29 August 2008

Apollo's Awesome Album Areview

Here it is, folks- the first installment in something that I'm hoping will become a regular occurrence on my blog. Let me know what you think.

The New Pornographers are a band that I’ve never fully immersed myself in and whenever I do stumble across one of their albums in my musical journey I always think, “I’ve got to start listening to more of these folks.” I got their most recent album, Challengers, as soon as it came out and had only listened to it a few times until the other day. Luckily, I was spurred into giving it another round on the proverbial turntable. I’m not typically a fan of ‘pop’ music. I’m even less of a fan of the term ‘pop music’, but in this case I think it lends itself well to the description. It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of pop bands that want to be as good as The New Pornographers. There are two very important things missing from most of those groups: A.C. Newman and Neko Case. A.C. Newman is the mastermind behind the band; the genius that arranges the majority of their poppy, dance-y, harmony –fueled fun times. Neko Case is Neko Case. If you don’t know who she is then stop reading now and go listen to her music. Then you can return to my blog knowing full-well that I’ve totally got dibs if you find her.

Challengers is a great record. Overall it is pop rock at its finest; a quirky, fun, and at times challenging testament to the power of strong composition. It’s all there- awesome harmonics, Neko Case, guitar riffs so hooky and elegant that they’d make Rivers Cuomo jealous, orchestral backing, poetic and challenging lyrics, Neko Case, piano rockers (“All the Things that Go to Make Heaven and Earth”), flutes, and even a few songs that make you remember what makes you love music as much as you do. If you can listen to the titular song (the third track) and not fall head over then you’re not on the right ship, kid. Even the weaker tracks (Entering White Cecilia, Adventures in Solitude) on the album could probably stand up as a great single. There are toe-tappers (“All the Old Showstoppers”, which sounds like it’d be amazing live) and hip-swingers (“Myriad Harbour”, which also a killer talky song), too.

One of my major modes when I listen to any song is the ‘what does this remind me of?’ mode. Well, this is what all I’ve got scribbled down on my notepad here: The Shins, Phil Collins, Eisley, Polyphonic Spree, The Decemberists, and Radiohead. Those are just the ones I could actually place, too. What does that tell you? The last song (“The Spirit of Giving”) even recalls Bob Dylan in a strange way that I just picked up on. Speaking of which, the last song is incredible as well- it’s bitter, depressing, beautiful, and probably my second favorite track on the whole album (the first being the titular track and the third being “Go Places” because she uses the phrase ‘deus ex machina’ in the song).

If I had to say one negative thing about the album it’s this: I don’t think that Newman’s lyrical complexity is well-matched by the music. Sonically, this is the sort of stuff you’d want to play at a party, which isn’t typically the best venue for songs about poverty and loneliness. You can listen to this whole album 30 times and not ever really gleam much meaning from a lot of the songs, but that’s because the music is good enough that you don’t find yourself asking much of the lyrics. Some of Newman’s writing would probably be better served in arrangements that made you want to sit and think, not jump and dance. All in all, though, this is an album that you should definitely own.

28 August 2008

Brain Candy

This is a link to an article that I think is worth a read. It's about the new trend of buying one song off of a music service as opposed to purchasing the full album. I guess the trend isn't really new per se, but it's resurgent in an industry-changing way. I think it's bad news, and apparently some folks tend to agree with me. Here's a quick snippet:

Online music sales continue to skyrocket at the expense of CDs. iTunes continues to be the leader of the pack, too, not only in online sales, but music sales overall. But a small rebellion is brewing against iTunes as artists become disgruntled with the hit they're taking on overall album sales thanks to the now-wildly-popular method of cherry-picking favorite tracks for download.

I've been wanting some other opinions on this phenomenon.

P.S. Apollo's Awesome Album Areview coming soon

26 August 2008

I want a new drug

So I’m sitting here at work again and I thought to myself, “Hey, Apollo, it seems like it’s been forever since you updated your blog. I bet people are starting to worry!” Ok not really but I do want to start updating this thing more. I know I’ve said that before but it’s different this time baby, I swear. What I need is a neat-o recurring thing. Hmm… what should it be? I know! I’ll start reviewing albums! But I can’t just be like every other wannabe Fricke on the internet, can I? So instead what I’ll do is I’ll let whoever happens to read this tell me what CD to review. If there is more than one suggestion then I’ll pick whichever I prefer (this ain’t no democracy). If there are no suggestions by noon Thursday then I’ll review whatever I damn well please thank you very much.

In other news I’m going to Louisville this weekend to celebrate Long Weekend Day. It’ll be good times.

Also, I got my first paycheck last week! So Daddy’s got some butter to spread, folks. The bread line starts at the door.

21 August 2008

Further down the spiral

Now I've bought cookies from one of the kids of a lady that works with me. He's selling them for his 3rd grade class. It seems like only yesterday my Mom was selling cookies for my 3rd grade class.

