Best of '07: Albums, part III

This year has been good to me musically. I'm surprised to end up with this top 10, especially with the late additions. These albums are not flawless, but I love them with their flaws, rather than in spite of them. So without further ado:

10. Blonde Redhead: 23

It is not often that I describe an album of this genre as epic, and I probably wouldn't have considered Blonde Redhead to be so before the release of 23, but this is undeniably the most audibly interesting and pleasing album of the year. I like to listen to it and unpack its layers--vocals that have the wispiness of the lightest cymbal taps, distorted, yet melodic base, and an appropriate use of electronic instrumentation.

9. The Finches: Human Like a House

This band is my best find of the year, with the capacity to produce perfectly balanced melodies with the unadulterated sweetness of Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs' voice and simple acoustic guitars. There is so much raw emotion in these songs despite their subtlety. Although the album falls short compared to the earlier Six Songs EP, it feels just as fresh and real.

8. Tullycraft: Every Scene Needs a Center

How adorable is this band?!?! For reals. Listening to this album makes me so happy and prone to dancing. It reminds me of the humor and irony of my favorite pop-punk band of high school, Darlington. To check out the band's own 2007 favorites, head on over to You Ain't No Picasso.

7. Saturday Looks Good to Me: Fill Up the Room

This one took a few listens to really grow on me. It's just as poppy as the earlier albums that I love so much, but quieter and less dreamy (if that is possible). Like their other release this year (the Cold Colors EP), it doesn't experiment in a very audacious way, which actually makes it all the more comforting to listen to.

6. Streetlight Manifesto: Somewhere in the Between

This band has been in my life for five long years, and I always turn to them when the world seems too slow and lethargic. Luckily, Somewhere in the Between delivers on all of the promises made by its predecessor, Everything Went Numb, maintaining thematic complexity and even a little bit of morbidity.

5. Stars: In Our Bedroom After the War

Why are Canadians just so awesome? I wish I was one. Seriously. There are a lot of songs on this album that kind of bother me or feel out of place, but the ones that are good are just so good that I couldn't justify not having it in my top 5. Usually, when I see a band live, I lay off of them for a bit and listen to other things. In this case, seeing them live enlivened the album and made me listen to it even more. I wondered earlier this year if it would match Set Yourself on Fire, but now I think it has superseded it by sounding less commercial and taking more risks. Definitely my synth fix for the year.

4. Juno Original Movie Soundtrack

C'mon now, I couldn't not include this in my list. It totally counts as a new album because a lot of Kimya Dawson's material is re-recorded, as are other songs on the album. It was marvelously put together, and even features a cover of "Anyone But You" by Ellen Page and Michael Cera. At first, it didn't seem like Mateo Messina did much in the way of scoring, but he did produce a perfectly good mix tape of some of my favorite bands. Hearing these songs while watching what has probably become my favorite movie was like hearing them for the first time, and really re-invented the magic of The Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson, Buddy Holly, Cat Power, and Belle & Sebastian.

3. The Good Life: Help Wanted Nights

Sadly, I was not expecting a lot from this album, so it hit me hard when it was so good. I've watched this band mature over the last few years, going from the bitterness of Lovers Need Lawyers to the weary nostalgia of Album of the Year. Help Wanted Nights is the denouement of the journey. The sadness barely lingers, and Tim Kasher's voice sounds like a grown up version of himself. Needless to say, Help Wanted Nights gives me hope that tragedy, though unforgettable, can bring needed cleansing and healing to the soul.

2. Beirut: The Flying Cup Club

The beauty of the album makes me weep. I fell in love with Beirut once when I first listened to "Postcards from Italy," again after hearing "A Sunday Smile," and a third time after seeing The Flying Cup Club on The Takeaway Shows. Zach Condon is barely younger than me, but strikes me as sort of adorably precocious. He certainly wonders about and knows more about the world than he lets on, though this album gives us a few glimpses into what he understands about beauty, geography, movement, and classical instrumentation as a device to communicate nostalgia and grandness.

