Mod Reviews

 A new weekly reviews post brought to you by Molly and Alicia!

Listen to this…

 (taken from &

Frida Hyvonen – Silence is Wild; Label – Secretly Canadian, November, 2008

After the holidays, I’m always on the prowl for new music. It seems like the month of December is spent in a Christmas-carol haze, so by January, I’m itching for something fresh and interesting. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the year than with Frida Hyvonen’s latest release, Silence is Wild. Hauntingly intimate yet refreshingly comforting, Silence is Wild is the perfect cold weather album.

Keep reading to see what else we’re listening to, watching, reading, and eating…

I’m a fan of the female singer-songwriter genre, but as of late, I’ve been bored with it. It’s gotten stale, bending to pop conventions and poor lyricism (Cat Power, what happened?). Luckily, Hyvonen breaks from this, putting a dash of Kate Bush and a pinch of Joni Mitchell back into the lady crooner bag o’ tricks. Hyvonen’s lyrics are powerful in their honesty, and her English-as-a-second-language-inspired phrases are often magical. The track ‘London,’ for example, has the sublime line “the way you want to get rid of me makes me weak in the knees,” perfectly describing that sickening/electric feeling of loving somewhere (or someone) that doesn’t love you.

Born in northern Sweden, Hyvonen’s sound is decidedly Scandinavian and vaguely reminiscent of Bjork’s Selmasongs – only a more uptempo, and without all the gut-punch sadness. That’s not to say that Silence is Wild isn’t emotional. It is. It deals with loss, rejection, longing and desire in a way that is both ethereal and physical at the same time. But, it does so simply and directly.

The sound is textured, often with layers of pianos, synthesizers, strings, and sweeping orchestral arrangements, but the vocals seem to ground each track. It’s as if Hyvonen’s voice keeps the songs from getting too carried away with themselves. She’s got a strong voice that can be quite elegant, but she’s not afraid to sound rough around the edges.

I’ve been waiting for a smart, complex album like Silence is Wild for a while.  It’s Joanna Newsom meets Carly Simon and Nelly McKay, and they all go to Kate Bush’s house to read Cosmo and eat cheeseburgers.  Hyvonen is high on my ‘artists to watch’ for 2009.


Watch this…

Eli: Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In-Tomas Alfredson (2008)

From what I gleaned watching the trailer, I was almost positive I would like Let the Right One InAn angsty, coming-of-age love story with vampires? This was sure to satisfy both the Freaks and Geeks and True Blood fan in me. Also, I had been smitten with that blend of melancholy and optimism that seems to be a fixture of Swedish cinema, or at least it seems so from my admittedly limited experience (Bergman films, My Life as a Dog).

If Silence is Wild is the perfect cold-weather album, Let the Right One In might be the perfect cold-weather film. (And it’s also Swedish, just like Frida!) Director Tomas Alfredson sets the mood well with a combination of poetic cinematography that allows for plenty of freezing-weather shots (thick sparkling snowfall, spectral forests, a warm hand on a cold windowpane) and Johan Soderqvists’s slow, piano-heavy score.

The movie follows Oskar, a lonely little boy who is dealing with the strains of a fractured home life and bullying and ostracization at school. He doesn’t seem to have a friend in the world until he meets Eli, the new girl next door. They meet outside at the apartment’s jungle gym and start talking, tentatively. And then thanks to that unwritten movie code that signifies that somebody is pretty special, a rubix cube is solved! From there, they proceed with cautious, but straightforward conversations that ultimately lead Oskar to ask Eli to go steady.

But, of course, Eli has a secret. A big one, actually. She’s a vampire and along with her caretaker who helps kill for her, she has been slaying and feeding on the townspeople! Luckily for Oskar, the best protection against vampires is to fall in love with one.

I liked this movie a lot. It’s all at once gory, tender, and really funny. There were a couple of moments that were so suspenseful I couldn’t watch and a couple of moments that were so tender, I teared up a bit (they involved hugs)! If you want to think about alienation, about who it is we decide to let into our lives and why we do, about how some people can handle the burden of loneliness and some people cannot, AND if you also want to see some unsuspecting Swedes get attacked by vampires, see this movie!


