January 26, 2009

5 month hiatus

so, because I need to be here:

and here:

and here:

I am going to take a 5 month hiatus from the blog, before this happens:

(internet addiction)
and then this happens:

and I'm forced to reenact the events of this film for my last semester of college:

(kill roommates in order to get straight A's).

Feel free to say hi though. I'll still respond to e-mails when I have a chance. and come June I'll be back. Maybe July though. We'll see.

January 21, 2009

January 20, 2009

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Someone To Love More Than Music

Album of the Year (sm12<3>μsic):

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

Wolf. Parade. We all stand in your shadow, in my opinion. Like last year, I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot of shit for claiming this as my favorite album of the year. Last year's pick was Neon Bible, by the Arcade Fire, a choice I still stand by. The album was darker, and there was a higher production rate on every aspect of it. It was darker and deeper than most people were willing to go, I think, so everyone said that their first one was better.

A lot of people are saying this album is not as good as Wolf Parade's first album too. This confuses the hell out of me. Each instrument is infinitely more interesting than on the first one, the song writing has taken a more epic turn with strange song set-ups (I mean, most the songs have full on movements), and the lyrics are far more interesting than anything that was heard on the first one. I think that people like first albums more because the artist only digs as deep as the general person is willing to dig within themselves, and frequently the artists dig deeper on the second one, accessing the darker, scarier, more personal side of the human race, and most people don't want to go that deep, and go back to the first album that was more innocent and playful. We don't like to have our fears projected at us in full dolby 5.1 or whatever, so we go back to the album that was recorded in some dudes basement, with the static to protect us from our own emotions being summoned from us by our speakers. Wolf Parade, it seems, has taken that risk, pumped up the production quality, and is making the leap into the black ocean that is making a statement that people don't want to hear. Kissing the Beehive is a terrifying song, so I understand where people come from when they say they didn't like it. I think it's more a physical and mental reaction than a judgement of quality.

But then again this is just what I see and hear. I could be completely crazy. As always, you make the call:
Wolf Parade - California Dreamer
Wolf Parade - Language City
Wolf Parade - Kissing The Beehive

January 19, 2009

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Someone To Love

Tricked you! This is the runner up for my favorite of the year. The real favorite of the year will be up tomorrow :)
Runner Up (sm12<3):

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

While there were a great deal of albums that deserve to be on the top of many lists, I felt a little bad that this one did make the absolute top of my list, because in many ways it is better than the one that did make the top, but I love the top so much more than I think I'll ever love this album, and as a consumer of music, I think that makes all the difference. Every song on here is a classic, each one being worthy of singledom. If Frightened Rabbit had been my favorite band prior to this release, this would probably be my favorite album of all time. Each instrument, note, etc. is exactly where it needs to be. When people say 2008 was a bad year for music, I simply point them to this album.
Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
Frightened Rabbit - Keep Yourself Warm
Frightened Rabbit - The Twist

January 18, 2009

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 1

All right, here is the last section to the last best of I'm going to do, because this thing was just too big of a pain to do. Maybe next year it'll just be a list and some songs. I didn't write stuff for everyone, and at this point I've got too much to do in order to write enough about everyone, so I don't even want to attempt to fill in the blanks, because I'll feel bad about doing a sub-standard job. These are the albums I loved most of all this year, so just trust me that they're good. Or, at least, that I adored them.