1. Okkervil River: The Stage Names

Love at first sight, it was, and it hit me hard. I knew The Stage Names would be my favorite of the year after the very first time I heard it the whole way through. It wasn't the first time. Back in '03, when I went off to college and most of my friends ended up in Austin, TX, there were massive rumblings in my circle of fellow music snobs when my friend saw the band, promptly sent us all Down the River of Golden Dreams, and proclaimed it to be the best album of the decade. The band soon became a part of our collective music mythos, formerly occupied by Neutral Milk Hotel and early 90's grunge (and the musical possibilities they created). Later, Black Sheep Boy accompanied me through the saddest and happiest years of my life.

Now, nearly five years later, I am not at all surprised to find myself still occupied with Okkervil River. The Stage Names has somehow embedded itself in the substance of which I am fundamentally composed. Not a day goes by in which I don't ask someone what they think of it, not because I hope they share my taste, but because I want to know if they have the same deep connection with something that has become so meaningful to me. The album studies memory, representation, and ways of self-knowing with such complexity and purity that if it had been a book of monologues or an ethnography, it would not lose any of its force. It provides a portal into being another person without being autobiographical, which, in my opinion, the most beautiful thing an artist can really do: open up a new world devoid of oneself, give people a way to access it, and study it, without judgement, for what it really is.

Countdown to Distortion

The release day of Distortion is probably going to be the most exciting music event of the last few years. It has already leaked and received mixed reactions, but I am refusing to listen to it until my copy comes in the mail. From the 4 tracks I've already listened to, I like what I hear. Though all of the songs have heavy feedback, they remind me of early stuff like "Torn Green Velvet Eyes," which had an abundance of weird noises.

Whether you're waiting for your copy to come in the mail, whether you've listened to it already, or whether you are yet to order it, check out this video of Ben Gibbard and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) covering "Why I Cry," which also appears on the All Time Quarterback S/T release.

I love accordians. :)


Eli's Top 10 of '07

Eli is my best music friend because we agree about nearly everything (last.fm says so, anyway) and he appreciates music I listen to without being fake or obnoxiously snobby about it. I told him I'd post his best of '07 list because he doesn't keep a blog (yet). So here it is, without too many frills, but a super great list nonetheless.

1) Beirut – Flying Club Cup
2) Hauschka – Room to Expand
3) Johnnytwentythree – JXXII
4) Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
5) Stars of the Lid – And Their Refinement of the Decline
6) Do Make Say Think – You, You're a History in Rust
7) Menomena – Friend and Foe
8) Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
9) Air – Pocket Symphony
10) Fiery Furnaces – Widow City

Best of '07: Albums, part II

Continuing my top albums of this year, these were albums I'd anticipated being in the top 10 but didn't quite make it.

11.The Weakerthans: Reunion Tour

Night Windows is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. The rest of the album follows the same aesthetic as The Weakerthans' previous work, with upbeat, jangly guitars and heavy, but matte percussion, and does it just as well.

12. Nina Nastasia and Jim White: You Follow Me

Nina Nastasia has been one of my favorite female performers for several years, and, in this album, she has found her male counterpart. These two work so well together that you would think that White had been composing for her for years.

13. Cloud Cult: The Meaning of 8

This band is pretty weird, which makes them all the more interesting. At their live shows, they have artists who paint to the music and sell them at the end of the show. They've also bought green credits to offset waste produced by making their albums, touring, etc. For that alone, they are kind of awesome. The album itself is pretty enchanting. Lyrically, it may be the best of the year, because it touches on a lot of ideas that I am interested in, like the interconnection of philosophy and religion, the nature of reality, nightmares, dreams, love, etc. etc.

14. Ghost Mice/Andrew Jackson Jihad Split

I'm glad that DIY bands like these can be as prolific as they are, because this is fundamentally my favorite genre of music. Acoustic guitars and clear, almost-spoken lyrics have never sounded this good. I can't even decide which side of the split is better, because Andrew Jackson Jihad may have won me over, despite sharing album space with my favorite folk punk band of all time. This album is what Against Me!'s New Wave should have been and the way that band should have evolved, with less distortion and much more clarity.

15. Iron and Wine: The Shepherd's Dog

Like a lot of other albums this year, The Shepherd's Dog takes a cue from back country folk, incorporating folk instruments into Sam Beam's ethereal vocals. This one is going to stay in my rotation of music to listen to that will calm my mind for quite some time, though it is certainly no Woman King

16. Laura Veirs: Saltbreakers

I'm happy to add Laura Veirs to the other folksy women I love, like Hope Sandoval and Nina Nastasia, though she is certainly more lively and innovative. I would have put this one higher if it had been more consistent, but it is beautiful for what it is. "Pink Light" was on my list of the best songs of this year for its awesome guitar riffs and for demonstrating the range of her voice, which is one of the best things about her.

