Monday, January 14, 2008

The Year 2007 In Review

So it's after my birthday...do any of you still read this, anyway?

I've got to say that where 2006 was hit (falling in love, meeting Eric Condon, becoming really close friends with Graham) and miss (summer in Seymour, the religion debacle) in peak and valley proportions, 2007 was hit and miss in terms of mountains and ditches. In other words, a very good year with only minor bumps and bruises.

And so follows, me doing a recap (it is mainly for nostalgic purposes) and also some definitive lists.

January
+ New semester
+ Turn 20
+ Fall in love with 'The Office'
+ I quit The Heliocentrics, Eric and I form Hobbyhorse

February
+ Two break-ups with Shelley
+ Alex's Speech
+ Cocktail party with Forrest in tow - an interesting night
+ Hobbyhorse MySpace online

March
+ Beatles Mash-Up
+ Break-up with Shelley
+ Sick during Spring Break
+ Video project #1 for C335
+ Learned my parents had read my blog from January 2006 to the current date, I go offline for for five months

April
+ Video project #2 for C335
+ Purchasing Lather reignites my interest in the music of Frank Zappa, hot on the heels of my registration for the Zappa class
+ Nick in Mr. SHS Contest
+ I crash the Renaissance fair dressed as a knight (think Bam Margera on 'Jackass') and get kicked out for interrupting a fencing match armed with a plastic sword
+ Meet Shelley's mom after an already awkward relationship was established via several phone calls and emails
+ Move in with Eric and Keeler for the summer

May
+ Final break-up with Shelley
+ Chance meeting with Luke Hollingsworth yields a vast quantity of Frank Zappa music I didn't have that he had acquired
+ Lots of late nights on the Internets at the library
+ Lots of afternoons on the Internets at Shelley's house

June
+ Begin dating Melanie
+ Begin being a total horse's ass towards Shelley for a few weeks
+ Summer Session I ends - Writing Media Criticism
+ Summer Session II begins - Motion Picture Production

July
+ Spend July 4th in Bloomington
+ Break-up with Melanie (*cough* rebound dating *cough*)
+ Started being nice again to Shelley
+ Began following the Presidential campaign
+ Move out of the house and into Smallwood with Eric for one week

August
+ Blog back online
+ Summer Session II ends
+ Gulf Shores, Alabama
+ Fall semester begins
+ Eric's graduation party

September
+ Met Jimmy Carl Black & Simon Prentis
+ Exchanged emails with Arthur Barrow
+ Kate and I start seeing each other
+ Home recording, my MySpace goes online

October
+ Skipped Oktoberfest because I'm awesome
+ Auditioned for Joel Barker's band Overhand
+ Started the grad school application thing
+ Befriended Laura
+ Signed for the apartment

November
+ Kate and I break up
+ Shelley begins shooting her movie
+ Brought Charles Jiang home for Thanksgiving
+ Took the GRE
+ Decide specific area of interest for grad school (Rock Music Films)

December
+ Home for Mom's birthday weekend
+ Shelley completes her movie, I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper
+ I adapt The Kinks' Preservation into a full-length script
+ Andy's concert @ The Bluebird
+ Eric (brother) gets engaged
+ Online application to George Mason University screenwriting program
+ Down to New Albany to record drum tracks for Hobbyhorse album (Release TBA)

So I ended 2007 just as I had started it: in New Albany, with Eric Condon...that was a lot more poignant and a lot less gay before I typed that out.

All right, now let's get cracking on the all-important list of music.

MUSIC
Let me first say that in terms of modern music this was the year of "Well, it's about damn time you put out another album!"

The White Stripes' Icky Thump was a logical successor to Get Behind Me Satan, both a continuance of the innovations of their 2005 album and a return to the bouncy, distorted tunes of Elephant. Their cover of "Conquest" is nothing less than bitchin'.

After a year recording and touring with Rob Zombie, resulting in my favorite album of 2006 (Educated Horses), the surprisingly eclectic (and if you heard him on The Golden Age Of Grotesque by Marilyn Manson - more on him in a bit - the surprisingly TALENTED) John 5 put out The Devil Knows My Name, which, being available only online (or as a thirty dollar import at $am Goody - get it? The S was a dollar sign because they're greedy!) means two things:
1.) Too few people have heard it.
2.) I, unfortunately, am not among that few yet. What I've heard so far is flawlessly executed, melodic guitar-slinging. But would we expect anything less from a man who learns a new song every day as practice?

The Smashing Pumpkins, if that's what you'd like to call them (I prefer Zwan-minus-the-shitty-music), did Zeitgeist, an album which, were Billy Corgan to drop dead tomorrow morning, serves as a far better swansong than TheFutureEmbrace (which has one of the fruitiest album covers ever) and Machina - either part, both suck.

The big album of 2007 for me was Marilyn Manson's long-awaited return, some four years after The Golden Age Of Grotesque, an album which still has yet to make a lasting impression beyond a few standouts. However, Eat Me, Drink Me marked a turning point for Manson. The socially charged lyrics of Holy Wood are nowhere to be found. However, this is hardly a complaint. The lyrics on that album work for the context of that album, as is the case with the new release.
Since his 2003 effort, Manson has gotten married, divorced, and found new love - hence the album's delayed release. It was worth the wait, as this might be Manson at his most poetic. There is no image associated with the artist on the disc like on the self-proclaimed triptych (Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holy Wood), nor is there pretense (as on GAOG, which was the lyrical equivalent of a Brakhage film: stupid, self-gratifying, and pointless). The Antichrist turned glam rocker turned revolutionary turned cokehead Weimar wannabe has let his guard down for once and shown us the man beneath the makeup, beneath the cheap contact, and beneath the screaming vocals.
The only shame with the album musically is that it isn't John 5 melting the fretboard on the eleven tracks; he left the band in 2005. This shouldn't interfere with your enjoyment of it, though. Tim Sköld is a very talented musician, filling both guitar and bass duties. It's strange that though every drum track on this album was programmed through a machine, Eat Me, Drink Me has a pulse, while the live drums on GAOG are about as cold as Ronald Reagan's corpse.
Lots of great melodies, and though there lyrics that might be a bit too personal for the casual listener (for me it was most likely right place, right time, as my personal life was headed for disaster), they are his sharpest and most mature to date. All this after "Coma Black," "Disposable Teens," "Man That You Fear," "Rock Is Dead," and "The Speed Of Pain." It might be a lofty claim, but with Manson putting his heart into his work rather than a barrage of cultural references more obscure than Dennis Miller ranting about Dadaism during 'Monday Night Football' I can easily liken this album to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. I'm not going to ask you to agree with me on this, like I said, even I think that's a bit bawdy.
It's not all about his feelings, though. "Mutilation Is The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery" gives the MySpace generation a literal "Fuck you!" in its chorus. Anyway, this album rocks, it has lighter-waving anthems, and dare I say it an eerie beauty that we haven't heard in seven whole years.
Ladies and gentlemen, Marilyn Manson is back.

News just came my way that Tim Sköld is out of the band (amicably, to the point that they may still collaborate) and has been replaced by his old cohort Twiggy Ramirez, returning from Nine Inch Nails after not being in Manson's band since 2001. They are already in the studio to work on what will be the band's seventh studio album.

For me, though, I still prefer looking back not on the releases of 2007 (well, music, anyway) but instead the top 3 songs I had in rotation each month.

January
1. "Sigillum Diaboli" - HIM (Greatest Love Songs, Volume 666, 1997)
2. Requiem For OMM2 - Of Montreal (The Sunlandic Twins, 2005)
3. "Agent Versus Agent, Spy Versus Spy" - Messer Für Frau Müller (Triangle, Dot, And Devil, 2006)

February
1. "You Know The Drill" - Hobbyhorse (Untitled Album, 2008)
2. "Bama-Lama, Bama-Loo" - Little Richard (Single, 1964)
3. "I Just Want Something To Do" - Local H (The No Fun EP, 2003)

