2011 albums I should have mentioned. Part 1.

First off, I don’t have the most reliable memory.  The things I do recall, appear in crystalline detail.  The rest.. are often lose in the shuffle.  So when I stumble upon an infatuation and find myself half-surprised to remember that I adored it the first go-round, there’s an impulse to write it down, now.  So here goes.


Sean McCann – The Capital

This one is easy:  it appeared in February (or was it March?) and I rode the train listening several days in a row thinking, goddamn this is right up my alley.  The chaotic artwork is a relevant indicator here, since the album is a prismic burst of epic slides shot through with hairy analog detail.  String quartets and pockmarked vinyl and falling stars color the arresting psych-drone landscapes McCann has cultivated and I feel better every time I listen.

For fans of: Oneohtrix Point Never, The Caretaker, The Fun Years, Fennesz

Alvarius B. – Baroque Primativa

Well holy shit, this felt like a comforting slap to the face.  It’s a fucked up, gorgeous folk spine tingler from Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls, an album I couldn’t be happier to repeat as often as necessary.  Plus, the cover is an artful arrangement of nude women!

For fans of: Sun City Girls, Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith, Loren Connors

[EDIT: Oops!  I didn’t mean to post this unfinished.  More forthcoming!]


The Weeknd – The Knowing

So I’ve had the album for a year now.  We’ve had the entire trilogy for a while, in fact.  Only just now I realized there are videos: this one is compellingly odd and surprisingly fun for those with an eye for cinema.

Watch the entire video for an indulgent mini-opera of how singer Abel Tesfaye compares a messy breakup with the violent overthrow of an Ethiopian king, while the lyrics paint an unflattering story of misbegotten sexual revenge.  Honestly, it’s a lot more fun than that sounds.  The song is a crumbling finale on his first album, House of Balloons; although not my favorite, it’s a perfect end to the party-life-gone-to-seed theme of his work.

But for certain people (me) the highlight appears around 2:20 with a direct reference to one of the greatest films of all time.  You may recognize it from the little image appearing next to the address bar in your browser right now.

If you aren’t yet familiar with this artist, I suggest you hit the-weeknd.com where all three of his albums are available completely free and are, to my ears, nearly equally brilliant.

Spiritualized – Hey Jane


So an artist I’ve loved for over a decade is about to release (maybe) the best album in that time, and it’s preceded by a video I’ve waited criminally long to share with everyone. I feel like a jerk. Sorry.

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This Week

Here is a quick round up of some things I’ve been into lately:

  • Kraftwerk 1

One of three albums in their “lost” period before Autobahn, this is more akin to Popol Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel than the ‘man-machine’ electronic pioneering sound they’re known for.  Alternating dark drones and punchy pysch hairiness, it pairs well with my pitch black coffee and readies my day for the noise ahead.

[check it out]

  • Machinedrum – Room(s)

I sort of liked this when it came out last year.  I wasn’t excited for it, I wasn’t into high speed clipped vocals and juke rhythms, and I was probably just into something completely different at the time.  When I brought it back out on a whim a couple months ago, Room(s) already felt fresher – then I made a copy for my car.  Now it’s become a favorite driving accompaniment and sounds exponentially better with volume properly cranked.  Hell, I included its moodiest track in the Shadow Piece mixtape.  It’s fast and reveling in footwork colors and properly alien to first-time listeners, but there’s a depth and range of feeling here that doesn’t often crop up on dance albums.  It’s this emotional tug that keeps it spinning and my interest pegged.

[seriously get it]

  • Ryan Teague

This guy just released Field Drawings and it’s been floating me for weeks.  It was actually the first new album I heard after my mother passed and felt like it was piercing my dark world with a bit of much needed light.  I’ll have more to say about this in another post.  Just listen to the intro track above.

  • This handsome devil.

This is Tres, my cat’s cat.  He was third in his litter, hence the name.  Not everyone is a fan but to me, this is the most affectionate animal I’ve known.  He’s a needy little bastard and seems nervous despite his unapologetic laziness.  He is a bit out of shape but he’s spry.  I think he’s allergic to pollen.  He’s sitting on my lap as I type so I thought I’d share.

Shadow Piece [mixtape]

Change begs itself.

I needed to do something different here.  Too much has happened to remain the same.  This will now be a home for mixtapes.  I will still write about music that I love, sometimes even in the same fashion as before, but this place will change.  I have a large mix backlog that can and will be shared, but I assembled one special for this occasion.  Here is the inaugural Optimistic Underground mixtape:

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