The Cool New Music Chronicles: Remember to Close All Parentheses



Almost three years later I made another mix that I had actually been thinking about for some time, but just never got around to doing.

A lot had happened in the intervening years. My dad’s health and mental faculties diminished slowly and he passed away on Feb 11, 2011. My sister and I were there for him, and he went pretty peacefully. He had not been doing well and it was actually a relief to not only let him be released form a humiliating end, but for my sister — who had been his primary caregiver — to regain hers.

The other death we had came in late 2010, when Beebo also went peacefully. In fact, he had had a normal day and was snoozing when he suddenly stretched out one last time and died. It something we should all hope for, I guess. We missed him terribly.

By April of 2011 we were ready to get a new dog and, despite some initial misunderstandings, Cappy the pit bull has become a joyful addition to our house. It’s especially nice that, unlike Beebo, who had some socialization issues, Cappy loves people and is friendly and polite.

My work changed in its nature. I had gradually been moving away from my marketing email duties and into more general database work, and this was finally formalized as I became part of the Data Warehouse group. Since beginning at Wolfram I had taught myself php, Perl, SQL, and some general Linux stuff and was continuing to learn new things, which was pretty fun and interesting.

Shortly after I made Plus Ultra I began the original version of these posts on a now-defunct separate music blog. In addition to this virtual trip to the past, I made an actual one in 2009. My folks had moved away from the New Orleans suburbs not long after I moved to Illinois, so I hadn’t really been there in years. In September of 2009, while visiting my dad in Baton Rouge, I decided to head down to New Orleans and spent the day driving around my old haunts. It was a weird trip, and revelatory in many ways. I don’t think I’ll need to do it again.

By now Twitter was my preferred platform for “social media” as it best served my purposes: saying whatever popped into my head and not caring who was interested in it. My friends and I often started up stupid joke accounts there and in late 2009 one of them sort of became really popular. Within a few days our tomfoolery had scored us an agent, and within a couple months we had a book deal. That is nuts. The book, Write More Good, came out on April 5, 2011, and it did…um, okay, I guess. But we had a lot of fun writing and promoting it.

In personal life, much was the same. Board games, Legos, Doctor Who, and comics, as per before. Trips we took during this time: Niagara Falls, Montreal, Italy.

  1. They Might Be Giants – Can’t Keep Johnny Down
  2. The Joy Formidable – Cradle
  3. Cloud Nothings – Been Through
  4. Gorillaz – Superfast Jellyfish (Feat. Gruff Rhys and De La Soul)
  5. The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day
  6. Fountains Of Wayne – Acela
  7. Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside
  8. Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings
  9. Pomegranates – Corriander
  10. Fang Island – Daisy
  11. Phoenix – 1901
  12. Brakes – Worry About It Later
  13. The Decemberists – Calamity Song
  14. Hallelujah the Hills – Hallelujah The Hills
  15. The Billy Nayer Show – Mars
  16. The Epoxies – We’re So Small
  17. Dum Dum Girls – He Gets Me High
  18. Beta Hector – Jupiter Mission
  19. Adam WarRock – I Have Never Watched An Episode of Dr. Who In My Life
  20. Shriekback – Loving Up The Thing
  21. The Books – A Cold Freezin’ Night
  22. St. Vincent – Actor Out Of Work
  23. O+S – Permanent Scar
  24. Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

I didn’t mess up here, there is no “side A” and “side B”. I decided that the last several mixes were too big and bloated, and decided to keep this one focused. It’s not much shorter than 90 minutes, while still including a lot of songs and variety. Hopefully a more trim format will help me make these more often than every three years.

  • They Might Be Giants – Can’t Keep Johnny Down

TMBG had kind of waned in popularity for me, as I felt their albums had just gotten less interesting. I only bought Join Us on a whim, but it turned out to be a pretty good whim, as it’s a fairly solid album. It made me go back and re-evaluate those “less interesting” ones with revised verdicts (The Spine – better than I remembered, The Else – worse than I remembered.)

  • The Joy Formidable – Cradle

You know those music channels you get on cable? They’re not completely useless. I heard this song on one of them and it blew me away. I bought the whole album and, frankly, it gets a bit tiresome, but I love this song. It seems like “songs” are my main interest in music consumption these days.

