Some notes on what I’m currently listening to, reading, and thinking about (see the archives for entries from 2022).
What I’m reading shouldn’t be considered as recommendations—indeed, I often don’t enjoy them and don’t finish them. However, what I’m listening to definitely can be considered as recommendations.
There is also a YouTube playlist of all the songs referred to below.
New(ish) music from old favourites.
Grandaddy - Watercooler
Grandaddy might be my favourite band at the moment — they scratch an itch that no other band does, or even tries to. This is the first single off their album coming out next year, “Blu Wav”, and I really like it. Hopefully bodes well for another great album. I’ve also been listening lately to their recently-released album of Sumday B-sides, Excess Baggage (e.g., Build A Box). The solo stuff from their frontman, Jason Lytle, is also great — e.g., Ghost Of My Old Dog and You’re Too Far Gone.
Built To Spill - Comes A Day
Another band who is right up there with my favourites and is still making great music. Their album from last year, When The Wind Forgets Your Name, is consistently really good (the new bassist and drummer are great) — this track, the closer, being the best. A couple of other recommendations from that album are Alright (with a great example from about 2:07 and 3:13 of how they can lock into a groove that I could listen to go on forever) and Spiderweb (a bit of a different vocal approach for them, works really well).
Bonnie “Prince” Billy - Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You
I actually didn’t like his recent album titled Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You all that much — not that it was bad, just not particularly memorable. Maybe I need some more time with it. But although sharing the album name, this isn’t actually on the album (admittedly a pretty Will Oldham thing to do) — I like it quite a lot. I’ll have a lot more to say about the Will Oldham discography in the future.
Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman - A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age
Covers similar concepts to a couple of other books that I have enjoyed — particularly “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood” by James Gleick and “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation” by Jon Gertner — but focusing specifically on Claude Shannon of information theory fame. I found the first and last parts of the book to be rather slight and not all that interesting, but the middle section was great (probably a pretty common pattern in biographies).
Patrick McGrath - Last Days in Cleaver Square
I borrowed this from the library on a whim after an internet search for ‘authors like Don DeLillo’. An interesting premise (I like magic realism) and quite well-written, but not that enjoyable overall.
Matt Hurst - The Casual Cyclist’s Guide To Melbourne: Routes, Rides, Rants And Raves About The City And The Bike
An interesting and eclectic book with a good spirit.
I watched a stimulating talk by Cory Doctorow titled “An Audacious Plan to Halt the Internet’s Ensh*ttification”, which got me thinking about the sorts of goals I have in tech and related spaces and prompted me to write a few down (I’m not suggesting that these should be anyone else’s).
This topic has been particularly in-mind lately with the recent takeover of Bandcamp.
- Use the Firefox browser and encourage its use by others to make sure it stays in the web browser conversation.
- Use Linux rather than Windows or Mac OS.
- The mobile phone ecosystem is just sad — minimise usage.
- Have your own website that you host. Post stuff on it, whatever you like. Use RSS to let others know about new content, and follow the RSS feeds of others.
- Ensure at least some version of your published work is freely available, such as via a pre-print server. Don’t pay ridiculous open-access fees to publishers.
- Support businesses who resist conglomerate takeover or that provide an alternative. This includes things like software and hardware companies, independent breweries and music labels, websites, services, etc.
- Use self or public transport where possible.
- Feeling nostalgia for my first over-18’s gig: Mr. Bungle in 2000. This was at a small nightclub in Newcastle (Fanny’s, at the time), and we were pretty much the first ones into the venue. Mr. Bungle then proceeded to put on an amazing show, complete with a Mike Patton stagedive during the crescendo of Retrovertigo as the final song of the night (very briefly captured on video). This nostalgia has been brought on by the announcement of an upcoming Mr. Bungle tour — looking forward to seeing them in Melbourne in April!
- Doing my first parkruns in six months or so — I have missed them.
Some ‘unfashionable’ music that I enjoy.
