Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Site!

Well, I'm on my way folks, even as quickly as I've started this blog. After trying to contend with managing FOUR separate blogs for all of my work, I have happened upon the opportunity to consolidate them into one website. Thanks to a great deal of assistance from my friend Provoked, I now have a new site that I'm testing out in hopes of making the presentation of my work look more professional and less "Blogspot-ish", as I continue my attempts to locate gainful employment as a free-lance journalist.

Thus, I'd appreciate it greatly if you'd take some time to visit (and maybe even change your blogrolls) Dryvetyme Onlyne in the next few days (and in the subsequent weeks and months and years. And thanks for all of your visits to my blogs here over the past 18 or so months, because, as soon as Dryvetyme Onlyne is fully functional, my four Blogspot sites will become extinct.



Thursday, August 24, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine
Fox Searchlight; 2006
Rating: 9.4

Alan Arkin as Grandpa
Abigail Breslin as Olive
Steve Carell as Frank
Toni Collette as Sheryl
Paul Dano as Dwayne
Greg Kinnear as Richard

Directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Producer: Michael Turtletaub (& others)
Writer: Michael Arndt

This movie has been on the horizon for quite a long time – it’s taken over five years to make; Focus Features was involved until 2004 before it backed out; and Turtletaub finally had to agree to back much of the film on his own, after initially paying $250,000 for the script in the first place. However, having seen this movie on the first night that it was open nationally, I must declare, quite definitively, that the wait has been very much worth it. Little Miss Sunshine, without a singular doubt, is one of the most creative and substantive movies that I have seen in many years. In fact, I’m going to go as far as to openly state that this movie (along with the recently-released-on-DVD, but hardly-seen-in-theaters Brick) just may have restored my faith in the existence of truly original screenplays in the cinematic world.

One of the things that struck me most in this movie was how deftly intertwined the highly-individualized storylines of the six main characters were. Most screenwriters, when employing ensemble casts, quite often still find ways to focus upon two or three primary characters, no matter how many people the publicists claim are intimately involved in the story (with a good example being Love Actually, though I do really enjoy that movie). So many of these flicks leave viewers wanting to know more about their favorite minor character, but, because there is a time issue involved in film-making, there’s always at least one character’s personality that has to be diminished and/or their little bit of story never finds fulfillment or resolution.

However, in Little Miss Sunshine, each of the characters has their own personality, their own struggles, and their own issues, and they do whatever they can to keep the others out of their lives. The opening scenes, especially the one at dinner, are filled with comedic, yet painful tension, as this family threatens to split open at the seams. This all occurs to the dismay of Sheryl, the hard-working and hard-smoking Mom, who’s perpetually frustrated by her family’s hurt and is portrayed by Toni Collette. She’s an “Every-Mom,” standing in the gap, doing her best to love the four men in her life, who each addresses their personal sorrows in drastically different ways. Sheryl serves as the center of this family in two distinct manners: she is the fulcrum around which many of the plot machinations revolve and is also the foundation of a shaky house, doing whatever she can to shore up the wobbling walls of her family, but still feeling like a failure at the same time.

Greg Kinnear (in a stellar performance) plays an aspiring writer and motivational speaker who is struggling to find his place in the high-stakes world of pop psychology and intensely dislikes and loathes the other 3 males living in his house, openly calling them “losers.” His mute-by-personal-choice son, Dwayne (Paul Dano as one of the more truly serious, yet appropriately angst-filled teens you’ve seen on screen in awhile) is trying to gain permission to obtain his pilot’s license and enter the Air Force Academy, so that he can leave behind a family he can’t stand; Alan Arkin plays the horny, wizened, and smack-addicted Grandpa, who feels stuck in his old age and thus instigates pointless arguments with Richard, his son; and Uncle Frank (portrayed by Steve Carell, in his best performance in anything – ever) is a college professor who specializes in the works of the French author Marcel Proust and who recently attempted suicide because one of his male graduate assistants spurned his romantic advances. Four men – each approaching life in different ways, all viewing their world with divergent sets of lenses – are thrown together into one family and make no attempt to live in any kind of harmony.

However, even with strong and skilled performances by the five adults in the film, the true star is Olive (Abigail Breslin), the awkwardly adorable daughter of Richard and Sheryl, whose primary goal in life is to become a beauty pageant winner. And because of this aspiration of hers, she spends a great of time watching her vast collection of old beauty pageants, trolling for any and all tips that will help her in her quest. Moreover, in what could have been a purely comic role, filled with opportunities to lampoon anyone who’s ever been involved in the hellishness that is the beauty pageant life, Olive becomes everyone’s muse. She is not some cheesy, inspirational character that everyone eventually looks upon as some sort of fantastical representative of idealized childhood in hopes of finding his or her personal source of redemption. In many ways, Olive is the most mature and immature member of the family – she remains strong and focused upon her goal, even in the face of family tragedy, despite the fact that, all the while, her “adult” focus is upon the naïve idea of becoming a beauty queen. Nevertheless, it is Olive’s quest that eventually brings the family together to achieve a common goal; it is Olive who is the recipient of the family’s efforts to finally become a family.

I can’t really find very much to quibble with in Little Miss Sunshine, as in no way does the writer rest upon cliché or formula when presiding over the direction of this family’s life. Oh, the standard plot components are there – the troubled teen who doesn’t like his parents; the parents who fight over money and purpose; the young daughter who doesn’t understand the adult world around her; and the random, quirky, eccentric family members who only bring problems to the house – but this movie works; it really works. Little Miss Sunshine is filled with a captivating mixture of humor, pathos, anxiety, stress, laughs, tears and surprisingly deep spirituality, including a few revelatory instances that literally choked me up at the depth of their insight into the human condition that plagues us all. And all the while, the family’s journey is contained in a dirty, broken-down, yellow VW bus, accompanied by bits and pieces of “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens. See if this film doesn’t find you “… crying, in a van, with my friends.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sufjan Stevens -- The Avalanche

Sufjan Stevens
The Avalanche
Asthmatic Kitty; 2006
Rating #1: 7.4 (the album in its entirety)
Rating #2: 8.9 (the Chicago EP that I wish Sufjan would have released)

I look at it this way. If you still haven’t heard of Sufjan Stevens, you’ve probably spent the past 18 months or so hiding under some musical rock somewhere. And that can be understandable to some extent – everyone does have their own musical tastes, preferences, likes, and dislikes, all of which can confine the average music listener to only being exposed to quite a narrow slice of the musical spectrum. However, I would like to assume that most of the people who would potentially be reading my written/typed words have heard of Mr. Stevens and his multi-state recording project, not to mention his traveling folk orchestra (the Illinois-makers). Thus, I will proceed henceforth under the impression that you have some inkling of this man and his offbeat, yet defined musical style.

