In anticipation of our favourite annual post here at LITC—Best Albums of such-and-such year—we are proud to share fifty tracks that we think are the best released this year. Trust us, there was so much good music released this year that we found picking our fifty favourite tracks to be a rather excruciating process. We’d also love to hear about any songs that you feel should not have been left off of this list in the comments section! So without further ado, here are our fifty favourite tracks from 2011 (in alphabetical order):
- ‘All the Sand in All the Sea’ DeVotchKa 100 Lovers
- ‘Angel Is Broken’ Atlas Sound Parallax
- ‘Animal’ Neon Trees Habits
- ‘Ash/Black Veil’ Apparat The Devil’s Walk
- ‘Battery Kinzie’ Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
- ‘Belong’ The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Belong
- ‘Circulation’ Thurston Moore Demolished Thoughts
- ‘Codex’ Radiohead The King Of Limbs
- ‘Country Dumb’ Josh T. Pearson Last of the Country Gentlemen
- ‘Cruel’ St Vincent Strange Mercy
- ‘Days’ The Drums Portamento
- ‘Degeneration Street’ The Dears Degeneration Street
- ‘Don’t Move’ Phantogram Nightlife EP
- ‘Downtown Eastern Bloc’ Times New Viking Dancer Equired
- ‘5 Chords’ The Dears Degeneration Street
- ‘Fuck This Place’ Frightened Rabbit A Frightened Rabbit EP
- ‘Galactic Tides’ The Dears Degeneration Street
- ‘Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now’ The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Belong
- ‘Helplessness Blues’ Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
- ‘Honey Bunny’ Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost
- ‘I Don’t Want Love’ The Antlers Burst Apart
- ‘Keep You’ Class Actress Rapprocher
- ‘The King’ RAMESH The King
- ‘The Last Living Rose’ PJ Harvey Let England Shake
- ‘Lippy Kids’ Elbow Build A Rocket Boys!
- ‘Montana’ Youth Lagoon Youth Lagoon
- ‘Municipality’ Real Estate Days
- ‘No Room to Live’ Times New Viking Dancer Equired
- ‘No Widows’ The Antlers Burst Apart
- ‘People’ David Bazan Strange Negotiations
- ‘Save Me’ Gotye Making Mirrors
- ‘Scottish Winds’ Frightened Rabbit A Frightened Rabbit EP
- ‘17’ Youth Lagoon Youth Lagoon
- ‘Smile’ Smith Westerns Dye It Blonde
- ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ Gotye (ft. Kimbra) Making Mirrors
- ‘Song Of Los’ Apparat The Devil’s Walk
- ‘Steve McQueen’ M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
- ‘Strange Negotiations’ David Bazan Strange Negotiations
- ‘Sweetheart I Aint Your Christ’ Josh T. Pearson Last of the Country Gentlemen
- ‘Tatooine’ Jeremy Messersmith Tatooine Single
- ‘To Every Man His Chimera’ Cass McCombs Humor Risk
- ‘Trembling Hands’ Explosions in the Sky Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
- ‘Try to Sleep’ Low C’mon
- ‘Under My Nose’ Fucked Up David Comes to Life
- ‘Video Games’ Lana Del Rey Video Games
- ‘Wait’ Alberta Cross The Rolling Thunder EP
- ‘Wash’ Bon Iver Bon Iver
- ‘Weekend’ Class Actress Rapprocher
- ‘Weekend’ Smith Westerns Dye It Blonde
- ‘Your Eyes’ Bombay Bicycle Club A Different Kind of Fix
If you’d like to check out these tracks for temporary review before you go out and buy the single or the record, you may click here to have a listen.
Keep a lookout for our upcoming Best Albums of 2011 post!
As is obvious from several posts (mainly from Greg), we here at LITC are huge fans of the musical emanation of the trashy Texan Josh T. Pearson. Only two years ago Greg happened upon Pearson’s 2001 album (as a member of the band Lift to Experience), The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. Soon thereafter the Band Evangelist passed the Gospel of JTP to his disciple Elijah and Crossroads became a mainstay for us two Pearson late-bloomers. But we’ve determined to never fall behind again!
March marked the release of Pearson’s first record since Crossroads, The Last of the Country Gentlemen (which Greg was evangelising leading up to its release).
On 25 March 2011, Pearson’s ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen Tour’ made its way through Glasgow. Fortunately for us here at LITC, we were in Glasgow at the time. In fact, we had booked our tickets well in advance and Greg had travelled thousands of miles from America to meet Elijah at his home in Scotland for a week of adventure leading up to the gig.
