sea wolf

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I timed this wrong, and now I’m going out of town till after New Years. So here you go, in brief.

Sea Wolf
Leaves In the River
Winter Windows

This album has its weaknesses; it’s not perfect by any means. As a first album, it’s not as cohesive as it might be and sometimes the songwriting is overblown. Still and all, I spent most of the year fangirling Sea Wolf (ie., watching Alex Church on Youtube and squealing like I was fourteen). Typical comment to friend: “Try Sea Wolf. I love it, even though it’s 100% indie!” But hey, cute guys who play guitar and know how to wield a metaphor are my weakness. Even though Sea Wolf likely represents that hated genre of music that “has no soul,” I have a deep fondness for its simplicity and hidden quirks.

I spent a lot of time listening to Church’s understated but complicated music, admiring the bluesy strain of “You’re A Wolf,” the deep beat of “The Cold, the Dark, & the Silence,” and concrete lyrics like the ones from “Black Leaf Falls”: I saw you outside the bathroom stalls / you were just standing there out in the hall / You leaned your hip against against the wall / I’d love you anywhere but Black Leaf Falls.

Pop Levi
The Return To Form Black Magick Party

Pick-Me-Up Uppercut

Hands down, best dancing record of the year. You all can have your daft punk and your lcd soundsystems and your justice, but I want my dance music to have soul. Pop Levi catapults the listener back to the 70s, the 60s, wherever he wants to go, drags you dancing along with him to the days when you could plant a boombox in the middle of an intersection and stop the cars and get the whole block dancing.

Call it “classic,” call it psychadelic, call it whatever you want. It’s definitely a variable sound, sometimes sampling a marching band, sometimes piano and sitar, sometimes a fuzzy bass with handclaps, and above it all is Levi’s voice, which will not appeal to everyone. For me, it recalls the era of Page and Clapton and Hendrix, without being derivative in the least. Levi segues from the jazzy introspective “See My Lord” to the wicked sexy “Pick-Me-Up Uppercut” to the blues in “(A Style Called) Crying Chic” and “Dollar Bill Rock”: your money’s on fire so you can call me a liar for free / so talk to your lawyer, talk to your lawyer for me. It’s a great blend of everything, and continually surprises the listener; and Levi seems to be having a lot of fun with it. Fun! You remember it, right? It’s the opposite of having your heart broken. Go out and have some aural fun with Pop Levi; you won’t regret it.

Josh Ritter
The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
Empty Hearts

Cue the sound of my sister squealing like she’s at a Timberlake concert. FINE! I hope you’re happy, Miss J! Though I never could understand the appeal of the lugubrious “Animal Years,” Ritter has created a beautiful album here. I seem to always save the #1 slot for the perfect songwriter, and Ritter is definitely that. I was captivated from the very first line of the first song, and I’m not really sure how Ritter fits that many words into a song like “To the Dogs Or Whoever”: Joan never cared about the inbetweens / combed her hair with the blade did the maid of Orleans / said, “Christ walked on water, we can wade through the war. / You don’t need to tell me who the fire is for.”

And the whole album is chock full of it; imagery that gave me chills, backed by a breathing piano and frenetic drums. Ritter switches from the bitter to the wry to the outright funny with equal facility, and he never descends to infantility; he’s always a grownup (which doesn’t sound like much to you, I bet, but I so much prefer a man to a boy). In “Rumors,” he entwines a broken heart with what all of us do when we are unhappy: turning the music up. Decibels in the belfry / hey what the hell if it helps me / I put a whip to the kickdrum but the music’s never loud enough, backed by these totally swinging saxophones and the edge of desperation in Ritter’s voice. This is the album I listened to the most this year, the one that satisfied the most of those yearnings an audiophile can never be free of. Congratulations, number one album! I salute you!

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Video hookup

M. Perpetua from Fluxblog comments briefly on the hype; his point is well made, that the hype (and its bedfellow, backlash) has always existed in some form, but that in recent years its wheel has sped up, grinding everything even more exceeding fine. But interestingly enough, the article ends with a quote (and accompanying video) from Fall Out Boy. I had never heard a Fall Out Boy song before. But the video was darned amusing. Sort of like “Fight For Your Right To Party” in reverse. And thus your massive video hookup begins.

Not really video, but Culture Bully has three awesome Halloween mashup compilations going:
Son Of Monster Mashup
Mashing Pumpkins
Bride of Monster Mashup + Evil Twin of Monster Mashup

LAist has a bunch of Regina Spektor videos up in honor of her appearances in our neck of the woods this week. See you at the El Rey Wiltern if you’re going on Tuesday! Wooo!

Via Electroqueer, new video by Valeria. If you like a lot of leg, the French Revolution, and girls sneaking out with each other for smooches, this is the video for you.

Fabulist found an old video of Skip James from 1966 — Devil’s Got My Woman.

