December 11, 2011

guest music post: Alix Refshauge


NOTE: You can listen to Alix's play list on Spotify here.

2011 offered a lot of change, and boy did it deliver. A year ago I was living in my hometown of Spartanburg, SC, working my face-off for a small non-profit that I loved, surrounded by friends and family, and in a long distance relationship with my now-husband who lived in San Diego. Today I too live in San Diego, I work from home (I make art for a living, although I don???t really get paid), my family and closest friends are far away, and I get to see my husband everyday. It???s quite an adventure.??

Music has always been an integral part of my life. It???s been a huge bonus to be married to a man who approaches listening to music with as much passion and dare-I-say pride as I do. A big part of our relationship has been about discovering and listening to music together. While music has always shaped my life, it wasn???t until I met him that I started making playlists. What a great way to reflect on the year and to intentionally reconnect with the music that makes up our annual soundtrack.

Like my overall lifestyle, my way of finding new music has changed. In the past, I relied on one of the greatest listener powered radio stations in the US to find new music. WNCW out of Spindale, NC offers some of the most diverse and quality music programming I???ve come across. I would listen at home, at work, in the car, and after hearing a song that caught my attention, I would track down the artist to hear more. I???ve found that I only stream WNCW now when I feel sentimental. Instead, I often turn to and see what they???re promoting as a first listen. It feels like less of a discovery somehow. Another big change has come thanks to Spotify which has enabled a lot of desired listening and discovery, especially during roadtrips.

I don???t want to dwell on 2010, because this post is about 2011. But, I believe that a very important tradition was born in 2010 when I made my first end of the year and decade playlists and my husband and I listened to these songs on our Christmas roadtrip. He was living in SD but flying to Mississippi to see his family. The plan was for me to drive to Mississippi to see them and then for the two of us to drive back to SC together. The roadtrip was 8 hours, filled with songs that made up our 2010/decade playlists and the stories to go along with them. It???s a great way to hear stories about someone you might not otherwise, and to get to tell a few of your own.

Now, back to 2011. After getting married in January, we packed up my house in SC and my husband and I drove to SD. It was a four day trip and we planned an epic soundtrack for the drive. Our approach was to each choose four albums (one for each day on the road) by an artist who we wanted to get to know for some reason. The artists/albums had to be new to us and something that we thought the other hadn???t heard either. We???ve been on several roadtrips throughout the year and have continued this tradition - one new album per person per day on the road. We toss the album names in a hat and draw to see what we listen to next. We???ve discovered artists who we love and have learned about the time and places they were making music. It???s been a music education and one I hope we continue throughout the years.??

Now for my playlists, (lists because I???m gonna give you two): my 2011 new releases playlist and my pre-2011 music education/roadtrip playlist. I???ll keep it to a couple sentences each for why they made the list and hope if you???ve read this far that you???ll be able to continue to the end. Now, without further playlists for 2011:


2011 Releases Playlist
10. Kathryn Calder,??Bright and Vivid.??NPR find. This is a solid album all the way through - dreamy, campy, melodic. A good drive-down-a-country-road album if you like that sort of thing.??

9. Alexi Murdoch,??Towards the Sun.??NPR find. This is folky, slow guitar pickin???, Nick Drake reincarnation, goodness. Try it with a glass of wine on the couch with the one you love.

8. Bill Callahan,??Apocalypse.??Vinyl purchase. I love Bill Callahan???s lyrics, as Bill Callahan and as Smog. This album is clever and curious. Short though so if you go vinyl, don???t sit down.

7. Kate Nash,??Made of Bricks.??I discovered Kate Nash (meaning that after hearing a Kate Nash song somewhere I knew I wanted to hear more!). It surprises me how much I love this album considering two things: 1 - it sounds a lot like Regina Spektor (who I do not like) and 2 - the lyrics are all about hatin??? on her man (which I also don???t like). This album beat all odds with me, I like the piano and the sound of her voice; this is a good dance around the house album.

6. The Dodos,??No Color.??Luke introduced me to the Dodos and I liked them okay until we saw them at the Casbah. Yeah! These hipsters have more energy than most. If you???re looking for something fun, drummy, and energetic, look no further.

5. St. Vincent,??Strange Mercy.??Vinyl purchase. I like this whole album, every single song. The songs are fun, lyrics are catchy, and its a bonus that St. Vincent shreds like its her job. Which, I guess it is.

4. Bon Iver,??Bon Iver.??Vinyl purchase. This is just a beautiful album. It makes me wanna cry. His voice is so versatile, you would never guess he was a lumberjack.

