This has been a tough week as a literature teacher. Brian alluded to the heartfelt loss we feel as a reading community at the loss of Howard Zinn and JD Salinger this week. Zinn was a seminal author for Brian, and understandably so. For me, however, Salinger’s writing marked a pivotal change for me. My initial reading of Catcher in the Rye didn’t spark much interest, and in fact, probably pushed me away. I could identify with Holden Caulfield immensely, but didn’t essentially tie all the language and aphorisms together into something meaningful until much later in life. Each time I flip the pages of that novel, I realize how integral it was in the shaping of my interest in literature. I’ve never felt the prose was anything spectacular, and have often discussed with my students that writing in first person is often the easy way out for a novelist. What’s incredibly fashionable right now is to focus on Salinger’s pegging of youth angst and the fear of growing up in a fast paced, moving culture. I’ve read countless facebook status updates with Salinger quotes and all sorts of Twitter activity about the deep hole the loss of this icon leaves in the hearts of many Americans. For me, undoubtedly, it isn’t the actual literary merit of Salinger that I mourn here. Instead, it feels as though a part of me leaves with this closing chapter. The Catcher in the Rye, ultimately, is what steered me into becoming an English teacher and working with children. In some sort of morphed way, I suppose I happen to enjoy my situated place in the fields of rye, keeping kids from falling over the cliff of adulthood too prematurely. The novel is, indeed, timeless and as folks come out of the woodwork and remember Caulfield as a relatable anti-hero, it’s probably important to step back and realize what Salinger was saying in all of this. The rye is representative of pain and fear of moving forward, or at least it always has been for me. It makes it just a little bit harder to move forward knowing that Salinger, as a protector, isn’t literally in the fields anymore. I mourn this, but also can appreciate what his writing did for me personally. In the vein of moving forward (and in perhaps the worst transition in history), here’s what we’ve been spinning this week. Some have been rolling around the interwebs for awhile, and others are straight from the birth canal. Enjoy this week’s list and stay tuned for reviews throughout the week.
This week’s list:
Lali Puna – Remember – I place this track on the list, not so much for my own personal taste, but more for our electro outfit fans. “Remember” is the newest track from long dormant Lali Puna, the Munich-based electronic group responsible for pretty heavy-hitting Faking the Books, released in 2004 as the band’s third effort. The overseas electronic output is healthy in the early part of 2010, and in a continuing trend of musicians that have taken their time in between releases, folks should be pleased to see Our Inventions hit the shelves sometime in April.
Clipd Beaks – Home – Clipd Beaks’ newest release, To Realize just hit the shelves earlier this week, marking a progressive maturity in sound for the Oakland noise-rock trio. Lovepump released the album fairly quietly, but inside the album’s liner notes is anything but softness. This leaked track marches through a lot of territory. It rises in intensity into cacophonous flurries. Experimentation is the band’s forte and the two released tracks from the album paint a picture of progression. Their 2007 debut, Hoarse Lords is similar, but this time around a more mature approach to arrangement provides a closer and noteworthy improvement. We were not hip to Clipd Beaks before this week, but the dive into previously released material is well worth it. Also check out their site, here.
Vivian Girls – He’s Gone (Chantels Cover) – Vivian Girls have been busy over the last couple of years, releasing their stellar debut and follow up all within a short time span. Gorilla vs. Bear posted this cover of Chantels “He’s Gone” and with this new recorded material, it’s apparent that the female low-fi ensemble has no intention of stopping the output. This excellent and popping track will be the b-side on their upcoming single for “My Love Will Follow Me” being released at the end of February.
Beach Fossils – Desert Sand – We keep snagging our Beach Fossil tracks from Connor and crew at I Guess I’m Floating. They’re spot on in their assessment and excitement over the upcoming album from this band. Big ups to the folks over there for continually bringing us new material from the Brooklyn one-man-act of Dustin Payseur. The album Daydream is due out on Woodsist records, and as I’ve mentioned before, this is lo-fi I can work with, as opposed to so much of the lackluster gritty DIY stuff coming out. We’re totally piggybacking on IGIF’s hype, and hope the buzz spreads outward. “Desert Sand” is a touch different than the other two tracks we’ve posted, as there is something enlarging here, quite purging and catchy in a lose the cobwebs and push onward kind of way. In any event, stay tuned for this release. We’re entirely on board.
