Monthly Archives: September 2012

Release Day Roulette

Some Tuesdays are just too flippin’ sweet. When too many records I’m excited about get released in one day, I don’t know what to do — I get all overwhelmed and can’t figure out where to look or what to listen to. Come to think of it, the same thing happens when I walk into a sports bar. Hm…

This past Tuesday was one of those loaded release days, and because I haven’t done a Read It Later Roulette post in a while (Pocket had the nerve to change Read It Later’s name and ruin the gimmick), I thought I’d change things up and spend a few turns bouncing from one release to the next in the inaugural game of Release Day Roulette.

Let’s spin the wheel!

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Colin Stetson

If there was an Annoying Cliché Hall of Fame, “You can’t tell a book by its cover” would be among its most vaunted honorees. To my ears, the sound it makes when someone actually says it aloud is nothing short of cringe-worthy. The worst part is that it means well — the notion that you should reserve judgement until you’ve had the opportunity to get to know someone or something is top-notch advice…

…and that’s what makes periodically proving it wrong so damn satisfying.

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Cat Power


Would you punch me in the face if I started yet another post by bragging about a weekend beach trip? Go ahead… I deserve it :/

On Friday evening, Mrs. YHT and I absconded to Nags Head, NC, where a few friends had rented a cozy little cottage — the kind that has gently warped floorboards and makes you feel like life is much simpler than you regularly perceive it to be. After a late night Michael Jackson/Girl Talk dance party and a Saturday afternoon spent battling a windy beach and the most violent non-hurricane ocean conditions I can remember seeing in the Outer Banks, we settled in for a low-key game night.

OK, so “low-key” probably isn’t the right word to use when you’re playing Cards Against Humanity. This was my second time playing the game, which can best be described as Apples to Apples‘ louder, hilariously evil twin. Here’s how it works: when it’s your turn, you draw a black prompt card, on which an incomplete sentence is printed. The rest of the players try complete that sentence with one of their white cards, on which appear a variety of (often offensive) phrases, and you get to pick the one you like best. A quick example, using actual cards from the game…

“The class field trip was completely ruined by ______.”

  • “Racially-biased SAT questions”
  • “Dickfingers”
  • “Another goddamn vampire movie”
  • “Waking up half naked in a Denny’s parking lot”
  • “Sarah Palin.”

(For the record, I’d probably choose “Sarah Palin,” with “Another goddamn vampire movie” coming in a close second.)

The whole thing is a fascinating exercise in subjectivity and context. Black cards establish the parameters, white cards provide evocative specificity, and each player’s unique bias acts as a bridge between the two. Together, all three work hand-in-hand to form a complete and meaningful thought — I swear it’s funnier than I’m making it sound — and strangely enough, thinking about this process helped me understand why I love Cat Power’s new song “Manhattan” so much.

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The Devil Whale


I had a weird realization while having drinks with a friend a few nights ago. I don’t have a single active concert ticket right now. Not a one. No PDF printouts waiting to be scanned, no tickets sitting at will call… nuthin’.

How did this come to pass? Summer concert burnout is partly to blame, not that I have anything to complain about. The stack of yet-to-be-used tickets that usually lives on my wife’s desk at home got plenty thick during the past few months, and seeing Radiohead, tUnE-yArDs and Neko Case, each for the first time, The Alabama Shakes for the second time, Justin Townes Earle for the fourth, Old Crow Medicine Show twice and The Lumineers three times is pretty damn good way to spend the summer, if you ask me.

But looking forward with a clean slate is exhilarating, and it didn’t take long to find a show that has me excited to start chalking it up all over again.

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Shovels & Rope

O' Be Joyful

If you happened to catch the musical away message I put up on Saturday morning, you already know I spent the long weekend on Chincoteague Island, which is located at the very top of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It offers a beautiful strip of coastline, notable for its status as a National Wildlife Refuge, the wild horses that roam its dunes, and the freedom to drive your Ford F150 up and down the beach in search of the perfect fishing spot.

Having taken a few of these pickup-truckin’ trips over the sands of Chincoteague, I can report that it’s an incredible way to enjoy a day at the beach. There’s seclusion, stunning views of the ocean and bay at the same time, tasty fish waiting to gobble up the bait you throw at them… what more could you want? But this kind of freedom comes with prerequisites, and my F150-owning friend Keith mentioned two of them on our way onto the beach this past Saturday — a shovel and rope. I didn’t know this until he said something, but apparently, they’re required by law if you plan to take your 4WD vehicle on the sand, in case you forget to deflate your tires to the recommended 20 psi and end up getting stuck.

So imagine my creepedoutedness upon discovering a band yesterday, on my first full day back from the beach, called Shovels & Rope. An awesome band. A country-rocking duo of drum- and guitar-trading South Carolinians. A pair I would have been excited about regardless of what they were called. It’s super weird, and while coincidence doesn’t itself imbue meaning, this lucky bit of timing afforded instant insight into what the band’s name represents — call it a serendipitous symbolic shortcut.

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Molly Wagger

A band for all seasons

(especially the cold, hot, wet, dry ones)

By Greg A. Lohr

Last fall, in an article lamenting the “lean times” for modern music critics, The Guardian suggested that album reviews have been made unnecessary by the ease and speed of illegal downloading. Who needs a review? “If you want to know what an album’s like before release, you can probably find out for yourself.”

With a blend of chagrin and nostalgia, I’d tend to agree. Grooveshark, Youtube, Pandora, Spotify … take your pick of music purveyors. Hate the ads? Pay the fees, and the end result’s the same: You can have the tunes you want, anytime. All the time.

And yet … Easy access may have granted reviews more power, rendered them more personal. Written well, they’re a friendly introduction, a vouching-for in mafia style. “Dear readers, I’d like you to meet [so-and-so band]. I stamp my approval. I think you’ll agree.”

So it is in this spirit that I introduce you to Molly Wagger, a band of Scots. They got stuck in my head. They’re my most recent crush.

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The Rolling Stongs — “Wild Horses” [Spotify/iTunes]

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