Archive for the ‘in which I totally geek out and alienate my readers’ Category

So, I started the year eager for some harder fare, but after a several weeks of grinding and droning on with the Whigs, Ladyhawk, the Foals, the Dodos, and pop punchsters Vampire Weekend, I found myself under a self-induced avalanche of Van Morrison and Elvis Costello, and then back at blues guitar, digging out Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and the lovely Big Mama Thornton (a new purchase for me) for a good soak. I’ve brushed up against some formidable folksters like Andy Gullahorn and the Jack-Johnson-being-eaten-by-a-panther sounds of Thao, and am still getting used to the new Weepies. Out of all that, a standout on the rock side has been the techneoise multiinstru-mentalists Throw Me the Statue and their funky-cool drummer, whoever that is (they might all be Scott Reitherman).

But, surprisingly, my first quarter pick (with Gullahorn coming in close second) is Sun Kil Moon’s April. I first came across Moon’s songwriter Mark Kozelek with the Red House Painters, I b’lieve this was ’bout the time of the Great P2P Rush of aught one. I dug the quiet, melodic stuff they were doing. This low, dawdling album reflects that charming hush; dense, but avoiding monotone or fuzzy, and always played like a late night serenade never intended for the neighbors. And as I’m scratching the surface of things lyrically, I’m finding that rewarding, too. The geography in “Lucky Man” pulls right into my driveway, and then he offers the lovely line, “I didn’t know my purpose, ’til I stood and sang.”

For all my whiddla whiddla posturing, the song’s the thing.


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Before I begin, let me just say, you won’t earn my love by reading the whole thing. It’s just nice to know you.

I’ve been so busy putting together a list of the Greatest Recordings Known to Humankind, 2007, that I didn’t have time to get around to this list of Albums I Really Liked This Year. I’ll let you know if I ever finish the other, but here are my top 10 albums released this year, ranked according to my taste in music from best (10) to most best ever (1). I’ll warn you in advance: it’s leans to the sweet
side this year.

Click on “Launch Standalone Player” below to hear samples (minus my #1 pick and 1/2 of my #8). Your browser may resize, but don’t panic, and things will work out for you.

10) Over the Rhine, The Trumpet Child: I had been away from Over the Rhine for a while, but this album drew me in close. I also picked up their Live from Nowhere album this year, and enjoyed that as I anticipated The Trumpet Child. The opener grabbed me immediately, and they kept my attention with a fluid consistency throughout. Played like a covers album, in a way, including an overt nod to Tom Waits and some moments of true Patsy Cline and Lady Day.

9) Deerhoof, Friend Opportunity: It was a great year for punchy, spasmodic alt-pop, with fantastic albums from Modest Mouse and Shapes and Sizes also getting lots of spin. But Deerhoof had this sort of whimsical fairy vibe underneath that made them least likely of the three to flail into me.

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cash advance

Get a Cash Advance

Note: That’s not my ad. I don’t recommend getting cash. I’m just not savvy enough to remove it. Smarts, for sure.

Another way of looking at this: All that education, and I still can’t write like a grad student (“no duh,” says Graduate School Community).

Actually, my understanding is that each of these online tests are individually scored by a committee at the Hoover Institution. Imagine what I could have accomplished if I had any capacity for grammar and syntax.

[Editor’s note: I failed to mention that if you want to see what we all should be shooting for, check out the genius over at Esoterically Speaking.]

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“Come on down to Crazy Don’s Toyota Superstore in Oxnard! We’ve got Camries, we’ve got Carrollae, check out these 2008 Prii, and our entire stock of Matrices!!”

I started wondering today if the Toyota people ever consider the possibilities. “A bunch of Cordobas” is rather graceless, in comparison.

Sometimes all the cars slow down, and you have time to think about this.

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1. The new Happy Apple. The old Happy Apple, for that matter. Back on Top.

2. This bumper sticker: “We are making more enemies than we can kill.”

3. This printed across the front windshield of the pick-up behind me in large, capital, ambulance-style reversed stencil print: “SLOW TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT.”

4. Randy Harris often says most of his friends are dead (meaning, mostly, the mystics and other folks in the cloud of witnesses). The other day he commented that the next best thing to a dead friend is a facebook friend.

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At Vons, the sign
hanging over the freezer aisle
reads:”Frozen Choices.”

(fade lights. exit stage left.)

I discovered that Vons (Safeway) were selling their DVD selection for 2/$10* (exclusively to Vons Club members, meaning only elite customers who can remember and reproduce their phone numbers). Discount on LeBlanc’s uproarious orangutan comedy Dunstan Checks In, you suppose? Bargain on Fallon/Latifa’s redefinition of the buddy cop genre, Taxi?

Yes, I thought so, too. But it turns out otherwise. Here are a few of the titles I remember seeing (in widescreen format, no less): Unforgiven; Before Sunrise; The Right Stuff; Dr. Strangelove; The Fugitive; The Fifth Element; Punch Drunk Love; Big Fish; Spiderman I & II (both Spidermen); and, the kicker, Das Boot (no pun intended).

Even the usual suspects were on the better-than-I’d-hoped side (oh yeah, The Usual Suspects): The Never Ending Story; My Best Friend’s Wedding; Oceans 12; You’ve Got Mail, even some classics whose titles I have forgotten. All actual real movies that people went to see. Well, there might have been a Steven Seagal or two.

At $5 a pop, you can’t do better for a scratched up used copy.** “Ingredients for Life,” to be sure.

*Being aware of this information does not mean that I bought a bunch of movies we don’t need. Define “a bunch,” anyway.
**The last time I got a deal this good on movies, it was on VHS tapes just before our VCRs became embarrassing.

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Gabe wrote a Modest Mouse review, way back in the days when WWDBtSES first came out, where he mentioned not being familiar enough with Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr’s previous work to pick out his impact on the Mouse. (Hey. lay off Gabe! This man teaches other people to write. Also, he is an internationally renowned published author. You pretty much better shut your mouth.)

Anyway, so this got me interested in whether I’d be able to pick Marr out of the pack, and on my early listens I really couldn’t. Ever since, I’ve been meaning to go back to the Smiths for a refresher course, and just this week I was able to make the comparison. Of course, it all comes flooding back, like riding a bicycle. Into a swimming pool. Marr’s mark is all over WWDBtSES, that high, effortless, trancy current, that taut, crunchy siren wail, those sweet afterthoughtul rhythms. Of course, it could just be other people who play like Marr did. There’s no telling. I’m a fanatic, but no connoisseur. (more…)

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