Love More Than Music (<3>)
Various - Nicola Conte Presents: Viagem
Still one of the best Jazz collections I've ever heard. But that's for the kind of jazz that it is. Last time I reviewed this album, I said that "this album makes music that calls itself 'music' look like a fool and a liar." A pretty bold statement, and maybe it goes a bit far, but I still have to say that when I'm listening to this album it makes me feel smokey, sultry, and hecka sexy.
Yvette - Preconceito
Bossa Jazz Trio - Vamos Embora Uau
Hector Costita Sexo - Tokio

Beach House - Devotion
Beach House - Gila
Beach House - Home Again
Beach House - Somethings Last a Long Time (Daniel Johnston cover)

My Brightest Diamond - A Thousand Shark's Teeth
Probably the best voice in all of popular music for all of history.
My Brightest Diamond - Apples
My Brightest Diamond - Like a Sieve
My Brightest Diamond - Inside a Boy

Okkervil River - The Stand-Ins
Okkervil River has consistently been making outstanding music for basically 10 years now, and, while they have a very dedicated fan base, I feel that they've not really gotten the recognition for being the magnificent musicians that they are. This being the second half to last year's The Stage Names, the songs follow similar themes as it's predecessor, but I feel like the album got marginally more passionate, which wouldn't have been hard to do had The Stage Names been a mellow album. Each song is an epic story that goes beyond the normal realms of the traditional pop song, but each song would work well in any situation. This is an album you can play for just about anyone and they'll at least love it a little bit. I love it a lot. I think it's spectacular.
Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines
Okkervil River - Singer Songwriter
Okkervil River - Pop Lie

Parenthetical Girls - Entanglements
Parenthetical Girls - Four Words
Parenthetical Girls - A Song For Ellie Greenwich
Parenthetical Girls - Entanglements

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 2

Love More Than Music (<3>)
Umalali - The Garifuna Women's Project
When I heard this album I was instantly blown away. I don't even know how I came across it, but I'm glad I did. It seems to mix traditional African rhythms, vocal styles, and instruments with Latin guitar playing styles and rhythms. I hate to think there isn't really a genre name for music like this, and, because of that it will be placed under "World Music" in the record stores, and only the weird people who think they're into the imaginary genre of "World Music" (what isn't world music, I ask you?) will discover this album, which is such a startlingly good album that it makes me question what bands that didn't write this album are doing with their lives. Okay, that's too bold a statement to actually stand by it, because there are other albums out there that are fantastic and sound nothing like this album, but damn, this album is funktastic.
Umalali - Nibari (My Grandchild)
Umalali - Hattie
Umalali - Anaha ya (Here I Am)

Heathers - Here, Not There.
I first heard of Heathers when talking to a member of The Drinking Goard after their set. I talked to him about Ghost Mice, because I thought that would have been a huge influence on the DG's sound, but he said Heathers were the true inspiration. So I had to check them out, and I'm very glad I did. Folk Punk seems to be gaining popularity now that there are actually more than a small handfull of people making the music, which I have nothing against at all, because these songs are powerful and energetic, but completely organic and natural sounding. It's like a Red Bull sponsored love in, I guess. haha, okay, that's a strange image, but I'm going with it. Stellar job ladies.
Heathers - Remember When
Heathers - Honey, Please!
Heathers - Veronicas

Lake - Oh, The Places We'll Go
This album is something that I could picture being a side project with the musicians who wrote the music for The Electric Company. It's got some funk influences, such as guitar playing styles and organ sounds, but it's twee pop at heart, and it's got a whole lot of heart. It's a peaceful album that deals frequently with matters of love and understanding one's self, but it stays genuine and heartfelt, so it's not sappy or over the top. The songs are smooth and rhythmic. It feels like your best friend wrote this album for you.
Lake - Dead Beat
Lake - Heaven

Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim
Sometimes genres completely escape me. It's not that this album is so genre bending that the only thing that you could possibly call this album is "QxKnvzv Rock" or something equally as ridiculous. It's probably closely related to indie folk, because the most prominent instrument is the acoustic guitar, but these days folk seems too generic a title to slap on such a powerful and spirited album such as this. I don't focus very frequently on lyrics, usually the only reason I know the lyrics to a song is that I have ended up listening to the song so many times that they can't help but sink in, and if I'm listening to it that often, well that just means it's good. I don't have enough time to really listen to most the stuff that comes my way, and I try to get to it all, so when I come back to an album frequently enough to remember lyrics and sing along, then that ought to say something about the album. The production is simply stellar, but the soft, awe inspiring songs would sound just as good without all the strings and such, because they are, at their base, just fantastic.
Laura Marling - Ghosts
Laura Marling - You're No God
Laura Marling - My Manic & I

