Karen O

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Last week (AKA: The Best Week Ever!), Kristin and I got ourselves a new little kitten, and per Logan’s suggestion, I’ve put together a short playlist to celebrate.

It’s made up of a songs about cats, some explicitly, and others not so much. Like the Mountain Goats song, for example, is pretty impressionistic in its suggestion of a feline, with lines like “in your arms, I am a wild creature” and “white carpet thick with pet hair”; while both The Weakerthans tracks actually follow the heartbreaking story of Virtute the cat, one of the single saddest tales ever told in song. Jason Collett’s “Little Tiger” is pretty specific for our little runt (see picture above), while Karen O’s song from Where the Wild Things Are is pretty universal in its evocation of kittens playing. And I couldn’t not include a Best Coast song (duh), much less the one with the infamous line, “I wish my cat could talk.” The other songs are just great and happen to have “cat” or “tiger” in the title. Enjoy!

mp3: The Head And The Heart – Cats and Dogs

mp3: The Weakerthans – Plea From A Cat Named Virtute

mp3: Jason Collett – Little Tiger

mp3: Rogue Wave – Catform

mp3: Karen O and the Kids – Rumpus

mp3: ARMS – Tiger Tamer

mp3: Best Coast – Goodbye

mp3: The Cure – The Lovecats

mp3: The Mountain Goats – Broom People

mp3: The Weakerthans – Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure

[BONUS] And since we’re about 99.99% sure we’re naming the little guy “Elliot”, here’s a bonus track of Elliott Smith covering a Cat Stevens song:

mp3: Elliott Smith – Trouble (Cat Stevens cover)

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2009 Top 25Well it’s that time again. It’s been a good year in music for sure – so much so that we’ve bumped our list up to 25 albums this time around, and even then we were having to painfully cut out some clearly great records.

Remember, this list represents our favorite albums of the year, not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this would probably be a very different list. But we’re no critics, so that’s not what we’re going to do. These are simply our very favorite albums of the year – the ones that made us laugh, cry, dance, smile, press repeat, wet our pants, etc. This is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2009.

Here we go:

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I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get this post off the ground. Sometimes I think it’s the things I love the most that end up being the hardest to write about – that would definitely explain why it’s been hard for me to finally write this review for Where The Wild Things Are. Because I love it. So very much.

First of all, let me say that I completely loved the film. On so many levels. I think it perfectly captured what it’s like to be a 9-year-old kid figuring out the world – at least the way I remember it. Max was perfect, the monsters were amazing, and the rest of the film was just plain beautiful. The soundtrack by Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and her rag-tag collection of musicians dubbed The Kids (culled from members of the YYYs, Liars, and Deerhunter) fits the tone of the movie perfectly – it’s wistful, pretty at times, chaotic at others, and just really, really fun. From what I understand, Karen O worked pretty collaboratively with Spike Jonze during the whole creative process, so the music feels much more like a part of the film than most soundtracks do – like it’s another facet of the finished product and not just spread over the top, or added post-production for marketing purposes.

The record begins and ends with a child humming a melody (Max, I presume), and each time it develops iKarenO_Photonto a completely different song. That sort of looseness and off-the-cuff feeling permeates the whole record, making  it a pretty perfect soundtrack for a child’s romp in a world that he’s sort of making up as he goes. The songs alternate from playful and joyous to dissonant and raucous, to quiet and introverted – basically playing out like a typical 9-year-old’s day. For pure energy there’s “Rumpus”, a climbing clatter of yelps and hollers that perfectly captures the nostalgic feeling the movie evoked so well for me. It’s perfect, except that it’s maybe 10 minutes too short (it’s drawn out over two tracks on the record, but I could seriously listen to this song all day). The downcast cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Worried Shoes” is another highlight, as well as the jubilant “All Is Love” and the more sullen “Hidaway”. In between are numerous instrumental tracks that tie together the wistful tone of the record, and are each excellent on their own. Essentially, there’s no throw-away soundtrack filler here.

This record has been playing pretty much continuously at our house since we saw the movie, and sort of became our Fall soundtrack around here. I know we’re heading into winter now, but I don’t anticipate being tired of this record anytime soon. And if you haven’t seen this movie yet, just go and get on that already, ok?

mp3: Karen O & The Kids – All Is Love
from the Where The Wild Things Are Soundtrack (Amazon/iTunes)

mp3: Karen O & The Kids – Rumpus
from the Where The Wild Things Are Soundtrack (Amazon/iTunes)

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