Saturday, February 03, 2007

What Did You Do, Ray? Oh, Shit...

The unthinkable has happened. Ray Parker Jr. has finally sold out.

In a way, it's brilliant. Sampling "Who You Gonna Call (The Theme from Ghostbusters)." How is it that no one had thought of this before? In another, more accurate way, though, it's a really bad idea that has resulted in a ridiculous novelty song that's funny for a few minutes before it gets kind of irritating.

Since I joined YouTube, I've seen shit that will turn you white.



They came, they saw, they kicked its ass!

[Thanks to the Forklist for the link]

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Blog

Last night, I tried to watch Hollywoodland with my roommate Sig, but I kept falling asleep. Definitely among the more boring films I can recall. Not one but two completely pointless, somnambulent narratives inscrutably manacled together, directed anonymously in the style of a made-for-TV melodrama. I didn't get to see who killed George Reeves (in the film's decidedly non-definitive version), and I don't care.

But that means I can't, in good conscience, actually write a full review of the film. Who knows? Maybe the last three scenes are so dynamite, it makes up for the previous 120 minutes of lifeless tedium. (Though nothing could redeem Bob Hoskins' woeful stab at an Eastern European/East Coast Jew/Who The Fuck Knows? accent. It's like hearing Harold Shand auditioning for the role of Tevye in a summer stock production of "Fiddler." Every time he opened his mouth, I half-expected to hear him belt the chorus to "If I Were a Rich Man.")

So, rather than rip that stupid film no one saw a new one, let's talk Election '08, shall we? I was researching it at work the other day (as part of the SMPWCNBN), so the upcoming Presidential race has been on my mind. Which is dumb, because it's so far away, but that's how the hype machine works. Just like event movies, they've got to start catapulting the propaganda at you months in advance, to make sure it sticks in your brain firmly. Imagine mailing a bulky, cumbersome package across the country. You'd wrap it up really tight with packing tape, and give the Post Office at least a week (or more) to get it to its final destination. Only, in this example, the package is bullshit that politicians want you to believe, and the final destination is your dumbass brain.

The first thing I want to talk about is the ludicrocity of Joe Biden actually running for President. Almost no one even knows who he is. He's a Senator from Delaware, for Chrissakes, the state most likely to be forgotten when someone is trying to name all 50. And the people who have heard of him think he's an unelectable weenie. Judging from his tendency to blather ignorantly in front of cameras, I think he's better suited to working in White Castle, as opposed to the White House.

Here he is, on C-SPAN, telling an American of Indian descent that you're not allowed to enter a Dunkin' Donuts in his state without "a slight Indian accent."



Now, a lot of people are calling this comment racist, but my biggest complaint with Biden's remarks here are that they make no sense. I guess he means that you're not allowed to work at a 7-11 or Dunkin' Donuts without a slight Indian accent. That would be racist. But that's not what he says. He says you're not allowed to enter those establishments without a slight Indian accent. Which is just stupid. Of course Delawarians Delawareans The Delawarines people from Delaware can go into a 7-11 if they don't have an Indian accent. I think one illiterate President unable to speak more than 3 words without contradicting himself and/or not making any sense is enough for right now, thanks all the same, Joe.

Of course, this is in addition to Joseph's recent remarks about Barack Obama, which pretty much everyone on the Net has already covered.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Clean? Wow. I mean...wow...Now that is some quality racism. Is an American Senator implying that it's rare or special to find a black man who is clean? That is some Joseph Conrad-White Man's Burden-19th Century style racism there, man. That's the kind of shit you expect to hear out of your Great-Grandfather, not some guy who's in charge of, you know, running the country.
Let's move on.

Sadly No! links to this Townhall column by Matt Lewis, discussing a recent speech to the Heritage Conservative Members Retreat in Baltimore by Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt "Catcher" Romney.

He’s a good speaker, in the sense that he checks off all the boxes you would expect a good speaker to have. But he never touched me, or anyone I talked to, on an emotional level. There were no moments when eyes swelled with tears, or hearts beat with patriotism. Maybe that’s too much to ask?