Caribou – Odessa – I loved The Milk of Human Kindness and am pretty amped about the upcoming Caribou release. “Odessa” marks the reentrance of Daniel Snaith, who has been producing tunes for the better part of the last decade as Manitoba and, at least since 2005, Caribou. “Odessa” is a fine teaser in what projects to be one of the more lofty and buzzed electro-situated releases of the first quarter of 2010. Merge is releasing the full length on April 20th, and the fanfare will only continue to increase moving forward.
jj – And Now - The much hyped upcoming release, jj n°3 is getting the pop and rhythm and blues community aflutter. “And Now,” which has just recently been leaked, is the first track I can consistently get behind full throttle. I’ve allowed myself to fall into the hype buzzsaw surrounding jj and I’m happily committed at this point. If this track is indicative of what the rest of the album entails, I’ll stamp it with approval right now. It’s catchy and brilliantly smooth in all the right spots. As this one picks up steam, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes as far as mainstream accessibility.
Four Tet – Angel Echoes – Fluxblog kicked this one out earlier in the week, and obviously it’s been floating around the internet for awhile. Four Tet’s newest release, There is Love in You is probably the hottest thing around lately. While the five of us haven’t fully hopped on the hype train, this track is the best of the loot, as far as we can tell. Even without a solid score approval from me album-wise, I can appreciate the intricate, minimalist nature of this electronically situated song. There’s plenty at play here stylistically, and a soulful inspiration manages to attach itself to my ears each time I spin this. If you’re not familiar with the release, consider this a taste of what the entire album blooms. It’s getting high critical nods everywhere, and perhaps we’re remiss in only getting this out to you now.
Serena-Maneesh – I Just Want to See Your Face – 4AD is beginning to furnish peeks into the upcoming sophomore effort of Serena-Maneesh, and this initial leaked track proposes a unique dose of shoegaze and fuzzy overdrive. The album, S-M2: Abyss in B Minor is hitting US shelves on March 23rd, a welcome reprieve for fans that have been waiting patiently since their 2005 self-titled debut. This track is sprawling guitar on glittering canvas. We’re stoked for the album’s release.
Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More – We’ve been on the Mumford and Sons train since October when Rob broke out “Little Lion Man” to a relatively unknowledgeable US webspace. Since then, we’ve been pleased to see the steam pick up a little. Last week, we reposted “Little Lion Man” to excellent reception. This week, I’m posting “Sigh No More” to offer another taste of the album. I’ll be posting a full length review of their 2/16 release, Sigh No More later this week, as well. This is an opulent album of varying styles, ranging from chamber folk country auras to cinematic orchestral intensity. Think Avett Brothers meet La Boheme in some sort of brilliantly accessible and goosebump raising cauldron of sound. It’s a collection of tracks that’s been slowly stirring beneath the surface for the greater part of the last two years. It’s good to see them finally peeking out with more gusto. Folks should hop on board before the train is full.
Phoenix – Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (Bob Dylan) – When I received the email earlier this week that Phoenix had leaked out a Bob Dylan cover, I couldn’t figure out if I was horrified or completely interested. The cover of the lengthy and meandering last track of Blonde on Blonde adds to a small heap of acoustic material Phoenix has released recently into the ether. I went back and played the original after listening to the Phoenix version, and with great fear of being struck by lightning, I add that this cover is a pretty good reworking. It’s not as long, but does a pretty good job of toeing the line.
These New Puritans – Orion – I’ve had the upcoming album, Hidden, on a healthy repeat loop for the better part of the week, letting it soak in pretty deep. The sophomore effort drops March 2nd via Domino Records and is primed for some interesting critical acclaim. Their debut sparked a pretty intense and loyal fan base and folks are geeked for this newest foray into unique sound. Initially attached to the post-punk arena, the new material promises largeness and a conglomeration of a host of instrumentation and variety. You can take our word on it that “Orion” is simply a taste of the depth and pinching sound assault that’s coming in just a little over a month.