The Cranberries - Dreams
My favourite song of theirs, their first single. While the vocals are the most noted aspect of The Cranberries, the instrumentation is also great—which is more obvious in live versions (I used to watch that concert a lot; it was often on Channel V in the early days of pay television in Australia). Having said that, the vocals can also carry instrumentally-sparse songs like No Need To Argue. It is unfortunate that Zombie, being somewhat trite and unrepresentative of their broader catalogue, is their most well-known song. The earnest Ode To My Family is another highlight, as is Dreaming My Dreams (and its excellent cover by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy).
Stone Temple Pilots - Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart
Stone Temple Pilots started out in the grunge era and were unfortunately labelled as hangers-on within that genre. They never really fit in that mould though, and they have an impressive and diverse range of great songs—this song being a particularly good example (love the bass in particular). Big Bang Baby is another ripper from that era (again, the bass), but I was most familiar with them around the time of Purple—which had great songs like Interstate Love Song, Big Empty, and Still Remains. There are some good songs on their debut too; most notably, Plush and Creep.
Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
I get why this sort of music is unfashionable, and I’m not generally one to go for bombast and theatrics—but I do really enjoy this album. My feeling for this sort of music is captured perfectly by Tom Breihan (in his great series The Number Ones for Stereogum) about another ripper with a Jim Steinman association, Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler:
Nobody’s entirely sure what “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” is about, and nobody needs to know. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” overwhelms the idea of songwriting specificity in the same way that a tidal wave overwhelms a rowboat. Spend enough time with “Total Eclipse,” and you might find yourself wondering if that isn’t the only way to write songs.Actually, I need to quote another section from that column:
It’s pop music as heart-pounding, chest-thumping, blood-gargling, heavens-falling passion explosion. It’s sheer spectacle. It’s fireworks and lasers and lightning and thunder. It soars and swoops and barrel-rolls. The song flies along from one fiery climax to the next, and right when it seems like it’s about to end, it takes off again and somehow becomes even bigger.Back to Bat Out Of Hell (the album)—it is an album to listen to front-to-back, but I find the closer For Crying Out Loud to be a particularly interesting song.
Robert Macfarlane - Underland: A Deep Time Journey
I have been on a below-ground kick lately. For some reason, I find underground areas very compelling—particularly the twilight zone in caves and subterranean rivers. The writing in this book is a bit flowery for my taste, but the content is very interesting. I like the thematically-similar “Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet” by Will Hunt, which I read a while ago, quite a bit more.
David Malouf - An Imaginary Life
Very nicely written and appropriately compact, but I wasn’t all that captivated by the content and themes. For some reason it reminded me a bit of Demian by Herman Hesse, which was a favourite of mine in my early twenties (not so much anymore).
Chris Sidwells - Safe Cycling in the City
A pretty useful guide as I get back into cycling for the first time since I was a teenager. The biggest downside is its almost complete lack of illustrations.
- My desktop computers are typically salvaged from machines heading to e-waste, which is fine for my mostly terminal-based interactions on Linux systems. However, it does mean that I can”t really play recent games and so I need to go back a decade or so if I want to play anything graphically-intensive. A consequence of this is that I find out about wonderful games long after they are released. My most recent example is having the pleasure of playing through Tomb Raider (the 2013 version). What a great game! Fun to play, intuitive controls, and very immersive—my fear of heights was strongly activated at many times while playing.
- Does performance in running marathon distances reveal character? If so—and I think it might—I have failed that test once again. My planned solo marathon did not go to plan; I conked out at 35km and had to stop. Sore left hip and screaming stomach muscles, as usual, and bruised ribs from my vest and its water bottles—despite having trained hard this time, keeping to a program completely. But maybe I am just too quick to give up (relevant). Oh well, back to a regular training regime.
- As mentioned previously, I have started cycling now that I have sold my car. I have bought myself a beautiful bike (a Surly from Minneapolis, which I take as a good sign—particularly as I used to drink Surly beer when I was there!). I’m slowly practicing and getting myself familiar and comfortable with riding again and gradually commuting to work. Happily, the cycling infrastructure is pretty good here in Melbourne—certainly much better than Sydney!
