Psych-Folk players The Loom have a rich interesting sound, largely due to a diverse instrumentation such as trumpet, french horn, keys, guitar, drums, and bass. Their lyrics are those of urning and searching, a dissidence that many of us feel during this day and age. The New Yorker says of The Loom: “Beloved Brooklyn sextet The Loom…have lately been guiding their chamber-folk sound to decidedly louder sonic territory.” Check out their debut album Teeth (Crossbill).
This band no longer technically exists – they actually disbanded shortly after we did a Northeast tour together last year – but Jesse Rifkin, the main songwriter behind the project, is in the midst of working up something new, and I honestly can’t wait to hear it. This whole album is incredible, but in particular the first three songs – “Speak Not Its Name,” “Bones Become Rainbows,” and “For C.M.R.” – might be the best and most stirring album opening I’ve heard in years. On that tour all of the members of The Loom would play the thundering percussion on “Speak Not Its Name” for the end of The Wailing Wall’s set, and it is without doubt one of my favorite musical memories. Check it out at allmusic.com.
This is an immensely moving book, and I one that I find all the more powerful for its complete absence of high drama or any other sort of grand plot device. It’s essentially the story of four close friends and how their relationships change as they get older and significant hardship strikes two of them. Throughout the whole thing though, Stegner’s writing is absolutely beautiful even while seeming completely effortless, and he has a knack for identifying the immense significance and quiet devastation that is often found in life’s smaller moments. Even though I haven’t read it in years, it comes to mind almost immediately when I think about my favorite books.
3. Breaking Bad
I’ve just yesterday emerged from three solid weeks of watching the first four and half seasons of this show almost non-stop, and it really is as good as people say it is. Honestly, I currently kind of don’t know what to do with myself at the end of the day when I’m unable to watch another forty-five minutes of Walter White’s slow descent into situational and moral oblivion.
When you step back and think about the arc of Walter’s (Bryan Cranston) character over a fairly brief period – from a defeated high school chemistry teacher afraid of his own shadow to a hard-headed gun-wielding meth cook/kingpin extraordinaire – it seems kind of implausible, but as you watch it unfold from episode to episode, and particularly as you watch the small adjustments that he continually makes to his internal sense of right and wrong, in the interest of justifying actions that seem to become only increasingly unjustifiable, the disastrous situation that he’s created for himself doesn’t end up seeming that unbelievable after all.