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Archive for March, 2009

newyorker2SOUNDTRACK: WRFF 104.5 FM.

1045I stumbled upon this station by accident one day.  I was working outside, trying to tune in a radio station, and, although I was near a classic rock station from New York, I heard a very cool alternative song.  So, I tuned in this staticky station and later learned that I was listening to 104.5, WRFF out of Philadelphia.

It’s weird to me that these “90’s” stations are popping up, and that it’s a retro sound, but then, there is a market for those of us Lollapaloozers.  This station plays a great selection of 90’s rock, with an occasional dip into the 80s and of course, new music by any of these bands.  They don’t go too heavy, although they’re not afraid to really rock out.

Now if only I could get that signal a wee bit clearer.

[READ: March 26, 2009] “Author? Author”

This was a very short, but very funny piece about Sedaris’ book tours.  He started and ended this tour in a Costco…and trying to picture Sedaris in a Costco is about as funny as anything he wrote about.  Having said that, the bit about condoms and strawberries with optional olive oil had me laughing all day.

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harpersfebSOUNDTRACK: BAND OF HORSES-Cease to Begin (2008).

band-ofOur friends Eugenie and Jarret introduced us to Band of Horses.  We liked the first one so much we couldn’t wait for the release of this follow up.  And it doesn’t disappoint.

The songs are so poppy that it’s shocking to me that they’re not everywhere (of course, I have limited exposure to the world, so maybe they are).

A funny thing is that even though BOH will always be associated with our friends, the song “No One’s Gonna Love You” is now linked with an episode of Chuck (a great resource for music these days).  In a very romantic scene, they used this mostly romantic BOH song. It fit very well, and now the song makes me think of the show.

Cease to Begin isn’t very different from their debut, although overall it is stronger and more complex.  The vocals are a high tenor, something that has become somewhat fashionable lately, and there are times when it’s not always easy to immediately tell BOH apart from say Fleet Foxes or My Morning Jacket, but since I like all those bands that’s okay.

The songs vary through a small sonic palate, from rocking numbers to more subtle, shimmery tracks.  There’s even some humor in the disc, on “The General Specific.”  All the tracks are really good.  I’m very thankful to Eugenie and Jarett for introducing them to me.

[READ: March 26, 2009] “The World of Cheese”

This is a sad but tender story about Breda Morrissey and the strained relations between herself and her husband and herself and her son.  As the story opens, we learn that her son Patrick has called her persona non grata.  All of this stems from her grandson’s upcoming bris.  Clearly, the Morrissey clan is Irish.  But her son has married a Jewish woman, and with the impending birth of their son, the talk of circumcision has raised its head. (more…)

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miracleSOUNDTRACK: QUATTE.F- “I’m So Glad” from My Space (2009).

Quatte.f is a patron at my library.  He had asked me to help him transfer some photos and eventually to help him upload his demo song to his MySpace page.  He told me that he was in a local group of some sort–I don’t recall who they were–and this was his chance to go solo.

I’m not much of an R&B fan (NO!), but after we uploaded the track, he asked me to listen and I did.  And I have to say I really liked it.  It’s catchy as heck.  And his voice is really strong.  He also avoids most of the histrionics that I dislike so much about R&B.

So, I wish him much success, and since I doubt he’ll ever see this, if you click on his link and listen to his song he’ll be pretty psyched that he’s suddenly gotten all of these listens to his song.  And if you’re from a label, he’s currently unsigned.

Check it out.

[READ: March 22, 2009] Miracle Wimp

Sarah got a copy of this in the mail.  She said, hey, this looks like something you’d like.  So I read it, and finished it in like three hours.

At first, I was afraid that it was  just jumping on the bandwagon of the Diary of Wimpy Kid phenomenon.  But when I checked the release dates I found that the first Wimpy Kid came out in 2007 and so did this book.  We got a pre-released copy of the paperback edition (which is soon to be released in 2009) so no complaints about riding on coattails!  (Although, the online cartoon started in, I believe, 2005).

The book is about Tom Mayo, a junior in a high school set in the boonies of western Massachusetts.  The book details the ritual humiliations that come with being a wimp in high school.  There aren’t diary entries per se, but each page has a title and about a page worth of stuff that happened about that topic.  There’s also some rudimentary drawings (not as charming as Wimpy Kid’s, which is especially weird since Tom wanted to be in art class) that convey what happened in that “entry.” (more…)

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spokespokehcSOUNDTRACK: ISLANDS-Arm’s Way (2008).

islandsI enjoyed Islands’ first album (and, in a weirder way, their earlier band The Unicorns).  This album seems to have made a lot of 2008 Top Ten or at least Top Fifty lists. What’s so strange about the whole affair is that I absolutely love the first 8 songs on this disc, and based on those alone, I would put it on my top ten as well.

But after that….

Well, let’s put it this way, the eighth song “In the Rushes” is a wonderfully weird 7 minute song that ends with a direct quote/pseudo-parody of the Who’s “A Quick One, While He’s Away.”  The “tribute” comes in all of a sudden after five or so minutes, and ends with the lyrical change from The Who’s “You Are Forgiven” to their own “You Are Forgotten.”  But musically it’s spot on.  And I’ll tell you, that just feels like the end to me.  “A Quick One” ends The Who Sell Out, and so it should end this too.

And those last four songs, which actually totally about half an hour (!), I just can’t really enjoy for some reason.  Perhaps if they left them as a separate EP…?

But back to the rest of the disc.  The opening salvo of songs is just so fantastic. “The Arm” is catchy and weird with cool breaks and a bitchin’ chorus.  “Pieces of You,” not anything to do with Jewel, is another great catchy song.  The next three tracks are great little rockers with some thrashy parts and more off-kilter aspects.  “Kids Don’t Know Shit” starts mellow but has a cool string-filled chorus.  And then of course, you get to “In the Rushes.”  So these 8 tracks come in at 37 minutes, and I swear I’m just done with the disc.

Those next four songs are good (In fact, listening to samples of them right now, I do like the songs, and “To a Bond” is an especially good song, too). I guess I just feel like the album is done by then.  And when you think an album is done and there’s still 30 minutes to go, well, it’s just daunting.  Too bad, really, because it is a good disc.

[READ: March 17, 2009] English as She is Spoke

I bought the hardcover edition of this book many many years ago as soon as I heard of it…anything with a rave by Mark Twain must be worthwhile, right?  When I was looking for it again recently I couldn’t find it anywhere.  So, I saw that McSweeney’s were having another sale and I picked up the paperback edition.  The text is exactly the same; however, the introduction is slightly different and for that reason alone I’m glad I have the new copy too (I did find the hardcover a few days after I received the paperback, of course).

The paperback edition contains an update to the introduction.  The hardcover was rather popular and one of its readers–a UCLA linguist–wanted to absolve Fonesca of some of the blame for the book.  It appears that Fonesca had written a very good phrase book which Carolino basically used for his own purposes in creating this hilarious enterprise.  Rather than just plagiarizing Fonesca, Carolino gave him full credit, thereby giving him a lifetime of undeserved infamy.  So, thanks Paul Collins for setting the record straight.

As  to the book itself…. (more…)

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s11SOUNDTRACK: FLAMING LIPS-She Don’t Use Jelly (1993).

jellyThis single contains three B-Sides:  “Translucent Egg” is something of an instrumental version of “She Don’t Use Jelly.”  It uses the same opening guitar riff, but it changes a few things along the way.  The highlights though are the other two tracks: variants from Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.  “Turn It On [Bluegrass Version]” is, as advertised, a stompin’ bluegrass version of that track (with help from the Butthole Surfers), and “******* [Porch Version]” is a solo acoustic version of “Plastic Jesus.”  Probably not an essential disc, but the alternate versions do highlight the quality of the songs and not just the raucous effects on the main disc.

[READ: Fall 2008 & March 24, 2009] The Spiderwick Chronicles

I started this series in the Fall of 2008, and for some reason, didn’t finish volumes 4 and 5.  I saw them on my night stand and decided it was time to polish them off.  And so I did.

I had originally intended to write about each volume, but that is not feasible now.  So, instead I’ll give a summary of events and some overall commentary.  (more…)

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fusselmanSOUNDTRACK: MOGWAI-The Hawk is Howling (2008).

mogwaiI’ve been a fan of Mogwai since I first heard of them back in 1997 with their Young Team debut.  They have progressed their sonic explorations of instrumentals into unimagined complexity and sonic booms.

I don’t think anyone walks around humming the melodies of Mogwai songs, but as soon as the songs start they are immediately recognizable, catchy and wonderful.  And this album is no exception.

The big difference on this disc is the amount of piano.  I always think of Mogwai as a squealing feedback production (although that’s not really true exactly), and I’m sure this isn’t their first use of piano on one of their discs, but it comes as a surprise to me that the disc opens with a piano melody (especially since the first single “Batcat” comes next and is one of the noisiest, most aggressive songs in their entire catalog.

“The Sun Smells Too Loud” has an amazingly catchy guitar riff going on which sustains it for the duration of the song.  And “Scotland’s Shame” also has a really great, albeit slower theme as well.

It’s a really strong showing from Mogwai.  It doesn’t feel as immediate or as intense as previous ones, especially their lats one, Mr. Beast, but it’s a great release nonetheless.

[READ: March 20, 2009] The Pharmacist’s Mate

I’ve had this title for a while, and I’ve been meaning to read it , yet for some reason I never did. I think I figured it was so short that I could read it at any time. And, following that logic, I finally decided to.  I was also very pleasantly surprised to see a blurb from Zadie Smith on the back, too. (more…)

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hetiSOUNDTRACK: COLDPLAY Prospekt’s March EP (2008).

prospecktThis EP was released hot on the heels on Viva La Vida. So hot, in fact, that since our copy of Viva was lost, I listened to this EP first.

If you absolutely love Viva La Vida, and wish it were longer, than this EP is perfect for you.  It has three remixes of songs from Viva.  I find the “Lovers in Japan [Osaka Sun Mix]” to be more satisfying that the original.  The opening track “Life in Technicolor ii” fleshes out the instrumental from Viva into a 4 minute song with lyrics.  And then there’s “Lost+” which tacks on an ill-fitting rhyme from Jay Z.

The rest of the disc is new songs in the vein of Viva.  They all contain that orchestral feel of the disc, especially “Glass of Water.”  Although the last track, “Now My Feet Don’t Touch the Ground” the a title that you would think would be over the top, is a more acoustic style ballad.

None of this is essential listening, but as a fairly cheap EP, it’s a not a bad addition to the Coldplay collection.

[READ: March 19, 2009] The Middle Stories

This seemed like it would be a fun little book. The cover (hand vandalized by Canadians, the website promised) has a photo of a man (see above). [In my picture, he is adorned in with a birthday hat, balloons and candles. I bought this from McSweeney’s recently (for a $5 sale, I believe) even though it was one of their first published titles.

Heti has two stories in McSweeney’s issues (#4 & #6), which are included here, but which I didn’t remember from before.  And that’s enough introduction. I really didn’t like this short story collection at all. (more…)

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