Jerry Grit’s Year In Albums #13: December (The End!)

A significant shuffle of priorities has long delayed me from finishing my project to document every single album I bought in 2008 (for example, real life and things on cats). But always the completist, I will bring this to a close…a quarter of the way through 2009.

  • Andrew Daly – Nine Sweaters There was a funny comedian on Mad TV. Too bad he wasn’t allowed to be funny. Freed from that show’s painful banality, Andrew gets his laughs solo with longform occasionally subtle (and mostly obscene) character routines inspired by wearing 1 of 9 distinctive sweaters. Although you can’t see the sweaters (it being a recording and all) the characterizations are rich enough to imagine the sweaters. DO NOT listen to it with grandma. Or do, pervert.
  • Blue Giant – Target Heart EP A kinda pacific northwest supergroup: the Viva Voce couple with help from members of the Decemberists, Circus Lupus, Swords Project, Sleater-Kinney and Bradford Cox. But mostly, its Viva Voce on an alt-country kick. Which is awesome. The distinctive vocals and swaying guitar, filled out with the pedal steel, organ and fiddle. Also, stars in the Blue Giant phase are middle-aged massive stars in a transitionary period prior to becoming either a planet nebula or a supergiant.
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today I haven’t yet learned to fully appreciate Byrne or Eno*, supergiants in a music universe I mostly like. And I don’t think I’m helping myself by starting with this album. It’s fine and there are some nice weird parts. But overall it’s a little too adult contemporary for me to be comfortable about it. That could be just because I’m uncomfortable being adult now.
  • Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life I freaking love it. Takes me back to the smart hardcore or Fugazi or Negative Approach. And still, they manage melodies and some neat uses of not-hardcore instruments. (Is that a flute in the beginning?). Father Damien’s vocals come in like the earth is opening up. Takes me back to high school, driving nowhere in small messy cars and watching other people smoke.
  • Dr. Dog – Fate It’s alright. They’re the Band, at an impressionable age, teleported to our time and embracing modern weirdness. Nonetheless, a step up from the last album.
  • Grouper – Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill For those who can’t keep up with Beach House, Grouper might be the perfect porridge for you. Reverbed drenched vocals moving at a somnolent snail’s pace…like actually dragging a dead deer up a hill. I have yet been able to listen all the way through without a dose. So also perfect for insomniacs.
  • Hercules And Love Affair – Hercules And Love Affair I’ve made a significant investment in my attempt to appreciate Antony Hegarty. I’m not there yet. It’s always overkill with that ridiculous vibrato. And yet I have 7 albums of this. The disco beats here breaks it up a bit. 
  • Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue I don’t think I like this. Loved the Rabbit Fur Coat, and I can even defend that last Rilo Kiley album. But this one’s annoying. Is it a joke? That “Where’s Fernando?” song puts me through the roof. Along with “Bad Man’s World,” “The Next Messiah” (8 and half minutes and it has Elvis Costello) and “Jack Killed Mom”…yech. A lot of stinkers here. I’m still onboard with Jenny, but slowly shuffling exitward.
  • Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak I’m sorry, it’s awesome. A part from the irony of his critique of consumerism turned into a product (unlike Tim Fite and his excellent Over the Counterculture, Kanye’s not giving it away).
  • Love Is All – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night Oh, it’s fun. But it’s not for the ages. And I do not need to have fun.
  • Marching Band – Sparks Large It’s just so nice. I bet these guys wear sweater V-necks and drop people off at airports. I like it because I think they’re nice. But not enough to give them a ride to the airport.
  • Richard Swift – Ground Trouble Jaw EP Indie do-wop? Who knew?
  • Rodriguez – Cold Fact Supposedly buried treasure from the 70’s and I’m not one to appreciate buried treasures from the seventies. But this one’s alight.
  • School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms It sounds like the brother from the Secret Machines hooks up with Au Revoir Simone. And half of that’s true. Also, this album compels and bores the same ways of the Secret Machines and Au Revoir Simone.
  • The Faint – Fascination Not as great as Danse Macabre or even Wet from Birth. Nonetheless all the elements are same and it still does what a Faint album is supposed to do. Which are good things.
  • The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound If Plato was ever to try to identify the ideal Jersey Band, I think the Gaslight Anthem are pretty much it. Other Jersey bands are only Jersey bands insofar as they share characteristics with this Jersey Band. Epic blue collar anthems from shore trash. Love it.
  • The Mae Shi – Hlllyh More ecstatic high-energy youth ranting. Does not suit my rocking chair at all. I won’t be seeking any of these tracks in the ever-accumulating clutter of my digital music library. But if one happens to come up in the shuffle, I won’t skip it. Unless I’m in my rocking chair.
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns Sounds a little too much like Neutral Milk Hotel. So much so it feels more like theft than homage.
  • Why? – Alopecia This is awesome. Cool beats. Smart rhymes. Self-deprecating white boys being inventive.
  • Women – Women I like the weird catchiness of the album. I even like the experimental parts. And I really like how the entire album hangs together. It’s one of those strange small albums I cherish, like the Ruby Suns’ Sea Lion I got earlier this year.
  • Camera Obscura – Underachievers Please Try Harder From a few years ago. I realized I hadn’t bought a Comera Obscura in a while. So buying an old one will do. No surprise. It’s great.
  • Isobel Campbell – Sunday At Devil Dirt The 3rd Mark Lanegan album I managed to buy in this year alone. But once you get past his cheesy growl, you appreciate that its more about Isobell Campbell. And it’s to its tremendous benefit.
  • The Delgados – The Great Eastern An old album from a band I don’t know I was compelled to buy for no other reason than I thought it might be good. Actually, it happens to be the second back catalogue album from a Scottish band I bought this month (see Camera Obscura). Seems to be a good strategy.
  • Starling Electric – Clouded Staircase Sound like Guided by Voices, but with longer songs. I like it.

