It's taken me more than a decade to come around to Lucinda Williams. When I was in middle school, my dad came suddenly into my room and put a CD in my stereo with no explanation. I set down my alg/trig homework and watched him carefully. He finally said, just before the music started, "Listen to this song, Kate. I've never heard anything so...gripping." And then he sat with his eyes closed until the song was over. And that was the first time I heard Lucinda Williams. I'm not even sure now what the song was, but that's the thing about Williams' music: many of her songs could be the most gripping song my dad (or anyone) has ever heard. I did not agree at the time, but remembered her name in association with her affect on my father. Now, on the event of her 10th studio album being released, I finally get it.
I did some of my growing up on the island of Maui, Hawai'i, but somehow only came to pick up the ukulele seriously when I was 23 and living in Los Angeles. I'm back in Hawai'i for a little while, and am taking every opportunity I can to sit on the beach and strum my uke while my brother the professional chef sears some mahi mahi for dinner. It's raining here, and is supposed to for upwards of a week, but this little instrument brings sunshine and aloha spirit wherever it goes. In looking for new songs to play (ps if you have ideas, leave them in the comments and I'll IOU a Youtube video when I learn it!), I realized that EVERYONE AND THEIR DAD is now playing the ukulele, and Youtube is basically used at this point exclusively for cat videos and people playing ukulele versions of Regina Spektor songs. So I thought this week, in the spirit of these islands I love, I would do a sampling of the best the uke has had to offer in what seems to be a full-blown Ukulele Revolution.
Since roughly half of the US and much of the rest of the northern hemisphere is slushing through the snow and ice right now, we thought it might be nice to revisit a BitchTapes mix from last year in the hopes of warming things up a little. Beach Party, expertly crafted by former Bitch intern Sara Reihani, has just the jams to keep your mood sunny while you're snowed in. So pour yourself a daiquiri and let's hit the beach!
You know when a break-up hurts so much that you think no one else could possibly understand how you feel? Torch songs understand. They feel your pain, and they channel it through the voices of like-minded torch-bearers who can sing much better than you can sing, and who are willing to do it for you. So, with that in mind, here are some of the torch-toting singers who've been feeling my pain recently.
PJ Harvey is no stranger to this blog. She has consistently distanced herself from feminism as such, but our love for her is inescapable. Her music is about independence—from marriage ("The Pocket knife,"), from judgement ("Who the Fuck?")—and her vision for her autonomous career has never faltered in 20 years of music-making. Now she's got a new album, Let England Shake, coming out February 15th, and a short film to be released with EVERY SONG on the album! If you, like me, believe there is no such thing as too much Polly Jean, this is the B-sides for you.
It seems only fitting that I'm able to help Bitchtapes ring in the new year. For me, the '00s (I still haven't figured out what I want to call this decade) started with an actual mixed tape from a new friend, who has since been through the ringer with me. And in thinking about it today, I've realized that my very favorite people have won me over with mixes, even recently. So, here is my little gift for all of you to help start off something good.
Rather than do any kind of decade retrospective or theme here, this one is kind of all over the map...a little bit sparkly, a little dark, a little sloppy, with a trumpet here and there. Just what I would hope for in the new year. Friends new and old, cheers to what the next decade will bring...