My tweets of the last week:
Archives for February 2011
I’d love to peer into some alternate reality and see what I’d be doing with my time (and money) in the new house if I hadn’t simultaneously taken up playing bass and buying (and reading) an entire lifetime’s worth of X-Men comic books in graphic novels in a single year.
Imagine it. More time. More money. More sanity.
I don’t know what it is about me that every time I find a new way to occupy my spare time (like, you know, being a rock star or homeownership) I need to find a preoccupation to distract me (like writing a novel), but that’s how it works.
At least I’m getting better at playing bass. The comic books I just have no excuse for.
As for being a rock star, I’ve been so focused on Filmstar and Arcati Crisis that my playing on my solo material has become decidedly flabby. I spent hours warming up a few dozen older songs. Bass and comics notwithstanding, I really want to record something for you to hear soon, because without new music I’m not much of a rock or a star. Until then, download Brown Bag Demos, Vol. 1, if you haven’t already.
Charlie has this perfect resonant-but-aerobic voice that makes me want to write something for him to narrate, and there’s nothing like having Cecily as the person you’d borrow a cup of sugar from. I learned about some sort of disturbing play gak made up of tiny dippin’ dots, we traded stories and opinions on films, and I think I shocked Cecily a little with the vehemence of my hatred for the anti-feminist Anti-Christ that is Katy Perry.
Come to think of it, I had one actual occupation this weekend – house managing for Ocelot on a Leash‘s spectacular production of Stop Kiss. I only miss acting from the “anything you can do I can do better” perspective, which is maybe the only reason I got into theatre to begin with. Ocelot productions make me feel comfortable as an audience member, because there is nothing to question and little to improve upon. (Although, I sort of want to write a piece for their Twilight Zone Fringe play.)
This week I’m faced with seeing bro in his first paid production in Philly, and also with traveling with him, E, and sis J to a family funeral.
Nineteen year-olds gunning for stardom and 90-somethings who crossed oceans to start a family and become the best in their field in NYC at a time it was unheard of to do that, let alone be Chinese while doing it.
It’s all on the same continuum.
Sometimes I’m on it too. Even when I’m playing bass.
Maybe not while reading comic books, though.
My tweets of the last week:
There’ll be no more hemming and hawing – here are my recommended albums of 2010. I just have to get it out 50 days sooner next year :)
Thanks to my friend Melissa W. for inspiring/encouraging this endeavor, and for all of my office-mates for enduring my many rounds of listening ;)
Top 10 Recommended Albums of 2010
5. The Bird & The Bee – Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. Transcends “carefully crafted tribute” to become a valuable reimagining of these classic songs. (full review)
6. Sia – We Are Born. Send a Britney Spears CD back in time along with an emotionally-unhinged, unintelligible cyborg lady from the future, both to the attention of the disco band at your local club; enjoy the results.
Keep reading for 32 More Recommended Albums of 2010 (in alphabetical order by artist). [Read more…] about 2010 Recommended Albums Roundup
Krisis’s 2010 Album of the Year:
Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart
The maturation from Sara Bareilles’ major label debut to Kaleidoscope Heart is nothing short of astounding.
Her prior LP, Little Voice, was a pleasant album with a few killer singles and one too many samey songs with titular metaphors. It was memorable more for its parts than its whole. “Love Song” sounded understandably tacked-on, because it was – the label sent Bareilles back to the drawing board to pen a big single.
Kaleidoscope Heart dumps trite tunes and interminable balladeering in favor of an entire disc of “Love Song” caliber songwriting. The album runs at least five singles deep, a la Kelly Clarkson’s explosive Breakaway, and as a whole it lays waste to every other pop album dropped in 2010.
Take note, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, T-Swift, and other aspiring pop songstresses … Ms. Bareilles has got your number.
Songs stride from piano-girl pop (“Uncharted” and “Say You’re Sorry”) to wailing American Idol-worthy ballads (“Hold My Heart” and “Machine Gun”) with stops in between for rolling bluesy licks (“Gonna Get Over You”), folky 70s AM radio ballads (“Basket Case”), and an Imogen Heap style vocoder title track.
Almost of those songs stand up to the killer lead single “King of Anything,” which should be ruled an illegal stimulant due to its obscenely catchy handclap-drive chorus. Its opening call and response piano/vocal duet surely owes to Bareilles’ show choir club experience – it seems designed especially for a Glee club cover.
Throughout the album, mature lyrics avoid any hint of girlish triteness and still contain the snappish bite of angst that fueled the best tunes on her debut. More impressively, the sonic palette of the disc manages to differentiate each tune without becoming gimmicky. That allows for great tracking, dropping slower songs at all the right points on the album.
Sara Bareilles has created an incredibly confident LP rife with solid turns of songwriting and sometimes stunning vocal chops. Kaleidoscope Heart is a follow-up record that requires no caveats to enjoy – it’s simply great.
Kaleidoscope Heart is just $7.98 on Amazon, and worth every penny. It’s my most highly-endorsed LP of 2010. Check back tomorrow for my full list of 2010’s recommended releases.
The February Funk cannot be stopped.
That’s what it feels like, anyway, I managed to drop my lung-crushing cold in time for my Garbage covers set at the end of January, but the funk had already arrived. I was worn out and behind schedule on everything at home, setting me up perfectly for my oft-lamented month of funk.
And not the George Clinton kind.
One of those things I fell behind on was a Filmstar demo EP. We recorded all of songs live several months ago, and E and I had slowly been re-recording the vocals of the best handful in my studio. I had to promote the process to take up every minute of my non-working waking life for the past two weeks to finish up on time for our gig on Friday.
It involved many, many takes, and those four songs seem to be embedded in both of our brains now in a different way than they were before. We agreed they were four of the best of our show on Friday – at a ressurected Dobbs on South Street.
I feel like I’ve spent my entire life walking by the place – mostly as Pontiac Grille, and there I was in the green room, trading suggestions of fantasy novels with the lead singer of Young Circles.
Circles. Did I write about getting my Learner’s Permit? I don’t recall, but the internet knows. We went for another drive yesterday on roads suddenly free of their snowy margins. It went pretty well – I was promoted from the confines of our own neighborhood to roam the surrounding area, with its traffic lights and 35mph speed limits. My only close call was nearly mowing down some people and cars in an Acme parking lot, but let’s be honest – an Acme parking lot at 2pm on a Sunday is a little high in difficulty for someone on their second driving lesson.
I got into the spot with no problem, though.
I listened to all of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs on my way to the DMV that day in December, but yesterday I could have covered the same distance in six minutes – one song, maybe two.
This is the paen of the driver – why walk it and waste the time? I felt that way trudging up the hill to the trolley this morning, but then I thought about Arcade Fire, and how I didn’t really get their album until that day, walking through the suburbs in sub-freezing cold to earn the right to drive, a story practically illustrated by the cover of their record.
Now it is Album of the Year. It’s not my Album of the Year, but it might have been the album OF my year, if that makes any sense.