Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Top Ten Records of 2010 List

I think you should buy these artists' records, from an independent music store (Go Vashon Music!) or directly from the label, because they are very, very good records.

(1) Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
You know how dogs tip their heads to the side when they hear a funny sound? That's what I did when I first heard this record. I listened again, and tipped my head the other way. Again: well then I fell in love. A bold, complex, crazy piece of true art, the musical equivalent of one of de Kooning's snarling lady paintings, where you see an artist trying to undo every precious skill they've ever learned and end up making something strange and brilliant. Sufjan gets an A for Adz and an A-plus for the jaw-dropping live performance of Seven Swans in Seattle. He's not fucking around.

(2) Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
When overcome with the burden of bearing witness to the decline of songbirds and forests and the atmosphere itself, it's scientist musician extraordinaire Jonathan Meiburg that I most want to hear. Meiburg's voice is mesmerizing, and his lyrics, written or performed, are pure poetry. Shearwater stands as a testament to the power of doing meaningful work, with honesty and skill, and kicking ass live.


(3) Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect
Two words. Absolutely Gorgeous. Composed for a film about Colony Collapse Disorder - the ever-cheering subject of the massive die-off of honey bees. If you want to be oblivious and shake your shit around, this is not the record for you. But if you want to listen to 50% of Stars of the Lid do his best solo work to date, and shed a tear only a couple minutes in because the strings are so effing pretty, this is your record. Side Note: I wonder if Mr. McBride noted that his music is often classified as "drone" and that a drone is also a worker bee? Hmmmm.

(4) Jonsi - Go
Wilst Sigur Ros slumbered in temporary hiatus, Jonsi went out on his own, and let loose with this super pop record. Producer Nico Muhly clearly put some wind in Jonsi's sails, and it includes songs you can definitely bounce up and down to; but it's the big beautiful epic songs, Kolnidur and Grow Till Tall that support the New York Time's contention that Jonsi is "a messenger of ecstatic hope."

(5) Under Byen - Alt Er Tabt
After seeing them on their last tour, David Frick named them "the best band in the world." And after seeing that tour, I was inclined to agree. But as it turns out, not only is this a truly great band, it's a band with balls. Big Danish balls. Because they could have (and in a commercial sense should have) just done a repeat of their critic-pleasing 2006 record "Samme Stof Som Stof," but did they? Absolutely not. Instead, they made a deeply dark, idiosyncratic art piece which speaks to the power of insanely talented musicians following their muse.

(6) Benoit Pioulard - Lasted
I'm secretly (well not so secretly now) thinking that if Thomas Meluch, dba, Benoit Pioulard, had a band, he just might be the next Radiohead. He has the mental and musical chops. Instead, he goes it alone, beautifully blurring the lines between ambient, pop and folk. I love the feeling that these songs are emerging as if buried, coming up through layers of sound. So many records feel impersonal and over-produced, but Lasted has the quality of a hand-made keepsake you return to again and again for the memories it evokes.

(7) Efterklang - Magic Chairs
To see them live is to love them; and while my favorite record of this spectacular Danish band remains their earlier effort "Tripper," I was completely floored by the diversity of songs and sounds this band made on Magic Chairs, and by the spectacular front and center vocals of the band's insanely charming lead, Casper Clausen.

(8) Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
I just kept hearing "Swans" "Swans" "Swans" from musical corners far and wide. So, I got this record. And it kicks ass. I'm not going to pretend I know much else about this band. All I know for certain is that I have to see them LIVE.

(9) Valgeir Sigurdsson - Draumalandid
Another beautiful record from the fantastic Bedroom Community label. This soundtrack to an Icelandic environmental documentary is diverse and lovely and oh come on, just go buy it, because I'm getting tired of trying to make up words about sounds.

(10) James Blake -  Klavierwerke, CMYK - EPs
I normally don't like what I think this music is: dubstep? Does that sound right? But this guy's music is so divinely diced and spliced it's weird and beautiful, and what the hell, is he pretty or what? I hope his upcoming full-length is as good as it seems it will be; however if it is, I fear for him that he will become embarrassingly huge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Proof

The proof that we are going to hell in a handbasket! You can buy this hideous thing for...$9,000! A Barbie Hair Chandelier! Go look at the other crap they have! I can't stop using exclamation points about all this!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Home Wrecker

This is the ultimate How-To video, that is, IF you want to tip over the edge into domestic madness and rip your kitchen to shreds. It starts nicely enough, with just a little wobble on the wine pouring, but by 2:11, she's hitting it with the scissors, which of course is right up my alley. This is a feel-good video...well, for me anyway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Benoit Pioulard: Don't Fear the French, particularly when they're from Michigan

One of my favorite musicians. You can check out a track from his latest at NPR music: Oui! Oui!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I don't know how to use these things

Bicycle tire pumps (let all air out)
Pliers (why do they get stuck in this position - look left?)
Revolving Doors
The Greater Than/Less Than Symbol (and it's not just me, see this post from a parent on the Math Forum:

Greater Than and Less Than Symbols

Date: 05/30/2000 at 09:25:07
From: Angelo Gagliano
Subject: Greater/Less Than

I am assisting my Middle School Son with his Math Homework.

His teacher claims that '> 25' represents greater than 25. I was
taught that it meant less than. The number that the angle points to
was always less than and the wide angle was greater than... perhaps
his teacher erred?

Can you help?

Thank you.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood

Ad nonsense

Because four people follow this blog, and when I say follow, I mean four people came here once, felt sorry for me, and started following this blog, I decided I could make A LOT of money signing up for Google Adsense. I was approved for Google Adsense today (the announcement email from Google included a distinctly non-professional exclamation point after their "Congratulations!").

Curious to see what my meager postings to date would elicit as far as ads from the Adsense program, I logged on. Note that to date I have written about birds going to hell, humans being stupid, crusty old aprons, existential dread, old mattresses, living in nowwheresville, death, and larvae; and here is the first ad copy it picked to run: "Twitter Moms is where Smart Moms Connect." Guess it gave priority to the label: crusty old apron?

This doesn't say a lot for motherhood.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Existentially Dreaded

A shoe on the freeway
Larvae (look to your left)
Old Mattresses
The Greater Than/Less Than Symbol

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lies We Tell Ourselves #109

I'm going to take to screaming if I hear one more serious person say that humans are unique in that we are the only animals aware of our own death. I read this all the time. Come on people, that's just bullshit. Animals are aware of death every single second of every single day. Have you not seen the looks on their faces, how they react to movement, sound and smells? Their expression says: "I could die!"

Animals are frantically eating, so they don't die, running, scurrying and hiding so they don't die, drinking quickly and nervously so they don't die. They live every moment with death. We humans, at least modern western ones, are very nearly the opposite. We go out of our way to repress thoughts of death, and tell ourselves soothing stories about how we never "really die" so we don't freak out about the fact that we die.

I remember seeing a show that postulated this theory of humans being uniquely aware of death, and the proof was an ancient burial site on which they found flowers. Somehow this proved that we were "aware" of death in a way that animals were not because we had a ritual we performed around a dead person. Well, what do we call the pacing a deer does around her dead fawn? What about the rook that defends its dead mate from carrion eaters, or the elephants that slowly pass around the bones of their deceased kin? These are rituals as much as placing a flower on a grave is a ritual.

People are ridiculous in their presumptions - and perhaps it's this ridiculous presumptuousness that distinguishes us from all other animals, not our awareness of our own death.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

See Those Birds Over There?

The birds up there to the right? On the pre-made template? They're flying to hell.