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Monthly Archives: December 2012

This playlist is all over the damn place. It is a collection of my two favorite songs (decided pretty much arbitrarily) from some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to in the last year (also decided pretty much arbitrarily). The order is totally random, because I can’t commit enough to call any of these albums my favorite, let alone rank all 29 of them.

Some highlights:

Grizzly Bear, Shields

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If I HAD to pick one album that was my absolute favorite album from this year, there is a good chance that it would be this one. It was about three years since Veckatimest by the time Shields was released – enough time to get to know an album pretty intimately. I was a little worried that, having listened to Veckatimest so many times, I wouldn’t be able to love Shields in the same way.

False. Shields is downright incredible: simultaneously tender, but forceful; heartbreakingly sad, but shimmering and bright; deceptively simple, but bafflingly complex. Some review I read on it somewhere described it something like (#ImNotAJournalist #NotLookingUpTheSource) “having songs that lurch in several different directions at once”. On songs like “What’s Wrong”, that is especially true. It vacillates between soft and plinky piano and orchestral rock bombast, but somehow it just feels right.

Foxygen, Take the Kids Off Broadway

Foxygen Album Cover

Speaking of bands that take off in a million directions at once…

Foxygen are relative newcomers on the Jagjaguar label, the home of Bon Iver, and Dinosaur Jr, among others. The band cultivates a vintage, classic rock aesthetic with a modern bend that is unlike anything else I’ve heard. Listening to Foxygen’s singer, Sam France, spitting lyrics with more conviction than any 22 year old should be able to, you would think he might be Mick Jagger’s long lost son.

If I were a concert promoter, I would book these guys for a Denver show today.

Conveyor, Conveyor

Conveyor Album Cover

I don’t quite know where to place Conveyor. Experimental orchestral psychedelic dream pop seems about right, but I need about 87 more verbs to pin down their style. Conveyor has this irresistible heady blend of rhythmic, chanting lyrics, and spot on vocal harmonies, laid on top of gorgeous soundscapes. Conveyor is the band’s first full length album, and I can only see then getting better with age.


Edit: This post was listed on LargeheartedBoy’s Year End Master List. Go check out some of the others!

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There is this paradoxical feeling of intense isolation that comes with living in the city. You wouldn’t expect it, being constantly surrounded by hordes of people, but it’s there. And, as much as you try to forget it, as much as you try to surround yourself with kindred spirits, it inevitably finds its way through the cracks of your contacts list.

When it finally does push its way through the barricades that you have so diligently erected around it, it isn’t easily bested. No amount of friendly small talk and smiles from strangers will erase it. The sounds of neighbors through the wall only serve to intensify it. The people you pass on the street are no consolation, despite knowing that, at least to some degree, they feel it too.

Its a strange sensation, wedged in a seat on a packed bus, or nursing a coffee at a tiny wooden table in the back of a busy coffee shop, when that isolation overtakes you. There is no warning for it, either. One moment you’re happily surrounded by friendly faces, and the next moment you might as well be in the woods of Montana. Actually, being in the woods of Montana would probably be better. At least then, that feeling of isolation would be more easily understood.

As of now, I don’t understand it. It shouldn’t be that way. For me, it usually comes on after great times with the people I love. It comes at times when I should be feeling the most invigorated and loved and content. It’s at least partially self inflicted: when that feeling starts to take over, I’m not going to call you. I’m not going to answer your calls, and I probably won’t return your texts. It wouldn’t do any good, anyway.

Maybe someday my better sense will win out. Maybe someday I’ll be able to take down that feeling in a mental wrestling match of logic and reason. Maybe.

Sea of cars

Beyond the turbulent ocean of steel, and glass, and circular currents ( befuddlingly and errantly referred to by locals as a “meadow”), nestled between the striped tributaries of asphalt, a blue and yellow beacon of hope arises for all those who are troubled by their lack of and/or inability to efficiently store belongings. The people, they make the pilgrimage from far and wide to visit this bastion of life improvement. In their best Ugg boots and sweat pants, and with kids in tow (often literally dragged behind on a nylon strap), they come in droves. Though the rate at which they arrive is heavily influenced by the time of day and whether or not men in tights are being paid to throw and catch a ball on that particular day, the flow continues from the time the sun comes up until well after it sets.

They come to be romanced by a veritable museum of products for sale, displayed in settings that are obsessed over, analyzed, and precisely calculated to strike the best chord with “the many people”. They come to see, and touch, and try on for size a life that is not lacking in any belongings, or novel methods of arranging those belongings. They come to dine on frozen, and fried, and from powder food, and to marvel over its low price. And when they lacking space in their stomachs, some line up for the elevator, while others are brave enough to awkwardly trot down a concrete staircase to the rows of goods that they saw in the museum-like upstairs.

(To Be Continued.)