Ah, it's late on the next to last night o' the year. I'm the last up as the youngest has a friend sleeping over, and I fed 'em all into stupor (thank you, Alton Brown, for the homemade corndog recipe).
So, keeping things keeping on, here's my fave three albums of the year:
3. James - The Morning After . . . The Night Before: This "double album" comprises two eps released by the band over the course of the past 18 months in Europe, but constitutes their first proper stateside release in some time. Moody, dark, euphoric: all the things one should expect of this, the best British band of the past two decades with a name longer than three letters. Having finally gotten to see them play live this year was a revelation.
2. The National - High Violet: I knew this album would be one of my favorites for the year when I got it and didn't get it, but kept listening to it anyway, and then got it. And so should you. This is their best start-to-finish album from among the five in their oevre, and that's saying a lot since both Alligator and Boxer are masterpieces of the past decade. Frankly, The National wins Band of the Decade in my book.
1. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor: My favorite album of the year, hands down. My elder son's favorite, too, and he discovered it independently of me! The epic battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac as metaphor for love lost in a New Jersey that even Bruce Springsteen has abandoned. And they hired their old high school history teacher to read dramatic monologues between songs. I mean, c'mon.
Merry Christmas everybody! Warmest thoughts this holiday season from the chilly South!
I'm curious how my fellow eMusic subscriber friends are handling eMu's recent and controversial changes: the $ pricing system, the dropping out of some significant Indie labels, the big dump of major-label material.
I'm nearing the end of my first year membership and contemplating the renewal question. I've been really happy with my subscription this year, and thanks whc for being so patient in your recommendations of the service; it only took me, what, three years? I expect that I will renew for another full year, come February, but am curious to hear some input from longer-term members. What are your plans re: eMusic in the new year?
For myself, I don't see the major-label proliferation as evil (the classic era jazz additions to the eMusic library could probably keep me satisfied for the next year of downloads). Sure, Merge and other similar labels will be missed, but there still seems to be plenty of good alterna-stuff left. My own "Save for Later" list only shrunk by a couple titles (that I probably should have downloaded long ago if I was all that serious about them) when the change came. So those are my first impressions of this brave new eMusic world. I look forward to hearing yours.
I did lurk the eMessage boards for a bit: Man, there are some really pissed off people over there! ;-)
Way back in 1999 I discovered two artists whose work still resonates, though only one is still recording new music. I went to a show in a club featuring Richard Buckner (touring in support of his album "Since") opening for Those Bastard Souls (touring in support of their second and, dammit, final album "Debt and Departure").
Both are artists of the highest regard in my book. Buckner has continued to record albums of sterling beauty. Those Bastard Souls, well, their second album is one of those artistic statements that can only be made once, but damn it's so damned fine.
You see, half the band was the touring band for Jeff Buckley. Their violin player / background vocalist was his longtime girlfriend. He died, tragically and stupidly. And they recorded their second album, and it is a beautiful, heavy, under-appreciated classic of its decade. The opening song, "The Last Thing I Ever Wanted" is a tribute to Buckley, and frankly, I'm amazed that they could get through it live. I barely made it through as a listener. The rest of the album is alt-country classic, shoulda-been bigger, and why didn't they ever . . . If you get my drift.
Go find it.
Cool healthy and economical advice of the day: Minute Maid has a pretty damn awesome pomegranate/blueberry drink that retails for @ $3 a bottle. Here's the thing to do: Buy one and drink half; then, add spring water to the bottle (it will actually taste better: more subtle); drink up; then buy another bottle, and pour half into the now empty old bottle; fill both with spring water; refrigerate and repeat.
Just received the Evelyn Evelyn disc and assorted goodies straight from Amanda Palmer's website on Saturday. Very awesome stuff, and worth hearing. If you haven't heard (or gotten pissed off about it): Amanda Palmer (of Dresden Dolls) and Jason Webley have created a sort of Blair Witch Project of a musical project, inventing a pair of conjoined twin sisters and claiming to have discovered their recorded music and dedicating themselves to bringing it to the attention of the masses. It's an interesting and adventurous project, and, by my estimation, a successful one.
Apparently, there was a significant amount of controversy regarding this project. Folks who claim to speak for the handicapped were highly offended that two artists who weren't themselves handicapped would have the audacity to pretend to be handicapped. Apparently, these folks believe that a 23 year-old pair of conjoined twins sound like a 30 something year-old female and a 40 something year-old male. But, hey, you know, you can never know. Unless you know. And then, well, thanks for telling all the rest of us what to think.
And please accept my apologies for not thinking like you.
But I let my own ears and experience make my own decisions. And to my ears, this is a damn fine album and an effective project that really does speak to the experience of the outcast. And by my experience, having actually known a pair of conjoined twins (who are now, oddly enough, country music performers!), well, yeah, it works. And it's accurate. And maybe even a little bit (Fowlerianly) ironic.
As a parent, all one can do is try to protect a child from making the wrong choices. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, other forces intervene. My eldest was at a sleepover this weekend and got exposed . . . and now he is in the kitchen, playing Styx's "Mr. Roboto" album at full volume.
I'm thinking I might need to stage an intervention. ;-)
Kenneth turned 13 today, which makes me the parent of a teenager. Fortunately, he's been acting like a surly teenager for at least two years now (he's a chip off the ol' blockhead), so I'm already practiced and prepared.
We had a great day in Atlanta today. He had birthday money to spend, so we went to Outback Bikes, where I got his bike for Christmas, and he got some cool gear to improve both bike and safety (new pedals, gloves, a safety vest). Then we went to Decatur Cd and he grabbed two early Green Day cds (while I gronked the awesome Imaginational Anthem 3-cd set of primitive guitar from Tompkins Square Records, who did the awesome Fire in My Bones collection).
A cool day of wandering around Atlanta with the fambly. I suppose we could have done some Chucky Cheese sort of shit, but I figure this will be better for the longterm, if you get my drift. Cool day. Hope all have had a close approximation on their own terms of happiness and peace.