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2015Jul28 1930: Mare Canterbury

So this is what it feels like to have no music for a week. July lasted longer than the Google free list, so I win an extended vacation from the invasion of synth pop. That's not to say I haven't been exposed to a most virulent strain; my brother's bachelor party took place over the weekend and I was dropped into a whole new social circle with a different concept of so-bad-it's-good music. Where I might go for a short-bus chipmunk they would go for a Reading Rainbow up in here. There is some common ground.

Today on Monty's Behind the Curve: I just finished an old book called Hyperion, soon to be a miniseries disaster from Syfy. It's structured as a sci-fi Canterbury Tales; seven pilgrims to a negentropic creature composed entirely of swords tell their life's story and surprise they've all been touched by the sword-jerk. The Canterbury Tales section is pretty good, describing the alien land they're traveling while weaving in different styles of scifi throughout. The problems -- and they're big problems -- are in the prologue and epilogue. The prologue contains the densest scifi jargon dump I've seen in a long time, an unassailable wall of places and devices and names. The epilogue leaves everything hanging for the second book as our protagonists link arms and start singing "We're Off to See The Wizard". I wish I was joking. The song isn't named by name, which may get him around legal issues but results in his characters beating around the bush in a completely aggravating manner. Inserting a modern song into your interplanetary scifi does not work. It didn't work with Hendrix, it didn't work with the fucking Beatles, and it's not going to work for your pet song.

I'm coming off as mean, and the book really is 90% good, but it makes a terrible first and last impression. And if this second book failes to resolve the story I'll make it my mission in life to...I dunno. Say mean things about Hyperion. I just hate wasting my reading time.

22Jul2015 2100: The Worst Scramble

Running running running! I spent most of tonight packing for the second bachelor party in as many weeks, cognizant always that a full week of vacation looms just over the horizon of my next load of laundry. If I did have free time I wouldn't be spending it on here; Rocket League is continuously awesome and I need to finish my art installation of The Worst Scrabble.

Turn down your volume before starting in on this week's free singles. [Old Wounds - Son of No One] explodes into your ears with no warning, a shouty angst-metal screed against just, like...everything man.

Okay, turn your volume back up. I don't know if there's such a genre as "mellow electro-rock" -- is that just back around to "rock"? -- but [Motopony - Daylights Gone] puts some minor production layers over a nice guitar beat. It puts me in mind of other one-and-done free singles [Hooray for Earth - No Love] or [Broken Bell - The High Road].

[Saint Motel - Cold Cold Man] mellows it down even further to fall over the "pop" line. It's a trifling Modest Mouse song without as much vocal cracking.

[Maths Time Joy - After Hours (feat. Flores)] brings the feat in an ambient remix of an R&B sex song.

[Bryce Dessner & So Percussion - Section 8] is from the album "Music for Wood and Strings" and it doesn't stray from the premise. Bryce hits things and strums things but nobody ever says anything. Also uhhhh guys it might be a cover of [Tegan and Sara - Dark Come Soon].

16Jul2015 1915: Imperialism

Hey guys: buy Rocket League. Rocket. Car. Soccer. The game just feels good, with silly car action that's as easy to pick up as the legendary Burnout Paradise. For this one shining moment I'm not behind the curve, although there are already millions of people better at Rocket League than me. You want to feel inadequate? Here's a video to make you feel totally inadequate about every game you've ever played.

I found out last night that the new Metric album has a date: September 18th! I was in the midst of getting SUPER HYPE when I checked out the prerelease single The Shade. Uh. Um. I mean, it sounds kind of like a Metric song. But then I surfed into the other single, described as the beating heart of their album, 80s Synth Syndrome has reached my favoritest band and I blame all of you. This is how generational wars begin. My music is being co-opted by people both ten years older and twenty years younger than me and I will cut you.

[The Weather Station - Way It Is, Way It Could Be] pairs a well-picked guitar melody with a dark female voice that could come out of the dark middle chapter of O Brother, Where Art Thou? It's Sarah McLachlan after a few hits of moonshine, just settin' watching the sun go down.

So naturally we need an instant funksplosion to follow up. [Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds - Sugar] is a huge brassy sex song clothed in only the thinnest of metaphors.

[Charenee Wade - I Think I'll Call It Morning] dials it back down from funk to jazz. This song would have fit perfectly into my old jazz mixtape alongside the Katamari track and Madeleine Peyroux. There are no surprises, no tricks, no synth, just a lovely little jazz lounge.

It's weird that just when I decided to purge the Spanish-language tracks from my library, Google decided to start pushing more of them. This whole week has had a super-chill throughline and [Kanaku Y El Tigre - Pulpos] plays us out with a Latin drumbeat underneath an indie-pop love duet. But even here the sounds are fraying around the edges into Hotline Miami.

09Jul2015 1645: Contentment

Maaaan this summer's going to be really spotty for blog posts. Can't talk now I'm heading out the door to the family reunion. I spent all week preparing for said reunion. And now I'm trapped here by the asphalt workers and dinner is going to be half a wheel of camembert and a carton of Whoppers. Calorie counting is suspended until further notice! Eat it, everybody who's not related to me!

[LA Priest - Oino] starts with the usual breakbeat and synthy dance shtick, but trapped in the middle is what would happen if Dueling Banjos was performed by robots. It doesn't last long and doesn't save the song but at least it was interesting.

[Strange Names - Ricochet] goes full 80s, from the bouncy bass guitar to the echoing sighs of the lead singer. They probably wear sunglasses at night and consider themselves so original. It's catchy enough that you'll swear you remember hearing this on cassette.

[Algiers - Black Eunuch] starts out with a world-music head fake before kicking into a medium rockabilly song.

Through the years of free Amazon and Google singles I've picked up rather a lot of Spanish-language songs. I've been purging them lately; I came to realize that the novelty of foreign pop songs doesn't make them better pop songs. [Ola Fresca - Elixir] is Latin jazz and doesn't make any case to keep it around.

05Jul2015 1630: Taking Off

I have just now stopped hanging out with friends and family that were in from out of state, the first salvo in a summer packed with travel and weddings. It's a great time to have fewer weekend responsibilities, and just coincidentally it's also the very final page of 52 Yo Mama and Bloot. Four and a half years isn't a bad run -- it's somehow a full year longer than GerbilMechs, but GM felt like it took forever. Man man man. I need a break on my weekend mornings, but I also don't want to forget how to art. Maybe I should make a video game again? Learn how to script? The world is full of possibilities and one of those possibilities is sleeping in.

[Sick Sad World - Skateboarding Girl] is a skate-punk love song. Skateheads aren't known for their lyrical depth or sobriety but if you're really hard up for surf guitar and uncomplicated 60s wooing then this is a good baseline.

[Hanni El Khatib - Two Brothers (Holy Ghost remix) comes from a whole album of remixes but isn't bad for all that. It sounds like cruising the outskirts of Miami while being pursued by KC and the Sunshine Band.

Everybody older than high school, turn aside now. You've already lived through this song. [Alpine - Foolish] is the Cardigans continuing to sing about love and the foolishness it brings.

Bilal wants to get with a gal and offers his services as a coin-operated boy in [Bilal feat. Big K.R.I.T. - Pleasure Toy (feat. BIG K.R.I.T)]. There's a "feat" and a breakbeat, so listen once for the decent Motown falsetto and deny it if anybody asks.