November 29, 2010

Laura Barrett//Robot Ponies

Cyber Monday Mail
What is Monday Mail?

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was spent with family and good friends, and was fantastic as usual. Thanksgiving is a great American holiday. For the most part, it transcends religion, race and a lot of the other kinds of identity bullshit that can often trip us up. It unites us as people who all live together in this weird country. It reminds us to really give thanks for all our blessings.

Granted Thanksgiving also comes with some issues—mainly Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It’s as if it’s not enough just to be happy with what we have, WE NEED MORE! WE NEED DEALS! YEAH!

I would be derelict in my duties if I didn’t mention that I spent some of my Thanksgiving working, writing retail copy for various emails going out on Cyber Monday. And in celebration of this Cyber Monday, I thought I would post a song that fits with the theme.

You might remember Doug Hoyer from a few weeks ago. Well, in our email exchange, he sent me this:

I was going to ask:

Have you heard of Laura Barrett? Since we're talking about sci-fi songs...

She's a friend of mine from the Toronto area, who does her own thing but also plays in a Canadian group called The Hidden Cameras. For her solo output, she mostly plays kalimba, and honestly reminds me of Kate Bush.

But she has this song called Robot Ponies, about Christmas time for children in the year 2053. It's both beautiful and a bit spooky, I find.

She has a video here:

Also, on her first full length she has lots of sci-fi titled songs (sometimes the theme isn't as obvious). I remember calling her out on the instrumental she named after a Ray Bradbury short story, "Escape to the Sun Dome" (along side other futuristic numbers like "To the Stars!" and "Star Seed: the Musical"

It might not be up your alley, but I think you might dig/appreciate it!

I have to say, since I first listened to this song, I have been completely obsessed with it. It’s so atmospheric. Spooky is the right word. Those kalimba sounds deliver a stark , sad feeling, perfect for a song about the consumerism of the future.

The lyrics are basically an advertisement for, well, robot ponies—the dream toy of all children in 2053. They ponies have a variety of functions. Some can swim (“we made those babies airtight”). Some are useful for cheering up old people (“the robot pony geriatric ranch”). The best part: they all whisper the affirming, “you know best.”

Witty and melancholy, wryly funny like a Vonnegut novel, this song is an amazing comment on American consumerism. You know best.

Robot Ponies.mp3

Tennis, golf and basketball,
These robot ponies do it all,
The fucking love it all.
They’ll tuck you in at night and sing to you,
“You know best.”

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