There it is. All the albums I bought in 2008. All 176, give or take (but mostly give). Did I learn anything? Do I appreciate more? Maybe, but I’m not consuming less. So far I’ve already long surpassed my 2008 number and it’s only early April (but I’m doing much less buying…I’ve discovered the library, much to the librarians’ chagrin).

The more I have the more I want. Alas, it seems I’m like everyone else.

*This was written 3 months ago. I have since come to appreciate Eno and Byrne in their individual distinctive greatness. Buy Here Come the Warm Jets and Another Green World and Remain in Light.

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Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #4: April-July (Part 2)

No question vast and ambiguous forces conspire against me today.  Not only have the unrepentant thieves at another “blog” stolen my project and format, but ipod #5 is giving me that mocking “you’re fucked” sad face when i try to start it. Bullets are flying but I am not going down. I’m like the invincible malcontent Clive Owen in “Shoot’Em Up”.  They’re coming at me from left and the right, from up and down, and I’m taking them out with a sneer and carrots. But unlike “Shoot’Em Up”, I am not terrible. So with my cold burnt coffee, music coming from the dinky 12-year old computers speakers (now the only way to access my vast and impressively organized library…my cutting-edge soundsystem now so much a useless objet d’art in the wake of ipod #5 demise), I trudge on bravely. For from those dinky speakers, I hear…

