Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Blogging Habit Has Been Blown... To Kingdom Come

Holy jalapenos in a hot pocket... it's been almost six months since I said a damn thing. The last thing I said was "Grizzly Bear is awesome," and the only activity is a gaggle of Google-ogling haters reminding me that my Hate Binky post is the #1 search result on Google for "Animal Collective sucks." Not complaining about that per se... cause hey, fight the powers that be. But I have hit blog bottom, and it smells like moth balls down here. Time to bust out the biscuits and strike up the band.

So let's see what I've been up to, culture-wise:

DINING & TRAVEL

I ate cream cheese on a bagel. I ate smoked mackerel. I ate at one of Las Vegas's finest buffets, shortly after eating the best Egg McMuffin I have ever had. I drew a picture of myself with blood pouring out of my mouth in crayon at a $30-an-entree restaurant. I ordered filet mignon shortly after drawing said picture. It was delicious. The filet mignon, not the drawing. The drawing was underdone. Those things happened over the past six months.

FILM

My Netflix queue has become a cesspool. I still haven't finished my Best Movies of 2008 post, and it's almost 2010. Not that I'll be writing a 2009 post from the look of it... I have seen exactly one film in a theater since the last time I posted anything here: the sixth Harry Potter movie. It was great, until the end, when it absolutely blew. How do you make the most devastating moment in the series totally boring and matter-of-fact? Makes me want to puke in a sorting hat.

TV

Lost. That's about it. Almost done with season two, and so far it's everything I'd hoped for. Mad Men's been awesome, but that ain't news.

MUSIC

Kind of a blah year for Teh Rock. To invert a Louis CK truism, nothing is awesome, and everyone's happy. Really? We're happy that Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors are the only things we can really hang our hats on this year? We're fine with that being the direction of music?

The only real victory of the year, musically speaking, the only true, top-to-bottom legitimate contender for Best Album of 2009, is Manners, from Cambridge's own Passion Pit. Continuing the burgeoning trend of New Order/Devo fixation, as epitomized by the likes of Cut Copy and Holy Fuck and Hot Chip, Passion Pit have brought the synth-heavy sound to bright, fun, bouncy new places. There's nothing complicated or challenging about them... I don't see PP changing the game or blazing new trails in music or anything. But I don't care. Manners is flat-out incredible from start to finish. All the words being used to describe Merriweather Post Pavilion that I hated so much? "Danceable," "universal," "accessible," and so forth? Those words describe Passion Pit.

Behold:

"To Kingdom Come"



"Little Secrets"



"The Reeling"



See? Isn't that some fun-ass fun? You know it is.

(Also of interest is Andrew Kuo's thoughts, visualized, on a show of theirs last year as well as their debut EP, Chunk of Change.)

Basically, this is the one breakout masterpiece of the year. Manners is the only front-to-back excellent album of the year; even Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has its uncompelling moments. It'd be great to hear another breakout pop album before Christmas but I'm not holding my breath. It's not that kind of year. (Embryonic doesn't count, cause Embryonic is fucked up.)

It's bad enough that my primary musical fascination since the beginning of the summer has been late 70's/early 80's punk (Buzzcocks, Wire, Minutemen) and post-punk (Gang of Four, Mission of Burma, Pere Ubu) and neither (Elvis Costello). I've gone 30 years back in time to find something that moves me. I don't think I'll be able to do this again next year.

But until then... Double Nickels On The Dime, you are fabulous.

6 comments:

  1. Completely agree with you on Passion Pit. Fun fun fun.

    Other bands with albums of note in 2009-

    Yppah
    We Were Promised Jetpacks
    Japandroids

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoy Japandroids. Not totally into them, but I'm rather Japandroids-positive.

    One act I missed: The xx, who aren't exactly unique either but have a really pleasant sound that could soundtrack any number of social events, like a dinner party, or a bar mitzvah, or a night of food-fetish sex.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The vocals of Passion Pit are just too high. I wanna be able to sing along if I really like the song. That's part of why The National are so appealing to me.

    The We Were Promised Jetpacks album is good (warning: I am performance-biased); I also liked the albums from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth, and -- you're going to laugh but I kid you not -- Ben Harper and Relentless7.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ben Harper isn't laugh-worthy to me. I've always found his recent stuff likable... pretty much from Diamonds On The Inside forward. Not much lasting power, but respectable stuff. This is also performance-biased; the man can shred.

    I was just telling Lehr this morning what an absolute turd this year has been. But next year is looking phenomenal. Spoon, Ted Leo, The National, Magnetic Fields, LCD Soundsystem, Hold Steady, Frightened Rabbit... that already beats the turd sandwich that is 2009, and all anyone has heard off any of them is a couple of standout promos. (The two Ted Leo tracks are flabbergastingly awesome IMHO, and the new Spoon & FR aren't too shabby either.)

    Man, I'm dying over here. What can you say when the xx, a bunch of decently-talented pissants, is the only glimmer of hope I've had since MAY??? I don't even want to write a year-end list to commemorate this dreck. Not writing anything at all would be the ultimate tribute to a year dominated by You Know Who.

    (By the way... look whose new off-the-cuff EP got BNM'ed by Pitchfork! I never saw THAT coming! At some point, doesn't one have to wonder what kind of editorial authority you have when you blindly BNM literally everything a band produces? Did they really do that well every single time? Really????????? Ugh. I might need to dislodge the current #1 search result for "Animal Collective sucks" with a new screed...)

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is an exciting list for ought-10. I forgot to add that about half of the Girls album is really good.

    ReplyDelete
  6. More good news! We can expect new Arcade Fire next year, too. Suck it, Avey. Suck it long, and suck it hard.

    ReplyDelete