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Women in Music: Musgraves, Mitski, and Marina

27 Mar

I have been a music enthusiast for a long time, so I must confess that I have been tracking all the songs I have listened to since 2005(!). The great thing about that is that I can follow changes in my listening habits and taste through time. One interesting pattern I’ve noticed is that I have shifted from listening to bands mostly fronted by men to a diverse range of female artists. In fact, my top 10 last year was almost exclusively female!

And so with that, I’d like to celebrate Women’s History Month by sharing with you a few albums by women that I really love.

Kacey Musgraves – “Golden Hour”
Golden Hour
You may have heard of this album if you pay any attention to the Grammys. I usually don’t, but I was very pleased to hear it had won Album of the Year, which it absolutely deserved. It was definitely my top album of 2018! I don’t usually listen to country music, but I had heard praise from other artists about it, so I decided to check it out. I am so glad I did. “Golden Hour” is a beautiful album, with soundscapes that remind me of spring, of looking up at cherry blossoms against a blue sky. It’s an album about appreciating love and the beauty of the world, as well as a reminder that our time on this earth is fleeting. Just like cherry blossoms! If you’re not a fan of country, fear not. “Golden Hour” veers slightly toward a pop sound, without sounding forced or cheesy.

Standout tracks: “High Horse”, “Oh What a World”, “Butterflies”  Hoboken Card Holders stream them now on Hoopla.

Mitski – “Puberty 2”
Mitski
Let’s move on to rock. Last year, Mitski made a buzz with her new album “Be the Cowboy”. I instantly became addicted to it, with its short, insanely catchy tunes. I had heard of Mitski before, but I had not been able to really get into her music. After “Be the Cowboy”, I decided to go through her back catalog and give her old stuff another chance. A great decision!

Puberty 2” was released in 2016 and has a much more raw rock sound. What I love the most about Mitski is her incredible songwriting. In the opening track, “Happy” she personifies the feeling of happiness, who comes to visit her and “brought cookies along the way”. After the first chorus, Mitski sings:

I was in the bathroom / I didn’t hear him leave / I locked the door behind him and I turned around to see / All the cookie wrappers and the empty cups of tea / Well I sighed and mumbled to myself / Again I have to clean

I found the imagery delightful. You can find lyrics like these all throughout the album. Here’s another example from the final track “A Burning Hill”

I am a forest fire / And I am the fire and I am the forest / And I am a witness watching it

Add to that loud guitars and haunting melodies, and you have yourself an album worthy of the repeat button. Don’t be like me. Give it the good listen it deserves the first time around!

Standout tracks: “Your Best American Girl”, “I Bet on Losing Dogs”, “Happy”

Marina and the Diamonds – “Froot”
Froot
Coincidentally, this album also opens with a track titled “Happy”. Whereas Mitski lamented the fact that Happy had left her, Marina welcomes its arrival at last. Marina (who has dropped “and the Diamonds” from her name this year) is a talented pop artist, with a heavenly voice and astute songwriting. While awaiting her new release later this year, I have been revisiting “Froot”, her album from 2015. Compared to her previous work, it’s a bit more reflective, so if you’re looking for a dose of catchy pop, without it being too saccharine or mainstream, this is the album for you. Her ballads are gorgeous and her upbeat tracks will have you singing along in the shower. Seriously, try not to sing along to “Froot”, with its groovy beats and clever wordplay, I dare you!

Standout tracks: “Froot”, “Blue”, “Savages”  Check out the digital album from Hoopla.

You can also check out more music by powerful women recommended by our fellow BCCLS librarian on the BCCLS Read, Watch, Listen blog.

What are your favorite albums by women?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by:
Samantha Evaristo
Library Outreach Assistant

A Kinder Kind of Detective: Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

20 Mar

Newcomer
Detective Kyoichiro Kaga is a newcomer as an investigator in the Nihonbashi precinct in Tokyo. Instead of the usual trope of the tortured or flawed or divorced or somehow broken detective, Kaga is mostly…..kind. He doesn’t seem to have any of the personal problems that give other detectives a distinctive personality. He goes about his business, trying to piece together a crime solution, ruffling as few feathers as possible.

At times he buys small gifts for the people he interviews. Not just to gain their trust, although you can see that it helps, but because he is nice.

In Newcomer, he is investigating the strangulation of Mineko Mitsui.

Mitsui is, similar to Kaga, an individual who doesn’t seem to have any enemies. She is divorced and estranged from her son, and also a newcomer to the precinct where Kaga works.

In procedural fashion, Kaga visits stores in the surrounding area to talk with a variety of characters. There is a helpful list of the venues and people, with their roles set out, at the beginning of the book.

No spoilers here. The denouement is no real shocker, but more of a why-done-it.

I enjoyed the foreign setting and found it to be a quick and easy read.

My only quibble with the book was the translator. He seemed to use a lot of idioms as figures of speech. More than you would ever expect in a single book. Other than that, a quick and satisfying read that you might enjoy.

There are several other titles by this author available through the BCCLS system in English, Chinese, and Korean translations as well as in Japanese (this is the second novel translated in English to feature Detective Kaga), as well as a DVD movie, The Secret, based on one of his novels, Himitsu.  The first in the series available in English Malice is also available from the Hoboken Public Library.  Several audiobook versions of his work are available to stream from Hoopla.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

 

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