Archive for November, 2010

Posted in Snippet with tags , , , on November 29, 2010 by sethdellinger

Hey, want some great and free music?  Check out my friend Duane’s blog right here; you can actually download (not just stream) some of his songs for totally free!  Thanks Duane!

Seth’s Favorites of 2010: Music

Posted in Rant/ Rave, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2010 by sethdellinger

It’s that time of year again: time for my much-anticipated (by me) year-end favorites lists!  However, I won’t be going whole-hog like I did last year; this year there will only be two lists: music and movies, and of course the movies list has to wait till the very end of the year, as most of the best movies get released right at the tail end of the year for top-of-mind Oscar consideration.  But I’ve looked at a bunch of upcoming CD release schedules and it seems safe to compile my music list at this point.

It’s been a huge year in my world for new music.  As such, I was simply unable to limit my list to a top ten list.  So what follows is my top 15 list of albums released in the calendar year 2010.  As always, a bangin’ mix CD has been made featuring all of the entries, and it can be yours simply for the asking.  So ask.  It’ll change your life!  Anyway, here’s the list:

15.  We Are Scientists, Barbara

I’ve been resisting We Are Scientists for a few years–liking them but not loving them–finding their sound just a little too “poppy” for my tastes.  And this year’s Barbara maintains that pop bent while getting a bit bristlier, brasher, brazen.  Head-bobbing fun with a slight smell of incense.

14.  Menomena, Mines

These Portland experimental indie rockers jumped out at me very recently after a kickass performance on “Last Call with Carson Daly” (people make fun of this show, but it is hands-down the best showcase for fringe music on broadcast television).  You can see that performance here.  Yes, the whole album is that good.  Plus you can learn from Carson how to pronounce the band’s name.

13.  Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown

The Kings’ unique blend of Southern rock with Eastern indie aesthetic and teenage-boy wet-dream lyrics are, unfortunately, gone for good it seems, after this album and it’s predecessor, Only By the Night, have proven.  However neutered their new shiny studio-sheen may be, these are still good songs that haven’t quite veered from the band’s main mission of honesty in a dishonest world.

12.  Cold War Kids, Behave Yourself

I’d have charted the latest Kids’ album higher if it weren’t just a 5-song EP.  Of the 5 songs, 3 are great and 2 are useless; I figured that’s a pretty good ratio.  The slow-rolling opening track, “Audience” sounds very boring, and on the tenth listen becomes a pressure cooker of awesomeness that almost makes my head explode.  A gem of hidden nuance.  Here’s hoping for a full-length album in 2011.

11.  Black Mountain, Wilderness Heart

These hard-rocking Canadians usually rock a little too hard for me.  I’ve been a fan for awhile, but most albums have 5 songs for me and 5 songs for a demographic of slightly “headbangerish” types.  And while Wilderness Heart is a heavy album, they’ve incorporated a bit of “Americana” sound into the mix; think Huey Lewis and John Mellancamp sitting in with Black Sabbath.  Me likes.

10.  Spoon, Transference

  These guys are basically some of the grandaddys of what we might flippantly call “indie rock”, and a new Spoon album is nothing to ignore.  What amazed me the most is how they came at us with more snarl and venom (both lyrically and musically) than they had in the past; unlike most musicians, they are not aging into happy, content men.  The dissonance and dejection of standout track “Written in Reverse” is an especially tasty treat; vocalist Britt Daniel’s lyrics take on the quality of a maniacal Shel Silverstein.  Few rock lyricist bother with such intricacies.

9.  Interpol, Interpol

  The post-punkers’ fourth album (self-titled) is also their best to date; scorching, intricate rhythms and time signatures and pleading, near-death-experience vocals.  Few bands know how to leave empty spaces in their music with such expertise as Interpol.  You’ll be just as impressed with the wall of sound they don’t create as with the one they do.