17. The Sea and Cake: Everybody

I started listening to this one late in the year. It took awhile to grow on me, but when it finally did, I couldn't really get enough. Everybody is what the Shins wish that Wincing the Night Away could have been, preserving lighthearted guitar as pseudo-percussion to complement wispy vocals, instead of going all dark and distorted.

18. Against Me!: New Wave

I can't help but love this band, no matter how much money they are making for being on MTV every 2 seconds. They remind me that every anarchist has to grow up some day, find a way to articulate ideas persuasively, and stop being so rough around the edges. Like I've said before, it’s sometimes a good thing when a really great punk band cuts out all the distortion so that even people who wouldn’t otherwise listen to them can appreciate their ability to write good music. All of the awesome southern rock influence, the political themes, and Tom Gabel’s twangy voice are still there, just showcased a little bit more than usual. Now, if only MTV would actually play the good parts of the songs during rolling credits for trashy TV shows...

19. Bright Eyes: Cassadega

My first few listens didn't yield a terribly positive reaction, but I've grown to love Cassedega. "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" is sort of a grownup version of other things Bright Eyes has produced, but it also could easily have been the theme song to Cheers. I'm not exactly sure what that means for Bright Eyes, like if they have become too commercial or whatever, but I don't really care. I listen to this album all the time and it makes me happy.

20. Explosions in the Sky: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Yes, it sounds familiar. That tends to happen when there aren't lyrics and such. But All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone does not feature a single tired sound, and is every bit as magical as the rest of EITS's work.


Best of '07: Albums, part I

I don't celebrate Christmas, and had to get up early to take my roommate to the airport, so here I am, awake at 8 a.m. with nothing to do. I guess this is as good of a time as any to start my real best of '07 list. I'm going to do it in three parts because I'm still tinkering with the ones closer to the top. Last year, there were 15. This year, much to my surprise, there are 30. The year started out rocky, and I really didn't enjoy much of anything in the first six months, but a few things grew on me later, and, well, here we are.

So here's to the best and worst year of my life, both personally, and with music:

21. St. Vincent: Marry Me

How adorable is she? Her voice kind of reminds me of what I used to love about Natalie Merchant as a 10-year-old. Raspy, perhaps, but ethereal. I really wanted to put this one higher, and would have if it didn't have the Polyphonic Spree all over it.

22. Band of Horses: Cease to Begin

Still beautiful, though lacking in the raw power of Everything All The Time. It was maybe just as haunting as its predecessor, with a little more jangle than the last time. I really would have put "No One's Gonna Love You" in my Top 10 Songs of this year if it hadn't been so sad.

22. Junior Senior: Hey Hey My My Yo Yo

Best party album of the year. 'Nuff said.

23. Black Kids: The Wizard of Ahhs

I'm so sad that I never got to write about this EP. I guess all of the local and national buzz did it enough justice for me to not have to. There are few things I'd change about the Wizard of Ahhs,, but I wish that it was a full length, so I could have justified putting it higher on the list because everything is so mellow and awesome.Fo sho, the best thing to come out of Athens Pop Fest this year. Grab the Wizard of Ahhs for free on their website.

24. Dan Deacon: Spiderman of the Rings

Dan Deacon isn't afraid of anything and despite all of its seeming innocence and simplicity, this album was serious and daring. I kind of imagine this as what the future of music sounds like, not because I think everyone is going to abandon traditional composition, but because it seems like more and more really talented and skilled electronic composers are coming out of the woodwork, making all of those beeps and strange sounds more palatable and melodic. That is fundamentally what this album does best, and I am happy to have gotten to see him perform parts of it.

25. The Fratellis: Costello Music

I am not ashamed to say that when I am alone I totally rock out to the Fratellis, just like in the itunes ad. This album is probably the most fun of this year. It doesn't take itself at all seriously, and appropriately so, because it is too reminiscent of Andrew W.K. to do anything of the sort.

