Archive for the ‘Leptirica’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-There is No Ememy (2009).

I’ve liked Built to Spill for quite a few years (I first encountered them on Perfect from Now On), but they always hang just below my radar when I think about great albums.  Nevertheless, many of their songs have landed on compilations I’ve made.

I listened to this disc a few times when it came out and when I popped it in again today I couldn’t believe how well I knew the whole album and how much I really, really liked everything on it.

This may in fact turn out to be my favorite BtS disc.  It isn’t radically different from other releases of theirs, but there’s some ineffable quality that seems to raise the whole disc above the fray.  The total package is fantastic.  The first few songs are quite short, just over three minutes each (which is surprising after the release of the live album which had so many extended songs and solos (a 20 minute cover of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”).

Of course there are a few extended jams as well.  Four songs are over six minutes long (and three of them make up the last four tracks, so the disc does to tend feel a little heavy at the end–although “Things Fall Apart” has a horn solo (!) and “Tomorrow” has some unexpected time changes).  But the first long song, “Good Ol’ Boredom” has a great chugging riff that hold ups to the six minutes very well.  The nearly seven minute “Done” has a wonderfully effects-laden end section. The solo is pretty lengthy, but the backing music/sounds keep the whole thing interesting.  Of course, there’s also “Pat” a two and a half-minute blast of punk abandon.

Doug Marsch has a pretty high voice, but it never grows whiny or annoying, and in fact, it has a kind of gravitas to it.  And it is more than matched by the full band sound on the disc.  Martsch’s lyrics are also wonderfully unexpected [“Is the grass just greener because it’s fake?”].

BTS has made a great album and I’m going to have to revisit their back catalog too.

[READ: November 14, 2010] “Twilight of the Vampires”

This was a banner issue of Harper’s (I’ve felt kind of down on the magazine lately, but it made up for itself this month).  We have the Lydia Davis/Flaubert stories, a lengthy piece by William T. Vollmann and the cover story about Rupert Murdoch (which I won’t be posting about).  In fact, normally I don’t post too much about non-fiction (recent obsessions notwithstanding), but this particular piece was by Téa Obreht, one of this year’s New Yorker 20 Under 40.  Obreht had barely had anything published when they selected her, and so I figured it would be easy to keep tabs on her.  So here’s a nonfiction to add to her two stories.  (And it’s about vampires!)

Obreht is originally from Russia (her family is apparently still there).  As the essay opens, she is going to meet her mother in Belgrade for their trip to Serbia.  Their ostensible reason to travel to the Balkans is to find out about vampires.   (But when her mother injuries herself before the trip is about to commence, it convinces her mother that the whole trip is possessed by devils).

But why travel to the Balkans in search of vampires when her adopted homeland of America is overrun by vampires right now?  Because as she relates, our vampires are rather different from theirs. (more…)

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