daydream vacation

Daydream Vacation - That Girl Don't Sleep
Head Like A Kite f/ Asya of Smooosh - Noisy At The Circus

Well, this makes me feel old!

Smoosh were a Seattle-based indie duo composed of two sisters who were approximately 14 and 12 years-old when this video was filmed. The older of the two sisters, Asya, is now somewhere between 19-20 years-old. This is weirding me out for reasons I can’t explain. It’s like she’s a distant cousin who used to be in diapers as of yesterday, and now she’s suddenly a grown-up with a life of her own. They grow up so fast!

In any case, Asya has recently teamed up with Dave Einmo of Head Like A Kite for a new project called Daydream Vacation. The pair first collaborated on Head Like A Kite’s 2006 debut Random Portraits of the Home Movie, with Asya providing vocals for one of my favorite HLAK tracks “Noisy At The Circus”. They later reconvened on the band’s 2008 album There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere on a song called “Daydream Vacation”. Thus the name of their current project.

Daydream Vacation could best be described as “electro funk”… But when you hear “funk” in this instance, think more along the lines of Chromeo or Beck rather than James Brown or George Clinton. I’m not making a convincing argument for this, am I?

Oh well! I promise it’s some good shit. Click through (or look below) to listen to “Clever Is Not My Best Excuse”, one of the band’s best offerings so far:

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grygiel: big queer rock show

Will you be attending the BIG QUEER ROCK SHOW on March 2nd? This is the part of the post where you turn to me and say, “Yes, I’m all about supporting local Boston musicians, whilst simultaneously benefiting a unique organization that works with LGBT youth. Also, I’ve really been looking for an opportunity to get rocked so hard that my face melts off!”

Good to hear! Alas, you might be a little curious about who will be rocking your face off. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone gets a little curious sometimes. I mean, if I were planning on having my face rocked off (and I am), I’d want to know who’d be onstage holding that guitar.

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the first of four artists on the night’s lineup! GRYGIEL is the single-moniker stage name for Jen Grygiel, an out musician and LGBTQ/social activist who writes songs about “love, painful experiences, and things that piss her off”.

Beyond donating proceeds of her debut EP to the It Gets Better project, she’s also the co-founder of No Gay Left Behind, which aims to prevent LGBTQ suicide by advocating for the formation of virtual Gay-Straight alliances (VGSA) at schools across the United States.

Long story short? It makes perfect sense that Grygiel has teamed up with BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth) for this exciting event. After all, the youth-led, adult-supported organization rocks pretty hard too! For over thirty years, they’ve been committed to creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies and services for the LGBTQ community.

Read more about their mission here, or find out more about Grygiel’s work on her website.

elle varner: so fly / conversational lush

Elle Varner - So Fly
Elle Varner - WTF
Elle Varner - Go

Compare and contrast:

TLC‘s “Unpretty”. Madonna‘s “Human Nature”. Ani DiFranco‘s “Not A Pretty Girl”. Salt-n-Pepa‘s “None of Your Business”Pink‘s “Don’t Let Me Get Me”India Arie‘s “Video”Tori Amos‘ “Cornflake Girl”. No Doubt‘s “Just A Girl”Destiny’s Child‘s “Independent Women”. Meredith Brooks‘ “Bitch”Queen Latifah‘s “U.N.I.T.Y.”Christina Aguilera & Lil Kim‘s “Can’t Hold Us Down”.

Katy Perry‘s “Firework”. Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way”. Ke$ha‘s “We R Who We R”. Selena Gomez‘s “Who Says”. Pink‘s “Raise Your Glass”. Jessie J‘s “Who’s Laughing Now”. Taylor Swift‘s “Mean”.

Each of these nineteen selections are empowerment anthems performed by female artists. This is a fact, no matter how you feel about these particular songs, their relationship to the very concept of “empowerment” or the singer’s intention in releasing them. Someone, at some point, has felt empowered by these songs. Undeniable. Fact.

For the most part, the second list was inspired by the It Gets Better movement and similar “anti-bullying” campaigns. These tracks act as a celebration of the self, shouting in your face, “You are beautiful, no matter what they say!” They confront the people who try to tear you down, whether it’s a specific individual or some abstract idea of the “bully”.

The songs on the first list, however, attack a much larger issue—the injustices of society which lead to one’s insecurities, the reasons why there’s so much hateration in this danceree. They put the “power” in empowerment. They rebel against double standards. They don’t just sit around and tell you you’re great. They tell you why everything else sucks, which thereby enables you to throw your middle finger up at the world and truly embrace who you are.

And then, of course, there’s Elle Varner. The up-and-coming R&B star has mentioned in several interviews that she was severely bullied through most of her life. Yet instead of writing some empty “You go girl!” anthem, she wrote a little jam known as “So Fly”.

The song initially finds our narrator longing to exist in a world where she has “no cellulite, big breasts and pockets real wide”. Eventually, upon further reflection, she comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t need that other crap. She already embodies the very definition of “fly”.

Okay, so the theme may be a bit cheesy. The lyrics may not be as strong as those offerings from the first list… But this is still a throwback to that era of empowerment. Varner lashes out at the media/society for demanding she live up to some impossible standard of beauty. We’re not hearing enough of that in today’s pop music.

Which begs the question, why? These are issues young people (regardless of their gender) still face today, and they’re rarely addressed head-on like they used to be. Why? Does this idea, for whatever reason, feel outdated or more sickeningly sincere than an episode of Glee? Is our collective mentality so focused on escapism that we don’t want to directly deal with these problems?

Just something to ponder! Of course, while you’re thinking (or rolling your eyes), perhaps you should go download Varner’s free mixtape Conversational Lush. It might not bring you any answers, but at least it’ll provide a fresh soundtrack for your thought process.

“WTF” and “Go” are also highly recommended (despite the fact that I didn’t just waste multiple paragraphs failing to explain their greatness).