Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 List

This year has really flown by, and unfortunately nothing has really meant as much to me, musically, that's new this year, as last year.  I can't say for sure if that's because of the new music that I actually heard, or because of other things in life.  Either way, I always look forward to this time of year because it gives me lots of things to newly discover/catch up on by letting my friends do the grunt work for me.  In any case--let the list begin! (I don't really have much to say this time around, but I'll do my best)

 15.  Mark Henning - Jupiter Jive

 Spacy, fun minimal-house type stuff.  This kind of thing I've been listening to a ton of lately, but not a lot of it has really stuck out as particularly above the rest.  The Luciano Fabric mix was really good, and so were a couple other mixes, but I figured this makes the cut as being actually a solo album.  In some ways it stands in also for the inordinate amount of listening time devoted this year to the Resident Advisor podcasts.

 14.  Jesus & Mary Chain - The Power of Negative Thinking

 I'm so glad that this was a 4 disc set, because I don't think it would be nearly as much fun/make me feel nearly as vacant if it were only one or even two discs.  Fantastic stuff.  I guess maybe this is cheating because it's not "new" but whatever.

 13.  Nico Muhly - Mothertongue

 Certainly one of the most interesting albums I heard all year.  At first I kind of just thought that the whole first piece was annoying, but after repeated listens it opens up a little.  The suite with Sam Amidon (I forget just now what it's called) is incredible, and I saw them do it live in a church, which was great.  They're very nice people (Vermont types, you know).

 12.  Lindstrom - Where You Go I Go Too

 It's really good, guys.  This might've ranked higher if I had just listened to it more, but for whatever reason I didn't.

11.  Mount Eerie - Dawn / Lost Wisdom

 I'm a sucker for Phil Everum, and both of these do the trick.  They're particularly nice in conjunction, being able to hear some of the songs that were on LW in earlier, even rawer form on Dawn.

 10.  Dj/Rupture - Uproot

 There are certain things that are pleasurable just because someone is so good at doing them.  Burn after Reading, for example, was not a particularly great movie, but I enjoyed watching it just because those guys are so damn good at making movies.  This is like that, except it's also good in and of itself (bonus!).

 9.  Deadbeat - Roots and Wire

 Kind of a surprise for me, in that I happened to randomly see it on a blog somewhere and thought I'd give it a whirl.  I really didn't expect to get so caught up in it.  A lot of stuff like this works great for background music, but there's something about the particular flow of this album that really forces me into it.  If i start listening to it and have to stop for some reason it really bothers me.  That's a good thing.

 8.  Cut Copy - In Ghost Colors

 I didn't find out until just recently that these guys were Australian.  That makes so much sense.  I actually often can't tell songs apart on this album, but I like it all anyway.

 7.  Los Campesinos! - Hold on now youngster

 I usually hate music like this, but there's something so infections and happy about this that I can't help but just love it to pieces.  Maybe I associate it with the first time I heard You! Me! Dancing!, which was on a mix Hamz made me, which made me very happy.  They're very funny and earnest and I imagine they fall over a lot.

 6.  Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

 This is sort of like Earth but doesn't leave me quite so depressed.  I just recently got this, and wish that I had had it for a long, long time. 

 5.  Jamie Lidell - Jim

 Oh Jamie.  How I love thee.  I saw him here in Philly with my friend Jess this summer, and it was fantastic.  He's such a nerd.  And, his guitar player wears a freakish Evil Knievel suit.

 4.  Mavis Staples - Live: Hope at the Hideout

 Shit, just listen to it.  She verges on self parody at points, with how aggressive/raunchy her voice gets, and its utterly fantastic.

 3.  Cool Kids - Bake Sale / That's Stupid Mixtape

 In terms of "things in the world that make me happy" this ranks up there.  Witty lyrics and stories, sick beats, and you know they're having fun doing it, which is something that sometimes I need more of in my life (okay, most of the time).

