February 20, 2009

Here's the winter biking essay I submitted to the Globe three months ago. Always a little weird reading something you've written a while back. At least, the comments on the website are very, very amusing. I'm sensing a little hostility.

February 18, 2009

Looking forward

*Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
First song, "Zero," sounds very promising, but Karen O won't be pulling a Billy Corgan and shaving her head any time soon. At first listen, I don't know about the synths: not quite as sexy as Zinner's guitar work, but I bet he tears it open when they do this live and by the end of the song you can hear it.

*Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Ed Droste does an interview with Tom Breihan from Pitchfork. It won't be out until May and I'm desparate to hear some studio versions, especially after watching these guys perform "Two Weeks" for David Letterman. If it's anywhere as good as Yellow House, well, I just don't know what I'll do. Probably write something about it and use a lot of superlatives. I've never done that before.

*Sonic Youth - The Eternal
Things are pretty quiet beyond some vague descriptions from Matador rep, Gerard Cosloy ("Suffice to say we’re pretty amazed at the way the band delivered something this neoteric while still sounding like, well, themselves") and wonkiness from Thurston Moore ("juicy supersonic songs" and "heavy ass weirdo hooks"). It's also the studio debut of former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold.

*PJ Harvey and John Parish - A Woman a Man Walked By
Nothing in the way of songs yet, but plenty of buzz. The Quietus recently featured an interview with John and Polly. It comes out four days after my birthday, so I'm hoping I won't have to buy it. What else is a birthday for?

Another anticipated album; not on such a grand scale, but nonetheless worthy of everybody's attention:

The Other Brothers - The Other Brothers
Donovan Giesbrecht and Chris Neufeld's new collaborative project. A few songs have been posted on their snazzy new website.

Save the dates:
Mennofolk Manitoba: Feb 28, at The Park Theatre.
Winnipeg CD Release: April 3, at The Park Theatre.
Winkler CD Release: April 6, at Covenant Mennonite Church.

Hey, something cool is actually happening in Winkler. Why am I not surprised that it's at Covenant?

February 16, 2009

louis riel day

On a different note, a friend of mine recently begin managing a blog for MCC's "I am revolting" campaign. Worth looking at.

February 14, 2009

animal collective's lovers and haters

Now that the relative backlash surrounding Animal Collective's eighth studio album has subsided, let's forget about what Merriweather Post-Pavillion is or isn't and enjoy the album on its own terms. I am, of course, joking. The ship's out - there's no getting off. AC's latest may just be one of those albums that is simply impossible to listen to on it's own merits. The debate over MPP continues even now, over a month since its official release.

If Animal Collective aren't being blamed for their depoliticized suburban fantasies, they're getting knocked for their good behaviour. While I personally enjoy AC's experiments with atmosphere and expansiveness, there's still plenty of oddness to buffer the trio from unconditional praise. For every moment of elation, there are enough droning synths and washed-out vocals to dampen AC's Brian Wilson-ey euphoria. As on past releases, dub, trance, and Afro-pop figure into Merriweather Post-Pavillion's spaced-out mixture of synths and rhythmic clatter.

It's unrelenting and at times overpowering, but
MPP is also the group's most accessible album to date. And that's where things begin to get a bit unpleasant. Animal Collective are crossing over. Whether it's simply a trek through moderate popularity, adulthood, or something more, I don't know. These days, Animal Collective sounds like its composite parts could be on the verge of a midlife crisis. The drugs still work, and that's part of the problem.

Depending on your outlook (and vanity), there's never been a better (or worse) time to give Animal Collective your attention.

There's been plenty of debate surrounding the album, it's reception and the "meaning" of Animal Collective as a substantial group, whose timely appeal has something to do with their brand of buzz. Plenty of observations come by way of Simon Reynolds at Blissblog, whose speculation lands soberly, right in the middle of the pile (although he's not too thrilled with negative reactions). Yes, listening to MPP is like getting sick on sugar and most reviews of the album are likely to produce a similar effect.
I'm getting a little sick of MPP myself, but right now it's one of the few albums my roommate and I mutually enjoy. And if that's not worth something I don't really know what is.

It's Valentine's Day, so I had to end on a sentimental note.

February 7, 2009

with fruit surcharg'd

First things first: the date's been set for my essay in the Globe and Mail. On February 20th I have to buy my own copy. That's right. It's completely pro-bono. Not even a free issue. I don't know why they call it "Facts & Arguments," anyway. None of the featured essays I've read argue anything other than the worth of reading a few linked anecdotes. No, I'm not bitter. I'm over-joyed.

I'm currently in the middle of writing a paper on the relationship between Satanic pride and the surveillance in Milton's Paradise Lost. Shame and paranoia overtake the happy couple after their notorious ingestion, which at first ignites their eyes and loins. Visual stimulation alone is out of step with the Garden of Eden's utility and perverts the pro-creative impulse that ties each object to the image of its Maker. The flipside of pornography, it turns out, is the feared surveillence of God, whose previously celebrated omniscience is reduced to a pair of eyes that gaze like Satan: the post-lapsarian God, for Adam and Eve, is detached from the world (how else can he maintain perfection) and ego-centric (no wonder no one likes him).

Writing a review of Animal Collective's latest is my reward for getting the paper finished and sliding it under the door of my prof. I've totally cut myself off from Merriweather Post-Pavillion until then. It's far too infectious. "My Girls" keeps pummeling you and my attention span is fragile enough already. Until then, here's a nice piece by Simon Reynolds (over at blissblog) on the recently inhabited space of mid-mainstream popularity that AC have achieved with MPP. Deserved accolation, I'd say.

And now, back to work.