Wednesday, January 27, 2010 

More than this, I'm more than this

Feel good hits of the 26th of January, 2010:

Elbow - George Lassoes the Moon
Sycamores - Tinji Ko
Picastro - Suttee
The Fiery Furnaces - Tropical-Iceland
Manic Street Preachers - You're Tender and You're Tired
Neil Finn - Loose Tongue
Hot Chip - Take It In
Nine Horses - Atom and Cell
Funkadelic - Who Says a Funk Band Can't Play Rock?!
Andrew Bird - Heretics

Monday, January 25, 2010 

You think you have what you own

I really love being surprised by the new record from an old favourite, and Alan Sparhawk's second album as Retribution Gospel Choir certainly qualifies. I'll be truly surprised if it isn't somewhere in my, say, top 5 by the time 2011 comes around, and it is utterly unlike what I would have expected from the RGC. They'r playing in Toronto, oh, tomorrrow - I don't suppose anyone wants to give me a ride there and back, huh? I'll pay for tickets!

(Sartorial note: Don't you love Alan's sideburns? He looks like he could play Sabretooth or an American Civil War general or something)

Friday, January 22, 2010 

Calm, collected

I do plan to do my own 2009 round-up (which will be in a very different format than past, never-completed years) sometime fairly soon, but for now I'll point you to a belated review of what was seriously one of my favourite records of the year: Divisible's great debut Less Than Lion. I literally have not seen a single other review of the album anywhere else I normally read, but I highly suggest going by their site to see what you can hear. I played few albums in 2009 as much as I did Less Than Lion and it absolutely holds up. My apologies to the band that I took so long to write the freakin' review.

In other news, I don't have enough to say about it to warrant another post, but wasn't Hillary Clinton's internet freedom speech weirdly inspiring?

Thursday, January 21, 2010 

"You think you can choose the kind of guy you are?"

I love it when a TV show sneaks up on me, and suddenly after watching the last three episdoes over the last two days, I realize that the Canadian Crash & Burn has snuck its way into my heart. I'm looking forward to the next episode more than most shows I watch, which I never would have expected after the first few episodes. Given where the show's at now, I guess I'd compare it to a non-period Mad Men with insurance substituting for advertising and Hamilton for New York City.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 

Design of a decade (it begins, pt. who even knows?)

I still (arrrrrrghhhh) haven't found the time to sit down and read all of the Stylus Decade, but it looks like we're not posting our individual lists. So here's mine, with the usual caveats:

Next time I'm asked I reserve the right to totally contradict this. Honestly, just about every album here could have been #1 and I'd be happy (all of them feel like they ought to be higher, except for the actual #1). There are at least 50 other albums from the time period I didn't think of/had to leave off/wish I could include. Only two bands have two records on here (Low and the Mountain Goats, surprise surprise), but that wasn't necessarily deliberate, other than usually I wanted to include more rather than fewer bands. The decision making process involved me looking at all my old lists, then Stylus, Pitchfork, Metacritic and Acclaimedmusic for each year, then looking at my CD collection. They were ranked according to personal affection, my opinion about what "best" means, sheer bloody whim, and when it came down to it, how often I listened to the damn things. For better or for worse, here's what I voted for, unchanged from what I sent to the Stylus guys:

01. Samamidon - All Is Well (2008)
02. Tindersticks - Can Our Love... (2001)
03. The Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed (2004)
04. Low - Drums and Guns (2007)
05. Primal Scream - XTRMNTR (2000)
06. The National - Alligator (2005)
07. Stars Like Fleas - The Ken Burns Effect (2008)
08. MONO & world's end girlfriend - Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain (2006)
09. Six By Seven - The Closer You Get (2000)
10. Clinic - Walking With Thee (2002)
11. Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster... (2008)
12. Readymade - All the Plans Resting (2005)
13. Out Hud - S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D. (2002)
14. The Delgados - Hate (2002)
15. Hood - Outside Closer (2005)
16. TV on the Radio - Dear Science (2008)
17. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
18. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (2007)
19. The Wrens - The Meadowlands (2003)
20. Fever Ray - s/t (2009)
21. Songs: Ohia - The Lioness (2000)
22. Smog - Rain on Lens (2001)
23. Phosphorescent - Pride (2007)
24. Eluvium - Talk Amongst the Trees (2005)
25. Horse Feathers - Words Are Dead (2006)
26. Belle & Sebastian - Fold You Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (2000)
27. Mclusky - Mclusky Do Dallas (2002)
28. The Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (2002)
29. Ladytron - Witching Hour (2005)
30. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves (2003)
31. Guillemots - Through the Windowpane (2006)
32. Low - The Great Destroyer (2005)
33. Burial - Untrue (2007)
34. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark (2008)
35. Broadcast - Tender Buttons (2005)
36. The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off (2006)
37. The Knife - Silent Shout (2006)
38. The Necks - Drive By (2003)
39. Hefner - We Love the City (2000)
40. Thom Yorke - The Eraser (2006)
41. Joe Henry - Tiny Voices (2003)
42. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)
43. Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things (2007)
44. Liars - They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (2002)
45. Mountains - Choral (2009)
46. Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (2001)
47. The Avalanches - Since I Left You (2000)
48. The New Pornographers - Challengers (2007)
49. The Twilight Singers - Blackberry Belle (2003)
50. Oneida - Secret Wars (2004)

Also, on a more current note, here's my Pazz & Jop ballott for 2009.