8.  Stars, The Five Ghosts

Watch:

7.  Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest

Deerhunter can be seen as a freak-show band, at times, veering from a populist mainstream sensibility all the way to unlistenable experimentation.  But 2010’s Halcyon Digest boils away most of the band’s stylistic pretenses and finds the heart at the song’s cores.  Sure, sometimes I still think This band is not comprised of folks I’d want to hang out with, but they made an album that is, above all, compelling.

6.  Drive-By Truckers, The Big To-Do

 One of the few bands I legitimately call “alt-country”–with an emphasis on the alt—the Truckers have always specialized in telling tales about the bizarro nature of American culture, usually with twists involving tragedy, redemption, and the sad and glorious nature of everything in between.  But the stories have never been as vivid as they are on The Big To-Do; lead track “Daddy Learned to Fly” is a study in lyrical simplicity and inference that I’m tempted to call it Faulknerian.  Other standouts, like “The Wig He Made her Wear” and “Drag the Lake Charlie” may sometimes try too hard, but no track on this album fails to try hard enough.

5. Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More

The new-ish country/ shoegaze/ psychedelia/ bluegrass fusion group isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds, but there is definitely plenty of fiddle and banjo to go with the bass and guitars as they swell and wane through this bombastic album’s wild ride.  Not re-inventing the light bulb, but still pretty unlike anything I’ve heard before.

4.  The National, High Violet

 It’s hard to describe The National.  At first listen they might seem boring, unfocused, even untalented.  But listen a few times and grand schemes reveal themselves, and crescendoes fall into place where you hadn’t even heard them.  Suddenly it’s as if you were translating a book in a language you had not even known before, and now the language on the page simply snaps into focus.  On High Violet, lyricist Matt Berninger’s words have become cryptic tomes of modern art worthy of a Thomas Pynchon novel.  “I gave my heart to the Army./ The only sentimental thing I could think of. / With colors and cousins and somewhere overseas/  But it’ll take a better war to kill a college man like me. / You and your sister live in a lemonworld. / I want to sit in and die.”

3. Band of Horses, Infinite Arms

2. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

There can be little doubt that Arcade Fire is the most important rock band of our time.  Their intent is serious but not pretentious, artistic but not demeaning.  Their songs are meant to sound really good but also make you think.  It’s no accident that their most vocal fan is David Bowie; their music harkens back to a time when heady, serious material could fill stadiums and make people dance to songs about the disintegration of the modern family unit, or the trappings of fame, or plain old death.  Not everything, they claim, is about sex.

The Suburbs is their most ambitious album yet.  It’s an old-fashioned concept album about—you guessed it–the suburbs.  (it’s a subject more ripe from examination than you may imagine)  Ultimately, the band doesn’t pass much judgement on the rise of the suburbs, but they do pass judgement on human nature (seems it’s usually bad, sometimes good), because it seems even in the paradise of the suburbs, human nature is still in charge.  Most music critics love the album but charge it with being overlong; I, too, will raise that charge.  There are at least 4 and as many as 6 unnecessary songs that are only tangentially related to suburbs, bringing the album dangerously close to 2 hours long.  But what do we expect from greatness?  Sometimes I think David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” is actually half an hour long!  The Suburbs would certainly be my album of the year if this had not been released:

1.  Grinderman, Grinderman 2

 Grinderman is a side project of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  NOT a side project of Nick Cave, but the band in general.  You take the Bad Seeds (generally a large band of 6 or 7 members, depending what year it is), strip away all but the four core members, and erase any of the tender, thoughtful, delicate lyrics and themes in Cave’s words, and you’ve got Grinderman, a band of 50-60 year old men wailing away on instruments with a rascal intensity and Cave rasping about sex, violence, loss and being a badass in the most poetic, virulent, bold fashion imaginable.  Their debut album of 2 years ago thrilled me, but this one takes a huge motherfucking cake.  Cave is, aside from a musician, a highly respected poet and screenwriter, and when he lets loose what some might call his id, there are very few things more pleasurable to this fan.  Buy the CD; there’s an incredibly packaged deluxe edition for a very reasonable price. 

