Get Crunk with Jesus

The Internet's first and only blog where some random guy writes at erratic intervals about music, movies, politics, culture, living and working in the city or whatever other random aspect of modern life happens to strike his fancy that day. Tell your friends!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On Dogs, The Relative Quality Thereof

So yesterday I was crossing the street to my apartment and there was a dog (with owner) sitting at the corner, waiting for the light to change. I looked at the dog and in my mind I was thinking, "You're a good dog! Yes you are!" And then it hit me: I have no basis for that statement.

Lord knows I have no understanding of dog breeds and qualities, and I couldn't even tell you know what breed the dog even was. He was sort of medium-sized, and dark. See? No idea. So when I said he was a good dog, it wasn't like I was thinking that he was a particularly good example of the breed, with lustrous coat, proper body structure, and outstanding musculature, or whatever else they'd talk about at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Maybe it was his behavior I was thinking about, but again: what do I know? He was sitting there. I saw him for one second. For all I know, that was the one second out of the day when he actually was sitting still, and the rest of the day he was sprinting around his apartment mauling pillows and barking and projectile shitting on the walls. My experience with the dog wasn't, as they say, statistically significant enough to really judge his behavior.

A third possibility is that I somehow intuited his alignment within the good vs. evil spectrum, but again, doubtful. Although it's politically unfashionable to admit this, I don't really get off on just saying that anything I like is good and anything I oppose is evil. I'm all, like, "It's a complex problem, and you have to look at the motivations of the people involved, and what they're doing, and why..." You know, that knee-jerk liberalism that suggests you need some slight degree of intelligence to understand the world and you can't just simplify to good and evil. So anyways, seeing as how I'm not a big good and evil type of guy, I doubt that's what I had in mind. Besides, in my experience most dogs are neither good nor evil; they're almost all Chaotic Neutral.

Anyways, it got me to thinking about how we rate dogs. I like dogs a lot, and most people I know are dog people. In fact, I will go that one further: I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like dogs, at least a little bit. They're very enjoyable critters. But as a result, I'm not so sure we really accurately assess their merits with the cold, clear eye of objectivity.

Think about it. The vast majority of dogs are "good dogs." For the mere fact of their existence, and in the absence of any outright destruction of property or production of waste products indoors, dogs are praised endlessly--even when doing stuff they enjoy doing. If you throw a stick or a ball and a dog chases it down and brings it back to you, what's your response? You praise the dog: "Good boy! Good boy!" But here's the thing: the dog likes chasing the stick. That's what he does. It's his deal. If he could figure out a way to cut you out of the equation and just chase sticks by himself, he'd do it. The whole praise-as-reward system, it's all out of whack there. The dog's all, like, "Shit, man, I was gonna chase that stick anyways. I'm not here for the praise, I'm here for the stick."

Hell, we even praise dogs when they should be praising us. You're sitting on the couch and your dog is curled up next to you, and you're petting it while it takes a nap. What are you saying to the dog? That's right, you're breaking out the "I'm talking to a dog voice" and saying, "You're a good dog. Yes you are. Such a good dog." Think about that: you're giving the dog a back rub and telling him how great he is. The only other situation in the world where the person giving the backrub also feels compelled to profusely praise the backrub recipient is "pathetic high school guy trying unsuccessfully to get laid." When I'm getting my back rubbed, it's either because I've paid for the privilege in cash or else I'm praising the virtues and merits of the backrub giver to high heaven: "Oh baby, that's the best, you're the best, you're wonderful, oh, don't stop...right there, now to the left, now up a little, now over...oh yeah, that's the spot..."

(And yes, I know that the "backrub praise" script sounds remarkably similar to a script useful in other situations. That's the thing: us formerly pathetic high school kids weren't completely wrong. We knew that the backrub and the sex were on the same map, we just didn't know how to get from the one point to the other.)

