The XX: The XX

I guess now that my 2009 albums list is out of the way, I should get to reviewing some of the albums I've enjoyed so far this year. Some of them were released last year, though, and I've only just started listening, so I feel like I can't count them there.


The XX know something the rest of us seem to have overlooked, and that's the "less is more" approach, where two lovers talking across a blank, dark gulf of guitar and chilly synth can be more powerful than a whole discography's worth of grand orchestral affairs. Their quiet ruminations on young, dramatic love ("I can't give it up to someone else's touch / Because I care too much") combine with simple, barely-altered handclap samples, club kicks and cymbal hits and guitar that might've been recorded in an abandoned cathedral at three in the morning, making for an oddly hypnotic, magisterial sound. The songs breathe with emotion because the XX have left out the soppy strings, the horns and the fanfare - it's uncomplicated, catchy and totally commercial-worthy. And all this comes from a quartet of twenty-somethings who've literally come on the scene from nowhere, with nothing else to offer but earnestness and a reminder to keep it clean, simple and honest. And it's a compliment when you can listen to an album when vibrantly awake or teetering on the precipice of sleep and enjoy it fully both ways.

Brand New: Daisy


I have dabbled in Brand New for a couple of years now, based on the recommendation of an old friend; I've touched down on the refined art-punk of their sophomore Deja Entendu and enjoyed songs like "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" and "Sic Transit Gloria," but never seriously, and always in public atmospheres. 2006's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, however, was in a class of its own, showing us the band's evolution from standard mall-punk ingenues to dark, moody alt-ballad writers where singer Jesse Lacy could wail things like "I am not your friend! / I am just a man who knows how to feel" and you were actually so taken aback by how appropriate it was that you forgot to snort in affected disbelief. Daisy is a divisive record among fans who were expecting something massive and career-making, but Brand New has already made their opus, and in the gap where expectation and delivery meet, they've dropped eleven engaging new songs where their excellent hard rock/soft whisper tradeoff shines brilliantly against a swampy, old-South, field recording kind of tone that largely ignores The Devil and God, not out of derision but with a sense of, "Okay, so what's next?" It's as if they've been tuning into message boards across the Net and one day threw up their hands and said, "Screw this." With a lot of the material written because they thought it would be fun to play onstage, you can feel them cutting loose and turning up the energy, from the blistering "Vices" (where Lacy's voice will unprecedentedly push the limits of your speakers) to the groovy, mellow "Bed" to the instant-classic centerpiece "You Stole" (which slow-burn smolders, but is even better when it ignites), never quite entering the overcooked complexity of their previous effort. For this reason, Daisy is a great asset to their ever-changing identity; they may be the only group of adults out there who can still rebel and make it look natural.

Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion

I'm bored and can't sleep, so I'm going to start a new project on this journal, which is seeing neglect because now I'm allowing myself to have a life: Wax rhapsodic about my favorite albums of 2009! Oh boy! We'll start with Animal Collective.


This was one of my sweetest surprises this year. I have always had trouble accessing this band, vacillating between curious disbelief and outright dislike of some of their material. Merriweather, however, is a wonderful achievement in pop psychedelia, blending dubbed vocal harmonies (Noah Lennox often sings with what sounds like ten of himself, all gleefully colliding together), lush shimmering sounds that move and change like water, complex stomped beats and joyful handclaps into a giant personal circus for your ears to play in. There is something wonderfully childlike and bright about this album simply because those involved seem to be having so much fun, and when Lennox sings, "There isn't much that I feel I need" and "I don't mean to seem like I care about material things," you really believe him. And Merriweather is a sensory playground: the squalling synth that dominates the background of "Taste" actually sounds edible; I could swim in the blue waters of "My Girls"; and "Summertime Clothes" makes me feel the hot, restless desperation of a sweaty night patrolling downtown streets with a loved one. Beautiful, overflowing and sometimes overwhelming, this is one of the best and weirdest soundscapes I've had the pleasure of exploring, and each listen gives me something new to gnaw on.

