Late discoveries, early favorites

I’ve just recently begun listening to a lot of random 2006 releases that I missed for one reason or another last year and a whole bunch of great new ’07 stuff. This is shaping up to be a really strong year. In fact, I can’t recall a better start to a year in quite some time. There was ’05 (I think) with the two Bright Eyes records and M83, M. Ward, Will Oldham’s “Superwolf” album and some other good ones as well. All that stuff was kind of high profile, though, and a lot of the stuff I’ve heard and liked in the last month has come from out of the blue (with one very notable exception).

First things first though – last year’s leftovers. A review on a blog I landed on randomly and now can’t find led me to Rock Plaza Central, a wonderful and weird band that is kind of deriviative of Neutral Milk Hotel but still pretty unique. Their album is of the concept variety, and while I usually don’t care for those, this one is about mechanical horses, and that is just too weird not to be drawn to. Anyway, it’s a very listenable album with a lot of unique and layered sounds and the writing is absolutely top notch. I wasn’t surprised at all to find out that the lead singer and principal song writer also has a couple novels under his belt.

The first month of ’07 has been fantastic. First things first, the best album I’ve heard in a long time is Menomena’s Friend and Foe. Yes, I like it better than the new records by The Shins, Of Montreal, Deerhoof, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and I absolutely love all of those discs. (I didn’t really care for the Of Montreal or CYHSY albums at first, but they have both grown on me the more I’ve listened.) Friend and Foe just stands alone for me right now, though. It is absolutely epic in it’s sound, with walls of noise that expand and crash all around you. At the same time, though, it has it’s share of light, almost goofy moments. These guys remind me quite a bit of Wolf Parade, not so much in their sound, althoug there are some parallels, but in the way their music hits me emotionally. Their record sets a pretty high bar for the rest of the year – if this album isn’t in my top five at the end of the year, this will have been one of the greatest music years…..ever?

How ’bout The Shins getting huge? I guess we have Zach Braff and Natalie Portman to thank for that. THANKS ZACH AND NATALIE, FOR CAUSING ONE OF MY FAVORITE BANDS TO BECOME WAY, WAY OVEREXPOSED! This many people can’t really like The Shins, can they? I mean, these are the same people who buy Christina Aguilera and Black Eyed Peas records. Even my dad seemed to like them on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, and he usually only likes music that has banjo in it (nothing against the banjo, I love bluegrass as much as the next guy, but my dad aint the rock n’ roll type is all I’m saying).

Anyway, really looking forward to Chinese Democracy. No rush on that, though, Axl.

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Pan’s Labyrinth

One of the best things about the very end and very beginning of the year is that many great movies find their way into the local multiplexes. A few weeks ago I was blown away by Children of Men (which was, incredibly, just about totally snubbed out of Academy Award nominations) and just tonight I saw another fantastic film, the totally surprising Pan’s Labyrinth.

Not being a huge fan of either war films or fantasy I didn’t really expect to like this as much as I did. What can I say? The whole thing just completely worked for me in a way that only really superb films can. Visually, it is totally stunning and horrifying. One scene in particular, in which the young heroine is being chased by a blind monster of some kind, is truly intense in a very “adult” kind of way. It is completely true what every review of this movie has said: this is a “fairy tale” movie that is absolutely not appropriate for children. Seriously, I think if I had seen this movie as a young child, I would still be recovering as an adult.

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10 hour shifts

Today I sold an ipod to a woman with a moustache.

Probably my favorite part of this job is watching morons browse for Windows PeeCees. When they make eye contact with me while I’m hanging out doing almost nothing at my little Apple area, I just kind of nod and then ignore them. I know that they’re thinking “Why doesn’t that lazy bastard come help me buy this Compaq?” The fact is, I don’t have to help them, and I love that about my job. I am not, under any circumstances, to sell anything with Windows on it. How awesome is that? I love company rules.

I almost sold a Mac to New Hampshire’s new Congressman tonight. I recognized him right away but didn’t tell him I knew he who he was until he said “I’m starting a new job with the federal government.” I thought that was a good line. I told him I know, and that I voted for him twice.