 2.  Bon Iver - For Emma, forever ago / Blood Bank EP

 Okay, so For Emma is just fantastic, truly, but it's also been incredibly hard to listen to because it's so emotionally wrenching.  Beyond that, though, the Blood Bank EP just solidifies it, particularly his Autotuned-out "The Woods" which is quite simply the most terrifying thing that I've heard in a long time, maybe ever. 

 1.  M83 - Saturdays = Youth

 I've never before liked M83, much as I tried.  This album, though, has been the one this year that I most consistently come back to, over and over again.  It's good when you're up, it's great when you're down.  There's an effortless quality to it that makes it that much more affecting.


 As I noted in my previous post, I really kind of consider Portishead to be outside of this whole scheme, at least in how I relate to the music.  So, just so you know, I love that too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 pre-listing

I'm going to be making a list (hopefully soon) but here's just some general end of year thoughts...

A Series of 10 Musings on Music and Me, circa 2008.


An Old Friend Returns

I started getting really anxious about doing a year-end list, because that would mean that I'd have to quantify and place the new Portishead album, which seems like an unrealistic task.  It's not even that I like it so terribly much (I do) but more that it occupies a space somehow closer, more remembered, than the rest of music right now.  What would it mean to talk about Mark Henning (whose album Jupiter Jive really is great) and Portishead right next to one another?  It wouldn't make any sense.

Vampirical History and 80s Pop

If we're going to talk about the most important musical things in my life of this past year, one of the most edifying and memorable ones was in September, me, my girlfriend, and one of my best friends rode our bikes to an old church here in Philly, went into a teeny chapel, took a seat in a pew, and watched unfold before us the behemoth that is The Jolly Ship Whizbang.  They  performed Straight Up Vampire:The History of Vampires in Colonial Pennsylvania as Performed to the Music of Paula Abdul (a Gothic Political Romance).  It was almost exactly like what it sounds like, except way, way better than you could ever imagine.


Old Noise

There was a period in the spring where for about a month and a half, all I wanted to listen to was Big Black, Rapeman, Butthole Surfers, Flipper, the Dazzling Cherubs, and their many not-too-dissimilar brethren.  And I wanted it fucking loud.  Then, all of a sudden it stopped, which is probably better in the long run, at least for my mental health.  I had a brief relapse, of a different sort.  Connected thematically, if not totally sonically, was the mind-numbing Jesus and Mary Chain B-sides collection--it hurts so good.


Hey, would you look at that?  I actually kinda like M83, turns out.

Or, at least the new one, Saturdays=Youth, which I keep going back to.  Maybe I should reevaluate the older stuff.  Probably not, though.


The Saga of Villalobos:  So minimal, I'll make your microscope break

As a sort of endurance exercise, sometimes in the studio I'll put on Fizheuer/Zieheuer.  On repeat.  Just clicking the button makes me giggle.  

Anyway, that's sort of an outlier.  The rest of the time I was listening to pretty much everything else Villalobos has put out.  I think maybe it's got something to do with missing Germany, but also (and this applies more broadly to all the minimal/micro/deep-house/tech that's been in near non-stop rotation for me this year) there's something strangely comforting about having more familiar human touches (voices, for example) completely gone.  Maybe it's because I can just ignore it--I'm not ruling that out--but I don't think so.  

With this I do have to specifically mention the Luciano nina simone edit, which I can just listen to over and over and over.  The Mark Henning album is nice because it's like this but, you know, has a sense of humor, and Deadbeat's Roots&Wire is almost like a novel.  But, you know, a novel about a club.

 Quiet Times

You can read about the Bon Iver album almost anywhere on one of these types of things.  Really, though, you should just listen to it.  It's certainly one of my favorites of the year, but I've been having an emotionally wrenching couple of months, and I can't really listen to it much.  It's just too hard.  The Mount Eerie (w/ 2 other people who's names I forget) Lost Wisdom is sort of similar, but less visceral, in a good way.  I also love the second song, Voice In Headphones, as a really great way of making music about music that actually keeps the urgency.


Sometimes, Music Makes Me Really Happy

Los Campesinos! and Jamie Lidell both totally fall into this category.  Also the Mavis Staples album, in particular the part in "Why Am I Treated So Bad," about 3 minutes in when she starts just talking about her grandma, and that segues into her and the band humming/singing without words.  It lasts about a minute and a half before she gets back into singing the song proper.  It's one of those moments that reminds me how much I love music.  This sort of thing lasts almost throughout the entirety of the Aretha Franklin Rare and Unreleased comp. that came out last year but I didn't get to til this year.  Untouchable.

Also--The Cool Kids.  


The Disappointments

There are two in particular that immediately spring to mind, and whaddaya know, but that they're actually related.  I remember a period of time where I would wax enthusiastically to friends of mine that hadn't heard TV on the Radio about how they were truly, genuinely doing new and interesting things, that they made me think about the possibilities still left in rock.  This was roughly the first two months after I first heard Young Liars and a couple of tracks from Desperate Youth.  I saw them about a year or so after the absurdly titled Return to Cookie Mountain, and while that album didn't do much for me, the power of their live show is undeniable.  Gradually, though, they became one of those bands that in my head grew better and better even while I never really listened to them anymore.  Then, I heard about Dear Science, coming out, and got all excited.  Turns out, though, not so good.  Even as people spill much digink about how great it is, it leaves me totally and completely bored.  What's missing is that, in the early stuff (and this particularly applies to OK Calculator, which I still totally adore), even when the music was sing-along-able, or could totally get you grooving, there was still an undercurrent of something deeply unsettling.

The second disappointment was one that, had it not been, I might have literally exploded.  A Tom Waits tribute album, by ScarJo, with David friggin Bowie on it?!  And, of course, production by Dave Sitek (he of TVOTR fame).  If this thing had actually turned out really good, I think it would have completely turned over what I could and should expect from the world.  The fact that it's so-so (although not as bad as it could have been) is somehow reassuring.


James Brown

I've listened to James Brown almost incessantly this year--it's been the one thing that I can really point to that sticks out as continuous thread.  Does this really need any explanation?  


Other Things I really liked, that came out this year, without a snappy title

Cut Copy, Dj/Rupture, Windy and Carl, Nico Muhly, Earth, School of Seven Bells, and Mr. Oizo.  I haven't made up my mind about the new Kanye yet, but I'm leaning towards the "This is incredible" opinion.  It could go the other way though.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007....rhymes with heaven?

Before we get into this, please check back within the next couple days/weeks, as I plan on updating this by a) expanding the list (15? 20? 23?  It might get cuh-razy!) b) having a thing about my biggest musical disappointments of the year, and possibly c) movies?  art?  not sure.  Regardless, hit it up.  Also, big ups to E-harv (the elder guru type linked to the right) who graciously is upping my exposure on his blog.

Top Ten 2007


So, because I’m noncommittal and can’t ever be definitive about “favorite albums” ranked (dear god, you should see me stutter when people ask about songs).  Most of these could probably be shuffled around, one might get dropped for another album, and so on, but it’s pretty close, with one exception—my number one is my mother-f-ing number one, for damn sure.  Oh, and song of the year?  Sean Kingston, “Beautiful Girls.”  Did people forget or something?

