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  • Interests
    French, music, writing, coffee

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  • Occupation
    Grad Student
  • Favorite movies
    Eternal Sunshine, Reign Over Me, Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore
  • Favorite music
    Bruce, Hold Steady, Explosions in the Sky, Silver Jews, Sigur R�s, Wilco, Dylan, Animal Collective, Panda Bear, the Clash, Okkervil River
  • Favorite creative writing
    David Foster Wallace, John Kennedy Toole, Flannery O'Connor, Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, Michael Chabon, the Autobiography of Johnny Cash: Cash by Johnny Cash, J.D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, Zadie Smith
  • Favorite visual art
    Laurens' L'Excommunication de Robert Le-Pieux, Chagall

mrrrty's Achievements


Member (5/5)

  1. Don't worry, Matt, we're just as surprised as you are. What is it about the new Nat'l record that's really grabbed you?
  2. Here're my thoughts. Once again, I find myself disappointed by a perennial favorite. Boxer is one of my favorite records, but High Violet just doesn't do it for me. I feel like they've lost some of the magic, that Berninger's lyrics don't clink they way the do on older records and end up feeling emotionally vague or blunt, and that the music itself, while beautiful, is mostly indistinguishable. Of course, if I had had the critical vocabulary at the time, I might have said the same thing about Boxer upon its release, so we'll see how time changes my view. I'm surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reception it's gotten, though. National fans: do you think High Violet is better than Boxer or Alligator? And if so, why?
  3. FWIW, here are my thoughts. I found this to be an incredibly challenging record to write about. I agree with the forming critical consensus that it's weaker than the rest of their catalog, but I do manage to enjoy it and consider it something of an accomplishment when I can divorce it from my expectations and understanding of what makes the Hold Steady great. Is that a fair way to judge the album? I have no idea, and I'd be interested in hearing what people have to say re whether we should take a band's previous work into consideration. Because, honestly, if this weren't The Hold Steady, I think I'd be pretty deeply into it. But all I can hear are the ways it could be better.
  4. I'm...a little disappointed. Furr ended up becoming one of, if not my absolute, favorite discs of 2008, but Destroyer of the Void just isn't doing it for me. Maybe I'm just impatient (I was reviewing a punk rock record at the same time), but it doesn't have the grabbiness of Furr, and I feel like it even runs a similar track list--the title track even shares that mid-section vocal breakdown that they pull off so well in "Sleepytime in the Western World" ( where they fall out before Earley sings, "drifting down a sleepy river / waking like a child") and "The Man Who Would Speak True" feels to me like "Black River Killer, Pt. II". I like Destroyer, and I'm not writing it off (BT records take a few spins for me to get into) but I'm a bit disappointed. I do agree, though, with everyone's comments re Earley's mythmaking. I always meant to bring that up w/r/t Furr, but he really expands his thoughts here. He's a great lyricist.
  5. Going up tomorrow on Aquarium Drunkard (we do track reviews, called Sevens, and I'm doing "Devotional Number One"/"Ain't Blues Too Sad" as a double A-side). Roky Erickson is among the most tortured of our pop ingénues. The Austin singer-songwriter, founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators, and arguable founder of psychedelic rock, is a casualty of the sixties’ oft-ignored fallout; Erickson reportedly took LSD over 300 times in the sixties, was arrested and booked for ten years for possession of a single joint in 1969, and pled insanity on the back of a schizophrenia diagnosis that landed him in the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he endured shock treatment. Upon release, he attempted to tour, signed a legal affidavit wherein he swore himself to be an alien, and developed a habit of collecting junk mail. Unlike Brian Wilson, his legend and influence, though acknowledged often in some circles, has gone largely unnoticed. He has suffered things that human beings should not have to endure—both at his own hands and at the hands of the state. So when Roky Erickson can stand in the face of all of that and open an album with a gently sung paean to Jesus, it’s probably worth paying attention. “Devotional Number One,” which was recorded on a reel-to-reel in Rusk and later embellished by the reverent hands of Okkervil River, opens True Love Cast Out All Evil, Erickson’s first album of new recordings since 1995’s Roky Erickson and Evilhook Wildlife. The tape crackles under the weight of Erickson’s strumming, and his guitar struggles to stay in tune. His fingers bump against the guitar’s body as he plays, and doors can be heard opening and closing in the background. But from somewhere in the static comes Erickson’s voice, piercing in its intimacy; it’s an almost too-private moment, broken only when Erickson reminds his listeners that “Jesus is not a hallucinogenic mushroom,” which could either mean that, for Erickson, transcendence is no longer found in psychedelics, or that