Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #10: September

Simply, this is getting ridiculous. I’ve been dreading the September edition of my self-imposed project to account for every album I buy this year because it gets me all that closer to the October post. We’re not even half-through and yet I’ve already amassed 22 albums. Isn’t there an economic collapse going somewhere?  

Oh wait, that’s everywhere. Perhaps I’ll spend an impoverished 2009 reassessing my accumulated purchases and frittered wealth. 

Only 17 albums for this entire month. And there’s kind of a theme or three to my purchases: back catalogues and wordlessness (or at least English wordlessness).  And also Bill Callahan-like sounding front(wo)men. And I liked most of it!

  • Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar – Go Marko Go! A great Serbian brass band (Caveat: I’m not confident I could tell a great from a good Serbian brass band) and this is a great album. Passionate and funky folk jazz. They got kind of dampered by rain at this year’s Pitchfork, but rumors of their raucous rowdy live show abound. A bonus: Serbian words can kind of sound like English, which leads to fun mishearings. Like on the outro for “Bubamara , Ne kuni me , Kalasnijikov” sounds like they’re passionately and repeatedly intoning that “Carl likes people.” He may very well, but not as much as I like this.
  • Breathe Owl Breathe – climb in I liked the Ghost Glacier EP so much, I felt obligated by that discovery to buy more of this guy. This is his last full album that came out a few years ago (2005). Just as great as the EP. A little more Bill Callahan this time. But like a camping and high Bill Callahan.
  • Chicha Libre – Sonido Amazonico I don’t anything about these guys, but I know they’re based in Brooklyn. Any band based in Brooklyn makes me suspicious. But they do a competent, nay…exciting…job of jazzy folk latin. It was also recently touted by Sound Opinions’ Greg Kot on their “buried treasure” show.
  • Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People Apropos of nothing (or was it the Brendan Canning album…alas, purchases beget purchases), I realized I didn’t have enough Broken Social Scene. So I went back to their so-called “breakthrough” album. It’s great and is exactly what is to be expected. It’s so much easier buying thoroughly vetted albums from 2002.
  • Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Knives Don’t Have Your Back Part of the campaign to fill my Broken Social Scene bucket. And now I’ll probably have to fill me up a Metric bucket. Emily’s in both bands. And she has this excellent solo album. I need to blog less. Unlike BSS, you can understand the lyrics here. They’re pretty saucy and pessimistic with wry deadpan humor (the Bill Callahan of chix?). Not a whole lot of romance here, unless you consider romanticizing nihilism romantic. Still, it’s great. Wouldn’t buy it for a depressive, though.  
  • Giant Sand – Provisions It’s the Southwest version of Bill Callahan, but I think this guy precedes Bill. So maybe Bill’s the Pacific Northwest version of Giant Sand. Either way, both are worthwhile. Great collaborations here, too. Isobell Campbell, Neko Case, and a great PJ Harvey cover to boot.
  • Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Gentleness of Nothing EP I’m onboard with Jesse, so this EP works as the other ones do. Does not sound very much like Bill Callahan.
  • Justice – ? (Cross) Apparently, “D.A.N.C.E.” was one of the most overplayed anthems of this summer. I haven’t heard it once before downloading it this month. I’m not “dialed in” anymore I guess.  Nonetheless, great to run to. Hey fatboys, before mocking my belated electronica purchase, do 50 squats. I could squish you.
  • Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too Chill electronica/house long compositions to drowned out the returned student horde. Cheesy in parts, but very worthwhile for having only 3 tracks.
  • Mates Of State – Bring It Back Not sure why I was moved to buy this one. I know most of these songs and have seen them twice live. I already know what they have to offer and it’s okay.
  • Mitch Hedberg – Do You Believe In Gosh? Not as polished a performance as on the other 2 comedy albums, but the guy’s dead. It’s still funny as hell and worth repeated listens. Like the other albums, the jokes are only alright. Ridiculous observations and reductions to the absurd (“Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or a really cool potamus?”). But clearly the key to Mitch is his delivery. This manic burnout jumping from one-liner to one-liner. I could probably listen to this guy talk about anything.
  • Okkervil River – Down the River of Golden Dreams Occaisioned by the release of the new album, went back and got this nifty set of tunes. Not as solid as the more recent releases. Nonetheless, worthwhile nuggets abound.
  • Okkervil River – The Stand Ins Will Sheff makes me feel extraneous. It seems like he’s doing everything I would do if I were in a indie band. I guess that’s a little self-aggrandizing of me to say.  Pardon me. I’ve been at this for 2 hours. The defense against my inflated self-assessment is wearing down.
  • Rhymefest – Mark Ronson presents Rhymefest: MAN IN THE MIRROR It’s available for free so I don’t feel obligated to write much about it. Just know that it’s worth the download effort. Despite his implosion at the  Hideout Block Party.
  • The Cool Kids – The Bake Sale I was turn on to them by an article in the NYTimes, which is about as cool as checking out what your mom listens to. So I’m kinda behind the trend. I like the idea of it. Nostalgic low-fi hip hop. But I’m not sure I’m completely sold on this one example yet. 
  • The Uglysuit – The Uglysuit The band I saw at the Hideout Block Party, who’s performance was only remarkable for the fact that each band member seemed to be wrestling with their own unique hair issue. The album’s alright. Kinda like an earnest Flaming Lips?
  • Clinic – Do It! I’ve been buying Black Angelsalbums so I wouldn’t have to buy Clinic albums. But I broke down, as I always do, and here we are. Can’t say I was that far off on my earlier assessment. Both are garage rock psychedelia.  But you can tell Clinic songs apart. So both bands aren’t that alike. And there’s something still appealing to the saminess to the Black Angels. Clinic may be reaching too much. And they probably have better albums,
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Mouth Full of Pickle