1. Panda Bear – Person Pitch


As soon as I decided to move to Philadelphia, the first thing I did was to go online and buy a ticket for the Panda Bear show (1 of 4 in the US).  You wouldn’t think that it’d be that great of a concert, given that it’s just a dude and a couple samplers and a mic, but I’m here to tell you how wrong you’d be.  Don’t get me wrong—I totally and completely was in love with this album before I went.  After seeing it live, though, with the transitions all transitiony, and the bass (dear god, the bass) all the liner notes about dance music began to make so much more sense, and it was like I was listening to entirely different music.  If you didn’t see any of the shows, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

What’s so great is that the album is all about moments—the songs show an almost complete disregard for structures.  It’s like he said, man, what this song really needs right now is to be like this other song—and then he just did it!  So, it’s like it’s just parts of songs, but only the really good parts, and not the expected, everybody-loves-them good parts that you’d expect, but the parts that you listen to by yourself late at night and think you’re the only one in the world who appreciates it (there are numerous bridges to songs by this little band, Boston, not sure if you’ve heard of them, that can have this effect).  So, he takes these moment-structures that you’re pseudo-familiar with, and uses samples (moments) to create new ones, which then create a larger moment of the song, which is really only a part of the even larger moment (meta-moment?  Yes, please) of the album.

What it comes down to?  I don’t know if I’ve ever not wanted to listen to this album.  It makes me happy, not because it tries to but because it is, and, given all the shit going on in the world and my life right now, I’m thankful for some happy things to hold on to.  (see above comment about “Beautiful Girls” for further comment).


2. Daft Punk – Alive


I did not shell out the 40 bucks, plus bus fare, plus booze/food money and other incidentals that it would have cost to go see Daft Punk and the Rapture in Brooklyn this summer.  If there had been even one person (Tronster) with me in Philadelphia that I could have done a mutual convincing act with, I so would have been there.  As it is, there wasn’t, we didn’t, and I didn’t go.  Thank fucking God that there’s this, then.


3. Burial – Untrue


Man, I love trip-ho…er, uh, dubstep.  OMG, IM TOTALLY KIDDING!  No but seriously—I do love trip-hop, and I do love dub-step, and they sound a lot alike, but this doesn’t really sound like either.  It does sound awesome, though.  For me, it started being a lot more poignant when I thought about the way in which its sort of an inverse of Person Pitch—it’s sampled vocals over original instrumentation, instead of P-Bear’s vice-versa being the obvious formal way, but in general feel, too.  You can get it from looking at the album covers as well—the sparse, somber darkness of Burial (and guys?  “Burial”) versus a kiddie pool filled with good times (ahem….”Panda Bear”).  Yet, they both manage to do this interesting thing of making totally organic and primally hyoo-man music.


4. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam


The very first track on Strawberry Jam is sort of like a mission statement for Animal Collective—there’s a goofy sample (what the eff is a boneface?), weird noises that become really rhythmic, gentle singing contrasted with scratchy yelling, strange imagery, etc.  In almost any other case I can think of, I would hate if a band did that—it seems like it would take away from their actual songs, if you could just distill it like that.  Somehow, though, Peacebone is still a great song, and it’s not even the best song on the album (they’re almost all really incredible, but I think my vote might be for Reverend Green, largely because I still don’t know who that is, but also because of Its fantastic chorus).  Next year looks to be a banner year for the guys—new EP, new LP, box set, probably like a billion more leaks and bootlegs, and knowing them, like a giant pudding sculpture.  I say bring it.


5. MIA – Kala


Blahblahblahshe’ssorevolutionaryblahblahblahohmygawdneworderandthepixiesINTHESAMESONGblahblahblahitsanewkindofprotestmusicblahblahblah.  Throw in some more important words that cultural anthropologists and their critics use, too.  I'm not downplaying what people have written about MIA and Kala; in fact, I think that some of it is very cogently written and interesting to boot (big ups, Eric!), and there's probably not much that I have to add.  But I think a lot of those conversations stray, to their own detriment, too far away from the fact that it's catchy pop/dance music.  Slogans are slogans but they're also hooks--and dammit if these aren't some good ones (er, hooks, not necessarily slogans).    Not saying that this supercedes the political implications or possible lack thereof of what she's doing but that it's a really important part to it, because it makes you want to listen to it over and over, and show your friends and put it on mixes and *coughsanxiously* year-end lists.


6. Boys Noize – Oi Oi Oi


I think for me it was inevitable that writing about this album would end up being also about why Justice’s album isn’t in my top ten.  I mean, really, they’re pretty similar (clangy drums? Check.  Buzzsaw effect?  Check.  Mostly mid-tempo bangers? Check) and I was way more stoked for the Justice album but I just ended up listening to this way more.  In large part, I think its because Justice can’t be separated from their capital-C Coolness—marshall stacks, great T-shirts, gnarly post-post-post-ironic facial hair, etc., and while all that is great, Boys Noize feels more like he’s just in love with the fun of the music.  Lot’s of unexpected Afrika Bambaataa influence, too, which is always a winner.  And the song “Oh!” just fucking kills.



Okay, brief interlude.  Why am I bored with guitars, and rock&roll this year guys?  Is it just me?  It’s gotta be, right?  Please?  I keep trying to get back into things rock, but it almost never works.  I kind of miss it.  L ***update--I totally forgot about Los Campesinos "You!Me!Dancing!" which is my obi-wan.



7. Michael Cashmore (f. Antony) – The Snow Abides


I’m a sucker for strings played really well.  I’m also a sucker for Antony.  And this is one of those whole-being-greater-than-the-sum type deals.  It’s funny, because I always thought before that Antony, as both character and voice, made sense as a cabaret star, but I never thought to make the logical conclusion, as he finally does here, from kitschyish diva to full-on serious diva.  Plus, I’m not sure how many people can sing about “ecstatic butterflies” and not make me retch.


8. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights (plus, obviously, “I’m not gonna cry”)


So, apparently this retro-soul thing has been going on for a while; this is Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ third album.  My only question:  where the FUCK have I and everybody else been?!  You know how when you listen to old James Brown and James Carr and Bettye Swann and Smokey records, and you wish that people still made music like this?  They do.  Start here.  And read O-Dub’s soulsides blog, religiously.  I don’t do it enough, but should.


9. LCD Soundsystem – Sounds of Silver


Writing about this album would be kind of pointless for me.  Go read what somebody/everybody else already did.  But before that, listen to it.  And listen to it some more.  Because only after you’ve listened to it a bunch of times will all the hyperbole being bandied about make sense. 

Extra Special Bonus points because I got an e-mail from a friend expatting in Europe right now mentioning the song “North American Scum”’s narcotic drunken-make-out-inducing capabilities that was hi-frigging-larious.


10. Le Loup – The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millenium General Assembly


I think the thing that makes this okay for me is that I really don’t listen to much music like this, or at least not so much anymore, so I don’t really have a frame of reference that might color someone else’s appreciation of it.  I think it’s really pretty, and made very lovingly, and I’m a sucker for music that’s made by what sound like really, really awkward people.  Remember Black Bear last year?  Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


So, the preface to this whole “list” thing is that I, unfortunately, have not listened to nearly as much new music as I’m sure most of you have. A lot less, actually. I frequently get caught in ruts where all I want to listen to for a week and a half is old Animal Collective stuff. This happens far more frequently than it should, I fully understand. For that reason, my top fifteen list is more of a list of all of the new stuff that I’ve really, really liked this year, and not so much a comparison to all the other albums that so many people raved about. Which is why I’ve also included, underneath my top fifteen, a list of twelve or so other albums which I’ve only heard partially, and therefore couldn’t really consider, or that I haven’t heard but want to, and sometimes have Ideas (note the capital “I”) about what they sound and look like. Also, take note that I’ve never written something like this before, so I’m not that practiced in writing in this style. Plus, I far too frequently use the word “awesome.” And "frequently."

So, with prefatory statement in mind, here it is:

The Big, Bad, Awesome Top 15

Justice – Waters of Nazareth EP (+ We Are Your Friends)

Is it fair to have my top album be based off of two songs from an EP and an unconnected single that's actually a remix and was, I think, actually released a few years back? Probably not, but fuck it, it's my damn list.

