Category Archives: Music

Three albums you should dig.


I recently bought several albums and my joy from these purchases is immense. I don’t normally do this kind of thing because, although I think I have pretty good taste in music (I do, after all, listen to NPR’s All Songs Considered), I don’t like to make recommendations because if someone buys/listens to the album and hates it, I am completely overcome by self-doubt. So I’m kind of going out on a limb to say that you will dig these albums, and I’m happy I purchased them.

1. Fitz & the Tantrums, Pickin Up the Pieces

Song that got me hooked:MoneyGrabber.”

Key to this album: This band doesn’t use a conventional six-string guitar in its compositions. The main instrument is a vintage organ, and frontman Michael Fitzpatrick rocks it like it never went out of style. There’s a crazy soul vibe to each song, but there are modern twists you never would hear in an R&B tune from the ’50s. For example, one line from “MoneyGrabber” so eloquently says, “I don’t think twice for the price of a cheap time whore.” Heh.

If there’s one thing that will throw you off: Fitzpatrick’s weird attempt at a trendy hairstyle. Peter and I agree that the videos are awesome, but we just can’t get past his funky, Rogue-from-X-Men ‘do.

My favorite song on the album: “Breaking the Chains of Love.” It’s the first track, and there’s something about it that’s infectious. It’s like ebola, but it won’t kill you, and it won’t make you bleed from every orifice of your body, which is nice, because you’re infected but there aren’t any visible symptoms.

2. Foster the People, Torches

Song that got me hooked:Pumped Up Kicks.”

Key to this album: I don’t like to dance, and this album makes me want to dance. Each song has one little piece to it that makes it catchy, makes you want to hum it until you can’t hum anymore because your throat is sore. In “Pumped Up Kicks,” there’s this little kazoo-like noise that underlies the chorus. It gets stuck in my head and I can’t get it out, but not in a bad way, like with “Hello” by Lionel Richie.

If there’s one thing that will throw you off: If you don’t like electronic music, which is something I’m just getting into, then this may not be the album for you. Some songs are pretty heavy on the electronic stuff (I don’t know the technical term — I told you, I’m just getting into it). “Life on the Nickel” has what I would consider to be a bit of a drawn-out introduction, but it’s really good once you hear the song and understand its context. Wow. I kind of sounded like a snotty hipster prick there. Awesome.

My favorite song on the album:Houdini.” If for no other reason than it makes me dance when I’m driving on the Turnpike, and Kevin gives me weird looks.

3. Decemberists, The King is Dead

Song that got me hooked: Didn’t need one. This is one of my favorite bands, and I would have bought the album without hearing any songs. That’s what happened when I bought the album prior to this one, The Hazards of Love. Although, hearing “Down By the Water” on the radio certainly didn’t hurt.

Key to this album: The folk flow is so natural. The songs seem perkier and more upbeat, but some of the lyrics are downright depressing. Herein lies the magic of Colin Meloy and his merry troupe of musicians. This is a classically great album. Also, this is low on the list because I’m expecting you to already have heard it. If you haven’t heard it yet, you really are missing out. While you’re at it, buy the rest of your albums. I would use the first three albums as a primer, then delve into the whole “dissected, fragmented concept album” idea with The Crane Wife, then go right into The Hazards of Love, which is the definition of how to tell a tale with music. And bring tissues for “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned).”

If there’s one thing that will throw you off: Nothing. It’s perfect.

Favorite song on the album: A tie between “Don’t Carry it All” and “Dear Avery.”

OK, one more, but without as much detail.

4. Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes

Song that got me hooked:Get Some

Key to this album: It’s refreshing. I know that word when used to describe any sort of art tends to be a bit cliche, but for someone who really dislikes a lot of new, popular music, Lykke Li’s voice is so different and powerful. She’s like a Scandinavian Fiona Apple, without the piano.

If there’s one thing that will throw you off: I’ve heard tell some people don’t care for the lyrics of “Get Some” (“I’m your prostitute. You’re gonna get some.”); others have said her voice can be grating. I don’t agree with either.

Favorite song on the album:I Follow Rivers

On a totally unrelated note, Kevin pooped out his first foreign body today: yellow string from his rope toy. Guess which toy is no longer in service as a result? That’s right, his yellow rope toy. He’s sad, and kind of pouty, but I took him for a really long walk and we met some new people, so he’s napping and I don’t have to deal with his accusatory stares.

Looking for a subsidized trip to Coachella.


Here’s why this is the only time you will ever hear me say, “I want to go to California” …

The Coachella 2011 lineup was announced. Here are the bands that stood out, broken down by day.

