Highlights from the Newest of Yorks:
—Accidentally stumbling onto a meeting of the Coney Island Polar Bears. In the snow;
—Eating kimchi for Xmas dinner with an old friend;
—Singing carols with a group of complete strangers, yes even “Twelve Days of Christmas;”
—Really gracious hospitality from a variety of people to the point where I was like IT IS AN XMAS MIRACLE, Y’ALL;
—Snow shoveling. A LOT OF IT>>>>
I have Polaroids a’plenty—well, no I don’t, I have six, but you know—and will put thumbprints on them and type up stories about Pat Benatar and wallah! HAPPY THERE YOU GO, WORLD.
I’m strolling over a dusty baseball diamond on a hot summer night on the West Side of Chicago, tumbling a few drink coupons around in my hand, skirting the immense beer line to get a bottle of water. I’m cheerfully sunburned and semi-heartbroken and my right knee hurts and I’m ready to head back to the hotel and get in bed and the line is moving pretty fast, which is good, and I hear the band playing in the background but they could be a million miles away, and I guess the song they’re playing ends, and a new one starts, and the hooded twenty-something in front of me twitches, like he’s had a stroke, and turns rabbit-quick with his mouth falling open and murmurs O Shit and starts fucking sprinting, not running, but fat cop behind me I can make it fucking sprinting, so he can dance with his friends to “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem.
I ask myself how did he hear it before I did? I like that song, too, and realize that it’s been a long time since I went to a show or a festival just to hear one song, but there was a time that I did, and if that song played, that’s the whole point of living, that one song, and this kid came to hear that one song, and I find myself running behind the kid, he’s way off now and it’s dark, but I’m running so I can go dance.
The National, High Violet
An utterly compelling, comforting, and deceptively simple album; a bit too mournful for regular play, it nonetheless did not leave my stereo for weeks. Maybe it doesn’t reach the anthemic heights of Alligator, but it’s more consistent, and better than Boxer. And lord, the lyrics: “I don’t want to get over you.” That’s all you need to say, ever.
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
An album I wished had been around in college. Critics of the length are correct—it often drags—and sometimes it’s just too precious (“Rococo”). But when they’re on, there’s nobody better. The lyrics to the title track have brought me to tears, for God’s sake, and “Sprawl II” should be immediately remade by every punk band in the nation: if you are a teenager in Birmingham or Houston or Atlanta you should get the lyrics tattooed up and down both arms, so as to explain why you are the way you are.
Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record
The terrific sprawl and scope of the band had never locked onto me until I saw them play live in Chicago this summer. This record is like a really good action movie; it goes all over the place, and does tons of crazy different things, and even if it might be shallow in places, it feels great.
This is even with a moratorium on new music buys, y’all. Limited only to music I acquired in a physical format. I do not buy digital music, but I do download free singles and bootlegs. This doesn’t include music gifted to me via mix or “hey mom brought all our old records up, come get them.”