When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of bad metal (both nu- and not) and some better punk and hardcore. I was also very, very into trip-hop, and a lot of hip hop, and, you know, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. The reason I bother to mention all of this, is that I think I would have liked this in High School, because it seems like such a great amalgamation of so much of that, but, you know, better. This tops my list just from sheer amount of times listened, and obsessiveness that it inspired. One day this summer I put my headphones on and literally listened to Waters of Nazareth on repeat for three fucking hours. Even though the whole thing isn’t uniformly great, between the title track and the DJ Funk remix of Let There Be Light, this is the bee’s knees.

As a testament to how much I love this, it still tops my list, even though I went to Chicago to see them, got kicked out of the stupid bar, and waited outside in the cold for something like four hours. I thought I might resent it, that it might be soured for me, but two days later at Scholartron 1.6uster I couldn’t have been happier. Big ups, Rhino.

Man Man – Six Demon Bag

During the summer I’d listen to this album probably almost every day. I remember telling E-Harv that the first thing I thought when I first heard Man Man was that, if I had to pick a band that would best encapsulate what I love in most of the music that I listen to, this would be it—there’s humor, danceability, strange percussion, bleeding-throat screaming, gentle parts, strange imagery, and, you know, awesomeness.

Bonus points for this album also come because Brooke, my boss this summer at the Visual Resource Center at DePauw, a generally quiet, demure, country-girl from Minnesota, LOVES Man Man.

Liars – Drum’s not Dead

Most of what I could hope to say about this album has been said better than What I could hope to here. This might have been, with the exception of what’s directly below, my most anticipated album of the year, and here’s why: I had listened to They Threw Us In a Ditch, and liked it, but hadn’t heard They Were Wrong until this year, when I found a copy (actually, lots of copies) in a second hand bin at a record shop in Paris. I remembered everybody really hating it, but it was only 6 euro, so I got it. And, oh man. Oh man. So, when I heard that Liars were coming out with a new one, recorded in Berlin, I figured it would be even scarier, aggressive, nasty, and beautiful. When I first heard Drum’s Not Dead, it was those things, but didn’t sound like what I was expecting. I think I said to someone that it wasn’t nearly as aggressive as I had anticipated. But, on repeat listens, I recognized that it wasn’t that it wasn’t as aggressive, it was just aggressive in a completely different way; a subtler, more complex, infinitely scarier way. And this, my friends, is what I like to call super-duper.

Tom Waits – Orphans

Oh Tom Waits. I almost cried when I didn’t get tickets to your show in Chicago this summer. This isn’t even technically a “real” album, but a collection of songs that were just sort of lying around. Can you imagine? How sweet would it be to be friends with Tom Waits? I bet he’d never bum you cigarettes, or if he did he’d make you do something weird like make out with a fish and keep it on your head the whole time you smoked, or something like that. Although I’m a little unkeen on the idea of compartmentalizing his stuff so rigidly, the variety within each disc makes it okay, and hey, that’s what iPods are for, right?

Beirut – Gulag Orkestar

This is one of those albums that I don’t remember really hearing about, as much as I remember hearing about the hype about it. Maybe I don’t read the blogs enough or something, but it seemed like most everything I read about it would preface their post by mentioning how hyped the album had been. Weird.

Anyway, the songs are haunting, I love accordions and mandolins. A lot of people talk about how weird it is that he’s nineteen, but to me it totally sounds like he’s nineteen, which is part of what the appeal of his music is. It’s filled with the kind of optimism, imagination, and over-wrought emotionality that _can_ come from people over thirty, but isn’t nearly as appealing or convincing when it does.

Ghostface – Fishscale

I’ve been a Wu-Tang head pretty much since I started listening to hip hop, and Ghostface has always been one of my top 3 MCs from the Clan (the others being RZA and yes, ODB). This album is simply Ghost doing what he does best—inventing and spitting new (and strange) slang, spinning incredibly vivid stories, using absolutely complex wordplay, and peppering his album with skits that I shouldn’t like as much as I do.

I don’t listen to as much hip hop as I used to, but this album makes me wish that I did. (And, although I’ll write more on this below, right now I think this is soooo much better than Hell Hath No Fury).

Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds

Until I was eleven years old, all I listened to was Michael Jackson tapes. JT is not Michael Jackson, and never will be, and as tired of a comparison as it is, it still makes sense. He makes unequivocally great pop music, can sing (AND dance) amazingly, and, most importantly, knows how to pick the best people in the business to work with (no, I’m not saying Timbaland=QJ, but…I mean, maybe?)

Just listen to “My Love.” Just….listen to it. And then listen to the last track on the album, “All over again (another song)”. Then do it again.

The Rapture – Pieces of the People You Love

They called one of their songs on this album “Whoo! Alright – Yeah…Uh Huh”

You should listen to that song. A lot. And watch the video, because it also is super. There’s crumping involved.

Also, you know, the rest of the album. And yes, the lyrics are really, really dumb sometimes (something about purple dragons? Really?) but fuck it. Plus, I have a soft spot for songs about cars (“Little Red Corvette”, lots of Beach Boys and Chuck Berrysongs) and “First Gear” just kills.

Joanna Newsom – Ys

When I first heard Joanna Newsom, I thought she sounded a lot like what Bjork would sound like if she grew up in Kansas instead of Iceland. That impression doesn’t really stick as much any more. With this album Newsom really seemed, to me anyways, to fully develop and flesh out things that she had wanted to in Mender but hadn’t. Before, it seemed like she was trying to fit into the paradigm of pop music, however uncomfortably that fit, probably because it was the only way she could record an album. This is not pop music. But it’s absolutely wonderful. It is, as Michael said, too much. Which is fine by me. I love too much. Especially when too much is so pretty, and well done, and the stories are so great. Is it okay that I love this album as much as I do, but still haven’t really taken the time to listen to all the lyrics? I know that they make complex, semi-cogent narratives and so on, dropping all sorts of strange references and whatever, but I’d rather just focus on when she goes “and the MEEteorITES”, and just take that for what it is.

The Knife – Silent Shout

This should be pretty self explanatory by this point. I got this from Chuckles last semester as I was writing my HoScho Thesis. At one point, I was at the library at one thirty in the morning, had gotten a total of ten hours of sleep in the past three days, and probably had a gallon and a half of coffee. And some bagels. I had this album on, and was writing, sort of ignoring it, and then I stopped and listened. I had to quit working for the night. I took the long way home, which requires a certain amount of planning, involving intentionally walking away from my house before walking towards it, and waited for the album to finish. I slept really well that night.

Grizzly Bear – Yellow House

I saw Grizzly Bear play in New York when I was there in 2005. They played the amphitheater at the East River Park, down in Lower Manhattan. It was a gorgeous day, and they were playing against a backdrop of the river and Brooklyn. I was there by myself, trying to take in the most of my last few weeks in the city. I didn’t want to like Grizzly Bear at first, because they seemed sort of hokey (the guy with the tank top and long blonde hair sitting on a blanket, playing a flute), but they really blew me away.

This album is all sorts of right. I haven’t listened to it enough times to be able to blather on about it, but it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – The Letting Go

Ditto this. I just got this from the Pile a little bit ago, and listened to it late one night holed away in the basement of Peeler. I really like that, whenever I hear Will Oldham sing, I can’t help thinking of his ridiculous beard/moustache, and his giant, baby-like head.

Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped

When I was about 12, I bought the early tracks compendium “Screaming Fields of Sonic Trees” (or something like that—I’m writing this without Internet connection so I can’t check) from Columbia House, because I knew they had toured with Nirvana or something. I listened to it once, got confused, and put it back in my pile of CDs. Cut to eight years later. Sonic Youth were playing in a Marimbe club in Queens on top of a gym. The night before I had seen (and been sorely disappointed by) Trail of Dead. Their failure was sooo thrown in relief by how amazing Sonic Youth were. It was like I was in a trance—their set was dominated by far more groovier songs than noisier or rockier ones, and although this album is pretty straight-forward rock-y, it’s also super groove heavy. In my eyes, the Youth can do no wrong (I’ve still never listened to NYC Ghosts and Flowers—should I?).

TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain

I wanted to like this more. A lot more. Don’t get me wrong, I love it (although I was fonder of it when it was in my iTunes as “Untitled (leaked new)” instead of the absurdly dumb actual title). But I thought it would be better. I still think TVOTR are doing all sorts of things that other bands aren’t—great use of loops, those Guitars!, and, of course, that voice—and doing them to make really compelling songs. And that’s why they’re awesome.

Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome

I convinced my parents to buy this album for me when they visited in September. Over the summer I had torrented all of the Boss’s albums, and listened to them with a sort of perverse fascination, tempered at times by genuine appreciation of his gentler albums (Nebraska, Tom Joad). I liked what I had heard about this album, and I really like it in real life, too, and mostly because it’s really, really fun.

Albums I’ve Listened To, But Not Enough To Feel That I Could Really Quantify Their Awesomeness Yet, But I Think They’re Swell, But They’re Not In Any Particular Order

Boris & Sun O))) – Altar

Read Jordan’s post. He’s much smarter than me.

That said, I listened to this for the first time the other day on the airplane coming to San Diego, the whole time in sort of a semi-lucid, hungry, greasy-faced, sitting next to strangers state. Awesome.

Sunset Rubdown – Shut up I am Dreaming
Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid – The Exchange Sessions
Herbert – Scale

I got these albums on an MP3 DVD E-Harv made for me. All of them sounded to me like “music I would listen to” but I just haven’t. I really liked them, though, when I did listen to them (especially The Exchange Sessions), and will try to spend more time with them.

Black Bear – The Cinnamon Phase

The way Hannah described this on her list, which was the first place I’d ever heard of this band, made me immediately Pile it (yes, I just used Pile as a verb, like Google, or Road Trip). I like that it sounds like they have no idea what they’re doing, and have probably thought about it way too much, without really coming to a resolution about it conceptually, and finally said “Fuck it, let’s just do it.” I feel like this very often.

Califone – Roots and Crowns

I heard this album last week, I think, at the ‘Prex, right after Michael got it on vinyl. We were listening to it sort of low, I think I was mostly talking with Jordan. You should read what Michael writes about it, something about it being a good whiskey-summer album. I also almost cried when I saw that it wasn’t fully on the Pile (ahem) so I wouldn’t be able to listen to it on the plane.

Hot Chip – The Warning

Everybody is heaping tons of praise on this album, and it’s really good, but I just haven’t spent any time with it. The thing I like about Hot Chip is their songs are all laced with a certain Hot Chip-ness, and I haven’t totally figured out what it is…something about the bass and drums working together or something. Anyway, it makes all of their songs and remixes sound the same without being boring or predictable. Me likey. Rest assured, I’ll be listening to this some more.

Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury

Like every thing else in this section, I really need to listen to this again. So far I’ve listened to it all the way through twice, and heard a couple of the songs (“Trill” “We Got it for Cheap”) a few more times. And I have to say—I don’t buy it. I really don’t. The beats are pretty uniformly great, but all the critical spew about Pusha T and Malice being so complex about the Coke game, and the incredibly new way in which they describe it/live it/wax a-morally about it. And I just don’t buy it. Plus, does anybody else think their voices are too high in the mix?

I dunno. I’m going to really try and give this more focused attention. Too many people I know love this album and have good, smart reasons for doing so (which doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll like it, because I still fucking hate Rubies).

Albums I Haven’t Heard At All, But Think That I’ll Think Are, You Guessed It, Awesome

Xiu Xiu – The Air Force
Cat Power – The Greatest
Espers – II
Boris –
Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

There’s probably lots more, too.