Monday, December 10, 2007

Best of: Music

The top five albums I bought in 2007:

1. Boxer by The National: A late edition to my music collection, but something that has dominated my headphones more than any other record all year. The first two-thirds are as perfect as anything I’ve heard in a long time. And while the last quarter of the album begins to fray around the edges, it still recalls Nick Cave-esque musings circa The Boatman’s Call—not necessarily a bad thing. And, although comparisons to Cave and Cohen are apt, when they’re really rocking, lead vocalist Matt Berninger sounds more like an older, grimmer, Richard Butler (Psychedelic Furs), only without the all the psychedelic. Two songs to hear: Seriously, the first seven are required…but if I had to pick two: “Mistaken for Strangers” and “Brainy”

2. Because of the Times by Kings of Leon: This Nashville Band of preacher boys are the closest contemporary thing to Lynyrd Skynyrd—you know, if Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t, like, you know… suck. There’s music out there that takes me back to a time (Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Huey Lewis, etc.), but it’s not often an album takes me to a place: Knoxville, Northshore Drive and Kingston Pike, my mom’s 300Z—good times. Two songs to hear: “Black Thumbnail” and “Arizona

3. Datarock by Datarock: See my review here. The exact opposite of The National’s Boxer, which pretty much makes it the awesomnest party disk of the year. Two songs to hear: “See What I Care” and “Laurie”

4. Neon Bible by Arcade Fire: From the collapsed ashes: More band members! Even better music! The album Bruce Springsteen would have made if he were younger and hipper. Two songs to hear: “Antichrist Television Blues” and “No Cars Go”

5. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter by Josh Ritter: See my review here. One of the few white male singer-songwriters who values metaphors rooted in concrete imagery without neglecting a good hook, as opposed to the usual solipsistic wank-offs. Why some of these songs haven’t blown up on the radio, I have no idea. Two songs to hear: “Open Doors” and “To the Dogs or Whoever”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):
Arular by M.I.A., Because of You by Ne-Yo, Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady, Magic by Bruce Springsteen, Beauty & Crime by Suzanne Vega, Shock Value by Timbaland, The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance, Epiphany by T-Pain

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Hirshhorn Diaries--4

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"Sick Boy" by Medardo Rosso 1922

The lost art of figure sculpture. Some starved child finally warm in death and the ill omen of a century of war.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Hirshhorn Diaries -- 3

"Crouching Woman" by Auguste Rodin, 1881

I am always stunned when reminded the year Rodin died: 1917 (77 years old). His method of expression, as well as the importance of proportionality in his work (even given its slight exaggerations), always has me thinking he were the grandchild of Michaelangelo, and not an artist born more than 300 years later. The fact that there are actual photographs of him blows my mind. I definitely see something 19th century about his subject matter, yet the sinewy action and naked eroticism in much of his work is distinctly modern. For example, in this piece the woman's body is in such a primal position, yet there is that head-turn of a tortured abashment. Her legs spread implying a sexuality that could only exist so explicitly (and, largely, less artistically) in the 21st century.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tennessee: 14, LSU: 21

I remember saying to people, "I'd rather get blown out than have a chance to win it and lose". Well, I lied. I'd rather win. You would have thought holding LSU to one (that's right) offensive touchdown would have lead to a victory. Well, it didn't. And since it didn't, I feel nothing but resentment and anger at the two people responsible. Eric Ainge, for playing like a douche. And God, for making life like this (douche being already taken). Here's to setting up P.J. Hill's Heisman campaign for next year at the Outback bowl! On the plus side: The official name of my first born son will be Robert "Eric Berry" McConnell--that is assuming Berry doesn't blow out his knee in the pre-season next year. If that happens, it's back to my original idea: Robert "Mega Millions" McConnell.