I'm way overdue for the first Frequent Spins entry of the year, but to be honest, I'm simply off to a slow start with my 2012 listening. In fact, this whole process is in jeopardy of getting phased out due to time considerations. But, I'm not giving up quite yet.
A couple weeks ago, I finally completed the playlist for the 2011 compilation and burned KJ her copy of the CDs. I recently finished designing (if you want to call it that) and editing the packaging, but I already missed a perfect opportunity to give it to a few of the folks on my usual distribution list.
There are even a few regulars I never sent my 2010 compilation to, mainly because I didn't mail a single copy. If I didn't see you in 2011, you simply didn't get it. I still feel bad about that, perhaps bad enough that I'll mail those folks both 2010 and 2011 at the same time. But, at this point, I can't make any promises.
Then there's the question of whether or not I should continue to make a CD at all. I realize it's sort of an outdated format at this stage of the music technology game, but just as I clung to the mixed tape longer than most, there's still something nostalgic to me about the whole process of creating and distributing the CD. This, of course, is despite the fact my distribution process is, admittedly, somewhat lacking.
So, I'll probably create a Spotify playlist as well, but not until after I've handed out a few physical CDs.
What I have found the time to do is write in the blog during my commute. Between the morning and afternoon, I have about an hour and a half of riding busses and trains. The Blogger mobile app is nothing special—frankly, I could just as easily use my phone's notes app and then copy and paste—and typing with just my right thumb while I hold on with my left—because seats on the train are rarely available, and when they are I usually pass on the prospect of being crammed between two people, because they're about the same size as seats in Fenway—is no walk in the park, but for some inexplicable reason it's made the process easier for me.
Anyway, moving on to the subject of what I've been listening to. Three months into the new year and there finally are more than a handful of albums worth mentioning. That statement is not intended to be a reflection of the music that's been released this year, but rather my currently slack listening habits.
Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself
Andrew Bird has quietly become one of the most consistent forces—if you can possibly call someone who uses whistling as a musical instrument a force—in indie music.
Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur
I'm not sure if she'll ever wow me again as she did with her debut, Failer, but this is more pretty solid stuff from the hottest chick in alt-country, in my opinion.
Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light
I used to read Pitchfork quite regularly, but I haven't in a couple years. Frankly, it's just way too snobbish for me. But, recently I started checking out apps you can use to enhance your Spotify experience. Pitchfork was one of them, so I quickly found myself reading about how this album is "boring indie" and "...the sonic equivalent of deciding to major in Economics," and the band "...simply have good intentions and risk aversion." I suppose that probably describes a lot of the independent music I listen to. I don't care. I like it.
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker and Yim Yames - New Multitudes
I'm sure you already know about my personal connection here and how much I like this album. So, I'll say that I like the Jay Farrar tunes best, followed by those co-written—along with Woody Guthrie, of course—by Anders Parker. The Will Johnson and Yim Yames songs are good as well, but it's pretty clear to me Farrar and Parker are better suited for this project.
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes
I had a hard time imagining how a Craig Finn solo album would be different from a Hold Steady release, but there clearly is a difference. And it's not just that Finn writes more from a first-person perspective here than he usually does.
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
Comparisons to Fleet Foxes are not unwarranted, but I believe this female outfit's country aspirations are expressed in the lyrics "I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June, if you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too."
Shearwater - Animal Joy
This album just might be this band's best to date. Emusic is constantly sending me emails asking me to rate the albums I've purchased from them. However, there isn't a wide range of ratings options (I love it, I like it, It's ok, etc.). A lot of times love is too strong, but like doesn't quite capture my feelings either. I loved this one, and I can't say I'd rate any of their prior albums as such. So, I take back what I just said. This is Shearwater's best record.
Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
My best friend in college—my co-conspirator in the drinking series—was a huge Springsteen fan. I wasn't. In fact, it wasn't until I became a huge alt-country fan, and was turned on to the understated brilliance of Nebraska, that I began to really appreciate him. I did, however, always get a kick out of the way Stein—as I like to call him—would change the lyrics of Bruce's songs to make them fit with what he was doing at the time. My personal favorite was when he'd croon "Earl Torgeson's singing for the lonely." If you don't get that reference, you either don't read this blog much, don't know Springsteen very well, or both.
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