Brad goes on to make the exactly correct point...You don't really want to vote for people based on how they make you feel. You shouldn't really even be going to political events hoping to have your eyes swell with tears. That's what movies and root canals are for. Rather than all this emphasis on which Presidential candidate would be fun to join for a beer, wouldn't it make some measure of sense to consider a candidate's ideas or qualifications?

At work the other day, the subject of Al Gore came up, and though everyone I work with is, I think, very sane and reasonable is his or her political outlook, there was still a clear amount of animosity towards the guy on a personal level. In fact, just the other day, someone who appeared quite trustworthy assured me, to my face, that most of the scientific information contained in Gore's Inconvenient Truth film is inaccurate. Now, I have no way to evaluate these claims short of devoting myself, full-time, to studying climate change. Regardless, I'm continually amazed at the amount of disdain towards a guy who, despite some admitted personality quirks and even character flaws, has devoted a good portion of his life to public service in what at least appears to be a spirit of altruism.

I mean, yes...He's kind of a dull speaker. He has gotten better since leaving the White House, but I'm not going to counter-argue this assertion. Like a lot of boring public speakers, he may very well be likable and charming in more intimate settings. But when he gets behind a podium and starts crunching figures, it gets drab. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Lots of extremely smart, capable people kind of suck at expressing themselves all the time.

Now, I'm not saying we should elect clueless, mumbling fools like the basket case currently occupying the office. A President should be able to conduct himself or herself in a professional manner at all times. But come on! We need someone who's going to make us laugh and cry? To stir our emotions and incite our patriotism? Are we electing a fucking world leader or a matinee idol here?

I just can't imagine being that much of a fucking child. I mean, if you owned a company and were looking to hire someone to run it for you, would you want to person who seemed the most capable and steady, or the one that was really exciting to be around?

Speaking of Mitt, here's the man himself debating Teddy Kennedy back in October, 1994. Note that, unlike today, his take on the abortion issue makes perfect sense, taking the obvious position that his personal religious beliefs should not impact the rights of pregnant women throughout his home state of Massachusettes.



What changed? Did Mitt actually move strongly to the right on this issue? Or did he decide that he couldn't get elected President as a Republican with a pro-gay, pro-choice platform?

To me, this feels like a campaign killer. His own party won't like hearing these views coming out of his mouth, even if it was over a decade ago. And his hard-line conservative-theocratic speeches aren't exactly fulled with reach-across-the-aisle, win-over-swing-voters kind of rhetoric. More like "I condemn thee to Hell" kind of rhetoric.

[EDITORS NOTE: I am about to employ the single most literate transition in Crushed by Inertia history.]

Seriously, it's hard to believe the change that 13 years has brought about in this guy's position. Modern Mitt's anti-gay marriage speeches have a decidedly firebrand, moralizing kind of aftertaste that I find particularly displeasing. It's like William Jennings Bryan adapting "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" into a one-man show, telecast worldwide on all the Fox affiliates and the "700 Club" or something.

And speaking of guys named Jon Edwards [booya!], he has tried to temper his remarks about Iran the other day in an interview with Ezra Klein on American Prospect Online. You'll recall the other day, I posted about Edwards' position that the President should keep all his options open when dealing with Iran. Considering that we're still stuck with President Quick Draw McGraw over here, that sounds like downright suicidal thinking to my mind.

But it turns out, the guy's thinking is a bit more nuanced than it sounds.

So, I just want to get it very clear, you think that attacking Iran would be a bad idea?

I think would have very bad consequences.

So when you said that all options are on the table?

It would be foolish for any American president to ever take any option off the table.

Can we live with a nuclear Iran?

I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet. I think that we have lots of opportunities that we’ve … We’re not negotiating with them directly, what I just proposed has not been done. We’re not being smart about how we engage with them. But I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet.

That's a little better, I guess. The way the guy speaks just kind of strikes me as inherently phony. And not in a Bill Clinton "isn't it funny that I'm such a fucking liar?" kind of way. More in a preening car salesman phony kind of way. He's straining to sound like a statesman. I've got to say, though, most of what he says (most!) makes sense to me. At least, he makes a bit more sense than all these other jabbering bullshit machines. Out of the present crop of greedy wretches, he's probably the least loathsome. (Rudy Giuliani actually makes me spit up a little in my mouth every time I see him.)