Anyways, back to the dogs. My point is, they're graded on a pretty easy curve. Maybe we need to get Harvey Mansfield on the case or something, I don't know. For me, personally, I just want to be a little bit more rigorous about these things. Maybe a bit less with the "good dog!" and a bit more with the "perfectly acceptable dog!" Or even withhold judgment until sufficient data can be accumulated. "Okay, boy, now demonstrate your merits! Prove to me your quality and worth as a small furry animal, in exchange for which I will then tell you that you are a good dog!" It sounds tough, sure, but I think it needs to be done to help toughen these dogs up for the real world. Besides, there are enough people out there artificially pumping these dogs' self-esteem to unreasonable levels with all of the meritless praise thrown around like so much cheap confetti. Good dog, indeed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Neapolitan Celebrity Sighting

So last night I dragged Karen out of the apartment for a late night ice cream cone run. The weather's good in New York right now, so it seemed like the time for that sort of thing. As we crossed the street across from our apartment, who should walk out of the bodega on the corner but Raymond Cruz, the guy who plays Detective Julio Sanchez on The Closer. Okay, not exactly earth-shattering as far as celebrity sightings go, but it was still pretty cool. We're both fans of The Closer, and I'm still small town enough that I get a charge out of seeing someone in real life that I've only ever seen on TV.

I mentioned it to my office mate this morning and he told me about a time when he saw Ethan Hawke and Sam Rockwell walk out of a bar with a couple of girls in Chelsea. This led to the discussion of the appropriateness of approaching a celebrity on the street and what you would say to that person. I think Sam Rockwell is an excellent actor, very under-rated, and I've never seen him in anything I didn't like. So if I saw him I'd be like, "I loved you in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, great movie, you were awesome." And with Ethan Hawke I'd be like, "Hey! Ethan Hawke! Hey!" Seriously, what am I going to say to him? "You didn't drag down Training Day that badly! I heard that your most recent book wasn't as gawdawful terrible as your first book!"

Which got me to thinking... What other celebrity pairings could you reasonably expect to see that would be completely unbalanced in terms of actual ability? I'm going to refer to this as the Neapolitan Celebrity Sighting. There was an episode of the Simpsons where Homer wants ice cream so he goes to the freezer and pulls out box after box of Neapolitan ice cream. In every box he opens, the chocolate stripe has been eaten away, leaving the vanilla and strawberry stripes untouched. The punchline comes when Homer yells, "Marge, we need more of that chocolate vanilla strawberry ice cream!" instead of asking for just chocolate ice cream, which is what he really likes. (Who says you can't dissect humor? You'll notice how I artfully cut away all of the actual comedy in that scene description. I'm like a surgeon. A surgeon of comedy, removing the funny with my scalpel of boring, labored exposition.)

Anyways, the Neapolitan Celebrity Sighting (aka the NCS). I'm trying to think of the ultimate Neapolitan Celebrity Sighting. My rules:
1. It's got to be someone you really like, paired with someone for whom you have nothing good to say. Ethan Hawke is a pretty good example of the latter for me. He seems likeable in a dopey sort of way, and much respect to him for bagging Winona Ryder back when she had her fastball. But I've never seen him in anything where I was like, "Wow, Ethan Hawke is really carrying this. What a talent!" I'd have nothing nice to say about his work. (ed. note: my office mate says he was really great in Gattaca, which I haven't seen.)
2. It's got to be realistic that you'd see these two together. This rules out pairings like, oh, Paris Hilton and Bruce Springsteen, or Star Jones and Spike Jonze, or Wilmer Valderrama and Terence Malick.
3. You have to actually be familiar with the work of both people in question. Your lack of compliments for the one guy? It's not because you've never seen his movies/read his books/heard his albums. You've experienced a bit of what this person has to offer, and you really don't like it. So when you walk by that bar in Greenwich Village and you see that guy in that band you really love, and he's having a drink with that girl from that show you've never seen...that's not an NCS.

The best one I've come up with so far is Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart. Think about it: he's fucking Han Solo, and Indiana Jones, and Jack Ryan. And Calista Flockhart...well, she's fucking Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Jack Ryan. No, seriously, for most of my life Harrison Ford has been the definition of manliness and coolness. (The last 6 or 7 years excepted, of course--going back pretty much to the point where he started dating Calista Flockhart, actually.) As a kid, who didn't want to grow up to be Han Solo or Indiana Jones? Calista Flockhart, on the other hand, is really only notable for giving us a good idea of what Natalie Imbruglia would look like if she lost 30 pounds. (Whoa, a Calista Flockhart reference and a Natalie Imbruglia reference? Yup, it's 1998 Day here at Get Crunk With Jesus.) Harrison Ford is/was so cool, and Calista Flockhart is...not. Practically the definition of the Neapolitan Celebrity Sighting.