With the recent death of one of the Stars of the Lid pair, an ambient theme this month. Note that Loscil would be on here, if I hadn’t talked about them a lot already.
Eluvium - Repose in Blue
In terms of traditional albums, the album from which this track is taken—Copia—is my favourite from Eluvium. However, the single-track album Static Nocturne is great can’t-sleep music, and perhaps my favourite of all of his work. I also really like his experimentation with vocals—Similes is a great album, with excellent tracks like Cease to Know. I like the piano-oriented albums less (e.g., An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death), but they are still very listenable.
Stars of the Lid - The Lonely People (Are Getting Lonelier)
Stars Of The Lid are all about long drone-y soundscapes with interesting song titles, with two particularly great albums—The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid and And Their Refinement of the Decline. They are best listened to as albums rather than individual tracks, as is pretty typical with the ambient genre.
Keith Fullterton Whitman - Lisbon
This track is a great album-length EP from a recording of a live show. As usual, cokemachineglow give it an excellent writeup. I particularly like the organic glitchy and scrapy sounds at around 27:50, which fit really well. An aside, but I’d like to go to more live ambient shows—it would be an interesting experience. I think the only one I have seen is when Eluvium opened for Explosions in the Sky. Back to Keith Fullerton Whitman—his album Playthroughs is also excellent (e.g., Modena).
Kent Haruf - Where You Once Belonged
Probably the best Kent Haruf novel I have read. He has a Richard Ford-esque ability to provoke unease.
Clifford Stoll - The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
An enjoyable page-turner! Though I did once reference the author’s lack of prognostication regarding the internet in a commentary on Navigating the vision science Internet.
- Stanisław Lem - Solaris
- I have sold my car and am enjoying being car(e)-free again. I am now in the market for a bicycle; mostly to commute to and from work, but also perhaps to travel around generally. I haven’t ridden a bike properly in, what, 25 years or more—so it will take a bit of time to build up skill and confidence again. But I’m looking forward to it.
- I have been on the waitlist for the Melbourne Marathon on October 15, but it doesn’t look like I will get an entry. Oh well, I will run a solo marathon instead, probably along the great Merri Creek Trail for most of it.
- I saw the movie The Banshees of Inisherin recently, and it is one of the most interesting movies I have seen in a long time—it keeps coming up in my thoughts. Siobhán is the best.
For no particular reason, a few tracks about dogs.
- Sparklehorse - Morning Hollow
Joanna Newsom - Sadie
I’ve talked about Joanna Newsom before, and recommended this track specifically, but its dog-relevance makes me recommend it again. Sure, the opening is rather keening—but it is a wonderful song if you stick with it.
- The Fiery Furnaces - My Dog Was Lost But Now He’s Found
- Kim Stanley Robinson - The Ministry For The Future
- M. Mitchell Waldrop - Cosmic Origins: Science’s Long Quest To Understand How Our Universe Began
- Arthur C. Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey
I’ve bought a new running watch: a Garmin Forerunner 265S, to replace my old Garmin Forerunner 245 which, after around four years of great service, couldn’t hold a charge for longer runs with bluetooth headphones active.
A few positive aspects of it:
- It is nice to not have to worry about the battery going flat on longer runs.
- I like waking up to the “Morning Report”, which is a neat feature.
- The extended sleep, body, and running metrics are useful.
- I like the smaller sized watch face.
- I find the AMOLED display harder to read while running in the dark (which is when I do most of my running)—a bit halo-ey and unstable.
- The pace alerts on workouts seemingly can’t be turned off, and can be very annoying—particularly as they now seem to be based on the moment-to-moment pace rather than the average pace for a workout segment.
- The weather widget seems very useful but is finicky about updating.
- Having to perform a glance action to show the display (well, to have a longer battery life anyway) can be a bit annoying, particularly when the glance sensitivity seems a bit off.
- Keen to see Alex G in concert in December.