So, let’s say you’re passing that table at work where they put the leftovers to catered lunches you weren’t invited to. And let’s say you espy a pickle and you quickly throw the entire thing into your mouth. And then let’s say as you’re walking away chewing this pickle, you intersect your boss’s boss’s boss (who is not a bad looking lady, as high-powered executives go, and who makes you kind of nervous when she’s nearby).

And when you grunt “hello” through the half-masticated brined cucumber, how do you respond when she says, “Oh, you have a mouth full of pickle.”

Probably not by saying, “Happens all the time.” 

Alas, this is the hand that has been dealt.

I may have indecipherably mumbled this. And it’s exactly for occasions like this that I half-mumble almost everything I say. My mumbles are intentionally protective. I fully acknowledge that I usually have no idea what the hell is about to come out of my mouth. So as much as I can, I try to render it unintelligible.

On such occasions when I do say something asinine, either I’m asked to repeat myself, thereby getting the grace to try again with a rhyming alternative (in this case, it would have been “Pickles are very fine”). Or if they don’t ask me to repeat what I just said, I hopefully leave them with some uncertainty about what they thought they heard me say.

And this was the hope I clung to as I scooted away from the silent awkward intersection, eyes straight ahead. To my glorious future.

When I relayed this story to my ladyfriend, she said, “Well at least it wasn’t ‘I bet you know what that’s like.'”

And true, it could have been worse. But not by much. Either way, the unseemly was suggested

It kills me that I felt like I had to say something when I could have just left it. I mean she started it with the mouth and the pickle thing, which made it awkward immediately. And then feeling empathetic that she caused the unintended awkwardness that I’m usually guilty of, I took it upon myself to smooth things out. I felt obligated (probably my middle-child peacemaker reflex) to make it all better with something cute and self-deprecating.

But instead I make it even worse by further building on her unintentional double entendre to such an extent that it is clear we are well beyond gherkins and dills.

Or maybe she didn’t understand me at all.

Either I am so fired or I’m not. Or I can expect a jar of Claussen’s from my Secret Santa.

I’m angling for the jar.

Bike to Work Week: Wednesday Morning

I almost got killed this morning (how’s that for dramatic tension?).

I was caught off-guard with a mind wandering…this time trying to figure out which was worse for Al Green’s career: the recent Corinne Rae Bailey and John Legend duets or his cameo in that what-the-hell-were-they-thinking Lance Bass romantic comedy vehicle, “On The Line” (2001).

I had just climbed the hill at the beginning of Old Sauk, so I wasn’t thinking clearly (of course it was cameo!).

I came to a stop at the light at the next 4-way intersection.  When the light changed for the intersecting road, I jumped the gun and began to cross, thinking I would then have the green next. I don’t know why I assumed this. I have no idea how traffic lights work.

