1. The Rosebuds, "Cover Ears" — OK, so this is pretty much a no-brainer. A married duo divorces, then comes back together for a post-divorce LP, Loud Planes Fly Low. Ivan and Kelly Rosebud give us an intimate glimpse of post-marital desolation, notably when Ivan sings "who's gonna love you/ when I go?" The rest of Loud Planes is pretty bleak too.
2. The Small Ponds, "Loneliness" — This remarkable Americana-folk duo formed at Raleigh's annual Love Hangover—an evening dedicated to sad cover songs. So it stands to reason they'd write along those same lines. "Loneliness will be your one true love," they sing in this one.
3. Mount Moriah, "Only Way Out" — Like the Rosebuds' record, this one's loaded with sad songs (see also the Neil Young-reminiscent "Plane"). This opening track hinges on Heather McEntire's poetic, honest recollection of a long-past romance. When she sings "how I bet you made a beautiful bride," it sounds like it still hurts. Also: "I can't seem to throw away/ the letters or the pictures/ for some kind of proof or truth that all of this/ really happened." Who hasn't felt like that at some point?
4. Airstrip, "So-So" — "Some people will love each other/ some people will kill each other/ hard to tell what you'll get into/ hard to tell what you are after." Holy shit, someone give Matt Park a hug.
5. Mandolin Orange, "Haste Make" — With this band, it was a tough call which song to include. "Hard Hearted Stranger" nearly made the cut (it's hard to suppress the shiver when Andrew Marlin sings "I'll be the hard-hearted stranger in your bed"), but "Haste Make" is a love song turned on its head by depression and anxiety. Oh my.
6. The Dirty Little Heaters, "Mexico Way" — Every heartbreak mixtape needs a shout-along moment. This track's a few years old, but Reese McHenry's powerful, painful chorus never seems to age. Take a listen and try it with her: The words are "I still love you, you fucker!" That is one hell of a hook.
7. John Howie and the Rosewood Bluff, "Last Great Guitar Slinger" — Obviously, there needs to be some honky-tonk on here, and ex-Two Dollar Pistol John Howie is a local master. This may not be the most obvious track for a Valentine's Day mixtape, but Howie's central down-and-outness makes it an essential inclusion. "I've been working all night long/ just to get you by my side/ Johnny Six-String comes along/ and he barely even tries."
8. Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes, "Kissin' and Cussin'" — And now it's time for something irreconcilably dark. "I see you smile, the knife behind your back," Robinson sings in the especially menacing latest version of this track. "Because we kiss and we cuss and we carry on/ until the break of dawn."
9. Double Negative, "Endless Disappointment" — Heartbreak sucks. Double Negative's a great hardcore band. This is a damn fine song to hear if you're pissed off.
10. Hammer No More the Fingers, "Shutterbug" — "Don't know how hard it's been/ living without a friend/ in the center of the world." This song certainly has a sad, lonely core. With this kind of mixtape—especially if you're one of those people who takes Valentine's Day personally—you want to close on something upbeat and catchy. And even if most of these jams don't seem to, Hammer's track aims to heal old wounds rather than reopen them.
So which tracks did I leave out? What's on your sad little mixtape? There's a comments section below, you know. Just try and keep it local.
There's not a lot of hope right now for an indie kid in love. Blame it on the divorces of several prominent indie couples: Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore shattered our faith in true love when they announced that their 17-year marriage wouldn't make it to 18; Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard forced us to wonder if even the unreasonably good-looking dorks are doomed in love too; and Jack White and Karen Elson made their divorce into a star-studded fête before White, dishearteningly, broke up with his former ex-wife Meg for a second time (but this time professionally). So, there are many more reasons to mourn this Valentine's Day than to celebrate it, whether you're single or attached.
Heartbreak has always been a fruitful topic for musicians; sadness and rage often make for more interesting songs. Breakups, after all, brought us the heroic ballads "I Will Survive," "No Regrets" and "Piece of My Heart," not to mention the best case for misery loves company, "Love Will Tear Us Apart." We compiled a list of recent indie songs about lost love to nurse you through this Valentine's Day. As you read along, remember: If you're single and not loving it, you're not doing it right.
"Let It Die," Feist
Who hasn't Feist eased through a breakup? Let It Die reads like a separation manual with chapters entitled "Lonely, Lonely," "Secret Heart" and the standout title track. Feist recounts her breakups with poise, though, and her agency beats throughout each song. Backed by a withering snare and trombone, her unrelenting croon carries "Let It Die," and when she sings "We don't see eye to eye," it's clear that she's mourning her failed relationship—not hanging onto it. Her acceptance is convincing as well as uplifting when she reminds us that optimism, too, underlies a breakup.
"The Last Goodbye," The Kills
Few contemporary bands have penned more down-on-love tracks than The Kills. Due in part to their bluesy sound and in part to their personal travails in love (the duo have sparked and extinguished their romance nearly as many times as they've released a record), Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have a volatile chemistry that uniquely charges their songs. "Love Is a Deserter" owes its success to their dysfunction, which erupts across the savage, bar rock jam—but their finest lovelorn track comes when they cool down. "The Last Goodbye" is a graceful farewell, with dreamy organs and a tender video accompaniment, for the couple that's perpetually breaking up. Emotional instability is at a peak, but Mosshart's voice never falters when she asks "How can I rely on my heart if I break it with my own two hands?"
"Marvin's Room," Drake
We can all thank Drake for elevating a drunk dial to an ex to official song status. "Marvin's Room" is selfish, insecure and self-justifying, but its unapologetic entitlement at least earns him empathy. (Especially for those who are chronically on his side of the line.) After admitting that his ex is "happy with a good guy," Drake badgers, guilt-trips and whines to her that he's a better catch than her current beau. His rosé-sopped reasoning and attempt to absolve himself reeks of bias when he slurs "I don't think I'm conscious of makin' monsters of the women that I sponsor until it all goes bad." Drake's case is also crippled by the lawsuit that pursued the release of "Marvin's Room," wherein his ex seeks rights to the song, but we're all guilty of victimizing ourselves at some point—and some nights you just need to cry for yourself because no one else will.
"Call Your Girlfriend," Robyn
"Love is hard, it ain't a fucking holiday," Robyn said to her crowd last Valentine's Day at a Chicago show. If you didn't already know, Robyn is the second coming for the forsaken and perpetually single. Her breakup songs out-pulse her narratives of devotion; she's sang from every point of a love triangle; and her romantic tenacity is both humbling and inspiring. So when she plays the other woman in the synth-motored workout "Call Your Girlfriend," you're going to root for her team. With sportsmanship and a warm embrace, Robyn guides her man to end things with his ex. "You tell her that the only way her heart will mend is when she learns to love again and it won't make sense right now, but you're still her friend," she chants, and her composure is why we clap along.
"Willow," Field Mice
If you trace the telephone wire from "Call Your Girlfriend," you'll arrive at the Field Mice's wispy, twee ballad "Willow." The originators of Robyn's lovelorn beat capture the moment when a lover breaks up with their partner for another. Singer Annemari Davies soars with Robyn's suggested grace when she says to her ex "Don't you go thinking I never did love you ... There are so many moments from when we were together that I do treasure." Her gentle words are packaged alongside tightly plucked acoustic guitar chords, yet the song soothes with its candor and reassurance.
"Knife," Grizzly Bear
Contrary to its title, "Knife" is not an aggressively bitter breakup song—which is one reason that it breeds catharsis. (Learning how someone copes is a much better use of five minutes than watching a tantrum unfold.) Tempered by harmonies, a breezy core melody and a veil of distortion, "Knife" is a level-headed song that only beams betrayal when its lyrics can be unearthed. "I want you to know, when I look in your eyes. With every blow, comes another lie," Ed Droste sings between guitar jabs. "Can't you feel the knife?" Like most Ed Droste-led songs, it's wrought with loneliness but will rule your heart.
"You Always Hurt the Ones You Love," Ryan Gosling
Grizzly Bear's lost-love balladry comprised the bulk of the Blue Valentine soundtrack, but lead actor Ryan Gosling's vocal contribution is the fastest way to an emotional enema. Covering the Ink Spots' "You Always Hurt the Ones You Love" with a ukulele and a baritone that begs to be cuddled, Gosling's performance summons the great question: "Are all relationships supposed to be this hard or is it just mine?" Listening to his voice trail off as he sings "It's because I love you" is an early clue that his relationship with Michelle Williams will never work, but if we're all bound to the same grim place, why not try to savor love's pleasantries while they last?
"Fuck the Pain Away," Peaches
Enter Peaches' "Fuck the Pain Away," an anthem for raw desire with emotionless vocals and a swelling bass. Her robotic vocals chant the song title with a mechanical repetition, stray voices moan in the background, and the sweaty track gyrates for four-and-a-half minutes. Are you enjoying being single yet?
"Walk in the Park," Beach House
Beach House's tambourine bells might seem inviting when they open "Walk in the Park" but they're delivered tongue-in-cheek to set the tone for Victoria Legrand's rocky ballad. Urging her lover to let her move on, she sings "In a matter of time ... you would slip from my life." Legrand sounds on the verge of collapse when she says "cannot hold you anymore," but the gush of guitar chords and jingly synths pushes her back onto her feet. Sometimes a massive chorus yields the strength we need to push through.
"Coming Down," Dum Dum Girls
"'Coming Down' is not a breakup song unless you're breaking up with life," Dee Dee tweeted over the summer. Yet, the clean lyrics—which aren't nearly as impressive on the page as they are when she belts them—are vague enough to support an array of emotional distresses. "You abuse the ones who love you," she sings in the song that she penned as a tribute to her late mother. Her voice soars in the widescreen song, punctuated by crashing percussion and her grieving guitar, especially when she hits "There I go." Dee Dee never surrenders or edits her experience into a song that'd resonate with anyone else, and that is the beating heart of any breakup song.
The second-annual The Club is Open Festival began Tuesday night with a pre-fest party and a triple-bill at The Reservoir. Like last night's Hammer No More The Fingers show at the newly repurposed Players on East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, that gig was free.
But the shows tonight (Aminal, The Dry Heathensand On The Beach at The Cave), Friday (Red Collar, The Loners, Rat Jacksonand A Rooster For The Masses at Local 506) and Saturday (American Aquarium, The Future Kings of Nowhere, Flithybird and Nathan Oliver at Cat’s Cradle) are not. The paltry cover charges ($5, $7 and $8, chronologically) aren't meant to line the pockets of club owners, promoters or musicians, though: All proceeds from this year’s festival will benefit The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University and CyTunes.org—all in memory of the late local music champion Cy Rawls.
On the Triangle's preeminent hip-hop message board, "The Lawn," local rapper/producer K-Hill recently voiced his opinion regarding the lack of coverage that I've been giving to North Carolina hip-hop in the music pages of the Independent Weekly. The comment stemmed from a thread announcing a show featuring local R&B songstress Keisha Shontelle. "Who the fuck is Keisha Shontelle?" I asked, jokingly. In essence, I was suggesting that, given Shontelle's relative disappearance from this music scene lately, I wasn't even sure if I remembered her anymore. But I did.
"Ask Grayson," K-Hill responded. "He actually writes about the other movements that reside in N.C. Take that one however you want to."
So, welcome back. We took some time off from Scan Version 1.0 last May, concentrating instead on developing more online music content over at the Independent Weekly's mothership, thinking about that mothership's 25th anniversary, and—in general—trying to make the music section of the print version of said mothership more comprehensive than ever.
Missions accomplished (we think), we're back with a new design and new content, and excited to be here. The Triangle's online music community has grown by leaps and bounds since we last spoke, from Jedidiah Gant's updates at New Raleigh and David Menconi's increased presence with his On the Beat blog to Karen Mann's bountiful work at Mann's World and Kim Gray's voice in Durham on Quick, Like a Bunny (Let's hope she ends this unofficial hiatus soon, huh?). Jake Seaton is doing great video work at Music.MyNC.com, and 30threads.com is around these days, aggregating it all. Hell, Ross Grady even has a Facebook application.
What are we doing here, then? The answer's still a bit malleable, but in this space you'll find a lot of the following and, let's hope, more: concert reviews not long after the show ends and a chance to comment with your own thoughts on what you saw; live videos of bands you like or bands we think you should like; breaking news on the music scene, including concert bills that have just been announced; tour diaries from your favorite local acts; and studio diaries from the same. Look for downloads, and please do enjoy the streaming music player to the right. We'll be updating that often with our favorite new local (and, occasionally, national) tracks. In short, we'll offer content that no one in the Triangle is offering.
You'll recognize many of the names writing here from our print edition, but we've added a few online specialists this time around. If you're interested in contributing, e-mail me, Grayson Currin, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll talk about how you can help.
Thanks, and see you up top in a few.