[UPDATE: I posted this a few hours ago, and then realized I had forgotten to include the article that had inspired me to write about Election '08 tonight in the first place. Most likely, I was so pleased with myself for that "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"-Jon Edwards joke that I lost my focus.

Anyway, I had wanted to commend Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler today for this remarkable catch in The New York Times. A reporter named Rachel Swarms asks a local barber about Barack Obama.

SWARNS (2/2/07): ''When you think of a president, you think of an American,'' said Mr. Lanier, a 58-year-old barber who is still considering whether to support Mr. Obama. ''We've been taught that a president should come from right here, born, raised, bred, fed in America. To go outside and bring somebody in from another nationality, now that doesn't feel right to some people.''

Somerby points out that none of this information is true. Obama, of course, spent some time overseas as a child, but could not be running for President unless he had been born here. And to imply that he's not American is just ridiculous. I mean, he's currently serving in our Senate, right? That's pretty goddamn American.

Somerby goes on to make a very important point. This kind of disinformation is what gives birth to firmly-entrenched, inaccurate memes that just hang around in the popular discourse for decades, spreading ignorance around like a virus. Every single goddamn time Al Gore is mentioned in any public setting, someone will bring up that whole "inventing the Internet" thing, which Gore never even said! Argh!

And now, clearly, people are hoping this tidbit about Obama's background sticks. "You know, he's not even from America! I mean, look at his name. Barrack Osama. It's all furin and weird!"

I'm not actually a huge Obama fan, but it's obnoxious to see journalists so eager to derail his campaign that they're spreading bald-faced lies about him in the Paper of Record.]

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Endangered My Ass...

The headline on this article from China Daily reads:

"Love Giant Pandas? Name them."

Frankly, I think you're coming on a bit too strong here, China Daily. I mean, I've never even read your newspaper before, I don't live in China, yet you're ordering me around like some intern. "Hey, gweilo, you like these pandas? Huh? Do you, bitch? Well, how about you do something with your life and fucking name them already?"

I do, however, find your baby pandas to be highly adorable.

From July to September 2006, 11 giant pandas gave birth to 18 cubs at the Research and Conservation Center for Giant Panda in the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province. As of February 10, 2007, all 18 cubs will no longer live with their mothers and will start an independent life. As usual, they will be given their own names. At the moment, the giant pandas are named from No.1 to No 18.

So I want to help you out here, China, I do. But 18 clever names for panda cubs? I'm sorry, I'm just not up to the task. I could maybe do four or five amusing ones. "General Tso's Panda" would be a funny name, for example. But I can't come up with 18 of those, even with a full night's sleep and a Stoner Speedball. (That's pot and coffee for you squares...)

I think the only way around this jam would be to come up with a theme. For example, you could name all of the pandas after characters from the Seinfeld Universe who are never actually seen. Like Bob Sacamano, Lomez, H.E. Pennypacker, Dr. Von Nostrand, Art Vandelay, Jay Reimenschneider and Corky Ramirez. You could probably get to 18 with a little effort and Wikipedia. (This entry in particular.)

And if that's a little inside for you Chinese people, perhaps naming them after noteworthy fictional bears? Can I get to 18 without Wikipedia?

Yogi, Baloo, Winnie...

Um....

Paddington Bear, Teddy Ruxpin...

Umm...

Oh, Little John from Disney's "Robin Hood."

SuperTed, the Care Bears, the Bernstein Bears.

How many is that? 9? Fuck, this is hard!

There was that Disney cartoon, Brother Bear, but I never saw it so I don't know the name. Ah, forget it, I'm all out. Let's hit up the Wiki.

Oh, shit, Smokey the Bear. Duh! That one's obvious.

See, now I realize why this is hard. Because most fictional bears are just named "Bear." Like, the Wiki lists "The Three Bears" from "Goldilocks." I mean, I could have come up with that, but those bears don't have names, so it's not really useful to our purposes here. We can't just call all the pandas "Bear."