Instead, the oncoming traffic had a green arrow. So as I was crossing, a big van came right at me. No horn or any slowing down. I just had to move my ass or die.

Now, I’m all about how the proximity to/awareness of death vitalizes life. I remember the thrill and the almost dying after falling off a white-water raft and coming up directly underneath that raft amid class IV rapids and jagged rocks in the New River of West Virginia.

But after this, I didn’t feel thrilled or any added value to life. Completely non-plussed. Just tired. And thinking about getting to work. 

And then I almost get hit again by a guy inexplicably swerving into the bike lane.

And then I start thinking about it and I realize I almost get killed like 6 times a day on the road and it barely registers with me anymore.

Have I become desensitized to my own mortality? Or maybe I’m just bored with the prospect of this kind of bike-related death. I need to keep imagining new and interesting ways to die to keep me sharp and law-abiding.  

That’s not good at all. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. How sad a fate to have Lance Bass in my final thoughts.

Bike to Work Week: Monday-Tuesday

Since life doesn’t pose enough challenges for me, I’ve decided to pose a few of my own.

When I’m not commenting on the Vore’s blog (which I’ve unsuccessfully lobbied to have them change the title to “Voretext”…no one appreciates me), I also hold down a full time job 7.4 miles away. Apropos of nothing (or if you think about it, everything) I’ve decided to bike to and from it everyday this week.

Lord knows why this will make a good blog series, but I need to stall while figure out what to say about “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” (the finest picker to play the blues or don’t you know?). 

I’ve been biking to work intermittently throughout the summer on my brand new Trek hybrid. It’s a 45-minute trip, 55 if I want it scenic. But this is my first attempt to do it 5 consecutive days. 

Monday was alright. Woke up with enough time. The hill at the beginning of Old Sauk Road is always a trial, a 60 degree pitch that goes half a mile. Makes me nostalgic for that 110 page thesis I once wrote. 

I’m pretty sweaty by the end of this. The factory floor bathroom at work has a shower, which it seems I’m the only one brave enough or careless to use. No problem for me. But I haven’t found a place to stash my laundry during the workday. I’ve been hiding it in my desk, which could get rank fast. I usually just take this home the next day by car. But since we don’t have this option this week, we’ll see how this develops.

The ride back wasn’t a problem. It’s a sweet ride down the Old Sauk hill.

Tuesday, I woke up a little late. So I pedalled a little faster. Even still, the tired mind wanders with monotonous physical activity. Tried to figure out how long it would take for me to get sick of it if I changed my first name to Ivanna.

“Hello?”

“Who is this?”

“Ivanna”

“Ivanna who?”

“Ivanna talk to you.”

Man, I get a kick out of that everytime.

Holy mole, I’m going to need some more dramatic tension soon, other than my moldering, desk-entombed laundry.

From 1 World 2 Wheels: A Trek Commitment

  • 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation.
  • 25% of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40% of all trips are withing 2 miles of the home, and 50% of the working population communtes five miles or less to work. 

The Pitchfork Music Festival, Rating: 8.6

Friday Night—Part of the “Don’t Look Back” thing, which I don’t know anything other than someone in Old Britain somehow convinces creepy old dudes to play their best or seminal (ie, not their best) album in its entirety live. One watches with grotesque curiosity at degenerating bodies flubbing their own lyrics. It was a pleasant warm cloudy day.

  • Mission of Burma (Rating: 7.1) My exposure to Mission of Burma far exceeds my appreciation of them. I have 3 albums and have seen them twice and I don’t get their celebrated status. Probably having something to do with when—not what—they played. That said, this wasn’t too bad since they were restricted to playing their best album in its entirety. But that “roman empire” song stinks, even in context.
  • Sebadoh (Rating: 6.5) I don’t remember Bubble and Scrape and I don’t think I would have liked it that much if I had. My experience of Lou Barlow begins with the beautifully sadsap Bakesale, and seeing this album in its live entirety kind of wants me to keep it that way. Lou delegated too many responsibilities back then it seemed.
  • Public Enemy (Rating: 7.0) Everyone but me seemed to be swooning with anticipation. Britt Daniel even came out and stood next to me (I asked him to not suck). Never got into these guys and I lack the capacity to fake enthusiasm. Their songs seemed to die when Flavor Flav did that “Yeah Boy” thing and Chuck D seemed to be stuck in one militant mood. Still, Flav’s television stuff and notorious undependability brought some celebrity and tension to the night. Was Flavor going to flake? But for missing the first song, he put in a solid show. Whatever people like of these guys, they liked this. Pitchfork Priceless Moment 1: As the crowd boos Flav for hawking his next reality television show (it’s on Wednesday nights!), he responds “Why you booing? You a bunch of ghosts? Don’t boo me, you fake ghosts!” Zing and zung.