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 3

Love More Than Music (<3>)
Heaven Shall Burn - Iconoclast (Part 1: The Final Resistance)
There are 2 metal albums on my best of list this year, and this is one of them. I used to be a huge metal fan, but these days the bands that go for the simple Metal sound without delving into sub-genres and experimentation, well, they just sound boring, because it's all been done so often that it's lost all potential for inventiveness. Everyone once in a while there are albums that are undeniably good, because somehow this one band has captured an intensity that, while it's been done before, actually gets your blood pumping. This one is one of the blood pumping albums. Every Metal album is brutal, and fast, and screamy, and angry, and this album is no different. I have a feeling that in a few months I'll have forgotten about this album, because it'll just be awash in a sea of the metal albums that will come out that are "more" brutal that come out over the next few years. If you're not into metal, you'll not like this album, but if you are, then you'll appreciate the intensity that is expressed on this album.
Heaven Shall Burn - Endzeit
Heaven Shall Burn - Like a Thousand Suns
Heaven Shall Burn - Murderer of All Murderers

Rachael Yamagata - Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart
Rachael Yamagata is a seasoned veteran in the music scene, but this album was the first I'd ever heard by any of her projects. I honestly got the album because the title was so peculiar and the album artwork was so beautiful. These songs are more painful and heart destroying than any songs on any album I think I've ever heard. Laura Marling comes close with Manic & I. These songs are absolutely epic. Some of the tracks are longer than 8 minutes, but you wouldn't guess it just by listening, because you're so in love with the songs that it still goes by too quickly. The songs have orchestral backing tracks, but if the songs were just Rachael singing over the piano pieces, they would be just as epic and heart shattering. Her voice is perfect. Her lyrics are terrifyingly intriguing. The songs sound peaceful, but, underneath, the songs hide scars from their pasts on the circuit. This is an album that is full of trickery and deceit, in multiple good ways.
Rachael Yamagata - Elephants
Rachael Yamagata - Horizon
Rachael Yamagata - Duet

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 4

Love More Than Music (<3>)
Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - Pershing
Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - I Think I Wanna Die
Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - Dead Right
Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - You Could Write a Book

Shearwater - Rook
Shearwater - On The Death of the Waters
Shearwater - I Was A Cloud
Shearwater - The Snow Leopard

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend - M79
Vampire Weekend - One (Blake's Got a New Face)
Vampire Weekend - Campus

Venus Verse - Venus Verse
Venus Verse - Not Quite Juliet

Carla Bruni - Comme Si De Rien N'était
Carla Bruni - L'amoureuse
Carla Bruni - Je suis une enfant
Carla Bruni - You Belong To Me

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 5

Love More Than Music (<3>)
The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
The Mountain Goats - Autoclave
The Mountain Goats - Lovecraft In Brooklyn
The Mountain Goats - San Bernardino

The Mountain Goats - Satanic Messiah EP
The Mountain Goats - Sarcofago Live

The Mountain Goats & Kaki King - Black Pear Tree EP
The Mountain Goats & Kaki King - Black Pear Tree
The Mountain Goats & Kaki King - Mosquito Repellent

Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
Cloud Cult - The Tornado Lessons
Cloud Cult - Everybody Here is a Cloud
Cloud Cult - When Water Comes to Life

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 6

Love More Than Music (<3>)
a faulty chromosome - as an ex-anorexic's six sicks exit, ...
a faulty chromosome - jackie 0
a faulty chromosome - them pleasures of the flesh
a faulty chromosome - i'll stop swimming when i drown

Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant EP
Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant

Various - Nigeria Disco Funk Special: Sound of the Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-1979
SJOB Movement - Love Affair
Bongos Ikwue & The Groovies - You've Got to Help Yourself

Autistic Daughters - Uneasy Flowers
Only seven tracks long, but after getting through them you feel like you've been running on the on the side of the road in the dark with a dim flashlight in the middle a season that isn't quite sure what season it is, because one second it'll be hot, and the next you'll be afraid frostbite will set in.
Autistic Daughters - Gin Over Sour Milk
Autistic Daughters - Uneasy Flower

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 7

Love More Than Music (<3>)
Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
Fuck Buttons - Race You To My Bedroom / Spirit Rise
Fuck Buttons - Ribs Out

Thao With The Get Down Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All
I've been a Long Time fan of anything Thao Nguyen has done, so naturally I knew this album would end up pretty high on my list. With her second full release (other than maybe a demo or self released album or something), Thao does not let down. The songs are in her strange acousticy folky fashion, but with a full backing band the songs are fleshed out to a degree that one would not have thought possible
Thao With The Get Down Stay Down - Bag Of Hammers
Thao With The Get Down Stay Down - Swimming Pools
Thao With The Get Down Stay Down - Geography

Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - "Not Animal"
(Animal just wasn't as good)
Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - Broadripple is Burning
Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - Holy Cow!
Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - The Ocean (Is Bleeding Salt)

'08's Music to Love More Than Music: Love More Than Music, Pt. 8

Love More Than Music (<3>)
Rachael Pollard - A Good Thing
Denverite Rachael Pollard has been making music for a long time. She's one of the local acts that, when you talk about her to other people, those people look at you and say things like "of course you like Rachael Pollard, she's amazing." Those people saying that aren't even the snobs. Her voice is timid and adorable, though not spot on, which, in my mind, doesn't matter at all, because we have to many "good," spot on singers, and I'm sick of that, and when I hear a voice as genuine as Rachael's, my soul melts. I got weak in the knees when I heard this album. It's so truthful and sweet that it's shocking to your system. It's like you just found that person you know you're going to fall in love with if you spend enough time with them.
Rachael Pollard - The Desert
Rachael Pollard - Alexandria
Rachael Pollard - Ripley's Believe It Or Not

Ladyhawk - Shots
This is a very simple album. It's basically just a rock album, and it's only 8 tracks long, just barely under 30 minutes. Ladyhawk has trimmed the fat, and what they had left turned out to be gold. The song writing is stellar, with lines like "I just want to feel something other than fear," the album pushes their personal stories, thoughts, and feelings through infections rhythms and spot on vocals. Nothing on this album is over the top or ridiculously over produced. If it was anything other than what it is, it wouldn't be as perfect. This is the middle poridge.
Ladyhawk - Fear
Ladyhawk - S.T.H.D.

Foals - Antidotes
I didn't notice that the songs were minimal in nature until someone pointed it out to me, because the songs sound so full of life and energy. The album is like a mix of Battles and ... well the best parts of any of the bands in the high energy Dance Punk genre. I didn't know that it actually was a mathematical as it was until I read about it, because it flows so well, something that one doesn't usually associate with music that could essential be called High Art. Heck, even Battles was a little hard to get into until they released Hi/Lo and Atlas. There are no bad songs on this album. Each song stands out as it's own stellar composition. There is no wonder that this album has, essentially, spawned 6 singles.
Foals - The French Open
Foals - Cassius
Foals - Balloons

A great pulsating beast of an album. There are few releases as mind blowingly intense as this album. The first time you hear it, it might all sound the same, and it might be hard to tell what exactly is going on, but that's because, other than the drums, everything is distorted past the point of recognition. You can't tell that what you just heard actually is a bass being played, and I love that. It's mathematical and inspirational. It may just be the most inventive thing to have come out in 2008. I'll love it forever.
HEALTH - Crimewive
HEALTH - Triceratops
HEALTH - Perfect Skin
(I only have the vinyl, so I'm hosting what I could easily get a hold of. I would have like to put Tabloid Sores most of all though)

