Sunday, January 29, 2012

What is happiness?

Sadly, I don't have a lengthy treatise on the topic of the title of this post. Instead, I show you the closest thing to happiness ever projected to motion picture:

This video has pulled me from the abyss of despair and has bestowed light where all but darkness dwelt. This, my friends, is happiness distilled. And I pass it on to you. May you all have a fantastic day.

Edit: So I don't get my pants sued off or something, credit goes to YouTube for this movie.

Don't ever think you're the only one / When times are tough in your new age

Monday, January 9, 2012

Graywhale Raid, 1/6/12

My good friend David and I went on a man-date on Friday and hit up one of our favorite hangout locations: Graywhale Entertainment, located at University Mall in Orem (whatever you do, don't accidentally tell an Oremite that the mall's in Provo, even though everyone knows which university it's named after) (not the one in Orem). I've talked about record stores in Albuquerque in a previous post, but the truth is that Utah has a much more vibrant music scene, and that's reflected in the physical media available in stores. As such, Graywhale has an enormous selection, and with frequent trading in of music, even monthly visits can lead to finding a gem of a CD.

We tried something we'd never actually tried before, since we had the time. We brought our own headphones and splitter from home, grabbed about 20 CDs we were willing to try out, and we previewed all of them together. Granted, we didn't have anywhere near the 20 hours or so that it would take to listen to them all, but we got a good idea of the first seven tracks of each album, and that's usually plenty to figure out whether or not each is worth buying. I was in a fairly extravagant mood, so I got six CDs, which I'll describe below.

Wolf Parade: At Mount Zoomer
I got Wolf Parade's first album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, back in 2007 after I heard good stuff about it on the Web. I thought it was okay stuff, but I lost interest in it with time. David found their follow-up album in the used section and thought we should try it out. I'm glad he did. This time around they're a lot peppier, with some very decent keyboard jams. The track "California Dreamer" is a keeper in my book. I'll probably be listening to it a year from now, which is saying a lot, given the size of my music library. Would I recommend it to others? Sure I would! It's dang catchy stuff.

Edit: Listen to "California Dreamer" here:

Mute Math: Odd Soul
I actually found this album right before we checked out, and since we didn't have time to preview it, I made a rash decision and impulse-bought it.

I still think Mute Math's eponymous album is truly fantastic. It's got some sweet guitar/keytar work, and their drummer Darren King (no name bias, I promise) plays like a freaking shotgun blast. The follow-up album Armistice wasn't as impressive to me. There wasn't quite as much emotion, but the last track "Burden" was promising; I saw that they could draw just a little from their New Orleans roots and get some jazzy/bluesy stuff flowing in their music. And luckily, Odd Soul isn't just an ironic name. There is a lot of soul in this album, and they're not afraid of bringing up Jesus in their lyrics, just like the Earthsuit days. I was impressed. Would I recommend it? Probably more than any other album I bought on this raid.

Screaming Trees: Dust
This is a '90s Washington band that David was already sort of familiar with before I wanted to give it a spin. Fun fact: I don't have an older brother, so MTV was never really on in my house growing up. Thus, I never really got to go through a grunge phase. I have some respect for the movement, but it doesn't truly appeal to me. Screaming Trees isn't truly grunge, but you can tell where their influences also came from Washington and may or may not have been fronted by Kurt Cobain. Still, it's not balls-to-the-wall noise, but with just enough crunch for it to be interesting. I also picked up some Christian elements, yet not as obnoxious as, say, Creed. I liked it enough to throw down five bucks for it. Would I recommend it? If grunge is your thing, you could probably listen to it on a slow day to relax.

Sonic Youth: Andre Sider af Sonic Youth
A staple of the '80s underground scene, Sonic Youth is still cranking out music even though the second half of the band name is now a misnomer. They were pretty abrasive back in the day, but once they joined a record label, they had to cut down on the weird stuff. In the end, they just let it out through a different channel. They've been releasing the Sonic Youth Recordings (SYR) independently, and they contain some very out-there stuff. I already own the fourth entry, and so I decided to start collecting them. And what do you know? Another one just popped up at Graywhale. We previewed it, and it turned out to be a 57-minute live noise session in Denmark. David shrugged, but I bought it more as a collector's item. I just listened to it, and well, it's noise, but interesting noise, at least. Would I recommend it? Heh heh, probably not.

My Bloody Valentine: Isn't Anything
After hearing that their album Loveless was one of the best of the '90s, I went ahead and got it. Now I know what shoegazer music is. I'd heard the term used to describe music that is so complex that guitarists and such are constantly looking down at their instruments to make sure they play it right, and the result is a wall of sound. It was fascinating. And so I found this album, again, after we did all our previewing, and I also impulse-bought it. This album is not nearly as hazy; you can actually understand the lyrics on this one! Nevertheless, the wall of sound is still present. I still think that Loveless is the better album, but I think Isn't Anything was a pretty good impulse buy. Would I recommend it? If you're more of a fan of melodies and such, I don't think I would. But if the presentation of the music itself is something you pay attention to, go ahead and give it a shot.

The Stone Roses: Second Coming
Another one of those bands whose name I only heard in passing, The Stone Roses came up this last summer when a coworker was quizzing me on bands with lead singers named Ian. Sadly, I had no clue who Ian Brown was, but I do now! And I gave this album a try to see what they're all about. The first track was almost 12 minutes long and very ambient, so we skipped ahead and got an earful of electric guitar. Then it was blues. Then it was straight-forward rock. Then more blues. Then some country-esque stuff. Then more blues. It was pretty diverse, and it was only two bucks. Sold. Would I recommend it? I thought it was pretty good. If you don't mind listening to a bunch of white guys playing a black guy's genre, here's the go-ahead.

In conclusion, I had a good day at Graywhale. Good thing, too, because the Orem Graywhale is moving to Sandy. What the heck. That means that I probably won't get to go nearly as often as I'd like. It's a bit frustrating, but they'll still get my business as long as I'm in Utah.

When the skies come crashing on the world you had / Just hold tight, in no time we can get it back