Music

Surfer Blood- Astro Coast

I love a record that hits you with a ton of bricks from its first song on.  West Palm Beach’s Surfer Blood whose début Astro Coast does just that. From the opening riff of Floating Vibes to the Fast and Slow Jabroni songs there is so much depth, killer guitars and amazingly polished melodies. Each song is perfect from start to finish and they are even better on their own as singles (I swear I heard Floating Vibes on a WB show) and will be as popular with the Pitchfork crowd as the aforementioned WB crowd.  The back story on these guys is that they caught some buzz playing small venues in early 2009 and then played a staggering 10 shows during CMJ later that year. 2010 looks like its going to be even bigger for the Florida band. Check it out.

Rating: 9 1/2 out of 10

Listen to:

Books

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Lit “It boy” Joshua Ferris released his new book, The Unnamed and it is phenomenal.  I’ll start by saying that I wasn’t that big of a fan of his first novel, Then We Came To The End his tales of a group of lawyers and the ins and outs of a growling workplace.  That book is filled with annoying bantering and diatribes from characters that I didn’t give 2 shits about.  With The Unnamed he finds his voice and it’s one that will resonate with you all year-long.

Tim Farnsworth has a disease and it is tearing apart his marriage and his life. For some unknown reason he can’t seem to stop walking.  He will get up in the middle of the night and start to wonder off into the woods or down the street and walk and walk until he falls down, falls back asleep wherever that is.  He can’t stop it he can only contain it and that is by being handcuffed to the bed or watched all night by his daughter.  What moves the pace along is his relationship with his wife through the first couple of chapters then his daughter.  You can’t help but wonder if this was some sort of catharsis writing this book.  I asked him recently at a book reading and he didn’t have anyone in mind when writing the novel but he did “walk a lot”  “all over Brooklyn” just to get in the mind-set of Tim.

One can’t somehow find inner feelings buried deep in the writing of The Unnamed and I found it reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s works.  There’s a hilarious section of the story where he is trying to stay awake and carry on a conversation with his trying to be supportive daughter about a former co-worker and his sexual exploits.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the novel at hand but it’s a great comedy segue.

Ferris’ writing is always astute and focused on the point he’s trying to make but it’s his familial almost paternal-like instincts that give this much more mature second novel its guts.  Surely to be one of the better reads of the year.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Music

Vampire Weekend- Contra

I start the blog back up again with one of 2010’s first and I must say best records thus far.  Contra was released (and debuted at #1) in mid-January and it is the beginning of March as I write this.  The past couple of years have been good to Vampire Weekend with the GQ/Vanity Fair and numerous other magazine spreads, not to mention the countless mentions in your favorite WB shows.  This band is hot as the kids say!!!  All that aside, this record is so polished, mature and astute that I can’t imagine what is left that they want to learn.  They take to the streets and play such eclectically driven popular music (if that makes any sense).  They lost a lot of the white-collar Northeast vernacular that made them a tad on the pompous side and traded it for music and sounds that spans from Africa to South American and bits of techno-pop.  I really loved this record and it is one that will stand the length of 2010.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Listen to:

Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while.  I will begin to review the latest in music, books, TV and films soon enough.