Saturday, December 3, 2011

top 5 for the week of 2 december 2011

There are rumors swirling that snow may be coming to Austin this Monday or Tuesday. So in honor of the possibility of flakes, here are 5 of my top tracks about winter, the cold, and snow. Now with commentary![1]

1. bon iver - blood bank
Youtube and soundcloud are being ultra lame. No one has the full song available to listen to that I can also embed. Rather than subjecting you to some crappy version with the last 20 to 35 seconds cut off, just click here and ignore the long dead air at the end.

Probably my number one favorite cold-weather themed song of the moment. Winter and the cold reinforcing themes of isolation, loneliness, and loss. Fantastic stuff. Though, to be honest, all of For Emma, Forever Ago probably qualifies for that honor. Plus, you got to love a guy of Justin Vernon's stature in the music biz who basically tells the Grammys to go eat a D.[2]

2. fleet foxes - white winter hymnal

Blood Bank had to displace this simple but utterly profound little tune. It's just the same 52 words repeated three times but wow, so evocative.

3. mystery jets - flakes

Probably one of the saddest break up songs of all time. It makes my cry every time I listen to it (including this one). I came across the Mystery Jets and this tune for the first time on a now defunct music blog called Good Weather for Airstrikes. Good Weather is also where I came across Passion Pit and Sleepyhead about 2 years or so before they exploded. The guy who maintained the blog said he was shutting it down in order to pursue a full time gig promoting Passion Pit. If that's true, he did one helluva job. I'm not as keen on Passion Pit as I once was and the third LP from the Mystery Jets wasn't as great but oh, there was a time in the early aughts before you guys had heard of either of them...[3]

4. the decemberists - the crane wife 1 & 2

This album was my first experience with The Decemberists. Their brand of baroque pop and $5 words isn't for everybody but I like them. This song (in 3 parts, only 1 and 2 are included here; part 3 is a separate track that opens the album). Based on a Japanese folk tale, it's about profoundly screwing up a relationship by not seeing the forest for for the trees so this number touches on a number of themes dear to me.

5. the depreciation guild - november

I'm a huge fan of this now broken up band. Fronted by dreamy front man Kurt Feldman (who also gigs as the full-time drummer for another of my faves, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart), The Depreciation Guild mixed 8bit fun with shoegaze earnestness. I hadn't heard of them before they opened for the Pains and Cymbals Eat Guitars on the 2009 tour. I was so psyched to see TPBPH and CEG together that I traveled to Dallas on a Thursday night from Austin to see them. They were playing Friday night in Austin but that Saturday was the LSAT. From time to time I do try to be somewhat responsible. But only sometimes. This band was an amazing and pleasant surprise.[4]

[1] If you like the commentary, let me know and I'll try to make it a regular thing on the top 5. I of course planned to provide some justifications when I debuted my favorite albums of the year at the end of the month but I thought I'd debut the feature here during week 1.
[2] His sophomore LP is nominated for a number of awards and egomaniac Kanye West pulled him into the studio to work on My Dark Twisted Fantasy. "Lost in the World" is basically just Kanye ripping off the genius of Justin's "The Woods", the last track on the same amazing EP that "Blood Bank" opens (reworked as "Still" on the Justin Vernon side project Volcano Choir with Collections of Colonies of Bees), and replacing all the understated power and simple, profound beauty with his usual bombast, over-production and Kanye-centric worldview.
[3] Yes, I did just hipster you ironically. That's meta-ironic for you. Alanis Morissette's song writers just collapsed into a singularity created with that level of actual irony. And isn't that ironic, don't you think? Maybe just a little too ironic? Fuck you, those jokes are still funny a decade and a half later. Or maybe they're just too obscure for you? Bazinga!!!
[4] Kind of like Here We Go Magic opening for Grizzly Bear at The Parish. But that's a-nother story. You win two internets if you got that reference before clicking on the link.

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