Stereo, Glasgow, 25 March 2011
At the show Pearson was selling an eleven-track live CD (seven of which are actual songs, while the rest are exclusively stage banter, all on a classy Imation-brand CD-R with a carefully photocopied portrait of Pearson, shown below), To Hull and Back.
The show’s opener, a British solo act whose name will remain unmentioned here, was dreadful: faux Americana, interminable roots/’blues’ compositions with lyrics that tried to conjure up images of railroad tracks and the devil at crossroads and all manner of rough & tumble, down-on-their-luck outlaw clichés. Let us just say that it was ultimately a Bizarro World version of Josh T. Pearson…
The sick taste of that experience was immediately washed away when Pearson shambled onto the small stage in Stereo’s basement, looking like a heartbroken Jesus on methadone and whiskey, nodding and uttering a low ‘How y’all doin’?’ When a local yelled out, ‘Welcome back, Josh!’ Pearson replied, ‘I hope your years were better than mine…’ During his sound check, he told the audience that they’d need to ‘be super quiet or they’re going to go upstairs [to the restaurant]’ which he reinforced during the show by stopping a song in the middle when some idiots started to talk and only resuming when there was absolute silence. Though this may seem like pedantry, Pearson’s songs often fell to a bare whisper and light strum, so an absolutely quiet environment was the only way we would actually be able to hear the songs as they were meant to be experienced.
Pearson began his set with what he said was a cover of a song by Boney M (we’d never heard of them, but apparently they were a reggae/disco group from the late 70s put together by Frank Farian, who would later go on to create Milli Vanilli), but Pearson made the song beautifully his own. At the last second, Greg took out his iPhone and recorded the song, ‘Rivers of Babylon’ onto the voice memos app—here is a link to the recording, which turned out surprisingly polished:
‘Rivers of Babylon‘ (Boney M cover) – Josh T. Pearson
In this song, Pearson sang, ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your eyes tonight’ as he gazed up soulfully. It was as if he was dedicating the set to God, offering the pain and brokenness and loss that his songs contained not ultimately to us, the concertgoers, but to a divine audience. Many of his songs speak about God or Jesus: in ‘Country Dumb,’ he says that his kind of people are ‘failures each and every one, we’re the kind who will always need a savior’ and and in ‘Sweetheart, I Ain’t Your Christ,’ he sings to his woman: ‘you don’t need a lover or a friend, you need a God and not a mortal man. Woman, you need born again, again–you need a savior and I just am not him.’ Yet many of his songs also speak of his own inability to control outbursts of anger or drinking (‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’) or rein in his adulterous desire (‘Honeymoon Is Great, I Wish You Were Her’). Pearson is the quintessential sinner looking for redemption while laying drunk in the gutter–if only more Christians could see their own moral failure and need for salvation as clearly as he does…
During his performance, despite several awkward false starts in reaction to the audience’s noise level (space which was occupied with Pearson telling some pretty wretched jokes), Pearson proved incredibly moving. Indeed, his lengthy and intensely personal tunes demanded the full attention of the audience. We here at LITC have come to the consensus that Pearson’s performance was in fact the best solo performance we had ever seen (at one point, I [Greg] even found myself choking up and with watery eyes in a mixture of joy and sadness at the beauty and despair of his set). You really ought to pick up his record from your local record store and catch him live if he ever comes your way.
The year is rapidly drawing to a close, which means that it is time for our favourite annual post here at LITC: OUR BEST OF ALBUMS LIST. This has been a very satisfying year for music. Not much is needed by way of introduction, so let’s just jump into it. As may be expected, we (Elijah & Greg) have several albums in common among our top ten. We will first share our overlap.
Shared entries from Elijah & Greg’s Top 10 Albums of ’10
- InnerSpeaker Tame Impala (Greg) — This is a band where every ingredient (vocals, instruments, lyrics, production, etc.) makes an essential and vital contribution to the final result–remove any element and the entire sound would collapse. Everything I like about ‘classic rock’ (a hideous term that conjures up images of some white trash hessian screaming out ‘FREE BIRD!’) is to be found on this album, yet, to my ear, it in no way feels dated. It’s often uncomplicated, but as if the band simply understood exactly what needed to go where to make each song perfectly what it eventually was meant to become (goodness there were a great many adverbs in that sentence!).