So, on the off chance that anyone is actually reading this...any other suggestions? You can use the comments to post.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Overheard at the Wolf Parade Show Last Night

Saw the Wolf Parade show last night at Webster Hall, which was a scorcher. (More on that TK...) The opening act was a band called Holy Fuck. They were...I don't know, kind of a noise jam band or something. I liked their sound and generally enjoyed the show, but with the exception of their closing tune I felt like their songs didn't actually, like, go anywhere. Then again, I've never really been a big jam band fan. It's good for a song to stretch out and work out some variations, but for the most part that's just not my thing. So don't take my lukewarm review on them as necessarily a bad thing--your results may vary.

I don't know why I'm apologizing here for not loving Holy Fuck. I think I'm worried that maybe Holy Fuck's mom is going to read this and I'll feel really bad, and the comments section will be all this stuff about how I don't know how hard it is to make Holy Fuck music and it's real easy to tear stuff down but real hard to actually build something nice and I should try that sometime and see how I like it when someone goes on the Internets and makes fun of something I tried really hard to make.

Anyways, this isn't about my subjective review of Holy Fuck, who, in fairness, seemed like really nice guys and, with maybe a little more control from, say, a strong producer (the DFA?) they could be really excellent.

So before the last song, an Overheard with the two fratty guys standing next to me.

Lead Singer from Holy Fuck: "Thanks for coming out tonight. We're from Toronto and we don't come to New York all that often."
Dude #1, yelling: "Good! You suck!"
Dude #2: "Hey man, that's not right. I like these guys, they're pretty good."
Dude #1: "Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm sorry I insulted them."
Dude #2: "Don't apologize to me, apologize to the band."
Dude #1: "Go fuck yourself."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Scenes from a Relationship 1

So the other day, maybe a week or two ago, Karen and I were walking down 34th Street. There's an apartment building between 1st and 2nd Ave. that puts all the garbage out on the sidewalk every few days. And this is a big apartment building, so you can imagine, there's a lot of garbage. It's like a wall of garbage, maybe 4-5 feet tall, 30 feet long. Literally. All that garbage, out there on the street.

Anyways, we're walking by all this garbage, literally hundreds or even thousands of pounds of garbage. And at the same time, we notice a funky smell. So Karen turns to me and says, "Was that you?"

Just thought it was worth noting.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Live Report: Love Is All, The Knitting Factory, 3/24/06

Opening Act: I don't actually remember the name of the opening act, and as a public service to them I've chosen not to figure out what it was. They were from Toronto, that's as much warning as I can give you while still giving them some degree of anonymity. They were absolutely terrible. Screeching awfulness. Even worse, their drummer was apparently not completely socialized; throughout the three songs we watched prior to retreating to the back bar, he kept spitting in the air and pouring water all over himself. I'm not making that up. There were great geysers of spittle erupting from the back of the stage. I wonder if the rest of the band has meetings about that. "We've really got to do something about Jeremy and the spitting. Someone needs to maybe talk to him or something."

A redeeming feature: the lead singer made out with her boyfriend Jack while standing next to us during the run up to Love Is All taking the stage, so that has to count for something. In between-song banter (while the drummer dumped a bottle of water on himself) the singer told us about how Jack was her boyfriend and he had lost his backpack and his laptop and passport in a restaurant earlier that day. Hopefully he gets it back. I don't buy into all of the braggadocio about how New York is such a tough town, but seriously, I've seen Jack; he won't last long if left to fend for himself here.

caUSE co-MOTION: The second act on the bill, and an excellent one at that. That's a real hard name to write out. Very confusing, what with the capitalization and all. Anyways, they were a pleasant surprise. Punk energy, upbeat, but with surf guitar. That makes all the difference. It's surprising, because I've never heard a band with a sound like that but it sort of seems obvious when you think about it. I mean, everybody has heard a surf guitar, if only in Dick Dale and the Deltones doing "Miserlou" on Pulp Fiction. It's not some obscure sound or instrument from Outer Mongolia. And yet, this is the first of the hundreds or thousands of indie bands I've heard that incorporated surf guitar, and it definitely made them stand out. So far as I know, c-c hasn't released any proper singles or albums, but I'm fired up for them to do so. They were a helluva band and one I most definitely want to hear more from.

