No, I haven’t heard the new Arcade Fire album. Yes, I know. I just haven’t had the time. I just finished finals. I’ll get around to it. Fuck you.
What I have been listening to– repeatedly, feverishly– is that Titus Andronicus record “The Monitor”. I almost feel bad for agreeing so much with Pitchfork on a band. Fact of the matter is, this album is fucking amazing, forward-thinking punk rock (and admittedly that’s a lame label that’s as obsolete by now as “indie rock” but the most accurate way I can think of to describe this band without seeming even more overwrought and longwinded than I already do when I write about music God this is a long run-on sentence) with literate and clever lyrics. Absolutely propulsive rhythm section. A melodic sensibility that recalls the Chieftains almost as much as it does Nothington and the Loved Ones. I can’t say I’ve been keeping up with every single new release but I can say with some certainty that “The Battle of Hampton Roads” is the single best new song I’ve heard this year.
I also picked up Joanna Newsom’s sublime “Have One on Me”. This brilliant and lovely off-kilter, subdued, relentlessly strange triple album is what I’ve found myself drawn to during rainy evenings (and there have been many of those lately). It is a thing of beauty, even if I still don’t completely understand it. These songs take sharp melodic turns even operating within the confines of the “pop song” structure. And they’re jazzy and bluesy and folky in the same measure. They’re wonderful and mysterious and her restrained singing style (how easy would it be with her natural register to go the Kate Bush route!) is entirely captivating even if I have no idea what this woman is singing about (and I am more than okay with that).
A couple months later I’m still spinning the new Broken Social Scene record regularly. It’s such a wonderful slice of effervescent and sexy and dangerous music. The new She & Him was given to me as a present by La Cosa, and it’s definitely worth a mention as well. I felt the first album was a strong little homage to 1950s/60s girl-groups and countrypolitan greats, this new one really goes the extra mile to try to establish a unique voice for the duo. Bright, sunny happy pop music.
A record I have not been able to completely get my head around is The National’s “High Violet”. I realize it inhabits the same melodic space as “Boxer” but with an added level of abrasiveness. I picked it up about two weeks ago and have listened to it exactly twice. It just hasn’t grabbed me. I’m thinking it eventually might. I just hope I find the desire to ever listen to it again.
As to music not produced in the year 2010, the tenor saxophone of Paul Gonsalves has been scratching me where I itch lately. I first heard his work via a jazz compilation somebody gave me about five years ago– one of those generic “Top Jazz Players” compilations for non-jazz people to feel better about listening to Michel Bublé– and there was a brilliant version of “Over the Rainbow” re-imagined as a jazz standard. This gentleman had apparently been a legendary sidesman for Duke Ellington, Count Basie and the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra (natch). It’s always a little bit intimidating trying to get yourself acquainted with a jazz great like this because they have such a huge catalog behind them, mostly due to the constant repackaging of the jazz era.
I’ve also rediscovered the album “Five Lessons Learned” by mid-90s indiepunk stalwarts Swingin’ Utters, as well as a collection of Pollini renditions of Chópin’s Nocturnes. So yeah… 90s pop-punk and Chópin too.
As you could probably tell from the quality of the pictures in my previous post, I am the proud owner of my very first digital SLR. Yes, I know, it’s not really a big deal to anyone who actually knows anything about photography, but it is a personal triumph for me. Here are a few quick snaps I’ve taken in my first few days of ownership.