of Maine


Sam Amidon and Nat Baldwin in Portland
December 18, 2008, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Hasty Music Reviews, Work | Tags: ,

samamidonHello all. Be alerted that end-of-year listmaking activities are in progress, and will be posted here…next week? Requiring more effort and self-criticism than expected…

But on that note – and to violate a tenet of this blog – I feel a need to urge my local readers to attend a couple of concerts this weekend, featuring a couple of my favorite artists of 2008.

First up, on Friday night, Sam Amidon’s at One Longfellow Square with my dear friend Cerf-Volantes. I’ve written at length about Amidon’s album here, and written more about a song he sang on another album here, but long story short: his latest album, All is Well – a set of revinvented traditional folk songs – is one of the most beautiful and accomplished albums of 2008. You’d be well served to check this bright young talent out Friday.

Best of all, I just found that the old office auction site is selling “buy it now” tickets at half price right now. Bidding ends at 5 pm on Friday, where you’ll have to get by with the also-worthwhile $10 price.

A couple other fine articles on Sam Amidon’s album, from Stylus and Pitchfork.

On Saturday, upright bassist Nat Baldwin – who served time gigging with Department of Eagles this year – is in town for the winter and playing at Field, on India St. That’s an early one – 6:30 pm – and a cozy evening of string music. I’m sort of co-hosting the show, so we’ll be whipping up some hot chocolate or toddies or something for you, and we ask you donate some cash ($5, ideally) for Mr. Baldwin and the other artists. Baldwin’s 2008 album, Most Valuable Player, has also been getting some Best of 2008 love. Read a nice entry (with 5 mp3s) here at the #4 slot, and here‘s my article about the album.

Hope you can make it to one or both. You’ll be glad you did.



Micah Blue Smaldone, Fight Club, and DFW

– In this week’s Phoenix, I review Micah Blue Smaldone’s new album, The Red River. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to listen to a local album and not have to grade it on a curve. This gentleman is a massive talent.

– Continuing on the David Foster Wallace eulogy watch (because that’s all I care to pay attention to this week): a friend and colleague wrote a beautiful one for the Boston Phoenix; Benjamin Kunkel has another for n+1; the McSweeney’s thread continues to be a little bit heartbreaking; and the New Yorker has finally chimed in (and made a couple more stories of Wallace’s available).

– One surefire way to make me like Fight Club less: compare it to fucking Office Space. Can’t convey to you all how depressing it is to me that people enjoy that movie. It’s even more frustrating than the revisionist blather about The Big Lebowski being a Great Movie. I beseech anyone who likes Office Space to read this book and refer to it ad nauseum instead.

– Speaking of the Coen Bros, I saw Burn After Reading this past weekend, and I think I liked it. Maybe a lot, even. I’ll try to check it out one more time before I comment further.



Ranking character, and yes, more DFW
September 16, 2008, 9:39 am
Filed under: Words, Work | Tags: , ,

– Via Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, these maps ranking each state by qualities of character are pretty fascinating. Apparently, Maine is both one of the most extraverted and least open states in the country. That means we’re shallow, right?

– And we’re continuing other peoples’ David Foster Wallace tributes week. I highly doubt anyone reading this is as big a closet tennis nut as I am, but I forgot how awesome DFW’s profile of Roger Federer in the NYT‘s sports magazine is. (Gawker’s got a handy wrapup of freely available online articles.) The McSweeney’s tributes – including bits by Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith – have begun, and the reminiscences by his former students almost made me cry. More of those coming throughout the week. And at Zoilus, Carl Wilson gives another lovely tribute, and links to an online community of DFW freaks, where I take it there are loads more stories and articles.

– Also, I forgot to provide a link last week to my review of Why?’s album, Alopecia. He’s at SPACE Gallery on Saturday.



Beautiful Losers
September 4, 2008, 10:07 am
Filed under: Visual, Work | Tags:

In this week’s Phoenix, I harsh on Aaron Rose’s documentary Beautiful Losers, because it’s utterly lacking in historical or even emotional context. That said, it’s an enjoyable enough film to watch, so if you like neat art you probably won’t regret watching the film. You just won’t learn anything.



Alias and Sexy Books: Work Links

– Alias, storied Anticon producer and one of the nicer guys around, has a strong new album, Resurgam, out this week. I review it in this week’s Phoenix.

