A 30-degree day seems like a treat right now: Stupid people are less irritating; food tastes better; everyone's more attractive. Still, it's been hard to get excited about a whole lot of shit. In fact, the well-circulated "recorded in a lonely Wisconsin cabin" story behind Bon Iver's For Emma, For Ever Ago made it all the more tempting to retreat back into the album when Jagjaguwar formally released it this month. A mega-hyped indie record that sounds like the opposite of mindless chatter: That kind of balances out psychologically, right? So, anyways, February at least provided a few ideal records for being left the fuck alone to. Yay!
Earth, The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull (Southern Lord): This post is late because I got my hands on this pretty late in the month and deserved a few good, slow listens. Seven instrumentals basking in open spaces and some amazingly patient playing. Also, album cover of the month goes to Arik Roper:
Promotional snack tie-in, anyone?
Spires That In The Sunset Rise, Curse The Traced Bird (Secret Eye): If Earth's latest recalls a gauzy sunset over a canyon, Spires That In The Sunset Rise recalls, say, a fever with a side of fleas. Ghastly, beautiful vocals scratch up against the sounds of mbira, spike fiddle, and abused banjo. Eastern-folk sounds unravel into free-flowing disorientation.
Vid Libert, A Return To Mayaguez (s/r): Vid Libert is a Madison singer-songwriter. When he pokes his head out, he's arguably the best in town. Here's the intro from my local A.V. Club feature on him:
Vid Libert’s new album, A Return To Mayaguez, dips into an isolated seam between his own little world and the real one. Following up on 2005’s Mayaguez, the Madison singer-songwriter filled his eight-track recorder with his own unassuming voice, drums, guitars, melodica, percussion, keys, toy instruments, and more, spacing it all out with a dub-inspired ear for warm layering and reverb. It’s a very good record, to borrow phrase from his song “Make No Mistake,” for getting through the day, whether Libert’s calmly philosophizing about fulfillment on “Maybe That’s Enough” or drifting through the glittery instrumental “Oh, Osho.”
Headlights, Some Racing, Some Stopping (Polyvinyl): Reviewed here.
Todd Barry, From Heaven (Comedy Central): February got a crucial Valium-powered cheer-up from Todd Barry's latest. It matched not only the pace of life, but also the graying snowbanks. "I challenge you comedically!" "No, honey! Not again! Remember when we went to that play and you wanted to challenge that actor theatrically? You got your ass handed to you!"
American Music Club, The Golden Age (Merge): February got a crucial Valium-powered cheer-up from American Music Club's latest. It matched not only the pace of life, but also the graying snowbanks. "Will there be a band? God, I hope not!" Song of the month: MP3: "All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco"
Random-ass surprise: My friend Shelby was kind enough to introduce me to the work of western-swing standby Bob Wills. Despite his talents as a bandleader, it's hard not to giggle (and improvise along) when he cheers on his bandmates in that ridiculous Mickey Mouse voice (see "Quoted"). Also, hardly random, but I didn't get around to picking up St. Vincent's 2007 album, Marry Me, until a few days ago. Same goes for Pissed Jeans' second album, Hope For Men:
Shows of the month:The Blind Shake (2/6, High Noon Saloon, Madison); The Midwest Beat and Plexi 3 (2/9, Crystal Corner Bar, Madison); Icarus Himself and Sleeping In The Aviary (2/16, Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, Madison); Say Hi (2/21, Project Lodge, Madison); Sleeping In The Aviary, The Dark Horse Project, The Scarring Party, Crochetd Machete, and The Cowboy And The Frenchman (2/23, Project Lodge, Madison);
Dub Trio (2/25, High Noon Saloon, Madison); Zebras and Czarbles (2/28, Nottingham Co-op, Madison).