A slightly dissenting vote from Karen: while she liked the band as a whole, she was turned off by the lead singer's voice. We weren't sure if this was normal or if the guy had a cold or something, but he was very nasal and flat-toned. I've listened to enough indie rock and punk bands in my time that voice quality is almost meaningless to me. I can tolerate and even appreciate just about any off-key croak or growl ever layered over guitar and drums. (Call it a benefit of my apparent tone deafness.) So, while I thought the lead singer wasn't exactly a strong suit, I could overlook it. Your mileage may vary.

Love Is All: Tore it up. Just an energetic, engaging band with a lot of charisma. After "Ageing Had Never Been His Friend," I said, "These guys are FEROCIOUS." Karen said, "The lead singer is like a little anime character." And the thing is, we were both right.

For all of their energy as a live act, I have to invoke the Interpol Clause to describe their performance. I caught Interpol last year in DC on the Antics tour. They played sharp and held the stage, but I really came away from the concert impressed by the quality of their songs. I'm not an Interpol obsessive or completist, and I don't think they've yet put together an album where every single song is good, much less great. But their high points, like "Slow Hands" or "Evil" are brilliantly perfect songs. Absolutely flawless. So to some extent, it's really hard to have a bad concert when you have such good songs. Great songs + crisp performance = good concert.

So, I'm already on record as being madly in love with the new Love Is All album. It's fantastic, start to finish, and there's not a single bad song on there. Every single track is just exploding with, like, Raucous Energy. (Which is more bigger than regular Energy.) Listening to the album, it sounds like they've already captured a great live performance. So if they just played it note for note, you'd have a really good concert on your hands. The fact that they actually took it up a notch from that...well, that's what makes for a really great concert.

4 great moments that said, "This is motherfuckin' (indie) rock 'n roll!"

1. People were ululating in between songs, as a way of cheering. What does that mean? Is that a new thing? When did that happen? Anyways, it actually sounded kinda cool. Loud and all, like cheering, only more sustained and less, you know, gauche than calling out, "Woooo!!!!"

2. Love Is All, from Sweden, sang a happy birthday song for one of the guys from caUSE co-MOTION. In Swedish, so it was sort of a, you know, Swedish birthday song. The weird thing is, this isn't the first time Karen and I have seen a Swedish band sing a birthday song. It's like, just something the Swedes do or something. I guess. The Caesars did it last summer, too, only it was a different song. Yet still, apparently, about birthdays. So apparently there are multiple birthday songs in Sweden and all of their rock bands know how to play them. It's like I always say: "If I had a dollar for every time I've heard a Swedish indie rock band play a different and unique birthday song, I'd have two dollars."

3. Long line for the men's room, no line for the women's room. This has happened every time I've gone out lately. And the thing is, people were moving the process along. There was only one stall occupied by a couple of guys doing coke, the other stall and the three urinals were all about guys just doing their business and getting out. So either guys have somehow, through no apparent lack of effort, lost the ability to pee in public locations in a quick and efficient manner, or we all just have to pee more now. Whatever. Lines for the mens' room are the new black.

4. How indie rock is this? During the Love Is All show, and I swear I'm not making this up, someone threw their cardigan sweater on stage. It was beyond parody. I hope this is a new trend. Just as Rod Stewart is pelted with white cotton panties every time he steps on stage, so too should every sensitive young man with artfully disheveled hair and black horn rim glasses and a guitar be pelted with cardigans by his sexually excited fans, both male and female.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hello Wily Mo Goodbye Arroyo

Add Bronson Arroyo to the list of 2004 Idiots who are now 2006 non-BoSox. I'm moderately excited about the arrival of Wily Mo Pena to the Sox. It seems that, like Coco Crisp in Cleveland, Wily Mo was a fan favorite in Cincy. So that's always nice.

Wily Mo sounds like a "one true outcome" type of hitter: it's either strikeouts or monster homeruns where Wily Mo is concerned. But he's young (24) and hopefully, with help from David Ortiz and Ron Jackson, he can develop some plate discipline and draw more walks. It's not unheard of--Sammy Sosa turned his career around when he learned not to swing at every single pitch at about the same age. And don't give me the knee-jerk complaint about Sosa and his alleged steroid use. The steroids probably changed a lot of Slammin' Sammy hits that would have stayed in the park into homeruns, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about plate discipline, being patient at the plate and making good decisions about whether a pitch was borderline strike or not. Say what you want about Sosa, but he made himself into a better hitter by improving his pitch selection and drawing more walks, and that has nothing to do with steroids. It sounds like Wily Mo has power to spare, so a bit of discipline could make him deadly.