3. Wye Oak,??Civilian.??NPR find. This two-person band is intriguing - he is a Nerd who can seriously rock out on the drums, she is a bleached blondy who whales on the guitar and has a haunting voice. This has been a go-to record for me all year and may make the decade list in 2020 - check back with me.

2. Joy Formidable,??The Big Roar.??SXSW find. There are some??bad-ass women??playing music out there right now! For reals. A few of the 2011 albums make me wanna travel back in time and pursue rockin??? out with a vengeance. The lead singer/guitar player for Joy Formidable is at the top of that list. If you haven???t seen her, go to YouTube, now. This whole album is fun.

1. Bonnie ???Prince??? Billy,??Worlfroy Goes to Town.??Vinyl purchase. This album is number one for me this year. It???s as beautiful and dark as you might expect from BPB, it will kill the mood fast. The tunes are melodic, the tone drab, except for in ???Quail and Dumplings??? where you get to hear Angel Olsen sing. Her Voice, ma gawd, it is lovely. So, sit down and listen, read the lyrics while you do, you???ll think about them later.


Music Education/Roadtrip Playlist:
10. Sex Pistols,??Nevermind the Bollocks,??1977. Alix choice SC to SD roadtrip. This was our first introduction to UK punk rock and the overwhelming influence of this band. Johnny Rotten lives up to his name.??

9. John Coltrane,??Love Supreme.??Luke choice SC to SD. This album is not higher up on the list because we really haven???t listened to it as much as I would have thought. This was a great listen on our adventurous trek to SD and one that we???ll revisit as our jazz education continues.

8. Fairport Convention,??Unhalfbricking,??1969. Luke???s choice SD to Vegas roadtrip. Iphone battery died too soon so this became a vinyl listen at home.??

7. Primus,??Pork Soda,??1993. Alix choice SD to Santa Barbara roadtrip. Historically, I like the funk, the quirk, and the skills of Les Claypool. This album is all that and a can of pork soda.??

6. Tom Waits,??Small Change,??1976. I???ve listened to Tom Waits in the past but was inspired to reconnect with him after listening to a Radiolab podcast that talked about how he finds inspiration to write music. The man is from SD too so, seemed like the right thing to do.

5. Ibrahim Ferrer,??Buena Social Club presents,??2001. Alix choice SC to SD. Traveling to Cuba is on our bucket list. While listening to this album I have visions of drinking cuba libres on the beach, of my hair blowing in the wind whilst riding around in a pool blue 1958 Ford somethin'-or-other, and wearing an overly revealing dress in a jazz club in Havana.????

4. Patti Smith,??Horses,??1975. Alix choice SC to SD roadtrip. I chose this after readingJust Kids -??a must read.??Horses??is a classic too that will transport you to CBGB's in the 70's where you'll find yourself sitting next to Robert Maplethorpe and Andy Warhol, listening to Patti, anticipating the Velvet Underground, going to hang out with Jimi Hendrix later. That's why you should listen to this album.

3. Fugazi,??13 Songs.??Alix choice SD to Santa Barbara. I???ve heard so much about Fugazi, it was time to hear them for myself. We had fun listening to this album en route to Santa Barbara and its surprisingly good music to cook dinner to.

2. Adam and the Ants,??King of the Wild Frontier. Alix choice SD to Santa Barbara. Something tells me I shouldn???t be putting Adam and the Ants above many of the others on this list. For starters, the cover of this album is a close up of the lead singer???s face which is covered in war paint and framed like a Topps baseball card circa 1980. The music is silly, Tarzanistic almost. To be honest though, this album gets a lot of play from me and this is where it truly belongs.??

1. Flying Burrito Brothers,??Burrito Deluxe.??Lukes choice SD to Vegas. Luke and I got married in Joshua Tree National Park which is coincidentally where the ghost of Graham Parsons (lead singer and FBB pretty boy) lives. We first heard this album on a roadtrip to Vegas - it???s a great desert soundtrack. Months later we found ourselves peering into the lobby window of the Joshua Tree Inn at the posters and t-shirts that commemorate Graham???s life that was lost there. I???ve enjoyed this album throughout the year and our connections to JT make it my number one.

Alix is an artist from SC who has about a year of San Diego livin??? under her belt. She and her rambunctious yellow dog moved to California in February after a long distance courtship ended in marriage. Currently she makes art from home, is developing her culinary skills, and exploring the many fine things this coast has to offer.??

Visit her paintings online at:??
Her new artwork at:??
And if you still want more:??

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