Monday, September 20, 2010

Redux.

I've left this place woefully unattended. Nearly a year since my last visit at all and, worse still, it comes not from a lack of interest or desire, but from a sheer incapability to write anything at all. More of a writer's ten car pile up than a simple block. That said, with the new school semester begun and an almost unbelievable amount of creative work expected of me, I've decided to revive this blog and use it as a host to whatever escapes me, scholastic or non. As for the more personal items, my tumblr (javex.tumblr.com) will suffice.

I hope you'll forgive my  months of neglect, but it certainly is nice to be back in action.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Music, 2009

Cross-posted from the Caves of Narshe, here is my massive collection of thoughts toward the best ten or so albums to be released in 2009. Now, of course the year isn't over yet and this isn't to say they were the ONLY albums I enjoyed this year, however, they're the ones that got the most play. I realize most of you don't care enough to read this, fewer still have the patience, so feel free to skip through to your heart's content. With that, let's get started!

Metric - Fantasies
This truly has been a huge year for bands with female vocalists. That being said, I think it only appropriate to begin my list with the best of that class. This album is a much more mature production from the band, in terms of lyrical and song content, but also in production value. It's certainly a much more refined, elegant body of work than the usual raw-quality most Metric albums have had in the past. Full of synth-pop hooks and brilliant vocal deliveries, Fantasies is without a doubt one of the most impressive releases to come out in '09. If you bought this album over iTunes, you'd have also received acoustic versions of "Gimme Sympathy" and "Help, I'm Alive". Both of which are absolutely haunting and brilliant.
Recommended Listening: Satellite Mind, Gimme Sympathy (acoustic version)

Tegan & Sara - Sainthood
Forgoing their old, simpler format of acoustic guitars and the occasional drum beat, these two sisters have really come a long way over the years. Sainthood, I think, is Tegan & Sara at their very best, which is saying quite a mouthful because their last album, The Con, remains one of my favorite albums of all time. Like Metric, they decided on going with a larger production and a fuller sound, invoking several 80's pop themes in subdued, approachable fashion. Ever featuring their now signature alternating, harmonal vocal delivery, it would be an understatement to say Tegan and Sara really delivered the goods here.
Recommended Listening: Hell, Alligator, Arrow

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
This album is nothing short of spectacular. Featuring a sound that can only be described as a modern throwback to 50's rock with a hint of cabaret and tied together with a brilliant vocal delivery by Tracyanne Campbell, this album exists in a category of it's own. I guess that's to be expected when you get produced by Jari Haapalainen of The Bear Quartet and feature appearances by Björn Yttling, of Peter Bjorn and John. Each song stands well on it's own right, but more impressively, they all flow brilliantly one into another, all without making their style come off as forced or gimmicky. Warm, easy to listen to and vastly approachable, this belongs in everyone's library.
Recommended Listening: French Navy, The Sweetest Thing, Careless Love

Matt & Kim - Grand
It's hard to describe all the things that define Matt & Kim musically. They're energetic and frantic, yet artful in their delivery and intensely catchy. Grand is a lo-fi example of what the indie scene ought to be; a perfect amalgamation of concept and content. It's got spunk and a care-free sort of feel that makes this album more approachable than their previous release, so I would definitely recommend this body of work as a starting point to anyone unfamiliar with their music. My only complaint is that the album as a whole is very short, each song generally being anywhere from just over a minute to just under 3. As a whole, the album spans just under half an hour. This, however, is only a minor tick on an otherwise brilliant album.
Recommended Listening: Daylight, I'll Take Us Home, Lesson Learned

Lights - The Listening
This girl just absolutely knows how to compose catchy songs. Her songs are simple, though masterfully composed, and rely heavily on synth-powered electronic riffs layered on top of each other. What really impresses me about Lights is the way she manages to keep her material easy to listen to and not overly electronic, especially in today's world of heavily abused auto-tune, drum machines and techno-beats. There's something very relaxed to her approach that sets this album apart from the others. She's definitely an artist to keep an eye on in the future.
Recommended Listening: River, Saviour, The Last Thing On Your Mind, Lions!

