What I'm Reading
I missed the first night of Hannukah and Christmas, but this week's playlist makes it in time for Kwaanza ...
Serena. Ron Rash.
This gritty and violent novel is set in Depression-era North Carolina. It's a tale of greed, as the lumber baron Pembertons battle the government-led conservationists trying to create the Great Smokies National Park. Rash's attention to details and knowledge of the rural area is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy. And with the title character, Rash has created one of literature's great evil women, one whom the Washington Post has compared to Lady MacBeth. Serena -- the book and the character -- will not be easily forgotten
Better Class of Flying Man.
This Southern California band has a lot of potential. Better Class plays a brand of atmospheric post-rock. Songs like Unbelievable You Function Here, Cornelius and Family Tree thump along, yet there's a certain amount of space, allowing the songs to breathe, which adds to the dramatic feel. With his drawn out vocals, the lead singer sounds like the Strokes' Julian Casablancas (or Ryan Adams at his most effected). If you're in the San Diego area, look for them playing live -- and let us know what you think.
Wow. Gus Van Sant's latest lived up to my very high expectations. Milk chronicles a critical era in the gay rights movement and provides insight into the political process. The acting is superb, from Sean Penn's emotionally packed title character to Josh Brolin's tortured Dan Brown.
Survival. Forest Fire.
Apparently, this Brooklyn-based group released its debut album earlier this year with the same pay-what-you-want method that Radiohead used. That's not the only thing that makes them different. This is a very weird indie-folk album that owes some debt to the Velvet Underground. Its gothic sound creaks and moans and delivers lines like -- I only want to seem good in front of the right people/My aura is yellow like a coward.
The Execution of All Things. Rilo Kiley.
Recently, eMusic made available many Saddle Creek recordings, including this classic from Jenny Lewis' band. It's subtle and it's in-your-face. A little country, a little folk and a lot of indie attitude. Some may find it pretensious, but I think it's one of the best indie recordings of the past few years.
The Cheese Monkeys. Chip Kidd
The book jacket designer's first foray into writing is a gripping, funny and, surprisingly, well-written coming-of-age tale. The book takes place over two semesters at a state college (Kidd's alma mater Penn State?) in the 1950s as a young naive college student develops his love for graphic design -- and a respect for the mad genius William Sorbeck. Kidd's second book The Learners picks up where this left off. Unfortunately, I read Learners first (see my review). As with his second novel, Monkeys also serves as a great introduction into the world of graphic design. And, as usual, Kidd has come up with a unique book design.
weekly playlist 12/26
Posted by The Supreme Court of Awesome at 9:00 AM