High Pitch: Summer Sabbatical

Steamy winds recede from the subway grates and a chill is felt anew; summer sings its swan song. Daylight declines as we approach another equinox, but we hold tight to the hits that carried us through the dog days.

By Laura Gardiner

Steamy winds recede from the subway grates and a chill is felt anew; summer sings its swan song. Daylight declines as we approach another equinox, but we hold tight to the hits that carried us through the dog days.

High-Pitch: Space Case

From the vast expanses of the universe to the smallest nook of an open-floor-plan office, music can evoke the celestial and blast us off and away from the spaces we occupy, but it can also take us home.

By Laura Gardiner

Space: The final frontier, but also the final blow to so many human relationships. From the vast expanses of the universe to the smallest nook of an open-floor-plan office, music can evoke the celestial and blast us off and away from the spaces we occupy, but it can also take us home.

High-Pitch: Gone Baby Gone

No matter where you’re staying or going, you’ll need a soundtrack to guide the way.

Travel is as much an enlightening experience as it is an escape. These rhythms and refrains can allow us to traverse time and space while remaining stationary or can lead the way as we cross the globe. Let the canticles keep you grounded; let the strains shoot you into outer space. No matter where you’re staying or going, you’ll need a soundtrack to guide the way.

High-Pitch: New Year, Same Us

Stories and song intertwine to give us glimpses of the future and pieces of the past, all while maintaining their place in the present. We abuse the New Year as a ritual to cleanse our bodies and souls, but what of the pain and heartache, the love and light that remain? We must remember to serenade the past as we chant to the futureand anywaystime is a flat circle, who cares?

 

High-Pitch: SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

Too often is shame deficiently dealt and crudely controlled – from lover to lover, perpetrator to victim. Shame plays itself out in vitriolic verses and remorse-ridden refrains.

By Laura Gardiner

Too often is shame deficiently dealt and crudely controlled – from lover to lover, perpetrator to victim. Shame plays itself out in vitriolic verses and remorse-ridden refrains. When the contrition and compunction wear off, the humiliation subsides and voices are reclaimed.

The Internet Never Forgets

In our first episode, three of us discuss, what else, deeply embarrassing stories from our past.

If you’ve been waiting with your breath bated, you can finally breathe easy: the High-Strung podcast has arrived. That’s right, we flipped on the mics and filled up our wine glasses and for that you are welcome. For our first episode, Monica Torres, Frida Oskarsdottir, and Gabrielle Sierra journeyed into the past and explored the shame that can be brought on by our ever-present digital footprint—from resurfaced Hanson message board diatribes to far-too-easy-to-Google “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fanfic. Join us as we present “The Internet Never Forgets,” and please let us know what you think on iTunes!

Music: “Shine” by Katie Thompson & Duffy Sylvander.

High-Pitch: Summer Bummer

Summer is not complete without a proper soundtrack, but what truly dictates the bookends for this fairest of seasons?

By Laura Gardiner

Summer is not complete without a proper soundtrack, but what truly dictates the bookends for this fairest of seasons? When and why do we transition from our spring shanties and into our autumnal anthems? Perhaps it’s the weather or perhaps it is something more.

Our Songs of the Summer

The songs we danced to, the songs we cried to: Robyn, The Ramones, Sublime, Ella Fitzgerald, Cardi B, and, of course, Prince.

Some songs were made for summer. Now that the end is upon us, we wanted to reflect on what was playing when we brought out the extra box fan, took scissors to last year’s jeans, and shook out our sandy coolers. Given the state of the world, no one will begrudge you an escape to some sugary pop or soul-hugging ballads, so listen deeply.

Saira: “Dancing on My Own,” by Robyn

"I'm just gonna dance all night
I'm all messed up, I'm so out of line
Stilettos and broken bottles
I'm spinning around in circles."

This summer, I danced, I hiked, and I swam. I stayed up way too late and sometimes slept way too early. I was daring. I was scared. I was honest, but occasionally not honest enough. I ended things that were going nowhere and started things that may go somewhere. I fell in lust and I fell out of like. And I did it all with Robyn on repeat. I know this song is old–seven years old to be exact–but, this summer, the song gave me new meaning and reminded me that, sometimes, I just wanna twirl around and dance all night. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.  

Gabrielle: “Doin’ Time” by Sublime

"Summertime and the living's easy
And Bradley's on the microphone with ras m.g.
All the people in the dance will agree
That we're well qualified to represent the LBC
Me, me and Louie run to the party
Dance to the rhythm it gets harder."

