So much for January 2009, huh? That was quick. Seems like only yesterday we had a different president, Valentine's Day was more than a couple weeks off and, um, other vaguely January stuff was happening left and right.
But the first month of the new year didn't die in vain. I don't know about you, but I experienced all sorts of great musical stuff over the last 31 days. Let's look back at a few of the highlights, in no particular order:
1. Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care
Man, if there's one thing I hate, it's when people get all "ALBUM OF THE YEAR!" on a record when the year has only just begun. Time for self-loathing, then! Even though Begone Dull Care doesn't come out until April 7, it's my early contender for record of 2009. Until now, I've always found Junior Boys to be an act that can craft a fantastic track here and there ("In the Morning," I'm looking in your direction), but never deliver fully on an album. Begone Dull Care changes all that. It's a sexy record that picks up steam throughout via dreamy atmospherics, hushed vocals and simple, brilliant beats. I can't stop listening to it.
2. Listening to Young Jeezy's "My President is Black" (and the remixes) and knowing that the song's words are finally true
Even if The Recession was a bit of a disappointment, it certainly had its moments. "Put On" is an unimpeachable single, "Circulate" still gets me hyped (Cannon!) and "My President is Black" is a prediction made good. I'll let Jeezy take it from here: "Stuntin' on Martin Luther / feelin' just like a King / guess this is what he meant when he said that he had a dream."
3. Anticipating Feb. 27-28, the rockingest weekend in the history of weekends
As if 12 hours of metal wasn't enough on Saturday, the ATL boasts Black Lips and Gentleman Jesse at the Variety Playhouse the night before. Yes!
4. Revisiting Wale's 100 Miles and Running mixtape
A Seinfeld mixtape. Inclusion in our Best of What's Next feature. Indeed...what's next for this refreshing D.C. rapper? Apparently a proper debut record featuring contributions from TV on the Radio, Mark Ronson and more. What to do in the meantime? Listen to 100 Miles and Running, a mixtape that ages like fine wine, rife with lyrical gems that'll make you laugh out loud. Great stuff.
5. Howlies - Trippin' with Howlies
I don't want to steal Paste writer Julia Reidy's thunder (she wrote the Band of the Week feature that'll be the lead story on the website first thing Monday morning), but suffice it to say these dudes are one of the latest and greatest additions to Atlanta's ridiculously fertile rock 'n' roll scene.
6. Puritan Blister #42
William Bowers has long been one of my favorite writers. He has a way of digging into music (and relating it to real life) in a way that is always over-thought in the best way possible but also thoroughly engaging. And you really do have to engage with his Puritan Blister columns on Pitchfork. These are not pieces to be read lightly in between doing other things. You sit down, you halt other tasks, you read. His latest touched on the suicide of a friend, Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, what it means to lose someone and what that loss does to one's impression/digestion of art post-loss. It's heavy shit and heavily recommended.
7. "Underground Bands" video
Hard to say where I first found this video, but a friend recently e-mailed it to me and it's still just as funny as ever. A word document! Oh, and there are more.
8. An Indie Rock Alphabet book
Hey, did you hear? Paste put out its first book this month! Then one of the authors created an official playlist for the book. Then we had a release party with live music and beer. Not too shabby. Buy one now for that person in your life who's learning the ABCs.
9. Animal Collective's "My Girls"
Even if you have no idea what its lyrics mean, it's hard to deny this song. Burbly synth sounds start things off, Pet Sounds vocals start layering after that, and before long, the whole hot mess is rolling forward with unstoppable momentum. I could write a whole list just about this song, but instead, you should just listen to it.