May 11, 2011

and i never know when i’m holding you too tight

The last few nights I’ve been having trouble turning my mind off to go to sleep. So I decided to remember the simple, numbing glory of putting on a pair of headphones and letting the aural assault mute everything else clanking and pinging around in my head, high school style. Somehow as I’ve grown up, I’ve moved away from the falling-asleep-to-music, whether it was from sleeping beside someone, or wanting to be awake enough to hear the sounds in my house. As I’ve reclaimed and grown comfortable moving away from both of those, I’m taking back the headphones to sleep this week.

Last night my pick was the newest Rural Alberta Advantage album (which also made up a major part of my favorite SXSW moments), and the song that did it for me over and over again was “Muscle Relaxants.” It’s like certain songs from The National, where the drumbeat has an analgesic effect. I mean that quite literally. It uncaps some sort of pleasure receptors in my brain and a fuzz descends.

Muscle Relaxants – Rural Alberta Advantage

The entire album Departing is completely fantastic (other favorite tracks include “North Star,” “Barnes Yard,” and the terrific “Stamp,” but who’s counting). Like the feeling of the fog-blanketed desolation in the cover art, this is a record chronicling the holding tight and the letting go in nearly every song, every line. I plan to devote several more sleepless nights to it, at minimum.

It’s out now on Saddle Creek.

[rad poster by Brian Danaher]


  • I absolutely MUST listen to music as I fall asleep or right before I do. I also take what my friends have started to call “iPod naps” — where I put on headphones, lie down, and totally zone out for like a half hour. None of my friends really understand it, so it’s nice to hear someone else appreciates this, haha. Glad to add this song to the rotation!

    AngelHeadedHipster — May 12, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  • I remember days as a young kid spent falling asleep to Cubs games coming from the radio I had my dad put right above my bed. I miss those days terribly, both due to the awesomeness of baseball on the radio and because ‘adult responsibilities’ are not as much fun as ‘kid responsibilities’. Listening to music right before I fall asleep has become one of those simple pleasures in life that I look forward to. Nothing better than getting lost in a song in the pure black of night.

    I feel silly for being late to the RAA party, but I’m pretty obsessed now. I had a few songs from them before (that ‘In the Summertime’ acoustic version you posted was perfection) but just recently got into the new album and can’t get enough. It’s the perfect soundtrack for late night reflection. Nils is one of the most underrated songwriters out there right now.

    Adam — May 12, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  • awesome stuff, just ordered the album!

    Charlie — May 12, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  • I fall asleep to music almost every night. It feels weird, almost eerie, when I don’t. Usually it’s through speakers, but sometimes on trips, I’ll do it with headphones.

    Great album to fall asleep to. Lately I’ve been falling asleep to Fanfarlo (a couple of their EPs) a lot. That’s great music to fall asleep to.

    Adrian — May 12, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  • I hadn’t done this in years either, but the last few nights I’ve thrown Wye Oak on while falling asleep and it’s helped.

    Jesse — May 12, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  • I remember falling asleep listening to the radio;however,the glory of music sometimes over stimulates the senses , leaving heartbreak and dreams on typically too familiar terms.

    You write such fabulously emotive headings to your blog entries;dreamscapes for the heart’s yearning.

    russell — May 13, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  • This album is great. My fall asleep track would be the appropriately titled “Good Night”. Besides the drum beat which is hypnotic, it has amazing lyrics. I’ve probably listened to it 50 times since it’s release date. The RAA is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands.

    Beth — May 13, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

  • That’s not fog on the cover, it’s wind-driven snow, a pretty standard scene in these Alberta parts about half the year. A good chunk of Alberta is prairie, so snow gets whipped across roads as pictured, especially as many roads run north-south and the winds are from the west.

    Libarbarian — May 14, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  • rosy minded fuzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Mike — May 14, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  • Really like this album, “Stamp” is probably my favorite song. Here’s a clip I took of them playing at Coachella:

    Tremags — May 14, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  • Have you seen the music video for Stamp? It is awesomely hilarious, and I have watched it at least 25 times.

    Paul J — May 24, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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