January 11, 2011

I have a tumblr now:

Lots more posting going on there than here.


album: High Violet

January 5, 2011

The National. High Violet. 4AD CAD 3X03CD, 2010. (on CD)

My first impression was that it’s pleasant but bland, but every time I’ve listened to it it’s grown on me a bit more. It’s understated and confident, with a strangely quiet, laid-back feeling for a band that’s making a lot of noise. Reminds me of Arcade Fire, late Bowie, and a little bit of Depeche Mode.

8/10 (Great).

album: The Very Best of Little Richard

January 4, 2011

Little Richard. The Very Best of Little Richard. Specialty SPCD-30748, 2008. (on CD)

Excellent compilation.  It has all his classics, and none of the later “come back” crap that always seems to plague compilations of older artists.

9/10 (One of my favorites).

Best of 2010

December 29, 2010

Note that, as usual, these lists are the best of my year, not the year.

The Top Ten Books I Read in 2010
#1. John Wyndham. The Day of the Triffids. 1951.
#2. Larry Niven. Rainbow Mars. 1999.
#3. Dashiell Hammett. The Thin Man. 1933.
#4. Pierre Boulle. Planet of the Apes. 1963.
#5. Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West. 1985.
#6. Philip José Famer. To Your Scattered Bodies Go. 1971.
#7. Raymond Chandler. Farewell, My Lovely. 1940.
#8. John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men. 1937.
#9. Robert E. Howard. Conan the Conqueror. 1936.
#10. John A. Lomax & Alan Lomax. Our Singing Country: Folk Songs and Ballads. 1941.

There are some truly wonderful books at the top there, but honestly I could crop it down to a Top Five and not feel like anything was being left out. I only read about 40 books this year, so it’s not a bad list considering.

The Top Ten Albums I Heard in 2010 (in alphabetical order)
– Johnny Cash. American VI: Ain’t No Grave. 2010.
– Blossom Dearie. Blossom Dearie. 1956.
– Blossom Dearie. Give Him the Ooh-La-La. 1957.
– Blossom Dearie. Once Upon a Summertime… / My Gentleman Friend. 1958 & 1961.
– Fats Domino. Rock and Rollin’ / This Is Fats Domino. 1956 & 1956.
– Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly. 1958.
– The Muppets. The Muppet Show 2. 1978.
– Dave Rawlings Machine. A Friend of a Friend. 2009.
– Otis Redding. Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul. 1966.
– She & Him. Volume Two. 2010.

Even cheating (if they’ve been repackaged onto a single CD I can count them as one album, right?), there are still a lot of great albums that didn’t fit on this list. And I couldn’t put them in order; every one is one of my favorites.

book: Conan the Conqueror

December 28, 2010

Robert E. Howard. Conan the Conqueror. Sphere, 1974 (originally published 1936). 191 pages.

An outline of the plot would read like a laundry list of the worst fantasy/adventure cliches, but it’s fun anyway. The writing is a mix of efficient storytelling and extremely corny language, which is perfect for the story. But most importantly, Conan is the baddest badass of an antihero you could hope for.

8/10 (Great).

album: Good Things

December 26, 2010

Aloe Blacc. Good Things. Stones Throw STH2245, 2010. (on CD)

A great soul singer, singing songs that sound like classics, in an ode to 1970s Motown. It’s not a throwback like Sharon Jones, though; it has a modern sound, drawing from various pop styles from the past 50 years – everything from classic rock to hip hop. Most of it isn’t as good as the (relatively) famous song, “I Need a Dollar,” but there’s not a single bad track on the album.

7/10 (Good).

album: Queen’s Greatest Hits I & II

December 26, 2010

Queen. Greatest Hits I & II. Hollywood Records HR-62042-2, 1994. (on CD)

Some great songs, lots of terrible songs, and very little in between.

6/10 (Okay).