My Most Highly Favoured LPs Which Just So Happened to be Released in 2012

31 Dec

Just a few hours left in 2012 and I’m hitting the Publish button. Typical.


10. Hop Along – Get Disowned
Simultaneously great and grating.


9. Bad Books – II
Indie heavy-hitters Hull and KevDev make a strong argument that this is a side project with staying power.


8. Loudon Wainwright III – Older Than My Old Man Now
Seasoned songwriter’s songwriter puts together his finest album in a decade by focusing even more intently on his impending demise than he already was.


7. The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
Most enjoyable Scranton export since The Office (which itself could be considered a British import, but I digress).


6. Cheap Girls – Giant Orange
Catchy as all get-out; try to not bob your head or tap your toes.


5. Jeff Rosenstock – I Look Like Shit
Sounds decidedly better than that.


4. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Literal fireworks at the beginning and end, but plenty explosive in-between.


3. Hallelujah the Hills – No One Knows What Happens Next
Extended meditation on mortality proves to be HtH’s high-water mark.


2. John K. Samson – Provincial
Fantastic solo turn from Weakerthans mastermind; for perspective, listen to previous solo LP (1993’s Slips and Tangles) first.


1. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth
The best album by the future PLOTUS since Heretic Pride.

The form waving at you off in the distance comes into focus and you realize it’s an old friend. You think about waving back, but you’re not sure if it’s been too long to not be awkward.

23 Jul

Hi there, denizens of the internet who happen upon my blog by searching for something else entirely! Many full moons have waned away, only to wax into shape again. We’re all definitely a little older–your Botox will stop no clocks–and maybe just a little wiser and world-wearier. I think I’ve got all 3 non-toxin bases covered.

And how are you? Really? Wow, that’s interesting!

I abandoned this bastion of the web July last because I was having a hard enough time wrapping up my Master’s degree, finding a job in a new city, finding an apartment in said new city, and then moving to the new city and adjusting to the new job. A lot of other milestones and big events happened too but I’m not in the blog game to get all confessional so let’s just leave it at that. 

It’s presently the past’s future, and I’ve decided to give just a sliver of that time to writing/ranting/raving back at good ol’ CFB. Above all else, I am looking forward to reading scores of endlessly creative, thoughtful, and highly relevant spam comments. Spammers are the most articulate of all writers, and we could all learn a thing or two from their example. Real go-getters, the whole lot of them!

Expect more things in the weeks and months to come. 

Guided by Voices – Bee Thousand (1994)

3 Jul

I’m not a huge fan of absurdist lyrics but I’m sometimes inclined to make exceptions. Of ’90s alt-whatever songwriters, I think Jeff Mangum did them a bit better than Robert Pollard, but hey, Bee Thousand, which is generally hailed as GBV’s seminal work, is an exceptional album with a few particularly great cuts. It is sometimes challenging, sometimes accessible, and always riddled with tape hiss that I in turn both abhor and adore.

My path to finding this album was a bit convoluted. Ryan Walsh of Hallelujah the Hills, a local band that I’ve really gotten into over the past several months, posted a link to a 1995 NPR segment about Guided by Voices from HTH’s Twitter account. I proceeded to listen to it a few times over the next week, entranced by the snippet of “I Am a Scientist” included in the piece. (As an aside, it is somewhat hilarious listening to a digitized cassette recording of a radio broadcast of a song that was of poor recording quality to begin with.) “Queen of Cans and Jars,” which was also in the public radio segment, is another catchy standout. “Echos Myron,” as it turns out, was my girlfriend’s ringtone for better than a year (I think she said that it was on a film soundtrack) and I never really knew who sang it until now, always assuming that it was the work of some obscure British Invasion group whose name had been forgotten by history.

Mystery solved.

Lunch – “turn around”

19 Jun

This is a catchy little number I stumbled upon the other day in my internet travels, from an obscure local band, no less. However, if they keep churning out tunes like this, they’re probably not going to be obscure for that much longer…

After several spins, the best description I can manage of this song is that it’s built on a busy, fuzzed-out sound canvas that’s drowning in reverb and centered on an infectious hook straight out of  The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait.” I am definitely looking forward to listening to the follow-up.

Rest in Peace, Clarence Clemons

18 Jun

As you may have heard by now, celebrated saxophonist and  longtime soul of the E Street Band Clarence Clemons passed away today at the age of 69. Try imagining “Born to Run” and countless other Bruce Springsteen songs without Clemons’ playing. You probably can’t, and if you can, I’m sure they don’t sound all that good. His playing was that integral to the sound that propelled Springsteen to stardom in the mid-1970s.

For the Cliff’s Notes version of how good Clemons was, listen to 1:46 – 2:05. You’ll be glad you did.

Another Year, Another Fantasy Baseball Draft

26 Mar


Decked out in my finest jersey and ballcap I ascend up one flight of stairs to engage in what a co-habitant refers to as the “nerdy” annual ritual of fantasy drafting. Five men in one room (and a few others abroad), each (excepting one) with a laptop precariously perched on slow-roasting legs. The righteous indignation of the league manager at the no-shows who keep auto-picking Yankees (a most forbidden course of action). Punishment meted out accordingly. Misleading sunlight and chilly air seeping in through a cracked window. Eyes frantically scanning statistics postulated and actual. Bad pop culture references and worse puns. The recitation of mundane factoids regarding players both significant and obscure. The small sense of victory as the player I believe a “savvy” pick falls to my draft slot. The silent scrambling for a new player as my next planned pick is taken by another owner. The frequent and increasingly familiar sound effects emanating out-of-sync from our respective machines, indicating any number of happenings. Bored yawns making the rounds as the pack mentality refuses to give ground even in the face of the 21st century.

I feel pretty good about how this one turned out. Guess we’ll see in October.

Another Reason Why the Major Labels are in Trouble

22 Jan

HINT: It’s large part because of emails like this. Great “NEW” music? Three of these are best-of sets. One of the remaining two is a compilation of past-prime pop songs. Pshhhaw.