- High Violet The National (Elijah) — The National caught me by surprise this year. I was not as big a fan of 2007′s Boxer, unlike Greg and many of my other highly revered friends. But from the first note of the first track, ‘Terrible Love’, I was entranced. This album is incredible on the first listen, but is also a ‘grower’, with its share of immediately outstanding tracks and tracks that reveal their ultimate reward after a series of faithful listens. There’s something pure and straightforward about High Violet that seldom makes its way into indie playlists these days. Also, listen for Sufjan Stevens’ contribution on the excellent track ‘Afraid Of Everyone’.
- The Suburbs Arcade Fire (Greg) — I admired their first album immensely; their second was a mixed bag. I assumed that this would be continuing in that downward trajectory. I was wrong. This is a masterpiece. I originally felt like there was something derivative about the genres of various songs (Byrds here, ABBA there), but ultimately, I took this to be part of their apocalyptic vision of a decaying world of garden cities where ‘the music divides us into tribes’. Win Butler is one of the best living songwriters…
- The Winter of Mixed Drinks Frightened Rabbit (Greg) — My expectations were unreasonably high for this album (their last was my favorite album of 2008). FRabbit surpassed them. So much greatness to be found. Aside from ‘Man / Bag of Sand’ (which was reminiscent of another filler-esque reprise, ‘Extrasupervery’ on their previous record), there is nary a miss to be found. This kind of material is paving the way for a career that will end up with FR being among the great bands of all time. (Elijah adds: FR’s principal songwriter Scott Hutchison wrote this record over the course of two weeks in Crail, Fife, near my home in St Andrews, so the tone of the whole record gives me a warm feeling of geographic familiarity.)
- The Age of Adz & All Delighted People EP Sufjan Stevens (Elijah) — Our Sufjan thirst twas quenched this year and our cup runneth over. Not only did the contemporary musical genius release a surprise EP, but also a mind-blowing full length — a grand total of two hours, fourteen minutes, and eighteen seconds of new and very worthwhile Sufjan material (though among other Adz tracks, a version of ‘The Owl And The Tanager’ from ADP was publicly performed in 2007). Several months ago, Greg wrote a great piece analysing The Age of Adz. This album is strikingly personal and apocalyptic, and musically Sufjan is pushing the boundaries of pop, perhaps alienating those who are looking for the ‘older stuff’ (or more correctly, the ‘mid-career stuff’, namely Illinoise – A Sun Came is very much the progenitor of The Age of Adz). Sufjan has written his best record to date (and Adz‘ ‘I Want to Be Well’ might be my favourite Sufjan song of all time), which has brought about several modifications to our preexistent lists: The Age of Adz has been added to my Top 50 Albums list (displacing Black Flag’s hardcore punk gem, Damaged for the time being) and as an artist, Sufjan has surpassed The Smiths, Radiohead and Belle & Sebastian in my Top 20 Bands list. (Greg adds: This album is a museum worthy work of art. [Elijah adds: Here, here!])
Elijah’s Top 10 Albums of ’10
10. Belle and Sebastian Write About Love Belle & Sebastian — If the listener is looking exclusively for a return to form, an album resembling Tigermilk, If You’re Feeling Sinister or The Boy With the Arab Strap, he or she will be let down by Write About Love. It is evident that B&S have grown up a bit over the last 1.5 decades and don’t want to keep writing the same albums, something which we cannot blame them for, can we? But this record doesn’t need to be exhaustively defended – it stands well on its own. Its slightly less poppy than their previous release, 2006’s The Life Pursuit, finding a medium between 2000’s Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant and The Life Pursuit, as if in the place of 2003’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress (which is also an incredible record). Ultimately, Write About Love is a success if we are willing to see something that isn’t pre-2000 B&S as such. It is an excellent record that certainly improves with every listen.
9. King of the Beach Wavves — For those who have not previously seen this album cover, yes, that is a cat wearing a marijuana leaf-laden hat smoking a joint. But at least he has an all-seeing eye necklace, right? Maybe it will come as no surprise that Nathan Williams, leader and creative force behind Wavves, had a serious drug/alcohol-induced freakout during a concert in Spain last year, causing the other two members of the band to quit. Fortunately for Williams (and for us as listeners), the late Jay Reatard’s backing band (Billy Hayes and Stephen Pope) decided to join Nathan’s group and Wavves was reincarnated to give us the incredibly catchy (I mean, REALLY CATCHY), garage rocky, King of the Beach. Billy has since left the band.
