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Misterwives: Our Own House

This past month or so has been soundtracked overwhelmingly by Misterwives new album, Our Own House and it is completely and totally obsession worthy.

It is a well rounded album that ebbs and flows through a kaleidoscope of dance tunes and ballads, all connected with a steady heartbeat percussion and Mandy Lee’s powerhouse voice that dances seamlessly through the melodies and harmonies. It is an outstanding debut album that will give them solid footing to root themselves in this industry and in your ears.

It’s hard to overshadow the great dance builds and beats in this album. I’ve always been partial to a great dance tune that begs me to roll down my window and drive while dancing and singing along at the top of my lungs. Misterwives does it so wonderfully. Except they also take their songs to an even richer level with the lacing of poetic lyrics throughout. It’s an album about love and independence and identity. Mandy makes her strength clear from the very first song, singing, “We built our own house, own house/ With our hands over our hearts/ And we swore on that day/ That it will never fall apart” Nor do they fall apart. It is followed up by Not Your Way which is so I am woman hear me roar. I want sing it to every man who has ever tried to keep my vagina and me down. “Are we making ourselves clear?/ We’re all the same under here/ This is my disposition/ Apologies for breaking your traditions/ It takes two to tango/ And we’re saying…(two, three!)/ It’s not your way, not your way/ Not going to obey, to obey/ This is my party, party/ And you don’t have a say, have a say” or in Hurricane when she sing, “We are not your property/ See with our own clarity/ Ears closed, eyes open,/ Voice won’t be broken/ Won’t dance within your walls” Boom! Sing it, girl!

But Misterwives aren’t naive either. Being strong isn’t without love and vulnerability. “So let’s run with reckless emotion/ Let’s find out if love is the size of the ocean and a/ Hundred ought to be too few word/ To carry all my love for you” she sings. In Reflections, the first single off the album, she reminds us what it’s like to pick up the pieces of a shattered relationship. It’s hard. We’ve all be there.

The final song, Queen is perhaps my favorite song off the album. It’s a quieter piece but bookends the power and message of their opening. In it, Mandy gives a powerful, personal reflection on her life and struggles and the homes that the queens in her life built with and around her. “But we all lift each other up/ Learn to shake the demons off/ Conquer all this world throws at us/ Cause love is strong enough

This album is strong enough and I can’t wait to watch the career this group builds together.

Addressing Lady Gaga: Born This Way

I think it’s about time to address the Lady Gaga in the room. (Is a moderate hipster with a passion for the fiddle and sweet jazz riffs allowed to admit love for Lady Gaga?)
I’ve been a long time fan of the Gaga, having stumbled upon her years ago when she was peddling her first album, Fame (before actually garnering much of it). Before all the freaks and ‘mosters,’ she was just a pop singer with a killer voice who didn’t like to wear pants (and really, who does?). I immediately fell in love with her album about getting drunk, having sex and maybe there would even be paparazzi watching and chasing. Or was I watching and chasing the paparazzi? I never could exactly tell. She threw around seemingly obvious fun pop words like “glamorous” “glitter” “disco stick” and yet I was never entirely sure what her songs were about. Did it have meaning, was it frivolous fun, was it brilliant? Maybe her album was one giant poker face and that was the big joke on me. But it was dance pop music that I loved to love and I didn’t care if I didn’t get it or if she didn’t wear pants. Sometimes a hipster, fiddle loving girl’s just gotta dance to awesome pop and know it’s gonna be ok, right?
Then things started to getting a little weirder than lack of pants and fun pop beats. Suddenly it was parkas made out of Kermit the Frogs or raw meat, weird interviews, religious imagery, egg arrivals, and a whole culture of “mosters” was born. As a moderate hipster I could appreciate her going against the norm. Hell, I love that she is a total freak artist!
But she has lost me a little bit with her newest album, Born This Way. She’s become a moster priestess with a message a lot deeper than “just dance.” No more poker face, there’s no mistaking her message this time and that loses some of the mystique for me. It’s also just a whole lot crazier. I applaud her for being a voice to so many that feel like they don’t have one. I spent many of my formative adolescent years on the unfortunate side of bullying and feeling like I would never overcome all of my awkwardness. My teenage self would have loved this album and I can see why it is embraced by so many. My self-confident adult self doesn’t quite connect with all of it.
Musically, this album is ok. The beats are well constructed, there are more instrumentals (including a pretty sweet saxophone) and You and I is a pretty killer piano power ballad. A lot of the songs all seem to be in a slightly higher register, lacking the deep beat that was the consistent syncopated heartbeat of Fame. I miss that low anchor.
I still love Gaga for being the wonderful freak that she is and for making instant dance party music. I will see her live any day because girl seems like she kills it in concert. Still, I can’t help but miss when she was singing about fashion, fame, and was humping a blow up orka whale in her video. But that’s just me.

Foster the People are the way dance parties were meant to be, daring anyone listening not to just up and move to the beat. They have just released their new album, Torches. As of this morning it is already #7 on itunes and is well deserving of the the hype and love its getting.
This indie rock group based out of LA, formed in 2009 and Pumped up Kicks, their breakout hit, quickly went viral and blew up the mainstream. This band is intelligent, upbeat synth pop making use of electronics to create sometimes psychedelic, other times hippie jam sounds. They defy what it means to be mainstream “pop”. Mark Foster serenades seductively and energetically with his charming and often falsetto voice and delightful harmonies.
Their lyrics mix storytelling, love serenades creating sounds equally carefree and empowering. They are supported by sweeping instrumentals making a well rounded and impressive freshman album. Definitely a favorite of the year for me, Torches is well worth picking up.