Wow… Simply wow. This album represents quite an ambitious musical undertaking, one that few artists would ever dream of undertaking, and I’m not even talking about the 50 States Project. In its most rudimentary form, many people have released CD’s full of B-sides, out-takes, rejected tracks, and other assorted songs that didn’t quite fit on any other released album. Thus, in and of itself, The Avalanche isn’t really that revolutionary – many groups throughout music history (whether they themselves or greedy record executives) have created something of this nature and they’re usually released to mixed reviews (i.e. Led Zeppelin’s Coda). Big deal, right? Aren’t most of albums of this nature just a vain attempt by bands to milk their loyal fan bases for extra money (i.e. Pearl Jam’s series of live concert releases from their US and European tours a few years back)?

However, where this album stands up and makes people take notice is that Mr. Stevens went back into his journals and pages of scribbling from the recording sessions for Illinois, found all of these songs, finished writing them, cleaned up whatever rough studio version might have exited, and compiled yet another CD (nearly 80 minutes worth) for his listeners. The aspiring, wannabe, wish-I-could-be songwriter living inside of me is excited to listen to these songs, as many of them are truly works in progress. Here is a writer/artist/sings who’s willing to open up to his listening audience and declare, “Hey! Here are some broken fragments of songs, some not-so-good songs, and some could-have-been songs! I’m not afraid to release a CD that’s not picture-perfect!” When I first heard of the release of this album I was quite excited, because the makeup of these songs and how they were collected was really compelling to me.

But then, the more I listened to the album and gained a decent glimpse into the content of this album and what it represented, my cynical side began to expose itself. I fight my cynicism rather often, as it can be difficult to repress, but it comes to the fore when I think about this album. I enjoy it; in fact, I really enjoy it, but this album screams out, “Over-Indulgence!” And I don’t like thinking of artists of various descriptions, whose work I regularly enjoy, as crassly commercial beings, out to make a quick buck with their creativity. But, if you’ve ever heard any of the programming on any radio station owned by Clear Channel (or other large media conglomerate), you’d know that people sell out and do so often and regularly.

Please don’t misunderstand me here – I am not accusing Sufjan of exploiting the ears and wallets of hipsters across the nation by cashing in on the well-deserved acclaim of Illinois. Far from it actually – I think that there are many portions of The Avalanche that are excellent. To be honest (and a fawning fan), I could listen to every single variation (both studio, live, or otherwise) of “Chicago” that Sufjan could ever release. When traveling and performing, he takes pains to recreate and reformulate “Chicago” on a regular basis; he is simply not content to let the song stay as it is, and such an idealistic approach to making music makes me really happy. And just like on Illinois, the “Name” songs on The Avalanche (as in, the songs referring to specifically to people, whether real or fictional) are standout tracks, filled with quality lyrics and his best compositions. I mean, who else would actually write songs entitled “Adlai Stevenson” and “Saul Bellow”? I am in no way denying this guy’s talent – Mr. Stevens is a great songwriter, one of the most talented that any genre or subgenre has heard in years.

But, in the long run, I think my problem with this album is that Sufjan is running the risk of watering himself down. A songwriter can simply release too many albums, too many tracks, too many concepts, and too many ideas, and, in the process of doing so, can potentially diminish his or her impact upon music history. Accordingly, there’s just too much here, as in, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer length, depth, and breadth of this album, and it’s only a collection of B-sides. Sufjan would have done well to engage in a bit of the same self-editing he employed when casting these songs off Illinois in the first place.

I wholeheartedly concur with the idea a great friend of mine had when he reflected upon the entirety of the record – I would have preferred to purchase this album as a succession of 3 or so EP’s. Yes, that means I probably would have spent more money, but I would have found much more enjoyment from the collective purchase. Each EP would have included one or two different versions of “Chicago” and, from there, the songs would be collected thematically – “Name” songs, “Place” songs, and then other assorted bits and pieces of things. I would have been really excited about that. I would have been able to decide which version I wanted to enjoy and not feel bad about skipping across songs that I really don’t want to hear, because I don’t like skipping around – I’m a fan of listening to an album in its entirety, the way that the artist made it to be.

So, if ever I get into a conversation with Mr. Stevens, I think what I’d tell him would go something like this – “Hey! Sufjan! Great work on The Avalanche! Next time though, do a better job with track selection. I want to hear your best work, and not just your ‘Eh, this is OK’ kinda stuff. I’d appreciate it.”

Original Track List:
1) The Avalanche
2) Dear Mr. Supercomputer
3) Adlai Stevenson
4) The Vivian Girls are Visited in the Night by Saint Dargarius and his Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies
5) Chicago (acoustic version)
6) The Henney Buggy Band
7) Saul Bellow
8) Carlyle Lake
9) Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in his Hair
10) The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself)
11) Kaskaskia River
12) Chicago (adult contemporary easy listening version)
13) Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne
14) No Man’s Land
15) The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake
16) The Pick-up
17) The Perpetual Self, or “What Would Saul Alinsky Do?”
18) For Clyde Tombaugh
19) Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)
20) Pittsfield
21) The Undivided Self (for Eppie and Popo)

Chicago EP (the one that I wish Sufjan would have released):
1) The Avalanche
2) Adlai Stevenson
3) Chicago (acoustic version)
4) Saul Bellow
5) Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in his Hair
6) Chicago (adult contemporary easy listening version)
7) For Clyde Tombaugh
8) Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Glenn Kotche -- Mobile (Part 2 of 2)

Glenn Kotche
Nonesuch; 2006
Rating: 8.8

Disclaimer: Before I talk about how much I really have enjoyed listening to this album for the past few weeks, I must first issue a warning to a potentially uninitiated listener. This is a solo, instrumental, percussion album. And yes, you read that correctly. There is only Mr. Kotche playing the instruments, creating the arrangements, and crafting the original songs. There are no guitars, basses, keyboards, or any other components of traditional pop music. There is a quite liberal use of a wide variety of percussion pieces (both acoustic and electronically-modified), ranging from kalimbas, snare drums, floor toms, bass drums, cymbals of various sizes & thicknesses, and struck springs amongst others. This is late-20th century minimalism run amok, and it’s quite beautiful.