  • Cloud Nothings – Been Through
  • Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings
  • Pomegranates – Corriander
  • Fang Island – Daisy
  • Hallelujah the Hills – Hallelujah The Hills
  • Dum Dum Girls – He Gets Me High
  • O+S – Permanent Scar

No idea where I heard these tracks. Music blogs, maybe?

  • Gorillaz – Superfast Jellyfish (Feat. Gruff Rhys and De La Soul)

When you weren’t looking, Gorillaz turned into a pretty awesome and creative band.

  • The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day

Proof of Youth hadn’t grabbed me as much as their first album, so, as with TMBG, I was initially going to pass on this one, but this track and another made me reconsider, and I’m glad I did.

  • Fountains Of Wayne – Acela

I will always love FoW, but Traffic and Weather was something of a letdown, and this one isn’t a whole lot better, though it has some memorable moments on it. Maybe they’re just getting mellower in their old age, but not as many of the songs are grabbing me as they used to. Still, when they’re on, they’re rock solid.

  • Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside

I like this song, but I probably think I like it more than I actually due because of the video.

  • Phoenix – 1901

Don’t get me wrong, I like this song, and I want to like Phoenix more than I do, but like Vampire Weekend, I just get this sense from them of the band standing around in polo shirts talking about how awesome it’ll be when they’re all hedge fund managers.

  • Brakes – Worry About It Later

Another one from the cable music channel. Had a hard time finding these guys because some folks say the band’s name is “Brakes Brakes Brakes”.

  • The Decemberists – Calamity Song

These guys have slowly crept up in my esteem to where they’re now one of my favorites, though I can do without some of their more…extravagant…productions. This song sounds a lot like old R.E.M. (Peter Buck plays on it, which is a good reason for this) and that reminds me that I was going to put a song from what turned out to be R.E.M.’s final album on this mix. I liked the song a lot when I first heard it, though it didn’t get me to buy the album. When I was selecting songs for this mix I threw it in, thinking, “Oh yeah, that one for sure” but when it came time, it just sounded kind of weak and pale next to everything else. That’s unfortunate, but I can’t criticize R.E.M. too much. Their first six albums are untouchable in my book.

  • The Billy Nayer Show – Mars

My pal James introduced me to the films of Cory McAbee, The American Astronaut and Stingray Sam. Cory stars in both and his band, The Billy Nayer Show, provides the music. Both are excellent films, and this song is from the second one.

  • The Epoxies – We’re So Small

This one came from Andrew and I love it.

  • Beta Hector – Jupiter Mission

Can’t tell you anything about this one except that I heard it on a KEXP podcast.

  • Adam WarRock – I Have Never Watched An Episode of Dr. Who In My Life

My pal Euge quit his job as a lawyer two years ago to pursue his dream of being a rapper, Adam WarRock. In that time his tireless touring, promoting, and producing (dude is prolific) have made him skyrocket in popularity, and he seems to be having the time of his life. It certainly shows in his music, which is solid, thoughtful, and fun. In this track I never fail to laugh at the part where he says, “I don’t even understand what anybody’s talking about.”

  • Shriekback – Loving Up The Thing

I’ll always buy new Shriekback out of continued loyalty, they’re usually not too bad, but when Life in the Loading Bay turned out to be actually really good, it was like a happy little bonus for my unflagging support.

  • The Books – A Cold Freezin’ Night

A returning favorite, always doing something a little bit different. This is a fun track, but the one I really wanted to use was “We Bought the Flood“. That’s a haunting, harrowing song, though, and there was no way it would fit in here without major whiplash.

  • St. Vincent – Actor Out Of Work

I saw the video for this one first and fell in love with it. Honestly, this mix largely exists as a vector primarily for this song.

  • Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

This one loses some of its effect without its context on the whole album, but it’s still so hopeful and joyful.

One of my best Fake AP Stylebook contributions was “Always remember to close all parentheses. We’re not paying to air condition the entire paragraph.” The title is from that, but it also refers to a lot of other things. For one, it’s a joke, since it seemed like the last mix was going to honestly be the last mix, but I guess that parenthesis remains unclosed. It was also a reference, as the cover makes clear, to death and an e. e. cummings poem.

Click on the player below to listen to this mix!

(xspf player courtesy Lacy Morrow and Fabricio Zuardi.)

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