Déjà Entendu.

So, last night I was going from one place to the next and stopped at the supermarket on the way. It was late and I was hungry, looking for some kind of quick snack, hopefully a sandwich from the deli, or… something. No luck because it was late and the deli was closed. So I just started wandering amidst the bright lights, the muzak renditions of pop trash, and the glitzy brand names…

And as I prowled the aisles, this strange feeling crept over me, one that I’ve sadly only experienced on a handful of occasions, if ever, and one that’s hard to romantically recall. The feeling was as close as I could literally think of déjà vu being. Or perhaps jamais vu. I mean, obviously I’ve done that same thing, staring at the contents of the supermarket hundreds of times in my life, no, thousands of times. But why did it feel particularly heavy this time? What was different. I looked at the brands, the names, the new code words used to entice me: “low fat,” “low sodium,” “lite,” “toasted, “flamefresh,” etc. and I looked at the tabloids, immersed for a time, as Don Delillio put it, in the world of “the living and the dead.”

Eventually I decided, “Fuck it.” I took it all in and kept walking. It was only a thing if I made it a thing.

While wandering up and down the aisles still, I passed some guy, someone I barely know, just a familiar face. It took me half a second to place him: Some guy who comes into my place of work every now and then. We did the “S’up” head nod thing that men do and we went about our business.

Moments later I passed a couple I only kind of know. Had dinner at their place once, invited by friends of a friend. It was an awkward dinner and an even more awkward night. Long story short: Someone performed a sex act in their house that night and the hosts did not approve. A silent deal was made that should anyone who there in that time and place ever encounter each other again, they’d do a cold stare and then keep walking. That’s what we did.

Then I passed another guy I’ve seen come into my job before. This dude doesn’t recognized me, which is fine with me. I keep looking for something to eat.

More wandering and I see a girl walking around, laughing as she talks on her cell phone. I sort of know this girl through Conrad Noir. He’s had a thing for her for years but hasn’t been able to make that romantic connection with her, mostly, I think, because she’s not interested. But also, she’s kind of dumb. Those two facts are unrelated, but most equally important. But seeing her made me stop in my tracks and look around…

There was her, the two guys I see come in to my job now and then, that couple, and myself. Two women and three men. Five people in a grocery store. Not all of them know each other, but there’s a tenuous connection of recognition between them, and they’re all in the same place late into a Monday night. Why did this feel important to me? Maybe, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but just go with me here, but maybe I was just in a wacky place, or perhaps in a whole other universe, the five of us were on a plane that crashed in the middle of the ocean, landing on a mysterious island with magical properties and weird indigenous people and science fiction monsters and… you know, shit like that? This whole other universe could be sideways to the one we’re currently in, and could feel more real, more accurate. Perhaps this universe, the one we reside in now, is just a tangent, or perhaps just a shard of the whole prism? Perhaps when people who have this connection to another time and place occupy such closer quarters at the same time, there’s this weird effect on reality, something that causes it to resonate? It’s possible, right?

Ehhhh, probably not. Maybe the world is just too damn small. I was only in the supermarket for like five minutes, if that. Had a weird experience, noticed that the price of bananas had gone up, and eventually walked out with a candy bar and a bag of sun chips. Oh, and hey, tonight’s a new episode of Lost. Enjoy it, everyone. In 13 days it’ll be gone forever.


List-o-mania, part 1: While you wait for the others.

It’s such a weird time of year, as it starts getting colder in most places, probably especially in our hearts and in our memories, and yet we cast our gaze ever backwards, trying to search our sonic amusements from the past year for value. What was important. What was worthy of being called “the best of” this odd little year that was.

I could wait forever for your answer and you could wait even longer for someone else’s answer, but here’s mine. I hope other members of Counterforce will pipe in at some point with albums/singles/music they valued in the past year, especially as we start cutting up everything of pop culture into lines to put in lists and snort up. But this is my picks, music-wise, albums either released or leaked into the blogosphere and my world this year, split unnumbered into three categories:  The Best Of and Somewhere In The Middle and Albums That Let Me Down This Year. That’s probably about as clear as I can be with categories. Now, let’s take a look back…


Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest.

Broadcast, Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age.

As I’ve seen many people say online, you might like this album if the album title alone attracts your interest. Simply put, this feels like a lovely dream pop/electronica soundtrack to a 60s horror movie about wandering sonic textures hunting down pop songs that I desperately wish was waiting out there for me to discover it.

St. Vincent, Actor.

The best album produced via GarageBand with songs inspired by Woody Allen and Disney movies ever.

Mos Def, The Ecstatic.

Fuck Buttons, Tarot Sport.

Japandroids, Post-Nothing.

Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

Quite frankly, car commercial music has never sounded this good.

mewithoutYou, It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright!

The Raveonettes, In And Out Of Control.

A Place To Bury Strangers, Exploding Head.

Where noise rock, shoegaze, space rock, post punk, and a truckload of dissonance all combine into a giant wall that falls down on you, crushing you. Or, exploding your head, if you will. Not a band for everyone, and definitely not an album for everyone, but if you love sonic death waves, this will be your bag.

Lisa Hannigan, Sea Sew.

I’ve been a huge fan of Hannigan’s work with Damien Rice but always disturbed that she’s been relegated to being in his backing band when her talent has always seemed up and front there with Rice’s own. And honestly, I can only watch/listen to a sad man moaning and keeping a girl down for so long. I hope this is the beginning of Hannigan conquering more and more accolades.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz.

Oh yeah, remember that this came out earlier this year? A solid album, definitely, but not totally compelling in a long term sense, but maybe nothing can be after a mountain like “Maps.” Regardless, I think this album works as a whole and still carries several excellent cuts on it. Silly though it may be, “Soft Shock” is a personal favorite of mine.

The-Dream, Love vs. Money.

Fever Ray, Fever Ray.

Beach House, Teen Dream.

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE: Albums that are solid, but perhaps over hyped a tad. Or, albums that I like but sadly don’t love.

Andrew Bird, Noble Beast.

“Baroque pop” is how Wikipedia describes this album, and I can see it. It’s indie rock, and it’s well done, but it’s not my usual cup of tea. And I think the album reinforces that, actually, by always impressing me, surprising me with it’s mechanical beauty, but never making me feel like I am a part of it.

Mr. Hudson, Straight No Chaser.

The album is not so bad, but “Supernova,” the Kanye-produced (who also guests, of course)(and continuing his quest to either become European or just conquer European music) lead single by this British artist is my pick for what should be one of the songs of the year:

Bat For Lashes, Two Suns.

Dinosaur Jr., Farm.

Girls, Album.

Good, solid music, but not worth the hype. Praise comes too easy to some people who are not gifted with the depth of thought or true judgment.

The XX, xx.

See above, though this album has more going for it than the Girls album, I feel. Years from now, or possibly just months and days (with the way my life is going) I will quite possibly fall in love with this album. It’s simple in a way, understated, clumsy in a practiced way. There’s a nuance to it, but make no mistake: This is a album for the loneliest, horniest of hipster.

Handsome Furs, Face Control.

No longer a side project and now what feels like a good and proper musical collaboration between Dan Broeckner and his wife Alexei Perry. It fascinates me that their reference to New Order got this album delayed while it was cleared legally. There’s a beautiful rhythmic groove hatched in this album.

Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

This is, without a doubt, the album to take drugs to and then take your clothes off to of the year. Enjoy it with another person, but it’s still good by yourself too.

Sonic Youth, The Eternal.

La Roux, La Roux.

A shock and a revelation as far as European dance music goes. Bright, shiny, and beautifully off kilter.

Mirah, (A)spera.

…And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Century Of Self.

Micachu and the Shapes, Jewellery.

Third Eye Blind, Ursa Major.

Originally entitled “That Hideous Strength,” taking it’s title from C.S. Lewis, this is a nostalgia pick that doesn’t totally betray me but there’s nothing resembling fireworks on this album. I’m probably the biggest fan in the world of their previous album and this one feels exactly like it was: six years late and the product of a long drought of writer’s block, but definitely the work of the same artist. The band will release their own version of Amnesiac, entitled Ursa Minor, at some point.

Atlas Sound, Logos.

Vivian Girls, Everything Goes Wrong.

Mastodon, Crack The Skye.

Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan.

It’s a crazy, fun music party until someone has the balls to challenge Satan. And this English/German indie rock band, with beautiful production by Black Francis, who take their name from Jean Dubuffet’s name for outsider art, lose to Satan, of course. But it’s a tight, clean, and highly listenable loss.

Metric, Fantasies.

Amy Millan, Masters Of The Burial.

The Antlers, Hospice.

Florence And The Machine, Lungs.

The album is decent enough, but all you really need to know is the song, “Dog Days Are Over.” Give it a listen and then tell me if I’m wrong.

ALBUMS THAT LET ME DOWN THIS YEAR: Maybe they’re not terrible, maybe they have some strong points, but like I said, they let me down.

Doves, Kingdom Of Rust.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Ashes Grammar.

U2, No Line On The Horizon.

Still the biggest band in the world, no matter how much it upsets your stupid sensibilities. The sad thing about being on the top though is that you can only fall down.

Julian Casablancas, Phrazes For The Young.