But placing the details of that disclaimer aside for a bit, I really didn’t know what to expect from this album when I heard word of its impending release. I was familiar with breadth, depth, and complexity of Kotche’s work as Wilco’s drummer for the past few years, having recording the seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the slightly disappointing A Ghost is Born (though it had good moments like “Theologians”), and the recently released and quite wonderful live album, Kicking Television. I knew this guy was a good drummer, a great drummer, one who had recorded two solo albums previous to Mobile, but I was unprepared for what I began to hear emanating from my speakers. You have this one idea of how the world should be, yet the world continues to throw you curveballs – the songs on this album sound nothing like anything Wilco has ever recorded, even as “experimental” as Wilco has been for the last 5 years.

However, so that I don’t bore you with a track-by-track synopsis of the album, allow me to discourse upon two select songs and how they each are representative of the imagination and creativity that flow freely through this record. On Parts 1 & 2 of the title track, “Mobile,” the piece begins with a series of electronic pulses merged with plucked strings that slowly moves into the conflict and cohesion between three kalimba melodies. The warring, yet interconnected, sounds fill the spaces by emanating, ebbing, and flowing with abandon, representing Kotche’s stated hope in his liner notes to reveal “the unintentional rhythm of the spaces – that is, the rhythm of what isn’t there.” On Part 3 of “Mobile” (which is actually receives a separate track listing from Parts 1 & 2), Kotche records what is most likely the most traditional sounding drum kit-produced melody on the album, but when ran through a processor, the beats and breaks clash and collide with a dark piano line, creating what could easily be the template for a Radiohead B-side.

The other standout track is the 11-minute interpretation through modified drum kit of the ancient and revered Hindu folktale Ramayana. The song is entitled “Monkey Chant,” and is so named after the Kecak, the traditional Balinese performance of the Ramayana by a large male choir. Kotche, on the liner notes, gives a detailed breakdown of which noise or sound represents which main character in the story, along with a timeline of the song’s progression, following the story’s chronology. Springs rattle, high-hats clench and unclench, thick drums are pounded upon, cymbals ring loudly, and electronic pads squawk, as an intense, driving, almost manic rhythm is maintained by this talented drummer. In many ways, “Monkey Chant” earns the rightful title of “story-song.” Instruments are called into action as voices for each player – they converse, argue, debate, cajole, and rebuke each other. The song runs counter to traditional attempts to use words to tell a story, yet succeeds wildly in conveying exactly the emotional and psychological course of the tale. I couldn’t have done it – could you?

When added to my Mac’s iTunes library, Mobile arrives on my screen listed under the genre of “Classical” and I didn’t agree with the designation whatsoever. Of course, when I then look through the standard genre options on iTunes, I am unable to locate another choice that best describes what Kotche has created. There’s not even a chance to select “Instrumental,” unless I typed it in myself, and I don’t have the time to change all of the settings on each song.

Anyway, regardless of my issues with iTunes and its inability to describe the music in my library, Mobile is replete with experimentation of how to create sound and how to mold those numerous sounds into an understandable and sonically digestible whole. My only complaint with the album is that there are a few occasions (specifically on the song “Individual Trains”) where the line between the avant-garde tweaking of sounds and the crafting of well-designed, yet still left-of-center, pieces of music is blurred a bit too messily. As inaccessible as solo, instrumental, percussion album already is, I wish that Glenn had honed the direction of the sounds a bit more finely. However, I’m not here to quibble with his manipulation of his music – this was an exquisitely written album that any true student of music should be able to appreciate and be compelled to include in their personal music library.

Glenn Kotche -- Mobile (Part 1 of 2)

Glenn Kotche
Nonesuch; 2006
Rating: 8.8

The following thoughts, comments, and ruminations upon the compositions comprising Mobile come directly from the CD’s liner notes; so, naturally, these are Glenn Kotche’s own words. Thus, as with my own writing, to steal his words and claim them as your own is to commit theft. If you want to use them, just make sure people know they’re Mr. Kotche’s and not yours.

But, in general, I just wanted to include the liner notes as the first part of my post/review of his album to give people a better idea of what his thought processes were in launching into the beautifully ambitious project that is Mobile. Please read & enjoy. The actual review is coming soon.

Track List
1) Clapping Music Variations – 4:45
2) Mobile Parts 1 & 2 – 5:42
3) Mobile Part 3 – 2:38
4) Projections of (What) Might… – 4:55
5) Monkey Chant – 11:29
6) Reductions or Imitations – 3:18
7) Individual Trains – 3:54
8) Fantasy on a Shona Theme – 4:06

In the right lighting, I’m usually struck as much by the shadows that a mobile creates as by the sculpture itself. I’m also fascinated by the kinetic nature that affects relationships between the same basic parts to make something perpetually new. Throughout the record I investigate the idea of negative or opposite rhythm by utilizing the intrinsic spaces – or rests – of rhythms. Many of the songs were shaped from a few simple ingredients and then used in varying forms and different contexts, each time creating something new, yet homogeneous. Many primary themes of this record are mobile, as they are used in multiple settings throughout – they’re migratory. Some of these pieces are also rooted in linearly stretching or expanding something rhythmic as a basis for musical elaboration. This leads to the exploration of rhythm through composition as an extension of my drumming.

Clapping Music Variations
Almost all of the elements in this piece were inspired by Steve Reich’s 1972 duet for hand-clapping, “Clapping Music.” I was fascinated by the rhythmic complexity of something so compositionally simple and pretty. As a personal challenge, I decided to learn it as a duet between the right and left hands so I could play it solo. Soon after this, many other possibilities became evident and the adaptation was expanded accordingly. I used the negative rhythm of each part separately and in tandem. I also used rhythmic standposts, treating each line as a musical phrase independent of meter, and then used the rhythm of the first, second, or third notes of each phrase exclusively. I assigned pitches to the original pattern and let the melodies evolve in the same manner that the rhythms of the original evolve. I used the two parts independently of each other and utilized them in retrograde and half time. The spaces of the original patterns are the sole indicator of when elements of the variations are dampened or left sustained. I also took liberties with the number of repetitions of each pattern, letting some of the variations overlap. Even the addition of the various pulses is a tribute to Mr. Reich. The first example of a mobile theme occurs in the final variation.

