Thursday, June 03, 2010

Favorite Albums of 2009

I intend to finish my favorite movies of the decade countdown by the end of the week, but in the meantime I thought I'd shift my thoughts to a very belated list of my favorite albums from last year. It strikes me one of the theoretical advantages of the blogosphere is that writers don't need to be quite so slavishly concerned with deadlines, so for instance a best of the year list need not materialize in the first week of January, when solid December releases are still trying to make their claims upon time and memory. Instead, of course, the blogosphere mere encourages a race to the finish mentality, so that it's not unusual to see sites pushing out purported favorites sometime near the end of November. At any rate, these are the releases from last year that periodically obsessed me and which still claim some hold over my attention and affections.

1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart -s/t An album which I liked a lot on first listen, and which I came to love over the course of the year. Pungent shoegaze nostalgia that wraps its fuzz blast histrionics around singing that whimpers and whispers its way around the ear as the lyrics make desperate proclamations of adequacy and yearning.

2. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Phoenix Car commercial dance punk of an unusually stirring variety. Music to drive into brick walls by.

3. Primary Colours - the Horrors Like all current Brit-pop possessing any pretensions to relevancy, this channels Ian Curtis's ghost to exuberant effect, like paranoid roosters trapped in a florescent box.

4. It's Not Me, It's You - Lily Allen Snot-nosed spitfire proclamations of gender ressentiment wrapped up in the bouncy-bouncy day-glo sounds of a girl figuring out just how much the world owes her.

5. It's Blitz! - Yeah Yeah Yeahs! In which Karen O. discovers her inner disco goddess and conquers dance floors in need of a good rug shampooer.

6. My World - Lee Fields A soul legend only in the lost dreams of jaundiced archivists, he rises from the earth to produce stone cold soul that demands history's bloody head on a plate.

7. Wilco (the Album) - Wilco The joke being that not even people who like them a lot (like me) have any trouble imagining their lives without them, but their poignant superfluity, like the backyard bar-b-q philosopher who takes you aside to explain the meaning of love, money, and rock n roll because you both need and deserve to know, is their primal gift after all.

8. Embryonic - The Flaming Lips Weird noises gurgling up from the basement belonging to America's favorite square hippies next door, this is drenched in the sounds of the sad reverie of those too easily astonished at the limits of their imaginations, which is why it obsessed me for two weeks straight.

9. Rated R - Rihanna - Explorations of a superstar's distorted, jagged plane of super-existence, where every trauma takes on the scale, pathos, and bathos of an epic myth.

10. Sainthood - Tegan & Sara - Still getting into this, but sounds almost as good as the last one, and with the girls possessing great yelps in the form of voices that give me goosebumps even when the songs have nowhere in particular to go.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Love and Memory

From Wikipedia's entry on the year 1327:
April 6
Petrarch sees a woman he names Laura in the church of Sainte-Claire d'Avignon, which awakes in him a lasting passion. He writes a series of poems dedicated to her, which are collected into his Canzoniere ("Song Book"). This is generally considered to be the day the Renaissance began.

"I soon realized I had made no mistake in my choice of wife. I was helping her pack an overnight bag one afternoon when she said, 'Put in some tooth twine.' I knew then that a girl who called dental floss tooth twine was the girl for me." - E.B. White