Spurred by an article I read on the Wall Street Journal site this morning about the movement to ban Comic Sans (and other “fonts of ill will”), I’ve been thinking about typefaces today. One of the hardest things about this new site was the damn typeface. Are you aware, dear reader, of the boggling array of choices one has when selecting the visual representation of their words? And that everyone’s computers may see it differently anyway?
Talking with the guys who laid out my new site often boggles my mind. They send me links to whole sites discussing typefaces, almost as if it were a fetish (is it? It is, isn’t it). They compose sentences like, “I find something pleasingly humanizing about slab-serifs.” It is a whole other world that makes my head spin. A pleasing distraction. As I threatened to them over email a few minutes ago, I am going to start dropping serious typeface knowledge at bars, and then run off with a rich font heir.
When I’m not geeking out over the appearance of my written words in this digital age, I am listening to some new tunes. Of course.
The first single from his second solo album, Jarvis Cocker himself (of Pulp fame, and one of my favorite smarmy smarm voices) took time to answer a few preemptive questions about the release. My favorite is: “#3 – HAS JARVIS GONE ROCK? No – but during the course of touring his last record he discovered that, with this band, he COULD rock & so he’d be a fool not to. (When the situation demanded it).” Clearly. Further Complications was recorded in Chicago with Steve Albini while the band was in town for the Pitchfork Music Festival, and is due 5/19 on Rough Trade.
Jenny Owen Youngs
This slip of a track (it’s all of forty seconds) starts of Jenny Owen Youngs‘ sophomore album in completely irresistible fashion. All handclaps and ukuleles, this seems like a tune Feist could choreograph something for. Following the success of her ferociously honest Batten The Hatches, her new album Transmitter Failure (May 26, Nettwerk) is richly orchestrated, backed at times with the string section from the Spring Awakening musical (oh, I liked that post).
After years fronting The Comas, Andy Herod decided (in his words) to “stop playing music for a while because being in a band was ruining my life.” He tells the story of leaving New York City, sitting late at night as a house party wound down to the strains of Neutral Milk Hotel, and how he “just started pulling out all of this old stuff and listening and remembering and learning all over again what used to really electrify my heart.” Recording with local Asheville, North Carolina musician friends under the name Electric Owls, the shimmering and authentic result is an album called Ain’t Too Bright, out on Vagrant Records on May 5. This is just what I needed today.
The Boy From Lawrence County
Does anyone else think that this dude should get together with the girl from North Country? Seems obvious to me. Last year The Felice Brothers knocked me flat when they came in all whirling dervishes of accordions, wonderfully wordy lyrics, and pure undiluted joy in concert. The sophomore album Yonder Is The Clock (out now on Conor Oberst’s Team Love label) is largely a pensive, gorgeous, twilight album. This song grabbed me on the long drive home Sunday night — so resigned and wistful. It sounds like it already happened a long time ago, the quietly plucking banjo plunking like rain on a cabin’s tin roof, just starting to fall or right after the storm has passed overhead. “Roll on old silver river through the Iron Range, past the sleeping trains that wait. Gold and amber petals in your water wade.”
Born A Man
I found myself in a conversation at the Clem Snide show on Tuesday night with my friend Luke (the wonderful illustrator responsible for that Fuel/Friends header logo above!) and we had to keep straightening out in our minds how Clem Snide is the band and Eef Barzelay is the frontman. However you say his first name, Eef is a songwriter that impresses me in the league of John Darnielle and the Decemberists — you know, the kids who could have soundtracked an SAT study party. I cleaned out the merch booth after his incisively impressive set, picking up more discs to get acquainted with his extensive catalog. Their newest album Hungry Bird (429 Records) is represented well by this vivid song that hit me the hardest during his set, with its bluesy melody that somehow manages to feel effervescent. When Eef repeated the line over and over again – “We are just bracing for the impact by loosening our limbs…” something in my chest tightened. “Every single one of us has a kitten up a tree.”