Mobile Parts 1, 2, and 3
All three parts of this piece are based on three interlocking kalimba melodies that I wrote in my hotel room during the Wilco N.Y.C. Ghost sessions. These three melodies are utilized in various voices, positions, and contexts; their relationships are constantly changing just like the pieces of a mobile structure. Even the drums in parts 2 and 3 come from those melodies. The underlying concept of part 1 finds each note of the melody eventually replaced with a sustained tone of the opposite rhythm, its shadow, revealing the unintentional rhythm of the spaces – that is, the rhythm of what isn’t there. Part 3 contains a mobile element – a monkey chant melody. The kalimba that I originally used was tuned to the primary scale of the Monkey Chant/Kecak. I chose to keep this as the dominant mode that runs throughout the record, the same mode in which the three melodic lines are written.

Projections of (what) Might…
Nigerian master musician Tony Allen and jazz legend Ed Blackwell initially inspired this piece. I wrote my impressions of some of their drum grooves in the form of complex vamps performed on drum kit. The formal structure is a stretched duplication of one of these phrases. Each voice of that vamp was then replaced with another vamp. The sounds of the original phrases were then enhanced by synthetic sounds. This wasn’t done to disguise the piece’s origins but to show their lasting relevance in a fresh context.

Monkey Chant for Solo Drum Kit
This is a loose retelling, through percussion, of the monkey army’s battle from the Hindu epic Ramayana tale. My version follows the narrative of this story, often attempting a literal representation of certain parts such as some character interactions. At other times I take liberties, metaphorically representing events like the final battle between Rama and Ravana. I use the percussive elements of the chant from several recorded versions of the Kecak, especially the Explorer Series Golden Rain. I assigned specific voices from parts of my electro-acoustic drum kit to play the roles of the characters (the cricket boxes are a direct lift from the real crickets overheard in the original tale). The following is an abbreviated summary of the interpretation that I used for some of the main events.
Rama, 7th incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu (protagonist) – wires and sticks on the drum head and drums in the final section
Sita, Rama’s wife and heroine – friction stick on the snare head
Hanuman, monkey general and ally of Rama – large pull strings on the snare head
Ravana, ten-headed king of the Rakshasas (demons) from Lanka (antagonist) – small spring clusters on the snare head
Indrajit, son of Ravana – high-hat when struck
Monkey Army – drums (both the chanting ostinato and rhythmic melodies)

Reductions or Imitations
This is another example of rhythmically stretching and expanding a simple pattern into a piece of music, allowing the micro to become the macro. I started with the drumbeats from the Wilco song “The Late Greats” and the Minus Five song “What I Don’t Believe.” “The Late Greats” uses a juxtaposition of the feet playing double-time the hands while “What I Don’t Believe” uses a cyclical pattern. Each beat was stretched and in some cases inverted. I then replaced the voices of each beat with melodic or rhythmic phrases. From this starting point, the material was reduced or orchestrated.

Individual Trains
This is the final piece on the record that explored the idea of stretching or expanding something exclusively rhythmic. Its basic form is an expanded version of the very first original drum “beat” that I came up with, at age fifteen. I took each subdivision of the beat and stretched it several times in duration. Then each voice of it opposite rhythm was substituted with a more rhythmically complex texture. The end result gives me the feeling of concurrent individual events with a hidden connection. This title, one of three on Mobile, is borrowed from the writings of the seminal solo percussionist Max Neuhaus.

Fantasy on a Shona Theme for Solo Vibraphone
This piece originated from an mbira melody transposed to vibraphone. The opening right-hand melody emulates the cyclical, rolling feel of Shona mbira music. I try to retain that metrically ambiguous feel throughout the song by using melodic lines that interlock, weave, and constantly evolve. I also borrow the role of the vocal lines – improvisatory, yet culling from the same material as the mbira accompaniment.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thom Yorke Interview

While I might not be cool enough to be granted this interview, the wonderful people at Pitchfork Magazine were able to ask some questions and get some quality replies from the usually private Thom Yorke, singer for Radiohead. Feel free to read along with me.

Interview: Thom Yorke
Interview by Scott Plagenhoef

In May and June of this year Radiohead traveled to Europe and the U.S., embarking on their first extensive tour in two-and-a-half years. During that time off, lead singer Thom Yorke recorded a delicate, cautionary, and sometimes beautiful record, The Eraser, released on XL last month, while the group itself recently has taken steps to record for the first time since 2003's Hail to the Thief, as well as the first since ending its recording contract with Capitol/EMI.

Stepping cautiously back into the public eye, a friendly, engaging Yorke was kind enough to talk to Pitchfork about The Eraser, his fears and doubts, and his band's past, present, and future.

Pitchfork: So, The Eraser. Is there something about these particular songs that demanded you record them on your own, away from Radiohead?

Thom Yorke: I recorded it just because I wanted to see what it was like.

Pitchfork: The process of doing something by yourself?

TY: Yeah, I've been in the band since we left school and never dared do anything on my own, and it was like, "This is getting stupid." It was like, "Man, I've got to find out what it feels like," you know? And it was good. It was a really good time.

Pitchfork: Were there moments when you didn't feel like getting back together with the band?

TY: Yeah, we have them all the time. It'd be deeply unhealthy if it weren't like that. And that's not just instigated by me. Sometimes people just have enough-- they just can't deal with it anymore.

Pitchfork: And even [Radiohead guitarist] Jonny [Greenwood] beat you to [a solo album]. You had to. So when it came to creating the songs on The Eraser, you wrote them knowing they were for the Thom Yorke record-- not candidates for a Radiohead album?

TY: Yeah. Early on it was like, "Oh shit, maybe I should try this with the band," but once I actually sat down with [producer] Nigel [Godrich], I basically said, "Well, fuck it. It all goes in...that's where I am at the moment."

There were unsatisfying things about it because I tend to be lazy in certain ways. Given the choice, I wouldn't bother making arrangements-- I would just do whatever on the day. That's where Nigel fits. Forcing me to respond to what's in front of [us].