Passion Pit - Manners
Shock! Another electro-pop, indie band! When Passion Pit released their Chunk of Change EP at the tail-end of 2008, I was sure that their upcoming album was going to be great. In this, I was not disappointed. I don't know how else to describe Manners except as a decadent. It's clear that this was an album made with the intention of pushing the boundaries of what people would except from the genre, and while sometimes it comes off a little strong, or "indie-for-the-sake-of-indie", it's still a brilliant collection of tunes that you cannot help but want to dance to.
Recommended Listening: Moth's Wings, To Kingdom Come, Little Secrets

Taking Back Sunday - New Again
The fourth album release from the Long Island based pop-punk powerhouse group, and the first album featuring new guitarist Matthew Fazzi, formerly of Facing New York. This album features everything you could ever expect from Taking Back Sunday: clever lyrics, catchy riffs and brilliant vocals. This album thematically takes a step away from their usual niche, and is a much more personal work. For example, the track Capital M-E deal with the departure of their former guitarist, or Lonely, Lonely dealing with the solitude of being on the road, away from home for months on end, constantly surrounded by strangers. Of the albums included in this list, New Again has definitely been listened to the most. What particularly stands out about New Again is the tone; the guitars especially are less gritty and offer a much cleaner take of the same beloved style. It's a subtle difference, but it helps hold this album above some of their other works.
Recommended Tracks: New Again, Cut Me Up Jenny, Summer Man

Every Time I Die - New Junk Aesthetic
The definitive hardcore album of the last two years, to say the very least. This album is innovative, aggressive, witty and unforgettable. Drawing from mathcore, southern rock and with a pop sensibility that makes this album less intimidating than any of their previous works, it'd be an understatement to say Every Time I Die had outdone themselves when they made this album. Opting to have it recorded at a local, low-end studio, the album has the sort of sound you'd attribute to a live-recording without losing anything in clarity. As a result, it's a much more raw sounding body of work, and the high energy of their live performances carries through.
Recommended Listening: The Marvelous Slut, Wanderlust, Who Invited The Russian Soldier?

Between the Buried and Me - The Great Misdirect
This album is probably the only metal album that was released this year that impressed me at all. I don't know if this is because the genre as a whole has become an overwhelming disappointment or because these guys, without fail, produce brilliant and mind blowing music. Every time they release an album, I find myself saying "There is no possible way their next album can top this!" Well, they somehow manage to do so each and every time. I submit that their drummer is a robot, because the speed and precision he plays with, combined with the complex nature of what he plays is outright impossible for any human man to accomplish. The same, of course, can be said for any member of this band, however. It's hard for me to talk about anything this band does without gushing, I just love them that much. The Great Misdirect takes their eclectic style one step further, offering fewer songs though much longer in length, and each with several self-contained changes of pace. This album is only six-songs long, however, in a Dream Theatre like fashion, each song is anywhere between seven minutes to thirteen, and they do so without ever feeling like the song is dragging on or getting repetitive.
Recommended Listening: Swim to the Moon, Desert of Song, Fossil Genera - A Feed From Cloud Mountain

Moneen - The World I Want To Leave Behind
Moneen hasn't put out an album since their 2006 release, 'The Red Tree". So, suffice it to say that I eagerly awaited the release of this album for some time now. It, in terms of style, is very similar to the previous album, featuring heavy use of melodic guitar riffs, energetic drum riffs and layered vocal lines. A mix between post-hardcore and pop-punk, this album appeals to fans of the genre, but I would definitely recommend it to someone who otherwise would never give it the chance. Definitely a more mature body of work than their previous albums, it resembles the Vheissu album released by Thrice some time ago.
Recommended Listening: The Long Count, Hold That Sound, The Glass House