26. Stars in Coma: Moonshine Heights EP

Andre has released like 8 million things this year so I had trouble narrowing it down. This is the one I've listened to the most, especially in my car, since it has become quite the antidote to road rage. Totally sweet and adorable.

27. Ben Lee's cover album of Against Me's New Wave

It isn't even on his official discography, but you have to give the guy credit for covering an entire album so soon after its release and doing a great job of interpreting it through his own style. Maybe in another life Ben Lee was a RiotFolk-er or something.

28. Johnnytwentythree: JXXIII

My friend Eli introduced me to these folks, and they've been added to the permanent post-rock rotation. Mad props to those 20 minute songs. They are gorgeous and make me feel like going skydiving.

29. Hauschka: Room to Expand

Another album recommendation from Eli. This one is a bit quirkier, more piano-centered, and sounds a bit like the soundtrack to a Charlie Kaufman/Spike Jonze collaboration involving puppets or human evolution or something.

30. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible

Neon Bible is to me what Return to Cookie Mountain was last year. I'm tired of hearing it everywhere but I can't deny that it is actually really good. I went back and forth about this one and like, Wincing the Night Away and all of that. i just don't think there is any reason to promote albums millions of people already listen to, but it is a great piece of art, maybe even marvelous, though I haven't been able to get myself to listen to it much.


Best of '07: Songs

This list could easily have consisted entirely of songs from The Stage Names, but in the spirit of fairness to others, here are my top 10 for the year. I could have done more but I'm not much of a single-song kind of person. I prefer to listen to whole albums as single units . Anyways, I have taken the soundtrack-to-my-life approach to this one, as I did last year with my best albums of '06, and I'm pretty happy with what all of these songs have done for me:

1. Stars: Take Me to the riot
2. Beirut: A Sunday Smile
3. Okkervil River: A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene
4. Michael Cera and Ellen Page's cover of The Moldy Peaches' Anyone Else but You
5. The Good Life: So Let Go
6. Blonde Redhead: 23
7. Tullycraft: Georgette Plays a Goth
8. Black Kids: I'm not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you
9. Cloud Cult : Take Your Medicine
10. Laura Veirs: Pink Light


Best of '07: Album Art

No one appreciates this stuff anymore, what with buying digital music on the internet that you don't actually own and all. I'm much more old fashioned and try to buy as many actual cds as possible, but while that usually means I have to wait longer to receive albums, I do try to take the time to appreciate the album art.

I didn't rank these. They're all good for different reasons.

You can't tell here, but it comes with a hologram viewfinder, and there are all sorts of hidden pictures and words all over the place. Pretty rad.

The photo captures the album so well, and reminds me of the image that appears on almost every cd from The Magnetic Fields. I can't find it anywhere on the internet, but if you own any of them you know what I'm talking about.

Also perfectly captures the album, but I really like the watercolor detail and the movie frame motif.

Best spoof cover ever.

Looks like a palimpsest. Beautiful.

Those brushstrokes are magnificent in the way that they simulate movement in dense, angry waters. I should find out who the artist is, because this is something I would buy and put in my room.

Best of 2007: Mixtape

One and only:


Best of '07: Things I found on the internet

I spend a lot of time on the internet. Probably about 18 hours a day, including work and personal stuff. That means I see a lot of worthless crap, and a lot of awesome stuff. A few awesome things I found this year (while I further procrastinate on my list of best albums):

Best Blogs that I found this year:

This Recording

This Recording is what all blogs wish they were (and what I think all blogs should be). No one really uses multimedia stuff to their advantage like these folks. The combination of awesome images, links to interesting things, witty commentary, and good music make this the best blog I've ever read, period. Admittedly, there are multiple authors and all of that, but This Recording reads like a radio show transcript and a hypertext novel in which everything in the world is connected somehow through camp and off-kilter style.

The Park Bench

The Park Bench is a blog for nerdy ladies, about nerdy (and sometimes lady-oriented) things. Their definition of "nerdy woman" means everything from the non-Cosmo-reading variety (me) to the kinds of girls you see on Spike TV talking about video games (not me). The blog contains gems such as this on a regularly basis:

And finally, manishly funny Tina Fey has been named one of the most influential women of 2007 by MSN. Yeah, suck on that, science. Why don't you go play with your glow in the dark cats while we turn our backs on evolution to spite you?

