On the playlist, or rally in the fourth

The second and third quarters of 2008 seemed to give up the proverbial ghost, but then the release schedule ramped up, and I managed to stumble across a few discoveries. As a result, I’ve got a lot playing right now, and I’m impressed with a lot of it. Not all of it, but a lot of it.

  • … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Festival Thyme I was hoping for something a bit harder, but this EP isn’t long enough to portend how the new album will sound when it’s released in January 2009.
  • Antonin Dvořák, String Quartets, Vol. 1 (Vlach Quartet) The 19th Century has been a blind spot in my classical listening, mainly because would-be composers are supposed to have an attitude about the 19th Century.
  • Antony & the Johnsons, Another World Man, I hope this EP isn’t indicative of how The Crying Light will turn out, also scheduled for January 2009.
  • Arnold Schoenberg, Pierrot lunaire At long last, I’ve listened to one of Schoenberg’s most important works, and … I think George Crumb really spoiled it for me where the weird is concerned.
  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Surf Bungaku Kamakura This release feels as miscellaneous as I predicted.
  • Department of Eagles, In Ear Park Until Grizzly Bear releases a new album in February 2009, this offshoot offers a lot of the same sound as Yellow House. But I still prefer Horn of Plenty.
  • Enya, … And Winter Came Good Lord, this release made me prefer the Christmas EP she released through Target.
  • Franz Schubert, String Quartets: Death and the Maiden, Quartettsatz (Tokyo String Quartet) I’m inaugurating an exploration of Schubert with the work quoted by Crumb in Black Angels.
  • Girl Talk, Feed the Animals, Night Ripper and Unstoppable It’s fascinating to chart the increasing complexity of Girl Talk’s sampling acumen.
  • Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy For a badass rock ‘n’ roll dude, W. Axl Rose has certainly released a very quaint album. Oh look! An artifact from before a time of Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and Funeral.
  • Ivri Lider, Beketzev A’hid Batnu’ot Shell Haguf (The Steady Rhythm Of Body Movements) I’m thinking this album just might be Lider’s strongest.
  • John Adams, Hallelujah Junction: A Nonesuch Retrospective Had Nonesuch made an affordable box set for Adams in the same manner as Steve Reich’s Phases, I think my curiosity of Adams might be more involved.
  • Matt Alber, Hide Nothing This gorgeously atmospheric album is going to draw the inevitable Rufus Wainwright comparisons, but can Wainwright do counter-tenor? Alber was a member of Chanticleer, for deity’s sake …
  • Morton Feldman, Rothko Chapel/For Stephan Wolpe/Christian Wolff in Cambridge and The Viola in My Life/False Relationships and the Extended Ending/Why Patterns? The only Feldman works I had in my collection were written late in his life, when he really demanded much more from performers and listeners. I’m liking his middle period stuff much more.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea I’ve resisted listening to this album because I had the notion it would turn me into more of an insufferable hipster white boy indie rock fan. And it has.
  • Pelle Gudmundsun-Holmgreen, Kronos Plays Holmgreen (Kronos Quartet) Need more time with these works. I’m not sure I have a good handle on Holmgreen’s aesthetic.
  • Sam Sparro, Sam Sparro Sparro is talked up in the gay press for the fact he has big pop aspirations and refuses to be in the closet to facilitate such success. I like the European sound of this album, but middle America won’t get it.
  • U2, Under a Blood Red Sky This album was so entrenched in my blind spot, I didn’t remember it existed till it was remastered. Oh my goodness, it puts the travesty of Rattle and Hum in bas relief. (I liked the movie, just not the album.)
  • unkie, too many secrets After three spins, I hear a lot of the first album, but I’m not sure the hooks came with it.
  • VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE, Halan’naca Darkside This album clocks in at a brisk 20 minutes, but it’s ambitiously programmed. More importantly, less POLYSICS.
  • ZAZEN BOYS, ZAZEN BOYS 4 Thank you, Dave Fridmann. You saved Mukai Shuutoku from himself.


  • Kevin says:

    I really think “SURF BANGAKU KAMAKURA” was completely redundant. Nothing about Gotou Masafumi’s writing here, but I think writing the material for “WORLD WORLD WORLD” and “mada minu ashita ni” was more than enough for him – and the band – for the year.