The Playlist hits sweet 16 this week. It's ready to drive. And it includes two albums that sound great blasting out of a car stereo.
Real Emotional Trash. Stephen Maklmus and the Jicks.
This is a masterpiece of extended guitar jams and Janet Weiss' relentless drumming. Leadoff track Dragonfly Pie serves as a great intro to what the former Pavement leader's latest is all about. It starts off with a heavy Hendrix-like riff, takes off into another direction then finally coalesces into noise/guitar solo. Malkmus continues to upgrade his lo-fi indie cred for rock god status. No, it's not a very accessible album, but it gets under your skin after several listens, particularly as you try to decipher his oddball lyrics. And don't listen to the reviews. There are some catchy, I'd even say hummable, tunes on Trash. Gardenia and We Can't Help You have moments where you think it's possible you could hear them on the radio. But it's the long, extended pieces that make this such a memorable album.
Reactor. Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
This is probably one of the least-discussed albums in Neil Young's canon, but one that regardless draws fiery opinions on both sides. Put me in with those who love Reactor, originally released in 1981. Sure it doesn't have the depth of Neil's classics, but it rocks hard. And it's fun because Neil is having fun. The chorus of Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho in Opera Star. The lone, repeated lyrics of T-Bone (Got mashed potatoes/Ain't Got No T-Bone). And his swipe at new wave music (Every wave is new until it breaks) in Rapid Transit, where he playfully rolls his rrrrs. And Crazy Horse is at its loud peak here. Some say Neil threw this album out to fulfill a record deal. I don't care. It's a great rock and roll record.
On Chesil Beach. Ian McEwan.
After reading the epic Kavalier and Clay, it was difficult adjusting to this much shorter story (almost a novella) set mostly in one night. However, much like Kavalier and Clay, there is an "escapism" theme. Both characters of Chesil Beach are where they are because they've escaped their mothers -- Edward's was brain-damaged and Florence's was just plain cold. And now they're both looking for a way to escape this difficult situation they're in. It's their wedding night and they're both virgins. Florence is as frigid as her mother and dreads the idea of physical contact. Edward worries about his performance and about rushing Florence. McEwan is a wonderful writer who is equally adept at describing walks, nature and sex in equally interesting detail.
Curb Your Enthusiasm. Season One.
Thank you Netflix. I don't know how I've gone this long without ever watching Larry David's show. If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's Seinfeld to another level -- with an R rating.
Some songs I've been listening to this past week ...
-- Listen to Her Heart, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Jangly guitar heaven.
-- Now, Now. St. Vincent. Marry Me.
-- This as a Brick (Part II), Jethrol Tull. Thick as a Brick. The second side of the album. It's all over the place and that's a big part of its charm.