8. Teen Dream Beach House — This record is one of a number of surprises for me this year. Prior to this record I did not find Beach House especially engaging, which delayed my purchase of Teen Dream until Greg included the new version ‘Used to Be’ (the old version was released as a single in 2008 following Devotion) on a mix he made for me. This is an incredibly original record, superior to Beach House’s previous releases, which are rendered mediocre in light of Teen Dream. Singer Victoria Legrand’s vocals power this record into the realm of the serene and sublime. While some tracks are stronger than others (like ‘Zebra’, ‘Norway’, ‘Used to Be’, and ’10 Mile Stereo’), this is an amazing record as a whole.
7. This is Happening LCD Soundsystem — Much like the case of Beach House with Teen Dream, I never found LCD Soundsystem’s music to capture my interest before this record. James Murphy has been at it for ages, and while 2007’s Sound of Silver was a critical and commercial success for his LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening demonstrates a finesse that secures his place as a veteran. This record is both very raw (‘Drunk Girls’) and sophisticated (‘Somebody’s Calling Me’), which combine to give us a incredibly interesting, fun, catchy, and pretensionless album. I also hear a lot of tasteful 1974-77 Eno-esque sound on this record (like ‘All I Want’ and ‘Somebody’s Calling Me’), which pleases me to no end.
6. The Suburbs Arcade Fire
5. InnerSpeaker Tame Impala
4. High Violet The National
3. The Winter of Mixed Drinks Frightened Rabbit
2. Halcyon Digest Deerhunter — Back in September I wrote concerning this record, ‘The album as a whole is excellent and it will surely find a place near the top of my favourite records released this year.’ I’m not merely placing Halcyon Digest at number two to save face so that no one can condemn me with, ‘Elijah gives disingenuous praise.’ No, every single track is an amazing audio experience, and as a whole they function as a battering ram made up of all that is good in independent music, breaking down the doors of pretension by merely doing what they love – and doing it well. Deerhunter makes their last two records (2008’s Microcastle and 2007’s Cryptograms) while brilliant in their own right, sound like mere warm-up sessions for Halcyon Digest. Bradford Cox—whose solo record as Atlas Sound, Logos, was my ninth-favourite record last year—and Lockett Pundt deliver with their unique sense of melody and lyrical strength (even in Bradford’s stream-of-consciousness manner).
Elijah’s Honourable mentions
- Boys Outside Steve Mason (of The Beta Band)
- The Changing of the Guard Starflyer 59 (which improves over time)
- Crazy For You Best Coast (useless fact: Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino is in a relationship with Wavves’ Nathan Williams, and the covers of Crazy For You and King of the Beach both feature cats)
- Crystal Castles (II) Crystal Castles
- Daughters Daughters
- Everything In Between No Age
- I Heart California Admiral Radley (featuring Jason Lytle of Grandaddy)
- Hidden These New Puritans
- Looks Like a Flood, Feels Like a Drought Preacher’s Sons
Greg’s Top 10 Albums of ’10
10. Contra Vampire Weekend — I’ll be honest…I didn’t want for this album to make my list. Vampire Weekend has such a hipster aura that I tend to avert my eyes. In fact, their first single, ‘Horchata’, with its contrived, graceless rhymes (balaclava, Aranciata, Masada) and reek of Paul Simon’s Anglo-appropriation of world music nearly drove me away from the album. But the melodies…ahh, the melodies are sublime, and the singer (Ezra something?) has a delivery of lilts and arcs that makes me love his intention despite the ostentation of his diction, and, really, they pull off the ethno-musical robbery just as ‘Al’ did so many years before (he said I could call him that). Recommended tracks: ‘Run’, ‘Giving Up the Gun’, ‘I Think Ur a Contra’.
9. Fang Island Fang Island — This is a last minute addition (sadly bumping off Josh Ritter’s album, which has some tremendously lovely cuts). But this album is so DELICIOUSLY HOOKY and DELIRIOUSLY FUN that I had to include it. Like a synthesis of early Muse & Weezer playing the old Disneyland Electric Light Parade possessed by the spirit of Brian Wilson. If you don’t enjoy it, I would recommend a good proctologist.