Do I think it's likely that he'll magically be able to develop that kind of controlled hitting ability? I'm not certain. My most hopelessly optimistic guess is that he's got about a 60% chance of turning into a good OBP, moderately high BA hitter. That number's not based on anything, just a gut instinct guess on my part. (Take that, sabermetrics buffs!) So, I think we got a relatively decent player as is, and there's potential for him to become a star but it's not terribly likely.

Then again, on paper we didn't exactly give up a lot for him. Bronson Arroyo is a solid pitcher but probably no better than a 4/5 starter on a good team. What with the Sox' inability to trade David Wells or Matt Clement, Arroyo was the odd man out in a rotation with 7 starters and it was necessary to clear up some of the logjam there. I also suspect, based on some of Wells' recent comments, that if the situation wasn't a bit more cleared up Boomer might have just quit and the Sox would have lost a starter and gotten nothing in return. Given his age, his salary, and his place in the Sox staff (not good enough to be a regular starter, too valuable to waste away in the bullpen), dealing Arroyo was probably the right thing to do. We dealt from an excess of pitchers and added depth to our outfield in the form of a guy who can fill in at any position and make a great lefty/righty platoon mate with Trot. (And no matter how much I'd like to see a full season out of him, I put the over/under on Trot Nixon's games this season at 100--and sadly, I'm taking the under.)

But the problem with the whole deal, for me, is that it wasn't done completely on paper. I like Bronson Arroyo. He liked Boston and wanted to stay there. I'm not going to say that it's rare to find guys like that, but that has to be considered a pretty valuable, honorable intention in a player when he signs a below-market contract to stay in Boston. He was willing to do anything he could to stay with the Sox, whether that meant pitching as a starter, a reliever, or even tossing batting practice. He was friendly with the fans, of course. Basically he was just a really likeable guy, and I hate to see him go. Both the Sox front office and Arroyo himself have been more or less saying all the right things about the deal vis a vis the contract extension from January and whether that actually implied he wasn't going to be traded. In so many words, they're saying that it wasn't a complete sham, that there were no trades on the table at the time (and that was all he was guaranteed) but this thing came out of nowhere and it was a deal the Sox needed to make. Maybe so, but it still seems sketchy to me. I'm not questioning the deal on the baseball merits, but the way it happened and the guy it happened to? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

So I'm going to miss Bronson Arroyo in a Red Sox uniform. I'll be cheering for him with the Reds, and I hope he has nothing but success over there.

My Absence, Sort Of Explained

Sorry for being away for so long. I caught something, maybe the ebola or the bird flu or something. Whatever it was, it's taking its time clearing out. I'm going on two weeks now and I'm still not completely cleared up. wtf? But I'm back to, oh, 96% so I'll call it good. Now to get back to putting up some posts...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Reasons to Be Cheerful: The Joggers

I want to inaugurate a new occasional feature on the blog entitled "Reasons to Be Cheerful." These are going to be things that I particularly like: the songs or albums I just can't get out of my head, the movies that just blew my mind, the most excellent cream puffs at Beard Papa. Things of that nature. Basically the sort of little things that make life good, especially the living part of it. Sound a little too Pollyanna-ish for you? Yeah, it probably is. But it's a Friday afternoon, I'm in a good mood, and I'm looking forward to a nice weekend with some decent weather. Oh, and I'm listening to...

The Joggers, With a Cape and a Cane

I'll say right off that I don't have the critical vocabulary of the real professional critics out there. I can't sit here and pick out all of the unusual instrumentation choices, or tell you if the guitar parts are really complex and difficult to play, or how the mix muffled the upper registers, or if somehow the melody is contrapuntal to they rhythm. (I have no idea what that last phrase means. I read the word "contrapuntal" some where and just mashed it in, probably in a completely inappropriate way. Any musically inclined readers of this post probably want to kick me in the nuts right now, and frankly I can't blame them.)

Anyways, my point being: I lack the technical language to break down the music of bands I like. I have to rely more on how the music sounds to me, how it makes me feel, what it reminds me of. I can't tell you what it is about the Joggers that gives them such a unique sound, what ways they must tune and play their instruments to get such a distinctly off-kilter sound. I can tell you that it's very different from any of the other indie rock bands I've heard, in a way that I didn't quite "get" at first. But on repeated listenings, I've become absolutely hooked.