I actually found this one (surprise surprise) because they named Michael Cera "Nerd Man of the Month" and were one of the first blogs to review Juno earlier this month.

Best Podcast:

La Blogotheque's Take Away Shows are clearly the best thing to have happened to internet music videos ever. Each one is so insanely beautiful and intimate. The whole project reminds me of why I like music so much--because it gives you the opportunity to feel another person up close, expressed through their art, and feel them as they make themselves vulnerable to you. Obviously not all music is that way, which is why Brittney Spears will never appear in a Take Away Show, but it should be, because it reminds us all of how real we can be to one another. The Take Away Shows bring you face to face with the people whose musical gifts move you. They take you into their living rooms, their neighborhood streets, and into the personal space you must inhabit to look deep into someone's eyes and fall in love. Thank you, Vincent Moon for sharing with us the greatest gift a filmmaker can ever share with an audience.

Best Book found on the internet that was published this year:

I've been promising for some time to write about Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives. I have way too much to say to include it in this post, but I will say it is the best piece of literature that I have found on the internet, for sure. Actually, I think I found it in the New Yorker, but online. That counts, right? The Savage Detectives is a Latin American On the Road of sorts, detailing the ways in which revolutionary sentiments, love, lust, and rage translate into travel and historical narratives that capture memory from a variety of different angles. The first section is an autobiographical diary of a set of events. The second section is a series of vignettes from the perspectives of characters in the first section, remembering months, years, and decades later what impact the events had on them. The third section is more of the first, but falls deeper and deeper into distraction. While the first section presents a series of events that the second section totally disputes, the third pretty neatly ties everything back together. The whole thing is fresh and intelligent, and I'm so glad to have read it.


Best of '07: Movies

I was going to wait until next week to post this but today I decided my list was correct. So here goes, the best movies I saw this year. As a caveat, there are a few I still have to see that I haven't (Lars and the Real Girl and the Futurama movie), but I'm pretty confident in these five. I noticed that this year I didn't see many serious or actiony movies, but that is okay by me, because these brought me much needed laughter.


The Simpsons Movie wasn't as totally amazingly awesome as I thought it would be, but it did the job and it did it right. And, you know, environmentalism is always a plus.


The Darjeeling Limited was so beautiful, so subtly funny, and such a metaphor for my life. I really just wish we'd seen more of Natalie Portman, though I was more than happy with Jason Schwartzman's performance. If you never watched Hotel Chavalier, check that out also.


I'm not usually one for teen comedy because my high school years were pretty different and I don't relate to these movies at all. Despite that, Superbad made me laugh until my sides hurt for hours. I didn't like it solely because Michael Cera is obviously the funniest person alive. The movie actually has a lot of other qualities (McLovin', crazy cops, etc.) and I actually found the whole friendship narrative quite endearing.


I've written about 2 Days in Paris several times before. Adam Goldberg, as the jealous American boyfriend, almost outshines Julie Delpy in this movie, though she does a great job writing and directing, for sure. Until I'd seen Juno, this was the funniest relationship-related movie I've ever seen in my life, and may still be since relationships in Juno are not nearly as developed as this. Every character is so dynamic, especially Delpy's real-life parents who appear as her movie-parents, as well.


It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my blog lately that Michael Cera appears twice in my top 5 movies, or that Juno is at the top. I've already seen it twice this week, and I'm going back tomorrow with another friend. Probably again next week. Each time, the characters have become remarkably more developed and rich, relating to one another and connecting in subtle ways that they did not before. I'm pretty confident that this is the best movie I've seen in years, better than Little Miss Sunshine because its characters are so real and hilarious without being over the top, and better than old favorites like Waking Life because it explores the question of human existence in the most pure and sweet way imaginable. The world needs more of that kind of sweetness.


You can tell me how you feel even if its going to let me down

I'm still working on my Best of '07 lists, but in the meantime, I thought I'd add something else to my list of reasons to love Michael Cera. In case you're wondering, I *never* get celebrity crushes unless the person is a great artist of some sort (Miranda July, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, etc.) and Michael Cera is no exception. I think we all see a bit of ourselves in his awkwardness, but he makes it seem so much more dignified and less embarrassing. What else is a marker of true artistry if not the distillation of real human moments into easily accessible gestures and expressions?