Friday, January 15, 2010 

Where you been?

Feel good hits of the 15th of January, 2010:

Basement Jaxx - Plug It In
Nirvana - Polly
Pavement - Silence Kit
Little Boots - New in Town
Simon & Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy in New York
Primal Scream - Come Together
Divisible - Don't Say Nothin' Now
Hurts - Blood, Tears & Gold
Belle & Sebastian - Jonathan David*
The Congos - Fisherman

*I love productive mishearing of songs, and this one lingered on for years... until yesterday, no matter how much I knew intellectually that it wasn't the right line, I always heard Stevie Jackson singing ""it's not like we'll be pardoned, it's not like we'll never know love" on the chorus. Given that it's a song being sung from a guy who likes Girl X to his good male friend who also likes (and, crucially, is liked by) Girl X, and that the chorus is him ceding way as gracefully as he can, I always loved the weird about-face of that line. And although, again, I realized it was almost certainly not the actual lyric, I still loved it and no matter how hard I tried couldn't hear the line any other way. Yesterday, apropos of nothing, I heard it as (the correct, but less interesting) "it's not like we'll be parted, it's not like we'll never know love." I'll probably never hear it the old way again. I'm so disappointed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 

Show me your teeth

Since Stylus ended, I can't say I read 100% of the reviews at any music site, which I'm sure cuts down on the amount of good writing I'm exposed to. Every so often I stumble on something like Scott Plagenhoef's excellent and judicious review of Lady Gaga's quite good The Fame Monster and remember why I used to read everything I could get my hands on. Scott's review isn't so good because he happens to express almost perfectly my own feelings on Gaga (if anything I'm just a bit more enthusiastic/optimistic about her than he is), but that's a nice bonus.


A glance

Yeah, it's just one study, but I'm still pretty sure this is still one of the most important - and depressing - pieces of psychological research done in the last, oh, ten years.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 

Kicking comedy in the dick

This is easily the best use of that infamous scene from Downfall I've run into:

Monday, January 11, 2010 

As time stood still

I realize that even my music geek friends don't always have much time for or interest in ambient dub techno. But seriously guys, this Variant record is really, really great, and very accessible too (I think).


"the right side of this battle, the right side of the law, and the right side of history"

I realize that part of the reason Ted Olson's argument in favour of gay marriage in the States has such a charge is because he's a conversative (worked in Reagan and Bush administrations, etc.). But I think his essay is worth reading not just as a rhetorical tool, a kind of anti-Lieberman example that seeks to show that one side is wrong regardless of partisan interests; above and beyond all that it's a clear, cogent, and forceful expression of just how stupid the fact that we're even still arguing about the issue in North America is.

Friday, January 08, 2010 

Taco meat and soft serve sundaes

Who would have guessed that the best recent interview I've read with Andrew WK would come from Something Awful? Some of the questions came from members of the site's forums, but Andrew "Garbage Day" Miller is actually a pretty underrated music writer (the funny ones often are).

Thursday, January 07, 2010 

Like a broken record player (with a working stylus)

Other than possibly rounding up what I actually did for the Stylus Decade once it's all up, I promise this is the last thing I'll post on it, but if you're wondering why the whole thing is such a big deal to me/us, well, I wrote something for Blurt explaining it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 

We are living in a material world

Few things have made me as happy as UPS actually delivering my new computer(!!!) on a day that I happen to be working from home and so could be here to receive it. God only knows how long it'll be before I can get everything moved over, but to be able to get away from the crammed hard drive and aging hardware of my last machine will be a blessing. Which isn't to slam it - it's served me for about five years, and ably so for about four of them. Past time for an upgrade. And I'm going from 80 gigs to 320, which I ought to be able to leave mostly free for at least some time.

Also, Christopher Lee is making a 'symphonic metal' album. About Charlemagne. The samples you can listen to are... interesting.


Supplementary reading

You really ought to be reading the Stylus Decade, but if you're all caught up on that here's a very interesting Toronto Star article on airport security in Israel.

Edit: It's interesting to note that largely what the Israeli airports are doing right is what Bruce Schneier would call profiling (albeit the good, non-racist kind).

Monday, January 04, 2010 

Step five

This, by the way, is rightly or wrongly one of the things I'm most proud about from my whole Stylus tenure.


It continues pt. whoops

This went up a while ago, but I forgot to post it; here's all the writer lists from Blurt, and while my top ten is largely the same, we got asked a bunch of questions most place don't ask, so that may (or may not) be interesting.


It continues pt. omega

So after Nick Southall's intro essay went up Friday, today sees the full launch of The Stylus Decade and good god am I excited to read it in full when I get home tonight. I've got a single and an album blurb apiece in the first day's allotment, and I'll have plenty more to come over the next week or so (I'll probably just post again once it's all up with a list of what I did), but look at that site! Gorgeous design (Nate de Young deserves several medals for all the work he did getting it up), great writing, I'd say it's enough to make me wish it wasn't a one-off but, well, duhhhhhh.

Friday, January 01, 2010 

Give me something I can live for

So, having returned home from a night of good food and drinking, having cuddled with the cat and completed my ritual yearly listen to Six By Seven's "New Year," I'm to bed. Hope you all had a good celebration, of whichever type you prefer.

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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imathers at gmail dot com

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