Read this…

 (top from & MissSandie.worpress; bottom from

Amy Sedaris – I Like You: Hospitality under the Influence; Publisher – Grand Central, 2006

There are so many reasons to love Amy Sedaris – her bizarre sense of humor, her ability to look both beautiful and grotesque at the same time, her quirky crafting ideas, her bunny named Dusty, her affinity for sticking googly eyes on food. I fell in love with her as Jerri on Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy, but she became my hero when she wrote the entertainment cookbook I Like You: Hospitality under the Influence.

Kooky and kitschy, this book is perfect for the chef and crafter alike. I Like You is the thinking gals’ guide for all things hospitality, blending witty sarcasm with down home cooking and party-planning tips. Sedaris explores our obsession with pleasing others, and she does so with cold cut cakes (called ‘Nice to Meet You‘ cakes), root beer floats, homemade gift wrap, and Telly Savalas chicken legs. With her advice, you’ll be ready to host ‘Sorry You’re Going to Prison’ parties, Blind Date parties, and even wakes with flare. Sedaris is also a chronic recycler, so most of her crafting ideas make use of stuff you’ll already have.

I love the layout and design of this book – it reminds me of my grandmother’s 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook, faded with handwriting and bits of cookie dough on the pages. A refreshing alternative to the Martha Stewert-style event planners, I Like You is fun, weird, and hilarious. It’s the kind of book that slaps Emily Post in the face, then gets her a cocktail and bakes her cupcakes to apologize.


 Eat this…

Chocolate Tortilla Chips

Chocolate Tortilla Chips from Food Should Taste Good.

A trip to the natural foods store is always an exciting experience for me. I like to fantasize buying giant cartons of milkshake-like goo that boasts it’s made of 10 green foods, (until I see the $32 price tag) or I’ll ogle all the different kinds of granola in their nicely-organized plastic tubs. Luckily, a new natural foods store just moved in really close to our office, Right by Nature. Today, while picking up some Kombucha, these Chocolate Tortilla Chips caught my eye. Made by Food Should Taste Good, these chips seem about as healthy and vegan-friendly as you can get in the world of chips; they’re all natural, gluten free, a good source of dietary fiber, kosher, trans-fat-and-cholesterol-free, and lactose-free!

At first bite, they were a little saltier and less chocolate-y than I expected, but the more I munched, the more I noticed the subtle cocoa flavor and aftertaste. Also, the website suggests crumbling them over ice cream, which sounds just about right, as i am a huge fan of mixing salty crispy treats with my ice cream. suggests topping them with mascarpone, which seems pretty delectable too.






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  1. Hannah 01/15/2009 at 11:18 pm #

    You guys are right…Frida Hyvonen sounds amazing…the best way as I can describe it is “fresh, raw, classic”…and the vampire flic Let the Right One In looks fantastic…it seems only foreign movie makers can make a vampire movie without it being cheesily overdone. I only wished I could live somewhere that these kinds of filmed are played at…*sigh*

  2. Gabrielle 01/16/2009 at 10:41 am #

    “I Like You” is fantastic! The boyfriend bought it for me for Christmas, and I’m positive it was the only time I read a book from cover to cover and then baked from it later that afternoon. Amy Sedaris is my hero.

  3. Alison 01/16/2009 at 1:56 pm #

    I’ve been in love with Frida Hyvonen for a few years, and I’m glad that her newer album is getting some more recognition, but I still think that Until Death Comes was much better. Strange as it is, that album is my go-to driving music.

  4. Angela 01/16/2009 at 3:50 pm #

    I saw Let the Right One In last week and I’m STILL thinking about it. You’re right, it’s gory but sweet too. I got teary eyed and also hid behind my friend during the creepy parts. One of the strangest and most interesting movies I’ve seen in a very long time. I recommend!

  5. Pam 01/17/2009 at 6:36 pm #

    Awesome Picks! I love Let The Right One In. I’m a sucker anything with vampires.
    mmm those chocolate chips look mighty tasty. hopefully I can find them.

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