March
1. "Bohemian Like You" - The Dandy Warhols (Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, 2000)
2. "Strict Machine" - Goldfrapp (Black Cherry, 2003)
3. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" - The Sex Pistols (The Great Rock 'N Roll Swindle, 1979)

April
1. "Disco Boy" - Frank Zappa (Baby Snakes, 1983)
2. "Lose You Tonight" - HIM (Deep Shadows And Brilliant Highlights, 2001)
3. "Overture - My Roots: Money (That's What I Want)/Messin' With the Kid" - Todd Rundgren (Something/Anything?, 1972)

May
1. "Heart-Shaped Glasses" - Marilyn Manson (Eat Me, Drink Me, 2007)
2. "Panic" - The Smiths (Louder Than Bombs, 1987)
3. "Nobody Rides For Free" - Grant Hart (Good News For Modern Man, 1999)

June
1. "Cheepnis" - The Mothers (Roxy And Elsewhere, 1974)
2. "Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads (Talking Heads: 77, 1977)
3. "Dead Girls Of London" - Frank Zappa (Any Way The Wind Blows, rec. 1979, rel. 1991)

July
1. "Never Talking To You Again" - Hüsker Dü (Zen Arcade, 1984)
2. "Flakes" - Frank Zappa (Sheik Yerbouti, 1979)
3. "Toxic" - Local H (Alive '05, 2005)

August
1. "They Said That Hell's Not Hot" - Marilyn Manson (Eat Me, Drink Me, 2007)
2. "T.V. Eye" - The Stooges (Fun House, 1970)
3. "What Difference Does It Make?" - (The Smiths, 1984)

September
1. "Supply And Demand" - The Hives (Veni Vidi Vicious, 2000)
2. "Debaser" - The Pixies (Doolittle, 1989)
3. "International Feel" - Todd Rundgren (A Wizard, A True Star, 1973)

October
1. "Hello It's Me" - The Nazz (The Nazz, 1968)
2. "Dead God" - Tim Sköld (Dead God, 2001)
3. "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" - The Monkees (Single, 1967)

November
1. "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy" - The Mothers (Bongo Fury, 1975
2. "Preservation" - The Kinks (Single, 1974)
3. "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution" - Frank Zappa (Sleep Dirt, 1979)

December
1. "All My Friends Are Dead" - Turbonegro (Party Animals, 2005)
2. "Like A Rolling Stone" - Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
3. "Amnerika" - Frank Zappa (Civilization Phaze III, 1994)

And you know what? So much has been going on, I'm gonna go ahead and call
January
1. "Cinnamon Girl" - Neil Young (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1969)

Trust me on this one. It will be number one for January 2008 twelve months from today, too.

On Saturday, January 12th, I submitted my application to the CMCL graduate program. I should hear back from them by at the earliest February 8th. George Mason will notify me in the middle of next month; in other words, after I have heard back from CMCL. Let's hope it's me having to pick between two schools. Or at the very worst, saying, "Well, guess I'm moving to Arlington, Virginia!"

I have spent a little too much time posting this...I need to rest a bit, then do laundry, and enjoy the last little bit of the four-day weekend I have every week. Not having classes on Monday and Friday is probably the best way to have my final undergrad semester.

Alex

4 comments:

m@ said...

George Mason--respectable speech program and a beautiful campus. Nice choice.

Shelley said...

I'll have to agree with Manson's album. I think it is good that he used personal lyrics, it proves that he is getting more mature (like you said).

I want to hear John 5's album. I wish he'd put it in stores.

I remember you saying you wanted to do another mash-up, but of what band?

And why Husker du's version of "Never Talking To You Again" and not Elf Power's? Because you me and both know that the latter is way awesomer.

(Oh, and thank you for putting up my movie. I wonder if people I don't know have watched it).

Do you mean every January will be Neil Young's Cinnamon girl?

---Me

molly said...

oh wow thanks
i just got your comment from december haha
and what a compliment

i love a lot of your choices
great blog!

Forrest said...

Man, you had a helluva year and that cocktail party still goes down as one of my defining moments!