The Faint - Fasciinatiion
I felt that this was a very different album for the Faint, and I really liked that. The whole album dealt with having problems dealing with the world, other people, technological advances, and the like, but that's not really all that strange for The Faint. The songs are not as in your face dancy and out of control, and I think that's all right, because if they were to do that again, I feel like they would have started to get a little stale, because they certainly have albums that went for that sound and achieved it to the point where it will be hard for anyone to top it. This album may be over looked by Faint fans who only like them for their dancy side, but I think it's still dancy enough to please most. The songs are a lot more chopped up and electronic that I was used to with the Faint, but for the general topics they wrote on, I felt it fit. All the songs on this album are unskippable.
The Faint - I Treat You Wrong
The Faint - A Battle Hymn for Children
The Faint - Machine in the Ghost

Russian Red - I Love Your Glasses
Russian Red - Timing is Crucial
Russian Red - Cigarettes
Russian Red - Gone, Play On

This Will Destroy You - This Will Destroy You
This Will Destroy You - The Mighty Rio Grande
This Will Destroy You - A Three-Legged Work Horse

My Favorite album of the year will be posted tomorrow

January 16, 2009

Misquoted: w/ Anya Marina

(because of this interview, the "best of" post will show up around Sunday of next week. Thanks for the patience!)

Misquoted: w/ Anya Marina

I was lucky enough to do an e-mail correspondence interview type thing with Anya Marina, who's new album, Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II, which will be out next Tuesday, January 20th (what a big day!), is something that you absolutely need to pick up. Period. Here are my questions and her charming answers:

Luke Hunter James-Erickson: As is usually the case when I interview musicians, I'm very curious as to what made you think to yourself “yeah, yeah this is what I want to do for a living ... and I'm going to do it.” Being a musician has so infrequently shown itself to be a frugal employment choice, and there is no shortage of musicians, so it takes a brave soul to take that leap. Thankfully you're talented enough to pull it off (at least, in my opinion), but before people knew that, there must have been something that pushed you to go out and show the world what you could do. In short, why did you do it?

Anya Marina: I don’t think I ever consciously thought I would go into music and make a living at it. I knew I’d perform in some capacity but the fact that my first pursuit—acting—gave way to radio which gave way to a career in music was a pretty telling evolution. In a way, where I’ve ended up is the perfect synthesis of the last two professions. Acting satisfied my desire to perform and entertain, but it lacked consistency and the ability for me to be autonomous—I had to go out on auditions and wait for casting directors to hire me for jobs. I didn’t know what to do with myself in between auditions. I felt useless and powerless as an actor. With radio I was able to hone my skills somewhat as a communicator and entertainer, to some extent, and I was able to work more consistently and have a regular schedule, which I loved. I also got exposed to music, obviously, and that provided some kind of inspiration. But it wasn’t until I started writing and performing my songs live that I really felt like, “Hey, this is it.” Because now I wasn’t performing a script someone else had written (be it a playwright or a program director on the radio telling me what songs to play and what ads to read). Now my only job was to be authentic about performing the songs I wrote myself and to be as entertaining or engaging as I felt like being in between those songs. It’s by far the most interesting and continually challenging job I’ve had yet.

LHJE: The music I've heard from you is very eclectic, especially Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II. I could list off the many influences that I think I hear, but that doesn't matter as much as what you actually are influenced by, or, rather, what influenced the sound of this new record. Were there particular artists or albums or genres you looked towards to shape the sound, or is this album all “Anya”?

AM: I think everything I grew up with—from the Beatles to Motown and Dixieland jazz, Brazilian & all the Russian music my mom played in the house—along with Missy Elliot and Peaches and Stephen Malkmus and the Pixies all played on my subconscious to dream up the little dream that ended up Slow & Steady.

