02 June, 2008

Summer must be right around the bend, because my mind is heating up

Translated into normal human forms of communication, I guess this means that I have a lot on my mind. I have lists of things that must be done, lists of things I should do, and lists of things I'd like to do (and will probably do, even though I don't really have time for them). I feel like I have about a hundred simultaneous mental countdowns clicking in my brain, but I'm having a difficult time focusing on anything relevant or getting anything particularly important accomplished. Such is life!

This is how I end up mentally designing a "brain map" collage (it's like a map of an area, but instead it's a map of my brain/thinking patterns) for my dorm room wall, when I should actually be reading my overdue library book about hyperpowers. It's also how I found myself obsessing about the scientific relevance of humor (Why did it evolve? Does it give you a significant advantage? Is there a chemical/biological reason why some people are funny and others are not? Do animals appreciate humor?) when I should have actually been focused on my breathing (or inability to breathe). Through all of this I have a steadily growing catalog of places I want to visit, people I want to meet, ideas I want to discuss in dark coffee shops at 3:00 in the morning, books I want to read, music I want to hear, and in the end experiences I want to experience. This all occurred in about three seconds, so what I want to know now is, if you kept a notebook and wrote down every single random thought that you thought in an entire day, how many of those thoughts would actually be useful? How many of those thoughts would just be clogging up the system, helping you to ignore the constant clockwork precision of "sleep, eat, procreate, fight"? Maybe I think too much, but I can't seem to stop.

Here's another thought for my patient readers: What butterfly beat its light, and iridescent wing to make the EPs of the world so much better? It's like, all of a sudden, instead of being a waste of time and money for all but the most hardcore fans, the extended play is now a gorgeous little music-making voyage of its own. It's like the little engine that couldn't, but now can.

To help me make my point, I ask you to spend the next twenty odd minutes of your life listening to Fleet Foxes' Sun Giant - EP. Here's a quintet of songs that are at turns benignly creepy and somehow similar to the music of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. However weird the sound is, there isn't a bad song in the bunch. "Mykonos" is the only song that I've heard on the radio, and I guess I could see it being played on a Greek island. It's a laid-back tune, that's a bit folksy and strides the line somewhere between Paul Simon and My Morning Jacket. "Sun Giant" starts off the set with an almost religious feeling a cappella sound. This is church music being played in Apollo's house of worship (interesting because mythologically speaking Mykonos was said to be a son of Apollo). "Sun Giant" is followed by "Drops In The River" which taps into the beautiful melancholy of aging, with music that is light on actual instrumentals and heavy on harmonies. "English House" is the only song that sounds like it's being played by an entire band, but even this song hits the low-fi notes with nods to Neil Young and Paul Simon (again). The final song - "Innocent Son" - is a wailing, unplugged ode that channels Victorian nature-lovers. The song is subtle, almost to the point of emotional repression, but all of the potential emotion is realized in natural euphemisms. It's like reading Walt Whitman in front of a campfire, with acoustic guitars.

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