Saturday—It poured all morning and was not letting up. It was far far from the nightmare that was Woodstock ’98. Still, the sogginess would persist for the rest of the festival. And then arose the dancing mud people. Oh, dancing mud people, what do you do when you’re not doing your filthy jive? Do you have jobs? Do you celebrate Thanksgiving with family? Do you even read blogs?

  • Boban I Marko Markovic Orkestar (Rating: 8.5) Late start because of rain, but still kind of a nice way to begin the festival proper. Nothing of the raucous show they put on a few days before in Millennium Park. Yet, the unpretentious galvanizing gypsy horn tunes served as a nice palate cleanser. It’s like they were wiping the slate clean for us, but we still end up chalking the same shit.
  • Titus Andronicus (Rating: 7.9) I do like them. And I think they did well in the rain. It’s still early Bright Eyes to my ears, but I don’t prize originality that highly. I like the combination of modern overeducated-underexperienced disaffected white boy angst with unhinged 50’s garage rock type pop. Reminds me of my dad. They didn’t need to be on such a big stage, though.
  • Jay Reatard (Rating: 6.4 by day; 9.1 by night) I’m a big fan of 2 minute songs. Get in and get out. And Jay is a master. No banter. Names the song title and boom he’s going. But it doesn’t work too well in the big outdoor setting. Way better for a musky windowless black room (where I would see them later that night).
  • Caribou (Rating: 7.6): Much more rocking than expected from the ethereal Andorra album, but not that much more interesting. Stayed for a few and scooted.
  • Icy Demons (Rating: 7.9): Way more interesting. And not so tricked out in weirdness, but definitely looking for new territory. Didn’t close the deal for me, but I’m not walking away yet, either.
  • Fleet Foxes (Rating: 9.1): I’m pulling for the Foxes to not be destroyed by their ridiculous press. They make pretty sounds, but they need better songs. But I think they’re all only 12 and I need to work through some jealousy. Nonetheless, they do a great job of translating their 70’s country folk sound live.
  • Fuck Buttons (Rating: 3.2): Knob rawk, don’t waste my time.
  • Dizzee Rascal (Rating: 5.1): Oh Rahzkooh, why do you hate us?
  • The Ruby Suns (Rating: 9.1): Their show minted at least one new fan. The breezy disjointed Carribean grooving were an unexpected treat as the sun came out.
  • Vampire Weekend (Rating: n/a): Didn’t see them. Just wanted to say again that I think they’re the Jar Jar Binks of Indie Rock. That’s copyrighted, btw.
  • Elf Power (Rating: 5.0) They’re like the Platonic Ideal for 90’s indie rock. If we ever do one of those satellites we fill up with crap to launch into space for aliens to find and then use to conquer us (wa-wah), we could do worse by throwing in an Elf Power CD. Completely what you (or I) would expect. Stayed for 2 songs. The aliens will have our number, for sure.
  • !!! (Rating: 6.2) I probably needed to be closer to appreciate this show. I had my !!! experience 2 years ago and was content to keep it distant. And it’s hard to get into dance-punk with a backpack. The kids seemed to like it, so good for them.
  • The Hold Steady (Rating: 9.2) I spent the first 3 songs trying to will myself not to like these guys. And I can’t do it. It’s almost un-American. Fist-pumping sing-along anthems about the self-destructive brats. They have embraced they’re place in pop and made it they’re own. I’ve heard Craig Finn say 3 separate times that there’s so much joy in what they do, I almost believe it.
  • Jarvis Cocker (Rating: 9.6): Holy mole, this guy puts on a show. I have a solo album and liked it alright. I liked Pulp, but then my exposure was only through albums there, too. The performance is a revelation. How can I become Jarvis?
  • No Age (Rating: 8.7): Wanted to see more, but was delayed by being unexpectedly impressed by and unhealthfully wanting to be Jarvis. Then they were having problems and I’m like the wind. I got to hear “Teen Creeps,” the Pitchfork 08 anthem I think.
  • Animal Collective (Rating: 9.2): Knob rawk, but on a much higher level. I was expecting something much more sloppier, befitting an Umphry’s McGee (or whatever) opener. These guys were tight. And efficient. They came to work. I wasn’t putting up with much by then. I just might learn not to regret buying “Strawberry Jam.

