Monday, December 05, 2005

Nothing Matters When We're Dancing

What happens when Lou Reed, Belle and Sebastian, and They Might Be Giants meet at a crossroads? 3 hours of The Magnetic Fields. 3 discs containing 69 love songs that you can listen to more than once. The question is whether or not this $35 set is a novelty or a wonder. Certainly 2004's I feels more than a bit tighter and less thrown together, but not necessarily better. I'm thinking there's more to 69 Love Songs than sideshow, and I've listened to it twice in two days... Posted by Picasa

I Can See A Lot Of Life In You...

I'm a Sufjan Stevens fan. Everyone is. I've been listening to his two recent 'all 50 states' project discs Michigan and Illinois for several months now and can't speak highly enough of them. If you don't own them, buy them now.

But somehow (because I live in Utah) I hadn't found his most critically acclaimed work, Seven Swans. Until today.

If I could, I would call Sufjan and stammer, "how...? so beautiful...! where did you? how could you possibly...?" and then hang up overwhelmed, but I don't have his number. I would kiss him on the mouth, but I don't know where his mouth lives. I do know that I owe him something, though I can't imagine what it could possibly be.

This disc leaves me with one sure thought, "I don't have an artistic bone in my body. I'm so grateful others do. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Discover A Lovelier You

So it's Thanksgiving and you'll be travelling this week. You need an album that can not only get you there, but help you harness your chi in preparation for the bone grinding depression that awaits you when your 23 year old cousin (the surgeon) shows you his new BMW.

The Pernice Brothers will get you there and back again with their new release Discover A Lovelier You. You may even be glad you went... Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sideways ...I'm sick, you're tired, let's dance.

I finally got around to seeing Sideways last night and I was so moved by the film I sat in my bed afterward listening to the brilliant Metric's song Calculation Theme and thinking about the characters and their individual plights. Yeah, it was that kind of night.

This is a film that, like Straight Story, all men should see. Posted by Picasa

Fall Moment

This post was going to be an in-depth discussion of the homoerotic subtext of the A-Team, but fall is fully upon us now and we need to take a moment. The soundtrack to our moment will be Hanz Zimmer's smashing score to The Thin Red Line, and our beverage will be spiced cocoa.

P.S. No Creed fans allowed in our moment. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Interpol Live

Not only are Interpol impossibly photogenic onstage, but musically they absolutely tore the place down. If you don't listen to Interpol you are less fun than drowning. Buy the albums and get with the program, you could be dead tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

William Alva

I feel genuinely sorry for the parents of ugly children. Posted by Picasa

Adam Stares Out Across the Water...

...and bids a silent fairwell to his hair. Posted by Picasa

Family Portrait

We got a few of the better looking Thompsons together (as well as Jed's eyebrows and a Sandgren) and took some snaps at the lake tonight. Note how serious and important we are. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pop Music 301

Sometimes I'll hear an album that just slides off of me, leaving little or no impression. I have the faintest glimmer that it's important somehow, but I can't hear it. Two (or ten) years later I'll hear it again and be crushed by the weight of it, and when that happens I can usually trace back through the albums I'd absorbed in the intervening years that prepared me to hear what I'd been unworthy of before.

Here are two such albums. They may just test your worthiness.

The first is the 1991 My Bloody Valentine album Loveless. This is the album that ended Kevin Shields pursuit of the perfect guitar noise (and ended My Bloody Valentine along with it). It is hard to describe how perfect a sound this pink mohair sofa of an album really is. When I heard it in high school I stared at the speakers like they were counting down from a billion in French. I made the face my mother would make if I played Metal Machine Music for her. But now...imagine Sonic Youth doing an album of Cocteau Twins covers. It's a noise you can sink down into and sleep in. It's accessible, sweet, and honest. The vocals float in and out of the sound keeping the guitars aloft and supporting the whole whirling structure. It's a masterpiece, and when you're ready it will reward you.

The second album is Yo La Tengo's stunning 2000 release And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. 2000 was a pretty good year, relatively speaking. Radiohead hit a new high with Kid A, and Lou Reed released his wonderful album Ecstacy, to name only two, but, Yo La Tengo had the best album of the new century with 'Nothing'. I sat in my chair between my speakers and listened to this disc night after night. The music is very still and quite challenging. I'll admit readily that my first listen was one of those experiences. I knew it was something, but I wasn't sure if I was willing to dive in and find it, it seemed so vast and quiet, I was afraid of suffocating. I did eventually return to the disc and what I discovered was the last thing I expected--charm. Listening to this album is like eavesdropping on a conversation between two people who have loved each other for a long time as they retrace the steps of their lives together. It is so intimate and honest, so private. It remains one of my all time favorite records to really listen to.