8. Heartland Owen Pallett — This guy was a discovery made driving along a dark road one night listening to KCRW. I used Shazam to figure out who he was, then weeks later remembered to check him out/download the album (at some point, I will need to own a physical copy of this album for the brilliant cover art). I was a bit put off by some of the dissonance on this album at first…but I could immediately sense a lyrical/melodic/arranging genius at work, so I listened to it many more times. It’s one of the most stylistically original and creative albums I’ve come across in years & there’s something about his voice and words that reveals a profoundly singular craftsman, in the manner of Sufjan and Andrew Bird. Recommended tracks: ‘Keep the Dog Quiet’, ‘E Is For Estranged’, ‘What Do You Think Will Happen’.
7. InnerSpeaker Tame Impala
6. Forget Twin Shadow — If you like the Smiths & have any nostalgia for 80’s pop music songcraft, combined with a generally melancholic outlook on life, you will love this album. If not, you will hate it. It’s so distinctive, it is sure to have a polarizing effect–it almost has some sort of mystical power over me. I don’t know what he’s talking about half of the time, but it feels like he is singing my deepest emotions. Recommended tracks: I happen to think that ‘Tyrant Destroyed’ and ‘Castles in the Snow’ are two of the best songs I’ve heard all year.
5. Together The New Pornographers — I’ve followed the NP’s for a while, often finding inspired songwriting/performing genius mixed in with merely human tune smith ‘capability’; however on this album, the genius overshadows the capability by 11 to 1. There are a number of songwriters in the band–one of whose style I have little accord with (see ‘Daughters of Sorrow’), but the rest of the songs have enough buoyant loveliness to keep the Titanic afloat. Recommended tracks: ALL, except the above track and ‘If You Can’t See My Mirrors’.
4. High Violet The National
3. The Suburbs Arcade Fire
2. The Winter of Mixed Drinks Frightened Rabbit
Greg’s Honourable Mentions
- Go Jónsi
- Green Grow the Rushes EP John Vanderslice (it was free online!)
- July Flame Laura Veirs
- Light Chasers Cloud Cult
- Lisbon The Walkmen
- Pharmacy of Love Bettie Serveert
- Suburban Nature Sarah Jaffe (this could have been on the list, but I only own two songs from it, both of which are amazing…PLEASE check her out!)
- So Runs the World Away Josh Ritter (bumped off the list at the last minute, but check out ‘Change of Time’, ‘The Curse’, ‘See How Man Was Made’, and ‘Another New World’)
- The Universe Is Laughing The Guggenheim Grotto
Recently, we realised that we were coming up on our 100th post here at Lost in the Cloud. It’s only been a little less than a year (and we are actually cheating in bringing some of our posts over from our time at Criticism As Inspiration, which account for more than 1/3 of this total), but we felt like it was an occasion we wanted to mark. Being that we are incredibly fond (or freakishly obsessed) of lists here at LITC, we decided to simply post a list of 100 Things We Love (split about evenly, though there are a number of items that would end up on both of our lists, which are marked with an asterisk [*]). We have decided not to list out all of our family & dear friends, as well as our favourite films/bands/theologians/etc. which we have previously made space for elsewhere. This is just a stream-of-consciousness exploration of our affections, listed out alphabetically. We hope you enjoy & thank you for reading!
Among other things, Elijah loves…
- Amoeba Music, Hollywood*
- &s (ampersands)*
- Autumn-winter succession*
- Baseball – Detroit Tigers
- Being a member of God’s Church*
- Building/repairing electric guitars
- Deuchars IPA
- Disneyland (because in spite of the consumeristic lies it sells, it remains magical)*
- Dressing up (especially in a kilt)
- Dundee Contemporary Arts
- Ecclesiastical architecture
- Finding creative ways to higher ground while in the wilderness
- Football – Celtic FC
- ‘Friscalating dusk light’
- The City of Glasgow
- Griffith Park (and all that’s within, such as the Griffith Observatory, Bronson Caves, Los Angeles Zoo, William J Mulholland Memorial Fountain, the Autry, Travel Town, etc.)
- Tim Hawkinson’s artwork
- The history of music in the recording era
- Incredibly arid climates
- Incredibly wet climates
- Innocent Smith’s Musical Circus/Parkside Upper Quads Philharmonic Orchestra
- Joshua Tree National Park
- The City of Los Angeles
- Millionaire shortbread
- Moleskine journals
- Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
- The NRSV translation of the Bible*
- The number ‘44’
- The Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, St Andrews
- People (especially those who are humble, patient and tender)*
- Printed media (books/book covers, street literature, record sleeves, etc.)