LHJE: As far as the lyrics and musical themes of Slow & Steady go, was/is there a particular message that you were trying to get across? Are the songs a collection of songs, or do they all have a little something that go toward a certain theme? Why did you choose to shape this album in such a way?

AM: If there is a governing theme it didn’t really start to take shape until halfway through the making of the record when I realized the songs were shaping up to be a series of different examinations or conversations about love or lovers. I really wanted the album art to reflect that and to take on the look of a manual of seduction, so I was thrilled when my art designer (Simone Rubi) and photographer (Autumn de Wilde) put came up with such a great result.

LHJE: How do you feel about your music being picked up and put into Grey's Anatomy? I'm sure you get asked that all the time these days, but it's interesting to hear an artist's reasons for letting their music be used in a commercial way. Granted, it's not exactly like your music is in a gas-company commercial, but it's still a little commercial.

AM: Oh, I was excited! When I first heard the show was going to use “Miss Halfway” in the season finale of the first season (I think), I thought a friend was playing a practical joke on me when I got the call. I was a fan of the show and I liked how Alexandra Patsavas (the music supervisor) and the creators of the show spotlight the music. It’s such an integral part of the show. I was regularly tuning in and getting turned on to new and old artists and bands before I was even approached by them, so I was over the moon about it when it happened.

LHJE: With your history as an actress and your growing popularity, do you think you might want to try and expand your career in the entertainment business into acting for film or television?

AM: I just finished a TV pilot where I play the bitchy sister to the lead actress—that was a lot of fun. I also just finished working on the new Kevin Spacey film Shrink in which I have a tiny scene with Kevin—like one line--so as long as acting fits around my tour schedule and as long as the project is something I’m interested in, I’d love to do more. I’m picky about what I’d like to work on. Even when I was a kid I was picky. When I was 17 I told my mother I only wanted to work with Woody Allen. I even went to his casting director’s office in New York with a headshot, I remember. Not a lot has changed. I still want to work with Woody. Woody and Wes Anderson.

LHJE: The year is wrapping up and everyone seems to be deciding on their favorite albums of the year. What were some of your favorite albums of 2008?

AM: Some of these might not be 2008, but I loved:
radiohead - in rainbows
the kills - midnight boom
louis xiv - slick dogs and ponies
the little ones - morning tide
tristan prettyman - hello
the walkmen - you & me
deerhunter - microcastles
liz phair - exile in guyville reissue with dvd
she & him - volume one
q tip -
delta spirit - ode to sunshine
conor oberst - conor oberst
randy newman - harps & angels
Department of Eagles – in ear park
Lcd soundsystem – sound of silver
Coconut records - nighttiming
Little joy – little joy

LHJE: And, because every interview needs a fully ridiculous-off-the-cuff-question: How would you feel about performing in space? How would you go about it?

AM: Well, I don’t usually wear dresses onstage, but in this case I’d make an exception and don something like Marilyn Monroe wore in that iconic picture of her standing above the subway grate. The same effect would be achieved in zero gravity, so I’d be sure to wear really cute bloomers underneath. As for sound and oxygen issues, that would have to be worked out by my team of alien handlers.
school has started and I'm really late on my finishing my "best of" list and I'm fairly ashamed by that, but since I'm my own boss, I get to fire myself, then feel bad for what I assume my employee's (that's still me) family might be forced to go through (I never get to know my employees well enough to learn if they have families or not, so I'm left to assume about me) now that I'm fired so I hire myself and ask me to get it done over the weekend. I promise to me that I will and I guess we'll see if I come through.

surreal. I'll have something up later today that will hopefully make up for my absence. I think it's awesome.

Pictures For Sad Children has shown me the way. Never again will I do a year end best of list. unless I get a strange desire to do so. After the stress I've been under this winter so far to do it (and that's self-imposed stress at that), I don't think that will be a problem: