In 2005 I was doing my usual radio listening of East Coast Stations. The great thing about the Internet is the access to other markets and sometimes small town radio stations that aren’t afraid to play something new (unlike L.A. that waits for something to be a hit on the Eastern Seaboard before playing a song). That’s how I first heard Anna Nalick and the above- mentioned “Breathe (2AM)”. The first line caught me - “2AM and she calls me ‘cause I’m still awake, can you help me unravel my latest mistake? I don’t love him Winter just wasn’t my season...” The sense of urgency and desperation felt in those first lines are hard to ignore and hard not to listen to. At the time her album Wreck Of The Day was released she was 21. It’s an impressive debut – though not as impressive as Kate Bush releasing her first album, The Kick Inside, at the tender age of 16, and certainly the songs aren’t nearly as deep or as good, but it’s impressive, nonetheless.
As I listen to Wreck Of The Day I can’t help but think about Fiona Apple, and Avril Levigne, maybe even Nellie Furtado without the funkyness. Produced by the founders of Blind Melon, who broke up after that Shannon guy killed himself (I totally saw that one coming), Christopher Thorn and Brad Smith do a fine job and add the edge needed to make this a ‘hit’ album. But, for as much as I like the song “Breathe (2AM)” I don’t think there’s anything glaringly unique about this CD. She sounds like an edgier teen Pop Queen with better songs. Not the worst thing, but nothing all that new, either. She claims Tori Amos as an influence, which by default you can say Kate Bush, but I don’t hear it. I think in a few years, when she’s closer to 30 and done some living she’ll be really hard not to listen to. She definitely shows promise and I think she will get better with age, perhaps as she ‘Breathes’ a little.
It was Friday night in West Hollywood and Abby and I were desperate for a night out after the last few weeks of human sickness, cat sickness, and the year generally just not starting off on a good, or positive note. We met up at one of our favourite haunts, Basix, known for tasty, affordable food and a “Happy Hour” that goes from 5p – 7p. It’s a fun, neighbourhood place to go, we know a handful of the wait staff and are always greeted warmly. However, on this night, a little too warmly. One thing I will never understand about LA is it’s proclivity towards using heat lamps. Yes, in a town where the temperature rarely drops into the 30’s, and does so only in the middle of the night, if then, they use heat lamps to warm out door patrons in the ‘winter’ time.
I would say the temps were in the low 60’s when we sat down on the patio – a choice spot for rush hour traffic gazing, people watching and ‘fresh’ air. As I sat there, awaiting the 1st Martini of the night, I could feel an odd presence. I looked up, and it was there….the red glow of the dreaded heat lamp. Just like the salmon I was about to order, I was being grilled up, only without the sauce (though for many the Martinis might count), or the bok choi. I didn’t know what to do. Do I ask them to turn it off? Or down? What made it worse is that they had the clear ‘curtains’ down, enclosing us in a bubble. They serve to keep the wind out, heat in, and, unfortunately also, the smoke from the smokers. I felt trapped. No ‘fresh’ air and no breeze to dissipate the heat from that red glow.
After discussing it with Abby and looking around at the full patio I opted not to say anything, since I wasn’t the only person in that space. But still, I don’t understand why heat lamps are even necessary in this town. It’s never that cold – for god sakes, we don’t live in Maine! I LIKE the chilly air and the crispness of a cool night. If I wanted to be warm and toasty I would opt to eat inside and not fake it by sitting outside under a heat lamp. But that’s just me – I want to breathe when I eat.
Thanks for tuning in…Until next Monday….CHEERS!!