A little over a year ago, in the midst of the job search and EJ’s impending birth, I got so far behind on the blog that I finally dedicated one of my quarterly roundups to just catching up. I have been using the blog to explore my history in recent weeks, which has kept it active, but I am at the point at which all the current events in my life have stacked up. I am overwhelmed as to where to start. This roundup, then, will not only serve to record the music I've been listening to since spring break, but also the myriad events that have been happening up until now.
I’ll begin with My 94 year old grandmother moving up to Denton. She found a good independent living facility very close to our house. It has been very good to see her more regularly, especially with the girls. My parents were to move up shortly thereafter into a house they were building outside of Aubrey, and in the midst of this move, my grandmother fell and broke her hip. Mom traveled back and forth between here and Austin help her through this ordeal while my Dad finalized packing and selling the house - a dynamic not unlike that of my wife and I last Summer as I started my new job.
Concurrently, we are mere weeks away from the birth of our third child. While EJ’s pregnancy was more difficult for my wife in the first trimester, our son has been harder on her in the third. She has been battling insomnia, sleepwalking, and, more recently, high blood pressure. Bedrest is in the forecast. To say that we are ready for him to be born is an understatement. Even though there will undoubtedly be the usual sleep deprivation and stress that occur with a newborn, the impact that he has had on my wife’s health has been worrying. I, for one, am ready to see her recovery underway.
The glue that held this whole crazy situation together has been my parents. As difficult as our move was last year, their move has been as difficult if not more so. They have selflessly dealt with my grandmother’s rehabilitation and helped an incredible amount with navigating my wife’s condition. I can't tell you how fortunate I am to have them.
So clearly, there's a lot going on, with this stuff mostly playing in the background:
Michael Giacchino - Rouge One OST: Giacchino has the unenviable job of being the first composer score a Star Wars movie other than John Williams. He does a respectable job, and although William’s distinctive touch is noticeably absent, the Rouge One OST checks enough boxes to decently fit into the world’s musical canon.
High Tides - High Tides: A low-fi sequel to M83’s Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts. It is perhaps a testament to the power of suggestion that analog synth music, which was once so closely associated with science fiction themes, could be employed so effectively to evoke a nostalgic Baywatch sunset.
Dungen - Allas Sak: The biggest fault with Dungen is that they are consistently great, and due to that, paradoxically, I don’t give them enough credit. I got Allas Sak a couple of years ago on a whim and it didn’t stick, but I revisited it and I think it is something special.
The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions: Also another band that is consistently great and have never really released a bad album. Although they have an identifiable sound, they are clever with finding new and subtle variations on this formula that make each album distinct from the others.
Mew - Visuals: As far as the writing goes, Visuals is significantly more consistent than its predecessor +/-. The distinctive guitar playing of Bo Madsen is noticeably absent, however, and I miss the angular grit that he contributed to the band’s dreamy atmospheres.
Seabuckthorn - Turns. There's something very unique about this album, which I bought with the intention of employing as a late night feeding soundtrack for kid #3. Turns centers on acoustic guitar, but the environments did it creates reach way beyond any preconceived notions of an acoustic guitar album. .
Johann Johannsson - Orphee: Johannson’s haunting soundtrack for Arrival inspired me to investigate his freestanding works, again with number 3 in mind. My wife thought it was Sigur Ros, which wasn’t really a bad guess - Orphee captures a similar Icelandic desolation.
Sounds in Between - Identity Crisis. This album includes one of my former bandmates from Ethnos. He plays the oud on the album, which is a beautiful instrument with a distinctive range that is very difficult to balance in a lead role in a more Western setting.