- Preparing and giving a talk to the Complex Human Data Hub at the University of Melbourne on my past perception research. Getting my head back into that space has been interesting.
The theme this month (this has morphed into being theme-based rather than what I’m actually listening to, and I’m fine with that) is one-offs — songs that I love but only really listen to the one song by the musician.
Johnny Boy - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
A monster of a pop song, certainly one of my favourite song in that genre — just an all-round ridiculously good song. It also features in an episode of the Can’t Get You Out Of My Head documentary series by Adam Curtis, who I know of from the very interesting All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace documentary.
Died Pretty - D.C.
Died Pretty were an influential Australian band, slightly before my time. I know of this song from a compilation I had on cassette tape of the Triple J Hottest 100 of all-time in 1991. So many great songs on that tape, including another song that could appear in this one-off list: a wonderful, haunting live version of Tomorrow Wendy by Andy Prieboy and Johnette Napolitano.
Edith Frost - Cars and Parties (demo version)
I have heard a few Edith Frost songs, but like this one way above the rest. I also love this demo version a lot more than the more polished released version.
- John Romero - Doom Guy: Life in First Person
- Charles Perrow - Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies
- Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon The Deep
- Learning the Elixir programming language.
- Humans is a good TV show so far. An unpopular opinion, but I didn’t think The Last Of Us TV show was particularly good.
- I have read a lot about the history of nuclear energy, so I am looking forward to going to see Oppenheimer. Some favourites:
Apropos of nothing, a few of my favourite songs named “Untitled”.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Untitled
I love this instrumental and bagpipe-laden track from one of my favourite bands (if not the favourite). It captures a lot of the Neutral Milk Hotel musical aesthetic and is genuinely rousing, in a critical point in the wonderful In The Aeroplane Over The Sea album just before the closer Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 2. I think the musical side of Neutral Milk Hotel tends to be underappreciated, with Jeff Mangum’s voice and lyrics tending to take focus. I have seen Jeff Mangum solo twice (in New Jersey and Minneapolis) and both were great, but seeing the whole Neutral Milk Hotel band (in Sydney) was a completely different level of great—perhaps the best concert I have been to. I’ll write more about Neutral Milk Hotel in a future entry.
Palace Music - Untitled
From one of Will Oldham’s projects (of which the best known is Bonnie “Prince” Billy), this is a great ramble of a live track. I love the looseness of a lot of the Palace stuff, and the album on which this track is from (Lost Blues and Other Songs) is a favourite of mine (see Ohio River Boat Song, Lost Blues, Come In). Incidentally, I am looking forward to seeing David Pajo (as Papa M), who played on some its tracks, live in September in Melbourne. The vinyl release of the record contains a poster that I used to have on my wall; interestingly, so did Nick Sobotka in the under-rated Season 2 of The Wire. That reminds me of the appearance of a Liars poster in Julie Taylor’s room in Friday Night Lights (and I agree with the Liars that Tyra Collette would have been a more likely Liars listener; and Matt Saracen, of course). Again, I will write more about Will Oldham (and Liars) in a future entry.
Interpol - Untitled
I find Interpol to be a bit uneven, but they can be great at their best — such as this song, the opener to their debut Turn On The Bright Lights. That album has some other great tracks also, such as NYC and The New (particularly the first half). Their follow-up, Antics, was a bit more consistent — with highlights such as Take You On A Cruise and Public Pervert. I think Wrecking Ball was the only real highlight on their subsequent album, even given that it had a track referencing the great White Noise novel by Don DeLillo. I lost touch with them after that album.
- Ralph Crane and Lisa Fletcher - Cave: Nature and Culture
- M. Mitchell Waldrop - Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos
- Alex Wellerstein - Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States
- My upcoming Princes Park half-marathon.
snakemakefor implementing analysis workflows.
- Analysis-by-synthesis in computer vision.
I now work in an open-plan office, which has taken a bit of getting used to — headphones and music have been critical to being able to focus.
Not including the venerable and highly-recommended
musicforprogramming.net, the theme this month is music that I have been listening to at work.