Well not literally but you get what I'm saying.

18 August 2008

One more against the wall

I use Pandora radio service. It's a really awesome way of discovering new music. I put in an artist that I like, Pandora plays me that artist's music along with similar artists that I may not have heard of. It's simple, effective, and efficient. In the two weeks since I started working I've discovered no fewer than 5 new musicians that I enjoy. 5! I intend to buy their music and I intend to see some of their concerts (some of them are dead). This article from the Washington Post pretty well sums up SoundExchange's destruction of an effective radio format for the sake of a failed business model:


An excerpt:

"As I wrote a year ago, when the CRB reaffirmed this foolish idea, choking off Web radio by imposing discriminatory and disproportionate fees is just about the last thing the music industry needs. Webcasters like Pandora are far more effective at exposing listeners to new music than the playlist-choked wasteland of commercial FM and AM -- so of course we should tax them to extinction, ensuring record labels and musicians a one-time profit, followed by years of much poorer exposure for new musicians."

Hazy days of summer

This weekend I went out both nights, spent too much money, met new people, drank way too much, did things I shouldn't have, saw the sun come up, spent an entire day with a hangover, heard some good music, and developed a crush on a total stranger. I'm back, baby.

13 August 2008

Cog against the machine

So I’m sitting at work on what was up until a little while ago a busy day. Now I’m waiting for my project manager to get back from a conference so we can discuss whatever I should be doing right now instead of blogging. I was going to use the term ‘boss’ instead of project manager, but I don’t know if it would be accurate. How does one define boss? Since I have two managers (one project manager and one functional manager) who are both equally in charge of my fate in this company, is it fair to say that only one of them is my boss? I know that in reality I just have two bosses but that hardly seems like an appropriate rendering of the situation; and I mean that in the best way. I guess you could say that I’m all settled in at the office now. I’ve got pictures of the family, sports memorabilia, and creepy gargoyles placed sporadically in my office. Hard to say that it feels like home, though. Speaking of home I’m enjoying my new apartment a lot. I’ve probably said that before so I may sounds like a broken record but, hey, I’M REALLY ENJOYING MY NEW APARTMENT. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I just prefer living by myself.

I don’t see nearly as much of my friends as I thought I would when I moved here. I’m used to living in B’ham where I’d go out every night. I think a lot of that was my desire just to get out of the confines of my Dad’s house, though. Here I don’t feel nearly as much of a desire to leave my apartment once I get home from work. Hell I’ve only been to the bar (in Huntsville) once since I moved here. That’s ridiculous. I have yet to determine whether or not I’m ok with this phenomenon. I don’t think I am. I’m not saying that I want to spend every night going out to the bars and getting drunk. What I’m saying is that I’m a very social person and I like that about myself. If I sit at home for two nights without seeing any of my friends I feel like I’ve done something wrong. I guess what I’m really getting at is that I don’t ever want to be boring. I think it’s weird that none of the people I work with seem to hang out with each other outside of the office. That’s really weird to me. What the hell do these people do? What the hell am I going to be doing in a year? Whatever it is, I hope to hell it’s not boring.

08 August 2008

Countdown to retirement

One week of work down, countless to go. My first week of work went really well. Here is a random group of thoughts concerning this new beginning.

I met a lot of people who I'll likely never have to deal with again and even if I do I won't remember their names. I decided that I hate laptops because every one has the delete key in a different fucking spot. I’ve got two managers at work and they are both really nice and helpful. I wish I didn’t have to sit in front of a computer all day, but hopefully that won’t always be the case. I’ll likely be bringing my lunch to work a lot because eating out is expensive; it’ll also let me leave early if I work through lunch. I’m actually a little surprised at my level of productivity (he says as he blogs while on the clock). I like the work that they’ve got me doing here - it may not be the ideal but at least it’s not aerodynamics crap. I get the impression that my project manager really likes me and is impressed; that may not actually be the case but it’s the impression that I get. I’ve got the Mighty Might Bosstones stuck in my head now. I am falling in love for the first time all over again with Pandora Radio. One of the higher-ups in the company decided that if people were going to have things hung on the walls in their office that it had to be done right so if I want to hang up my MST3K poster I have to email the wife of the president of the company and get her to send someone to do it. I excel at writing long sentences. I’m trying to figure out how best to flirt with some of the cute girls that work here - it’s tough! I (surprisingly) feel bad when I’m sitting here not working (like now) but I honestly don’t know of anything else I should be doing right now. It seems like there are a lot of things around here that I’ll end up working on in some capacity. I may hate laptops now but I still can’t wait to get the laptop that they ordered for me. It seems like this company has lots of get-togethers, which I intend to use to showcase new recipes and flirt with coworkers. I drink way too much coffee when I’m here.

