I made you a mixed tape:
[iframe src=”https://8tracks.com/mixes/4788779/player_v3_universal” width=”300″ height=”250″ style=”border: 0px none;”] TRACK LISTING
Sangria – Remi
Swim Until You Can See Land – Frightened Rabbit
Call It Clear – Halloween, Alaska
I Just Love You More – Kate Nash
Aujourd’hui, ma vie ce’est d’la marde – Lisa LeBlanc
One Day Like This – Elbow
Make You Feel My Love – Adele
My Favorite Book – Stars
I’m Not In Love – Queen Latifah
All The Rage Back Home – Interpol
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Nouvelle Vague
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
I’ve been heavily listening to the Icelandic indie list that was generated on Spotify (embed below), so much so, I am beginning to think I can understand Icelandic. Who knew that a country with less than half a million peoples could rock out so hard?
Favorites: Samaris (Their write music to old Icelandic poetry), John Grant (an American living in Iceland, he is the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet. Also: He’s opening for Elbow in May! Woo!), and FM Belfast (Twee disco pop).
[iframe src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:icelandicmusic:playlist:2duvD05TtABniQdKkDSYfv” width=”300″ height=”380″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true”]
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Apparently it’s a thing to hate the output of alum from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, because as you skim through the reviews on GoodReads, the comments are peppered with snide remarks and tut-tutting of the decline of quality of IWW’s output. Who knew?
Was Seating Arrangements a tour de force and innovative? No. Was it sloppy and a bit amateurish at times? Absolutely. Was the language overwrought? At times. But is this a bad story? The short answer is no. It’s clunky, some of the plot points felt like they were thrown in at the last minute, and some of the characters were definitely there to fill a quota but there is something here. You just have to be patient as you dig through the muck and Shipstead can turn a beautiful phrase more often than not.
I could be a bit biased — I have a weakness for anything relating to farces surrounding blue bloods and their world. And this felt like someone had done their research and wrote as if they knew this particular world without ever having stepped into it. So think of this as if Whit Stillman and Bret Easton Ellis were high on acid, conceived Shipstead as their prodigal daughter in their ultra preppy way and you’ll have encompassed the writer completely. Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
How a story that begins with the end of the Romanovs, the killing of Rasputin, and told from the viewpoint of a teenager who entices the beloved son could be yawn inducing is perhaps a mystery, but there you go. I made it through 67 pages before giving up as I was neither titillated nor engaged by the content. The characters are flat, the exposition was repetitive, and it felt like someone had whipped through Wikipedia to get descriptions and recarved them into their own words. Harrison has been applauded by her use of language and world building, but as this is my first introduction to her, I saw none of the magic that apparently makes her beloved.
Do not recommend. Bridget Jones: Mad About A Boy by Helen Fielding
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
It’s Bridget Jones. People expecting a tour de force of impossible construct and setting need to get over themselves.
YES, shes’ the godmother of modern day women’s fiction, heavily influenced by herself Jane Austen. And YES, I swore when I heard this book was coming out (and having read the mini-come back Fielding did in the Independent in 2005 which describes how Bridg gets knocked up (is it Daniel’s? Or Mark’s? Of COURSE it’s Mark’s. Durrr, how can we be so silly??)), I would not read MAtB because who wants to their perfect fantasy destroyed?
But reader, I read it. It was a compulsion as it was available via eBook at my local library, so I could read it under the cover of Kindle with neither a fear or judgement to be made.
Helen Fielding is the Dan Brown of chick-lit world. Language and concepts are on an 10th grade level, plot is fairly dimmed, set-ups are noticeable a mile away. Some things in Bridg’s world will never change — and I wished she would remember her own history. Fielding seems to have forgotten Vile Richard was not actually vile and there is a scene in book 1 or 2 in which Richard gives Bridg a good over on her and their circle’s perception of him. That was all seemingly forgotten in book 3. Daniel is has become a caricature of himself, Shazzer is in LA, and the rest of the group seem to not be desperate to discover their world, but sad, pathetic shallower (if that is even possible) versions of themselves. There is no growth.
MAtB is similarly based on Fielding’s life — she too had children in her late 40s, she went through a breakup, she’s floundering on what to do next. Did she bring back Bridg, our beloved anti-herione because it was time to move Bridge forward or because Fielding was lacking in cash?
Does it matter, and more succinctly, do we care?