Maybe it would be hard to get to 18 bears. I bet you could do it with dogs, cats or monkeys, though.

Or you could give them all fake mob names. Joey 'The Panda' Grimaldi. Frankie 'Black Spots' Pescarelli. Mario 'Bear Cub' Carbone. And who could forget Tony Bamboo?

In the end, I think it's clear what who we really should name these bears after...The man who has done more than anyone else to raise American's Bear Awareness.

Stephen Colbear the First through The Eighteenth.

Really, it's the obvious choice.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Movie Film for Theaters

Greatest trailer ever?



I've heard that, like The Highlander, it's actually a documentary that was based on a true story.

A Rit of Fealous Jage

It seems I'm not the only one with a new job in New Media. One of my favorite bloggers, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, will be running the blog on John Edwards' website.

(I'm pretty sure that the rule for apostrophes would make this Edwards's website, not Edwards' website. You're only supposed to use the s' form if the initial word is itself plural. As in "The villagers' huts were made of wood." When it's just a word ending in s, you do the s's. As in "The hostess's impeccable taste ensured that it would be a successful dinner party." But that s's just looks wrong to me, even though it implies a correct pronunciation, so I always inadvertedly fix it. I now realize that it has been less than a year, and I have already spent way too much time tutoring the SAT Verbal.)

Anyway, I had two reactions to hearing this news. Firstly, I was upset, because Amanda would certainly spend a lot more time working on the Edwards campaign, about which I care very little, while simultaneously devoting less time to her blog, about which I care a great deal. To me, blogs inform on two different levels. 98% or so of the time I spend reading blogs, I'm finding things out.

For example, reading another one of my favorite blogs, Sadly No!, today, I learned that there's an idiot who calls himself Confederate Yankee (I might have already known that), who thinks it might be a good idea to "out" the actual identity of AP source Jamil Hussein. I'm not sure what he's hoping to accomplish by this, and it's telling that he feels the need to pretend to struggle with the decision openly (because he knows it's wrong).

I don't mean this as a knock on Sadly No!, which may be the single most hilarious blog in the history of the Intra-T00bz. But that's generally the kind of thing I read about there. Morons making very open, public asses of themselves.

It's "finding out" kind of information. "Hey, there's all these right-wing nutters out there pumping one another up for eternal war against the dirty heathen browns. Isn't that weird?"

But I would actually learn things reading Pandagon. Amanda turned me on to good books (including a great bit of feminist film theory called "Men, Women and Chainsaws," which I frequently disagreed with but nonetheless but found extremely interesting) and generally expanded my view of contemporary feminist thought. Over the past year or two, I've become gradually more interested and immersed in cultural studies and film theory, and I owe part of that to reading Pandagon frequently. So I'm sorry to see her involvement with the enterprise take a backseat to her new job on a campaign. I've never met her, and actually I haven't even seen a photo, but it does feel in some ways like losing a friend. Or at least a friendly acquaintance.

After these brief feelings of disappointment subsided, I started to ponder the unexpected nature of this union. I'm surprised that John Edwards, a candidate for President, wanted to bring on to his team a blogger as outspoken and occasionally radical as Marcotte. I think she's a dynamite writer and I agree with her almost all the time, but she's not similar to Edwards in either approach or ideology. Certainly, he must have considered that Marcotte has written provocative posts in the past, and that these could be brought up and used against him now that they have been professionally associated. Edwards' decision makes me think more highly of him - he's a good judge of talent and character, a risk-taker and obviously more Net savvy than most politicians - but it also surprises me. Perhaps this indicates a sea change in his style of politics, that he's realized the stakes and has committed himself to a more forceful, direct and frank campaign this time around. I would find that refreshing, but I'm dubious.

Even more surprising than Edwards' decision to align with Amanda is Amanda's decision to align with Edwards. That's not to say I'm ANTI-Edwards, necessarily. I voted for him for Vice-President once already. Hell, I actually made phone calls to strangers in swing states in '04 in support of Edwards' candidacy. And I'd vote for him for President in '08 if he's the Democratic candidate. Granted, that's not saying a whole lot; the Republicans could nominate ME for President in '08 and I still wouldn't vote for them. The GOP is dead to me.

