So the new Los Campesinos! album is going to be quite... something (I don't know, haven't heard it yet!). Based on the fifteen track titles they've posted and descriptions like "It is a record about the death and decay of the human body, sex, lost love, mental breakdown, football and, ultimately, that there probably isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel" it's likely either the best thing they've ever done or the first time their reach has exceeded their grasp. I'm hoping for (and expecting, I have to admit) the former. Either way, I bet you it's going to be kind of significant.
The Twilight Sad - Cold Days From the Birdhouse Marit Larsen - If a Song Could Get Me You Carole King - It's Too Late Crooked Fingers - New Drink for the Old Drunk OutKast - Gasoline Dreams The Wrens - Faster Gun Cex - Chicago R.E.M. - I Don't Sleep I Dream The Mountain Goats - Cobra Tattoo Donkeyboy - Ambitions
Every so often I encounter a really, really good band that seems to be obscure to an unjustified extent. Gregor Samsa is one such band, and while I can't do much about it, I have taken a very small stab at getting them some exposure with a capsule review at PopMatters.
I've said for a while now that some of the most valuable artistic experiences I had as a kid (and the kind I still tend to seek out) are the weird, the discomfitting, the unsettling, the inexplicable. Science being science and studies being studies, you should never place too much weight on any one piece of research, but I still like that there's at least a suggestion that I had a good reason for feeling that way.
I'll happily admit to being a longtime, helpless Hefner fan; as soon as I have a job again I plan to get the two-disc reissues of their first couple of albums, and hefnet.com is still one of my favourite band websites ever. So I'm pleased that not only does still-working Hefner frontman Darren Hayman have a blog, but that so far it's so entertaining. More reviews of UK horror films, please.
Belle & Sebastian - Don't Leave the Light on Baby Tindersticks - if You're Looking for a Way Out Neil Finn - Addicted The Hold Steady - Sequestered in Memphis U2 - Some Days Are Better Than Others The Mountain Goats - 1 John 4:16 The Fall - Iceland Elbow - Powder Blue The Twilight Singers - Number Nine R.E.M. - You're in the Air
When friends ask me why I don't attempt to make a living writing about music, I've never had a pithy answer. Now I can just show them this video. I pretty much agree with everything Christopher R. Weingarten says there, although I'd probably emphasize things a little bit differently.
Weingarten's point about "the because" is right but I think he's overoptimistic about how good your writing can be if you're ALWAYS restricted to 140 characters. More generally, he's got a valid point about a form of bad writing (3000 word pointless unedited internet reviews) and a form of good writing (poetic 140 word internet reviews) but like a lot of people he seems to make the error of thinking that his is the only form of good writing.
And while obviously the important thing here is that Weingarten's speech is true, hilarious and profane, I'm pleased to hear that people still remember Stylus.
My mammoth review of the new Mountain Goats album (one of the best of the year, guys! top three for me, probably) is up today at PopMatters. I'm grateful to whoever at PM tracked down the video of Darnielle doing "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace" solo piano, because I definitely hadn't seen that before. And I'm both flattered and amused to see that the most effusive of the tweetings that the review has gotten so far is from an old colleague.
You want to know how I feel about the Roman Polanski furore, and have since I first read up on it in the 90s? Here's how I feel. Marcia Clark, of all people, has a good overview on the legal issues and how stupid/craven/etc. etc. running in the first place. And none of this affects - or has anything to do with - my love for Chinatown at all.
My review of the stunning Brock Van Wey album White Clouds Drift On and On is up today at RA. I'd say it's my favourite sort-of ambient album of the year, but Mountains' Choral might be slightly better - or maybe just slightly easier to get through as Van Wey's two discs are 77 and 79 minutes. I cam very close to just giving it a straight 5/5, and if it had just been a little more digestible I think I would have, but still, and amazing album.
Chris at DYFL? has the most cogent thing I've read about Lady GaGa to date. I fully defend my friends' rights to hate or love her (myself, I like "Paparazzi" but nothing else that I've heard), but completely separate from the music I think there's something interesting about her.