The Hill Farm
A tease of show that follows a working farm in Snowdonia, Wales beginning in January and ending December. Similar to other working farm shows, like Tudor Monastery Farm, the big difference is those shows are six to eight episodes long and about an hour long to capture all that happens in a year. In The HIll Farm, however, it is four 28 minute long episodes. This attempt to encapsulate an entire year in 2 hours is staggering. Its brief touches of family life, farm life, and community life were so minute, you’d blink and miss an important part. Even with that being said, there is something that calls to a community who have, with the upgrade of modern convenience, continue to farm in the same area for nearly four centuries. The emphasis on organic, free range, and farm to table experiences and connecting people back to where food comes from speaks to those of us who are done with ready meals and food by-products. Gareth Wyn Jones, the face of the farm, came up with the intriguing idea of a “local food aisle” in supermarkets, a scheme to showcase just what is available near you. I would love to see something like this take off here in the States.
Season 2 is coming to Hulu April 24, so I won’t spoil it for you. But I will say it looks like season 3 has already been filmed before season 2 started — so there’s my jumper.
Edge of Heaven
Written by Welshman Robert Jones (who also plays Camp Gary in the show), it’s a Britcom around a family who own and operate an ’80s themed B&B in Margate. This show is 100% formulaic, the writing is often sloppy, and the characters are pastiches. But it’s got moxie and I think that is the point — it’s a send up of every other dramedy and it is not above on not taking itself seriously. Even if the send-ups make you roll your eyes at the obviousness of it all, it’s a froth of a drama that may not improve your knowledge or IQ, but will definitely keep you entertained.
The Bletchley Circle
I apparently missed the last episode of season 2, which ties up the mystery at hand. Huh. I always feel like there is something wrong with this show — something is off, but I’m not quite sure what it is. I know it’s pretty beloved but while I watch it, I don’t actually yearn for it.
Will POTUS run for re-election or won’t he? Will Selina be recognized for who she is? Will Jonah ever stop being Jonah?)
New series, by Mike Judge, about the foibles of living in Silicon Valley. TheHusband found it to be pretty spot on to what he recalled those days while I thought it seemed a bit lacking. But it does present an interesting conundrum: Do you take the money and run OR do you follow your dream?
Game of Thrones
Winter has arrived and Arya is counting down the Lannisters to kill. Welcome to season four.
House of Lies
Marty, Marty, Marty. And Jeannie. What the ever living fuck.
A taut, 2-part thriller based on the northern Scottish islands of Shetland, who killed the grandmother in her croft? But of course, this being the remote isles of Shetland, nothing is ever done easily. So much so, they came out with a second series.
Dead Famous DNA
An intriguing look at finding, and genome categorizing, DNA of dead famous folk. There is apparently a huge trade in “famous body parts,” such as hair, nails, and other things by collectors worldwide. We’ve seen two episodes in and it’s actually kind of fascinating with the process, and the lines drawn, on sequencing. They apparently want to sequence Hitler, from DNA pulled from his reported here, but 65 labs in 25 countries said, “No.” Except for Belgium — so we’ll have to see what happens!
This is coming to BBCA this summer, so I won’t spoil it for you — BUT, I will say while it does not follow the book, it’s a fun, swashbuckling show with your standard simple story over arch and your freak of the week episodes thrown in for filler.
Who really is the bad guy: Raylan or Boyd? And what the everloving fuck is Ava DOING?
I’ve been dying, for ages actually, to do a music blog with someone. I have grandiose ideas and I knew that this would not be a one person job, that it would take time, energy and love to get it off the ground. I really am in love with the idea of taking a topic and presenting the same idea with multiple viewpoints and finding someone who would not only have the time or the energy to do this has been difficult, even though there has been interest from variety of people. Via Twitter, I met Chris when we bonded over music via another tweeter, our now mutual friend Steve. It was via Steve that Chris and I started talking about music, finally following each other and carrying on our own conversations about music. If you go back through my time line, you see a lot of @ replies to Chris and this does not include our hours long conversations over IM, mostly about music with the occasional gossip thrown in about mutual Twitter friends.
It was over our marathon conversations that the idea of a music blog was planted, according to Chris apparently by me, but what would we write about? Having an opinion about music, writing about new releases and upcoming bands and concerts is one the most predominantly favored type of blog that people write. The number of music blogs, from personal to professional has skyrocketed and you tend to trip over and wear high boots over all the opinions that are out there. What could we do that would be different from the masses, please our aesthetic souls and still touch upon music? Introducing The Brit and The Yank! TBaTY (as we affectionately call it) takes the idea of “Top Five-isms” (as seen by High Fidelity) and puts the spin on it — “Top five producers we’d love to have sex with” to “Top five Brooklyn bands who suck (or don’t suck).”
