Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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4Play: Beastie Boys, Friendly Fires, Panda Bear, Fleet Foxes

Kristi Kates - May 2nd, 2011
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 - Capitol
Not since the late ‘90s have the Beasties made such a festive, sassy racket. Opening with first single “Make Some Noise,” the Beasties are back in grand form, modernizing their production values while (thankfully) sticking masterfully to their own brand of retro hip-hop sound - no need to conform when you’re this cool. That aforementioned opening track has synths and knows how to use ‘em, while other influences surface, too, just for texture, such as the punky rhythms on “Lee Majors…,” the shoutouts to classic rap on “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” and the intergalactic funk of “Here’s a Little Something For Ya.”


Friendly Fires - Pala - XL Recordings
Electro-art-popsters Friendly Fires recorded their sophomore set in a pair of studios in France and London, doling out their already-expected catchy choruses into a brew of NYC-influenced postpunk strumming, grand pianos, and busy beats. Huge drums anchor songs like “Hurting” and “Pull Me Back to Earth,” while standouts like “Live Those Days Tonight” and “Chimes” lean more towards radio-pop than art club. Tribal rhythms and undertones play a role in a few of the other songs, including “Running Away,” “Hawaiian Air,” and the darker, ominous title track; closer “Helpless” brings back the thick synths for a thoughtful finale.




Panda Bear - Tomboy - P Tracks
Since PB played the majority of these songs live before they were recorded, there was likely a pretty good idea what would succeed on-record and what wouldn’t, hence this very focused tracklisting. It’s much the same Panda Bear of yore, with the droning, cyclical song patterns that fans have learned to expect (and look forward to), but there are a few flourishes here, such as effect-laden percussion and guitars taking many of the sampler roles, that add new layers of interest. Stnadouts include the huge focus and atmospherics of “Scheherazade” and the shoe-gazy, downhearted meditation of “Slow Motion.”



Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues - Sub Pop
Recorded in Woodstock, NY and Seattle, folk-rockers Fleet Foxes have pulled sounds from a variety of insightful peers for this set, including The Byrds, CSN, and Van Morrison, among others. Actual blues are scarce, but the harmonies will be instantly recognizable to music-history aficionados as arriving from that same timeline, especially on tracks like “The Plains/Bitter Dancer,” “Montezuma,” and “The Shrine/An Argument” - although the latter throws in some jazzy experimentation that seems a little out-of-place; other tracks worthy of highlighting include the island flair of “Lorelai” and the mysterious strings of “Bedouin Dress.”
 
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