Okay I could probably keep going but I think that the longer that shit gets the harder it’ll be to read. I would’ve tried to make that flow better but then it probably would’ve been 15 pages long.

06 August 2008

Feeling secure

SO... about Huntsville. I've been living here now for 4 or 5 days and I like it so far. Given, I haven't gone out to the bars yet or ventured that far beyond the walls of my apartment, honestly, but it's been a refreshing change of pace. That's not to say it's been boring. Quite the contrary, my dears. I've loved, I've laughed, I've drank, I've swam, I've walked around lakes and through fields, I've watched movies, I've played video games, I've tried new foods and met new people, and... I've even fought crime.

That's right, folks - I fought crime. Well, I suppose that I can't accurately say that I fought crime so much as my friends and I being at the pool Saturday night drinking deterred crime. That's the same thing, right? I'll try to make the story short, which should be easy considering the whole ordeal lasted all of two minutes. My friends Matt and Patricia came over Friday and Saturday night to keep a lonely boy company and go swimming. It was a blast. Saturday night after Matt helped me arrange the furniture in my living room we ventured down to the pool for an evening dip & drink. At one point (around 11) Matt and I went inside to check out the sauna as heterosexually as possible. Patricia didn't go in because she wasn't feeling that well. Well as Matt and I are in the sauna (which is to the side of the fitness center) I see two guys walk through. They're both bigger meathead looking white guys and I don't think much of it because I never think much of meathead looking white guys (or black guys, for that matter). The guys don't notice Matt and I because they didn't bother looking for people in the sauna at damn near midnight. Apparently they were carrying around flashlights and checking out the exercise equipment. When they walked out onto the pool deck, though, they saw Patricia and froze in their tracks. They then proceeded to try and play it off at which point Patricia made sure to point out that she had two friends with her in the sauna of all places. At that point the guys left and I heard them mention something about Patricia so Matt and I ended our totally heterosexual sauna trip and went and checked on Patty, who was obviously fine though a little confused by the whole ordeal. So I call the apartment complex on Monday or Tuesday and tell them about the goings-on and they tell me they'll keep an eye out.

This is the email I got earlier today:

I wanted to let you know about the two guys that you told me about
yesterday. Apparently they were arrested last night and featured on WAAY
31 news as being responsible for numerous thefts of apartment communities’
fitness centers! I had described them to --- off of your description and
she said they fit it to a T when she saw their mug shots!

Thanks again for letting me know as our property attendant is
going to be watching the area closely!

Hope you are enjoying your apartment.

So lo and behold those guys are criminals (well no shit). More importantly though they were at my apartment complex that night to steal some equipment and if it hadn't been for our need to drink around bodies of water they would've gotten away with it.

Wow I really suck at making stories short. Of course if you've read this blog before or actually know me you're probably fully aware of that. If I can find the link to the news story I'll post it here.

05 August 2008

A quick thought...

People always introduce me to people they say are like me and I'm all 'Man that dude is a dick, but god he's attractive'.

03 August 2008

Stereotypical Rewrite

I just saw a commercial for the US Army that kind of bugged me. To say that it implied a target audience (an odd pun) is an understatement. Army recruitment has been down a lot over the last few years, so they are pulling all of their dirty little tricks out to get more people to sign up. The first thing you would notice about this commercial is that it features only black people. That's it. No whiteys in this commercial! Just blacks. It's a little more forward than I would have thought necessary. Anyway there is hardly any dialogue in the advert except for the last scene. So it struck me that I could rewrite the last scene's dialogue:

[cut to family: mother, father, and son sitting around a table]
Son: I've done all my research and I can get money for college!
Father: Son, that's great! But what makes you think that you need that money for college? We have plenty of money to send you to school. Yes, we're black but despite what society would lead you to believe not all black families live in poverty. Isn't that crazy? A black family that has money? You never see that on TV, do ya? I am completely behind you wanting to join the army but the fact that you think you have to join up just to pay for a college education leads me to believe that somewhere you got the impression that black people can't afford college educations. I wonder why someone would think that. It's like there's a nationwide ad campaign paid for by the government that perpetuates that diluted, antiquated, bigoted idea. No. Never! Not in this day and age!

[fade to black]
Chorus: Join the Army, Nigger!

01 August 2008

New things, new things

I am now officially a Huntsville resident. That's kind of crazy, right? I woke up early this morning, Dad and I finished loading up the truck, and we got here around 11:00. Done and done. Now I'm sitting here, my belongings all akimbo, watching Starship Troopers OnDemand. I just realized that I am going to be broke for a while. It's weird to be broke when you've got a well-paying job. I went to the grocery store earlier just to pick up some batteries and some breakfast food. The Real Big Trip is tomorrow. Who knows what I'll come home with! Bread? Cheese? Herpes? Huntsville's a craaaaaaazy town.