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Posts Tagged ‘crazy-devoted’

It makes me very happy when I think how the three best albums (in my opinion) of 2009 (so far) are all intensely joyful and dance-y.

Passion Pit; or, Glowing Things!!!

Passion Pit; or, Glowing Things!!!

This is so not always the case. Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago could be the best album of either 2008 or 2007, depending on which year you wanna count it. I prefer 2008, because 2007’s spots are taken for me. No one else has a chance in a year which sees work released from my favorite Broken Social Scene members, the core KC Accidental (Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin). A Tender History in Rust from Do Make Say Think: perfect. Spirit If… could also be called “Kevin Drew Doesn’t Even Need to Try to Woo Me I Love His Music So.”

But none of that was really stuff to put on when you wanted to bounce off the walls. Sure, each album had a few songs like that (excepting for the gorgeously despairing For Emma, which could not make one less likely to imbibe sugar, except in alcohol format), but nothing like this year’s shit. I could bring up the best albums from earlier years as well, but I’m lazy and they might disprove my point, which I’m not into.

My point is that this year’s best albums seem to be, across the board, “Holy shit, we have not been celebrating dance parties nearly enough, quick quick, get something that glows please!!!” I’m talking, of course, about Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s It’s Blitz! and Passion Pit’s Manners.

Random Junk in the Air is Always Delightful!!

Random Junk in the Air is Always Delightful!!

The music is much like the pictures. Bright. Swingy. Bouncy. It’s Blitz! has some slower songs without the leaping-around back beat of nearly all Passion Pit’s album. But even when it’s less hyper, it’s still totally fucking gorgeous. “Skeleton” and “Hysteric” have the electric-dance sound, but mellowed out and given these emotional peaks which are extra sweet precisely because of that ecstatic spacey feel. “Heads Will Roll” and “Zero” do the dance part more: super.

I’m pretty fucking nuts about Phoenix’s Wolfgang. I love whatever Phoenix does anyway, though; shan’t ever forget the first time I heard “If I Ever Feel Better.” Alphabetical: swoony. It’s Never Been Like That: that was fun. Wolfgang: Thomas Mars, it is not fair to do that swoony voice all over the place.

C'est trop charmant.

C'est trop charmant.

It’s always weird to use the word sultry, but Phoenix is kinda sultry. Thomas Mars’ voice tears me up: do I want to do a little dance, or am I in love and need to swoon? Case in point: “Fences”. In this song, Thomas Mars is being a real jerk, because he’s with Sofia Coppola, so if he wants to sing like that he’d better be single. I’ll forgive him though, since this entire album is a gem. What I especially like about it is though I like to dance around in my car, sometimes I need to breathe a little bit. I can be popping all over the place with Janet Jackson Passion Pit, and listen to anything off Wolfgang without losing my “I just had 3 cups of tea and 2 spoonfuls of sugar for giggles” feeling.

Then, oh my, then there’s Passion Pit’s Manners.

passionpitmanners

Passion Pit does not have the back catalogue of Phoenix or Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. Their first EP, Chunk of Change, came out in September 2008. I mean, I can’t even say with 100% certainty Michael Angelakos even graduated from college. I got use to being older than all the tween pop stars ages ago, but to be older than people I really, really adore? Whoa.

But man, let’s listen to me rave about Manners. Manners is simply fucking fantastic. I don’t know what the future holds for these kids (I can say that because I mean, they may not even be able to drink. I jest, I jest) but who cares. This is a great album. Genius? Don’t know, don’t care. It is just absolutely euphoric. “Moth’s Wings” is one of the most thrilling things I’ve heard in years. When Angelakos gets to “You come beating like moth’s wings/spastic and violently” I freak out. Then there’s all sorts of lush spiralling sounds, and lots of just nice old lyrics like “Put down your sword and crown / come lay with me on the ground” which just sound fucking happy.

I’m all for real interesting music. I’m into happy music. When you take a slightly off-beat (well, if at least one-third of all the music you listen to is Broken Social Scene) sound and make it enchantingly joyful, then you get something like Manners. Then you (or, me) end up playing “Seaweed Song”, “Little Secrets”, and “Let Your Love Grow Tall” and watch “The Reeling” repeatedly. I didn’t know quite why, except then I remembered I love shit which makes me wanna clap my hands, and then I get happy and distracted and start waving my head all over the place. I was walking out of the house the other night listening to it and decided I felt too colorful, and grabbed some bright pink earrings. That’s what this music makes you do. All of a sudden you want to resemble Rainbow Brite and run next to a boring brick wall and strip it off to reveal shiny gold things (this really does make sense if you’ve seen “The Reeling” video).

So these are, to me, the best albums so far this year. This could change though, since Broken Social Scene is recording a new album, and Maxwell just released something in the first time in eight years which I haven’t heard yet. God, I love Maxwell.

To be continued.

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I, The Feisty Sweetheart, love music. I am crazy-devoted to a few musical acts in particular, and I fully intend to rant and rave about them at my leisure. Let’s get started.

I love Ryan Adams. I love how prolific he is. Some people bitch about this and I get super angry. What an idiotic thing to be mad about. If you think his songs are shitty, say he writes a lot of shitty songs. Why get mad that the dude keeps trying and keeps having ideas?  Demanding that all artists come in one package and all release 10-13 songs every 2 years just misses the point. Some people out there make albums every once in a while and then go on a hiatus for years and a few people can’t help but make albums every other week. You know who else made a lot of albums in a relatively short period of time? The Beatles. Now, I don’t want to get crazy and compare the two, cos there’s a whole world of difference and my love for John Lennon is something approaching the eternal. But I appreciate someone who says “hey, studio, I have three albums I’d like to release this year. Oh, and surprise! I have another five albums because hey I love making music. What, you don’t want to release them? Whatever, let’s get drunk and write books.” I sense there’s a standard here for Legends of the Past to whom Young People of Today can never compare. Which is stupid, because Ryan Adams doesn’t have to be Bob Dylan or Paul Westerberg or John Lennon to be something worth remembering. He’s his own brand of lunacy, as are we all, and he makes himself (c’mon, have you seen his and Gawker’s mutual obsession? He’s created his own strange universe).

RyanBlue

So he released tons of albums. Then he slowed it down. Then he slowed it down to the point of dissolving the Cardinals and getting married and writing two books. All cool. I’m not going to complain because the man has given me so much music to love over the years. I feel like he’s written his own rules in an industry which isn’t so wild about that. I haven’t read his books yet (as an avid reader I’m nervous about reading his work. I don’t want my opinion of the author to impact my opinion of the singer or vice versa) but maybe I will drink a lot one night and work up the courage.

So I get it if he wants a break. That’s fine. If he goes back to making music, I don’t care if it’s sporadic or crazy-prolific again. Whatever, I’m interested in what he does and not how he does it (Plus, the man’s first major attention-getting band was named Whiskeytown. Good God, I was born to love this dude). In the meantime, let’s all have a good beer and think about the best songs he’s written. It’s an impossible job, my list will change tomorrow, but here it goes anyhow.

My Favorite Ryan Adams Songs

1.  My Winding Wheel

2. English Girls Approximately

3. New York, New York

4. Come Pick Me Up

5. When The Stars Go Blue

6. The Shadowlands

7. Meadowlake Street

8. So Alive

9.Call Me On Your Way Back Home

10. Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play That Part

This list utterly neglects all of his work with Whiskeytown, his unreleased recordings from The Suicide Handbooks, his cover of ‘Wonderwall’, and pretty much everything else he’s done. They all deserve to be on here, and this list was too hard. I’m gonna go listen to ‘Wildflowers’, ‘Gimme Sunshine’, ‘Miss Sunflower’, ‘Trains’, ‘I Taught Myself How to Grow Old’ and ‘Damn Sam’ and try to apologize. Oh and ‘Hotel Chelsea Nights’! Shit, that song is gonna beat me up. I should re-write this list, but I’m gonna have a beer instead.

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this is a good man.

this is a good man.

Let me begin my first real post by discussing a human being I truly adore: Haruki Murakami.

I was (and still am) a devoted reader of Iris Murdoch, who I plan to rave about later on. Iris Murdoch, for those of you who don’t know, wrote 26 novels. As a young lady I would seek her books out, going from store to store to see which ones they carried. Right next to Iris were Murakami’s novels, which are always an impressive collection as well. Time and again I would pick up a book of his and debate whether it was time to make the plunge. No one I knew had read anything by him, and I had little to go on but my own instincts. I would fall in love with a phrase, then find myself in weird waters and decide to wait. I gave in two years ago and bought Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It was fucking amazing and I entered crazy-devoted mode where I find everything by a certain artist and obsess over it (I do this a lot; with some things like Broken Social Scene it never stops).

So, why is Haruki Murakami so phenomenal? Like his books, it’s not so easy to sum up. He’s dreamy and all over the place. There’s magical realism, there are long digressions on music, and the protagonists love to sit around and cook some pasta while thinking about the world.  His female characters are unlike the mommy-saints or shrews littering so many of the novels and movies made by assholes: these ladies have their own lives and issues which do not resolve around the whims of the men they love. His protagonists are anxious outsiders who try to stay calm but are driven to figure out how to live in the world. That’s a pretty basic plot in literature, but the way Murakami writes it feels timeless.

To read Murakami is to know he is not a man who gets too concrete about things, which is why I highly recommend reading this gorgeous speech he gave in Israel earlier in 2009. In this speech he offers some insight into his own philosophy, specifically a breathtaking metaphor on The System, something his characters run up against in many of his books.  He sums it all up with this statement:

“Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.”

I think in a world more interested in bailing out Wall Street than people who are losing their homes this is astute. I think in a world where tanks and armies are used to keep down those who want the people to have more control than dictators or corporations this is a sentiment which needs to be heard more often. Every time I walk past a television set to a cable news station I think something like this myself. Every time I listen to someone defending invasions and occupations, or arguing for the death penalty, or telling me why the poor deserve to be poor, or why certain people don’t deserve to govern themselves, I feel what Murakami said there. All of my reading and all of my learning have shown me that there’s not much hope for the poor, lonely and forgotten of the world. We live in a society where some of us have endless opportunities. It’s easy for this group (of which I am very much a part of) to spend their time on self-fulfillment: to travel endlessly, to spend our time seeking out new music, watching new movies and documentaries, making art and reading books and learning to cook and generally developing ourselves. Sometimes we may come up against The System, but generally we’re allowed to navigate our way through this life.

But there’s a whole other group of people in our world who are sometimes referred to as “surplus humanity” or “disposable people”. They live behind the wall in Palestine and they live in Southeast DC. They live in the slums of India and they lived in the ninth ward of New Orleans. They are all over the world, and they don’t get to choose of a life of personal development. Sometimes some of them get to have jobs where they work horrible hours and ruin their bodies so I can own nice jeans. If they’re ‘lucky’ they get paid the equivalent of a few dollars a day, or get a bathroom break, or don’t have to work 14 hour days: then we can say they don’t work in sweatshop conditions and feel better about ourselves! It’s an improvement over being forced into prostitution or begging for food, absolutely. But such a lifestyle doesn’t offer a lot of chances to read great books or move on and work at a meaningful job doing something you love.

So while I write here, talking about the music and books I love and the causes I’m passionate about, it’s vital to remember that I was given the opportunity to feel and live this way. My lifestyle is utterly dependent on others who will never be able to pick up and move to a new city, or travel around their country in the summer. Everything we have and everything we do is bound up with those who have no choice but to struggle through their lives. Not so far away from each of us are those who are born into devastating poverty. People for whom college is not an option, people whose early childhood abuse has forever limited their IQs to 50 or 60.  People who mean well and are capable of love are born into drug addictions; as the pitiful opportunities for work present themselves they may turn back to drugs. People who are born behind real and figurative walls who watch their loved ones die in hospitals because medical supplies can’t get through. People who have no interest in politics or literature or great causes but only want to be able to live and love and die with some degree of peace. Our media doesn’t like to remember them, so it’s up to us.

So, as I move on from here and start writing more about all sorts of shit, maybe gathering some readers, here is the end of Murakami’s great speech. I think these are words worth remembering.

“We are all human beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, fragile eggs faced with a solid wall called The System. To all appearances, we have no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong – and too cold. If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls and from the warmth we gain by joining souls together.

Take a moment to think about this. Each of us possesses a tangible, living soul. The System has no such thing. We must not allow The System to exploit us. We must not allow The System to take on a life of its own. The System did not make us: We made The System.

That is all I have to say to you.

-Haruki Murakami 2/17/2009

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