umbrella...
These are all 100% necessary for me to sanely manage any kind of day. What do these people do that they have such tiny bags? What if they need a plaster or deodorant or just anything that humans need on a regular basis?
I was just behind a girl coming out of the subway at noon on a Thursday and she had a very small purse bag...and that was it. A bag big enough to fit a phone, maybe a pack of tissues and a metrocard. What are you doing with your day, madam? What intense amount of nothing are you doing that you can breeze around town with only those things? Especially suspicious since we were in Columbia University territory. If we'd been in a hot shopping district I could believe that she was just going to go swipe crazy with the credit card that could feasibly fit into her miniature bag but in that area there are cheap student eating establishments, stationery shops and child-friendly book and ice cream places. I want to know what her life entails and I want to know now.

One day I'll just ask someone outright 'hey, why have you smothered your upper body in incredibly expensive wool and left your ankles exposed to the elements?' And 'hey do you have a car following you with all the stuff you actually need for life in this city or are you a very vapid person who really does only need a phone and some cash?'

Grr unreasonable rant over. I'm right though.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


It's a four-gig week! Live music on Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and - surprise! - also Saturday. I love this week! I'm at Rough Trade once again to see a Danish band called Mew who make dream pop indie rock and with the purchase of their latest album +- I have the wristband to see them do an afternoon acoustic show.
More live music, more more more!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The week in gigs

This is a two-gig week! Last night I went to see Lissie play an acoustic set at Rough Trade. Tonight I'm seeing The Growlers at Irving Plaza.

Lissie, a singer songwriter from Illinois who I have loved for about 6 years, was predictably stellar. She is amazing I can't say enough good things about her. Especially in contrast to her two support acts - singer songwriter girl and singer songwriter boy. They were both good, decent songs lovely voices, stage presence. Or so you think until Lissie comes out and blows the roof off with her warmth, genuine appreciation for her fans, lack of preaching/overshare between songs (singer songwriter boy was too smug for my liking) her pure rock n roll energy and her VOICE. Her voice is nuts. Her records don't do it justice. The sound of just her and an acoustic guitar is so moving, she has a great rasp but is still resonant and clear as a bell - positively sonorous, in fact. Plus there's a pretty, sweet tone. All of that in one go. Come on.
She's also great because she's not doing a 'thing'. She's not going 'I'm a retro revival soul singer' a la Adele. She's not going 'I'm kooky and acerbic' a la Lorde. She's certainly not going 'I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don't care who knows it! FEEELIIIIINGS/aren't I adorable' a la Taylor Swift. She just writes songs and then sings them. You can draw sound comparisons to perhaps Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac. You can say there's a good amount of country sensibility in some songs, deliberately so. She has uptempo poppy numbers, and throwback rock n roll numbers, yearning ballads, folk and country inspired narratives. But she just wrote songs and they came out that way, there's no agenda.

She's kind of the ultimate flipside to the Taylor Swift coin in fact. Some years ato two pretty long-legged blonde girls learned to play the guitar.

One wrote candy pop songs about teenage heartbreak, tween girls began to worship her as a prophet, she made a fuck ton of money and played huge stadium tours with big name guest stars, she bought a crazy expensive apartment in New York, made friends with lots of other pretty tall famous girls, wrote catchy pop hits about her media feuds and public persona, and achieved huge fame and fortune.

One wrote folky rock n roll, wore jeans and tshirts 24/7, released a record and played music festivals and small venues, was loved deeply by her fans, continued to write solid songs that she just felt like writing about her home/love/family/ environmentalism - whatever was important to her, lived on a farm in Iowa, carried on wearing jeans and tshirts for all her gigs, carried on playing non-stadium venues, released more great music and some excellent covers.

She played such a good set with 200% energy and commitment throughout. You felt like she was having a good time and was happy to be in a room with all these people who enjoy her songs.  She is a real person who communicates naturally and generously. She treats her fans like actual  friends without all the screaming and hugging and selfie-taking.

Err yes I quite like Lissie did I mention?

On to The Growlers...meh.
Disappointingly meh. I will say I'm in no way a die hard Growlers fan as I am Lissie so that probably didn't help my perception. They write what they have deemed 'beach goth' - fuzzy guitars, vocal effects, 1960s doo wop rhythms and studied nonchalance. The songs are good, if I was having a barbecue or party they'd make great ambience music, I have them on when I read or cook sometimes. I like The Growlers.
Except now I'm kind of cross with them. They gave zero energy to a one hour set. There are six solid band members, they put a pretty big emphasis on lights and backdrop FX so half the work is done for them in terms of looking interesting while standing and playing songs. They had a good crowd who were ready to party. And they just walked their way through the whole set. I didn't get any energy from them until the last song and encore as if they were glad to be done. The songs sound good live although it really highlighted how similar a lot of them are - nooooot great in my book. It makes them seem like lazy songwriters who are more dedicated to maintaining their 'thing' - in this case beach goth - than in writing songs that are just plain good.
Also the balance wasn't fantastic - vox were fuzzy beyond the point of cool effects and to the point of rendering the lead singer ineffective. Some things that work well on a record did not translate that well. Maybe it was just whoever was on sound that evening but either way not a great factor.

And so. I stayed, I bopped, I listened. Overall I was not that impressed and was struck by the vast gap between The Growlers with bells and whistles sleepwalking through a set and Lissie, alone, acoustic guitar, no effects, no wacky lighting and a driven, outstanding live show. Also she was one hour later at night than they were. No excuse, Growlers. Having said all that I'm very glad I saw them I've been meaning to for about two years.