Loscil - Charlie
I’ve mentioned Loscil before, but there are few better musicians when I’m after some enveloping background music to accompany some work. When I recently moved to Melbourne, I was staying temporarily in Yarraville and go for runs down to Williamstown. Along the way was Newport Power Station, which has a chimney that is painted like the cover of the album that this is from (Plume) — I always used to think of Loscil as I was running by. I tend to put the albums Plume, Submers, and Endless Falls to play sequentially. The latter ends with The Making of Grief Point — a great song that introduces some spoken word that marks the end of the sequence.
M83 - Kim & Jessie
Sometimes a bit of spacey bombast gives a good background, and M83 are among the best exponents of that vibe. Their songs can be distractingly great though, such as this one — and other examples like Skin Of The Night and Don’t Save Us From The Flames. They do have some ordinary songs as well, but it comes a bit with the territory they’re operating in.
Explosions In The Sky - Have You Passed Through This Night?
Explosions In The Sky are somewhat unfairly maligned in the “post-rock” genre, but I like them and find their music good to work to when some dynamics are in order. This song is more of an example of a great song of theirs (love the drums) rather than a great working song (e.g., the presence of the sample from The Thin Red Line). I like to put on the album that this song is from, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, and the albums All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone and The Wilderness to play for a few hours. It’s also worth noting their association with the great TV show Friday Night Lights.
- Anthony Summers - Not In Your Lifetime: The Assassination of JFK
- Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
- David Deutsch - The Fabric of Reality
- Running in the Melbourne Marathon in October rather than the planned upcoming Princes Park Marathon — not enough long runs under my belt at this point.
- Improving my Python coding — type checking, proper packaging, testing, and continuous integration (CI).
- Simply The Best (context).
A covers theme this month.
Tool - No Quarter (Led Zeppelin)
Tool should do more covers—based on the strength of this song, at least, which is one of the best tracks in their whole catalogue. I wonder if having the constraints of an existing song might rein in some of their more excessive tendencies. This track is just great.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings - Abandoned Love (Bob Dylan)
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are among the best exponents of the cover song, with many great renditions—indeed, this song comes from a whole album of covers: All The Good Times (Are Past & Gone). I love the looseness of this song—does Gil not know the words and go with the vibe at points?—and the serendipitous ending of running out of tape. Of course, it is also a great song (though I don’t actually know much about Bob Dylan). Some more examples of their great covers are Hello In There (John Prine), Method Acting / Cortez the Killer (Bright Eyes / Neil Young), The Weight (The Band) (I love how much fun Gil is having in this), I’ll Fly Away (traditional), and Pochahontas (Neil Young).
Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World (David Bowie)
I think an underappreciated aspect of Nirvana, particularly for those who grew up with them as I did, is how much they used their spotlight to draw attention to other bands through their covers. Indeed, 6 of the 14 songs on their classic MTV Unplugged in New York album (from which this song is drawn) are covers. In addition to this fantastic rendition there are others in the Unplugged session like Oh Me (The Meat Puppets) and Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Leadbelly). Elsewhere, other great covers of theirs are The Money Will Roll Right In (Fang), Love Buzz (Shocking Blue), D-7 (The Wipers), and Turnaround (Devo).
- Richard Moss - Shareware Heroes: The Renegades Who Redefined Gaming At The Dawn Of The Internet
- Nick Gadd - Melbourne Circle: Walking, Memory and Loss
- Ron Chernow - Grant
- Experimenting with an AI-driven running platform, TrainAsONE.
- The best way to have a Linux-like environment on a work-issued Windows computer. I have been pleasantly surprised by Windows Terminal.
daskto work with data that is too big to fit into memory.
In keeping with my recent relocation, the theme this month is musicians from Melbourne (or Victoria at least).