- Road trips in California
- St Mary’s College
- Sequoia & King’s Canyon National Park
- Single malt whisky*
- Urban exploration
- Vegan Express, Los Angeles
- The wisdom of my elders
- Wormit Parish Church
- Writing music with Greg & Justin
- Writing utensils (STABILO point 88s; Dixon Ticonderoga Mediums; Staedtler Noris HB 2s; Pilot G-2 0.38s and 05s)
- Handwritten correspondence*
Among other things, Greg loves…
- American Romanticism
- Archives Bookshop (In Christ is a close second!)*
- Backyard time with an 18 yr. old bottle of Glenfiddich & thoughtful conversation with authentic men (whether in La Mirada, Long Beach, or Marina Del Rey)*
- Banksy’s wit*
- BBC adaptations of classic works of literature, particularly of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell & Charles Dickens
- Bic black “round stic Grip pens”, fine point
- Biola Residence Life & Hope North RAs
- The BioLogos Forum
- British spelling and punctuation
- Cambria, CA (especially Supper Club vacations)
- Close reading of the Bible, literature & pop culture*
- Craig Thompson’s artwork, most notably in his graphic novel, Blankets
- Deep bass notes and thick kick drum sounds
- Delicious Library
- Domenico’s Pizza
- Drawings by and notes from my kids
- Elijah Wade & PUQ performing at Punk N’ Pie (which I believe is the same as Elijah’s #24)…twas a most epic performance (x 2)
- Extraordinary moments (car crashes, explosions, injury to the groin shots) caught on video, displayed on YouTube/Failblog.com/Spike TV
- Footnotes (digressive comments or noteworthy book references)
- Fuller Theological Seminary
- God’s covenants (though not necessarily in a Reformed “Covenantalism” sense)*
- Grace Brethren Church facilities crew, mid-90’s (including “crass Fridays” with Mark & Bill)
- Indie music, in most of its hybridisations*
- The iPhone (particularly playing Skee Ball with my kids and Words With Friends with Mark, David & Matt B.; and occasionally, Tim)
- Magazine subscriptions (currently down to four since Paste went belly up – The Week, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, Christianity Today – but once as high as fourteen)
- Making mix CDs*
- Mixing cereals (current favorite = Crispex & Honey Smacks)
- Moby Books Illustrated Classics
- The Muckenthaler Mansion (where I married the most wonderful girl)
- Multiple-view books on theological topics
- The number ‘22‘
- The paintings of Patty Wickman & Mark Tansey
- People who ask good questions in conversation
- The Perry Bible Fellowship*
- Postconservative evangelical theology
- Powell’s Books (and Portland, OR in general)
- Questioning things*
- The Radical Reformation
- Redeemer Church
- Short story, novel, screenplay, lyric, or poem concepts & bits
- Thinking about impossible endeavours (e.g. making a film of the whole Bible)
- Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Caramels
- Weather in the high 60’s-low 70’s & overcast/cloudy
- A wide selection of beverages in the fridge (including Coke, Cherry Coke, Coke Zero, Peach Snapple, Arizona Green Tea & Henry Weinhard’s* root beer)
- Wind rustling through tree branches
- Writing on Lost in the Cloud*
- Zappos.com (Michele hates that I love this…like 2 pair of shoes for $250 hates it)
An obituary would be rather unnecessary as there are so many about. Even if I wanted to write one there is no proper way to explain how the world is any different without J.D. Salinger – the highly secretive author had not published anything since 1965. I had hoped to meet him at some point, a child-like hope in the face of high improbability, which has now effectively morphed into impossibility. Salinger now dwells among the likes of William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and John Gardner – the American writers with whom I would love more than nearly anything to have a conversation, but never will. I’m certain that Greg shares my sentiments.
Salinger was a genius storyteller. Perhaps this is due to the way in which he so precisely enters into the minds of his exquisitely developed characters (and in doing so makes his way into our minds). Salinger often employed a special tactic in his writing which keeps it dynamic and captivating: he wrote almost exclusively about or from the perspective of the young. Part of this approach is reflected in the fact that Salinger’s rhetoric never stoops to exhaust his vocabulary. While this has been used by critics to reduce Salinger’s audience to those in their teens and early twenties, I believe his writing very deliberately utilises the perspective of the young in order to communicate the constant liminality of life and the tension it brings. In such a way, when we read Salinger’s works we are not reading mere stories, but we are invited into a tangible and magical world that can make even the most common event beautiful, profound, revelatory and sacred.
