Music

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

[Mild spoilers follow.] As a writer, I’ve found, you’re always searching for material. A friend’s talking to you about a bad breakup, years of religious doubt and self-recrimination for doubting, a car wreck, DUI, or lost job. Suddenly, once an insight seems to hit you – or even a situation with a certain intellectual appeal – the ideas become all, and their textures, contexts, and the unfortunate people living in them become pared back, leaving you with what feels like the beginnings of a great article, essay, even poem. The real world fades away, and all you’re left with, all you…

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Sisyphus Says: Listen to John Davis (An Interview)

Sisyphus Says: Listen to John Davis (An Interview)

Many thanks to Josh Encinias for arranging, carrying out, and writing up this interview with one of our all time favorites, John Davis. 

John Davis doesn’t just shred on guitar.

Last Wednesday was Christmas morning for true believers. John Davis (The Lees of Memory, Superdrag) dropped demos for his scrapped third LP. While the 20 demos on Heart Medicine: Hypothetical Solo Jamz Vol. III: 2007-2013 aren’t a cohesive bunch — ranging from gospel tunes to hardcore — Davis didn’t pick these tracks from the musical scrap heap.

I was introduced to JD when he opened for the OC Supertones’s “final” show back in 2005…

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The Hill and Wood Lets a Good Thing Grow

With an icy breeze blowing through the East Coast, what say we warm up with a glimpse at the charming video for “Let a Good Thing Grow”, the main single off The Hill and Wood’s excellent, new Opener EP. Everyone is giving birth to something, indeed:

LET A GOOD THING GROW from Charlotte Hornsby on Vimeo.

The rest of the EP is just as breath-taking and exquisitely crafted, packed with beautiful harmonies and gorgeously unwinding melodies. Even after 100-plus listens, “Oil Spill” still gives goose bumps. And the second half of “The First Time” may be the most rapturous music these two have committed to tape (which is saying something).

Full disclosure: The Hill and Wood is led by the ueber-talented Sam Bush, a name you may have seen on here before. Fortunately for us, Sam has also just recorded a side project with bluegrass singer Kathryn Caine, A Very Love and Mercy Christmas. I know it’s too early to bust out the carols, but when you do, this is our pick of the season.

David Bazan’s Latest, Bazan Monthly Vol. 1

David Bazan’s Latest, Bazan Monthly Vol. 1

Back in September, I finally attended one of David Bazan’s living room shows, after years of missing out. He did not disappoint. Lit by flickering candles, with a cool fall breeze blowing through the room, the erstwhile Pedro the Lion entertained not just with great music, but with his trademark self-deprecation and unflinching honesty as he fielded questions from the audience. While, outside of a few side projects, Bazan hasn’t released new music since 2011’s Strange Negotiations, earlier this year he began recording two songs per month, dubbing this collection Bazan Monthly Vol. 1. A few weeks before the living…

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Open the Door, Homer

basement_tapes_LP

Never thought the day would come when The Complete Basement Tapes would be a legitimate release, but as they say, with Bob Dylan all things are possible. There are volumes and volumes to be written on those sessions, and indeed, some already have been. For today, we’ll have to make do with the final verse of “Open the Door, Homer”:

“Take care of all your memories”
Said my friend, Mick
“For you cannot relive them
And remember when you’re out there
Tryin’ to heal the sick
That you must always
First forgive them”

My favorite version of the song would have to be the one that Pete Townshend produced for Thunderclap Newman. Enjoy:


Wednesday Afternoon Gospel: Dorothy Love Coates’ “Strange Man”

Good grief this is fabulous:

November Playlist

  1. Fight Test – The Flaming Lips000part
  2. Writing’s on the Wall – OK Go
  3. Running Up That Hill (Deal With God) – Kate Bush
  4. Letters to Elise – The Cure
  5. O Girlfriend – Weezer
  6. Sit Down – James
  7. Alien – 20/20
  8. I Don’t Know What I Want – The Raspberries
  9. Long Song Comin – Bob Seger
  10. The North Star – Roddy Frame
  11. Hometown USA – Slaid Cleaves
  12. As Long As There’s You – The Partridge Family
  13. The Scientist – Aimee Mann
  14. Walk Away – Del Shannon
  15. Kisses of Fire – ABBA
  16. No More Looking Back – The Kinks
  17. Bible Black Starless Sky – Andy Fairweather Low
  18. Hymnsong – Sons of Bill


Ben Howard’s Latest: Bad Catholicism

Ben Howard’s Latest: Bad Catholicism

For a number of reasons, I’m really glad I used Amazon Prime and pre-ordered Ben Howard’s latest album, I Forget Where We Were. Reason 1: I basked in Christmas-like joy when I got home Tuesday afternoon to find the album ready and waiting on my doorstep. Reason 2: The so-beautiful lyrics, which would otherwise elude me for all his British slurring, are printed inside the front cover.

If you’re not yet a Ben Howard groupie like myself, it’s possible you’ve heard of him from this rad song featured in Season 4 of The Walking Dead. And if still, somehow, he has…

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A Snob By Any Other Name

A Snob By Any Other Name

The first time I suspected there might really be something between me and the woman who would become my wife was when she made an off-hand reference to one of my favorite movies. It was a relatively obscure film, and not one that usually came up in conversation. Huh, I thought, that’s interesting. My confidence was shaken a few days later when she mentioned having recently attended a certain music festival, which will remain nameless. Let’s just say my appreciation for The Grateful Dead and their ilk had yet to blossom.

I’m embarrassed to admit this. Not just that I had…

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A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

1. Lots of interesting news on the how-can-we-be-sure-God-exists front. We’ve had our own part of that conversation, highlighting our own favorite Atheists and the hip trend of flogging Dawkins (dibs on Flogging Dawkins as a band name!). If the patterns are to be believed, it seems that the trajectory is toward a more humble, less aggressive atheism that acknowledges its own non-rational presuppositions. And humility is good for everybody, theist and atheist alike. Gary Gutting over at the New York Times sums up his series of interviews with religious philosophers, and while the ending seems disjointed (I’m an agnostic Catholic?), the middle is helpful:

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Another Week Ends: Startup Cities, Dangerous Perfectionism, Marilynne Robinson, Self-Satisfied Commissars, Subconscious Songwriting, and Cosmopolitan Hope

Another Week Ends: Startup Cities, Dangerous Perfectionism, Marilynne Robinson, Self-Satisfied Commissars, Subconscious Songwriting, and Cosmopolitan Hope

Before we get going, the Houston Conference is almost here!! While we never turn anyone away–last minute walk-ins more than welcome–we need to know by Monday morning (10/13) if you are planning/hoping to dine with us. You can either pre-register on the site (through Tuesday at midnight), or send us an email at info@mbird.com so we can reserve you a plate. The food is going to be delicious!

1. First off, this is both incredibly fascinating and incredibly sad. Perhaps you’ve heard of The Downtown Project, a “start-up city” in Las Vegas founded and pioneered by Tony Hsieh, the guy behind…

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Love and Logos in the Dying of the Light

Love and Logos in the Dying of the Light

Reviewing Sons of Bill’s new record.

A couple of years ago, The New Yorker asked “Whatever happened to movies for grownups?” It’s an important question, and one that has only become more pronounced since David Denby posed it, and not just at the multiplex. In fact, nowhere does it apply more than to the carcass that passes for commercial rock and roll these days. There may have been a time when literacy and restraint didn’t automatically throw you into a niche market, but that time seems to have gone, for better or worse. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong…

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