The Avalanches - Since I Left You
It took me a while to get into this album (Since I Left You)—it just seemed too busy, exemplified by Frontier Psychiatrist (which, while obviously great, still feels a bit out of place on the album to me). But it became a favourite once I did come to terms with it, particularly once the coherency of the album emerged (see Electricity, Radio, and Live at Dominoes for additional standouts). I liked their long-awaited follow-up album Wildflower (e.g., Colours, Subways), but I liked their most recent (We Will Always Love You) even more—e.g., The Divine Chord, We Go On, Gold Sky (which also made an appearance last month). I have always pretty strongly associated The Avalanches with Melbourne, maybe because of their link with the starting of the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival.
Dirty Three - Authentic Celestial Music
This is a slow builder (see Deep Waters for a similarly great song—I particularly love the out-of-place ‘beeps’, ?, that come in towards the end) on a slow builder of an album (Ocean Songs)—my favourite of theirs and great all the way through. They also have some excellent rollicking songs (e.g., Sue’s Last Ride) and a couple of particularly great (albeit funereal) last tracks in Ends of the Earth and Lullabye for Christie. They are also excellent live! Their collaboration with Low (who appeared on this page back in July, 2022), In The Fishtank 7, is also great—particularly When I Called Upon Your Seed and their cover of Neil Young’s Down By The River.
The Lucksmiths - A Sobering Thought (Just When One Was Needed)
The Lucksmiths have an extensive catalogue, but I am only really familiar with their last couple of albums—loving both Warmer Corners and First Frost. Some highlights from Warmer Corners are Now I’m Even Further Away, The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco, and Fiction; from First Frost, Lament of the Chiming Wedgebill, How We Met, and Who Turned On The Lights?.
- Richard Ford - Sorry For Your Trouble
- Cormac McCarthy - Stella Maris
- Susannah Cahalan - The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness
- Registering for the Athletics Victoria winter cross-country running season.
- Getting a Framework laptop.
- Making fun animations.
Alex G - Gretel
I’ve been really into Alex G’s music lately, and this song in particular, in a way that I haven’t been with a band for quite a while. I quite liked the Rocket album and saw them on tour for it at the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney, but this song is the standout on their subsequent House of Sugar album that stepped things up a notch. It is pretty solid overall and Cow and Walk Away are particularly good. Their album God Save The Animals from last year took me quite a few listens to get into—some of the production and choices are quite modern to my ears. Once I got over that “listener error’, it has become my favourite Alex G album. It is worth listening to as an album, but my standouts are Ain’t It Easy (especially), After All, Runner, Cross the Sea (see what I mean about the production), and Forgive.
But yeah, Gretel is the best.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Turn Into
My favourite song of theirs, off my favourite album of theirs—the very consistent Show Your Bones (see also Phenomena, Warrior). I also like some of their earlier stuff, such as Maps (a classic that is still great, despite its ubiquity), Y Control, and Our Time. There are also some great songs on their more dance-oriented It’s Blitz!, such as Zero, Heads Will Roll, and Skeletons. I think their drummer, Brian Chase, is underrated and one of the best around—listen to the drums in Maps, for example! They are also great live.
The Velvet Underground - Heroin
Released in 1967 on the great The Velvet Underground & Nico album, still sounds amazing (see also I’m Waiting for the Man and All Tomorrow’s Parties). I also really like their later albums The Velvet Underground (e.g., Candy Says, I’m Set Free, After Hours) and Loaded (e.g., Sweet Jane, New Age, I Found a Reason, Oh! Sweet Nuthin’). Their work has also had some excellent covers, such as All Tomorrow’s Parties (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), Sweet Jane (The Cowboy Junkies), New Age (Tori Amos), I Found A Reason (Cat Power)—and I think “Heroin’ is referenced in The Avalanches’ great Gold Sky (
I have made a very big decision). This is all consistent with the great quote, apparently attributed to Brian Eno, that their first album may not have sold very well but that everyone that did buy a copy started a band (incidentally, something analogous has been my aim with my research ‘impact’—albeit unrealised).
