On the playlist, or wow, that year was fast

I guess the first quarter of 2008 was all the year had to offer. The upcoming quarters look pretty desolate in terms of releases interesting to me, and even my current playlist doesn’t have much luster.

  • Bang on a Can All-Stars & Don Byron, A Ballad for Many I’m only ever familiar with the Bang on the Can All-Stars performing heavily notated works, so to hear them cut loose on A Ballad for Many is refreshing. That’s not to say Don Byron’s work is no less challenging than said heavily notated pieces.
  • Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs I was right — Chris Walla’s solo album turns out to be the more interesting release.
  • Furukawa Miki, Bondage Heart There was a sparkle on Mirrors that seems missing on this album, despite being both heavier and sparse at the same time.
  • LOVE PSYCHEDELICO, This is LOVE PSYCHEDELICO I haven’t taken a look at the Romanized lyrics, but the bound packaging of this compilation is indeed quite attractive. Content-wise, nothing surprising.
  • Madonna, Hard Candy The more distance Madonna can put between her and American Life is a good thing indeed. I thought the Neptunes and Timbaland were so 2002, but they do right by her. Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, in particular, do a far better job with Madonna than with Duran Duran.
  • Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust (remastered) I’m overplaying this album all over again. I haven’t done an A-B comparison to see how the remastering rates, but I get the impression that the boost in levels hasn’t dulled the dynamic range of the original.
  • Mirah, Advisory Committee One day, I explored every artist listed in the Gay.com Rock Out archive, and only two artists struck a chord. One was Matt Alber (debut in August), and the other was Mirah.
  • Ned Rorem, Eleven Portraits for Eleven Players; Piano Concerto in Six Movements (Louisville Orchestra) Nice cover.
  • The Hidden Cameras, Mississauga Goddam I downloaded this from eMusic accidentally. I wish there was a way to get those credits back.


  • Cosmo! says:

    I’m not familiar with most of these, but This is LOVE PSYCHEDELICO does have nice packaging and it does do a nice job of showcasing some of the band’s best work (although a. Early Times did practically the same thing and b. Days of Days Over You needs more lovin’), and Madonna’s Hard Candy is much, much, much better than American Life and (for me) also better than Ray of Light, Music and Confessions on a Dance Floor in terms of consistency and ass grindability.
    While I’m commenting, I need advice on the music scene of Hawai’i now that I’m living 20 minutes away from Honolulu.

  • maren_a says:

    I too love “A Ballad for Many” — but I’m unclear what you mean by “heavily notated” — I know that these compositions of Don Byron’s are through-composed and fully notated (i.e., the musicians are reading from scores) — so are you just referring to density of notes per second, or do you mean “annotated” or with lots of liner notes in the CD packaging….????

  • NemesisVex says:

    “A Ballad for Many” doesn’t feel thoroughly composed, which I guess is a testament to Don Byron as a composer. I’m contrasting “A Ballad for Many” against other pieces Bang on a Can has played by Louis Andriessen, Steve Reich or even David Lang and Michael Gordon. Some of those pieces really feel like notes on a page. “A Ballad for Many”, not so much, which lead me to conclude that Bang on a Can was working more from charts than anything thoroughly composed. My mistake, but perhaps a mistake Byron intended for listeners to make.

  • NemesisVex says:

    I never really paid much attention to the music scene in Hawai`i even when I lived there because really, it only accommodates Hawaiian music. Touring shows seldom pass through Honolulu since it’s prohibitively expensive to ship there, and the ones that do are usually on the way to or from Asia. I don’t know if there are any good rock clubs, but the ones that were around when I lived there closed before I moved away.

  • Sam says:

    Mirah is EXCELLENT. Advisory Committee really is one of my favorite albums ever, and her more recent stuff is quite good as well.
    Have you heard the new M83 yet?

  • NemesisVex says:

    I must confess M83 has been on the periphery of my radar but hasn’t yet been targeted. I kind of like their use of Helvetica on their cover art, though.