Do you like ambition? Do you like the live instrumentation Flying Lotus incorporates? Do you like Thundercat’s fleet-footed bass style? Do you like saxophone that’s so propulsive it might as well have a jet engine attached to it? Do you like the idea that the shimmering chorus parts that schmaltzified last century’s mass-market jazz could be redeemed and repurposed for the forces of good? Do you like feeling overwhelmed? Like you’re where you are but somewhere else at the same time? Like you’re just a tiny speck in a vast, complicated universe that you’ll never fully know but are grateful to be a part of? Would you have accepted a transfer to Sterling Cooper West, if given the opportunity?
My dad gave me this CD after getting back from a trip to New Orleans. An academic conference I believe. I never really thought about the inscription — how it’s addressed to Bill (my dad) and not David (me).
- New EP from Mavis Staples? Check.
- Savvy electronic production from labelmate Son Little that lays down a haunting and murky atmospheric foundation while threading the reverence+newness needle? Mhmm.
- Two songs written by Son Little? Yup. One by Blind Lemon Jefferson and another by Pops Staples? Yuuuup.
- Perfectly unsettling background vocals (Son Little’s, I think) on “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”? Damn right.
- Worth a listen? You better believe it.
I remember seeing the (completely awesome) cover art for Untethered Moon while I was at BK Music on Record Store Day, and I’d guess that’s what made me want to try it out. This is my first experience with Built to Spill, and given their long history, I felt a little like an interloper — much like I did listening to the album Sleater-Kinney released this year.
Starting a new tradition: CD Mondays.
In what is already or is now becoming a yearly tradition, I’d like to nervously post about an album I’d really like to get on Record Store Day but secretly want to say nothing about on the off chance that someone in front of me in line at BK Music will see this, get excited about what I’m excited about and grab the last copy seconds before I can…
[takes a deep breath]
I have a FOMO problem. Me and Record Store Day were made for one another.
Now that popular culture has fractured into tiny bits, with a niche community for pretty much anything you could take an interest in — old or new — the idea of cultural revival feels a little obsolete. You don’t need to wait around for something to become stylish again. Just do your thing, post a selfie where a community of like minds will see it and you might as well be living in the time and/or place of your preference. Let your freak flag fly and someone somewhere will start singing the corresponding national anthem.
That’s a little how I felt about Pokey LaFarge’s last few albums. He was flying his retrospective flag, and man was it fun to sing along. This is what I wrote about him last time around:
Setting aside for a moment that Pokey’s songs would sound great no matter how they were drawn, I think it’s unfair to say his style is borrowed from another time. Different genres may have their heydays — see Age, Jazz — but carrying on a lapsed tradition doesn’t have to feel like a resurrection. Music isn’t technology. It doesn’t become obsolete. You can employ whichever style works for you… as long as it flows through you genuinely and you have something to bring to the table.
Here’s the thing though: His new album, Something in the Water, takes that idea even further.
Finally saw Whiplash on Sunday night. I had the house to myself after doing an early-ish Easter dinner with Mrs. YHT’s family in northern Virginia, and I’d been meaning to watch the thing for ages, but this scathing piece by Sound Opinions host Jim DeRogatis was getting in the way. This wasn’t a Bob Dylan situation — you either love his voice or you hate it — DeRogatis’ thoughts punctured an acclaim bubble that had gotten huge, at least in terms of what I’d read and heard, and it complicated the idea of watching Whiplash. Should I consider this a guilty pleasure? Am I buying into something harmful?
Now that I’ve watched it, I believe the answers to those questions to be no and no, though I wasn’t so sure when Mrs. YHT called from her parents’ house to chat when I was about a third of the way through. Had the film continued on what seemed to be its likely trajectory — teacher yells, some students cower, this one steps up — I would have felt differently. And from a super zoomed-out perspective, that kind of is what happens, but it’s what happens along the way that keeps Whiplash from being exploitative or clichéd.
[Editor’s Note: Don’t want the movie’s plot spoiled? Stop reading now. And don’t listen to the song embedded at the bottom of this post.]
Can’t let the week come to and end without saying a few words about Avers’ fantastic set at the tUnE-yArDs show on Monday.