Archive for the 'awards' Category

Waiting for the thaw

Monday in the middle of winter. 
Spent the previous weekend drinking to excess and sleeping a lot.
Typical winter activities.

Started the morning off with some Amy Winehouse (how appropriate), moved on to Etta James, then to United We Funk’s live album recorded in Detroit.  Currently on the player – Christina Aguilera. 

I’m in a Neo-Soul kind of mood today.
Did I mention it’s winter and I’m restless?

I’m vowing not to talk about politics here, due to the personal nature of everyone’s opinions. That said, I’m currently very pleased with the outcomes of the elections so far. Seems my master plan to install a puppet government that will do only my bidding is working.

In my quest to see every single Oscar-nominated movie for Best Picture, I’ve been drowning in serious cinema.  Alas, my next Netflix movie is The Assassination of Jesse James… What I need now is a comedic dork-fest of movies to lighten things up. Perhaps it’s time to pull out my Christopher Guest stash.

I just spent the last two weeks teaching myself how to crochet. I can’t think of anything actually useful I can do with this skill except make an afghan, which would probably end up looking like something a clumsy second-grader with poor hand-eye coordination would crochet. Anyway, it’s something to do in front of the TV, as I watch the increasingly bad selection of reality programming being foisted on us.

I’m glad the writer’s strike is finally over, but it’ll be awhile before they pull the latest revival of American Gladiator off the air. And none too soon, either.

In the meantime, winter marches on, as I drink heavily and crochet my way through skein after skein of worsted, making nothing in particular, watching some of the worst TV ever produced, waiting for spring.

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Observant’s Favorite Things – 2007

As promised, Observant will now list her Best of 2007 CD (I just know you’ve all been holding your breath, waiting for this!)  There were so many wonderful new CD’s released in 2007 (contrary to what some of the other so-called experts have said about the preceding year’s music selection).  I found a lot to like, and my wallet can attest mightily to that fact.

10.  Guggenheim Grotto: Waltzing Alone –  This 3-member folk/pop band from Dublin sounds like CSN at times.  Great harmonies all around; check out Philosophia and Vertigo.

9.  KT Tunstall: Drastic Fantastic – Album cover aside (one of the worst I’ve seen), this is a nice, solid followup to Eye to the Telescope.  Little Favours got 4 stars from me. 

8.  Rilo Kiley: Under the Blacklight – Jenny Lewis’ band is back with a new release, after taking a break to record with Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.  Favorite track is Close Call.

7.  Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrphya – I feel all floaty and melancholy when I listen to Andrew Bird (his voice sometimes reminds me of Rufus Wainwright’s), and this new album doesn’t disappoint the emo in me.  Very good for those gloomy Mondays when all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and suck on a bottle of Wild Turkey.

6.  The Decemberists:  The Crane Wife  – I know, I know. This album is supposed to represent The Decemberist’s selling out to a more corporate sound, but I don’t buy that.  Accessible? Yes, but also very smart and dark enough for my tastes.  Take Shankill Butchers, for instance:

The Shankill butchers ride tonight
You better shut your windows tight
They’re sharpening their cleavers and their knives
And taking all their whisky by the pint

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about; all killing and maiming and shit.

5.  Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare – Very nice sophomore album by this band from Sheffield, England.  Lots of great tracks on this one (Fluorescent Adolescent, Teddy Picker, 505, Old Yellow Bricks, etc).  Love, love, love Alex Turner’s Yorkshire accent.

4.  Silversun Pickups: Carnavas – OK, it’s officially a 2006 release, but this just hit my radar screen last summer.  Absolutely cannot get enough of Lazy Eye or Rusted Wheel, but the voice….the voice will freak you out once you realize it’s a man’s voice. 

3.  Yeasayer:  All Hour Cymbals – OK, I just discovered this band the other day but I was an instant convert after hearing Sunrise, the first track on the album.  This is a post-modern-middle-eastern-meets-dreampop-meets-electronica mashup that appeals to the old hippie chick in me.  Also check out 2080.  The album kind of drags about midway, but a few more listens will probably cure that.

2.  The Kooks: Inside In/Inside Out – OK, officially another late-2006 release, but again, it just hit my radar.  Like Silversun’s Lazy Eye, the Kook’s song OohLa cannot be played too much on Observant’s IPod.   Great, upbeat pop hook that will make you wish you were 20 and single again (oh to have that kind of energy!).

1.  The Shins: Wincing the Night Away – This was Observant’s most highly anticipated album of the year, and it did not disappoint.  Phantom Limb is superb.  Oh, and Australia.  And Sleeping Lessons.  And Split Needles, and Red Rabbits…  Oh fuck, just buy the album.

Disappointments:  Two of my very favorite artists released albums this year that were just sub-par, in my opinion.  Definitely not up to the caliber I’m used to from them…

Lucinda Williams: West– Girlfriend’s lyrics are just downright bad and the music is monotonous and uninspiring.    The first song, Are You Alright? would be a prime example of the kind of dreck found on the rest of this awful mess:

Are you all right?
All of a sudden you went away
Are you all right?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you all right?
I haven’t seen you in a real long time
Are you all right?
Could you give me some kind of sign?
Are you all right?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you all right?
I feel like there must be something wrong
Are you all right?
Cause it seems like you disappeared
Are you all right?
Cause I’ve been feeling a little scared
Are you all right?

No Lucinda,  I am not alright.  I am fucking bored.

Mark Knopfler: Kill to Get Crimson – Same complaint – bad lyrics coupled with boring, monotonous melodies.  The first track, True Love Will Never Fade starts with Knopfler singing those five words over and over and over about a bazillion times.  He then ends the song singing those 5 words over and over and over a bazillion more times.    I admit I have not listened to the entire album, but I just can’t stay awake past the first 3 songs.    For a man who’s written and recorded masterpieces like Sailing to Philadelphia and Shangri-La, as well as led Dire Straits through a very successful career, this release is doubly disappointing.  Check out One Take Radio Sessions for a better example of his fine guitar work and songwriting.

Whew!  I considered giving you a list of my favorite books, but honestly I like writing about the music I’ve enjoyed this year so much more.    OK, a short list then:

The Terror by Dan Simmons:  Lots of pages, a monster in the Arctic and a shipwreck.

World Without End by Ken Follett:  Sequel to Pillars of the Earth.  Just as good and just as long (1000 pages).

The Post Birthday World by Lionel Schriver:  I wrote about this one earlier in the year.  Superb writing and a great story.

I read a lot of books this year, but those are my top three. 

OK, so there you have it.  Go ahead, take some cheap shots at my lists if you have a mind to.  I can take it.  What were some of your favorites from 2007?

Me Nice

Loverly Reggie has bestowed an award to me!  nicematters_award.jpgMe!!  My very first blogosphere award because I’m NICE.   Now, that’s a pretty nice thing for her to do, isn’t it?  Reggie is funny and irreverent and a gal with a heart of gold.  Thanks, girlfriend!  I’ll try to live up to the commitments of my award to the best of my abilities.  You know, I try to be nice, but I’m kind of a smart aleck so I hope everybody knows all my smartass stuff is done with YOUR entertainment in mind. 

 So I’d like to first thank the Acadamy for nominating me for this award.  I’d like to thank my mother for making me be nice even when I wanted to be bad.  I’d like to thank my dog for teaching me the true meaning of niceness, and finally I’d like to thank the last person I spoke to at Nextel for showing me such a shining example of what is definitely NOT NICE.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Bugs Bunny:  King of Smart Asses (but still nice)

smart-aleck.jpg

I dream of Genie, she’s a light brown hare…