"I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June if you’ll be my Graham and my Johnny, too…"
So I’m watching the Iowa caucus results roll in with @taffel. My one outstanding question, errrr, concern rather, is the inevitable likening of this electoral procedure to nothing more important that elementary school class presidents. THESE PEOPLE ARE COUNTING SHEETS OF PAPER. OR CLAPPING THEIR HANDS. OR VERBALIZING YAY/NAY TO INDICATE THEIR PREFERENCE FOR FUTURE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD. I can’t.
More importantly, according to The New York Times’ David Carr and his cohorts, tonight is the 8-year anniversYAHHHry of Howard Dean’s infamous outburst. Dude was stoked.
I’m thrilled to know that “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” has elevated itself to Christmas Eve broadcast status. There is nothing like John Hughes to make your lonely Jewish soul feel enchanted on a night like this. The movie is so beautifully shot and the soundtrack was a staple of carpool afternoons during elementary school holiday seasons. And of course, there is no denying Kevin McCallister, the most creative and resourceful little motherfucker on the planet.
As if the sequel needed any additional confirmation of quality, I noticed that the McCallister’s attic features THE ’90s bedding. Seriously - this particular pattern of sheets was used in pretty much every movie and TV from 1989ish onward. In fact (and definitely if you lived among Jewish suburbia at this time), you probably had it at your own house, and if not, your friend/neighbor’s house, for sure.
I literally saw it on the bunk bed of Lippman’s son in the “Serenity Now” episode of Seinfeld in syndication last night.
And if your parents got you on the Full House bandwagon in the early days, you know this was the bedding of Stephanie and DJ Tanner, pre-makeover from Aunt Becky.
PS. I wish the above screengrab of Dave Coulier with the pedicure and hair-doing was the Same Picture of Dave Coulier Every Day. I also wish he was wearing a jazzier sweater.
On the whole, 2011 finally gave me everything I could have ever wanted in a slate of new music: blissful, psychedelic, sonically stimulating, and soulful. In a year where it was apparent that roots were of higher priority than the runaround, these releases managed to hit every note. Everything lives in this Spotify playlist - put the entire thing on shuffle for a good time.
REAL ESTATE - “DAYS” | The albums that stick with me the most are the ones I want to live inside of. The kinds that emit this weird visualizable aura worthy of hopping inside and sealing up, like a sonic Ziploc. The complete portrait sewn together by Real Estate on “Days” is what I’ll carry with me most closely from 2011. Perhaps it was the timing and juxtaposition of the jangly guitars with the leaves changing and flickering “in the sun, in the sun…” or the endless marvel of feeling effortlessly connected with a slate of songs showcasing the shared insights and sentiment crafted from a group of guys my own age. Start to finish, this is the one from this year that I will never let go.
KURT VILE - “SMOKE RING FOR MY HALO” | The sonic Ziploc effect also vividly applies to “Smoke Ring For My Halo.” For as much as Kurt Vile’s singular effort as a singer-songwriter stands on its own, I wish he’d given the Violators billing on this too. His unforgettable guitar lines and rambly lyricism wouldn’t be the same without the lush backdrop. The melding of Kurt Vile’s introspection with warm psychedelic overtones has made this an eternal go-to.
ATLAS SOUND - “PARALLAX” | If I learned one thing in 2011, it’s that I don’t want to live in a world where Bradford Cox isn’t making music. Cox’s particular evolution is stunning. To think I used to dread seeing his live shows - whether with Deerhunter or solo - because of their darkness and heaviness many years ago, now feels crazy to me as he’s progressively and beautifully mastered soaring hooks in the time since deafening drone and blinding strobes. His songs have grown into shimmering gems of driving melodic perfection that beg for the repeat button, and most often, I give in.
STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS - “MIRROR TRAFFIC” | Is it appropriate to compare Malkmus to Kerouac based on his dependence of what sounds like streams of consciousness? With respect to “Mirror Traffic,” I’m fortunate that Beck wasn’t willing to leave the majority of Malkmus’ streams on the cutting room floor. These streams + absolutely incredible electric guitar shred + a sonic portrait painted by Beck as producer = total solidity.
MEGAFAUN - “MEGAFAUN” | I can’t even begin to explain how surprised I was to hear within ten seconds of this album starting that Megafaun had decidedly shed its bluegrass skin in exchange for deeper electric melodies, somehow balancing a bigger sound with an unmatched lyrical intimacy. The overall depth of this release is nearly incomparable to the band’s previous efforts. It makes sense it was self-titled, signifying a purposeful rebirth that calls to shades of the greater classic rock past while pushing the band forward in a markedly strong direction.
THE WAR ON DRUGS - “SLAVE AMBIENT” | This album title aptly exists for a reason. The War on Drugs managed to conjure and perpetuate a particular landscape better than anyone else this year - one where your intent is to let go within its walls, get lost only to run along and move seamlessly with wild intent on a rich, driving journey. Drones soar while the percussion pulsates and vocals linger alongside. It’s a trip I’ll continue to take for years to come.