Muzzle of Bees proves that even in 2000, when Ry Ry wore very unfortunate sunglasses and looked like he was gonna fall over, he was still a musician right to his bones. MOB also has a very nice Q&A with the 1900s!

Stereogum has new video for Mary J Blige’s song “Just Fine.” Work it, girl!

Muzzle of Bees links to the Takeaway show concert of St Vincent singing “Paris Is Burning.” At the same time, GvsB links to video of Amanda Palmer covering “Marry Me.” Dude, I am so in love with Amanda Palmer’s voice. Who sings St Vincent better? I can’t decide!! So watch a video of Ms. Palmer covering “Patience,” via Muruch. And wave your lighters!

Via Fabulist, Sony paints the pyramids, sort of, in a crazy new Bravia ad.

And sweet Colin and friends put on a nice performance of “Yankee Bayonet” at ACL. Via Stereogum.

Ferraby Lionheart is growing on me, so I’m liking this video up at ECEU — “The Ballad of Gus and Sam.”

Here’s one for all you Icelandic hipsters (James, I’m looking at you) — “Rhubarbidoo,” by Múm, via Idolator. Er … not sure what’s going on … delicious rhubarb popping up all over the place! Is this a metaphor? Or is a rhubarb sometimes just a rhubarb?

Via Sixeyes, Feist plays drums for her opener, Bob Wiseman, and his song “You Don’t Love Me.”

Via ECEU, Okkervil River, “A Stone.” What really gets me about this is the complete silence of the crowd. No drunk guy screaming “I LOVE YOU WILL!” In the continuing saga of Do I Like Okkervil River, I think this song is too emo for me. But still, that silent crowd.

A ton of links from the Music Slut, a’course:

“Teardrop” (Massive Attack cover) by Jose Gonzalez. Moral of the story … er… don’t get on the wrong side of a guy with a crown?

Sea Wolf! Winter Windows! Video! Did I already link to this? Too bad! Watch it again!

Conor + M. Ward = OTP. At least on stage. No, I don’t want to hear from the Bright Eyes bandom writers. Check out Bright Eyes at the Hollywood Bowl.

And PJ Harvey on Leno — man, she makes younger folks look like mumbling amateurs. Oh, PJ, if only I could have afforded tickets to see you.

And if you got to the bottom, here’s a fun link from Freakonomics: “The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions.” What I wouldn’t give to be on an episode of Mythbusters.

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Video Hookup

“Tonight, we salute the silver anniversary of the Great Springfield Tire Yard Fire. Twenty-five years, and still burning strong!”
–Kent Brockman

LAist points out one early music video — Cab Calloway’s “St James Infirmary Blues,” animated in a Betty Boop video.

Via the Music Slut, video of Bishi. That woman can shred like no other — on a sitar (I think that’s a sitar! Doh). Heh.

Brooklynvegan has some videos from the very excellent Café Tacvba, plus tour dates.

From Culture Bully, Tori Amos on Jay Leno. I don’t revere Tori like I used to (that hair! oy vey!), but seeing her rock out on her two pianos brings back the old times.

And also from Chris, Sea Wolf on Jimmy Kimmel. *fans self*

Also via LAist, trailer video for the new film about Kurt Cobain. The film is called “About A Son,” and purports to be about Kurt in his own words. I’m sure there’s someone out there that hangs on every one.

From Idolator, the Hives give you more bang for your buck with “Tick Tick Boom.” It’s actually … kind of scary.

And from my high school via YANP, Win Butler does Violent Femmes while staring off into nowhere. But he still manages to rock — it must be the megaphones. Three, three, three for my headache, and four, four, four for my heartache.

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So like … Radiohead, and stuff*.

But also new Regina Spektor video! (I’ll be seeing her at the Wiltern very soon, yippee.)

And oh baby, new Sea Wolf (how can something so totally indie be so totally hot?). Take a chance on this local boy, because you will not regret it.

And if you want something stripped to its bare bones, new Peter & the Wolf! I was a big fan of “Lightness,” so we’ll see how “the Ivori Palms” shakes out.

If you like light jazz numbers, Queen Latifah put out a new album called Trav’lin Light — very unobjectionable and in parts even inspired.

[ed. note — tracks removed. contact me for a copy.]

Queen Latifah — Trav’lin Light

Sea Wolf — Winter Windows

Peter & the Wolf — The Ivori Palms

*yes, I bought it, but more to show good faith than in actual expectation of a good record. I’m a “Bends” girl, so I didn’t take the change to Kid A style all that well.

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My sister completed a triathlon last week — maybe I have running on the brain. I just found this amusing while doing some downloading from Daytrotter — people. Seriously.


The world will never know. But back to my own amusement. [These files have been removed. Contact me for a copy.]

Sea Wolf – Middle Distance Runner(from Daytrotter)


September 67 – Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

with crazy coincidental-band/song-title bonus:

Wolf Parade – You Are A Runner & I Am My Father’s Son

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