The idea is to produce a weekly column, hopefully on Wednesdays (homework permitting) where we each pick top five of X theme and write about it, include music samples and links to the artists/songs themselves. Filler will also include record reviews, band and concert reviews, song of the day reviews and other music related content. Chris has been updating like a muthafucka while I’ve only been able to produce our weekly content — but so far, we’ve started to gain a little bit of notice from others and traffic has started slowly to come in. Our recent columns have included, “Top five songs to get drunk too on St. Patty’s day” and “Top five spring fling songs.”
Come join us, we’d love to have you.
I take Bloc Party seriously.
By this I mean that they are one of the few bands I actually listen to and by listen to, I mean that I sit down and pay attention to the music and the lyrics. I like a lot of bands, but there are a scant few that I return to time and time again. Joy Division is one, R.E.M. is another, Elbow is definitely up there and Bloc Party most assuredly rounds out the set.
For me, and I will assume for a lot of people, music is a very personal thing. This is not to say that I do not enjoy my fluffy pop or my occasional foray into old school gangsta rap, I do. But this is to say, that when I love a band, I really take the band to heart. For those who know me, you know how constantly I refer to High Fidelity as a bible to my life — I AM the female Rob Gordon. (Complete with relationship problems, neuroses and other high jinks. But that is for another post.) And like Rob, who arranges his music automusicgraphically, I too also do the same. I can get from one band to another by telling you where I was, when I first heard it and what I was doing (or who I was doing).
If my choices seem a little chaotic at times, that is totally okay. Straight and narrow never won any interesting awards. But this is not really about me, per se, but more about Bloc Party and the release of their third album, Intimacy, a mere 18 months after A Weekend In The City. The album was released digitally at the end of August, with the physical release set for, in the U.K. and U.S., at the end of October. Word on the street is that the title tracks available on the physical release will differ from the digital download, but like the good little fan girl I am, I will have procured both. Silent Alarm, their first album with the stunning single Helicopters, came out kicking and squalling to the world in 2005. A Weekend In The City was their “falling in love” album in 2007 and I wasn’t too terribly surprised to find out that Intimacy is their “break-up” album of 2008. When the title track is entitled, “Ares,” and the song begins with “War! War! War!,” I got the feeling that Kele Okereke was stalking my life.
So, then, I must step back and do a bit of back story before I continue. Bloc Party, like a multitude of other bands over the years, is a band I heard of but never really got “in to,” until I met TheEx. TheEx and I have an interesting back story in that musically, we were perfect. We could, and often did, spend hours talking about music from producers to labels to motifs, sound, lyrics and design. Our joint collection neared nearly 2000 compact discs (60% his), dozens of vinyls (his) and over 100 gigs of digital music (mostly mine). We were concert whores who would travel hours for a good show, only to turn around and come back home that very night. With him, I found my perfect music man, someone who could discuss with me the nuances of music on a variety of different levels and not have to explain to him why I was found of the production values of X album over Y album or why I loved A band over B band.
TheEx was crazy about Silent Alarm and was eagerly waiting for A Weekend in the CIty, which came out in the very beginning of our relationship. And I’m not quite sure what it was about A Weekend in the City, but that became “my” album while Silent Alarm became his. To me, A Weekend in the City became the anthem of our relationship. Every song, every melody, every lyric no matter how distant somehow spoke to me, about us. I could see him in every song and certain songs became “our” songs. Every time I heard “Sunday,” with or without him near me, my heart would swell with love for him, because he would love me in the morning when I was hung over and strung out. And even though I knew that On was about doing coke, to me the lines, You make my tongue loose/I am hopeful and stutter free, was about how I felt around him. He made me feel hopeful and stutter free — I could (and did) tell him everything and anything, anytime and any place.
At the time, I felt that he made me an honest woman and with him, I was so much better off than without him. I like Silent Alarm, but A Weekend in the City had this energy that I responded to, a hunger if you will for living and for life. I liked the simplicity of Kele’s lyrics and the fact that he was able to lyrically say what he meant without going overboard with metaphor and unnecessary imagery. (I’m looking at you Radiohead and Coldplay — fucking wankers.) I adored the fact that every single time I heard the album, I heard something different and that everything about A Weekend in the City resonated with me emotionally and intellectually.
Like most intimate of relationships, TheEx and I did not end with a quiet whimper but with a huge, ferocious fuck-off bang. For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to reclaim my musical tastes but have found that in reality, I was hiding from it. I forewent listening to Pandora, XM and my CD collection on general to podcasts and NPR. I did not want to put myself through musical depression – even with bands that I claimed as mine were also his and by listening to said bands would conjure up all the feelings, the good with the bad.
When I found out Bloc Party had released a new album digitally, with the physical release forthcoming, I was surprised. I was, apparently, not the only one. Bloc Party has been touring almost non-stop since the release of A Weekend in the City, which was released in February 2007. Other than a single released last summer, the synth dance song “Flux,” there has been no talk or announcement of a new album. Shortly after the digital release at the end of August, reviews started showing up by the beginning of September, with a split vote on Intimacy.
People fell into several camps
That Intimacy was an attempt to return to the area that Silent Alarm began, failed with A Weekend in the City and was struggling to fill and was a mixed-bag.
That Intimacy not only returned to the horizon of Silent Alarm but surpassed it. A Weekend in the City? A blip and could be written off as their sophomoric disc (which it is).
That Intimacy failed on many levels, was absolute drek and that Bloc Party, as a whole, are a bunch of pretentious wankers.
For me, I’m apparently in the minority. I love A Weekend in the City more so over Silent Alarm (and thought it was one of the best albums of 2007) but Intimacy is growing on me. I was looking for, excuse the obvious, but the intimacy and the slowness of A Weekend in the City only to be greeted by dance pop and synth experiments hold over from their single, Flux, which at first annoyed me. But it is the lyrics, oh $deity, I love you Kele, the lyrics more than make up for the choppiness of the disc, the messiness that is “Zephyrus” and the overwhelming urge they have to experiment TOO much.
But it is with their weaknesses that they also have their biggest strengths — Bloc Party has no problem selling out arenas, have gained a fairly successful following in the U.S. and tour almost constantly. They have hit almost every major festival abroad and in the U.S. The fact that they have, somehow, managed to get into the studio to record a third album and not only record it but have the production completed in a relatively short time is almost mind boggling. And according to the interview with bassist Gordon Moakes on pitchfork, the band is just as surprised as their fans at the quick turnaround.
I don’t view the turnaround as a negative thing, rather again, I look to the lyrics for the answers. If A Weekend in the City was about falling in love, relationships and living life, Intimacy is about breaking-up and the obvious, almost debilitating aspects of separating from the one you love. From “Ares,” declaring war on the person who wronged you, to “Halo” about questioning the love, to “One Month Off,” at the anger of one’s partner after a long term relationship ends, to that remembrance of the good times in “Better Than Heaven,” to the pitiful, desperate plea of return to that love in “Ion Square.”
Every relationship counselor (and Cosmo issue) will tell you that separation after a break-up tends to follow the same rules of grief that the death of a loved one follows:
Denial. – “Mercury.” “Halo.” “Better Than Heaven.”
Some songs resonate with better topics than others, but the point is still there. This is Kele’s exorcism against the end of a love that obviously broke his heart. And it is with this, with Kele’s lyrics and the buffing of the depressing themes with synth tunes and dubbeats that most will find to be a turn-off and thusly, a shite album. Some will claim that this is a desperate attempt to grab the glory they had with Silent Alarm and failing while others will claim they are attempting to parody their influences and are bilking too much of their popularity by riding on the coattails of Coldplay and Radiohead. I don’t think Intimacy is a great album, but I do think it is a good one. I do agree that there is, at times, too much going on at one time while at others, it seems almost perfect.
While I would recommend it, I would recommend it after listening to the first two albums — like most great bands, you need to get the scope of the band’s lineage before diving in several albums in. With several months between the digital and physical release, who is to say what the physical album will sound like? And as for me, I unfortunately saw too much of TheEx inside the lyrics after my first spin with the disc a few weeks ago. The beginning of Trojan Horse chilling reminds me of the rituals that TheEx performed before we too made love. Signs, also eerily like the lasting days of our relationship. And Ares and One Month Off remind me of me, in those “OHNOESHEDIDNOT” moods I would would sometimes (occasionally) cycle through. Despite my initial reservation, Intimacy is the tip of the catharsis to push me over the edge. It is not the time for a new love or to sign a new lease, but at least now, I know that one day there will be.