WHITE DENIM - “D” / “LAST DAY OF SUMMER” | I love White Denim because their amalgamative tendencies are like no other band. Garage rock roots tied to experimental jam, acid jazz, billowy bass lines birthing funk, strange syncopation and lyrical sensitivity just leading to consistent brain explosion with every spin. I loved the polish and consistency of “D” but although made and so quietly released in 2010, I found “Last Day of Summer” in the first half of this year, and it is exemplary. It’s an expression of what a dexterous band can do without pressure - a.k.a. when every artist is at their absolute best. The inspiration of loose improvisation and rough-and-tumble melody are evident in both, but for some reason “Last Day of Summer” feels simply limitless.
CHARLES BRADLEY - “NO TIME FOR DREAMING” | Has anyone ever told you something so bluntly and brutally truthful that it felt like a shot to the chest? Try listening to that over and over for an hour, but somehow feeling fulfilled as opposed to falling apart by the end. This is the bittersweet brutality of Charles Bradley - heartbreak and hope coupled with an infallible boogie. The Screaming Eagle of Soul so earnestly gives you a glimpse through the shades with all of his best, that you can’t help but want to send him yours too. As the Menahan Street Band provides such a beautiful and precise backdrop to the tales of Charles’ long journey and trials, it’s hard to not see the richness in even the littlest aspects of life after listening.
BASS DRUM OF DEATH - “GB CITY” | As if this list has not already confirmed it, I almost solely get down on music by dudes. In this vein, consider “GB City” the ultimate. Classic punk urgency with an evident pop lean, John Barrett has produced perfection. Loud, thrashing, lamenting but bright, “GB City” was the gift that kept on giving whenever I may have needed a pep in my step along with the balls I do not physically have.
THE STEPKIDS - “THE STEPKIDS” | The Stepkids personified what could be possible in a fenceless musical playground, calling back to classic pulsations of Frank Zappa and Funkadelic, but reformed into a laser-precise futuristic vision. Tightly-woven, thick harmonies under an organic-sounding layer of lo-fi sensibility, the LP feels like microcosmic time transport - but you can’t figure out which direction to go in your mind’s eye - you just allow it move you, and in the end that’s all that matters.
TENNIS - “CAPE DORY” | An album that not only provides a phantom sensations of summer and sunshine, but similarly, those tiny explosions of the heart. A musical voyage through what it feels like to be physically unbounded, and uncontrollably happy. The effects of this album are only accelerated by the conditions under which it was written and inspired - sailing without constraints between destinations unknown with the only accessories being bodies of water, finding land if you feel like it, and the company of the love of your life. In the words of Tina Fey, “I want to go to there.”
GAUNTLET HAIR - “GAUNTLET HAIR” | Forcefully hitting the sonic notes of other staples that didn’t produce new material in 2011 such as Animal Collective, Cymbals Eat Guitars and Japandroids, Gauntlet Hair covered off on all of their aesthetics in a notable way that felt reverent but not overly reliant or referential. I credit this to the band’s youth - most likely the key factor that gave the duo the energy to make something truly boisterous. Equal parts groovy, trippy, booming and restless, their debut injected zealous energy into an otherwise computer-controlled indie rock atmosphere this year.
DOM - “FAMILY OF LOVE” | PUJOL - “NASTY BRUTISH AND SHORT” | FORT LEAN - “GATHERING THE MAGIC” | This slate of EP’s was nothing short of excellent, proving dude can be teases too. Four to seven songs were just not enough from each of them. Some of the strongest pop-rock to emerge in 2011, all three bands produced serious earworms and a palate of work leaving listeners salivating for more. In an Internet age, these young bands proved rightfully radio-ready, if only it was 10-15 years ago. DOM’s bratty tones transform into charm. Daniel Pujol expertly brings his own LP’s title to life with twangy and gritty garage rock turns. Fort Lean’s yelps of yearning leave the listener lingering with hooks ringing in their heads.
OTHER ASSORTED OBVIOUS INSTA-CLASSICS AND ALBUMS WORTH MENTIONING:
Wilco - “The Whole Love” | My Morning Jacket - “Circuital” | Ducktails - “Arcade Dynamics Part III” | Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “Unknown Mortal Orchestra” | Vetiver - “The Errant Charm” | The Fruit Bats - “Tripper” | Those Darlins - “Screws Get Loose” | Girls - “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” | Fleet Foxes - “Helplessness Blues” | Yuck - “Yuck” | Smith Westerns - “Dye It Blonde” | tUnE-yArDs - “Whokill” | Woods - “Sun and Shade” | The Strange Boys - “Live Music”
1. I’m sorry but WALKING IN AN ORGY WONDERLAND is completely audible and undeniable.
AMERICAN JUGGALO - a beautifully shot short-form documentary by sean dunne
”family love.” “controlled anarchy.” what bob lefsetz referred to as “the human circus.” this is riveting and puzzling in its own weird way, just like the juggalos themselves. just give it a chance. oh yeah… clearly not safe for work, the conservative-minded, and probably the faint of heart. whoop whoop?
I love Washed Out. It makes me proud to hail from the same musical place as the person who birthed one of the first significant genres in this millennium. Chillwave is not a fad, it’s a state of mind and outpouring of pleasant vibes. It cannot be denied. It has never come from an especially sexy place… until now.
Stereogum announced Ernest’s first full length album on Sub Pop today - Within and Without. The first track is great. The album art? Already sending a very clear message.
A MESSAGE THAT WAS ALREADY COMMUNICATED IN THE MOST RECENT ISSUE OF COSMO!
Rhythmic sex and Washed Out’s new album - guaranteed to increase the female orgasm by 56%. The internet and print both told me so.