Though I’m not dwelling on anyone at the moment, this song speaks in language I can absolutely relate to… Oh, yes indeed.

Half Moon Run: Dark Eyes

“If you breathe in, I’ll breathe in…”

Music streaming on the internet has changed dramatically in the last several years. A whole host of options have begun competing for bandwidth and market share with a variety of gimmicks. I decided some time ago it was worth $10 a month to have a more or less limitless supply of music on demand. I try not to think too deeply on how many records or CD’s I could have afforded with the roughly $360 I’ve spent over the years, but I digress…

 My streaming service of choice is Rhapsody, which allows me to search for and download music with considerable scope of catalog. I’m generally pretty happy with it – though it uses an appalling amount of data when streaming so I use it exclusively over wifi and download anything I want to listen to away from home. However, one area where it lacks somewhat is in it’s algorithm to suggest music I might like. I do use the “similar artists” feature to some success, but it is rather a cumbersome process sorting through albums, tracks, and lists of bands to find something I might enjoy. I have discovered a considerable amount of new music I really like using this method, but it’s much more labor and attention intensive than the alternative.

The alternative being Pandora. The original internet music radio remains far and away the most reliable source of new music suggestions. Last week it popped out with something I loved immediately and have been proselytizing the hearing of ever since.

 Canadian band Half Moon Run at first blush is very much in the vein of Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, and The National. This Is A Good Thing. Lush thoughtful harmonies and deft echoing guitars drew me instantly, but what kept me listening was the surprising depth beyond these initial similarities.

 The album manages to encompass a variety of musical styles without seeming disjointed or uneven; considering the contrast between some of the tracks this is a considerable feat of musicianship. Opening with “Full Circle” a straight up rocker, the record also offers dreamy, soulful “Need It” which earned an immediate and coveted place on my sex playlist. “Judgement” is a seething revenge track, “Give Up” has a decidedly Radiohead vibe about it, while “Nerve” echoes of disco in the way that Daft Punk and Broken Bells captured so compellingly in recent memory.

While I make all of these comparisons, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Half Moon Run manages to sound like itself alone. They have a sense of humor, edginess, and vulnerability all in one that is profoundly unique and deeply compelling. It’s rare for me to feel both lulled and lit up by the same record, and their capacity to do so is impressive. It has kept me singing under my breath, listening on repeat, and telling anyone who will sit still long enough how much they need to listen to it too.


Sufjan Stevens once made a joke about how he was going to write an album for every state in the union. That he then followed this by writing both about Illinois and Michigan seemed to imply it wasn’t one. For those holding out hope it might still happen, his latest record is probably quite the tease.

Having lived here my whole life, I forget that Oregon isn’t really like other places. I mean, it’s like Washington of course, but most of our country is not made up of places that have ocean coastline, mountain ranges, high desert, temperate rain forest, and prairie all within a few hour’s drive of each other. It has for some people achieved somewhat mythical status and stands out as remarkably well-represented as a mecca for nature-lovers, adventurers, and seekers of peace alike.

What brought Sufjan Stevens to Oregon wasn’t nearly so romantic or whimsical. Reunited with his estranged mother through the efforts of her second husband, Stevens spent time here in fits a spurts as a child until the relationship once again deteriorated. “Carrie & Lowell” recalls that time and place while simultaneously probing his grief in the face of Carrie availing herself of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. There is a candid intimacy to this music that conveys a sense of emotional and visceral locus more powerfully than almost any I have ever encountered.

Such A Long Time Ago

I concede, my own degree of susceptibility to this record might be fairly apparent. The aching eloquent lament of a grown person with mommy-issues recalling a dappled Oregon childhood has some pretty obvious resonance for me. That truth notwithstanding my daughter, who isn’t burdened with these same concerns, also found the album all but irresistible. We listened to it on our way to Bend last weekend and she was humming one of my favorite tracks for the better part of the following day until she asked if we could listen to the entire record again on the way home.

It is, as all my favorite albums are, a suite of music. Each song is deliberately linked in melody, theme, and tone to every other. It has the feeling of a progression through a landscape both internal and peripheral. Stevens’ characteristically gentle guitar and vocals perfectly evoke the longing, sorrow, and grief he explicitly acknowledges inspired his songwriting. That being said, it is patently not a sad record. The melodies and message are both infused with a certain weightlessness that rarely accompanies music about death, loss, and regret. When he says “we’re all gonna die,” over and over, it feels not like a condemnation, but a reassuring statement of fact.

The music rambles all over its vast setting. From the Tillamook burn to the Sea Lion Caves. From Cottage Grove to The Dalles, each song speaks to some corner of Oregon and of Stevens’ memory in concert. In doing, it never forfeits a sense of connectedness within that scope. Much like the state in which it is set, varied though the conditions might be, it remains bound together by shared inevitabilities, circumstances, and space. Though I’m still convinced he has no intention of completing the task of an album for every state, Sufjan Stevens has rendered a beautifully realized offering for Oregon, nevertheless.

Highly recommended.

This song. So much, this song I might have written it. I truly wish I had.

I reckon time
By the inches of my skin
Pulled ‘cross my spine
Where you used to slip right in

I never made
A place for you around
The scars and stripes
You’d salute on your way down

It’s just a shame
How the marks you left on me
In such a way
Only my own eyes could see

The story stained
The inside of my eyes
Won’t wash away
Not for all the tears I cry

So now I’ll try
To finally put you in your place
With clear design
The vacancy replaced

What’s left of you
Will finally dye inside my skin
To make room
So I can let my life begin



I have no idea what this song is about. I haven’t listened to the lyrics closely enough to be able to tell. However, its tone, tempo, and tenor exactly captures my current mood.


So, then…



Only worth living if somebody is loving you


Not the slickest thing I’ve ever produced – I need some decent recording equipment, stat – but after three years without any new material, I’m pretty excited about it nevertheless.


Sing it, Mavis! Testify!!

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