Pitchfork: So you already needed that sort of task master-- now you guys have been in the studio with a lot less structure since you left your former label.

TY: To be fair, the label never said, "Come on [claps]. We need this, we need this." It was always our choice, but obviously once the record was made, all hell broke loose.

But yes, we didn't have a structure. We didn't have a purpose. Initially, that was a good thing, and then it didn't take long for it to be a pain. There's no reason for the band to get together, nobody who sat there and said, you know, "We're doing this." We spent a lot of time fucking about in the studio and not going anywhere because...we didn't have to [finish a record]. It made me realize that [recording with Radiohead] was as much for the craic, as we say, than anything else. It's an excuse to hang out.

It all suffered from a complete lack of confidence and lack of momentum. You kind of just have to hang out for a while and focus on something, and once you've got past that the channels start opening back up again. Having done something that's not like [Radiohead] makes me realize how mad the group sort of dynamic is. It's not something you just take for granted and can switch on and off. It actually takes work and everybody wanting to do it.

Pitchfork: You're recording without deadlines, then-- or is Nigel imposing those?

TY: Yeah, we're meeting with him next week to talk about what the fuck to do [Laughs]. He picks up the pieces.

I don't know exactly what's going to happen [but] not having a label isn't a big deal. It was interesting doing something with XL because it's very mellow. There's no corporate ethic. All [major labels are] like that. Stupid little boys' games-- especially really high up.

Pitchfork: Did those things get worse as you became more successful, as you became a larger spot on their ledger?

TY: Yeah, exactly. Briefly. We've always been able to observe it from the sidelines, really. Luckily, we didn't get sucked into it, but I think, generally speaking, a lot of the majors are running scared. Well, actually, they pretend they're running scared but really, they're just preparing to sell off and give it up. So I would imagine it's not a great environment [in the majors] at the moment.

Pitchfork: You matched The Eraser up to XL because you thought it was a good fit for that project. Are you going to try to make separate arrangements for each of your new records?

TY: I guess so. I don't know. It's not such an important question whether we go with a major or an indie or whether we choose to completely do it ourselves. We haven't really talked about it lately, surprisingly enough.

We were talking about it a lot when we first stopped and we weren't working, but it ends up being just a pointless question unless, as you said, you've got something important and you have to get it out. Then you have to think about it.

It's funny that some people focus on that. When we stopped, I was really into the idea of trying to mess about trying to fuck with the system, whatever. The system's in collapse anyway. Just watch it go.

So you guys are interested in all this then? I've noticed this about the Pitchfork people. Because I mean, in America, there seems to be more focus on the idea that it's important to do things differently. In Britain, it's not an issue.

Pitchfork: Well, I think in Britain it's a lot easier to do things yourself and have some level of success. I don't know if Mute or Factory or Rough Trade could have had the success in America that they did in England when they did. The UK's relatively small size eases touring, distribution, marketing-- everything.

TY: That's true. It's more expensive here.

Some people talk about the internet, but we've always had a problem with [it], because it will always essentially be exclusive one way or the other. To assume that this technology is worldwide is kind of bollocks, y'know? It's not there in the same way. So, I mean, I also personally am one of these luddites. I want physically to have things. I want 12"s, and anyway, iTunes never has what I want.

Pitchfork: I've always thought Amnesiac suffered a bit by coming out during this odd point with filesharing. People were starting to absorb tracks on the internet as soon as they appeared, and they craved new Radiohead songs, but the technology wasn't very accelerated. Kids were on their dialups investing a half hour of their time trying to download one new Radiohead song, and they'd get it and be like, "Fuck, this is just two minutes of Robert Fripp-like guitar!"

TY: [Laughs]

Pitchfork: It was unfortunate in a sense, how many people were like, "Man, I wish this was not what I spent my time on." It's disappointing. That's my favorite Radiohead album.

TY: Yeah, I really like it . We always say, "[Pulk/Pull] Revolving Doors" seems to be like a litmus test. [Laughs] Some people are like, "Aw, no, fuck that." There's a friend of mine, he runs this shop, he plays it and he turns that one up really loud.

Pitchfork: One odd thing about The Eraser was that you were able to keep it a secret. No one knew it was coming; you were able to announce it yourself.

TY: I know! That was part of the tactic. I'd been out of it for so long, maybe people wouldn't be looking for it.

Pitchfork: But the rest of the band knew about it pretty much straightaway?

TY: Yeah, they had their copies. Theirs weren't even watermarked. I can trust them.

Pitchfork: You have a reputation as far back as the mid-90s...

TY: Of being a pain in the ass!

Pitchfork: No, of thinking everything else is a pain in the ass, maybe. The dread, the foreboding, and the pre-millennial tension-- did you expect things to turn out as badly as they did? The new century has gone about as poorly as possible.

TY: Yeah. I think I'm doing pretty well so far. [Laughs]

Pitchfork: You seem happier the past few years. The music seems a little more direct; your lyrics are a little more direct; your vocals aren't as obscured.

TY: I think it's always been the same. Loads of the music on OK Computer is extremely uplifting. It's only when you read the words that you'd think otherwise. That's just kind of the way it is. The whole point of creating music for me is to give voice to things that aren't normally given voice to, and a lot of those things are extremely negative. Personally speaking, I have to remain positive otherwise I'd go fucking crazy.

One of the reasons to get back together [to tour] was that, it felt like to me, was to do something more direct. It doesn't mean we'll carry on being direct-- that's just what we're doing at the moment. That's what this was about.

When we played Bonnaroo we got such a nice vibe, a genuine good feeling from the first beat. Things like Bonnaroo give you the hope that you can do it the other way. I met Phish-- most of their people are involved in Bonnaroo. And it's great. I dream to take some of that vibe and take it around the country...and then Clear Channel trying to fucking shut the gate down.

Pitchfork: Some newer songs seem a little warmer: "Down Is the New Up", "House of Cards"...

TY: I'd guess one doesn't really need reminding of the ice outside at the moment, do you? It's maybe a good thing to try to make music that feels reassuring in some ways-- something that's got a good feeling, a good vibe about it.

Pitchfork: Is there a sense that you're trying to rope in some of the more abstract things that you guys did at the beginning of the decade?

TY: No, no. There's no fucking chance of that!

Pitchfork: Well, with Hail to the Thief you scaled things back on record and went back to more typical touring and marketing patterns.

TY: Yeah. Well, it was an experiment as much as the previous thing was an experiment. And Hail to the Thief was a very brief period. Kid A and Amnesiac-- that was a long fucking stretch and it took a lot of effort, and I wasn't prepared to make that [again]. The amount of effort and the meetings we was madness. It was utter madness. Hail to the Thief was, let's try and engage with the monster again. It wasn't very pleasant.

Pitchfork: Did knowing that was the last record in your contract make it easier?

TY: That kind of helped. Take one more bitter pill and see how it feels. Not very good.

Pitchfork: Kid A was obviously a huge success but it's not the type of thing the label wanted to try and sell-- was there any fear that if the first one didn't work out in their eyes, they'd make demands on Amnesiac?

TY: At the time, it felt like it was a good idea to split them up. It was such an elongated period but it wasn't like, "They might not like that one, so we may need to come up with something a little bit easier" or any of that shit. It was all way beyond that. And we knew how tolerant they were. No, it's never been like that ever. Maybe on "High and Dry". I had my arm twisted on "High and Dry".

Pitchfork: To release it as a single?

TY: To put it anywhere. [Laughs]

It's not bad, you know. It's not's very bad. [Laughs]

Pitchfork: And of course most of the bands that've taken cues from you have done so from things like "High and Dry". Was it ever disappointing that when your peers looked to you guys they ignored Kid A and Amnesiac and took the simpler, more well-traveled road?

TY: But that's the majors all over. "Oh, uh, shit, we need to find something else that looks like it." They spent loads of money and crap and they were right, so I can't argue with them I guess. It's business.

But it upset me a lot, yes. I was really, really upset about it, and I tried my absolute best not to be, but yeah, it was kind of like-- that sort of thing of missing the point completely. When we put Kid A out, I specifically remember saying, "Copy that, you fucking..."

Whatever. We've ripped off R.E.M. blind for years, you know-- amongst other people. Everybody does. It's how you rip them off, as John Lennon said.

Pitchfork: Are there any current bands with whom you feel any type of kinship?

TY: There are bands I look up to. Like I look up to the Black Keys. I'm really excited about Deerhoof. Liars, they're fucking great. LCD Soundsystem. Modeselektor.

Pitchfork: Besides The Eraser what else did you do during your time off?

TY: I was a dad. I am a dad. I was being a dad. I was helping my partner cope with that--a newborn child. I'm lucky that I am able to stop and do that.

I was going a bit mad.

Pitchfork: Just out of boredom?

TY: Not boredom, no. Well, I guess in a way boredom...everything stopped. Everything's just all gone away. That's why I wanted it to happen because I couldn't deal with it anymore. I was in a bit of denial about it.

Pitchfork: Missing performing, or...?

TY: I wasn't missing it, no. In fact, when we're gearing up to start going on tour, it took me probably six months to get my head around it and get my nerve back enough to go ahead and do it. I still don't understand why, but last time we were out, it just blew all these fuses in my brain.

Pitchfork: Had you ever had that problem before?

TY: Not anything like that. I dread getting like Andy...what's his name,

Pitchfork: Partridge [XTC singer who suffers from stage fright]?

TY: I dread getting like that, because I could see it happening.

Pitchfork: Even this far into your career?

TY: Yeah. You know, once it starts, it's fine, but a couple months beforehand, it's not fine.

You have to go into this completely different mindset. [Performing] is great, but you are exposed to all this extra stuff that you don't have to deal with when you stop. I'm getting used to it now, but it's kind of just the fallout. It's really weird. It's not a natural situation to be in. It sounds like moaning, because I know that's what I'm supposed to do, and I'm not moaning.

Pitchfork: It's difficult gearing up to again be a public figure, feeling like a personality or a commodity in a way? Or having to deal with demands like this interview?

TY: No. And it's fun to play new stuff all the time. But you got all this dread, all this sort of like, "Well, should we really be doing this?" Like, basically, a complete lack of confidence. But you get over that.

Pitchfork: And you think that sort of came back because there was a moment where you guys stopped and uncertainty kind of settled in?

TY: Yeah, which is natural I think. It's a pathological criticism about absolutely everything we ever do.

Pitchfork: That comes from yourself? Because it'd seem difficult for most people to believe that you lack confidence in what you guys are doing.

TY: From me personally, especially. Sometimes it's just fucking ridiculous. If I'm left to my own devices, then simply nothing would happen.

Pitchfork: Well you made The Eraser.

TY: I did.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My (Most Likely) Top Ten Favorite Albums of All Time

For those who are even interested and/or found this blog of mine first, this is a repost from my primary blog that I put up about 10 or so days ago. I hope you enjoy it, as it might give you newbies a decent glimpse into my writing style and my musical tastes. And if you're interested, my friend Andrew also posted this list at his blog recently. I really enjoy his writing style AND he has great taste in music. GO READ!


Oh yeah -- one more thing before we begin. Please note that these 10 albums are not placed in any sort of #1-#10 format. They are simply my favorite albums of all time. Thus, even though I don't have children, I'll pull out the same, old, tired metaphor here -- I don't want to order them because it would be like a parent picking their favorite child. And we all know what happens then -- just ask Esau, Jacob, Joseph, and all of Joseph's older brothers....

Therefore, without any further ado or any more unnecessary explanation as to the point & purpose of this list, please read....

"Leave Here a Stranger" : Starflyer 59
This album, from the very first time I listened to it, has always been able to center me, focus me, and inspire me. Jason Martin has been recording great music for years, but he tops himself here as, along with Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos, Swirling Eddies, & Lost Dogs), he records probably the finest album in the history of Tooth & Nail Records. "Give Up the War" and "I Like Your Photographs" are epic songs worthy of comparison to the best pop songs of all time. If only more people were aware of this great shoegaze band....

"Achtung Baby" : U2
Now, I know it's typically difficult for people to compare or even choose between this album and "The Joshua Tree", but, for me, there is no comparison. From the opening track of "Zoo Station" to "Love is Blindness", Bono's raw emotional & spiritual honesty is so intricately interwoven through the darkly-produced sonic palette of The Edge, Larry, and Adam. In some ways, this is an easy and obvious album to choose, so I don't want to ever cheapen this album's impact on how I hear music and interpret lyrics.

"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" : Wilco
This is the album that allowed me to realize that music has a future. I don't want to indulge in musical superlatives here, but this album represents one of the rarest and most beautiful integrations of country, folk, rock, and creative integrity in music history. More bands need to look at Wilco as a beacon of what it truly means to make the music that you want, record companies be damned! "Jesus, Etc." and "Ashes of American Flags" are the standout tracks, in my opinion.

"The Queen is Dead" : The Smiths
Oh wow.... I was born in 1979 and had to learn about 80's music in reverse. I might have great memories about TV shows, toys, and similar child-appropriate trends, but it wasn't until college that I started realizing how much great music was created in the 80's. And what makes THIS album special is how both Marr's musical depth and Morrissey's wry, ironic lyricism have transcended the 80's as has no other band or album. I don't even like selecting favorite songs, but "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" and "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" get me every time.

"You Are the Quarry" : Morrissey
And yes -- I have chosen two albums on this list where Morrissey is involved. And no -- I don't quite care what any of you readers think about it. Each track on this album is special to me, as, at any given time, the words speak to me or relate my innermost thoughts. "Irish Blood, English Heart" is such a theme song for me, though I'd have to rename it "Irish Blood, American Heart" and replace "Cromwell" with "Washington" and "Tories" with "Republicans" to make it truly work. I just wish my hair could be as great as SPM's....

"Kid A" : Radiohead
I have a great friend who, while he loves this album, will always prefer "OK Computer" and I can understand such a choice. However, when I really start to understand the great strides that these 5 British men are taking in advancing music into unknown territories, I simply have to love this album and all that it represents. "Everything In Its Right Place", "Kid A", and "National Anthem" represent one of the best album-opening trios of songs ever.

"Automatic for the People" : R.E.M.
Ok ok ok.... I know that this can seem to be an obvious choice, but I do believe that many people underestimate this album and simply cite it often because it IS great. And while I absolutely love "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" ("New Test Leper" and "Leave" give me shivers perpetually), few albums traverse the musical and artistic gamut present within this pop masterpiece. Whether it's the plodding drive of "Drive", the bounce of "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight", the quirkiness of "Man on the Moon", the overt emotion of "Everybody Hurts", or the sweet sentimentality of "Nightswimming", there are few alleys and thoroughfares that are not traveled by these 4 Georgians.

"American Recordings, Vol. 1" : Johnny Cash
This is the album that reintroduced me to what GOOD, REAL, and TRUE music (and not just country specifically) has always been, even as it represents Johnny Cash reinterpreting himself 30+ years after many of these songs were first recorded. Growing up listening to The Judds, George Strait, Juice Newton, and other 80's-formatted country acts, I had learned to despise the crass commercialism of radio country and cheesy-ness of country in general. However, the opening strains of "Delia's Gone" astound me to this day. Cash is one of my heroes because his life is so reflective of both the brokenness inside all of us pared with our tendencies to rise out of the ashes of our failures.

"Funeral" : Arcade Fire
I really do like Canadians; well, at least those who are like Winn & Regina. These two lovebirds have crafted one of purest, heart-felt albums in decades, smashing to bits the ridiculousness that is radio-controlled "emo" & "punk" music. There's not a song on that album that hasn't moved me to tears at some point, whether tears of joy, pain, or struggle. "Haiti", "Tunnels", and "Crown of Love" do it for me every time....

"Control" : Pedro the Lion
Without a doubt, David Bazan has always been able to explode my definition of honesty. No matter how sad and depressed you might think a character in one of his story-songs might be, it's hard not to find a glimpse of your true self inside one of them. The darkness and base humanity inherent in so many of these songs never cease to amaze me and compel me to realize that, at some point, I've been like so many of the people in the songs. "Rapture" and "Second Best" are simply phenomenal -- don't tell me that you don't get chills listening to them.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Working Title -- About-Face

The Working Title
Cause For Alarm/Universal; 2006
Rating: 5.4

I’ve been listening to local bands comprised of great friends for that past 6 or so years, mostly because I love live music and I like supporting my friends in their artistic and creative endeavors. Hence, my ears have been subjected to a wide variety of tones, styles, and interpretations of what music is supposed to sound like – sometimes it’s been great, sometimes good, and sometimes I’ve asked the door for my money back. I guess that’s what happens when you pay $6.00 at the entrance to a community center to see and hear 4 to 6 bands play. And yes, that does mean that only the headliners ever get paid and I know that because I’ve been in one of those 4 to 6 band shows and haven’t gotten any monetary return for my musical investment.

Subsequently, I have an idea of what it’s like to work, toil, and rehearse for hours with your friends in hopes of getting your sound right, nailing that chord progression, making sure that the vocal tone matches where the guitar player’s melody is traveling, and hoping against hope that you don’t suck at the show you’re prepping to play. Moreover, I’ve been around a couple of great local bands that practice constantly, tour whenever they get a few nights off from their day jobs, have solid fan bases, and never ever stop pursuing their dreams. And I’ve also personally known a couple of local bands that have carried out all the aforementioned aspects of starting a solid band, yet have still broken apart for various reasons. It’s always quite the sad state of affairs when this happens because everyone involved is so emotionally connected to all that’s going on with each member and as a collective. “Everybody hurts,” Stipe claimed.

So, when I start reading about the back-story concerning the South Carolinian boys that make up The Working Title, I get filled with both excitement and trepidation, because I fully realize what can happen between long-term friends who’ve entered into a long-term commitment to make music together. And with this band, the results are pleasantly surprising. It doesn’t take much of a trained ear to realize that the four men have spent many an hour in their practice space crafting these energetic and passionate songs. They’ve been together since 2001, recorded and released their first album independently, completed a small-scale EP with Kevin Law of Universal Records that garnered them some solid national attention in magazines like Alternative Press, and have toured consistently to build a solid collection of fans before entering the studio to create their major-label debut in About-Face. The road that leads to where these guys have arrived is littered with the broken bodies, guitar strings, drumheads, and dreams of so many other bands.

However, my overall impression of About-Face is that it’s polished. Yes, I said it – polished. I do understand that polished doesn’t rank very highly in many people’s lexicon of great words that could be used to describe an album full of someone’s artistic soul. But when I listen through the fourteen songs on this album, I’m struck with an overwhelming sensation that there should be more here, but there’s simply not. The strange thing is that nearly all of the normally-required components are present – solid (if not mature-for-its-age) songwriting, cohesive rhythm section, talented collection of producers (Law, Brad Wood of Smashing Pumpkins and mewithoutYou fame, and Counting Crows guitarist David Bryson), and the sense that singer/songwriter Joel Hamilton really means what he’s singing about.

