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Archive for the ‘Deerhunter’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: All Songs Considered Year End Music Roundup (2010).

Every year, I like to check various sources to see if there were any albums that I missed.  My definition of good resources: allmusic, amazon, pitchfork.  (There’s another fascinating list available here at Best Albums Ever, a site I’ve never seen before, and I have a large portion of the Top 50 albums.  I didn’t buy a lot of music this year, but evidently I chose wisely!).  I don’t necessarily agree with these lists, but if I see the same album on a few lists, I know it’s worth at least listening to.

This year, since I spent so much time on All Songs Considered, I thought I’d see their Best of Lists.  What’s awesome about the site is that you can hear not only selected songs in their entirety, you can also download the audio of the original show…where the DJs talk about their selections and play excerpts from them.   There are many different lists to investigate.

The most obvious one to star with is 50 Favorite Albums of 2010.  This shows the staff’s 50 favorite albums in all genres.  I admit that there’s going to be a lot on this list that I won’t bother exploring (I’m not really that interested in new classical or jazz and I’m not too excited by most pop music, although I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Kanye West songs here).

But some albums did stand out that I hadn’t heard, and I will investigate them further in 2011:

Buke And Gass, ‘Riposte’
Deerhunter, ‘Halcyon Digest’ (I know, this is on many best of lists)
The National, ‘High Violet’ (This is also on everyone’s list)

Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered’s most awesome host, picks his Top 9 of the year.  I’m on board with about 1/2 of his list (haven’t heard the other half).  Sufjan Stevens is his #1.

Robin Hilton, Boilen’s partner in crime, has a Top Ten which is remarkably similar to Boilen’s.  It has most of the same albums just appearing in a slightly different order.  Lower Dens is #1. (I’ve never heard of them).

Carrie Brownstein (of beloved Sleater-Kinney and now evidently a permanent member of the NPR team) has a Top Ten (Plus One)–funny that she liked more than ten when Boilen liked less than ten.  I’m really surprised by her selection of albums because her own music is so punk and abrasive, but her top ten features R&B and some folky bands.  Her top album is by Royal Baths, a band I’ve never heard of.

Stephen Thompson also picked his Top Ten.  He has an interesting mix of alt rock and jazz.  His number one is by Jonsi from Sigur Rós. (A great album).

Perhaps the best list comes from 5 Artists You Should Have Known in 2010.  I didn’t know any of the 5.  Sarah bought me two CDs for Christmas (and she was pleased to have gotten me good music that I hadn’t heard of!).  The Head and the Heart hasn’t arrived yet, but The Capstan Shafts is great.  I’m also really excited by Tame Impala.

Another great list is Viking’s Choice: Best Metal and Outer Sound (stay tuned for much more from this list).  It is dominated by black metal, but there are a few surprises in there as well.

Even the All Songs Considered Top 25 Listener’s List was great.  I had most of the list (except for The Black Keys who I simply cannot get into).

Although I enjoyed a lot of new music this year, it’s always nice to see that there is some new (to me) stuff to investigate.  Who knows maybe some day I’ll even have listened to enough new music in a year to make my own Top Ten.

[READ: December 31, 2010] McSweeney’s #36

With McSweeney’s #36, it’s like they made my conceptual ideal.  Its weird packaging is fantastic and the contents are simply wonderful.  But let’s start with the obvious: this issue comes in a box.  And the box is drawn to look like a head.  You open up the man’s head to get to the contents.  Brilliant.  The head is drawn by Matt Furie (with interior from Jules de Balincourt’s Power Flower.

Inside the box are eleven items.  The largest are smallish books (postcard sized) running between 32 and 144 pages.  The smaller items are a 12 page comic strip, a nineteenth century mediation (8 pages) and 4 postcards that create a whole picture.  The final item is a scroll of fortune cookie papers.   The scroll is forty inches long with cut lines for inserting them into your own fortunes (I wonder if they will sell this item separately?)

Aside from the bizarre head/box gimmick (and the fact that there is ample room in the box for more items), the contents are really top-notch.  For while many of the books included are individual titles, there is also an actual “issue” of McSweeney’s (with letter column and shorter stories) as well.  So let’s begin there

ISSUE #36: New Stories and Letters.  The resurrected letters page continues with more nonsense.  I’ve often wondered if these are really written like letters or if they are just short pieces that have no other place to reside.  (Oh, and the back of this booklet contains the bios for everyone in here as well as assorted other folks who don’t have room for a bio on their items).

LETTERS (more…)

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glist1SOUNDTRACK: DEERHUNTER-Microcastle/Weird Era Continued (2008).

deerSomehow, I can never remmeber what this disc is going to sound like when I pop it in.  Once it gets going the songs are all familiar and very good, its just that initial listen, where I forget that the band is rather delicate and poppy.  I tend to forget this because well, the bands name doesn’t sound delicate, and the album artwork has skulls all over it.  So, to put it on and hear pleasant keyboard songs is alwaya  bit of a surprise.

The guitarsd are jangly and have an almost 60s folk rock sound and yet the drums are very electronic  (I presume its a drum machine) and the vocals stick out as rather unlike the 60s style.  There is also a wonderfully low budget/hazy quality that pervades the disc.  It sort of envelopes the disc in a layer of cotton keeping the sound consistent and sometimes narcoleptic.

And yet despite that sort of sleepy feel, the catchciness of the songs shines through.

The last few songs of Microcastle especially provide a really strong set of songs.  And they lead into Weird Era very nicely.  For although it is clearly the same band, Weird Era is a very different disc.

It is a far more rocking/noisy affair.  And although there area  number of very short instrumental pieces, for the most part, the songs are catchier and a bit more fun.  Ideally, mixing the two discs together would provide an overall more well rounded listening experience.

[READ: September 15, 2009] Glister 1-3

This is a strange little series from Andi Watson.

I’ve enjoyed just about everything he’s written/drawn, mostly for his artistic style, but really because of his off-kilter and wholly fascinating sensibilities. So what makes this series so odd is the rather almost-sloppy style he uses for the backgrounds and other characters.  Maybe it’s not sloppy so much as “fuzzy” which lend an air of spectralness to this supernatural tale.

The other thing that is odd about the series is that everything suggests that this will be a long running story.  The story has a convoluted set up and a weird plot (and Issue #1 even includes an unrelated sub-story).  The inside back cover also has all manner of things that suggest we’re in for the long haul: a letter-writing address, a contest to design a teapot, etc.  But no, the series ends after three issues. Weird. (more…)

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