Thursday, April 30, 2009

"I guess she spent her last quarter randomly..." - Music of 2009 Q1

In lieu of my usual end-of-year musical summaries, which are always a lot to take in, I am hoping to start a new trend of quarterly music summaries. (Admittedly, I'm already a month behind on this one.) The goal is to minimize the amount of reading material while maximizing the potential for those who spot something intriguing or something they were iffy on to discover a great album (or avoid a not-so-great one).

Discerning readers will immediately notice that not all of these albums came out in 2009 Q1. The list is more intended to capture my listening experience these first three months, rather than highlight new music only.

And yes, I think in quarterly terms now. I guess the corporate world has officially taken me over.


  • Army Navy, Army Navy - sunny, fuzzy guitar pop that's infectious as hell. Nothing overly remarkable, but I can't stop listening.
    Recommended tracks: "Dark as Days", "Sleight of Hand", "In the Lime".
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love - it's the Decemberists and it's a concept album. What else do you need to know? Why don't you have this yet?
    Recommended tracks: "Won't Want for Love", "The Wanting Comes in Waves", "The Rake's Song".
  • The National, The National - re-release of their debut album. Not as spectacular as Boxer or Alligator but that's a lot to expect.
    Recommended tracks: "The Perfect Song", "American Mary", "Theory of the Crows".
  • NODZZZ, NODZZZ - lo-fi garage rock for the ADD. I'm not sure there's a song here over three minutes, but they're all catchy and leave you wanting more.
    Recommended tracks: "Is She There, "In the City", "I Can't Wait".
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon - on a par with ATYCLB and way beyond HTDAAB, U2 fan extraordinaire Bill Gates described it as a journey through U2's entire evolution as a band.
    Recommended tracks: "Magnificent", "Moment of Surrender", "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight".

Decent But Unremarkable:

  • Blue October, Approaching Normal - lacks the raw power of Consent or the heart and variety of Foiled. But it's still Blue, so there's enough quality for a few spins.
    Recommended tracks: "Kangaroo Cry", "Dirt Room".
  • Cut Off Your Hands, You & I - completely adequate Brit pop-rock, but nothing more.
    Recommended tracks: "Turn Cold", "Heartbreak".
  • Dark Was the Night - solid compilation of the quieter side of indie rock. Sometimes too quiet, but oh well. No surprise my favorite songs here are from bands I love already.
    Recommended tracks: "So Far Around the Bend" (the National), "Well Alright" (Spoon).
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - more of what you'd expect from the assassinated archduke of Austria. Better than their second, close to their first.
    Recommended tracks: "No You Girls", "What She Came For".
  • The Lonely Island, Incredibad - a hip hop/R&B/comedy album from the same talented humor group that brings us SNL's Digital Shorts. Hilarious stuff, but doesn't invite lots of additional listens.
    Recommended tracks (and videos): "I'm On a Boat", "Lazy Sunday".
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - if the Cure met My Bloody Valentine in a bar, this would probably be the bastard child.
    Recommended tracks: "This Love is Fucking Right", "Come Saturday".
  • A.C. Newman, Get Guilty - second album from the driving force behind the New Pornographers. You'll miss their harmonies and Neko, but not the great melodies.
    Recommended tracks: "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer", "All of My Days and All of My Days Off".
  • Bruce Springsteen, Working on a Dream - Bruce and the E Street Band doing what they've always done, but it feels like it was better 20 years ago (or even on 2007's Magic). For die-hard devotees only.
    Recommended tracks: "Working on a Dream", "The Wrestler".

Stay Away From:

  • Glasvegas - I can't say there's not quality music here, and a few songs ("Geraldine", "Go Square Go") will garner repeat listens, but other tracks turn me off of this album.
  • The Shaky Hands, Lunglight - listened once, was very "meh" about it, so I never returned.

Potential highlights of 2009 Q2 include: the Hold Steady, the Thermals, Crystal Antlers, Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie (EP), Green Day, White Rabbits, Iron & Wine, Grizzly Bear, Wilco (may it be better than their last), Dead Weather (Ben, you've probably never heard of them, but they feature Jack White on drums), Sonic Youth, Rock Plaza Central, Dinosaur Jr., Third Eye Blind, the Lemonheads, Sunset Rubdown, and theoretically Five Dollar Friend. Yep, lots of upcoming music folks. Get excited!

"I never try to find you
I hope you don't remember me
I hope you're not alone"
- the National, The Perfect Song

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"What do you want me to say?"

Wow, way to guilt trip me Post. Yeesh.

Did it ever occur to anyone that if people, government and corporations, were acting fiscally responsible in the first place, none of this would have happened? Sigh...

(Just watch, now I'm probably gonna lose my job tomorrow for having the audacity of claiming I have job security and fiscal responsibility.)

On another note, I'd like to request a moment of blog silence for the 32 Hokies that died two years ago today.


And that's all I have to say about that. As Jeff said, "What is it about April, anyway?"

"Tonight bright stars are shining for you
Oceans and full moons, deep midnight blue"
- Sun Kil Moon, Tonight the Sky

(Bonus points to anyone who gets why that lyric suddenly occurred to me.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

"I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere..."

Looks like I'm starting a tradition of sharing semi-profound but more accurately subversive thoughts on Good Friday. Last year, I took issue with the very concept of Christians calling the day Christ died "good" (even though ultimately its outcome was). This year I want to talk about Judas (Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus, not Thaddeus, who was unfairly maligned by his namesake). For 2000 years, the name Judas has been synonymous with ultimate betrayal. And rightfully so. But something occurred to me about a while back: if Judas hadn't betrayed Jesus, would Christianity even exist? Wasn't it essential to the salvation of mankind that Jesus be crucified by the Romans, that at that moment he could absorb the sins of all mankind, that by a belief in him they might be saved? And if this is true, does Judas, traitor though he may be, not ultimately play a positive role in these proceedings?

Then of course there's the theory (seen in the Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ, and apparently borne out in the Gospel of Judas and elsewhere) that Judas was in fact Jesus's dearest friend, and that Jesus asked him to bear the burden of being the one who betrays him. It's an interesting concept, one that at least bears consideration today.

But anyway, Christians, enjoy (?) your Good Friday. (What do people generally do on Good Friday anyway? Growing up, I don't recall doing anything in particular. Oh well.)

"Judas ain't the only one
Who couldn't live with what he'd done
But if he hadn't, would you still be saved?"
- the Ultimate Self-Indulgence, My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma

Friday, April 03, 2009

"Freedom no longer frees you..."

Some news fragments courtesy of The Agitator.

Fledgling democracy Iraq has decided to exercise the apparent will of the people by executing gays.

Meanwhile, established democracy the United States of America attempts to reenact Kafka's "The Trial".

Incidentally, where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?

(In lighter news, I hope to have a Q1 music review up some time soon. Stay tuned.)

"And you said go to hell
And then I did"
- Deep Ella, I Don't Care