Friday

  • Kings of Leon
  • The Black Keys
  • The Chemical Brothers
  • Brandon Flowers (presumably the musician, not the football player)
  • Crystal Castles
  • Cee Lo
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Cold War Kids
  • Flogging Molly
  • Ozomatli
  • !!!
  • Marina and the Diamonds
  • Klaxons
  • The Aquabats!

Saturday

  • Arcade Fire
  • Animal Collective
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Bright Eyes
  • The Kills
  • Broken Social Scene
  • New Pornographers
  • Cage the Elephant
  • The Swell Season
  • Jenny and Johnny
  • Freelance Whales

Sunday

  • Kanye West
  • The Strokes
  • Duran Duran
  • The National
  • Jimmy Eat World
  • Death From Above 1979!!!!!!
  • PJ Harvey
  • Neon Trees
  • She Wants Revenge
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Jack’s Mannequin
  • Foster the People
  • City and Colour

I apologize for all of the exclamation points after Death From Above 1979. I was getting more and more excited as I wrote down the name of each band and I just couldn’t contain myself any longer.

And I now am officially accepting applications for people who would like to pay for my travel and ticket costs. Any takers?

My attempt at an app evaluation.


I recently downloaded the Dragon Dictation app for my iPhone. It isn’t always accurate, but it is a blast. Lately I’ve taken to using it just to make myself laugh. Some of the things it comes up with are hilarious. Here are some examples:

(A text to my mom)
What I was trying to say: We are on our way to Cocoa. I set up the Christmas tree today, and when I get back on Sunday I’m going to decorate it.
What Dragon Dictation thinks I said: We are on our way to Canada we just can’t work here when it became today I get back on Sunday going to decorate it.

(Another text to my mom)
What I was trying to say: (in response to her asking what I was going to do with my first real day off in six months) I am going to sit on my ass all day.
What happened when Dragon Dictation misrepresented my initial statement and I got completely frustrated: I am going that I might add all day. No it’s on my past nine. Past half a SS at F. I am going to sit on my a SS. There I tricked e-mail you son of a bitch. Not e-mail you, I tricked you you son of a bitch. Of course it gets it right when are you insulting it.

(Another text to my mom)
What I was trying to say: What name are the sandwiches under?
What happened when Dragon Dictation misrepresented my initial statement and I got completely frustrated: What name I just under? What name is the damage is under? Did you put the sandwiches under debris? Not raining debris Daisy baby. Did you put them on your TV? Gigantic baby is going crazy it going crazy help.

(A text to Peter)
What I was trying to say: I downloaded a dictation app and I’m using it now. It’s insane and messes everything up.
What Dragon Dictation thinks I said: I downloaded a dictation app and I’m using it now. It’s insane at NASA’s everything up.

(Another text to Peter)
What I was trying to say: Something about fooling it with words like toucan and Titicaca, but instead it says two cans. Then I said something about it being ridiculous and wondering if it would get the word guinea pig. Then I said toucan again and checked the translation, and it was right, so I commended it, but it got it wrong again. Hilarious.
What Dragon Dictation thinks I said: I like to fool it with words like to Canton and Titicaca can’t and should be to get two cannons not Canton to kick me and here we go it’s pretty ridiculous monkeys on the large guinea pig toucan oh my God it got to Kenneth.

(Messing with it Decemberists style)
Interpreting the first verse of “Annan Water” –
Annan water using the deep and wide highway crossover if you would come. You’re tied down to that but I might for the other side streets are there. Sure were marching applied to wait for me.

Interpreting the song “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)” –
Hi Greg, Arena rock around the mall before it was thinking
1 million times a day in town involved in the changing
Skating rinks around your eyes
He never called themselves with pride up
With our way to ponder Tiger down for you and I were lying
Tell me now tell me that the foreign guy and the river daughter
Of willow on the where would I get it under all of the water
So that they married here today
The dressing way to bear witness
That we will I like Riverstone rolling only where it takes up
I told you I called you hear
An icon you and I brought you here
Please have third of love
Never more will trouble I
Margaret the laughing ways are making quietly at our ankles
Another bout another Brad this brilliant Chelis come for the shackle
Them with this long last trash apparently the car thousand sorry whispers
Among the way it came crashing down he closed his eyes and softly kissed her
I told you I called you hear
An icon you and I brought you here
Please have third of love
Never more will trouble I

On that last one, I wasn’t trying to make it a social commentary on Tiger Woods, but thanks for keeping it contemporary, Dragon Dictation!