Thanks for sharing, JDS.
Nine Stories (1953) – For years it’s been a dream of mine to write a screenplay for a feature film version of ‘The Laughing Man’.
Thank you Elijah for noting with such tenderness the passing of Salinger. I hope it’s not presumptuous to add some memories. J.D. Salinger was quite a significant figure in my development as a human being. The scarlet and yellow-covered Catcher in the Rye holds a magical fascination in my memory – it was a sacred text to my best friend Wade and I. We even wrote a play together that was performed at my high school called ‘The Whole Aquarium’ as an exercise in adoring emulation of CITR. My first year in college, I remember wandering through the bookstore at CSULB and finding a copy of Franny & Zooey. I can clearly see myself reading it on the slope of lawn below the science buildings and thinking, “I don’t care about college–this is all that I want to understand.” His Nine Stories was an endless source of wonder and contemplation for my pensive post-adolescent musings – particularly ‘Just Before the War with the Eskimos,’ ‘The Laughing Man,” and ‘For Esme – With Love & Squalor’.
I wrote a number of papers exploring Salinger’s stories as an undergrad; I just found one in my files which analyzes the story ‘A Perfect Day for Bananafish’ as a narrative version of the Zen Buddhist koan, “designed to activate spiritual insight in the mind of an ideal reader.” In my analysis, I saw the little girl Sharon Lipshutz, whom Seymour claims to “like…so much” as the ideal reader, being that she is “never mean or unkind” – unlike the critics and lit. profs who took apart & psychoanalyzed Salinger’s stories to death – and I posited that her name may represent a reader who simply keeps their “lips shut,” personifying quiet reflection.
Salinger wondered in the dedication of his novella Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters “if there was an amateur reader still left in the world” and if so, he gave them his “untellable affection and gratitude.” I hope I never become too sophisticated of a reader to deserve these blessings, but I know that I will always remain deeply grateful for the power and influence of Salinger’s works on sensitizing my soul to the small delights, oblique insights and deep longing, never to be fulfilled in this broken world, found in his stories.
J.D. Salinger (1919 – 2010)
An article from The Onion.
Welcome to Lost in the Cloud. In 2008 we (Greg & Elijah) started a blog with some colleagues called Criticism As Inspiration. We have enjoyed contributing to CAI and recently decided to branch out in our own direction with this sister blog. We’ve transferred our more relevant posts from CAI – please feel free to browse around our archives.
On the right-hand sidebar we have pages where you can read about the inspiration behind this blog and who we are, see what we’ve been watching, listening to and reading and browse our film, music, and literature lists. We also have sections with links to other blogs and websites that we recommend, shortcuts to recent posts, categories and comments, as well as dated archives of our posts.
We hope you enjoy/interact with what we share.
G & E
The end of the decade has resulted in a number of best of the decade lists. We’ve kind of OD’d on best of lists here already, but Elijah and I wanted to throw in our votes for those works of culture from the 2000’s WE think will/should stand the test of time.
I feel somewhat presumptuous putting this out there, as if my vote actually mattered, but what I have found is that my friends, acquaintances, and YOU dear reader, often find your interest piqued by something that has been declared “the best.” I know that some of Elijah’s musical selections caused me to listen to albums I had not heeded before…so perhaps you may find something here that causes you to want to experience, reconsider or even maybe avoid (?) the following creative endeavors. Hope you enjoy…see you next decade!
