Monday, September 22, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Jeremy Shipp Sheep and Wolves (Raw Dog Screaming Press, Fall 2008)

"When people say, “Get a life,” what they usually mean is, “Drown out the screaming of your heart like I do, then we can be friends.” I refuse." from "Nightmare Man"

On the way to park this afternoon I spotted the first glimpse of Autumn. It was a full grown oak with leaves glowing in orange, yellow and red. Soon there will be pumpkins, scarecrows, ghost, goblins, haunted houses, and all of the typical joy mixed with fear that is Fall. There is no better writer to read on a cool autumn evening then California's Jeremy Shipp. Having read his enthralling and disturbing debut novel Vacation, I jumped at the chance to take a sneak peak at his new collection of short stories, Sheep and Wolves. Now I had never read any of Jeremy's short stories, but I knew I had to find the right time and location to read through this collection. The mood had to be just right, and I chose to be alone in a dimly lit room late at night. It seemed right as I tried to let the gruesome images that can seem so foreign yet so captivating.

Jumping right in with the first story "Watching", Jeremy creates worlds that at times seem unreal or unfamiliar, but have a biting sense of reality that really allows the reader to stay engaged. From moving marshmallow peeps to reattaching a little girls severed thumb to clowns and cyborgs, the stories contained in Sheep and Wolves are like a series of car accidents. You know shouldn't be looking, but you can't take your eyes off the pages stained with blood and fingers and all the horror and madness. It's perfect for this time of year even if you are not a fan of the genre. Start a campfire, grab a bag of marshmallow and read lines like; "Now I’m dragging a dead dog by the tail. I’m dragging her toward an apple tree under the full moon, because these are the three ingredients. Dog, apple, moon."

Lykke Li Youth Novels (LL Recordings, August 19th)

Sweden's Lykke Li does not really need my spotlight. She has really owned this year, releasing both an ep and her debut full-length album, but I can't ignore this quality release. At 22 she has pushed or danced her way onto the national stage, and her album Youth Novels really deserves the attention. It deserves the appearances on national television, the world tour, and all of the praise. Recorded with her mentor Bjorn Yttling (of Peter, Bjorn & John) over the last 10 months, Youth Novels weaves its way through 14 perfectly-realized chapters. You’ll hear harpsichords, flutes, and theremins throughout the album but you’ll also hear Lykke Li’s magnificently brittle, candy coated vocals. The idea of a novel on youth and all of its confusion and want and change is intriguing in itself, but when told through the eyes of LL’s with unusual honesty it becomes an adventure that never stops moving.

You see, Lykke Li is the daughter of a photographer and a musician, and as a child they were consistently moving from town to town and country to country. This would account for the eclectic pop sound and diverse collection of beats on Youth Novels. LL has managed to write engaging and familiar pop song with beats and rhythms that really advance the album as a whole. Since I seem to hear these song everywhere what I have enjoyed doing is collecting remixes of these now classic tunes. Here are a few I have collected.

I'm Good I'm Gone (Black Kids Remix) (mp3)
Breaking It Up (Punks Jump Remix) (mp3)
Little Bit (Klumpfisk Remix) (mp3)
Little Bit (Loving Hands Remix) (mp3)
Dance, Dance, Dance (Chaise Marcel Remix) (mp3)

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