- Benjamín Labatut - When We Cease To Understand The World
- Andy Weir - Project Hail Mary
- Raewyn Connell - The Good University
- The upcoming Orange Running Festival half-marathon
- Getting back into compact discs (CDs) as a way of listening to music—vinyl too bulky and expensive, digital too isolated, cassettes too lo-fi and flimsy.
- Loudness, for a (hopefully) upcoming post.
An early–mid 2000’s theme this month.
Modest Mouse - Third Planet
The first track off their great The Moon & Antarctica album, which is well-worth listening to in its entirety (a couple of other standouts are Tiny Cities Made of Ashes and Life Like Weeds). Their previous album, The Lonesome Crowded West, is nearly as good (sometimes I think it is even better); e.g., Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine, Trailer Trash. They have lots of great songs on their other albums too, such as Float On (despite its over-exposure), Dramamine, Spitting Venom. Excellent travelling music.
Joanna Newsom - Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie
The closing track from her excellent first album, The Milk-Eyed Mender. Her later albums would get more expansive, refined, and sprawling (in track length and number), but I particularly like her simpler early stuff—see also Sadie, Peach, Plum, Pear, Bridges & Balloons. There are great songs on her later albums too, though; e.g., Sawdust & Diamonds, Does Not Suffice, Sapokanikan. I have seen her perform live three times, each one great and memorable: in 2005 on tour with Smog, in 2007 in The Famous Spiegeltent as part of the Sydney Festival, and in 2016 at the Sydney Opera House.
The Microphones - I Want Wind To Blow
The album The Glow Pt. 2, which this track opens, is best listened to in its entirety (and through headphones)—it feels especially wrong to separate it from the album-title-sharing next track. Other stand-out tracks are Headless Horseman, I Want To Be Cold, I Felt Your Shape. From their next album, Mount Eerie, I really like Solar System (careful of the loud static at the start!)—particularly this live sing-along version (
I know you’re out there).
- Clayton Purdom (Ed.) - cokemachineglow: Writing Around Music 2005–2015
- Cormac McCarthy - The Passenger
- Andrew Ramsay - The Basis of Everything: Rutherford, Oliphant and the Coming of the Atomic Bomb
- World Athletics Cross-Country Championships - Bathurst, February 17–19, 2023.
Multidimensional representations of data and
How great it is when software has excellent documentation—for example,
An Icelandic music theme, as this month will be 20 years since I left Reykjavík after spending a semester as an exchange student at the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands).
Sigur Rós - Untitled 1 (Vaka)
This is a great live version of one of the best songs on their very consistent () album (which was released while I was in Iceland—a great winter album). I also really like their previous album Ágætis byrjun (e.g., Viðrar vel til loftárása), which was one of the main things that made me interested in studying in Iceland. A lot of their subsequent music is great too (e.g., Hoppípolla, Gobbledigook). I’ve also seen them live a few times, and they have always been excellent.
Björk - Army of Me
This is the opening track on the Post album, which is my favourite of hers (see also Hyperballad, Enjoy). The album actually reminds me a bit of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine from last month—this was released a few years earlier. The subsequent album, Homogenic, is also great—e.g., Bachelorette, Pluto. I also quite liked the next album Vespertine (e.g., Pagan Poetry), but haven’t been able to get into her more recent releases. I saw her in concert in the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House, which was amazing.
- Múm - Green Grass Of Tunnel
- Liu Cixin - The Three-Body Problem
- Shelby Van Pelt - Remarkably Bright Creatures
- Kazuo Ishiguro - Klara and the Sun
- I popped a tyre while driving over the holidays; I wish I either knew more about cars or did not need to drive them.
A review of an enjoyable year of running in 2022:
- Total distance: 1934km
- Run locations: Bathurst, NSW (215); Little Bay, NSW (16); Wangaratta, VIC (8); Jindabyne, NSW (3); Lithgow, NSW (3); Forster, NSW (2); Albury, NSW (1); Carcoar, NSW (1); Firefly, NSW (1); Orange, NSW (1); Valentine, NSW (1); Warners Bay, NSW (1).