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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dog days, MediaMonkey, the flu, Neil Gaiman. Wondering how all this could possibly be related? It's not.

Photo credit: Miles Aldridge

Lately, in the morning hours, you'll sometimes find me playing the shit out of these songs:
Beach House - Used to Be
But that's not all I do. I've also been obsessed with researching the etymology of random words and idioms lately. Which means I'm looking for people to annoy with my newly-found bits of trivia and I think YOU (yes, you!) fit the bill. Did you know, for instance, that the expression "dog days" is owed to an astute observation by those darling ancient Romans, who noticed that during the hottest days of the year (in late July and August) Sirius - the brightest star in the night sky, also called the Dog Star - was positioned in the same part of the sky as the sun? Nor did they believe this to be a mere coincidence (coincidence? in ancient Rome? HELL NO!) but they actually thought the presence of the star in the Sun's vicinity to be the cause of the heat. In a similar vein, (this is not something I discovered recently but it seems like a good place to mention it for those wondering) the word influenza (commonly known as the 'flu') takes its name from yet another phenomenon blamed on "the stars": the vicious flu epidemic that erupted in the beginning of the 1700s struck so many people in such a short period of time (SO not coincidental) that it was attributed to the, ahem, influence of a particular configuration of the stars. Thus, influenza - Italian for influence (derived from Medieval Latin influentia). I find all this fascinating. If you don't however - fair enough - don't think I stuck that song on top just because it had the word "dog" in it. I would never do that to you. Owen Pallett's newest album has been on repeat on my MediaMonkey. I kid you not. Go listen. To the whole album! - the song might sound weird out of context. (How many gazillions of times is the name Media Monkey cooler than Media Player? or iTunes for that matter? Even if you weren't convinced of the fact that it's a better program - which it IS - you should switch to MM just for the chance to utter the words Media and Monkey in the same sentence countless times a day. Parenthesis over.)

Out soon: New Adam Green album! New Album Leaf album! New Alex Tucker album! Hurray for the letter A! (The letter A is so cool that it actually rhymes with 'hurray!')

Delving into that tiny little corner of my heart reserved for juvenile, emo-sounding hardcore bands, I've been enjoying - in the masochistic sense of the word? - A History Of lately. Some of their songs sound like a less eloquent and less religious mewithoutyou. The latter is a good thing.

Neglecting the songs in your inbox, on the other hand, is a BAD thing. Very bad thing. And this band's why:
B for Butterfly - Photograph

Photo credit: Miles Aldridge

Finally, the bit we've all been waiting for (fine, I've been waiting for): These New Puritans have a new album. Aww yeah. I have only listened to two songs from it thus far but cannot wait to get my hands on it. Drowned In Sound have awarded it a 9 out of 10, which bodes well and, fortunately, so do the aforementioned already-heard songs. I better be careful how I use my hands today because I'll need those fingers for crossing. They have potential for great things, this band. State Shirt now on the other hand are not a band I expect much from. Though they are tagged "experimental" on Last.fm, I confess mine ears hear no experimenting with new sounds being done. However in a way, they make me think of TNP, by way of contrast. They are less interesting, perhaps, but also more accessible and, one could argue, catchier. So the two songs perfectly complement each other - at least to my (booze-addled, twisted) mind.

Lastly, and in no way related to the above, I quite like Neil Gaiman's answer to the timeworn "If you hadn't been a writer...?" question in the New Yorker today:
"I would have wanted to design religions. I’d have a little shop, and people would phone up or come into the shop and they’d say, ‘I’d like a religion’. And I’d say, ‘Cool, O.K. Where do you stand on guilt, and how do you want to fund it? And would you like sort of a belief in the universe as a huge beneficent organ? Or would you like something more complex?’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, we’d like God to be really big on guilt.’ And I’d say, ‘O.K., how does Wednesday sound to you as a sacred day?’