Still, Edwards has several opinions with which I disgaree,. When asked if he supports gay marriage in New Hampshire last month, he danced around the question before admitting that he was all mixed up and befuddled on the subject. From, naturally, Pandagon:

Edwards indicated that this issue was the “single hardest social issue” for him and that he had engaged in a lot of “personal struggles” over this issue. He believes that same-sex partners in committed relationships should have civil rights and should be afforded the dignity and respect to which they are entitled. He struggled with the question of “how we achieve this?.whether it is through civil unions or partnerships.” He indicated that he is certainly for all of the non-discrimination and equal benefits provisions.

However, he said that it was a “jump for me to get to gay marriage? I am not there yet.” He said that this was a “great conflict for him” and that he continues to struggle with the question internally. He ended by alluding to the fact that his daughter (and most in her generation) support marriage equality. (The crowd applauded after this last statement).

Ugh. I hate this phony bullshit politician thing of pretending to struggle with a big social issue. You're a politician! It's your job to make up your mind about complex issues and pursue an agenda. It's not as if this is a question that has suddenly sprung up overnight. Edwards isn't being asked his thoughts on Kevin Federline's forthcoming Superbowl commercial. He's had at least a few years to, you know, mull it over and come up with a decision.

Personally, I think it's obvious. Gay people get all the same rights as straight people, even if you think they're like totally eww gross because they periodically insert foreign objects into their anuses in what is commonly considered by non-gays to be an unwholesome manner. (Anus's?) So, if straight people can get married...guess what? I know, I know, the 14th Amendment's a total bitch. But what can you do?

But if Edwards disagrees and thinks that the gays should have to pretend they like girls so as to not offend his delicate sensibilities, he should come out and say so. Kerry tried to do this all the time when he was running for President. Remember his whole abortion dance, where he said he was pro-choice but, as a good Catholic, he still thought abortion was wrong and he really agreed with all the religious people who wanted to ban it? What an idiot...

Also, Edwards throws in that obnoxious "but my daughter's for it!" line, which I guess he thinks is going to soften his comments for staunch liberals like myself. Like, "hey, maybe I'm jus' an old fuddy-duddy and I can't get with the times, but you kids are alright! You're where it's at!" Obnoxious. It tells me that he secretly knows better - gays will eventually be granted full civil rights once people my age and younger are running the show - but that he's afraid to say it because the homophobes and bigots will turn on him. The last thing we need in a candidate is a weeny triangulator who's afraid to say what he thinks for fear of alienating the Church Lady. That's what we tried last time, and we lost to George fucking W. I Can't Fucking Put Three Words Together Sensibly Bush.

I mean, can you believe Bush won a re-election campaign against Kerry/Edwards? How horrible did Kerry have to be to fuck up that election? Granting George Bush an extension on his power is like granting Inspector Clouseau double-0 status.


He has a License to Spill

Forgive me for both the pun and digression.

I was talking about my problems with John Edwards. Far more significant than his waffle on gay marriage was his position on War with Iraq. He eventually came to his senses and now staunchly opposes Bush's horrifyingly immoral escalation, but only after voting for the initial Presidential authorization to invade. We don't need people with quality hindsight (although, granted, it would be better than Dick Cheney, who can't even own up to mistakes he made four years ago). If I could figure out back in '03 that we shouldn't go to war, the John Edwards should have been able to figure it out as well. How can we trust him to make the right decision next time?

As if to prove my point, Edwards gave a speech via satellite to a hawish group in Israel which indicates he could be pursuaded to back War with Iran!

Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile.

Iran must know that the world won’t back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...I'm going to have to ask you to go ahead and stop running for President now, mm-kay? You're scaring everybody.

Honestly, I'm very very surprised Amanda's 100% behind this guy, enough to move to Chapel Hill, NC and bust her ass on his behalf. Maybe she knows something we don't? Or maybe the money's just really super? Either way, I'll now have to actually lower myself to reading John Edwards' blog. Yeah, that's right, Edwards' blog. Because Edwards's blog looks stupid.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It's a New Crushed by Inertia Today!