Neither of these albums sit in small collections. They are not one of the twelve albums that anyone owns, there is simply no way to understand them without an education. And like any real education, it is worth the price.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Oh don't believe all of your golden memories
They're little more than make believe
So listen carefully..."

This week has been filled by British Sea Power's latest release called 'Open Season'. This album's sound has been compared to every mainstream 80's alt band on your shelf, but to my ears it seems to occupy the safe 4/4 space where the Psychedelic Furs, Beautiful South and Social Distortion play. And it's just lovely. The second track, titled 'Be Gone', is so flush with 80's nostalgia that you can almost feel Molly Ringwald dancing next to you.

Some music just makes you feel. It's why I keep listening... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Back In Time

Most people, if they could go back in time, would solve some problems. Reverse some major injustice or warn a population of impending natural disaster. Some would by a few thousand shares of Yahoo. I would go to this Galaxie 500 concert. Maybe go back a little further and catch The Velvet Underground at Max's Kansas City or watch Hendrix open for The Monkeys (because, it's funny, that's why)...I don't know, the point is I would have "been there" instead of being here. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Utah can surprise you.Posted by Picasa

Music You Don't Know You Love

Today I stumbled into a sort of nest of great bands. A whole great band village. I'll keep this these albums:

Ballboy -The Sash My Father Wore And Other Stories, A Guide To The Daylight Hours
The Concretes -Layyourbattleaxedown, The Concretes
The New Year -Newness Ends, The End Is Near
Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham -L'avventura

Most of these are available at Emusic!

If you only buy one of them..., forget it, you have to get'em all. It's 3am and I'm now through them: it's been a great night.

p.s. Also good from last week;

The Joggers
Pernice Brothers
Explosions in the Sky
The Clientele
TV On The Radio
Youth GroupPosted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Straight Story

How many movies are actually perfect? I mean you wouldn't change a single minute detail...perfect. Well, Casablanca, certainly. 84 Charing Cross Road. I think Moonstruck, Tootsie and Some Like It Hot are perfect comedies. Sabrina is a perfect chick flick. Ikiru is, to me, what film is for. But it's a short list. I love a lot of films but most of them are far from perfect...which is fine.

The Straight Story is a perfect movie.

With the unlikely coming together of David Lynch (Twin Peaks) and Disney (Cinderella II -Dreams Come True) the forces of good and evil seem to have come to a temporary truce to create one of the purest films ever put into major release.

Everyone with a beating heart will enjoy this movie...if you don't I genuinely fear for your eternal soul...but the film focuses on the experiences of a WWII veteran on a journey (by riding mower) to visit his ailing and estranged brother, and I've always felt this to be an effectively masculine story (meaning I can recommend it to my most meat headed "masculine" friends and they will enjoy it despite it being G rated). The journey is the thing here though, and it is here where Lynch conjures his particular brand of magic. The characters are so real and immediate that it's difficult to believe you're watching a movie, it makes more than 99% of all movies made look very much like movies, with actors and sets and made up stories. This film also contains the most moving discussion of the war experience ever put to celluloid.

I just love this film. Please see it.

And don't rent it. Buy it. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Peter Gabriel

Mike sent me this article on Peter Gabriel and I think it's worth a read. When I was a kid I overheard some big smart kids in the neighborhood talking about how Peter Gabriel had left Genisis and come out with a solo album. They all agreed that Genisis was cool but Peter Gabriel was being held back. I didn't really know what any of that meant and I was a teenager before I ever got a hold of a Gabriel album.

Gabriel is something of an enigma for me. His really "poppy" songs bore me (although it remains entirely possible that I would quite like them had they not been #1 singles played to oblivion,) but the albums they're on are shockinly good. Mercy Street is simply one of the best songs ever produced and Security (which first introduced me to the vast potential of "world" music) one of the best albums. The SACD release of So is so drenched in audiophile goodness as to, on it's own, justify the purshase of the equipment necessary to play it.

On top of this he's written several of the most interesting soundtracks ever done and he owns a thriving record label. In short, Peter Gabriel has one of the most diverse and complicated discographies in all of pop music. In fact, writing this post has all but insured that I'll listen to little else before I revisit each of his albums.

So here is the music question of the day; which current young artists have the best chance of building similar musical legacies? Who has the depth and who has the legs?

