It’s been a week, hasn’t it? I’ve been mainlining coffee and shitty food for four days straight trying to put the finishing touches on this term. Tomorrow’s the last day of class this term, meaning it’s my last day of class ever. I have to present my senior design project in the morning and finish designing an air pollution control system in the afternoon. And when that’s over, I will spend the night with my friends drinking and doing dumb stuff, and then I’ll start studying for exams.
Anyway, here are some things I’ve written recently over at Pitchfork:
- A review of the unexceptional new album by Australian indie pop group Architecture in Helsinki, NOW + 4EVA.
Popping in quickly to plug two recent reviews for my friends over at Myspace: here’s one about Future Islands’ new record Singles(emotional, masculine, complex synth-pop), and another about Cloud Nothings’ new one Here and Nowhere Else(intense, pummelling, anguished punk).
I like writing for Myspace a lot, and they’ve published a ton of worthy journalism and feature writing over the past year. If they’ve somehow managed to stay out of the “culture” section of your bookmarks bar, give them a slot and check in often — you’ll usually find something you’ll like.
When I’ve had free listening time over the last few weeks, it’s almost exclusively gone to Mac DeMarco and Todd Terje, with some Tony Molina in the shower because the songs are extremely short and pack a lot of potency into small packages. He makes me want to shower faster, which is important because six people live here and there’s never enough hot water. (But that’ll be a problem of the past soon!)
Exams start next week, so I’ll either be writing more than usual to maintain my sanity or hiding out completely to focus on my studies. Hope you’re well — see you later.
This was a spur-of-the-moment purchase that turned into one of my most satisfying concert experiences ever. In terms of creative ambition, musicality, and sheer gutsiness, the Justin Timberlake show I saw three days before this one belongs on some other, lesser planet. A lot of other writers have taken their crack at the Kanye West live experience over the past few months, so it was rewarding and challenging to try my own hand at it. I hope I brought something new to the tour’s universe of coverage — and if not, I just hope it’s a satisfying read.
The 23-year-old Ottawa singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson’s third album, Someday, the Moon Will Be Gold, is a document of personal growth set against the backdrop of his mother’s death. His sound’s never been this fully realized, and he has never drawn himself in such clear, unflinching light.
This album landed in my inbox one day and was such a pleasant surprise: warm, ambitious, familiar. If you’re into indie rock — esp. the sort that came out of the Canadian indie golden age of the ’00s — I think you’ll find a lot to love in this record.
This is my second post for TIME’s Entertainment section — I wrote about Miguel’s new song for Girls yesterday — and this song is great, up there with some of my favourite singles from the likes of Chvrches, Charli XCX, etc. (who are all operating in similar pop spheres)
I’ve expressed similar sentiments before, but here it is again, for old time’s sake: never in a million, billion years did I think starting a Tumblr (because I was lonely, depressed, in the closet, and desperate for a creative outlet) would lead to a TIME byline, or a byline anywhere for that matter. What a weird, dumb, cool life.
I wrote about growing up on Apple earbuds, and learning to leave them behind, for Pitchfork’s staff blog. I’ve been thinking about this for a while — and have written about it before here, a bit — and it felt good to finally put fingers to keys and explore my personal history as a listener.
I recommend reading Mark Richardson’s piece for the staff blog from last July about vinyl sound quality if you’re interested in this topic — it’s not directly related to what I wrote, but he articulates a few things that ended up sparking what I wrote about, and it’s a good read re: the subjectivity of sound and the role our personal preference plays in our listening experience.
I love the way this song starts, with Callahan playing that core riff again and again while muttering to himself, “No… no… no… no.” And then a spark catches on the riff and it gallops higher, just for a second or so, and again, and Callahan knows he can’t hold it in any longer and that now’s as good a time to start as any other time. “I did not become someone different…” It’s the way words jump and burn inside me when I have something important to say and I’m trying to fit the right words to it, holding on until my opening statement is as perfect and clear as possible. I’ll surely slip up sooner rather than late, but I’ll always have that one true first sentence, or so I tell myself.
I like to think of the second verse (“Met a woman in a bar…”) as if it’s being spoken by the mysterious, roguish playboy figure that populates a few other Callahan songs, e.g. "I Was a Stranger": he swaggers up to these women and tells them he’s “hard to get to know / and near impossible to forget,” and then leaves town silently cursing himself after he’s scorched the earth and left them bruised, poisoned by emotional fuckery. But he can’t stop himself, so he goes somewhere else and does it again, and now he’s here looking back on it all, sitting on the porch with a cigarette. Maybe it’ll be different next time. “No matter how far wrong you’ve gone / you can always turn around.”
I love Cupid Deluxe, and I took some time to explain why for BuzzFeed. In short: this album is like a shining example of respectful interaction with queer culture, from its lyrics to its structure to its sound to its videos. Great record, and between P4kblurbs and this essay I was happy to spend a lot of time writing about Blood Orange this year.
I wrote about my year in music for the Pitch, our staff blog, and in doing so granted #teenfork its first appearance on the site proper, which is undoubtedly the greatest achievement of my writing career.
I’m going to post the big lists (top 50) over the holidays but here are my top 10 singles and tracks of the year:
1. Disclosure: Settle
2. Drake: Nothing Was the Same
3. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City (secret #3: Beyoncé: Beyoncé)
4. Kanye West: Yeezus
5. Janelle Monáe: The Electric Lady
6. Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight…