A Big Fat Cop-out
And the Second Quarter Report, Kind Of

I’m very late, I know. I’m sorry. It’s been a hell of a week.

I woke up Monday morning and the first thing I read was George Carlin’s obituary. I’ve long admired Carlin and his work, from his earliest gag-based humor (“And now, a message from the National Apple Council: Fuck pears”) to his more cynical mid-career material, and even the bitter ranting of the last couple of decades.

I know, as with Woody Allen, many preferred the early, funny stuff, but I think Carlin offered a glimpse into a black-as-midnight mind. He saw no magic in the world, and while I hope to never be that way myself, I think his this-is-the-worst-case-scenario outlook allowed him to sweep aside a lot of the bullshit of everyday life. He was an irascible, incorrigible, bleak and cynical man, and a damn funny one at that. He was more than a comedian, he was a modern-day philosopher, and though I disagree with many of his conclusions, as I do with many philosophers, there’s no arguing his brilliance. Even if you can say three of his seven dirty words on television now. Carlin died of heart failure at age 71.

So that sucked, but the week got a lot better from there. If you’re interested in what I do for a living, and what I’ve done all week, go here. Be sure to watch the videos, too – I’m pretty proud of those. The whole thing took about 75 hours to put together this week, and I’m exhausted, but happy.

And then I ended the week by reading about the death of Michael Turner.

Turner was a comic book artist who made his name on a book called Witchblade, then moved to his own creations, Fathom and Soulfire. He never produced groundbreaking work, but he had a nice style, and more than that, a reputation as one of the nicest people in the comic book industry. Turner finally succumbed after a long struggle with cancer, leaving the first volume of Soulfire incomplete. He was only 37.

So a week bookended by death, and including some of the most life-affirming moments of my year in between. With all the hours I put in at work this week, I just haven’t had the time to write a silly music column. And I only have about another half-hour to write one now, so I’m going to cop out and take a little break.

But don’t worry, I do have my second-quarter report for you. However, I have good news and bad news on that front as well. The good news is you’ll find the list below, but the bad news is I can’t decide on an order for the 10 entries. So I didn’t – you’ll find them in alphabetical order. I have rearranged the top five probably 200 times in the last two weeks, and then had to add a new entry this week too (more about that below, and in our next installment). I just can’t pick a number one.

There are three albums on the list right now that I’m still working through. I keep spinning the Coldplay and Death Cab records, and they’re working for me more and more, to the point where I think they belong on the list as it stands now. And then this week, Sigur Ros released their new one, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Enalaust, and it’s utterly befuddling. It’s beautiful, and it’s in the list, but I still don’t know what I think about it.

You’ll also find an album I haven’t reviewed yet – the self-titled debut by Fleet Foxes. I’ll talk about this one next week, too, but consider its placement in the list an early recommendation. And yet, I don’t know where this one belongs either. It’s amazing, but in a totally different way from just about every other record on this list. In fact, every one of these 10 CDs pushes a different button for me than any of the others. It makes it hard to compare them.

Anyway, the list:

Coldplay, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
Counting Crows, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings
Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs
The Feeling, Join With Us
Fleet Foxes
Joe Jackson, Rain
Aimee Mann, @#%&*! Smilers
R.E.M., Accelerate
Sigur Ros, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endlaust
Vampire Weekend

Apologies again for falling down on the job this week. I’ll be back in force next week with reviews of Sigur Ros, Fleet Foxes and the Seventy Sevens. And hopefully I’ll get some sleep before then, too.

See you in line Tuesday morning.