Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Happy morning to all of you. How was your collective weekend? First, let me start with a brief grievance. As a football fan, and a fan of a particular team, I have realized there are few things more frustrating than watching your particular team dominate a game for fifty-three minutes only to be beaten by a team that plays all sixty. Oof. That said, the AFC West is fortunately bad this year, so the Chiefs are still atop the division. Woo hoo.
After the disappointment of yesterday’s game, my evening took a dramatic upturn. I met up with a fellow some of you may recall from the depths of iResQ history, my good friend and yours, former sales-department favorite Chuck. He and I and our wives took in the epic performance of Sufjan Stevens at Kansas City’s Uptown Theater (currently ranked #82 on Pollstar’s best theaters in the world. Shazaam). Any of you who might be a fan of the whispery folk singer may be in for a surprise if you’re picking up his latest album which was released last Tuesday, or planning on seeing him on the Age of Adz tour. All the history and American culture themes that you’ve come to expect from Sufjan are there in glorious and meticulous detail, but the folk sounds and banjo melodies are strikingly absent in favor of electronic drum pads, heavy synths and auto-tuned vocals. Not to mention seizure-inducing video accompaniment playing on a giant screen behind the band at the show.
The real reason I bring up the show, however, is this- the 2000 hipsters that filled the theater all seemed to share one common trait. And that trait is iPhone 4 ownership. I fully realize that what I’m about to say may make me sound like the cranky old guy at the concert who just wants everyone to sit down and enjoy the music, but I now have one, albeit minor, complaint about the new iPhone. While the flash is a wonderful new feature for amateur photographers who know that the best camera is the one that’s with you, it also causes about a dozen backs of heads to light up, bathed in halogen glow. Which is a little distracting every three seconds at a concert. So it goes.
On the other hand, the pictures that came as a result of all the annoying flashes were excellent, and the 720p video was stunning. So I have three recommendations. First, go to iTunes and pick up Sufjan’s new album The Age of Adz. It’s a captivating departure from the folky orchestral arrangements of his previous efforts.
Second, get yourself an iPhone 4 before attending your next concert. Sub-recommendation: ignore the cranky old guy who’s annoyed by the flash. And finally, if you drop your iPhone 4 at said concert, go here to order one of our fast and affordable repair services. Have a good week, everyone.
Monday, December 7th, 2009
Well another Krampus Night has come and gone. Seems like the good times are always over so fast. I didn’t celebrate the festivities by roaming city streets dressed like a giant Ewok and beating unsuspecting children with sticks the way they fest it up in Europe, but I was blessed with the joy of sharing the wonders of Krampusdom with an eight year old girl who candidly asked me what the opposite of Santa was. Boy was she in for a earful.
Rest easy, though, everybody. There’s always Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Life Day to boost your spirits. If you don’t know what Life Day is, see if you can’t track down a copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. Wait, no, don’t. I just remembered it’s the worst thing that’s every been broadcast on television ever. Seriously.
On to matters promised, we’re still counting down some of the best pop culture contributions of the entire decade. If you missed last week, check out my picks for best movies and by all means, email me if you feel like adding to or debating the list. Now here’s my ten favorite albums of the decade:
10. The National, Boxer. They’re showing up on college radio stations all over the country now. If you haven’t heard them yet, do it soon. Very soon. Highlight: Start A War.
9. Ryan Adams, Love Is Hell, Parts I and II. I don’t know why these two EPs had such a hard time getting released commercially. Adams’ superior cover of Wonderwall had radio single written all over it. C’est la vie. Highlight: Shadowlands.
8. Spoon, Girls Can Tell. Man, I wish Britt Daniel would start writing songs like this again. Spoon has best appreciation for space in music of nearly any band today, and this record shows it beautifully. Highlight: The Fitted Shirt.
7. Sufjan Stevens, Greetings from Michigan, The Great Lake State. I’ll always remember the first time I hear this record in my roommate’s car and how I wanted to keep it all to myself and not let anyone else hear it. Now I’m delighted that Stevens has become a sort of Patron Saint for indie folk rock. Highlights: Romulus, Vido’s Ordination Song, For All the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless In Ypsilanti.
6. Radiohead, Kid A/Amnesiac. I know they’re two separate records. But not really. Anyway, the albums recorded together in the same sessions paved the way for Radiohead’s current and evolving sound. Like them or think they’re overrated, you can’t deny they changed the face of music over the last decade and a half. Highlights: Everything In It’s Right Place, Pyramid Song.
5. Beck, Sea Change. Man, what a library to choose from. But this, Beck’s most mellow of records, is the one I keep coming back to again and again. Highlights: Everything.
4. The Shins, Oh Inverted World. When James Mercer put this home-recorded album out in 2000, I unashamedly claimed it was going to be one of the best of the decade. I’m glad I didn’t have to retract that statement. Highlight: Past and Pending.
3. Death Cab For Cutie, Plans. Yes, debaters, I loved Transatlanticism and Narrow Stairs too. But this was a record that opened doors and proved that Ben Gibbard knew how to not only write songs, but compose an album. Highlights: I Will Follow You Into the Dark, Someday You Will Be Loved, Brothers On A Hotel Bed.
2. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Jeff Tweedy and the Late Jay Bennett couldn’t get a record released. Then they did. Seems pretty boring, except for the fact that it was one of the most innovative and enjoyable records of our time. The first time I heard the opening track I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and that it was the same band that made Summerteeth just a few years prior. Just outstanding. Highlight: I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.
1. Teddy Thompson, Separate Ways. I know. I filled the number one spot with a record with no radio singles, no heralding by the masses, and little recognition outside of fans of British folk enthusiasts. Fact is the son of Richard and Linda Thompson delivered with his sophomore release one of the most perfectly balanced pop/rock/country records I’ve ever heard. I’ve endorsed it before, but I’ll do it again. Go buy this record. Highlights: Everybody Move it, Separate Ways… and everything else.
That’s it for me everybody. Chances are by this time next week I’ll be a dad for real, so I probably won’t be posting for a bit. Enjoy your holidays and buy one of these records for the music lover in your family. Email email@example.com with any questions/comments about the list, or if you need anything for your iPod, iPhone, MacBook or MacBook Pro. And keep one eye open for the Krampus.
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