December 11, 2009

brooklyn follies

It's about time for a real post. Last night I finished Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev, which I'll soon start recommending to everyone. It's about an orthodox Jewish boy from Brooklyn, who has a talent for painting and the sort of tortured soul every artist wants. All points come to a head in his masterpiece, "The Brooklyn Crucifixion," a family portrait with him mother hanging from the cross. It's a bold representation of conflicting traditions, that is based on a painting by Potok, himself an accomplished painter.

I am fascinated by Brooklyn, not simply because of the novel, but because it fosters such creative energy. Many of my favourite film directors (Noah Baumbach), authors (Paul Auster) and musicians hail from Brooklyn. In fact, a good deal of my most positive record reviews over the last year or two have been about "Brooklyn-based" bands. I mean, Brooklyn does have 2.5 million people, making New York's most populous region.

This year especially, Brooklyn can lay claim to the year's best albums. I am, of course, talking about Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, and Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca. There's also a loose connection with Animal Collective who are undoubtedly this year's most celebrated group and the most likely contenders for album of the year with Merriweather Post Pavilion. A few weeks back New York Magazine put out a list of the top 40 songs that define the "Brooklyn sound." It's a staggering list, when you consider it's all coming from the same place. I'm sure they're tied into a conspiracy with Pitchfork.

40 Light Asylum - "Angel Tongue"
39 Oakley Hall - "All the Way Down"
38 Here We Go Magic - "Fangela"
37 Apache Beat - "Tropics"
36 Bishop Allen - "Click, Click, Click, Click"
35 White Rabbits - "Percussion Gun"
34 Japanther - "Challenge"
33 Class Actress - "All The Saints"
32 Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - "The Debtor"
31 Ninjasonik - "Art School Girls"
30 Antibalas - "Beaten Metal"
29 Black Dice - "Glazin'"
28 The Antlers - "Kettering"
27 Panda Bear - "Comfy In Nautica"
26 The National - "Mistaken For Strangers"
25 Amazing Baby - "The Narwhal"
24 St. Vincent - "Actor Out Of Work"
23 Neon Indian - "Deadbeat Summer"
22 Matt & Kim - "Daylight"
21 Grizzly Bear - "Knife"
20 Suckers - "Beach Queen"
19 Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings - "100 Days, 100 Nights"
18 The Drums - "I Feel Stupid"
17 A Place To Bury Strangers - "To Fix The Gash In Your Head"
16 Chairlift - "Bruises"
15 Telepathe - "Chrome's On It"
14 Crystal Stilts - "Crippled Croon"
13 Das Racist - "Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell"
12 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - "Young Adult Friction"
11 Hercules & Love Affair - "Blind"
10 Animal Collective - "My Girls"
09 Yeasayer - "2080"
08 Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
07 Vivian Girls - "Where Do You Run To"
06 Gang Gang Dance - "House Jam"
05 TV On The Radio - "Golden Age"
04 LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends"
03 MGMT- "Kids"
02 Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
01 Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move"

This is the first of what will be many lists in the days to come. It's that time of year/decade.

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