– I also wrote this fairly silly article about “five books to read (or pretend you’re reading)” to land your first college mate. It’s kind of dumb and snarky, but that’s sort of the point.

– I was also just thinking about how Michelle Obama looked pretty hot on Tuesday night at the DNC. Can’t find a picture, but that’s probably for the best. And, via Gawker, coverage of how the Convention is destroying MSNBC. (This makes it a significant bummer that their online video feed is just the convention proper and none of this bonkers commentary.)

– More big praise for the new Walkmen album. Still probably gonna write about that soon.

– And the latest in the Onion A.V. Club’s awesome “New Cult Canon” series – which is pretty loosely defined, because most of these films are movie buff movies and not much more – about Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom. (Do yourself a favor and read the piece on Showgirls. Hilarious.)



of Maine: Danger Point!
August 14, 2008, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Excerpts, Hasty Music Reviews, Thorough Music Reviews, Visual, Words, Work

Thanks for coming. Welcome to of Maine. Consider this inaugural post a primer.

As you’ll learn by clicking “About,” of Maine is a blog that has little to do with Maine. I’ll be writing about music (mostly), books and periodicals, and the odd movie or TV show. Once I iron out a kink (namely, learning how to write “for myself” when I’m not getting paid for it), of Maine will be updated every weekday by 9 or 10 am. I’ll try to keep to that schedule immediately, but bear with me for the first week or two.

The blog’s title sprung from a serene mood I was in recently (with a hat tip to a friend suggesting I go with “of” instead of “from”), but I’ve come to think the title’s fairly appropriate. One of the benefits of my being of Maine is that most of you readers are (for now) of Maine as well. We inhabit a fine and increasingly vibrant turf, but we’re also a bit of a cultural backwater. I hope this works to our collective advantage, because a) I consume a lot of music reviews and blogs and like having fresh ears to share the goods with, and b) I’m only interested in analyzing the indie zeitgeist when websites I love disagree with me.

I don’t know quite how to summarize what of Maine is or will become beyond that, but look to the sidebar for hints. Posts will be categorized in one of the handful of topics over there. My only explicit goal is to publish one “thorough music review” (300+… who am I kidding, 500+ words) per week, about either an album or an artist’s discography. All of my posting ideas will invariably come from one of the links below that. For the uninitiated, a few to pay special attention to (you should visit all of them, though): The House Next Door is a New York-based blog focusing mostly on movies and television, and it’s frequently more thorough, readable, and thought-provoking than most major periodical reviews; Cokemachineglow is an unruly beast of a music review site, and their diuretic reviews have introduced me to a lot of my favorite musicians; I ripped off this page design from Floodwatchmusic, the rare music blog where every post is invaluable; and Wyatt Mason, the chief book reviewer for Harper’s, recently began a superlative literature blog called Sentences on the magazine’s website.

If you’re curious, the banner photo was not taken in Maine, but in Turkey. I stumbled upon it some months ago, and in helplessly googling “turkish photographer” I realized it was taken by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose acclaimed films (Distant, Climates) I’ve rented and neglected to watch numerous times. Plenty more gorgeous photos on his site.

Lastly, for now, promises, promises. Here are some posts to look forward to in the days to come:

– a hasty discussion of Chad VanGaalen, relating to “Willow Tree,” the first song from his forthcoming album, Soft Airplane (look for this Thursday, fingers crossed)

– a thorough discussion of Women‘s self-titled debut album, (probably not so) coincidentally produced by Chad VanGaalen

– a review of the Grizzly Bear performance I’ll be catching in Boston on Thursday

– an uninformed glance at modern classical music

– a contrarian piece on Fleet Foxes, the year’s most confusing band

– thoughts on Joseph O’Neill’s Great Gatsby-esque new novel, Netherland

To wrap up, a plea for your comments, suggestions, requests, recommendations, and – most importantly – help getting the word out about this little venture. The more feedback I get, the more fun I’ll have, the more I’ll produce, and the better of Maine will be. So get the word out now, and comment once I write something less solipsistic (and more succinct).

And until that time, do yourself a favor and go click on “Best Site” honoree Time for Some Stories. Uncovered for mainstream consumption by Gawker earlier this year, no whimsical link has ever made me so giddy, and I need help making “Danger point!” a common catchphrase.

Thanks for coming.