Sunday, November 27, 2005


You can now subscribe to this blog with one of the pretty RSS feed buttons in the lower left sidebar.

(At least I think you can.)

*must be a geek.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Best Of The Year (Part 1)

(This post is a duplicate to one I posted at Getting To Maybe last week. For added readership [hopefully], I will be posting these at GTM and here. Don't be alarmed.)

It's the holiday season! Gifts! Ribbons! Tassels! And Best Of The Year lists!

For a music fan, years are synonymous with styles. With emotions. With certain albums. I think back to 2003, my head spins with The Notwist's hypnotic beats, The Flaming Lips' certain-shade-of-dementia. I think about 2004 and I think about The Arcade Fire and winter. I'll have a tough time, in the future, recalling just a single album from this busy, busy year, but one will (and has) stood the test of repeated listening to come out on top of My Year's Best List:

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

I once, famously, publicly, called this album "overrated." It was a knee-jerk reaction, from the hordes of praising press and a single, passive, listening. It took a few weeks, but I retracted my position, much to my embarrassment, and began to embrace the brilliant layers of musical bliss herein enclosed. It's a long album, full of highs and lows, with a centralized political theme and a strong sense of adventure.

From love stories to elaborate metaphors to realistic eulogies of the modern world, Bloc Party's frontman and lyricist, Kele Okereke, has crafted an impressive collection of angry, modernist, poetry that speaks volumes about the world we live in, coincidentally halfway through this "transition" decade. Musically, Bloc Party is as indie as The Arcade Fire, mashing together styles from disparate sources and creating a unique, if not wholly original, sound. They have punk roots, metal tendencies, and rock sensibilities, brit-pop rhythms and grunge guitars, all with a dash of arena rock. Individually, all the musicians shine. The drumming is ace-perfect, perfect syncopation like the sound of an adrenaline rush. Guitars screech and scream and give Interpol a real run for their money. Bass licks stand out, oftentimes forming a solid post-punk base that runs through the whole album.

Like so much of what we call "great," Bloc Party's appeal is personal. Their politics appeal to me. Their chopped up sound tickles me, reminds me of the old days of hair metal and ambitious rock epics. They embody a lot of the frustration and anger associated with people living in a world run by morons and sycophants. More simply, they are flashes of memories while driving, of being in a car with loved ones or rocking out on the way to work while driving by an airport while the song "Price of Gas" blares.

Silent Alarm is important work at a time when art is as important as air.

(More to come: Clap Your Hands, Franz Ferdinand, Broken Social Scene, etc. Followed by a Year End ranking either Dec. 31st or Jan. 1st.)

Monday, November 14, 2005


Wow, Rome last night was great. It was the episode, "The Spoils," the one before the big-big finale. Usually a high point of any HBO series, the work-up to the finales, but especially with this new series, and the inevitable next week, the Death of Caesar.

But there's a big question now. The writers of this series have shown a tendency to bend history to their will. Sure they're leading everything up to Brutus' assassination of the man himself, but will he go through with it? Will it work? Brutus is shown to be an almost bipolar character, conflicted from multiple angles. There's no rule of law anywhere that says the writers have to follow history next week. (but they will probably will.)

Back to last night's episode, the Arena sequence was amazing. Tense, bloody, realistic. Shawn was screaming in disgust, I couldn't help but smile. When the dude got his head chopped of reminded me of the kind of brutal "truth" of Oz. That's what arena battles were like, they did justice to history. When I was living in San Francisco, my friends and I would watch episodes of Oz and cheer with every fatal maiming or dismemberment. (Maybe it's a guy thing.)

And Vorenus continues to be the most interesting character. Ceaser's political dealings are more out in the open now (at least, shown more on the show, while still "in the shadows" in the Rome world) and we can plainly see Vorenus being corrupted and resisting that corruption. When he negotiating "buying" one of the Veterans, it's a chilling scene. The camera lingers afterwards on Vorenus' face and he looks like all the shit in the world just fell on his head.

My favorite scene, though, (and this should be no surprise), is Brutus talking to Ceaser. All season long, Caesar has been "playing" Brutus. Nudging him, toying with him. I don't think Caesar anticipated Brutus' siding with Pompey but he nevertheless encouraged his "son" to doubt himself and Caesar by Ceaser's repeated cries of pure, unadulterated, loyalty. That's Ceaser's game. He says one thing and means something else (sometimes, but not all the time - hence the hidden motivations). He says, "You are my best friend. Now leave the city." And, finally, Brutus steps up against his rhetoric. My favorite line of the episode was, "Only tyrants fear tyrant-killers. And you are not tyrant. As you've told me SO MANY TIMES." Brutus' motivation is still a little weak. I prefer to think of him more as totally confused and being pushed around by his mother and "popular" opinion. When he finally does "the deed," I think his mind will be even more perplexed. But we'll see. Maybe his stance will cement during next week's craziness.

I await the finale with bated breathe!