All Hope Is Gone

Slipknot: All Hope Is Gone

I managed to get a little sneak(y) peek at the new album. (Dear RIAA, I am buying the album in two days with my friend Christina, who is similarly obsessed. So stuff it.)

Collapse )
  • Current Music

No sex for Zune

My Zune is being a butthole. It made a conscious decision to erase all my music and videos and won't sync any of what I used to have on there. At first I thought it just had the catfish dinner at Chicken Express, but now I think it is bulimic. I am going to call customer service tomorrow and ask them why my Zune is being a butthole. "Is there a butthole troubleshooting option?" I will ask them. "Because I've looked." Maybe they can refer me to a rehab clinic. My Zune can room with Lindsay Lohan and have well-publicized lesbian dalliances at night clubs. Oh boy!

Anyway, my air conditioner is still broken, and the earth is a'heatin' up every day. My life is one big butthole. I have crawled inside of a big butthole. I need to start taking my medication again so I can get out of this butthole. Okay, I've now said "butthole" seven times and I'm officially through. It's just a really fun word, that's all. Don't judge me.
  • Current Music
    The Rapture: "No Sex For Ben"

I have food poisoning again

I hope this won't be the start of another bad week. Because I really don't want to get a flat tire and a root canal again.

(knocks on wood)

But seriously, Red Lobster? I thought I could trust you. This makes two families of fish that have violently upset my digestive system - catfish and flounder. Well, fuck you guys too. OH MY GOD maybe it's because when I was backing out of the parking lot I scraped a little bit of the paint off of a red truck parked next to me. And then drove away with people looking at me. Maybe they put a gypsy curse on me. A gypsy curse for fish.

The Slip

Halo 27: The Slip

Utterly fantastic. Truly surprising. Trent Reznor is becoming a machine, but he's not becoming a "The Becoming" machine, he's becoming a xylophone-wielding, Ghost-producing studio sorcerer hell-bent on transforming the industry as we know it. And boy, it's fun being along for the ride. It's been just over two months since his last release and it feels to me almost like a vocal companion for the instrumental album that was Ghosts I-IV, so that we have the best of both worlds in Trent's new Internet regime. I've read it once and I'll say it now: it's a good time to be a NIN fan.

In-depth exploration of The Slip's ten tracks still to come; I'm digesting the sparse behemoth that is "Corona Radiata" and having trouble keeping myself away from "The Four Of Us Are Dying".

Collapse )

Grand Theft Auto IV launch day!

Happy GTA day! It is currently 7:18am by my possibly inaccurate computer clock, and I am excited! Forgoing the midnight release because I forgot to run by the bank before work, I have been stalled until my local friendly Gamestop opens at 10. Until then, my current goal is to make sure the house is clean enough so that it won't distract me while playing videogames (please don't make fun of me, I have a serious problem) while also acquiring donuts.

8:41am: House clean, donuts acquired, donuts devoured, Livejournal accessed. OMGSH. I'm going to take a shower and then hop on over to the bank. And in about two hours from now I'll be sitting on my ass in front of a television, enjoying life.

10:11am: Game in hand, cellophaned and wonderful. I will savor this moment.

10:12am: Moment savored.

10:14am: The map is pretty. Oh hey, there are two random islands not pictured on the Rockstar website map! Look at that.

10:15am: As a side note, Portishead's "Machine Gun" is beautiful and crazy awesome.

10:20am: The radio stations! Oh my! Aphex Twin, LCD Soundsystem, Goldfrapp, R.E.M., Stevie Nicks, OH MY!

10:30am: Long upload.


Nine Inch Nails: "Discipline"

"Discipline" is a random new NIN single that emerged on various American radio stations Tuesday April the twenty-second. Trent Reznor imparted another cryptic "two weeks" message at nin.com like a blog from the grave.

Really nothing more and nothing less than a chip off the nostalgia block of With_Teeth, which, as it turns out, is not such a bad thing. It's certainly catchy, but in the pantheon of NIN tunes, I wouldn't rank it any higher than "Deep" or "The Perfect Drug."