basil's covid corner264
in the spirit of 2020 being put on hold for a return to 2015, and against my better judgement, i am giving in and doing an AMA / personal thread type thing.
suggested topics: personal life, radical politics, detroit history, anticolonialism, film, hip hop, rock, cat ownership, this site, the homeland
the best questions are either difficult ones or fun ones
i'm starting a series in this thread where i talk every day about an album that is really near and dear to my heart. i don't know how long this will last but hopefully it will be a good and cathartic exercise. and hopefully it'll provide for good, passionate content for y'all to read :)
my huge love for this album is at odds with my distaste for Mark Kozelek as an individual. it's convenient though that this album, compared to his later releases, contains relatively little of his pretentious rambles. instead it's just one of the most evocative albums i've ever heard in my life.
it exists in this whirlwind of nostalgia and yearning: between all the lyrical references to old and dead boxers, to winding highways and lost loves. this record makes me think a lot about the passage of time, and it especially evokes memories of taking train rides in the fall and watching michigan slowly descend into winter.
oh and it's also musically just so engaging. the record is full of satisfying melodies and guitar tones, whether they're on the softer folk tracks or on the more intense rockers. i'm in love with every tune on this record and i've found myself humming almost every song on so many different occasions. it helps that Kozelek's delivery is so impassioned here. i don't feel like i'm listening to one of his later smug records as much as i'm listening to this man channel something deeply beyond him. and whatever that thing is, it's really good at making me cry.
taster track: Carry Me Ohio
(but really if i had to pick a favorite, it would be the 15 minute Duk Koo Kim. knocks me out every time.)
my pick for today is a favorite that brings me pure joy to listen to. Rain Dogs is just so full of life -- if Tom Waits' voice wasn't as distinct as it is, you'd think this album were performed by 19 different artists. i just love how theatrical and varied the record is, every song is a different story and a whole different accompanying performance. Tom Waits is so dedicated to telling the most marginal and perverse stories out of the weirdest corners in America, but they never blend together and they're consistently memorable
you'd think that an album that promises so much musical variety would be pretentious or overstuffed, but the songs themselves are so short, simple, and full of feeling. sure, Tom Waits is influenced by Bukowski and he loves to emulate Louis Armstrong, but who gives a f*ck. put that aside for a sec and let the music speak for itself. the hooks are memorable, the performances are infectious, you'll dance and maybe you'll also cry. that is, only if you're willing to stop being a square and get on board with Tom Waits' growls and howls!
taster tracks: Jockey Full of Bourbon, Time (had to go with two different vibes on an album that's just too varied to give tasters for)
gun to my head, this is the best album a human being has ever made and my favorite album of all time.
what Phil Elverum managed to create here is really magical beyond any words i can use. i don't know a record that sounds just so naked and human. the swirling acoustic guitars, the visceral noise, the crashing drums and cymbals... when you top it all off with Phil's somewhat nasally, sincere voice, it's all so overwhelming. rather than feeling like a conversation with the artist, this record has me embodying Phil's position as a small human being staring at an overwhelmingly massive earth.
the lyrics are somehow emotionally cutting and meditative at once. there's a kind of intermingling between human beings and nature in the lyrics that really moves me. more than enough lines are embedded into my life forever honestly. there isn't a fall that goes by where i don't sing "i can't make it through September without a battle" at the top of my lungs
most importantly though, my relationship with this music runs so deep. the first time i ever heard it, i was visiting my hometown for the first time since i left. it was around 5am and i was lying down in my grandparents' house, and i watched the sun rise from behind the sea and the city gradually come to life -- the record just thoroughly blew me away. every time i have ever listened to this album since then, it's been a complete emotional excavation. it grounds me, it re-centers me, it holds me like no other piece of music ever has.
taster track: The Moon