In other music news: where will I be next June 18th?
Madison Square Garden seeing The Cure that's where!!!

Where will I be this Sunday night?
Rocking out to my awesome roommate's awesome band The Fine Machines at Rockwood Music Hall that's where!

This is a really really good music week for me.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Puppy love

Bobby. Nuff said.

Get into the groove

Or rather establish a good groove and stay in it.

I achieved such a thing over the past few days and for my personal pride want to document it starting last Tuesday.


Got up and rode bike to Sam's to hang out with Bobby for the morning.

Went to babysit.

Watched Lauren perform in a cabaret at Don't Tell Mama in Midtown - was proud


Up early, went to work at All Systems Go (studio assistant for gym/physical therapy type place)


Ran and read stage directions for a Think Tank new play reading

Got drinks with Lauren and Ali


Got up and went to work at All Systems Go

Hurried up to Lila's to do some work for her. Dropped off a dress at dye place that she wants dyed aubergine.

Babysat until late.


Free morning, did some organising, some unexciting things like buying toothpaste and detergent.

Went to bank to sort out a minor issue - learned about credit cards and my options for having one (shudder - don't want one but in US it's a good thing.)

Babysitting cancelled! Surprise

Went home via Trader Joes where I picked up milk, bagels, onions

At home: some cooking and some time spent on the repetitive tasks of submitting for auditions and less repetitive emailing with Sam and Ali re: FTP projects

7pm: go to gym, run 5.5 miles.

Home by 10, cook indulgent pasta for late dinner. Relax and go to bed.

Saturday: up, leisurely coffee and bagel, a little reading.

2pm go and tap with DJ Folk my friend Katie's brother/Carlos' roommate. Awesome 3 hour session, learned a lot

6pm go to Sephora cosmetics mecca, do nails using free samples.

7pm babysit until 10.30.

Home, some cooking prep before bed.

Sunday: up, babysit at 11am.

1.30pm leave babysitting, go home to relax for a couple of hours.


Run 5.5 miles in park.

6.30 meet Lauren for a sandwich

7.30 table read of latest draft 'Tragedy of Recognition' by our own friend and playwright Ben Holbrook. It's a long play.

Home by 12.30. Get prepped for audition next morning. Make pancake mix. Sleep.


Up. Shower. Coffee. Pancakes!

Audition at 11.30am - it's an appointment so no need to go and wait around for hours yay!

Out by 12.30. Go to All Systems Go studio as its nearby and I need a base from which to read emails, do submissions and send Ben my feedback from last night's reading.

Leave at 2.30 to go babysit.

Write this post.

Tonight I'll go to Lila's to work for her for a while then be home I hope by 10.

That's 35 separate things in 6 days and that's without daily conversations, frantic scribbling of notes for creative endeavours, extensive subway reading, cleaning up the kitchen post cook, constant communications in the Fundamental Theatre Project group chat and err online browsing for raincoats, boots and hats.

That's not bad going! There's a rhythm to it but also a discipline. There is less random hanging out with friends in my life these days. This is a good sign that more of what I do is purposeful. Also because of FTP sometimes I'm hanging out with my friends whilst working.  And because my roommates are so fantastic I am not short of great human company. The last few days were the perfect balance of earning money, having fun with friends, working on theatre projects and taking care of myself. It's hard to keep that balance, it's very fragile, so I just wanted to celebrate having done it and fingers crossed it stays for a while before an unpredictable audition/job/circumstance inevitably shakes it up.

Overall feeling very resilient and positive. I think it's the pancakes.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Signs I'm growing up

It's the little things that tell you the most.

99% of the time if I want chocolate, I buy a bar of good quality dark chocolate and it lasts at least 3 days.
The other 1% I retain some of my natural chocoholism and get a Kit Kat chunky AND a Bounty and they're gone before I make it home.

I'm comparing options for buying a lightweight rain jacket that will pack up easily.
I gave up my Hello Kitty raincoat. Not completely it's still awesome and fun.

I order my detergent, shower products and household items on Amazon before running out of them.
Instead of running to the nearest corner store at 11pm and overspending on poor value for money.

I'm falling asleep listening to Podcasts instead of sitcoms.
Yeah one of the podcasts is a review of every Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode ever. Some things are right at all ages.

I will actively spend $50 on a pair of great day to day shoes that will last and keep me comfortable.
Because these days I don't have time to spend hours searching for second hand bargains in Buffalo Exchange that may or may not last the month.

I need a lot of caffeinated help the next day if I fall asleep any time past 1am.
I once scorned those who got an incredibly un rock n'roll 8 hours a night.

Think Tank

Last night Fundamental Theatre Project held our first Think Tank table read in quite some time and it was a great success. The play was very interesting, the group of actresses reading was stellar and the attendees were enthusiastic about contributing to the discussion afterwards so the whole evening was really rewarding and we had a great energy in the room.
I so enjoyed being a leader of the evening and felt very confident and happy doing so. I was reading stage directions and I also introduced the play and kicked off the discussion afterwards having made notes throughout and done some of my own prep.  This is the stuff that I'm good at, text analysis and decoding rhetoric devices. 

Our great FTP ladies are from L-R:
Valorie Curry, Alison Blair, Natalia Escobar, Lauren Downie, Carly Menkin, yours truly and Maite Uzal. Not a bad group I think!