Music recommendations for 2008

December 23rd, 2008

I'm afraid that my recommendations are a bit thin on the ground. School of Seven Bells, sure, and possibly Ra Ra Riot (I like them, but I can easily understand how someone else might think they were a bit too pretentious at times; it can be a close thing).

The King Khan & The Shrines album is solid chunk of soul/funk/garage rock goodness. There seems to be little love for Ladytron's latest on the Best of 2008 lists, but I actually agree with that: There are a few good, memorable songs, but then you change the cd and instantly forget about the other 8 or 9 songs on the album.

Fleet Foxes are now being widely praised, which, of course, is making me worried. Too much hype is always bad, and I think that the praise is a combination of "it's good!" and "it's different!" Maybe the mainstream is getting tired of the bombastic glam rock of The Killers. I certainly don't want to discourage that.

You could do worse than to throw together these three lists. And then throw two more.

Hrm. Apparently, everyone does love Fleet Foxes. If they proceed true to form, they'll release a horrible second album, then either break up right then, or descend into bitter feuding, release a third album (that will seem like a mess, but will later be reevaluated and found to be a great, if flawed work), and then break up. There will then be articles about how difficult it was to make that third album, they'll form other, lesser bands, and in ten years we'll see a reunion tour.

Bad at something

December 22nd, 2008

From the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. counterterrorism officials have been on guard for homegrown recruitment by radical groups. Intelligence analysts from the New York Police Department, in a study of radicalization in Western Muslim communities, warned that "jihadist ideology" is "proliferating in Western democracies at a logarithmic rate."

Someone over there is either really bad at math, or really bad at fearmongering.

For your reference, here's a logarithmic curve:

Diablo With Snow

December 18th, 2008

It's snowing as we speak up on the devil's mountain (or, according to some, the devil's thicket); an infrequent but not startling occurance. So there may be more impressive levels of the white stuff up there in the near future.

But as I waited at the BART station, I figured I might as well capture the nice white dusting the mountain had already accumulated (click for larger image):


December 17th, 2008

I sat in a church for an hour and a half, barely able to breathe, tears filling my eyes.

Twelve voices enveloped me. The perfect sound blasted away any pretense or pose.

My cynicism could not withstand the onslaught. I was left bare.

Their music burnished my soul.

I went to Chanticleer's Christmas concert last Tuesday night at Mission Santa Clara de Asis on the University of Santa Clara campus.

I'd gone a few years ago and, sitting back in the general admission seating, I had heard the most beautiful music.

This year I was determined. I bought second-row tickets months and months in advance.

I recognized only a few pieces in their program. It didn't matter.

Chanticleer's 12 perfectly blended voices stunned and delighted. I've never heard so large a crowd stay so silent. Usually a cell phone brays or a sanitorium refugee hacks and coughs and breaks the spell. The magic went unbroken.

I remember watching Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" as a kid. The ideas and images filled me with wonder and awe. Chanticleer's music did the same. The universe can be a beautiful and wonderful place.

At the end, we all stood and clapped like mad. Their encore was a favorite of mine.

And then it was done.

Earlier in the evening, I recognized a woman from the gym. She sat in the front row and I rushed forward to introduce her to my family.

My wife tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out the singers emerging to meet and greet.

I saw Eric Alatorre walking towards me, he of the outrageously waxed mustache and foundation-quaking bass voice. He's sung with Chanticleer for 18 years, anchoring the group and shaking the walls with his impossibly deep, rich sound. Yes, he is a hero of mine.

I bowed to him, palms up in a Wayne's World "we're not worthy" manner. He chuckled and held out his hand. I took it and gave it a squeeze. All I could say was "Thank you so much."

I am in awe.

Oh dear

December 17th, 2008

At the recommendation of our glorious blogmaster, I spent a little time perusing TBogg's blog. In one post, he linked to a conservative website, and I, in an amazing display of stupidity and utter lack of self-preservation, clicked the link.

As they say: The stupid! It burns!

I think I might have found where YouTube commenters go when they need a change of pace. Not only are they hoping that Obama crashes and burns, taking the country with him just to prove a point, but they're still promoting Sarah Palin as the future of the Republican party.

Uh...yeah. Best of luck with that one. No, by all means, don't let pesky facts or common sense stop you.

The best thing, though, is a banner ad, the copy of which reads: "Watch Glenn Reynolds & Michelle Malkin discuss ethics issues tainting the Left, Big 3 bailout and the threat of government expansion."

No, really, it says that. I'll give you a minute to stop making those cartoon BUH-BUH-BUH-WHA? noises.

The people whose careers are built on leg-humping the neocons are going to talk about ethics issues? And the threat of government expansion?

Do you suppose it's a massive quantity of drugs, or unrestrained application of icepicks to the forebrain that let these trolls "forget" the last 8 years?