Mandatory Pop Culture Tattoos

In which A.V. Club readers ask us: “Congress has passed a law requiring all people to get a pop-culture-related tattoo. What would you get and why?” Check out the entire list here. My response excerpted below …

Do we get tax breaks for already being branded? I’ve got four tattoos so far, and they’re all music-related. Here’s the inventory: Left wrist, inside: A cartoonized teardrop with legs, the latter making up the “LL” in the words circling it, “WE ALL TRY.” That’s a reference to the Frank Ocean song that really truly helped me contextualize my recent divorce (the teardrop dripping down from the ring hand, signifying loss, gangsta-style). Left bicep, outside: A Keith Haring-style bottle of booze and vinyl record holding hands and walking, the logo for a retired L.A. experimental music night dubbed “Calling All Kids,” which was named for the Arthur Russell song. Left wrist, inside: A pen-drawn character with the words “funny ha ha” coming out of his mouth in loopy cursive. It was inspired partly by cLOUDDEAD lyrics and custom-drawn for me by Yoni Wolf of WHY? and cLOUDDEAD. Right shoulder, outside: A super badass skull woodcut piece lifted from the cover of a dusty old classical record I picked up that happened to be Hector Berlioz’ 1830 opium-fueled opus, Symphonie Fantastique, an incredibly trippy piece that Leonard Bernstein acknowledged as the birth of psychedelia in music. (I lucked out on the justification behind that one.) So, yes, obviously my next tattoo is gonna be a “#HIPSTER” tramp stamp.

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The Best Albums Of 2009

Everyone’s gotta have a list, right? Well, we critics for The A.V. Club were given the opportunity to write on any of our personal favorites that didn’t make the publication’s official countdown. Despite the presence of Fall Out Boy on said countdown, it was assembled democratically, with each critic having received 100 points to distribute as she/he saw fit on up to 15 records (with no more than 15 points for any single album).

The individual ballots have been published, and this link goes directly to mine, which includes writeups on game-changers like Neon Indian and Fool’s Gold, overlooked moments of greatness from DM Stith, Wallpaper, and Themselves, quieter things like Tiny Vipers, and creepy stuff like Fever Ray (plus a few others).

DM Stith, 'Heavy Ghost'

Roundup: WHY? + Blond Chili, Avi Buffalo Gossip, Ben Harper + Flea?, Masked Musicians

Quick bloggy bits from the L.A. underground (and up):

(via West Coast Sound, LA Weekly)

INCHES008: New Wax from The Doors, WHY?, Wallpaper, Dâm-Funk (+ MP3s, video, chart)

Eight weeks straight of original photos, MP3s, videos, charts, reviews of L.A. music, and, most importantly, gorgeous vinyl. INCHES008 has arrived, featuring a killer box from The Doors (Rhino Records), a great new album from WHY? (Anticon), some interactive cover art from Wallpaper on the duo’s debut full-length (Eenie Meenie), and a 7-inch that captures Dâm-Funk as a youngin (Stones Throw). Dig in!

Wallpapers Doodoo Face, modeled by Andre Hyland

Wallpaper's "Doodoo Face," modeled by Andre Hyland (Blond Chili)

Cult Bit: Best Music Of 2009 (so far)

Us A.V. Clubbers have spoken regarding the wonderful glut of great music 2009 hath wrought thusfar. You’ll find me at the top of the pile (read it here), waxing hyperbolic about: Animal Collective, DM Stith, Grizzly Bear, WHY? and Dirty Projectors. Read on from there to find some unexpected entries from Leonard Pierce (a vote for a recent Rhymesayers record) and Genevieve Koski, who brings a much-needed femme-focused perspective to the discussion.

Feature: For Beauty And Terror

Andrew Broder, best known for his work with the criminally slept-on Minneapolis outfit Fog, has churned out no fewer than ten the new albums this year. But they’re not what you’d expect. These digital, label-less releases are improvised and edited instrumentals for guitar, turntables and various noisemakers. Moreover,  they’re inspired by drone music and doom metal. Click over to Decider Twin Cities to read my interview with Broder, and check out the other half of the piece here, with streaming audio and reviews of each record.

Further listening: In the Lala player, you’ll find my very favorite Fog song, “Us Beneath” from 2006’s Loss Leader EP (Lex Records). The lyrics hit home:

The other night, a firefight / Bursts of sewing machine gun fire
From your position / Barricaded behind the piano.
I return with small arms / Stuttered shots from typewriter keys.

And yet in the silence / Between the volley
The hearts of weary camps / Sing to each other

However faintly / As we each seek to claim / Disputed territory
T
he us beneath the other / Which is rich / In natural resources.