Christ offers no distortion of reality, or it could be a simple reminder: drugs are not God. Maybe it’s the foreknowledge of Erickson’s history, but something in the vitality of the performance pushes it as far from Afternoon Special schmaltz as can be; Okkervil’s crescendos of strings, which rise behind and redeem the tape hiss, touch the spaces Erickson’s singing has exposed, and the whole group pushes into the present, transitioning into the loping acoustic duet “Ain’t Blues Too Sad.” Erickson’s voice—rough, sharp, and heavily accented—sounds worn but steady as he pleads his way towards reconciliation with his baby darlin’. He sings candidly here, almost as if he’s reflecting on the previous track when he sings, “Electricity hammered me through my head / Till nothing at all is backward, instead,” before releasing that darlin’ out to be with her own true love. Together, the two songs form something of an opening suite, preparing the listener for the stark set to follow. And, at the risk of playing down the immensity of Erickson’s lyrical, musical, and personal achievement with True Love Cast Out All Evil, Okkervil River turn out to be true heroes themselves, backing Erickson with erudition on anything from country ballads to stomping noir. But it’s these two tracks—this opening double A-side—that stand up the proudest, elevating through blotters and tape hiss.
  6. If Kermit Ruffins is King of New Orleans, Trombone Shorty is a prince. He's in the upper echelon of N.O. musicians these days. My pastor's a big fan, and I think he's actually played at my church at some point.
  7. My opinions are far from fully-formed, but I've actually found the record to be something of a relief. I think "Hurricane J" works much better in its context; had the whole thing sounded like that song, I would have been worried. But I think that the risks pay off, for the most part; I'm enjoying "The Sweet Part of the City". I'm a bit worried about Craig's lyrics, though, for the same reasons that Andy pointed out. To me, the big question to answer here is What kind of record should the Hold Steady have made? I think it's wise for them to get away from the ultra-anthems--which they started to do on Stay Positive--but I'm not sure that they've arrived anywhere yet. *shrug* At this point, it's reminding me of The Replacements circa Pleased to Meet Me (and not just because of the gross 80s guitar on "Our Whole Lives," which is otherwise a pretty great song)--scattered, not as wide-eyed and brilliant as its predecessors, but still a solid record.
  8. MTV's got another new song. Just got back from the New Haven show. It was weird not seeing Franz, but they've replaced him (heard rumors that it's Judd, from the first album; whoever he was he had a massive analog synth that he exploited well), and they've added a third guitarist, as well, who looks like a shaggier Patterson Hood. They sound incredible--this is my third show and they far outshined the other two. The new songs sounded great--even "Hurricane J" sounded better with the live energy behind it. The title comes from a line, something along the lines of "Heaven is whenever / We can get together / Sit down on your floor / And listen to your records." So, yeah, it's a Hold Steady song. There was another slow song, which was, as far as I can tell, a love song; the chorus was something like "You can't get all the girls / You can get the one you love the most / You can't love all the girls / You love the one you get the most." Very nice. I'm letting go of my doubting. They're still the best live band in America.
  9. See, but the thing is this: "Rock Problems" is better than "One for the Cutters" (sorry). Plus, this one references Jim Carroll! Eyeano. This isn't my favorite THS track, but it's good enough to give me faith in the rest of the album.
  10. Excellent, I'll have to check it out. I didn't dig the new video too much, and for the reasons you stated about the new album; it just seems like straightforward neo-soul to me, which I'm not really into. But I'll keep my ears open for the first one.
  11. NY Mag's Vulture blog has a stream of HIW track "Rock Problems," which I'm already digging much more than "Hurricane J". Crisis averted, for now. (via Pitchfork)
  12. I'm pretty excited to hear this. The track Pitchfork posted with Lil Wane definitely piqued my curiosity. Sadly, the extant of my Erykah Badu knowledge consists of "Call Tyrone" (which is, admittedly, a decent education).
  13. Is there any way we can get LaRon Landry back this year?

  14. It's not a bad thing when talking about, say, a new Weezer album (especially if you're referring to "Denise"-era FoW), or, for that matter, most power-pop bands. But when you're talking about The Hold Steady, it is a very, very bad thing. Not to knock Fountains of Wayne, but that's just not what The Hold Steady is supposed to sound like. Then again, it's one track that I've heard one time, and I'm a zealot. *And, FWIW, the THS message board seems really, really excited.
  15. Shall we all officially begin to speculate on the quality of Heaven is Whenever? Or should we all return to work? I'm inclined towards the former, but something tells me that it's a waste of worry. *I'm not being snarky, I promise. This is of far more interest to me than the annotated bibliography I'm supposed to be writing.
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