So much music sounds like it was made in and emitted from an empty black box, with everything flawed stripped out - but this is something else entirely. It's truly one of the most beautiful pieces of recorded art, a living breathing thing that evokes place, time, instrument and artist equally. I suggest headphones on a quiet night - and turn it up.
James Blake, James Blake
A sonically pleasing, subtly kaleidoscopic record that perfectly marries Blake's old soul vocals to newer forms of musical expression. His voice is particularly striking to hear live, but the record still captures its emotional power. The bass makes for several exceptional music-moments as well. Some music sounds good for a couple months, then the freshness wears right off, but this record has sexy slow burn staying power.
After seeing too many shows where a white guy fiddles with an apple laptop placed atop a metal-legged table wearing a white catering apron (the table not the artist), I'd temporarily sworn off anything "electronic" or even ambient, but this record brought me right back into the fold. This is a grand unfolding ode to the slower, deeper rhythms of landscapes. Best listened to from start to finish, and very loud.
Like seeing a flashing light in a grassy field, and finding that it's a shard of broken mirror reflecting the sun.
Beirut, The Riptide
Zach Condon has created a near-perfect marriage of his electronic indie pop and wild "world" music sides. His most personal record to date, it fills you with a truly inspiring sad-happy nostalgia.
When this screaming witch man from Olympia starts up, you'll get the distinct feeling that black metal has something to offer, and that other artists might not be trying as hard as they could be to push the boundaries of music. In my mind, this record evokes opera more than any other genre of music, albeit a pagan opera conducted at midnight around an enormous burn pile in the woods.
Chad Vangaalen, Diaper Island
Such a strange, sad, angry, pretty collection of pop songs. And while I don't know where Diaper Island is located, I'm starting to get the feeling I might actually be living there.
The perfect suicide-contemplation music, and everyone knows you have to have some of THAT in your collection. Poland rules.
Maybe it's because the background color of this pre-made template is a cross between "fake leg" and "paper bag"- or maybe it's because everything I ever think of, or see, has already been blogged or posted, tumbled or tweeted by the time I get around to remembering I even have a blog: video of policeman helping ducks cross multi-lane freeway at rush hour - check; floating opera stage with giant skeleton holding open a book - check; American Apparel visible-pubic-hair print ads - check; the fact that the former editor of Paris Vogue looks a lot like The Grinch - wait, wait, I think I came up with that one. Well, whatever the reasons, I realized: I hate my blog.
So why did I start a blog? To answer this question I had to use my brain, a vastly under-worked organ which has spent its last several years marinating in a heavy mix of alcohol and Victorian novels; with time, the answer became clear, I started a blog because I was miserable, and the source of my misery is the confluence of these simple facts.
I live on Vashon Island.
I don't live in Manhattan.
For those not in the know, Manhattan and Vashon are almost identical in general shape and size (minus the artificially attached Maury Island - rudely bonded to Vashon by a stinking dirt bridge with rusty exercise bikes parked along its side; note about those bikes: they're supposed to be charming, and they're not, they're unsightly and annoying). Maps are inexpertly placed below for people who like maps.
I love Manhattan. I love it like a person. I watch for it in movies, like an old friend. Just the thought of being released onto the streets of Manhattan makes me swoon. And I don't love an idealized Manhattan. I love a noisy, dirty, fast and imperfect Manhattan. A Manhattan that is never the same when you go back. A Manhattan that was always better ten years ago according to someone who lived there.
Not Loving Vashon/Loving Manhattan is my two-headed misery-making monster. There are reasons I live here (boring blah blah on that later) and why I don't live in Manhattan. But first, I would like to share one item that will help highlight the difference between these two places:
Last week in Manhattan, you could have attended the debut of Jonny Greenwood's new music for the film "Doghouse," part of the Wordless Music series - Jonny's largest and longest work yet. Vashon: you could attend a fiber fest and make potholders out of goat hair. Okay, I'm not sure if that's what happened at fiber fest, because I was raving drunk when I read about it, and too hung over the next day to attend. (Trapped in a car, my mates had no choice but to listen to me read back and forth from the event listings in the New Yorker and our local paper, which is called, er, um, vague feeling of shame arising: The Beachcomber. Just typing out the name of that paper makes me feel like getting drunk right now, in the middle of the day.)
But wait, maybe I should attend Sludge Fest, and learn about septic tanks and alternative toilets, or go see that display of old apple peelers, maybe, just maybe, I should embrace what this island has to offer, rather than sit at home full of bitterness and bile. But god what kind of drug would it take to get me to attend a session of "yoga for birders" at the local land trust building?
Somebody. Help. Me.
Vashon, just like Manhattan, minus 2 million people or so.