Sunday—It was a scorcher. Applied sunscreen 4 times to my sweat-slick forehead and I’ll still burn. But it was cost effective. Made 4 beers feel like 8.

  • Times New Viking (Rating: 7.3) I was expecting both much worse and much better. Their ridiculously low-fi ecstatic recordings portended either a brilliant live show or just sloppiness. Nonetheless, the short set of minimalist bursts of atonal poppy screaming didn’t offend or inspire.
  • The Dirty Projectors (Rating: 8.1) Maybe I’m just overly impressed that they can play Dirty Projectors’ songs. So oddball and overly constructed. But they sounded like the recordings. No fist pumping sing-alongs, though. And did they need to be on the big stage? Stay in the library, you nerds. I change my mind. 4.3.
  • Boris (9.1 for content; 4.3 for length) Japanese lady shreds. Drummer wears white gloves and plays a gong. But the token metal group only goes for 25 minutes? They flew from Japan for just 25 minutes of stage time. What kind of carbon footprint did that leave? Drummer says something about “electrical problem” but I can’t understand him.
  • Apples In Stereo (Rating: 8.5) Exactly what I expected. More nerd pop. At least these nerds were trying to be likeable. They were the eager-to-please waterboys to the indie jock squad.
  • King Khan and His Shrines (Rating: 10.0) I pretty much hate anyone who has not seen King Khan live. That casts pretty big net, I know and sorry. But by missing the rarely US-touring Canadian-Indian paunchy naked-but-for-lavender-hotpants-and-a-gold-beaded-head-dress Memphis-style soul-punk KING, it probably says something about them missing something rare and essential to life that I just can’t abide. Pitchfork Priceless Moment 2: I score a press pass gaining me front stage access. While the KING unnecessarily pantomimes lyrics from their transgendered anthem “I Want To Be A Girl,” my head ends up about a foot from where he has unsecurely tucked his manhood, exposed for all to see. Some see too much.
  • The Dodos (Rating 8.2) They probably need a smaller stage and to not come after King Khan, still the 3 guys do pretty well for the little instrumentation they bring.
  • M. Ward (Rating: Whatever) I’ve seen this guy so many times. And he doesn’t need anymore press.
  • Les Savvy Fav (Rating: 7.80 They’re alright I guess, but I’ve seen too many unappealing naked bodies today to be shocked by this guy’s antics. But still, they do an old school Superchunk cover. 
  • Spiritualized (Rating: 6.9) I really like Songs in A&E. But this seemed kind of boring here. But maybe I’m still coming off my Khan high. Too bad. He had some soulful backup singers that ended up doing too much of the lifting. Saw 3 songs and moved along.
  • Bon Iver (Rating: 9.3 for the originals; 1.2 for the Talk Talk cover) There were some really nice moments here. The crowd participation was well managed and made the experience almost cozy in the overflowing crowd. Pitchfork Priceless Moment 3: Bon Iver makes a very wrongheaded detour with an overlong cover a forgettable Talk Talk mess. The confused crowd politely applauds and yet someone shouts “More Talk Talk!”
  • Dinosaur Jr (Rating: 7.9) Holy guacamole, J Mascis is old. He now reminds me of this creepy dude who used to clean the pool at our YMCA when I was a kid. Or a short pudgy Gandolf the Grey. And say what you will of his reunion with Lou Barlow, I’m not too sure they deserved the prize spot they get in the schedule. But it was sweet that people still seem to like them. For me, that ship has sailed.
  • Spoon (Rating: 9.0) They did their job as headliners. Nothing too mindblowing, though. Speaking of jobs, I have one to wake up to tomorrow in 5 hours. I’m no dancing mud person.

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.

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