The thing about the Joggers is this: on first listen, it sounds somehow off. Like the notes are wrong, out of key. The songs are sharp, not smooth. They almost sound antiseptic, like the aural equivalent of drinking lemon juice. Another comparison: when I was a kid, I took piano lessons. Obviously I wasn't as dedicated as I should have been. See the previous paragraph for all the evidence in the world that I failed myself in the music education department. Still, I had my moments where I'd be playing a song and it was going well, it sounded smooth and proper, like a real song and all of the lessons were paying off and my teacher, Mrs. Hardy, was going to be proud of me next time I went for my lesson. But bear in mind, I wasn't actually a very good pianist and those stretches never lasted long; eventually, I'd hit a wrong note that would sound all the more out of place for coming in the middle of all the right notes. That note would be glaringly, gratingly obvious and in my mind, it seems like that wrong note was always on the one key on the piano that was not only the wrong key, it was also out of tune. When you first put the Joggers on, they sound like that out-of-place note.

And yet...and yet. I can't tell if it's in spite of the wrong-note-ness, or because of it, but there's something so beguiling about their sound that it drives me crazy. It could be a contrast thing, because the Joggers have a remarkable facility with hooks; from out of nowhere these choruses emerge in the songs that are amazingly catchy. Take "White Madam," for instance. It starts off with a jittery, scratchy guitar chord dominating through the beginning of the song. (The best comparison I can give that most people would be familiar with is the guitar on Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Give It Away.") It's urgent, nervous, I've-had-too-much-coffee-and-I-just-had-some more. But then, at the 1:50 mark, the chorus kicks in for the first time and that edgy sheen drops away and you fall into this great groove in the song. But before you get too comfortable, a jagged vocal bridge pops up, start-stop-start-stopping ("It's the only time we get / It's the only time we get"). Somehow, though, the chorus once again emerges at around the 3:00 mark to carry out to the end of the song. And that hook,'s just so great, so inviting that it pulls me right in. So maybe there's something to the Joggers' sound as being sort of a doling out of rewards: we'll give you some great hooks, but we're going to mix it in with some rough stuff and make you work to get to the good stuff.

And yet, the more I listen, the more I think that it's all the good stuff. It's like riding a rollercoaster. You ask anyone what the best part about the rollercoaster is, it's the rush and the whoosh as you're falling down that first big drop. But the real best part of the rollercoaster isn't that drop, it's the split second right before the drop. The tension and the excitement is at the highest point (literally and figuratively, I suppose), and the thrill of what's about to happen is even greater than the thrill as it happens. It's the last moment where you can consciously think and experience the ride before the adrenaline takes over. The whole ride up to the top of the first drop raises that tension. You hear the clanking of the chain dragging the rollercoaster cars up, you feel your weight settle in as the chair leans back, you look down on the ground below and get a sense of just how high up in the air you are...and you're slowly going higher and higher, which means that the eventual drop is going to be that much further. There's a crucial relationship here: the higher the tension, the greater the release.

So that's why I think the Joggers work so well. A lot of times when you hear about a band that has great "tension and release" it tends to be something like Mogwai, where the songs are much longer and at their finest they might drag out for 10 minutes or more, with several movements that rev up the tension further and further until the catharsis. But the Joggers play 3-4 minute indie rock songs, with verses and choruses. They don't play extended, ominous instrumental sections. And yet they're still able to create this tension as a product of their sound, which leads to the release in the hook. Not only that, but they do it well. That's why I think, as I said just before my rollercoaster digression, that it's all good stuff. I've overcome my initial instinct, which was, "This doesn't sound right, it sounds off, what's going on?" to marvel at the skill. These guys are brilliant, absolutely brilliant at establishing tension, and that's what makes their hooks so rewarding: the release is that much greater after the efficient compression that came before it.

Okay, I'm looking back at the this post and realizing that this is the sort of rave review that will result in absolutely nobody going out to check out the Joggers. "I love these guys, they sound out of tune like a wrong note!" Yeah, I'll call the record store and tell them to stock up. And yet, in all of the music I've consumed over the past several months, the Joggers have been one of the albums that I just keep coming back to. It's not the easiest album to love on your first run, but there's something about it, from the beginning, that connects and only gets better on repeated listens. It's a reason to be cheerful.