Some changes around the blog which deserve a bit of attention. Firstly, I have shifted over to the new Blogger, which allows me to do a variety of neat things like tagging posts. This will enable you, the reader, to select posts from a variety of categories. Okay, two: Poorly-spelled rants about movies andpoorly-spelled tirades against Republicans.

Also, I'm getting rid of the space-consuming and texty sidebar review archive, and am currently in the process of crafting an easy-to-navigate single page which will organize the reviews based on overall film quality.

So I guess I'm not closing up shop, as I have been considering during my little bloggy sabbatical over the past few weeks. One thing I've been doing with the time I would have otherwise devoted to blogging is listening to new music. It seems like an inordinate amount of good music has already been released in this young year.

Or maybe I'm just getting more efficient at hunting down new shit I'm likely to enjoy. One resource that's become increasingly invaluable is Pitchfork's mp3-blog-in-all-but-name, The Forkcast. The Fork's writers link to at least one great new song every single day.

Here's the mix I've been listening to all week. When possible, I'll link to a downloadable version of the song. (I found them all online, and all for free, so you won't even have to be a criminal to listen along!):

(1) "Black Mirror," The Arcade Fire

The first single from the Arcade Fire's upcoming new album, Neon Bible. Typically brilliant. Find a link to the mp3, plus a ton of cool Arcade Fire YouTube links here on Muzzle of Bees.

(2) "Murder in Michigan," David Vandervelde

This guy's the darling of the mp3 blogs at the moment. I've downloaded at least 3 or 4 tracks from the album already, and this one's my favorite.

(3) "Down in the Valley," The Broken West

Instantly likable and monstrously catchy. I will most likely tire of this song in a few weeks, but for now, I feel compelled to listen to it several times a day, sometimes while rhythmically banging the shit out of my car's steering wheel.

(4) "Beach Party," Air France

Featured on The Forklist, which insists that they don't sound like the French duo AIR, even though they kind of do. They sound like AIR on a couple dozen Zoloft, after a long nap and three pitchers of margaritas per.

(5) "La Monogamie," Malajube

I swear to God, this sounds like French-Canadian Weezer. That sounds really awful, until you think about it for a minute and realize that, in fact, you have just been pwn3d and it's entirely sweet. This song as well as one other can be downloaded here from My Old Kentucky Blog.

(6) "Gronlandic Edit," Of Montreal

I first got into these guys years ago, during a hardcore Elephant 6 phase. They had an immensely twee, almost unbearably twee, song called "Fun Loving Nun" from their 1999 album The Gay Parade that appeared on a number of random mix CD's I had made for some reason. This song, from their 2007 album Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?, doesn't really sound anything like that song (it's more Krautrock than Athens, Georgia), which is probably a good thing. It also includes the refrain "physics makes us all its bitches."

I don't remember where I found this song initially, but here's a version available on Quick Before it Melts. (Thanks, Elbo.ws!)

(7) "Bros (Radio Edit)," Panda Bear

It kills me to include this, because Panda's one of the dudes from Animal Collective, a group I take great pride in avoiding. To me, they've always sounded like crunchy, undergrad wannabes, the sort of people who listen to Radiohead and then assume that anyone dithering around on instruments spacily will automatically come across as cerebral and deep. (How to Disappear Completely Up Your Own Ass?) I mean, "who could win a rabbit?" Are you fucking kidding me? We are, after all, speaking about a grown man who has chosen to release albums under the moniker "Panda Bear."

But, having said all that, this terrific song grabbed me right away. I feel lame admitting this, but it reminds me of the opening credits for Gremlins. It must be the vaguely-sinister use of Christmas sounds. It's getting a lot of repeat play this week. Grab it here from The Forkcast.

