Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Creative Doldrums/Year-End Music Review

It's been a while, but after Ireland everything seems anti-climactic, and there hasn't been a whole lot to say. I've been very lazy poetically lately, having written maybe four poems in the past month - inspiration is at a premium these days. Not much happening in the publishing world either, although Mad Poets Review has accepted "March" for publication in their issue due out in December. Still no word from Poetry magazine. Not too much of note in my poetry groups, either. The one group that meets at Barnes and Noble monthly is just about dead - the other night I went and the only attendees were the host and me. Pretty pathetic - I'm starting to wonder if poetry groups are becoming as passe as country line dancing. Oh well - I'm not going to stop writing just because poetry no longer seems as "hot" as it used to be.

Music: WXPN has started the voting period for the best-of-2007 list - this year they're doing not only the top 50 albums of the year, but the top 50 songs as well. Here are the top 10 I submitted for each category:

1. Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog (a creative departure but the best yet from this "band")
2. The Shins - Wincin' the Night Away (catchy, catchy pop)
3. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (they just keep getting better - excellent power-pop not afraid to take chances)
4. Feist - The Reminder (several of the best pop tunes of the year in this album)
5. The Cat Empire - Two Shoes (mix of ska, rock, r&b, lots of fun - great live band)
6. New Pornographers - Challengers (maybe not their best album, but still really fine)
7. Bruce Springsteen - Magic (the E Street Band is back, and Bruce fans are rejoicing!)
8. Augie March - Moo, You Bloody Choir (excellent Australian band in the Coldplay vein)
9. Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior (his best in several years, probably since Mock Tudor)
10. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Once: Motion Picture Soundtrack
(fine duets from Frames leader and friend, from the endearing Irish indie film)

Honorable Mention:
Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block
John Butler Trio – Grand National
Son Volt – The Search
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
Joni Mitchell - Shine
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Ryan Shaw – This Is Ryan Shaw

1. "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" - Richard Thompson
2. "Boy with a Coin" - Iron and Wine
3. "Phamtom Limb" - The Shins
4. "My Moon My Man" - Feist
5. "No Cars Go" - The Arcade FIre
6. "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" - Bruce Springsteen
7. "Australia" - The Shins
8. "Sly" - The Cat Empire
9. "Frank and Ava" - Suzanne Vega
10. "When Your Mind's Made Up" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Honorable Mention:
"Night of the Iguana" - Joni Mitchell
"Don’t You Evah" – Spoon
"My Rights vs. Yours" - New Pornographers
"One Crowded Hour" - Augie March
"This Hand is a Mighty Hand" - Hoots and Hellmouth
"Don’t Make Me a Target" – Spoon
"Falling Slowly" – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"It Makes No Difference" - My Morning Jacket
"Gone Gone Gone" - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
"The Picture" - Son Volt

Overrated album of the year: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand (not nearly the classic that many rave that it is - nice vocal pairing but little musical energy)

Most annoying song of the year: "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn and John (I really like the album, but for some reason this song got under my skin. Maybe it's the whistling, or the "twee" vocals, or maybe it's just that it was so overplayed.)

Poem of the Week:

Fat November

Today feels like a holiday –
the air, apple-crisp,
just chill enough for vigor,
under a blue superdome sky,

and trees in costume,
feathered like the Wild Tchoupitoulas –
brilliant reds, yellows, oranges.

It’s the Mardi Gras of Autumn,
a seasonal send-off,
Nature’s last indulgence,
with a bontemps of color.

Soon this parade will turn the corner
to white, brown and gray,
and Winter’s long, ascetic Lent.