Category Archives: Music

Album of the Summer?

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Just Like Christmas: A Holiday Mix


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Christmas is a holiday of waste.  Of the estimated $507 the average American spends on gifts every year, over a hundred dollars would just as well have been tossed in the bin, about $13 billion in waste nation-wide.

Unfortunately the music released tends to be junk in even greater proportions.  Bands go through the motions of putting out cheap stocking stuffers of songs, which while appropriate in celebrating a holiday of absurdity and bric-a-brac with absurdity and bric-a-brac (self-consciously and not), rarely resonate.  Meanwhile the classics pale and yellow, more and more alienated from our experience every year.

So if most Christmas music is about junk and antiquated clichés, most of this music does it’s best to take that on.  “Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” mixes irony with sincerity and precious details at just the right ratio, while in “Just Like Christmas” Low confronts what meaning is and isn’t left in Christmas.

Maybe trying to piece together a Christmas album is a doomed enterprise from the setting out.  But for better and worse we’ll always be stuck with Christmas and Christmas music.  Nothing left to do but to wade through the kitsch and old hats and make the best we can of all of it.

Happy Holiday.

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Best Albums of 2009: Honorable Mention

Exceptional examples of their genre:
Brad Paisley – American Saturday Night (Country)

Allen Toussaint – The Bright Mississippi (Jazz)

The Dream – Love vs Money (R&B)

Baroness – Blue Record (Metal)

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Best Albums of 2009: #s 40-21

40) Bell Orchestre – As Seen Through Windows
39) Rain Machine – Rain Machine
38) Antony & the Johnsons – The Crying Light
37) Fever Ray – Fever Ray
36) The ‘Chillwave’ Genre


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20 Best* Albums of 2009

*favorite, with a very slight edge given to originality.
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Preview: Ramona Falls – Intuit

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Portland has more life in it yet.  Why-haven’t-they-crossed-over-yet Menomena‘s Brent Knopf has an album coming out one week from today.  It’s called Intuit and represents the debut of his “solo” project, Ramona Falls. Continue reading

Reviewed: The Dodos’ Time to Die

It still ain’t broke.

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San Francisco duo turned trio The Dodos’ third album Time to Die (out digitally July 28 and physically September 15) is not a departure from the course set by their previous two, and this is mostly a good thing. The crew chooses to keep the guitar and drums largely acoustic, there’s still hardly any (noticeable) bass, and there may be even fewer effects on the vocals and guitars.  Still, this is a logical if small step forward from an already great band. Continue reading