Nevertheless, it feels like something is just missing here – maybe it’s a hit single (because there really isn’t one) or original guitar work. Ah. Yes. That’s it – the mediocre guitar. Now, look here folks – I’m not intentionally picking on Adam Pavao’s work on this record. It’s just that he’s spent way too much time mining the guitar technique of both The Edge and whatever emo-ish riff has been popular for the past year or so. The echo and delay used on this album begs to be extended for another half-second or so, in hopes of creating a larger soundscape in which the melody lines can clearly ring, but sadly, it all remains in rather predictable territory. One would hope that these guys would have sought out something to give them any kind of advantage in a music world sodden with emotive, mid-tempo, pseudo-ballads, but they didn’t, and the record suffers as a whole.

My major criticism of About-Face is that it is much too clean and antiseptic. I’ve seen The Working Title twice before and this band's live sound is nowhere near as repetitive and monotonous as this album projects. I kept going over the tracks hoping to hear something different than I’d heard in a previous listen-through, but alas, those efforts proved fruitless. It’s always hard to burden a new act with phrases like, “They have potential,” since they so often fail to live up to such predictions, but that’s what I feel like has happened here. Some producer (maybe just one, instead of three) needs to get a good hold of these guys and push their direction a bit. It can still happen and it will quite necessary for these guys.

Regina Spektor -- Begin to Hope

Regina Spektor
Begin to Hope
Sire: 2006
Rating: 7.1

I remember the story breaking about 2 or 3 years ago. For some reason, MTV or VH1 (I can’t recall which it might have been) decided to take a bit of time from their hectic and persistent attempts to deaden the senses of the coveted 18-25 demographic with images of everything except music to actually talk about music. I was quite surprised actually – here were programmers making the conscious choice to make their viewers aware of a current development in where music was heading. There was no mention of Ashton Kutcher, Bam Margera, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, or any other typical pop-cultural schlock.

The voice-over narrator related a lovely tale; a tale filled with a great many touching tidbits from this artist’s life and times. As an unusual yet delightful voice leaked out of my television’s speakers, I heard about the life of a talented Jewish-Russian girl growing up on the streets of New York City after her family was able to emigrate from the U.S.S.R. and how she was raised on the Western music her father was able to smuggle into Communist Russia. I took all of this in – the biographical information, the strains of piano-led, jazz-inspired folk music, and a quirky voice that made you want to listen to where you’d be taken next – and thought to myself, “Well, if I actually had any say in prepping the format of a truly good pop station, I’d have to make sure and play some of this woman’s music.”

So, here we are today listening to Ms. Spektor’s newest album, the second she’s recorded on Sire Records after releasing two independently at shows all throughout NYC’s East Village. It’s a collection of compelling and original songs that does its best to bust genres and defy categorization. One can easily identify the fact that she does have talent and that those talents have been honed through playing clubs for the past 5 years and touring widely for the past 3. To declare that she just another girl-on-a-piano/Norah Jones-Vanessa Carlton clone is to display your musical ignorance.

She sings with passion, yet tempers that passion with a healthy sense of humor and chutzpah, never quite taking herself too seriously. You can tell that she’s quite versed in classical piano & jazz theory, but she enjoys crafting a great pop song. Regina knows when to step up and deliver a full complement of instruments on a selection, as evidenced by the standout track “Better”. Nevertheless, she is quite aware that the beautiful minimalism of the voice-and-piano-only mix on songs like “Samson” and “Field Below” displays her abilities to their fullest extent. It’s hard not enjoying the intelligent lyrics, the varied creative takes on traditional jazz and folk music, and the general sense that she’s having a great time making her music.

And it all succeeds – to a certain extent. There are times when her seemingly innocent worldview wears a bit thin and becomes not quite believable. I’m not saying that the naïveté is forced or some false persona that she and her producer (David Kahne, who has also produced Paul McCartney, The Bangles, & Sugar Ray) are forcing upon an unsuspecting listener. It’s more that she sings, plays, and writes with ever-maturing skill set, yet still hopes to convince us all that she’s just arrived off the boat from Eastern Europe and doesn’t quite know how to relate to Americans and western culture. On songs like “Hotel Song” and “That Time,” she comes off as a bit too kitschy for my tastes, especially in how she begins tweaking her vocal stylings to appear unpracticed and spontaneous. It catches your ear the first or second time, but it can get annoying by the third and fourth – kinda like dealing with a younger sibling who knows just how to get under your skin and does it over and over again.

Please don’t think that I’m seeking for ways to denigrate this rather good pop album. Begin To Hope is a fun listen-to that does a great job with straying outside the box in just the right ways, while maintaining a solid song structure. There are strains of Fiona Apple, Cat Power, and even Tom Waits (circa Alice) throughout this record and enough good songs to rouse in the listener a sense that Ms. Spektor has more to offer us all in the future. However, to me, it just seems a bit too slickly produced and studio-stale on too many occasions. Sire should encourage her to find an old upright piano in a basement somewhere, find some great friends, and sit around recording her music, allowing Regina to have all the time she wants to mix up all the fun-and-seriousness her heart desires. I’d both buy that album and go see that tour – Regina Spektor: Live in Your Basement!

Welcome to all of you!

Well, I've been attempting to get into reviewing music and/or literature for awhile now, but I've never really been able to succeed. Whether it's been a lack of desire on my part, a deficiency in opportunities, or some combination of the two, I've just kept myself frustrated for far too long now. Thus, I decided that, if the chances weren't making their way to my doorstep, I would just begin writing for my own benefit, and, if the "right people" started paying some attention to me, then that would be great as well. I just couldn't sit on my ass any longer.

Anyway, I would like to welcome you to my site and I sincerely hope that you'll be returning in the very near future. I'm hoping to write one album review a week (at minimum) and I'm considering incorporating book reviews into the milieu in the (near??) future. Feel free to read, comment, and generally participate in the discourse. I am not and will never be the final word on anything. I might not change my rating of a certain album or book, but I'll be happy to read your thoughts alongside of mine.