Monday, December 29, 2008

The Seven Best Albums of All Time....or whatever

steph b didn't really tag me, but I decided to make my own list because...well dammit because I like music.

steph b says:
1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE at Hill’s Country. Enough already!
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar (even though I couldn’t find it), along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you."

To which I reply: "No!"

steph b says: "My major criterion in selecting these albums proved to be whether, when listening to the album, I felt like I would commit a crime if I skipped a single track. These are albums that I always listen to straight through and I'm never tempted to pass over a song. Of course, I excluded compilations and "best of" albums."

To which I reply: "I just picked some stuff I liked and listed it in no particular order. Usually I liked the whole album, to be fair."

Let's begin!

1. Erin McKeown Distillation
I can't stop listening to it, turn it off, or skip a track. Her voice is beautiful and in the perfect range for singing along, and her mix of guitar work and jazzy rhythms always keeps me jumping. From the beautifully blasphemous "La Petite Morte," through the stunningly silent "How To Open My Heart In 4 Easy Steps," to the brilliantly perfect "You Musn't Kick It Around", this album will take over your brain and make you a happy, sad, lonely, loved, jumpy, dancing, addicted maniac. Thank god.

2. The Cat Empire Two Shoes
(Sorry Mika fans, but Life in Cartoon Motion has been bumped. The lyrics were nice, but too sparse, and while I am sure a number of tracks from the album have made it onto my permanent playlist, several of the songs lost their staying power after being repeated more than 50 times. I guess I was just on a kick. But bumping Mika means I had space for one of my favorite groups!) The Cat Empire can best be defined as latin-rock-jazz-ska-funk-pop (if you call that a definition), and this is one of their best albums. The chart-topping "Sly" is of course great, "Saltwater" strangely soars, and the catchy "Protons, Neutrons, Electrons" offers a soothing look at what might otherwise be the terrifying gap of death. But the intelligent lyrics and perfect mixing of musical generas means that every song, down to the hidden track, is a winner.I look forward to their next release in February.

3. Gorillaz Demon Days
Knock 'em if you want, I can't stop loving this album. Brilliant lyrics, complex mixes, and the compelling "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head" all combine to make this an album I can't turn off. Oh yeah and that whole DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE thing.

4. K'naan The Dusty Foot Philosopher
Another I can't turn off or skip. More of the same to say, but in a totally different way: critical and brilliant lyrics ("What's Hardcore?"), danceable rhythms ("Wash It Down") and catchy tunes ("I Was Stabbed by Satan").

5. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell
Like everyone else except for an elite few, I discovered the Yeah Yeah Yeahs while I was playing RockBand with some friends. Their "Maps" was a beautiful lullabye...a rocking, bad-ass lullabye, but one nonetheless rife with the irresistible crooning of Karen O. I was surprised to discover the rest of their music is not at all like that song. Pleasantly surprised, because it is so great I cannot help but bang my head and act like I can dance to that kind of music (which I can't). My favorite song is the tantalizingly short "Man," and the rest of the album is equally amazing. The last track, "Modern Romance" is a nice return to the showcasing of Karen O's vocal talents, a little sugar on top of all the spice.

6. The Kings of Leon Aha Shake Heartbreak
Yeah, they are sexist as all get out, but damn they make some good rock. 'nuf said.

7. Feist The Reminder
I am almost embarrassed that I picked this album instead of her others, but I got on the Feist boat late. It's a great boat, though, with a Canadian license and Feist's soaring voice serenading the passengers with her alternately warm or cool melodies. The softness of "Brandy Alexander" and "Honey Honey" contrast perfectly with Feist's homage to Nina Simone, "Sealion," and the incredibly popular "1 2 3 4." Ah, Canadians...


Friday, December 12, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

School is good. Cat is well. Neighbors are fine, with one exception. Nasty situation, but it's being taken care of.

All in all things are pretty dull but in a sort of calm-before-the-storm kind of way.

I did go out last night with no expectations and had a great time. Saw "A Queer Carol" with Lindsay. We stopped for a drink ahead of time and I was reminded of the value of medium- to good-quality gin (as opposed to low-quality, anyway). The show was cute. Lindsay put it really nicely: "You can't really wreck this kind of play." It certainly put me in the festive mood. After that I grabbed a bite of dinner (they've changed their goat cheese nachos, but they are still pretty phenomenal), and then went by Clare's house. Hung around for a while and then Steph stopped by to say she and Clare's old bikester crew were heading to their bar. Steph and I talked a bit about starting a sort of traveling intellectual talking group/reading session at a local venue, where a group of us would get together and read aloud some of our research for the public or young-academic/intellectuals or just ourselves (the cool stuff...they forbid me from talking about stem cells, which was fine with me, considering my new-found discipline). It sounds like a great plan. Clare and I stuck around for a while and looked over her awesome paper on non-normative gender performance in Wisconsin, Samoa, and Japan, and decided to totally join the initiative; I volunteered to help with marketing (sometime when I have some free time ever). Eventually we headed out (slowly, I fucked my knee up on the Wisconsin weather), and met a whole bunch of people there. We drank and played foosball and generally had a good time, and Steph and I spent a lot of time talking about our various arts disciplines and what we thought of theatre and visual art respectively, and UW departments in particular. It was great, but damn was it cold walking home. I had been drinking and could still feel the wind cutting through my coat and hat...I must upgrade my winter gear. But I didn't die of hypothermia, and for once my house seemed warm to come home to, so I consider the evening a success.

Now I just need to finish up this semester, grad school apps, and my holiday shopping before I get a good 10 hours of knitting and hanging with the family, and a good few days of seeing the MN friends for the holiday season.

I hope yours is equally wonderful.