Friday, January 30, 2009

early 200MINE new music

There have been a few hype-worthy albums released already this young year. Maybe people saw how it worked for Vampire Weekend last year to release an album before we even got over our champagne hangovers. Or maybe people are really aliens. Think about it.

Anyway, not only were these albums at the beginning of this year, they're at the beginning of the alphabet. AC Newman, Andrew Bird, Animal Collective and (travelling all the way down to "B") Bon Iver all put out records that helped make my 2009 start out all ablaze with accord. 

AC Newman's "Get Guilty" is a pop album from a pop mastermind for people who like pop-rock-n-roll. Pop, pop, pop. Newman is the frontman for one of my favorite pop bands The New Pornographers, and is adept at expertly-crafting melodies that are intelligent and fun at the same time. He's also Canadian. Think about it. Anyway, this album is so easy to get into ("Changeling" is a standout single) and is a great eye-opener for people who think of the All-American Rejects as the face of pop rock. 

Andrew Bird. Ah... Andrew Bird. That's my reaction to his new album "Noble Beast". I just love this guy. And I can't possibly match his wit or gift for prose. Bird is a classically trained musician (read: he plays the violin and lays off the drum machine), so his whimsical lyrics dance playfully off his arrangements. (See? I can't out-Bird Bird.) From the get-go, Bird's trademark whistling and silky-smooth voice dig in with "Oh No" and other standouts on the album include (but are not limited to) "Fitz and the Dizzy Spells" and "Anonimal", in which I can already picture every fan at his show singing along sincerely to the lyrics "Hold on just a second, don't tell me this one, you know I know this song, I love this song". So true. 

Next up is Animal Collective's "Merriweather Post Pavilion", certainly a salute to Merriweather Lewis of Lewis and Clark and their incredible journey to the west coast of North America. Or another vague indie album title. Either way. This album has received the most acclaim and buzz of all this month, but I'll just admit it now: I don't really get it. Not that that prevents me from enjoying this fuzzy, electro-experiment of layered sound and vocals. Maybe it's good that I don't get it. I don't get how that douchebag "daredevilled" his dirtbike on top of Paris Las Vegas on New Year's Eve. But it was clearly awesome. Me understanding why it's awesome has nothing to do with it being awesome. And that's a relief. "My Girls" is especially reassuring.

Finally, Bon Iver put out an EP (which I believe stands for Elvis Poops, but somehow means a shorter-than-normal album) this month called "Blood Bank". If you haven't had a chance to experience "For Emma, Forever Ago", his LP (which means a normal-length album, and I believe was named for Luke Perry), you really should. At the risk of taking on the tone of your annoying little cousin on facebook that thinks he or she knows everything about anything that's cool... Bon Iver is so hawt!!! LMAO!!! Seriously though, he's amazing. This EP is too short to really show the breadth of what this supremely low-key and emotionally evocative singer/songwriter can do. But I love it. The track "Woods" is a freaky, freaky, haunting vocal piece that I can't stop listening to. It makes me want to befriend a cactus and drive my futuristic space car into a lake. Think about it.

Looking to prioritize your early season purchases? Of course you are, you recession-proofer. I'd say... Bird, then Bon Iver, then Animal Collective, then AC Newman. But like any good dryer sheets, they're all worth a spin. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mendo Trip

Jill and I spent last weekend up near Mendocino. Pretty beautiful up there. And beautifully pretty.

Here are some photos near the cabin we stayed in, the tiny town of Mendocino and the nearby redwood forest. The cabin was sandwiched between some steep hills covered in forest and the ocean. It's very remote up there, so we couldn't use our cell phones or two-way pagers. 

Visit my flickr page to see more photos in a sensical photo layout. God love you blogspot, you have absolutely no idea how to lay photos out.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Umbrella etiquette. An oft-overlooked, but painfully necessary part of social interaction.

Here are a few rules to remember when toting your umbrella around town.

1) You are not the only person who wants to stay dry. Please don't shake, spin or tilt your umbrella near other people. I'm talking to you, tiny woman with enormous umbrella I just passed in Chinatown. Were you a wet dog in your previous life? No one wants your second-hand water.

2) Be reasonable. Just as you wouldn't wear an entire polar bear to stay warm, don't carry a 7-ft wide umbrella down the street. It leaves less space for the rest of us on the sidewalk. Unless you're escorting an entire tee-ball team to their game, a good, old fashioned umbrella-built-for-one should suffice.

3) If I'm taller than you (and chances are, I am) don't try to raise your umbrella over me as we pass each other on the street. I will raise my umbrella over you, Danny DeVito. If we both try to raise our umbrellas over each other, we'll look like we're auditioning for a vaudeville show. And I'll get wet anyway, since your wet umbrella will be underneath my umbrella, which - and this might surprise you - I use to keep the rain off my body.

4) This one's for you, guy who discards his broken umbrella in the gutter. Pick up your umbrella, asshole.

5) People are not Gremlins. It's okay for us to get a little wet. Believe it or not, it rained before the invention of the umbrella. Running like it's the apocalypse when there's a "heavy mist" out is absurd.

6) And finally, if you have an umbrella, please don't take up the awning/overhang space nearest to the building. Many people don't realize this, but you need only one protective barrier over your head to stay dry. The overhang will, in fact, prevent the rain from falling on you. If you stand underneath it with your umbrella, you and your umbrella will be dry. So basically, you're saying that your umbrella's comfort takes precedence over another human being's. If you're so concerned with keeping your umbrella safe and warm, why not stick it up your ass?


If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are you saw some colorful, iconic posters bearing the visage of our new president. They were
 designed by Shepard Fairey, who achieved underground fame through his obey giant campaign a few years back. Well, now there's a site where you can upload your own picture and "obamicon" it.

Can you beat my obamicon? My nephew's?

Make your own here!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cia's legs

My dog Cia (pictured here, ashamed and pitiful) recently had surgery on both her hind legs to fix her kneecaps, which had been coming out of socket. She had to wear casts for about a week. And the casts had to be neon green. Actually, they probably could've been much less conspicuously-colored, but nonetheless they were bright, attention-grabbing, neon green. 

She's out of the casts and healing nicely now, but when she wore them my wife and I got a lot of questions as we took her on slow walks through the crowded SOMA streets. I started to make up stories, as is my custom, for why my dog had two neon green casts on her legs. 

One story I would tell was that she had her legs broken by the dog mafia after not paying back the Doggfather. Then, I'd say "Just kidding!" and give myself a courtesy laugh, since almost no one else found it funny. 

Then Cia and I would split a pumpkin sandwich and hastily end our walk. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

music - Moonbeams by Throw Me the Statue

We all know the ancient Greeks were athletic and careless. What you may not know is that Alexandros of Antioch sculpted the Venus de Milo on his rooftop. So when he had finished it, arms and all, he needed to get it to the ground somehow. Luckily, that's when his buddy Reggie stood below him and yelled "Throw Me the Statue!"

Two hundred and thirteen short decades later, this band was born. Throw Me the Statue is the latest and greatest alt rock group to come of out Seattle, a city that has somehow managed to stay on the cutting edge of music while enduring year after year of brutal rain and Birkenstocks.

Truly original and smart, Throw Me the Statue is great music for a classy cocktail party or an ironically-themed parole hearing. 

Here's the video for their single Lolita.

Monday, January 12, 2009

blogging vs microfiche

This is a public service announcement to all my fellow savvy, net-genners. Don't write off old people simply because they're "out of touch" or don't know what the Internet is. For every modern word we use every day, the blue-hairs have their own antiquated term that, due to its utter obseleteness, baffles us. 

For instance, we have blogs, they have microfiche.
We have facebook, they have the snuggie.
We have google, they have their very own pudding.
We have iPhones, they have social security (or do they? (wait, yes they do)).
We have youtube, they have the Teapot Dome Scandal.