This Will Destroy You - Field Studies EP (feat. Lymbyc Systym)
These guys are masters of post-rock in a way that no words can do justice. Take the best of Explosions in the Sky, add the soundscaping, atmospheric qualities of Mogwai, then add a twist of warm summer nights and you have this band. This E.P. expands on the post-rock genre by including subdued electronica overtones and a hint of raw, garage rock styled drumming in a way that feels synthetic to the music. This album is essentially the perfect soundtrack to any evening, and frequently used by yours truly whenever studying, reading, or writing. A must have for anyone who appreciates post-rock.
Recommended Listening: Narita, Brutalism & The Worship Of The Machine
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Disappointments of the year:

Muse - The Resistance
I really tried to like this album. Honestly, I did. In the time leading up to it, based solely off the single, I expected something equally as brilliant as their past works. Why wouldn't I, after all, Muse had yet to disappoint me. Well, it happened. Once the initial "this is Muse, therefore this must be excellent" wore off, the album grew to be quite stale and, if I wasn't already a fan of the band, would find this body of work entirely unapproachable. The music comes off as artful for the sake of being so in that everything is completely over the top. Now, that isn't always a bad thing, but here it's just too much. As it is now, the only tracks I enjoy are Uprising and MK Ultra. The rest have sadly just fallen flat.

The Fall of Troy - In The Unlikely Event
I expected this, as I was not at all a fan of Manipulator, their last official album. What small glimmer of hope I had in this band returning to their old ways when they released Phantoms on the Horizon vanished as soon as I heard the opening track to this epic let down. The frantic guitar playing has become predictable and boring, the eclectic, raw nature that once defined their music has been dumbed down, stripped and made into standard song progressions, even the singing has become softer. There isn't a single track on this album that honestly sounds like The Fall of Troy to me, and it's heartbreaking. Doppelganger is still one of my favorite albums of the last decade, so it pains me to see this band fall so far.

Dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
I have no idea what happened to this band. Catch Without Arms was a masterpiece and probably one of the best examples of functional art rock. Each song held it's own as unique and unforgettable. On this album, however, not a single track stands out. No hooks, no chills, no moments where I'd need to sit down, just the overwhelming desire to pretend this album never happened.

Thrice - Beggars
After the Alchemy Index, I knew it would be difficult for Thrice to release something as impressive, and certainly it'd take them some time to compose any worthwhile material. It seems that instead, they opted quantity over quality, pumping out this album less than a year after the release of their final Alchemy Index collection. The result is something listenable, but lackluster. Most of these songs fall flat, lacking the drive of previous works from this once great band. I hope they find their grove again.

Weezer - Raditude
This band used to be the epitome of cool. Especially during the high school years, I don't think there was a single band that brought people together like Weezer did. Their music was catchy without sacrificing substance, simplistic and rocking all the same. Raditude is the natural progression from their last album, which was equally unimpressive and just as heart breaking. I keep hoping that Rivers will come up with another Maladroit and it sadly never happens.

AFI - Crashlove
With the incredible collection of music that was Decemberunderground and AFI's general tendency to never disappoint, I was very excited about the release of this album. Especially since this band has never kept a specific format for more than an album, making them one of the more difficult groups to classify. Well, this album is disappointingly classifiable enough: it sucks. Gone are the sing-a-long choruses that made their songs so infectious or the clever lyrics that set Davey Havok apart as a brilliant songwriter. This was, for me, the most heartbreaking release of 2009.
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Honorable mentions for notably good albums that I enjoyed but didn't end up at the top of my list:

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Ghinzu - Mirror, Mirror
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
MSTRKRFT - Fist of God
Oceansize - Home and Minor ep
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
HORSE the band - DesPirate Living
The Bird and the Bee - Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future
Morrissey - Years of Refusal
Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Its Blitz!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Terrible! How Terrible For The Great City!

