of Maine

The Best Albums of 2008 (Honorable Mentions, L-Z)

Little Joy,  s/t
The Mae Shi, HLLLYH
The Magnetic Fields, Distortion
Marnie Stern, This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is That and That Is That
Mount Eerie, Lost Wisdom
The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride
Nat Baldwin, Most Valuable Player
Nico Muhly, Mothertongue
Oneida, Preteen Weaponry
Paavoharju, Laulu Laakson Kukista
Parts & Labor, Receivers
Portishead, Third
School of Language, Sea From Shore
Shearwater, Rook
Subtle, ExitingARM
Sun Kil Moon, April
Thomas Function, Celebration
TV on the Radio, Dear Science
Vampire Weekend, s/t
Vetiver, Thing of the Past
Vivian Girls, s/t
The Week That Was, s/t


Fall movies, index cards, TV on the Radio

– It’s Fall Preview time of year, which is exciting for precisely one reason: with any luck, there will be good movies hitting theaters in the next few months. (Or six months, in Maine.) With that, The Onion A.V. Club has turned its film preview for the fall into an Oscar-O-Meter, which does a good job explaining what buzz there is or isn’t for upcoming movies. (Like the Oscars themselves, the Oscar-buzz rating has no bearing on the quality of the film.) Things to look forward to: Rachel Getting Married (starring Anne Hathaway, believe it or not) and The Road, The Road, The Road.

– Likewise, my favorite internet film critic, Mike D’Angelo, is at the New York Film Festival and has just seen one of his favorite films of the decade. Usually, this indicates a bold and disturbing movie that you may love but will be reluctant to share with your friends. Case in point: Afterschool, which sounds shocking and awesome.  He’s also put up a Films of the Decade page, which has a decent overlap with my own unwritten list.

– Regular NYT film critic A.O. Scott won my undying admiration for two books pieces he wrote on Sunday: a much better appreciation of DFW than the “Appreciation” they printed last week, and a review of Marilynne Robinson’s new book Home, her follow up to Gilead, which really, really makes me wish I wasn’t spending all of my free time working on this right now (as fulfilling and important as it is). One more week…

– More TV on the Radio reviews, from The Onion and Drowned in Sound (who, as they do almost every week, drop the M-bomb).

– Pitchfork reminds us why the Cold War Kids are popular, why they don’t deserve to be, and why you (I) shouldn’t get so worked up about it. They also review a Blaxploitation soundtrack for a film that was never made, which is damned interesting.

Indexed is a blog of graphs on index cards, pithily and elegantly summing up the news and random people’s attitudes.

TV on the Radio, Babar, Sam Amidon, and more!
September 22, 2008, 9:43 am
Filed under: Hasty Music Reviews, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

– Seriously folks, seeing illustrations of Babar in the Times and the New Yorker these past couple weeks has warmed my pretending-to-be-cynical heart many, many times. Gush. And, as an aside, all of this coverage makes me wish my memories of Babar were not simply being bored by the HBO cartoon as a child.

– Anyway, today’s main topic of discussion was to be TV on the Radio’s new album, Dear Science, (important question the internet hasn’t answered yet: do you put a comma after an album with a comma in the title?), but fortunately for all of us, Chris Dahlen wrote the Pitchfork review, and as usual he nails an extremely complicated album. It’s worth noting that the 9.2 grade seems slightly at odds with Dahlen’s review, but I understand the sentiment: in moments the album is more interesting (and easier) to think about than to just enjoy, but this seems a case where an album’s Symbolic Importance (as genuinely progressive rock music) outweighs its mere likability. And that said, I’m liking it more every time I listen to it. Popmatters also does a better job with it than they usually do.

– Also worth a look is Chris Dahlen’s blog, Save the Robot. (He is, it turns out, a Portsmouth NH resident.) His blog most often focuses on video games, with occasional sidetracks into movies and music, and he’s an immensely levelheaded and appealing writer. (Heed his notice on Max Tundra. And Shugo Tokumaru.)

– Cokemachineglow’s Eric Sams manages to address most of my beef with the new Okkervil River (the sensation, not the album necessarily) and still come out liking it. Here’s hoping.

– At Shake Your Fist, there’s a nice song by Sam Amidon from Awake My Soul, the Sacred Harp documentary mentioned a few weeks back. We mention this mainly because it was recently announced that Amidon’s coming to One Longfellow Square in Portland in December, which has quickly become my second-most anticipated concert of the year (after Andrew Bird, coming up quickly). I will be promoting the shit out of Amidon’s performance in the coming months. Look back to my Nico Muhly post for a little more on him.

– What would the White House look like if it were designed today?

– From the Department of Hilarious Lack of Imagination, The Shawshank Redemption is to be reissued on DVD, and the cover could scarcely look more like that of a Star Wars film.

Maine, Science,, Devin, and the Wrens
September 12, 2008, 10:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

As usual, apologies for the lack of activity here this week. We’re facing unprecedented levels of non-bloggy projects at the moment. In the meantime, let’s catch up.

– It’s been an awfully boring week on the internet, politics aside (which we’re still trying to ignore for a while). Chad VanGaalen’s new album is out, but no one has reviewed it yet. You can listen to it here; you ought to buy it here. It’s solid from the first listen, but around #30 I’m convinced it’s Great.

– Over at Slate, the State by State excerpt week I mentioned earlier has been updated numerous times. This morning, Heidi Julavits, co-editor of the Believer, discusses Maine (where she’s at least a part-time resident).

– Stereogum’s put up a shallow-but-decent Premature Evaluation of the new TV on the Radio album, Dear Science,. It comes out on September 23. My favorite comment I’ve read about it so far is someone expressing relief that the band finally decided to make black music. This undersells the album a bit; I haven’t heard much of it, but it’s too bananas to wrap your head around quickly. Certainly their most impressive release; we’ll see if it’s their most satisfying.

– I was preparing to “DJ” Picnic, a music and DIY art festival in Portland on Friday, and stumbled across some old favorites I’ve been missing an awful lot. Devin Davis‘s album Lonely People of the World, Unite! is probably my favorite underdog geek-rock (in that it’s really geeky and really rocking, not whatever else that genre tag implies) record of the decade. Its pop culture references, a few years later, remain surprisingly potent. Even better, I was completely bowled over once again by a few tracks from the Wrens’s The Meadowlands, an impassioned and appropriately messy breakup/comeback album if there ever was one. Myspace has one great track; work your Google to find “Ex-Girl Collection,” the album’s cathartic pop peak.