Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pinch Pinch Press: Barnaby Jones #1

My great friends and former communal living partners Alex Burford and Jess Rowan have printed a beeeeautiful journal of poetry and fiction made from some of the brightest colors/poems/fiction that exist, currently. It's available here for a mere $5. Jess Rowan designed the whole thing. She has been doing some phenomenal stuff. Okay. Bryan out.

i just accidentally a starbucks cup, is this bad?

Monday, November 10, 2008

What I'm Listening To

karl blau nature's got awayKarl Blau - Nature Got Away

Karl Blau has a soulful Smog-like voice -- it sounds like maybe the way a thundercloud would sound if a thundercloud was on K Records. That is to say, it sounds beautiful. Like the kind of beautiful you would not find on purpose. Maybe a secret kind of beautiful hidden on a back shelf of a janitor's closet.

I wrote this shitty review of this album for Chuck Adams' Eugene Weekly blog:

"Karl Blau's new album Nature's Got Away has 12 tracks made out of silkworm dogma. When I listen to it I think of lighting plastic on fire and then dripping fire plastic onto things. At some points in the album I think things like "that sounds like crickets" and then I start thinking about dripping flaming plastic on crickets, amen."

mountain goats satanic messiahThe Mountain Goats - Satanic Messiah EP

John Darnielle's "pay what you want" digital EP, Satanic Messiah is a scant 4 songs, but it does not disappoint. I don't think I have ever been "disappointed" by a Mountain Goats album. The songs on Satanic Messiah retain the same urgency that Darnielle's songs are known for, despite the slower beat and more relaxed instrumentation. More piano, a little better production value (by that I mean it's not recorded in a boom box -- which, don't get me wrong, are some of my favorite Mountain Goats songs); these songs are indicative of the direction Darnielle has been taking his music for some time. Sparse, haunting instrumentation and intensely focused lyrics make these songs something every Mountain Goats fan should add to their collection.

vivian girlsVivian Girls - Vivian Girls

This album is for everyone who wanted to like Times New Viking, but couldn't get past the sheer vulgarity of their treble. This album's super low fidelity affords it some kind of tangible innocence that I haven't heard in a long time. I can't think of the last album I heard that created an approximation of "well-being" in me. The lack of virtuosity present in this album is something that I appreciate and embrace. I think way too much emphasis is placed on the technical proficiency of rock stars. I think that's all a bunch of horse shit. This album is thick with soul and playfulness -- something that would be compressed to hell on all the over-produced top 40 albums.

We want dynamic range! We want overtones! Sloppiness is akin to humanness!

chad vangaalen soft airplaneChad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane

Alex and Kasey turned me on to this album. VanGaalen has a haunting anxiety in his voice. When he sings "When I die / I'll hang my head beside the willow tree / When I'm dead / Is when I'll be free / And you can take my body / Put it in a boat / Light it on fire / You can use the kerosene" on the first track, I get goosebumps. Unlike many singer/songwriters, Chad VanGaalen's music is not one dimensional. The first track is a banjo-led dirge, but other songs include a techno-driven dance song, and a song that sounds like he's playing a fuzz pedal submerged in a swimming pool surrounded by electric crickets.

department of eagles in ear parkDepartment of Eagles - In Ear Park

I won't go into how Department of Eagles and Grizzly Bear differ, I'll only say that if you haven't, you should become completely immersed in the sound of both bands. This album will surely end up on many "Best of 2008" lists. Because it's stunning. It hits all the important places of your body. I have been trying to get the reverb on my amp to give me the sound Rossen gets on "No One Does It Like You" for weeks. I beg my little Crate amp, but it must be the wrong language. All the people involved with Department of Eagles and Grizzly Bear have amazing gifts. These bands offer a kind of virtuosity and technical proficiency that I can embrace whole heartedly. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.

frightened rabbit midnight organ fightFrightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

If I was Scottish, I think I would probably be sad a lot, too. Think about it, the Scots invented scotch for a reason. I don't imagine they go around with whistles and bottles of scotch flipping young girls upside down while a Timbaland song plays in the background. My image of Scotland comes primarily from Lynne Ramsay's film Ratcatcher. It's like Gummo -- but in Scotland. Anyway, Frightened Rabbit gets into that kind of gritty sadness that reminds me of when it's raining and you're alone and you kind of can't help but feel a little affected by the dynamic that the rain creates. Like, somehow the raindrops are a presence and so even though you're alone, you feel surrounded in an okay way. That's how I think Frightened Rabbit feels, and that's kind of how their super emo Scot-rock makes me feel.

herman dune next year in zionHerman Dune - Next Year in Zion

Herman Dune is a French pop band that writes frustrated songs about long distance relationships. The songs on "Next Year in Zion" are clever and well-written. The hand-drum beats and giddy little lead guitar parts help beat back the Monday demons, despite this album's melancholy subject matter. Not as catchy as some of the songs on 2006's Giant, but still a solid album.

fucked up chemistry of common lifeFucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life

I should have known about Fucked Up a long time ago, but my knowledge of new music comes solely from the internet. I am not involved in any music "scenes." Maybe if I hung out with more hardcore kids I would have known about Fucked Up. Apparently they have released about a million singles and 7"s since 2002. I'm not a huge hardcore fan, though I have been easing back into noisy punk for a while now. I thought I'd disavowed "punk rock" and even discussed its "death" for some time now. However, with innovative bands like Fucked Up and No Age, I'm beginning to thing punk may be experiencing an intelligent resurgence. Not a "fuck the world" resurgence, but maybe a sly middle finger behind the world's back. Today is Monday, and the screaming on "The Chemistry of Common Life" is extremely satisfying. And the drumming is actually interesting. It's not normal shitty punk drumming. Definitely a good record to break shit to.

deerhunter microcastleDeerhunter - Microcastle / Weird Era Cont

Microcastle and Weird Era Cont represent, for Deerhunter, a turn toward poppier shoe gaze. Dare I say some of these songs even have hooks? I had a hard time getting into Deerhunter at first. I even saw them play in Portland with Grizzly Bear, but I couldn't get into the loop pedals and the noise. Since then, I've grown fond of shoe gaze and noise rock bands. However, Microcastle and Weird Era Cont both beg a new classification. Some of the songs on Microcastle even remind me of 50s ballads on psychotropic drugs. With his latest efforts (Atlas Sound's Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel included) Bradford Cox has developed a direction for his music. I declare all of the aforementioned projects to be "successful."

always the bridesmaidThe Decemberists - Always The Bridesmaid

Who better to write a song about the debacle involving Robert Novak's release of Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity than Colin Meloy? "Oh Valerie Plame / If that really is your name..." "But I was just some stupid boy on a bus / When your nom de guerre was Codename Caroline..."

The Decemberists' ability to turn national security blunders into catchy as shit pop songs is one of the top reasons I love this band over and over a thousand times. I also think this song is probably a middle finger to the government. Something along the lines of, "Hey assholes, if you're not going to take this gross mishandling of national security seriously, we'll just turn it into a flippant pop song." Why not take your frustration and turn it into sweet pop bliss? They convicted Scooter Libby and Bush commuted his sentence, so what else are we supposed to do for justice? We will make pop songs. It's the ultimate form of civil disobedience. Now I want to hear The Decemberists' create something along the lines of "Oh AIG you're not doing well / If I don't see more dividends I'll see you in hell."

Oh yeah, and the other songs on here are equally catchy and worth listening to.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Feelies: A Playlist for Alex

He made me a Songs: Ohia playlist and now I reciprocate.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tonight I Feel Like So Much Has Been Lifted Off Of My Shoulders

This negativity and depression and sadness feels like it might be leaving. Diane Sawyer's eye liner was distracting, yes, and her drunken mannerisms — but goddamnit I actually feel proud to be an American. PROUD. Something I have not experienced ever. George W. Bush has been president since I was 15 years old. I don't think I ever gave "pride in country" any thought before I was 15. I have had "fear for country," but that is something that does bad things to your mind. And also, I have had "loathing for citizens" of this country. It is very, very exhausting to have to constantly feel disgust in response to the actions of your fellow citizens, and to, at times, loathe their ignorance.

Earlier on local TV, some cynical Republican from Medford said, "Just watch, it's a pendulum effect. In 2 years people will wake up and realize blah blah blah fiscal conservatism blah blah blah." It could be true, Americans are a fickle people by nature. Flip-floppers. But no matter how we feel in 2 years, we have reached a milestone that can never be revoked, and I hope we all can keep moving forward no matter what happens.

But the best comment of the night came from my mother telling me that my Texan (read: racist) grandfather voted for Obama. To me, that's real change.

No matter what happens in the next 4 years, I want to be able to hang on to this feeling of nationalism and general good will toward my fellow Americans. I feel, tonight, like it's maybe not so bad to let these arbitrary borders lend me a title. I love you all, and as I watch the crowd gathering in front of the White House (no doubt thousands of middle fingers raised) I want you all to know that we are getting better. There is a cure.

Weird Definition

Apparently this condition in sheep is also known as "gid." What is wrong with these goddamn sheep doctors?

Apparently "gid" comes from "giddy"--

and giddy comes from Middle/Olde English "gidig" meaning God/possessed by divine being

therefore: tapeworm = god

Special thanks to Willie for this analysis.

Monday, November 3, 2008

David Byrne Says Vote

An email I just received from David Byrne (because I bought his newest album, I guess):

Pardon the bulk mailing. I Can't Vote. I am an immigrant with a Green Card and, therefore, I am not eligible to vote in a federal election. FYI - I can get drafted (luckily, Daniel Berrigan burned my draft board's records) and I pay taxes, yet I cannot vote for President. On Election Day, I see my neighbors heading to the nearby elementary school to cast their ballots. The voting booth joint is a great leveler; the whole neighborhood - rich, poor, old, young, decrepit and spunky - they all turn out in one day.

But most of you can vote. What can I say? The Republicans have made us less safe than before 9/11, bankrupted this economy, started an illegal war they can't - and don't intend to - finish, removed what sympathy (after 9/11) and respect the world had for the US, and have robbed US citizens of many of their basic rights. Global warming? What's that? Science and education? Investment in our future? No, thanks - we'll stick with a good 'ole hockey mom. Ignorant, and fucking proud of it, as is always the case.

Although it looks like a shoo-in, it ain't over 'til Florida. And there are plenty of racists in this country who will vote against their own best interests. So please, get to your local elementary school, post office, town hall, or whatever, and cast your vote and make this a country we can all be proud of. We can get out of this mess, and life can be better than it is.

David Byrne