I've begun each entry of late with an apology for my lack of updates. To be perfectly honest, I've made many an attempt to fill this little white box with all the clever words I could muster, but always, my fingers found their way back to the delete key.

I'm never satisfied. But hey, I'm human! And like every other creature, I'm deeply, deeply flawed. I can't help it, only do my best to make good on the things I have.

October 26th is fast approaching; another birthday to be had. Saying that I'm absolutely mortified about this would be a grand understatement. I'm getting old. Too old, I think, for my tastes. Thus, I've decided that from this year onward, I'll subtract a year from my total rather than add one on. Coupled with heavy drinking, subconscious suggestion and preferably a mad scientist's formula for eternal youth, I'll have this crisis averted yet.

In the mean time, I'll just have to accept yet another truth: I'm a 10 year old trapped in the body of a 22 year old. I still prefer chocolate milk and apple juice to most beverages, I still highly enjoy Saturday morning cartoons, video games and all the childishness you'd expect of someone who could never really grow up. So this year, rather than wish me "happy birthday!" I'd much prefer if you simply wished me "Good Luck!" dealing with this.

I always imagined that by 22, I'd be mostly or completely done with school, have a career in front of me and a life of relative ease. Clearly, I had my life mistaken for someone else's. Graduation is something that is still light years away from where I am now, further still if I commit to the chances I'm considering taking. Don't get me wrong, I know that nothing ever goes according to plan and life is certainly more interesting this way, but once upon a time, I had different dreams.

Now, the only thing I seem to wish for is a freaking zombie apocalypse. (Any moment now would be nice.)

At least I've got my heart. Five months in is fairly impressive, I'd say! She keeps me moving forward, one heart-beat at a time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Old Codfish.

I believe, with the utmost conviction, that we are infinitely wiser as children than we could ever hope to be with age, through schooling or any manner of experience. We possessed an unfaltering appreciation of the world around us, a wonder and love for the things that now seem so mundane or trivial, an insatiable curiosity and absolutely no fear whatsoever of the unknown. We'd scrape our knees, but the pain would pass in moments and we'd be smiling again as if we never fell at all. Our spirits were unbreakable and we loved without reservation or hesitation. Completely and utterly.

That certainty is something I'll forever miss. All children, save one, grow old and must eventually lose themselves, for certainly we are lost. Try as I might to recapture that wonder, that fearlessness, we all fall victim to the burdens and responsibilities that have become our day-to-day lives. Fear to keep us docile; repetition ad nauseam.

All this to say that I have come to feel comfortable with being completely at odds with myself and that worries me greatly. I'm spouting ideas that hardly even make sense in order to relay the idea that I, for all my egotism, have lost sight of that which defined me for so very long and find my own skin to be quite strange. I'm retracing steps in hopes of finding my way back home to Never-Land, though it seems I've run completely out of pixie dust or happy thoughts.

What's a boy to do?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where Has The Time Gone?

A thousand times again, forgive me. I don't know how I let it come to pass that July would fly by and catch me here without a single blog entry. Verily, I have failed you, my beloved readers. Alas, I know I left you on baited breath, waiting for some sign of life and left you without so much as a few cobbled, witty remarks. If it's all the same to you, I'd very much like to go on about our business as if this whole sordid affair never did transpire.

In other words, let's get back to the task at hand!

Someone said something today that struck a nerve. It was something to this extent:

"Kids these days, they're so narcissistic. Everything is about them, their needs, their wants, their internet and their damn social lives. It's pathetic. Back in my time, we did productive things! We went to church, we respected those around us, we didn't ask questions or act like we had the answers to everything and we didn't need to broadcast to the world every tiny little detail of our lives!"

Fueled by my general love for confrontation and the fact that this stranger had, in very many regions of his broad and very ignorant statement, attacked my own character, I decided to have a little bit of fun.