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t expect much from Casablancas. This album isn’t horrible by any means, but never lives up to the possibility you felt in it’s lead off single, “11th Dimension.” The rest of the album, which references Oscar Wilde in it’s title, feels like a few normal rock songs with extra silly production layered onto them by Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis. If I was in junior high, or at least floating around somewhere in the first few years of high school, I would probably think this was the greatest thing ever and might request it at a dance or something. And possibly adding insult to injury, I give you the song (which I actually like quite a bit) by Courtney Love that’s about Casablancas:

The Boy Least Likely To, The Law Of The Playground.

Brand New, Daisy.

Better Than Ezra, Paper Empire.

Another nostalgia pick. BTE, actually, used to be my favorite band. It’s a long story, one that started with a girl, but thankfully, at the end of the story I was left with the better of the two: the music. Now I feel like I don’t even have that. For a band that that mines a brand of “cool” and “joy” that is wonderful and easy to inhabit, I would easily recommend this band. Their previous album was slyly wonderful, as were all of their albums before that.

The Mars Volta, Octahedron.

I think I’m just over this. I appreciate music that sounds like you’re on drugs but I have grown to dislike the Mars Volta’s evolving sound into my needing to be drugs to find an appreciation groove in what they do.

Well, this has been my 2009 in music, for the most part. The best of, the solid and entertaining, and the stuff that let me down. There’s some highs and lows in here, as far as music released/leaked this year goes, but these are my peaks and valleys. What do you think? And what was your year in music like?

The virile wind pursues her with his breathing and burning sword.

Last night I had a dream that I was in a poker game with Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso, seriously. Picasso looked like Anthony Hopkins though, which makes sense, because that image of him stands out in my head more than actual pictures of Picasso. But I won’t imagine that it’s so shocking to say that I woke up slightly confused (what else is new?), and curious what the connection is there… I mean, I’m pretty damn familiar with the works of Dali and Hemingway, and so so on Picasso, but why those three? And then I remembered that Lollipop had mentioned Lorca to me last night, telling me that he was her favorite poet (after Brautigan, I presume). Lorca was somebody I certainly knew the name of, but the image in my head of him came to me pretty much the same way that Hopkins as Picasso did…

But that was last night and this is today, and on this lazy Sunday afternoon in which the sun was out for a while and is now hidden again and the wind is getting furiously cold, I’ve decided that we’re all going to enjoy one of the finer works by Spanish poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca:

The Gypsy And The Wind

by Federico García Lorca

Playing her parchment moon
Precosia comes
along a watery path of laurels and crystal lights.
The starless silence, fleeing
from her rhythmic tambourine,
falls where the sea whips and sings,
his night filled with silvery swarms.
High atop the mountain peaks
the sentinels are weeping;
they guard the tall white towers
of the English consulate.
And gypsies of the water
for their pleasure erect
little castles of conch shells
and arbors of greening pine.

Spanish civil war memorials.

Playing her parchment moon
Precosia comes.
The wind sees her and rises,
the wind that never slumbers.
Naked Saint Christopher swells,
watching the girl as he plays
with tongues of celestial bells
on an invisible bagpipe.

Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot, 1968.

Gypsy, let me lift your skirt
and have a look at you.
Open in my ancient fingers
the blue rose of your womb.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso, 1937.

Precosia throws the tambourine
and runs away in terror.
But the virile wind pursues her
with his breathing  and burning sword.

Personally, I’d never give William S. Burroughs a sword. But that’s just me.

The sea darkens and roars,
while the olive trees turn pale.
The flutes of darkness sound,
and a muted gong of the snow.

Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot in his studio, 1958. Picasso refused to paint Bardot.

Precosia, run, Precosia!
Or the green wind will catch you!
Precosia, run, Precosia!
And look how fast he comes!
A satyr of low-born stars
with their long and glistening tongues.

Soft Construction With Boiled Beans (Premonitions Of Civil War) by Salvador Dali, 1936.

Precosia, filled with fear,
now makes her way to that house
beyond the tall green pines
where the English consul lives.

Spanish Leftists shoot at a statue of Jesus.

Alarmed by the anguished cries,
three riflemen come running,
their black capes tightly drawn,
and berets down over their brow.

The Englishman gives the gypsy
a glass of tepid milk
and a shot of Holland gin
which Precosia does not drink.

Federico Borrell and Loyalist comrades at Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936, as taken by Robert Capa.

And while she tells them, weeping,
of her strange adventure,
the wind furiously gnashes
against the slate roof tiles.

Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment Of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936, also by Capa, depicting the last moments of Federico Borrell.

Brand New “Guernica” (mp3)

The Modern Lovers “Pablo Picasso” (mp3)