So, there you have it folks!  Another year’s worth of my favorite music.  What a satisfying year it’s been!  Remember to send me a text, e-mail, or leave a comment of you want a copy of this kickass mix disc!

Something Ron Said Once

Posted in Snippet with tags on November 27, 2010 by sethdellinger

   “If it’s going to be that kind of party, I’m going to poop in a hat.”

Audio Poem from “This is What is Invisible”, #12 of 12

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by sethdellinger

As a reminder, I am posting an audio version of each poem from my new collection, “This is What is Invisible”.  This is the twelfth and final posting, and it’s called “Air”,

Air

When I try to think of all the things I’ve done,
try to review things perfectly like some wireless Victrola
and all that comes through are voices, the laughs,
the smell of the air, the weight of the air,
always the air and people talking
and in my sleep beside me I feel your weight on the bed
although I never loved you—not properly—
and other folks’ dogs padding through houses
waiting to be fed and slurp from the big red bowl
by the fridge—
when I try to remember all the places I’ve gone
and the marvels I’ve seen
I get the taste of the crisp soda in a tiny, tinny mouth,
the sun, the clouds, big things everywhere,
friends who are strangers who speak slowly
and with care,
things I said wrong, things I did wrong,
people I knew,
the breath of people and their spit flying in minuscule orbs
as they rant, my righteous anger,
the rain like tin pellets on the roof as you worried,
worried about everything—
when I attempt to measure as a distance
the places, the clearings, the rustling firs
the concrete porticoes with that tickling wind
or the paint-peeling balconies
and people’s eyes always looking, expecting,
expecting a certain thing from me or them
or the air in between us
as if sprites might emerge from a silence,
as if suddenly neither of us had been wrong,
as if I were not pretentious and they not insipid
but we always were, we always were,
and I always liked drinking cold cold water very fast
and driving, driving everywhere
passing other cars, slamming on the brakes,
all everywhere passing and stopping
and I never should have accused you—
the moments pass suddenly into shadows,
they always have and they aren’t going to stop,
you’d do best to listen to your breathing,
listen to her breathing, the dog’s,
and do.
I see children, too, waddling like huge lobsters
they’re your children—not mine—
oh those children are always hungry
even their hands are hungry,
under the blankets like dolls
looking at you in the half-lit doorway with hungry hands,
listening as their breath escapes into shadows.
What was that, just then? Ah, what it always
was, a moment, a breath, a just-barely.

Soooooo East…

Posted in Snippet with tags , , , , on November 27, 2010 by sethdellinger

A sentence pulled from today’s Erie Times News, from an article about a coyote being hit by a car in downtown Erie:

Duafala said the coyote was struck on East 12th Street east of East Avenue.

Audio Poem from “This is What is Invisible”: #11 of 12

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , on November 26, 2010 by sethdellinger

As a reminder, I am posting an audio version of each poem from my new collection, “This is What is Invisible”.  This is the eleventh posting, and it’s called “Energy”,

Energy

Tell me again about the butterflies,
old friend of mine, bringer of tales,
the gully, mossy rocks of the streambed,
a cool breeze off the glacier high above,
and suddenly butterflies everywhere
as if the air you breathed were blossoming.

I’ve seen so many things, you said.  I wish
I could write them down. 
And when my uncle died
you were the alpinist and the engineer
who had an explanation where he’d gone,
waving a hand in the air.  It’s energy,
you said.  That energy must still be somewhere.

Ah, but real life is never written down,
and who could understand the butterflies—
that there were so many, so surprisingly?
Tell me again, old friend, and I will try
to catch the light, the flavor of the air
like moss, like distant ice, like clear water.
 
 

 

 

Friday’s Film Clip: “Superbad”

Posted in Friday's Film Clip with tags , on November 26, 2010 by sethdellinger

I’m not here to say “Superbad” is an example of top-notch filmmaking.  I just straight-up find it hilarious.  I love watching these three actors interact; every viewing reveals more tiny details of their performances that are true genius:

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