Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Another weird month for me here in January. Been terribly ill, but at least controllably ill. Okay, so I lost thirty pounds between November and December without really trying. Don't know how it happened, and I didn't really notice while it was happening. I got a few comments here and there, but couldn't really tell. I don't own a scale, but really started to notice when the belt I have worn in the same notch for many years suddenly ran out of notches and suddenly couldn't eat anything without being in awful pain.

I started seeing a couple of different doctors a few weeks ago who suggested a....well, let's just call it a procedure. The procedure didn't sound very nice, especially when the words "intestinal scraping" are involved. I went in last Thursday. It actually wasn't bad. I don't remember any of it from the sedative. Little bits and pieces of memory have returned. It was a weird day. Apparently I was calling people and was totally responsive and carried on conversations just fine. I just don't remember at all. The worst part was the prep-work I had to do last Wednesday. It was a night of absolute hell. I had to take some heavy meds and chug a gallon of this saline solution. My body did things I didn't think were possible outside of comic books or something.

Well in the end, it turned out I'm not as sick as everybody had expected. I had multiple doctors (and my mom) tell me it's likely crohn's disease....which is not good at all, very scary stuff. I'm not fine, but compared to that it's a very small issue thankfully. I've been on some treatments for a few days and things are getting better. Surgery is still an option, but compared to "removing sections of my digestive system" as was an earlier option, the surgery is very minor.

I guess I haven't told you what is actually wrong with me. Well, I'm not. Just....don't worry about it.

Oh well, now that that's out of the way, yesterday was a very delightful release day! First of the year. First up:

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

I really like this album. It's so sweet and just warms you up. That's good too because I'm of the cloth that has felt that the Shins are a little overrated. I know people just put them on this huge indie pedistal, but I never really got it. Still, nice stuff here.

The Good, the Bad & the Queen

Now this is some badass stuff here. A supergroup with Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), Paul Simonon (the Clash), Simon Tong (the Verve), and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. Throw in Danger Mouse as producer. I honestly wasn't expecting too much, but I really like it. There are definitely some mediocre moments, but the good songs are really damn good.

Last week was the new release from the Autumn Defense, but I haven't been able to find it yet. Next week oughsta be great with the release of the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Friday, January 05, 2007

2006 Sunless Shortlist

Top 15 Albums of 2006

15. Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways

Not just a hastily thrown together batch of unreleased songs. This is as the album was recorded and meant to be released. And it's excellent. And no out-there covers. All songs just work.

14. Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea

Back to basics, of sorts, for the Fiery Furnaces. Possibly their most accessible album yet, but that's really not saying much. Still plenty of weirdness and scary sounds. Just not as polarizing as last year's Rehearsing My Choir, which I still love by the way.

13. Loose Fur - Born Again in the USA

More greatness from Jeff, Jim, and Glenn. I'm not as thrilled about this one than I was their debut, but it's definitely more of an album-sounding album.

12. Cat Power - The Greatest

Not necessarily a pouty Chan on this one, but it's like her "fuck it, I'm miserable" album. May as well embrace it.

11. Portastatic - Be Still Please

Mac's best Portastatic to date. Really sounding less like a side project here, and more like a priority.

10. Mountain Goats - Get Lonely

Boy this is one heavy album. If this is the sequel to last year's The Sunset Tree, then it definitely doesn't sound like things ended well. Still really awesome stuff here. "Woke Up New" is not only one of the best songs of the year, but has one of this year's best videos to boot.

9. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country

If anybody else says Camera Obscura is just Belle and Sebastian lite, fuck em. This is a band that is on its own.

8. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Letting Go

Really, really good stuff from Will O here. His addition of string sections just makes this a devastating listen. Just listen to "Cursed Sleep" and try not to feel so good about feeling so bad.

7. Islands - Return to the Sea

Synth/quirk-pop at its finest. Probably the youngest-sounding album on this list, but damn it's a fun listen.

6. Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

Okay, so I get shit for being a big Belle and Sebastian fan. They sound a little wussy. Eh, so I'm a big French New Wave fan too. I don't get much shit for that. If everybody has been clamoring for a return to the lo-fi early Belle and Sebastian, it ain't here. However, the songwriting is just a strong as ever.

5. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies

Some of my favorite songs from the year are on this disc. "Your Blood," "European Oils," "Looters' Follies," "Priest's Knees." All just so damn good. Do NOT get this if you are expecting New Pornographers. This is an album that sounds best in the most depressing smokey jazz bar in your town, or at least on AM radio at 3am. I'm actually listening to it as I write this list.

4. Danielson - Ships

The most bizarre fun you can have listening to music. Basically imagine an hour long crescendo of screeching. Yeah, that sounds right. So much fun. Zappa would be proud.

3. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

These top three slots can be pretty interchangable, depending on my mood. I think this is pretty fair. As for this new Yo La Tengo, it just justifies why this is one of my favorite bands. I think I summed it up pretty well back in September.

2. Decemberists - The Crane Wife

Who the hell is this band, and how do they keep getting better and better with every release?? This album really took over my home and car and office for a solid month after its release. Less pirate songs on this one and maybe a little more prog rock. I actually think some sounds were used on "Band on the Run," or maybe something by Edgar Winter. Still everything is written as a historical ballad. I'm sure they will release another album next year and it will be even better.

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys

So much has been written about this album, but all the hype is so valid to me. You don't really listen to this music as much as you swim through it. Almost an hour on five songs with no music breaks and no breaths taken. Just a lyrical maze, so hard to decipher, but so rewarding when it's done.


Most Disappointing Album of 2006

Golden Smog - Another Fine Day

Man, I waited so long for this. Just to get this? It's so sad to hear some of my former favorite musicians struggle to put together anything worthwhile. This is one album that should NOT have been released. Sometimes supergroups lose the "super" prefix.


2007 should be a nice little year for music. Looks like it'll be a little slow getting off the tracks, but expect great new stuff from Wilco, Modest Mouse, Apostle of Hustle, Arcade Fire, and Bright Eyes. First up is new stuff from the Shins and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I can't wait to see what else I'll be surprised with. Enjoy!!

Monday, January 01, 2007


I hope everybody had a nice and wild New Year's. I sure did. I didn't get home until 7am this morning and have barely moved an inch since. Just laying watching football and listening to music. By the way, my New Year's song for 2007 was Belle & Sebastian's "For the Price of a Cup of Tea."

Still very slowly putting together my top albums of 2006 list. I keep teasing it, but it'll be my next post. I've also been putting together a nice little mixtape for a friend at work. She watched my cat while I was on vacation, so I'd better make it count.

Here's the list of every 2006 release I bought, the list I'll be picking from:

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Letting Go
Built to Spill - You in Reverse
Calexico - Garden Ruin
Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways
Cat Power - The Greatest
Danielson - Ships
Decemberists - The Crane Wife
Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
Flaming Lips - At War With the Mystics
Golden Smog - Another Fine Day
Half-Handed Cloud - Halos & Lassos
Islands - Return to the Sea
Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
Loose Fur - Born Again in the USA
Magnolia Electric Co. - Fading Trails
Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
Joanna Newsom - Ys
Now It's Overhead - Dark Light Daybreak
Robert Pollard - From a Compound Eye
Robert Pollard - Normal Happiness
Portastatic - Be Still Please
Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah
Streets - The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out
Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Once again, no compilations or live albums. There were certainly some great comps this year too (Sufjan Stevens, Tom Waits). I got pretty much everything I wanted to get this year. Really the only two discs that I want but haven't picked up are the new Jason Molina and M. Ward. Eh, I'll get them later.