I wrote about his (and Clarke's) band, The Long Goodbye a few days ago. You probably did not heed my advice and listen to them.

So, behold what would have been my favorite song of this year if it had actually come out this year in some officially released format:

The Long Goodbye: Can I Call You Mine

If this song doesn't make you want to go on a cute date with Michael Cera involving cuddles, hand holding, cocoa puffs eating, and cartoon watching, you do not have a soul.


Dear Creator of the Universe, please don't let Juno become the next Garden State

Perhaps I was already preemptively in love with Juno because I was so smitten with Michael Cera and Kimya Dawson, but this movie is about to do for every awkward teenager everywhere the same thing that Garden State did for every jock kid who yearned to be indie but didn't quite get how to do it. I loved Garden State, and I love Juno, but my adoration for Kimya Dawson is way too great to want to see her become the subject of vacuous faux-indie kid conversations such as those that occur about the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, etc. etc.

Now that I have that obligatory rant out of the way, the film itself. The trailers do not even begin to do it justice. First of all, as a devoted fan of the Moldy Peaches and Kimya Dawson, I was obviously ecstatic that so many of my favorite songs were included. Yes, they seemed a bit out of place at times, but it was like hearing them all anew, through several other people's ears. There is a scene in which Paulie and Juno do the Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else but You." It is perfection, with all of its sweetness, so much so that I vote for Michael Cera and Ellen Page to become honorary members of the Moldy Peaches when they finally reunite. If nothing else, Juno is a totally magical musical experience for anyone who has listened to Kimya in the deepest moments of true love or heartbreak. I really wish the Moldy Peaches "Nothing Came Out" had been on the soundtrack, but hey, can't complain.

There really isn't a single unfunny moment. The whole movie was witty comment after witty comment, but not of the Gilmore Girls, vague-reference-to-pop-culture-variety. Every character, even the most seemingly unimportant, gets a ton of great lines, using terms like "vag" and "sea monkey" like total pros. Really, the only gripe I have is that there were too many funny lines in a row, to the extent that audience laughter tuned out good lines I knew were coming because I am such a dork that I watched every Youtube video relating to Juno in preparation for the movie. Mad props to Diablo Cody for producing such a complex, culturally rich script. Way to throw in a few things to appeal to the twenty-somethings, rather than the OC generation that I'm increasingly frustrated with (the Tino drumset reference was genius. yay late 90's teen tv).

Ellen Page was really remarkable. Someone compared her character to the ones Jenna Malone usually plays, but I really don't think that a character like Juno has ever existed before. She is too real, too witty, and tells it like it is. And that Paulie Bleeker. I know I have it pretty bad for Michael Cera, but he was really at his sweetest and most genuinely and subtly funny. I really wish there had been more from his character. He barely talked except when Juno was saying cute things to him that seriously made the whole audience squeal. Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner had really well developed characters for the amount of screen exposure they got. The interactions between Page and Bateman especially showed Page's versatility as an actor, I think. While in other moments she believably seemed to be a high school junior, around him she was this cool, sophisticated, secure young woman with interesting things to say about music and movies.

If you have seen it, go see it again. If you haven't seen it, go see it. Twice. Maybe more.

A few songs that will hopefully entice you:
The Moldy Peaches: Anyone Else But You
Kimya Dawson: Tire Swing
Kimya Dawson: Loose Lips


I love Michael Cera part II

You wouldn't believe how many women my age have a crush on this kid...Not that I am much older or anything, but, you know. Anyways, there is possibly an Arrested Development movie in the makings, which is quite exciting. And, browsing through a few Best of '07 movie lists, Juno is near the top of a lot of them, including #1 for Paste Magazine. I have mixed feelings about Paste because it kind of sucks, but so many of my friends have worked there so I can't really say bad things about it. The list doesn't look so bad. It definitely includes a couple that will make it on my top 5, which I will hopefully post in the next few days while I avoid working on my top 20 albums of the year.

