Monday, November 29, 2010

Have you listened to the new Girl Talk yet?

I've often thought that Greg Gillis must have sound/colour Synesthesia. His ability to take stuff on the craziest end of any spectrum and put them together into something that sounds awesome makes me feel inadequate. He's just that good. Check the Wikipedia notes.

Feed the Animals turned me off a bit. I started to feel old and didn't really give it the time that I gave Night Ripper. But this new a kick in the face. It's just too awesome.

The Ramones? Fugazi? The Gza? There's gems all over the place. And as Pitchfork said today, the pace of this album kind of makes you want to sit and listen to the whole thing. I like it. Quite a bit.

Interestingly, the spellcheck in Firefox doesn't seem to like "ipod" or "iPod". Weird.

Update - Speaking of iPods...why does the touch just decide to go on shuffle sometimes? Confused the hell out of me. I was stressing for the last half hour trying to figure out why what I was listening to wasn't lining up with Wikipedia.

Another Update - Globe and Mail article on Synesthesia.

Monday, November 22, 2010

there's nothing on

A little while ago people started calling all those HBO dramas and post-Simpsons sitcoms "quality tv." The irony, predictably, was that the moment that term started circulating, new shows suffered a giant dropoff in quality.

Quick recap: when movies dedicated more and more resources to the blockbuster model, and when TV saw ratings drop across the board except for in ultra-cheap reality TV, small networks picked up a lot of writing and acting talent, and gave them a long leash to create 12-episode, novelistic series. These series did everything with character and plot that blockbusters and reality TV weren't doing--or all those high minded ideals about "storytelling" that writers and actors were trained to revere. Meanwhile comedies went surreal, following the Simpsons' model of the (mostly all male) writer's room, where they'd throw jokes around, try to crack each other up, and script whatever worked. Arrested Development came and went, and proved that live action absurdism could work. 30 Rock and Modern Family followed.

Problem is, each new version waters down the formula. Boardwalk Empire substitutes period costume and politics for the malignant everydayness of the Sopranos' New Jersey, which was precisely why that show was brilliant: it didn't glamorize the mafia. Justified takes what I think was the best scripted of the HBO shows, Deadwood, and turns it into a present day backwoods morality play about as sophisticated as the Dukes of Hazzard. With Treme, which I actually quite like, you get all the wide-ranging sociological insight of The Wire, but without the essential plotting motor of cops chasing robbers. Treme's hook? Admittedly incredible music. But is that enough to sustain twelve hours of terse characters negotiating their lives in a devastated city?

I'm not even going to bother with sci-fi after Battlestar Galactica. Partly because that show never lived up to its brilliant first season. But everything after it is laughable.

That leaves Mad Men, Dexter, the Office, and Weeds, which are all, in a sense, holdovers from the "new golden age" of a couple years ago. All of them great, but all of them have proved themselves capable of truly disappointing individual seasons. And all of them, I think, are close to ending, with nothing on the horizon to replace them. Glee? Almost unwatchable pageant television with not quite enough snark to redeem it. Friday Night Lights? Possibly the most sinister bowdlerization of a pretty good source movie I've ever seen. Breaking Bad? Never quite lives up to its intial set-up. Walking Dead? The zombies themselves think the show's a little slow and clumsy.

Just something to remember as Boxee and Google TV and over-the-air Digital Cable roll out in upcoming months and years. If Hollywood's putting money back into TV content, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

My 15 Albums

Okay. Using Evan's criteria. The 15 albums that I have probably listened to the most in my life. I will try not to edit too much, but there's probably some total crap that I've flushed from my brain. In reverse chronological order...

The iPod Years

The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off - I don't get why people didn't like this album more. Those that like it love it. But there aren't many of us. As well, I'm starting to think that the Walkmen could be the best live band in the world. It sounds just like them but with the energy turned up a few notches. Isn't that exactly how it should be?

The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine - There's just so much energy in this album and every song kind of brings something to the table. They've mellowed and polished with the last two and I think they need to get more manic to become this band again.

Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary - The songs on this album are 1-12 on my iTunes play count. By a fairly significant margin. What can I say, this album is nearly perfect.

Wilco - A Ghost is Born - I didn't catch on to Wilco until this album. People labeled it experimental but they don't know what they're talking about. Okay. Ignore "Spiders".

The Mini Disc Years (Not a long period of time)

The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat - Man, this album did not leave the old mini-disc for a month or so. I think this is the last album that I ever listened to completely through at least every day, sometimes twice a day. It blew my mind. I wish I had play counts on this sucker.

The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair... - It seems like some of the best bands can only exist for a certain period of time before they implode under their own colossal magnitude. Or put out one good album and then start to really suck. I'm okay with that, but I'm sad that the remnants of this band can only provide a small little tease of what could have been.

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes - What the hell happened to these guys?

The Discman Years

Swingin' Utters - S/T - A pretty great album that still gets the occasional listen. They've shown flashes of brilliance on other albums, but this guy is pretty solid all the way through.

NOFX - So Long and Thanks for all the Shoes - Punk in Drublic got a lot of airtime, but this thing has stood the test of time. What a great album. I don't listen to it very much any more but it's just solid throughout. It stuck around for a while.

Fugazi - Red Medicine (All of them, really) - What else can you say.

The Beatnuts - Street Level - This should have ended around track 13 or 14. Until that point, I think it's one of the greatest rap albums ever.

Gob - EP - This is just a short little ep but I listened to it so much. It's too bad they couldn't have done more with it.

The Walkman Years

The Pixies - Doolittle - If Alec Eiffel and The Sad Punk were to magically appear on this album, it would become an unstoppable force that could potentially cause the Universe to end.

Janes Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual - This album made me feel alright about Junior High, somehow. It made me happy that something so odd was out there. Especially the last few songs that don't get much credit. Three Days...Of Course...

The Violent Femmes - S/T - Man. I listened to this album so much through my early Junior High years. I am saddened about what this album became. Saddened. This was actually the very first cassette I ever bought.

That's fifteen. I guess I really did leave out some stuff I don't want to think about. Arcade Fire Funeral? Ya, probably. Nirvana Nevermind? Yep. Propagandhi How to Clean Everything? Yep. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Clap Your Hands Say Get Off the Fuckin' Stage!). Egads...probably. Anyhow. These are definitely 15 albums that got a lot of rotation and still leave some sort of imprint on my mind.