Sunday, November 26, 2023

Clark - Sus Dog

I was a big fan of Clark's 2014 self-titled album but lost track of his very prolific releases over the years. On a whim I decided to see what he's been up to, and lo and behold discovered that he (Chris Clark) released a new album earlier this year called Sus Dog. Apparently 'executive produced' by Thom Yorke (who also sings on one track), the album is unusual in his discography in that he actually sings on it. His voice takes a bit getting used to -- it's a falsetto -- but it begins to feel familiar after a while. Clark's music in general is really hard to locate but this album is really... pretty? Lots of organic touches through the electronics that evoke a toy band working with high-level electronics. The Guardian says it answers the age-old question: "What would it sound like if the Beach Boys took MDMA and made a rave record?? The usual suspects have been very praising. But don't take their word for it. Check it out.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Julia Holter - Sun Girl

Finally! Some new music from Julia Holter. I hope this is a signal that a new album is imminent. I absolutely loved Aviary (2018) which had a huge, cavernous sound that enveloped you. As with much of her music, her vocal(s) are truly sutured into the music as an instrument, weaving in and out of the orchestral flourishes. She draws from the syllabic grandeur of Cocteau Twins in that it's not necessarily the words that matter but how she says the words. Definitely a lot of odd phrasing of text.

I had the fortune of seeing her at the Warsaw venue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on February 22, 2019 and it was mixed and presented impeccably. She played with a small ensemble of musicians who were truly zoned into the experience.

On this new track that just dropped, "Sun Girl," there's a hint of the heavy percussiveness (is that a word?) of Four Tet, but not as insistent or synthetic. As one might hope from a song called "Sun Girl," the song is unabashedly dipped in joyfulness -- no irony or cloying double message here.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily - Haseen Thi

I saw Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily recently, on September 14, 2023, in New York at the Town Hall. They were surprisingly good. I liked Aftab's slightly assertive stance on stage, a glass of wine in hand, one leg slightly in front of the other, unafraid and unselfconscious. The crowd was a bit uptight and reverential--middle class NPR liberals--but the music was occasionally just enough exploratory to make you think that it was all improvised.

I actually had low expectations for their collaborative album, Love In Exile (2023), not because they're not individually good--Vijay Iyer especially has been very adventurous--but because I expected a kind of Starbucks-lite muzaky thing. But I have to admit I like the album quite a lot. It floats by, but also tugs at you, drawing you in despite yourself, making you pay attention to the tones and timbre of the music, much like Aftab's fantastic solo album from last year, Vulture Prince (2021). There's a real three-dimensionality to the music, and her voice especially is quite gorgeous. This track is one of my favorites, "Haseen Thi."

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Skinshape - I Didn't Know

Skinshape is basically one British dude named William Dorey. It's pretty organic, mellow, some-of-it-just-instrumental pop with light touches of 70s soul, a tinge of early 2000s chillwave (think Zero 7). Skinshape has many albums but they are all surprisingly good. He has a new one out that is called Craterellus Tubaeformis, bits of which you can hear here.

The first time I heard this music was in the summer of 2022 on a visit to LA at a place called The Rose Venice in Venice Beach. We were having an early dinner, I think, sitting outdoors. They were playing a song over the P.A. and it pretty much stopped me cold. Something about the guitar reverb, the strange chords, a story about someone you might never see again. It's called "I Didn't Know" and it's from the album Filoxiny (2018).

Friday, March 17, 2023

Goanna - Solid Rock

Another 1982 entry, this one from the Australian band Goanna led by the great Shane Howard. A bit ahead of their time in that the subject matter of the song deals with the land rights of the Indigenous people of Australia, and in fact utters the term 'genocide.'

Fat Larry's Band - Zoom

I adored this song as a kid. Still do. My year of 1982.

For Sai: Everything But The Girl - These Early Days

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Music in 2022

I listened to very little music that was actually released in 2022, but hands down the best album I heard was Beyoncé's Renaissance. More on that later. Overall, albums released in 2022 that I actually listened to:

1. Beyoncé - Renaissance 
2. The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention
3. Cate Le Bon - Pompeii
4. Nilüfer Yanya - Painless
5. Beach House - Once Twice Melody
6. The Arcade Fire - WE

Of the older albums that I listened to this year, a favorite was Halsey's If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power. Other stuff I listened to this year:
- 50 Foot Wave - Power + Light
- Walter Becker - Circus Money
- Bombino - Agadez
- Can - Tago Mago
- Chromatics - Kill For Love
- Cluster - Sowieso
- Crusaders - Street Life
- Miles Davis - In A Silent Way
- Deerhunter - Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
- Grizzly Bear - Shields
- Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
- Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power
- Kare-Lis Coverdale - Grafts EP
- Rafael Anton Irisarri - Midnight Colours
- Mogwai - Central Belters
- Mogwai - Every Country's Sun
- Mogwai - 2018
- Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile: Deviations 1
- The Police - Ghost in the Machine
- Radiohead - The King of Limbs
- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - Soul (soundtrack) 
- Skinshape - Filoxiny
- Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - The Kid
- Thom Yorke - ANIMA

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

TV from 2022

Unusually, I saw a lot of TV this year, more than I have ever seen in probably any year of my life. I don't normally watch that much TV, but for some reason managed to fit a lot of it in. There was also a lot of good TV, so there's that. This list at the bottom is all the shows I watched in alphabetical order, but my Top 10 shows would probably be:

1. Severance (Season 1)
2. Better Call Saul (Season 6)
3. Andor (Season 1)
4. Ms. Marvel (Season 1)
5. Fleishman is in Trouble
6. Peacemaker (Season 1)
7. White Lotus (Season 2)
8. The Boys (Season 3)
9. Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (Season 1)
10. Moon Knight (Season 1)

Other stuff I watched, in alphabetical order:

- Black Bird
- The Book of Boba Fett (technically, 2021-22)
- For All Mankind (Season 3)
- House of the Dragon (Season 1)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Season 1)
- Never Have I Ever (Season 3)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi
- Ozark (Season 4)
- The Staircase
- She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Season 1)
- Stranger Things (Season 4)
- Under the Banner of Heaven 
- The Watcher

Saw partially, need to finish
- Harley Quinn (Season 3)
- Interview with the Vampire (Season 1)

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Movies from 2022

This loneliness feels new. Partly because I don't think I've felt deeply lonely in many years. But this feels a bit isolating, like the absence of people manifests itself in a solid mass in your head. It's not just absence of things, it's also the presence of emptiness.
Anyway, I recently saw a bunch of movies, somewhat by accident. On planes and things like that. I've added them to my master list of stuff that I think I saw this year (see bottom of this post). At the top is my top 10.

1. Prey (d. Dan Trachtenberg)
2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (d. Ryan Coogler)  
3. Licorice Pizza (d. Paul Thomas Anderson) 
4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (d. Rian Johnson)
5. Barbarian (d. Zach Cregger)
6. Nope (d. Jordan Peele)
7. Avatar: The Way of Water (d. James Cameron) 
8. The Fabelmans (d. Steven Spielberg)
9. Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (d. Sam Raimi)
 10. Fletch, Confess (d. Greg Mottola)
I think my favorite movie of the year was Fletch, Confess. I am only partly kidding. It's the most low-stakes and pointless movie I've seen in years. And yet it is totally internally consistent, and every single person in the movie is there for a reason and acts in a way that is logical. It's like if steak, mashed potatoes, and peas got together and made a movie. I so thoroughly inhabited its world, that for about 90 minutes I forgot that I existed. Also, it was genuinely witty and Jon Hamm was fantastic.

I think my number one could have been Licorice Pizza, which has the funniest scene ever put to celluloid when Bradley Cooper, playing the director Jon Peters, has an insane conversation with one of the younger characters, about his wife, his house, his life. I don't even know. Unfortunately the whole scene is not available on line, just a minute-long section of it, just before Cooper goes insane:

Other stuff I remember seeing:
- Alice (d. Krystin Ver Linden)
- The Batman (d. Matt Reeves)
- Elvis (d. Baz Luhrmann)
- Emily the Criminal (d. John Patton Ford) 
- Everything Everywhere All At Once (d. Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
- Maneater (d. Justin Lee)
- Resurrection (d. Andrew Semans)
- Significant Other (d. Dan Berk and Robert Olsen)
- Smile (d. Parker Finn)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (d. Taika Waititi)
- Top Gun: Maverick (d. Joseph Kosinski)
- The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (d. Tom Gormican)
- Werewolf By Night (d. Michael Giacchino)

Weirdly, I also liked every single other film on my list, except Maneater, which may be the worst movie I have seen in my life.
I'm going to try and write reviews of each of the top 10 movies in another post.

And then to TV and music of 2022. I'm just starting slow but I will get to it all. These early posts are like unpacking your suitcases after you get to your destination. There will be some sightseeing eventually.

Now, back to loneliness.