"Does loving myself make me narcissistic? Does having the entire wealth of knowledge stored upon the internet, thus having access to information you'd never dream of mean nothing? We question things because we know better than to trust things at face value. We read, we write, we socialize, we contribute and we grow into the roles that you need to keep your precious world together. That very same world is the one we'll inherit, complete with all your mistakes and misgivings, so forgive us if we're only concerned with our own lives, wants and needs. We'll be spending the rest of our lives catering to yours, so please, indulge us."

Apparently this man was genuinely surprised to hear my rebuttal, as his face visibly paled and his mouth was left agape. One would have assumed he'd expect no less from a creature so completely in love with himself. Better still was the fact that he shrugged me off and, as many before him often do, replied with a simple statement:

"You'll change your mind when you're older, you'll complain just the same about your children and you'll come to understand that the only things you can trust in are your family and God."

I can't begrudge this as I'm sure that if I've ever the misfortune of children, I'll definitely loathe them something terrible. Oh, it won't be their fault, to be sure! I just can't be expected to love anything other than myself, apparently.

Now, on to personal matters!

Today, a computer tower was dropped onto my right hand. Excruciating, let me tell you. It turned several shades of yellow and blue and began to swell into quite a mess. Just when I thought my aches and pains were over, a shelf collapsed onto my head, aggravating an already bad headache into a full-on migraine, bumping my poor skull and, worst of all, forced me to bite down on my tongue. Thankfully, I didn't sever the thing, but I still bled quite a bit. If there has been any constant in my life, it is that I am a human accident magnet.

After finishing work, I went to have my hand checked out. If you've read my blog for some time, or know me personally, you'd know I have a terrible fear of hospitals, clinics and any other building associated with practiced medicine. So, shaking like a little girl being stared down by a pedo in a dark alley, I struggled to find the patience to wait my turn and hear this bitter, snarky old woman tell me to "Stop being a baby and put some ice on it, the swelling would go down."

Again, I couldn't hold my tongue.

"Thank you, Dr. Douchebag! Did you learn this sage-like advice while in Med. school, or was it your many years in practice that developed your keen eye and wonderful diagnostic and healing ability?"

It felt good, I can assure you of that.

At any rate, I now find myself at home, writing to you of my darling adventures. I had missed you, dear readers. I hope this entry finds you all in good health and cheer. Until next time, which I promise you will be soon!


p.s. Caspian, the band, is absolutely my new obsession. I've only rediscovered them, having never really given them the chance the first time around. Truely beautiful instrumental post-rock. You should all check out their album, "The Four Trees."

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Letter To Her;

I've always been, at heart, much more a fighter than a lover. Oh, sure, I pride myself on a clever tongue and an impossibly quick wit, but these tools have always been put to much less romantically inclined use. Do I regret now, being in the position wherein I must act for greater goods and put selves before my own, not having done so earlier? No. Of course not. Loving and Fighting are two incredibly similar things, after all.

Still, I had a finer appreciation of the game when my own heart was not the ante on the table. I suppose it's the nature of the beast! All the same, it's leading to a place I've never been and I fear that my lack of direction will send us down paths better left untrodden.

I'm teaching myself the fine art of holding my tongue and learned to silence the massive monster that is my ego. Still, I'm left with that bittersweet feeling that it could never be enough to make me worthy. That I am, at best, a pale imitation of someone made for this dance. Time alone will tell.

'Til then, I fear my mistakes will be great and many and for them all, regardless of how tiny, I apologize profusely. I can only learn from the knees I scrape in trying to be good enough. I pray you've the patience, because I plan to make it all quite worth the while. Where now, I can't help but cross lines and crawl under your skin, I hope to someday light up your eyes.

All this to say that I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm trying my hardest to be the one whose name you can't keep off your tongue. I promise, I'll be second to none.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The best things in life become our ultimate downfall. Too much of a good thing is harmful, but what about the road to that point? Equally harmful is the lengths we go to protect those good things, or worse still, the way we come to expect these things to be ours and ours alone.

