Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ari Hest

So finally getting started on my year-end post(s) got me thinking about the top-10 albums list I did last year.

Looking back, I feel pretty good about everything I put on there, but my appreciation for one of those albums has changed dramatically since the end of 2011. It’s not that I’d drop Bon Iver’s self-titled effort, if given a do-over, it’s just that its legacy has shifted. I say that because, when I see the cover of Bon Iver now, I immediately start thinking about Bonnie Raitt, John Prine and Peter Gabriel.

It’s not as random as it sounds, I swear.

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Ryan Adams

“I remember loving sound before I ever took a music lesson. And so we make our lives by what we love.” — John Cage

I love this quote. I found it on Tumblr last night, and the second sentence is so simple and poetic, I just want to hold it and squeeze it and wear it around the house like a Snuggie so it never stops warming up my worldview. Sure it’s idealistic (people with crappy jobs they can’t wait to punch out of at the end of each day are nodding their heads vigorously right now), but it’s applicable to more than just one’s vocation, and it’s a powerful reminder that if you love something — music, food, your kids, pole vaulting — you have the power to shape the rest of your life around that thing and make yourself sublimely happy. Don’t believe me? Check out this 90-year-old pole vaulter.

The other reason I love this quote is because it reminds me of Ryan Adams, or more specifically, his reputation.

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Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Do you believe in signs? Not, like, stop signs, or that neon beer sign your college roommate had all four years but tried to pawn off on you after graduation because his girlfriend said it didn’t fit into the decorating scheme she’d devised for their first shared apartment. No, I’m talking about those fate-leaving-you-breadcrumbs-on-the-way-to-some-poignant-eventuality-type signs. I used to, but I can’t say that I do anymore. At least not wholeheartedly. I do love Fools Rush In, though. Wholeheartedly.

All the same, if something tickles the front of your consciousness long enough, you’re gonna scratch that sucker, and that’s exactly how the album pictured above ended up on my turntable last night. The acute itch started with a bandmate wearing a Sun Records t-shirt on Saturday night, and continued just a few hours later when Mrs. YHT and I were having a late-night snack at Gibson’s Grill and saw an incredibly sexy, vintage/diner-style Sun Records clock hanging on the wall nearest to the restaurant’s street-level bar. But in truth, the itching started long before that.

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Matt Ulery

Matt Ulery

Y’all mind if I poach NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums Of 2012 just a little bit more? No? You guys are the best.

I had the chance to take bassist and composer Matt Ulery’s album By A Little Light for a spin yesterday and have fallen more than a little in love with it, and not just because it features eighth blackbird, the sextet that’s held an Ensemble-in-Residence position at the University of Richmond since 2003 and probably holds the record for mentions on Artsline, WCVE’s daily arts and cultural calendar.

For me, the work’s most remarkable quality, aside from its outright beauty, is the way it allows for originality and brightness to flow through one another.

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Astro

Astro

I have yet to start this year’s top albums post. Is it because I’m a procrastinator? Yes. Well, yes and no.

I haven’t started yet, in part at least, because I’m still finding out about amazing albums that were released in 2012. In fact, I’m convinced that mid-December is the most wonderful time of the year to be a music lover. Year-end lists are worth their weight in gold when it comes to discovering new bands, and I’ve found one list to be particularly Fort Knox-ish: NPR’s Music Top 50 Albums of 2012. While so many lists simply confirm what you already knew — either about the site that posted them or about the quality of the albums that everyone knows everyone loves — NPR’s stands out by virtue of its breadth, with lots of great classical and international releases I had no idea existed. Particularly strong are the Spanish-language contributions, and Chilean group Astro is proving to be a clear favorite. Clear and distracting.

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G-Dragon

OK, so now what?

What should America do with K-pop now that the “Gangnam Style” flood waters are starting to recede? Do we explore the rest of PSY’s catalog, or do we act like the whole horsey dance thing never happened? Should we start checking out other K-pop artists, or should we go back to ignoring the genre’s steady, world-wide march? I think we can all agree to continue complaining about dubstep, but it’s going to be really interesting to see where the American market for K-pop goes from here.

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Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck

I was more than a little sad when reports of Dave Brubeck’s death started to surface yesterday afternoon. It’s weird, mourning the death of someone you never met and likely never would, but Brubeck’s music was very important to my parents when they first started dating, and it was especially important to my father, who himself died a few years ago.

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