  • Earlimart – Hymn and Her I just got this on the morning of this awful Sunday, but it just may redeem it. Haven’t even listened to it thought it completely. I’m on “Before It Gets Better” and I think I’ve found July 13th’s soundtrack. Poppy, but soft with a melancholy touch. But it might be forgettable. Still, canon-bound.
  • Lou Reed – Transformer Lou is one of the few gaps in my collection I’m endeavoring to fill. And I think I did pretty well by starting here. Not all the tunes have aged. “New York Telephone Conversation” is like some kind of joke that may have been kind of funny 30 years ago. I don’t recall Lou being know for his wit, anyways. Nonetheless, “Vicious” and “Perfect Day” are awesome. And they all hang together nicely.  Who knew? The MST3K spaceship is named after track #7. Very near canonical.
  • Au – Verbs Weird. Chanting, unexpected changes. Fractured song structures, if there are any. Nice choice for your neighborhood opium den.
  • Boris – Smile There’s a time and a place for progressive Japanese metal. Unfortunately, they are not now and here. However, I do recall being at work at 8:15am and having “KA RE HA TE TA SA KI-No One Grieve” move me to pump my fist with gritted teeth.
  • Santogold – Santogold I’m not too well plugged into the popular music scene, but I think she’s becoming pretty mainstream. Believe it or not highschool friends, I can enjoy mainstream things. (Dreamgirls is my favorite movie…U2 and Coldplay are pretty awesome…and can’t get enough of “Friends”…Oh, sorry. I’m lying.) I also hear a lot of MIA references. I hear MIA, but more I hear Cyndi Lauper. But a lot cooler. “Lights Out” is a summer fav.
  • My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges Everybody needs to calm down. I refuse to ride the bus that has thrown MMJ under it. I may be the only unfilthy not-high person who actually likes “Highly Suspicious”. It’s not that bad. Admittedly some misfires. Not too sure I’m ready to revisit UB40 and the Fine Young Cannibals. But like Rilo Kiley’s equally disparaged Under the Black Light, there are some standouts. Try denying “I’m amazed”. This is a great band trying something different.

 

Ack. Now my laptop is crapping out and I have 47 albums to go. Great. Another crappy chapter in this crappy day has begun. Screw it. I’m going for a run. And I will get hit by a bus. Probably the same one filled with all the MMJ haters distracted by making fun of “Librarian” (which is pretty ridiculous, but an easy target). C’mon haters, watch where you’re going.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #3: April-July (Part 1)

Holy guacamole, it’s been a long time since I’ve done this. And the longer I delay, the worse it becomes. My music consumption has not dissipated one bit. I’ve accumulated at least 50 albums since the last entry. But I refuse to give up. If I finish this list, I’ll be halfway through the freaking year. Here goes, nose a la grindstone.

  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lay Down in the Light  Someone’s been on a roll lately. It’s a shambling and shimmering sound. Perfect summer album for this guy. Beardy continues the very nice formula of dueting with a quirky indie female vocalist (Faun Fables lady on “Let Me Go” and Meg Baird on “Ask Forgiveness”). But this time it’s my personal fav Amber Webber (of Black Mountain and the canonical Lightening Dust) with a set of pleasant–even cheerful–songs.  And did I hear a jazzy clarinet? The public fellatio tune aside, of course. 
  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Ask Forgiveness  I’m a sucker for cover albums, and still for Will Oldham albums, so this one had me on the Tuesday it came out. Meg Baird of the great freaky-deaky Espers and her own efforts (who I think I would really like) joins Beardy this time. So this should be much more awesome than it is. I don’t think Bill is good at covers. That Tortoise cover album was terrible. This one’s not as bad, but you can hear it’s lost potential more clearly. It seems like Meg’s parts were kind of tacked on. She doesn’t even get to do the duet on the lamey version of the best Bjork song ever. Instead, Bill sings both the Bjork and Thom York parts on “I’ve Seen It All”. What does that make the song about? And btw, that song title is an appropriate response to the R. Kelly cover. Did you know he played a cop in one of those gross “In the Closet” episodes?  
  • Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)  Another ecstatic ensemble celebrating life as it is, I think. Still, it’s pretty great. They live in a commune.
  • Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles  “Crimewave” to me represents the best of electronica or whatever this genre is. Repetitive, incomprehensible, and vaguely robo-erotic. I’m down, but this makes feel old.
  • Crystal Stilts – Crystal Stilts  This one hits me just right. Nothing groundbreaking. Sounds like I should have been listening to this with my The Clean album.
  • Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours  I don’t think I would have got this if they weren’t going to be at the Pitchfork Festival. It’s kind of cheesy. But it’s playing on that newly discovered love of 80s synth pop exploited better by Glass Candy in March. I never liked New Order or any of that in their heyday, but now I’m digging the imitators. Maybe they’re better dressed.
  • Darondo – Let My People Go  I think Darondo is/was actually a pimp, I’m told. So was Al Green, of which he sounds like a cracked-out version. And I’m no hebrew scholar or nothing, but Moses kind of seemed like a pimp. So it makes sense.
  • Extra Golden – Hera Ma Nona  I swear to you on my life that I only long for Extra Golden to punk the hell out of Vampire Weekend at this year’s Pitchfork Festival. I don’t care how they do it. Maybe by washing the Vampire cardigans in hot water. Or midway through Weekend’s set of the most offensive appropriation of a heritage (they’re the hipster Jar Jar Binks), they could like throw blood on their loafers. Or they could just completely blow them out of the water with their sound so superior to the VDub’s Gap Ad-version. And they do the “Obama” song.
  • No Age – Nouns  Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that these guys were a garage band. Maybe it was the picture of  garage (or is it a storefront?) on their album cover. Whatever. My expectations were defied and I refused to listen further. But they kept creeping back in my zune shuffle (oh wise Shuffle) and forced a reconsideration.  This one is better from the pretty good “Weirdo Rippers.” And their’s something to be said about the packaging (I actually bought the CD old school), which is pretty worthwhile. “Teen Creeps” is my summer anthem.
  • Jay Reatard – Blood Visions  I love it. 2 years old, but still kicks ass. Like my son*. Appropriately on the same label as the morekickassing Reigning Sound. That should be enough. Cover’s a little gross, though. 

To be continued…

*Artistic license…I really want to use this simile, but I don’t have any children, nor do I know any two-year-olds that can kick ass with any particular skill. I assume mine would, though.

So Cute I Could Puke

The prospect of documenting of my music consumption since March depresses me to no end. Instead, let’s look at pics of kitties. Aw…if hang you in there, little guy, so will I.

Aw…this one’s trying to get over the couch. But it’s so big and he’s so tiny and tired! What is he thinking in that kitten-kute brain…”I think I can.” But you can’t. And your futile ambition makes you 10X cuter.

Maybe my futile ambition to write about ever album I get this year makes me just as adorable?

I once read about the cat-carried parasite toxoplasma gondii.  Cats infect those close to them by tricking them into ingesting their pee or pooh.  The parasite migrates to the infected’s brain, altering the infected’s behavior so that the infected becomes unhealthfully attracted to cats. This is noted in the behavior of infected rats. Rats, who should be by all accounts on the other side of Dodge when kittie comes to town, when infected are found to be close to or even following kittens around.

Scientists realize that there is an evolutionary advantage for cats to carry and spread this parasite: so that may always have something nearby that they can kill and eat. Here’s the kicker: this parasite has also been found to infect humans and has been offered as an explanation for the irrational enthusiasm for kitty-pies exhibited by even the best of us.

Okay, so first I have to get over the distinct possibility that I have at one time or another ingested cat pee or pooh.

Fine, done.

Second, I have to get over what this has to say about affection in general. It insidiously pathologizes love. Is the enthusiasm we feel for an other not love, but an evolutionary trick so that we stick around long enough to give the other the opportunity to kill and eat us?

Fine, whatever.

But now I have to come terms with the likely fact that my kuddly buddies are waiting to digest me. I look at them, I see oodles of furry joy. But they see me as a tuna can soon to be opened.

Oh, well. I guess we all gotta go.  Not so bad to end up in this little guy’s bowl. 

Aw…he’s wet with a mohawk! I can’t stand it!

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