Also, in the best news EVER (no, really), Marjane Satrapi has made a Persepolis animated movie, which I am squirming in my chair to see. It's in French but there are English subtitles, and the whole thing is in black and white. If you haven't read Persepolis I and II, they are the autobiographical story of Satrapi's exile from Iran as a young girl during the Revolution, and of her eventual return after living in Europe. The making of the film was apparently quite a feat. You can watch the video about it on the website, but basically, they brought back paper/felt tip animation to France, which hadn't happened in 20 years. At my thesis defense, my advisor pointed out that the drawing aesthetic feels a lot like Madeleine. That is probably true, though Persepolis is decidedly more French than German/Austrian. I'm going to try to catch it in LA when I'm there in January. Check it out in New York or LA on December 25, 2007.


Dear Michael Cera, stop being adorable

Michael Cera is probably the funniest person alive under the age of 20. If I ever met him, I'd probably make a fool of myself by pinching his cheeks and making horrifying squealing noises. You probably know him from Arrested Development, which may be the funniest of all canceled TV shows I watch. I seriously lose it every time any of the characters say "George Michael." Michael Cera was also in Superbad and is going to be in Juno, which I have written about several times and cannot wait to see.

I know he's been typecast as that awkward nerdy boy. However, that is my favorite kind of boy, by far, so I was so delighted to watch him in Clark and Michael, in which he plays an exaggerated version of himself. Clark and Michael is about Clark and Michael writing a script for a tv show and trying to get a network to produce it. It plays on some of the other shows in which cameras follow people around during awkward moments (The Office, Stella, etc), but isn't nearly as over the top as a Christopher Guest mockumentary. It is, however, totally adorable in every possible way. There are guest appearances from some familiar folks like Tony Hale (Buster, from Arrested Development). Each episode is about 12ish minutes long. Most definitely watch these if you haven't seen them yet.

In other adorable Michael Cera news, he and Clark have a band, called The Long Goodbye. Spawned by the lo-fi living room indie rock possibilities that people like Kimya Dawson created, they sound so sweet and voice-crackingly adolescent that I can't handle it. Watch a live cover of Weezer's "El Scorcho" here on youtube.

***If you have come here via Buzzfeed, I have written a lot about Michael Cera since this post:

-More about the Long Goodbye
-News about a potential Arrested Development movie
-Juno Review
-Juno Review #2
-Juno Mixtape
-Michael Cera is The Park Bench's Nerd Man of the Month

Thanks for checking in!


Obligatory post about track #2 of Distortion: California Girls

I have no idea why random tracks are getting out but not a complete album. It isn't really so bad, though. Barely over a month left. Check out The Walrus for track #2 of Distortion, titled 'California Girls.'

Okkervil River Mix Tape

Okkervil River has released a *free* mixtape of covers, available only online.

Here's the tracklist:
01 April Anne (John Phillips)
02 Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear (Randy Newman)
03 I Want to Know (Charles F. Olsen/Ed Sanders)
04 Do What You Gotta Do (Jimmy Webb)
05 I Can Here to Say I'm Going Away (Serge Gainsbourg)
06 The Blonde in the Bleachers (Joni Mitchell)
07 Antarctica Starts Here (John Cale)
08 Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas (Will Sheff)
09 Solo (Sandy Denny)

Apparently so many people tried to grab this thing that the server crashed, but once its back up again you should try to get it.


Moldy Peaches reunite

for a couple of shows, but it is still awesome.

Check it out:


Dear Regina Spektor, please feel better ASAP

All of Regina's shows until the end of the year are cancelled due to her vertigo. In my city, the venue said "postponed until March." This was after the November show was already postponed. Needless to say, I am kind of bummed, but I really hope she feels better.


ohhh commerce

I'm not big on gift-related holidays, but since they are coming up, here are a few things you may consider spending money on for someone super awesome in your life:

-Pre-order Distortion, the upcoming album from The Magnetic Fields on Amazon.com. You won't get it til after the holidays, but it promises to definitely be worthwhile.

-Other worthwhile things to buy on Amazon for your book-loving friends: Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You, Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives (highly highly recommended), and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis I and II.

-Pretty much anything from Music Is My Girlfriend. They are having a 50% off sale until January 08 '(which means you should definitely get the new Stars in Coma album coming out in January, as well).

-Tickets to a free screening of Juno, available on the Fox Searchlite website for the movie. ALSO, check out some pics and a review of a momentary Moldy Peaches reunion over at The Rawking Refuses to Stop.

-$10 t-shirts from Threadless. You know the drill.