(8) "Sparrow," The Laylights

On My Old Kentucky Blog, Dodge offers up this mp3 along with the proviso that the Laylights sound too much like other bands to make a big splash. He may be right, although I think it's less complex than that. They don't strikingly resemble other bands so much as they are just kind of middle-of-the-road, predictable and generic. He brings up U2, The Killers and Interpol as touchpoints, but those are all bands that have tried to stake out some kind of an idiosyncratic sound of their own. (Or, U2 did at one time, and The Killers have been less than successful in the attempt.)

I'd compare The Laylights more to a Matchbox 20 or Fastball. Only, you know, somewhat more good.

(9) "We Expected," The Hussys

Another 'Fork recommendation, Scots The Hussys once again demonstrate how much more accomplished British lyricists are with wry social satire than their American counterparts. Like a role-reversed "Common People," delivered with regret rather than scorn.

(10) "Who Am I Kidding," Winterkids

According to Gorilla vs. Bear, the Winterkids already claim "Next Big Thing" status in the UK, which means the hipster backlash is due any day now. So enjoy the bubbly "Who Am I Kidding?" now, while it's still safe. I'd also like to say, for the record, that I already think these guys are better than The Arctic Monkeys, because I fucking hate The Arctic Monkeys.

(11) "Everday and Every Night," Starless & Bible Black

Acoustic guitar and cartoon sound effects collide in this wacky folk-jazz-rock oddity that I'm really digging presently. Find it here at My Old Kentucky Blog.

(12) "Forts," The Boggs

Another find from the always-dependable Dodge at My Old Kentucky Blog, The Boggs (really, Jason Friedman and a rotating group of musicians) somehow mash together a variety of dischordant elements (a children's chorus, handclaps, inscrutable yelling and other loud noises) and come out with a groovy, accessible rock song. Amazing. They don't really sound similar, but Friedman's kitchen sink approach brings one of my favorite 2006 discoveries, WHITE FLIGHT, to mind.

(13) "My Sword Hand's Anger," Apostle of Hustle

I heard this song initially on Idolator, but that link doesn't work any more. You can still find it on Oceans Never Listen, however. Andrew Whiteman's a member of both Broken Social Scene and Apostle of Hustle, and the two bands share a similar kind of multi-layered, busy dynamic. I like this one a bit more than the other single, "The Naked and Alone," but not by much. They're both hooky but not sugary or predictable. Very much looking forward to checking out the whole album.

(14) "Spring Hall Convert," Deerhunter

This is a really spacey, psychedelic headtrip of a song from a band I've never heard of before. Once again, this is a Pitchfork recommendation. I can't say enough about this music blog thing they've set up. Kind of a one-stop shop for any new bands getting recognition online. Plus, it rarely features entries composed in Shakespearean verse and doesn't require Roget's Thesarus or Wikipedia to readily comprehend.

(15) "Bluebells," Patrick Wolf

The last of the Forkcast songs I felt like sharing comes from the appropriately surnamed Patrick Wolf. I'm listening to it now, and it occurs to me that a number of the songs on this list include peculiar or anachronistic sound effects in the background. (In fact, both this song and "Beach Party" feature noises resembling exploding fireworks. This song also includes howling, whispering and bursts that sound kind of like gunshots.

I'm not really certain what I like about this song. It feels like it's building to some kind of cresendo, a big loud moment of catharsis, but that never happens. Still, I like it a lot. It's very dark, atmospheric music, kind of like Nick Cave.

(16) "The Mercury Craze," Subtle

These guys are opening for TV on the Radio on the next leg of their tour. I predict this song will be the most divisive on the list. Or would be, if any of my readers were actually going to bother downloading all of these songs and then comparing notes afterwards.

Anyway, like WHITE FLIGHT or The Boggs, this kind of brings together Beck, The Gorillaz and Hot Chip into a frenetic, white-boy mashed-up swirl. The only thing I dislike about this dizzying freakout is the obnoxious, sing-songy finale that lasts about a minute, sampling a '50s commercial announcer quoting a loopy Dr. Seuss-like poem and background singers repeating the phrase "blood." I mean, guys, that's all very meta and post-modern of you and everything, but shut up, because you're ruining an otherwise perfectly servicable groove. Check it out yourself on My Old Kentucky Blog.