I've been at a loss for things to say lately, and for that, I apologize. I feel like I've been doing a lot of that lately. It's just that I've hardly been motivated at all to write. That being said, I'm going to start trying new things with this blog; really give it some content.

Until then, try not to let the good things become your vice.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.”

- Chuck Palahnuik.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wash His Name Off Your Tongue, I'll Be Second To None!

When confronted with awkward and, sometimes inconvenient truths, it is often easier to act as if we had never learned it at all, rather than make the necessary changes, or move on. Still, actions will always speak louder than words and nothing learned can quickly be forgotten. That said, what to do when you learn that all is not as it seems? Is it better to always seek the truth, knowing full well that it may do, or worse, undo? Or, is it more prudent to accept what is at face value and await the impending calamity that always is the coming to light of things? After all, nothing stays buried forever. In this electronic, scientific day and age, even secrets taken to the grave may soon be exposed to the light of day. What then?

As a side note, why is it that the present and the past are constantly juxtaposed, or made to be compared? It seems as if there is a rather unsettling habit among people to cherish what was, and through it, downplay what is. Lovers to former lovers, friends to their former selves, or friends who came before them, even homes to former residences. And do we ever really move on, or do we simply look for more of the same? Other things to remind us of what we had, and when that is lost, things to remind us then of those things too.

Can't we ever just be happy with the things we have?

Call it a sin of pride, but especially for me, nothing annoys me more than being compared to another person, or generalized. I feel as if it devalues the individual. Of course many people will have similarities, be they physical or psychological, in our interests or our mannerisms, but that does not equate to us being the same person or type of person. No one should ever be compared to anyone else, as we're all our own beings, complete with our own unique perspective, and should be afforded that basic respect.

I live entirely too much inside my head, I fear it's a result of not having enough to do these long nights. Worse, my sleeping pills have already begun to lose their impact. I'm not to saddened by this, as they tend to induce the most disturbing dreams. Chrissy, if you read this, come chat me up sometime. I had quite an interesting one with you in it.

Despite the bitter overtones in this rant, I've actually been in good spirits lately. Sure, sleep has been all but non-existent and things grow more complicated by the day, but I feel as if it's all looking up. Lots of firsts, lots of new experiences, and strangely, lots of smiles in the life of Jav.

Here's hoping it continues this way.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'll Put My Money Where My Mouth Is.

I love the way the very moment you feel as if you finally have your whole life figured out, everything goes absolutely haywire and you find yourself back at the bottom of that deep, dark well, looking for a way to crawl back up. Don't get me wrong, what's life without being constantly kept on your toes? Growing into routine is growing stagnant and terrible for the soul, or so I'm told.
My last entry, I spoke of taking the plunge. Well, I've hit the bottom now and have new heights to aspire to. I'm already loving the view. So far, this vacation is shaping up to be a perfect blend of the good in old things and incredible new adventures.

I know I promised rants and lots of lovely words, but for the most part I've been facing one terrible writer's block. It's actually quite unnerving, being inspired to write but having nothing worth saying! Wine and good cheer make it hard to be fork-tongued and cynical, but I am what I am and eventually it will come out.

So far and as of yet, no real plans for this summer. I don't mind that quite so much at all. Usually all plans made just fall through and things end up getting done in the spur of the moment. That suits me just fine.

It's funny how the moment you try to walk away from people is the same moment they need you back in their lives. I've begun to process of cutting people entirely out of my life again, just because I've come to realize I don't have time entertaining people who see no value in me as a person outside a drinking buddy and source for amusement. I've held my tongue to some people for far too long for the sake of friendships that once were, rather than voicing my growing distaste for them now. I'm done with the social niceties.

The sun HAD been shining just a moment ago, and I'm sad to see it hiding behind clouds and the potential for rain. Bring back the warmth, I need you to shed this cold I've apparently caught from being out in the wet and cold for too long.

Smiles to all.