Albums (Greg | Elijah)
- Illinois/The Avalanche (2005/2006) Sufjan Stevens | Kid A/Amnesiac (2000/2001) Radiohead
- The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads (2001) Lift to Experience | Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State (2003) Sufjan Stevens
- In Rainbows/Bonus Disc (2007) Radiohead | Figure 8 (2000) Elliott Smith
- The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) Frightened Rabbit | The Sophtware Slump (2000) Grandaddy
- Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State (2003) Sufjan Stevens | Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (2000) Belle & Sebastian
- Figure 8 (2000) Elliott Smith | Songs in A & E (2008) Spiritualized
- Kid A/Amnesiac (2000/2001) Radiohead | Jane Doe (2001) Converge
- Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (2002) Bright Eyes | Turn On the Bright Lights (2002) Interpol
- Feels (2005) Animal Collective | Illinois/The Avalanche (2005/2006) Sufjan Stevens
- Funeral (2004) The Arcade Fire | Blood Money (2002) Tom Waits
- Takk (2005) Sigur Rós | Control (2002) Pedro the Lion
- Boxer (2007) The National | Veckatimest (2009) Grizzly Bear
- Asleep in the Back (2001) Elbow | We Are the Only Friends We Have (2002) Piebald
- A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) Coldplay | The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) Frightened Rabbit
- Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) Animal Collective | Hot Shots II (2001) The Beta Band
- Gang of Losers (2006) The Dears | The Life Pursuit (2006) Belle & Sebastian
- Control (2002) Pedro the Lion | Tyrannosaurus Hives (2004) The Hives
- The Last Broadcast (2002) Doves | The Argument (2000) Fugazi
- The Invisible Band (2001) Travis | Hail to the Thief (2003) Radiohead
- Oh, Inverted World (2001) The Shins | Sea Change (2002) Beck
- Retreiver (2004) Ron Sexsmith | How It Ends (2004) DeVotchKa
Books (there were so many that we didn’t read [Elijah read only a handful of novels from the 2000s], so this list is incredibly subjective and limited in scope)
- Cloud Atlas (2004) David Mitchell
- House of Leaves (2000) Mark Z. Danielewski
- 2666 (2004) Roberto Bolaño
- Atonement (2001) Ian McEwan
- The Book of Illusions (2002) Paul Auster
- Black Swan Green (2007) David Mitchell
- American Gods (2001) Neil Gaiman
- Thinks (2001) David Lodge
- The City & The City (2009) China Mieville
- Blankets (2003) Craig Thompson, graphic novel
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) Dave Eggers, memoir
- The Book of Other People (2007) ed. Zadie Smith, story collection
- The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories (2007) Nicholas Gurewitch, comic collection
- Box Office Poison (2001) Alex Robinson, graphic novel
- The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005) literary survey
- Wall and Piece (2005) Banksy, art collection
- Free of Charge (2006) Miroslav Volf
- Jesus of Nazareth (2008) Pope Benedict XVI
- The Sacredness of Questioning Everything (2009) David Dark
- Renewing the Center (2000) Stanley Grenz
- Across the Spectrum (2002) Gregory Boyd & Paul Eddy
- The Mosaic of Christian Belief (2002) Roger Olson
- The Shaping of Things to Come (2003) Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch
- These last three Tom Wright books are included for their effective introductory appeal rather than any necessary anticipation of ‘classic’ status.
- Paul: In Fresh Perspective (2005) N. T. (Tom) Wright
- Simply Christian (2006) N. T. (Tom) Wright
- Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision (2009) N. T. (Tom) Wright
Film (G | E)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Michel Gondry | ditto
- Amelie (2001) Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Lord of the Rings (2001-03) Peter Jackson
- Children of Men (2006) Alfonso Cuarón | There Will Be Blood (2007) P. T. Anderson
- Lord of the Rings (2001-03) Peter Jackson | The Pianist (2002) Roman Polanski
- The New World (2005) Terrance Malick | Dancer in the Dark (2000) Lars von Trier
- Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Wes Anderson | The Royal Tennenbaums (2001) Wes Anderson
- All the Real Girls (2002) David Gordon Green | Memento (2000) Christopher Nolan
- Waltz with Bashir (2008) Ari Folman | Adaptation (2002) Spike Jonze
- In the Mood For Love (2000) Kar Wai Wong | Big Fish (2003) Tim Burton
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001) Ang Lee | ditto
- The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007) Andrew Dominik | Zodiac (2007) David Fincher
- WALL-E (2008) Andrew Stanton | The Proposition (2005) John Hillcoat
- There Will Be Blood (2007) P. T. Anderson | Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Wes Anderson
- Memento (2000) Christopher Nolan | The Prestige (2006) Christopher Nolan
- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Guillermo del Toro | Elephant (2003) Gus Van Sant
- The Royal Tennenbaums (2001) Wes Anderson | A Beautiful Mind (2001) Ron Howard
- The Proposition (2005) John Hillcoat | Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Guillermo del Toro
- The Prestige (2006) Christopher Nolan | About Schmidt (2002) Alexander Payne
- The Lives of Others (2007) Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck | Capote (2005) Bennett Miller
- Moulin Rouge (2001) Baz Luhrmann | Lost in Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola
- Donnie Darko (2001) Richard Kelly | American Splendor (2003) Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini