Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Have One On Me

Joanna Newsom, along with Devendra and CocoRosie was one of the original freak folkers, and she definitely earned her title. she came into the music world a pixie, with the harp as her eclectic choice of instrument and a voice that was.. absolutely adorable to some, abrasive to others. following Milk-Eyed Mender's critical success, much-anticipated Ys had her take a now much larger audience on a dynamic journey, sweeping, mythical, magical. Have One On Me is three discs long, so it's difficult to not call this grandiose as well, even intimidating. but, the huge difference here is subtlety - and that is what makes HOOM's 2+ hours of music very manageable. that symphony that bombarded us with beautiful sounds on Ys, is now under control (thanks greatly to composer Ryan Francesconi). the squeaks and yelps of Milk-Eyed Mender are there but less forceful. her BA in creative writing, as always, is in full effect. but things seem much more personal. more... sad. not a one song is made to be some kind of adventure. there is a distinct lack of hooks, of any dramatic narrative. if you're not careful, all three discs might finish before you feel like you've grasped on to much of anything. and somehow this does not lessen anything. the great achievement of HOOM is that it's a well-composed piece of art that is just fucking beautiful for being itself and offering nothing else - an anti-pop piece. it's a heartbreaking meditation, not designed to have you hanging on every note and lyric. Baby Birch's slow buildup hits in just the right places, rather than overwhelming the listener with emotion. the symphony pops in only when needed on "In California," in which Newsom seems to channel the blues and folk of Joni Mitchell. each and every song contains multitudes of layers, labyrinths of lyrics to wade through. yet, all of that can wait. because for the first several listens, all that you'll need to get out of these tracks is that they make up an album that's quite pretty to listen to. Joanna Newsom has done nothing but mature - this is her most adult release to date. and it's absolutely magical.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Moynihan, Comics

the other day i started getting caught up in webcomics. i have two bookmarked on my computer that i regularly read, White Ninja and Pictures for Sad Children. it was while reading the latter that i was directed towards Jesse Moynihan's Forming, which is seriously the best comic i've read in a while. retelling the origins of everything earthbound, it's a pretty ambitious project. i breezed through about a year's-worth (54 comics at one per week) of storyline in a few hours, and now i'm hungry for more!

unfortunately he is on a Forming hiatus (working with Cartoon Network!?) until May 8th. if Forming looks neat-o, you should check out his other badass comics, including one entitled GWC about George Washington Carver. it's not finished yet, but apparently he is NOT taking a hiatus from that 'un.. so it should be updated in the near future at least. he also has three books out, and i really want to read at least one of them.

it was while on that site that i also was reminded of what's probably my favorite webcomic. this is where i got my DJ name Jampot from — A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible by Dave Hellman & Dale Beran. seriously, each comic is beautiful, and so uniquely told. your eyes often aren't quite sure where to go next, but it doesn't matter all that much, as it all ties together so well. also, they're really funny. unfortunately, its creators are on what would seem to be an indefinite hiatus, but there are enough comics on the site to amuse you for a while. plus, reading this interview with Dale displays pretty well how awesome he is.

and, one more - if you happen to enjoy ALiLbtDiI, be sure to check out Dale's new comic, The Nerds of Paradise. so far it includes an adventure entitled "Must I?" with the philosophical musings of a child named Richmond Virginia, and the beginnings of a caper with the Raisins d'Etre.

on a more personal note, i never really thought all that much of comics & graphic novels for a long time. i just thought of them as something for pasty white geeks to amuse themselves with. something about growing up and reading picture books as a kid makes most adults feel like they don't need illustrations with their stories anymore. because ya kno the imagination can take one so much further and all that. for me that mentality ended probably with Seamonster aka Todd Webb aka Adrian Todd Webb.

he's a musician (Seamonster), but a comic book artist first & foremost. he came down to play for a music festival WUSC hosted last year. when i took him to a local comic book shop to sell some of his work, he showed me some pretty amazing things in the store, and i really started appreciating comix & graphic novels more. started to appreciate illustrations more as an added dimension.

that experience, coupled with the fact that i personally know a pretty awesome comic book doodlist, have made me appreciate the medium a whole lot. but seriously, along with the previous recommendations, go check out todd, as well as sam. he is a super cool dude and his daily comics are worth putting on whatever RSS feed you've got, as they are often pretty hilarious