January 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Oh, to realize
something is ending
December 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
To finish up my few posts on the albums released in 2011, I thought I’d post a mix of some of my favorite songs. Together, the 2 files below contain 33 of the songs I came back to most. 15 of them are by artists I’ve already mentioned in these posts, so there are a good number of extra stuff, even single songs in albums I ended up hating the rest of. After the jump is the track list. Happy Holidays!
December 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
2011, musically, wasn’t a blow out year, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good year. There were no albums I can think of that I was holding my breath for, no Sufjans I saw coming and no Graham Lambkins who consistently change the way I listen from the ground up. But what was an overall subtle year – by which I mean a year full of albums that only really hit me the more I listened – ended up being a year of my most ‘diverse’ listening. Looking back over previous lists, my top five or six albums tended toward the indie and the indier, the popular indie of bands and singers like Sufjan or Bill Callahan or The Mountain Goats or the more obscure indie of Lambkin/Lescalleet, Little Women, Ben Frost. And it was rock, folk, or noise/sound. This year, perhaps because of the lack of breakout albums, a few more genres are represented. Below are my six favorite albums of the year, in no particular order. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Some of my favorite albums each year are the ones that take some getting used to, the ones that are disconcerting or annoying or confusing but still have some extra piece of allure. Albums like that most directly challenge my preconceptions of what art is, what music is, what I like or don’t like and why. They force me outside of myself, the self that naturally says yes or no immediately to a song rather than one that thinks about why I’m responding a certain way.
And that, I think, is an important facet of more postmodern art anyway – a critical examination of response. Duchamp taught us that calling a thing Art does fascinating things to the process of artistic response, and albums like the six below ask their own questions of worth and value, of beauty, of what to think in any respect. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
One of the biggest problems with social media, instant media, and the rise of a specific class of tastemakers – websites like Pitchfork, for example – is that taste and critical opinion have more to do with constructing the self than with actually thinking about the music – or actually experiencing the music, which is probably more important than thinking about it.
At least, this has certainly been a problem for me. Too easily I judged bands according to the authority not of critics I admired, but according to an authority that spoke about what it would mean about me if I listened to this band. I’ve tried to kick against the pricks, pun intended, in a few ways I think my music lists demonstrate. Initially, my list was basically a jumbled up version of Pitchfork’s end of year rankings. Then, I tried to “make my own way” by getting even more obscure. Eventually, Miley Cyrus taught me what I needed to know about pretension: I listened to Party in the USA and When I Look at You and actually liked the songs. Even though I tried, I couldn’t really deny that the experience of listening to these songs was pleasurable. So, since then, I’ve tried to think less about thinking of my self-construction in music (or perhaps I’ve just gotten sneakier at doing it), and that’s what this list comes out of. These albums were all pretty popular – either on a mainstream scale or on an indie scale – and it was worthwhile for me to listen to them, experience my enjoyment at listening to them, and try to recognize that outside of what it ‘means.’ They are, popularity or critical acceptance aside, albums I really liked.
December 9, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I thought I had resisted the temptation for end of the year lists. For the last four years or so, I’ve listed my favorite albums of the last year, counting down from 30 to number 1, and each year I try to find some sort of caveat for the project that makes it sound not-pretentious and not-ridiculous, as ranked-lists always are (though, in the same breath, ranked lists are always so fun and usually great conversation starters). This year, I’m going to avoid the lists and the rankings, but I still want to post some of the albums from 2011 that have had me all tied up this year. So, the plan is 5 albums that haven’t gotten much attention or just can’t get much (today’s), 5 strange or obscure or just weird albums that are worth giving a try, 5 hugely popular albums that I loved, and my absolute favorite 5 of the year. After making this list, I realized I have about 6 for each category, but I’m sticking with the number 5. Seems safer… « Read the rest of this entry »
December 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Though embarrassingly uninformed, my recent incursions into classical music have at least introduced me to the chaconne, a form prominent in the Baroque-era that features an incredible sort of variation within unity, like a wordless sestina. I would say more, but I really know absolutely nothing about music in a way that can be discursively communicated, and what I know in other ways is not particularly useful. Here, though, is the violinist Jascha Heifetz playing the chaconne from Bach’s Partita for Violin No. 2 – a piece that consistently and utterly destroys me.
November 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Really, I could title this, Being Pretentious, or Trying To Be A Tastemaker – either would apply. But when it comes down to it, being wrong, staking out something that was partially untrue or not wholly true or not even partly true or wholly untrue, that’s the awful consequence.
See, for some reason, I thought growing up and maturing meant that I would continue to narrow my tastes and my opinions, that eventually I would have more figured out than I have un-figured out. I thought I would get the sense of Me, and that hand-in-hand with that sense is acquiring a thought-through, developed philosophy so that whenever News Event X or Album Y is presented, I could decide pretty quickly if it’s Good or Bad, Right or Wrong, and what my critical stance is. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 29, 2011 § 1 Comment
There is something cold and rainy, or maybe the cold that comes in the immediate post-rain, about Phil Elverum’s bands, The Microphones and Mount Eerie. Cold, but warm with something – like how walking outside in the Autumn makes you remember how warm your body is beneath the skin. So, today is a Microphones and Mount Eerie day.