So next time an AARP member looks confused when you mention eBay, show some respect. Or they'll ruin robot insurance for all of us.

music - Mason Proper

Is Mason Proper right for me?

If you like Cold War Kids and, say, Wolf Parade, Mason Proper might be right for you. Don't take Mason Proper if you are nursing, pregnant or could become pregnant. Consult your doctor.

Until recently, not even my most plugged-in indie music junkie friends knew this band. Maybe because they're from Michigan and haven't played any shows west of... well, Michigan. But in any case, they're great. 

Both of their albums are sharp, stripped-down rock. Their website lies here.

music - Chunk of Change by Passion Pit

Passion Pit. Great name. Is it a reference to the human crotch? Yep. 

I recommend putting on Sleepyhead, the standout single from this album, closing your eyes, lying down and licking the goo from a Glade Plug-In. It's a mystical journey...

Here's the video.

Holiday Bowl

at the Holiday Bowl
Originally uploaded by mclunch
Jill and I made it to the Pacific Life (let's see if they send me a check for including the sponsor name) Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30th. We were down in SoCal anyway, so it was an easy drive. The result of the game wasn't as easy. The Pokes lost to the Ducks (clad in their usual space alien uniforms) 42-31. Good game, fun to watch, but losing sucks. To make myself feel better, I've included a list of excuses below:

- The injury to Dez Bryant's leg. (He owned their secondary in the first half, before he apparently stepped on a soft shell crab while trying to pivot. After that, he pretty much hobbled the rest of the game.)
- The injury to Zac Robinson's brain. (He took a huge shot, and wasn't the same afterward. He was skipping passes off the turf, and looked a little bewildered out there. I think I even saw him propose to Pistol Pete during one timeout, but I can't be sure.)
- Jill not drinking enough.
- Gundy not drinking enough.
- The Ducks being the superior team. (This one's a little farfetched.)

film - Slumdog Millionaire

Here's my breakdown of the buzzingest movie of the season.

Country of Focus - India
Country of Origin of Director - England
Country of Origin of Country Music - USA
Hollywood Buzz Threat Level - Orange
Descriptive Nature of Film Title to Plot - Accurate
Use of Hinglish - Prevalent
Adorability of Child Actors - Painful
Emotional Investment Level - Bear Stearns
Only Emotion Not Evoked During Film - Spite

Overall Understated Recommendation - Good

music - Evil Urges by My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket, or MMJ if you're in a terrible rush, is one of my favorite bands. Evil Urges, their latest album is everything you'd expect from a constantly evolving, inventive band, considering this type of band wouldn't release anything you'd expect. It's a paradox. And it's totally whacked-out. 

The genre-fusing this album attempts is intentional, and Jim James's goal was to show how related all music really is. There are tracks that invoke 70s R&B (Thank You Too!, Sec Walkin), and its traditional counterpoint: futuristic funk-metal (Highly Suspicious). But there's some common ground with their earlier albums (the brilliant "It Still Moves" and "Z") with tracks like Evil Urges and I'm Amazed (maybe the most accessible of any MMJ track to date). The standouts for me are the absurdly-named Touch Me I'm Going To Scream tracks, both Part 1 and Part 2. These two tracks exemplify (yep, I said "exemplify", check back to see how often I reach for that word throughout this blog) what MMJ brings to their fans: high-flying, thoughtful rock n' roll that builds and builds until it explodes all over the floor and there's a huge mess but it's cool 'cause they hired a janitor to clean it up for you.

Tons has been written on this album, from lauders, lauders' daughters and haters, so I won't go on too much more, other than to say that I don't think I could imagine this album coming from any other artist. And until I heard it, I don't think I imagined this strange and precisely executed collection of songs from MMJ either. It's a fascinating listen, and the highest compliment I can give it is that it deserves to be an MMJ album.


Thanks for reading mclunch would like to have a word with you.

This being the first post, I'll keep it short. So short, I'll cut myself off halfway through the next sentence. I hope you'll