Sunday, June 16, 2013

Living in the Material World

I just finished watching the Martin Scorsese documentary on George Harrison with the same title of this post. I can’t believe it had taken me this long, considering that Harrison is as close to an idol as I have. I remember being thrilled when I heard of this film was coming out, then I sort of forgot about it. Busy with other things, as it goes. 

Well, as you may have expected, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Scorsese is a master documentarian, George was a master human being; master + master = superb. Halfway through the film I wrote an email to my dear friend Evan, whom I share a birthday and deep admiration of the Quiet Beatle. In the message, I wrote the following paragraph. 

“Thinking of George made me begin to think of you and how we now are both about the age George was when he went through some of his big life transitions. You know I'm obsessed with dates and all that so to be exact, George was our age (24 yrs, 3 mos) during June of 1967. Burgeoning as a spiritual thinker, songwriter, Indian influenced musician. Definitely starting to wonder about life after the Beatles, despite the band being more brilliant every day with Sgt. P just coming out. I read a book recently about the importance of NOT modeling yourself on someone else and instead focusing on your own 'inner light' but nonetheless, cautiously, I often find myself thinking of what George was up to when he was my age.” 

Though musically inclined, introspective, Pisces, and occasionally clever, I am quite far from being anything like George Harrison. He had bigger ears for one thing. Still, watching this movie was a gentle reminder to focus on both my spiritual and artistic, gulp, journey. My pretentiousness meter is at max after that sentence, but I’m afraid I’ve gone too far to turn back.

My neglect of this blog is a good indicator of how my own life in the material world has taken center stage from my other pursuits. After writing countless songs and artsy blog posts during university, my post-college life has consisted of a few album reviews and a brief EP. I don’t feel too guilty about this, for I have taught hundreds of children and seen amazing sights around Hong Kong and Asia instead of churning out songs and artsy essays. As my mentor and professor Greg Youtz might optimistically say, I am simply collecting dozens of interesting thoughts and occurrences, later to be explored through music. 

At this moment, I’m sitting in my living room, contemplating when to go to bed. Exciting activity in this brain, as you can imagine. In six weeks, I’ll be in Liverpool. It’ll only be for two days, but I’m thrilled to go to the place where my heroes were born. I have been learning about this city and its significance in the Fab legend since the Beatles Anthology came out when I was six year old. Until then, expect a bit more activity on Page 43. Oh and I'll also visit Dublin, the birthplace of Oscar Wilde, who once said, "Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious."

Monday, January 28, 2013


Gold Medal: Figure 8 by Elliott Smith

Elliott’s name has popped up on this blog many times as he is one of the artists that I adore like few others. And even after showing up on just about every era post he qualifies for, Elliott’s Figure 8 album may be my favorite album of his. Taking the jump from lo-fi to hi-fi, the music here is bigger and bolder than his previous albums, though it’s still got some acoustic gems as well. Every note is precise in creating a totally uplifting album centered around extremely depressing themes. That may be hard to understand, but once you’ve listened to this, you’ll know what I mean.

Silver Medal: Parachutes by Coldplay

In my eyes, Coldplay’s career trajectory ran the opposite direction to the quality of their music. As the group grew more and more popular throughout the 2000s, their music became less interesting. And before they were mega rock stars, Coldplay was busy working on this album, which is simply superb. Parachutes is Coldplay making anthemic choruses before it got old. These tracks are just well-crafted songs, with tinges of mystery and splashes of clarity. Tracks 2-7 all have one-word titles, which is appropriate, as here Coldplay was at its most understated and hence, at its best.

Bronze Medal: Kid A by Radiohead

Here it is. Pitchfork’s Number One album of the decade. Since Radiohead is my favorite modern artist, this may be a surprise down at #3. But honestly, Kid A hasn’t shaken me the way some of the bands other work has. Nonetheless, it’s brilliant and revolutionary. “Everything In It’s Right Place” is one of the great openers of all time and a great foretaste of the delicious electronic textures Radiohead would create on this album and many more to come.  The album is inseparable from its album art, which gives us a view of the bleak, frigid environment where Radiohead was coming from at this time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Favorite Ten of 2012

10. Tramp by Sharon Van Etten

9. Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

8. Plumb by Field Music

7. Lonerism by Tame Impala

6. The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

5. Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors

4. Bloom by Beach House 

3. The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit

2. Shields by Grizzly Bear

1. There's No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man on Earth