As Sublime fans know, the original version of this song doesn’t actually begin with lyrics about summer. But no matter the version, this track will always make me think of hot days at the beach, greasy sunglasses, ice cream melting on my hands and sand in my bathingsuit. The first tinkling notes and scratchy vinyl pops remind me of Rockaway boys on longboards, nights building bonfires and afternoons baking in the sun. I play this album in its entirety every summer and I intend to continue the tradition forever.

Frida: “Don’t Fence Me In” sung by Ella Fitzgerald

"Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don't fence me in."

Though this song – originally written by Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher in 1934 – has been covered countless times, for me there is only one version. Ella Fitzgerald’s incomparable voice seems to follow the direction of the lyrics and burst through its restraints; it’s impossible not to sing (or in my case, shout) along outside on a sunny day or inside a store, where I’m convincing myself I really can pull off a cowboy hat.

Laura: “Rockaway Beach” by The Ramones

"Chewin' at a rhythm on my bubble gum
The sun is out, I want some
It's not hard, not far to reach
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach."

Though The Ramones released “Rockaway Beach” in 1977 when New York City was a far cry from the New York City of today, this summer song remains evergreen. This unlikely beach anthem by the punk quartet laments the age-old dilemma for Manhattan and Brooklyn-ites alike: how the fuck are we gonna get to the beach?  

Sara: “Raspberry Beret” by Prince

"She wore a
Raspberry beret
The kind you find in a second hand store
Raspberry beret
And if it was warm she wouldn't wear much more
Raspberry beret
I think I love her."

In 2016, we lost the magical Prince, but he lives on through his music. I felt the sultry vibe of this song all summer. To me, it’s a song about spotting someone and immediately being drawn to them—whether it’s that “raspberry beret,” a fresh tan, the perfect man bun, or the whole swagger. A summer fling anthem at times–it played during a few of my fave summer moments: eating fish tacos at Rockaway Beach, dancing on a roof overlooking the city, and cruising through the countryside on the way to Storm King Art Center. Plus in the music video he’s wearing a dreamy baby blue suit patterned with clouds. Blue skies baby–if that’s not what you want to see all summer, then I don’t know what is.

Monica: “Bodak Yellow [Latin Trap Remix]” by Cardi B

Soy la más dura en la calle, know you prolly heard of me
Me busca, me arreglé los dientes, hope you hoes know it ain't cheap
Pago la renta de mi madre y no dependo de nadie

When I think of the drumbeat to my summer, I think of Cardi B, the Bronx reality TV star who endlessly hustled her way into a rap career. She snickers, she’s ronca loud, she’s the woman who threw down the gauntlet and declared in no uncertain terms, “if a girl have beef with me, she gon’ have beef with me…foreva,” and when that phrase went viral, she had the business savvy to turn it into a single.

It’s the English version of “Bodak Yellow” that’s become the highest-charting Billboard single by a female rapper since Nicki Minaj, but I enjoy the Latin Trap version, because I admire the ease with which Cardi B slips between the two languages, one more lesson of confidence Cardi’s taught me. When I channel Cardi B’s self-assured bark of “Lil bitch, you can’t fuck with me ni aunque tú quieras” on the subway, men don’t sit next to me on the train, bless.

In “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi B boasts how she can get men to buy her carteras and Yves Saint Laurent, but she’s also honest about the effort it takes to pay her Mama’s bills. Fixing her teeth took money, so “hope you hoes know it ain’t cheap.” Listening to her, I’m reminded of Zadie Smith’s explanation on why rappers love talking about their stuff.

“Boasting is a formal condition of the epic form,” Smith writes. “And those taught that they deserve nothing rightly enjoy it when they succeed in terms the culture understands.”

High-Pitch: Bare It All

Ballads that bare it all come from deep within, but what about the strains and shanties that channel from the inside to the out?

By Laura Gardiner

Ballads that bare it all come from deep within, but what about the strains and shanties that channel from the inside to the out? From inner assessments to outward dreams, these tunes investigate the abhorrence, actions, and ultimate acceptance of the one thing we cannot physically escape; our bodies.

High-Pitch: Watch Your Language

Arias without articulation; jazz without jargon; lyrics without locution aren’t lyrics at all. Music is a universal language; an expressive entity that blurs borders and towers translation.

Arias without articulation; jazz without jargon; lyrics without locution aren’t lyrics at all. Music is a universal language; an expressive entity that blurs borders and towers translation.