What’s the best album of the year? I talked about this for almost half an hour with one of the Verizon guys after work tonight. I liked the Hold Steady album. Also, TV on the Radio and the Bruce Springsteen album from this past spring. I’m sure there are a bunch I forgot about. I’ll probably make a list soon.

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Why does TV get a winter break when I don’t?

I don’t much like the new ABC show Daybreak, which replaced Lost while it is on hiatus until friggin February. Lots of other good shows also have extended breaks this winter (Heroes, among others). I’d personally rather watch repeats of Lost than this Taye Diggs junk. I just caught the last half hour of that show and I remain utterly confused – it seems to have no real logic to it at all, even in a this-is-a-completely-warped-but-makes-sense-in-this-world kind of way.

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I think I’m back for real

After a several month hiatus, I think I’m going to give blogging regularly again an honset to goodness shot. Basically, I’m bored now that I don’t have school to keep me busy, and I think this could possibly provide me with just a tiny bit of intellectual stimulation.

A few quick notes about the last few months:

I work retail! Oh my god my dreams have come true. Actually, it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, being a bonafide college grad working at a Big Box store. But I sell Apple computers, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. During the holidays though my job is basically to sell iPods to red necks. “What’s the difference between an ipod and an mp3?” I get that one a lot.

I had my wisdom teeth out, followed by a dry socket. That was pretty awful.

I haven’t been buying a lot of music or DVD stuff, primarily because I’m in a major money saving mode right now. I have, however, discovered XM Radio, and am totally hooked.

I’m slowly moving through the new Pynchon novel.

I need to frame my diploma before I lose it.

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If I don’t post, do I still exist?

I’m gonna go ahead and blame my criminal lack of posts in the past month on school, mostly because it is the last time I’ll be able to use that excuse for the rest of my life, and partly because it is actually true.  I’ve had a good deal of writing to do for my film class, which leaves little motivation to write here.  But by Thursday I’ll be done with my last ever class, so I will likely be posting here slightly more often.

If I had been posting a lot in recent weeks, I likely would have talked about the following:

  • I hate being subjected to Iranian films.  What’s more, as a Jewish person, I hate being subjected to Iranian films which take a sympathetic view of the Iranian military.  Political correctness gone awry at my university.  It isn’t I feel like the most conservative person in the room, but when my class discussed the “struggles” of Iranian artists and the “truth” about that country, that’s how I felt.
  • I have been reading a shit load of books lately, which I love, because while in school I rarely get the chance to read for pleasure.  Over the past few weeks I’ve particularly enjoyed You Shall Know Our Velocity (I know, I’m a few years late to the Eggers party…like I said, I read lots of poli sci text books).
  • The Red Sox have been disturbingly bad, particularly the bullpen, which desperately needed shoring up at the trade deadline and went ignored (apologies to Bryan Corey).  The state of the home team will probably be the subject of many much longer posts in the future, but for now I’ll just say this: Planning for the future is one thing, but the Sox have (had?) a good chance at winning the World Series THIS YEAR!  When a team is in first place for most of the season, that means they are contending now!  Papelbon might break his leg in the off-season, Ortiz might choke on his famous mango salsa, and Manny might demand to be Manny somewhere else.  The future offers no guarantees, no matter how great the prospects are.  If the Sox fail to make the playoffs this year, it will be a great opportunity wasted.
  • There has been precious little good new music this summer.  Really, nothing stands out.

So that has been the last month of my life.  Cursing the Sox, wandering the record store without inspiration, and basically counting the days until I’m done with school forever.  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, then…..?

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All you need to know about Lady in the Water

In Lady in the Water, director M. Night Shyamalan casts himself as a writer whose work, in the not too distant future, will inspire great change and, more specifically, the thoughts of a young boy destined to be the President. Also, the writer is doomed to be a martyr. (Yes, seriously).

There is a film critic character, who dies nastily.

Words like “Narf” and “Scrunt” are used without irony or humor.

If he hadn’t already, I think Shyamalan has jumped the shark.

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