February 13th, 2009 5:33 pm | by MARK STOCK Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns

Your Valentine's Day Playlist

2heartsValentine's Day revolves around another special four letter word: S-E-L-F. But face it, you're nothing without sweet, reliable, always-enchanting music. Music will laugh at all your jokes, and it'll do so melodically. In the event you're journeying solo tomorrow, don't fret, because you've always got a dance with Apollo. Since long distance relationships sparingly work out, we've kept it local. Grab your headphones, slip the jacket off the vinyl, put a tie on the door and share the evening with your favorite soul mate.


Kate Mann - "In A Movie"
The warming song.

Mann is the country version of Alison Mosshart of the Kills. The song sways with a Wild West sort of swagger, reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins' ballad "In the Arms of Sleep." The sullen twang in her pipes will spin your head and make you reach for the whiskey. It's time to loosen up.

Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard - "Jimmy Bodie"
The human nature song.

In a league of sadness I've rarely heard before. A gut-spinning song about a kid without a future. Cry until there's nothing left, I'm on the verge just thinking about it. Take solace in the fact that this beautifully tragic piece was not written about you. Things could be worse, time to reflect.

Menomena - "Rose"
The make-believe song.

The droopy piano intro coupled with a half-drunken voice that's beginning to befriend ghosts is perfect. "I've those aplenty," Menomena admits, but one spirit beats all. Her name is Rose, and with the right imagination, she too can be yours. Time for absurdly creative pursuits again.

Hockey - "Curse This City"
The revolt song.

Rumor has it Portland's the most fertile city per capita in the nation. Curse it. Get up and dance with yourself, because you need no other. Just the warm, up-and-at-them company of Hollywood District boys Hockey. Pause for a drink during the breakdown, and ready your fists for a pump-worthy finish. Time for trouble.

The Helio Sequence - "Lately"
The pride song.

"I don't think twice, when someone says your name," declares Brandon Summers. And you shouldn't either, with a little help from the duo's remarkably structured and uplifting brand of electronically tinted rock. "Lately" is the beer back to the night at large, sanding down any residual edges with refreshing persistence. Time for anything and everything.

And to those who've freshly lost something—a cell phone, a person, a mind—these recordings are for you. Like books on tape, they tell enriching stories. Only, the incessant narrator is replaced by a moving soundtrack and you don't have to be embarrassed for having them.


Love and Distance by the Helio Sequence

Beaverton will never produce a better band, so drop your instruments you bored suburban kids. The band's first crack with Sub Pop is a brilliant collection of bluesy rock, arcade electronica and supremely animated drums. As the Wrens' Meadowlands is to a breakup misery, Love and Distance is to breakup joy—albeit bittersweet—ripe with triumph and forward looking in sound and content. And the album couldn't be more lasting, thanks to the finale "Looks Good (But You Looked Away)," a soft and poetic Beatles-esque tune of great weight.

Ode to Consumerism by Ben Darwish Trio

We've all heard Hallmark's hugely responsible for Valentine's Day. Piano man Ben Darwish would agree, painting the holiday scene musically in the tile track. The chaotic, surging jazz number does more than play—it bounces. And it reminds one of the mad dash that is poor suckers shelling out perfectly good dollars for rotting flowers and Sees' chocolates the night of. Unusual covers like Green Day's "Longview" and Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel's "Killing Me Softly" (made famous by both Roberta Flack and the Fugees) give the album some needed gravity, as Darwish's fluttering piano has a way of sailing into the technical and abstract. Like the blues, jazz was born out of human emotion, so throw it on and be mammalian.

Hold Time by M. Ward

The smoky-voiced, broken-hearted troubadour's latest offering is very much his own but outfitted with a little extra help this time around. The occasional backup singer, digital clap and parlor piano lick give the record a bit of a bigger, brighter feel than Post-War. The title track would pair wonderfully with a theatre performance, stretched-out and backed by a small orchestra. Ward's still torn up and subdued and he wears it not only on his sleeve, but in his fingers, which pluck away at his old guitar with his signature, echoing, pure bluegrass touch. If walking yourself through heartbreak is what you require, take Ward's hand. "When I'm high above the sea of love with the stars of Leo shining," he sings, "Well, that's the hardest way to fall into the blue, but it's just a matter of time until I do."

Happy Valentine's Day!

Kate MannSpace
Willy Vlautin
The Helio SequenceSpace
Ben DarwishSpace
M. WardSpace

Photo of 2heartz courtesy of the Internet

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