My money's on Ashlee Simpson.Posted by Picasa

Nikon Announces the 10.3 Megapixel D200

You see, I think I'm lucky in a way. Some men require Harley Davidsons and Hemi's to make them feel like they're in touch with their inner caveman. My needs are, in comparison, very humble. I need a D200. I WANT a D2X, but I NEED a D200.

Maybe I'm getting in touch with my unusually masculine inner cavewoman... Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 31, 2005

Allan Ball to Produce the Sookie Stackhouse Series for HBO

For those few of us who so straddle the pop culture world as to have both read the wonderful Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris AND watched Allan Ball's movie American Beauty and his HBO series Six Feet Under will be shocked to discover Mr. Ball will be producing a series for HBO based very closely on the Sookie books.

In related news Tim Robbins has agreed to produce a series of NRA training videos for children. Posted by Picasa

Read Nick Hornby

Read Nick Hornby. If you need a reason, start with The Polysyllabic Spree. This collection of essays on books and reading not only artfully reminds us why we read but leaves you craving more (or in my case, leaves you wanting to run to Borders and purchase armfuls of expensive books I'll never read.)

I love Nick Hornby. He makes me want to be more British. And he has a way of making me feel better about my humble intellect while leaving me simultaniously urged to learn. He loves good music (and has shockingly good taste!). He's easy and profound and funny as hell (well funny as looking through a window INTO hell where you can watch the bad people do the lava dance.)

Are there BAD people?

Read Nick Hornby. Posted by Picasa

Sugar High 2005

Well William has done the complete Halloween routine now and the official verdict is "more, more."

Shalom my lonesome prairie dog. Posted by Picasa

C'est Moi

I'm posting this here not because of it's gratuitous beauty, but because I don't know how else to host the photo for my profile and I'm a moron. So I'm cheating and hosting it myself and linking to it. Yes, I am below average, hear me roar!

Word Verification

Apologies to the one person who might make comments here (mike), but I've had to activate "word verification" to stem the flow of spam comments I'm getting.

Relative to nothing, peanut butter scooped up with a hershey bar is better than love or money. Posted by Picasa

Halloween Listening

It deserves more than a passing mention...

Disintegration is the great crimson wildflower of pop despair. It is the Halloween record of the century (it's also the walking past midnight and the laying on the floor on thursday afternoon record of the century.) So much of my manic searching through record reviews and sample .mp3's is really just a vain attempt to find another Disintegration. It has not been duplicated.

There are two types of people; those who own and listen to Disintegration and retarded zombies. Luckily for the latter Halloween is the one day a year it is acceptable to be a retarded zombie... Posted by Picasa


Being straight (and over 30) I really get nothing out of Halloween, so it's nice to have a family to make it into something more innocent and real.

And speaking of innocent and real, remember to listen to Disintegration today. You owe it to your children. Posted by Picasa


I'm not going to write a review of Serenity. It's the most entertaining movie I've seen in a long time, but every intelligent critic has raved about it so there's little point in adding more to what's been said. However the fact that Serenity has made far less money in 4 weeks than Saw II made this weekend is an appropriate post script to my Ashlee Simpson soap box.

We can do better than this, my friends. Don't spend money on bad movies. Seeing bad movies is the leading cause of baldness, bird flu, leprosy, spontaneous decapitation and divorce.

Stop the madness. Take your friends to Serenity. Posted by Picasa

#1 Album in America

We have to talk about this.

Forget about the 6 dead soldiers in Iraq today. Ignore the storms and the earthquakes. Don't worry yourself about the train that derailed in India and plunged into raging flood waters killing 120 people. This stuff just happens everyday.

But Ashlee Simpson has the #1 album in America. Ashlee Simpson. #1 album.

People, you're making it worse. We're fat, we're violent, we're boring and now we worship Ashlee Simpson and the shadowy gulf that is both her powdered cleavage and her talent.

And speaking of scabby bandaids, stop buying Nickelback albums.

We have an exposure problem in this country. I don't want to get off on a tangent here but we're waging war on the wrong dictator. Clearchannel must be dragged from it's hole. They have been given every chance to stop gassing they're own people but they have simply scoffed at our sanctions and warnings. They are hurting our children. I mean really hurting them! Ashlee Simpson! Our children no longer know the difference between music and cleavage and there IS a difference, I'm almost sure of it. Make no mistake, this is only going to get worse. It will affect those of us who still remember. They will come for us in the end.

So if a young girl walks by and you see Ashlee Simpson displayed on her iPod, stop and talk to her. Help her. If a man walks by and you see Ashlee Simpson displayed on his iPod, kick him in the junk. The life you save may just be your own... Posted by Picasa