the state

-of music in 2008; finnegan by jgrimsrud
Tuesday, 30 December 2008, 16:38
Filed under: -of localism, -of sound, -of the new year

we asked our friend, & local blogger extraordinaire, brent finnegan about his favorite albums of the year.  he replied:

I don’t go out of my way to seek new music anymore. I rely almost entirely on friends’ recommendations and Pandora. To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to albums in years. Albums made more sense when you had a physical, tangible unit (like a record, a cassette or a CD) to put into the stereo. All my music is now on an external USB drive. I listen to singles, mixes and playlists, not albums. As far as I’m concerned, the album is dead.

So, I can’t give you a top 10 albums of 2008 list. But I can say that this year, I listened to a lot of Sigur Ros, Kodomo, Dungen, Film School, Malajube, Doves, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and The Octopus Project. Here are a few of my Here are a few of my favorites since August.

¡thanks brent!  & we’ve been glad to see your recent posts up at hburg news, i.e. the bob goodlatte piece & the discussion of potential virginia noose legislation.

and, as a stodgy musician who still owns cds and loves to buy vinyl, i need to point out that independant music, and especially vinyl, is the main growth sector in the music economy right now.


– of dan on abstinence. by vastate
Tuesday, 30 December 2008, 2:58
Filed under: -of health, -of jhumphrey, -of politik

and now, from the most revered, dan savage:


I consider condom and birth control use to be aspects of sexual behavior, so it seems to me that virginity pledges do make a difference—a negative one, a harmful one. It’s time to level with America’s moms and dads: It’s unlikely that your kids will save themselves until marriage—you didn’t, why should they? But if you want to make sure your kids arrive at the altar with a history of STIs and a baby or two in tow… by all means coerce them into taking that “virginity pledge.”


-of abstinence by jgrimsrud
Monday, 29 December 2008, 12:12
Filed under: -of health, -of jgrimsrud, -of localism, -of politik

the washington post today reports a new study from the johns hopkins bloomberg school of public health.  it found: “Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do.”  interesting…especially interesting because harrisonburg has a special place in the debate over abstinence-only education.  the ol’ dnr reported in september:

2006 Teen Pregnancy Rates Per 1,000 Females

Harrisonburg: 55.7

Rockingham County: 26.3

Virginia: 25.3

* Rates provided by the Virginia Department of Health

we’re running 22.1 per 1000 over waynesboro, the town w/ the dubious distinction of top preg rate when my wife was growing up there.

so, i’m sure local folks have taken heed of the problem and are working to provide teens w/ education, contraceptives, and options… ¿right?

again, the dnr:

Parents Should Talk About Sex

Katherine Baird, Teen Pregnancy Prevention coordinator, said it is unclear why Harrisonburg’s teen pregnancy rate is so high, but poverty could be a factor.

In 2004, 17.9 percent of Harrisonburg residents were below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s nearly double the state’s poverty rate of 9.5 percent that same year.

“We really don’t have a definitive answer” to the cause of the city’s teen pregnancy rate, Baird said. “But the city’s poverty rate is substantial.”

Susan Null, executive director of the Harrisonburg Pregnancy Center, said the statistics show that “there’s a huge need for abstinence education.”

She said it’s important for parents to talk to their children about the risks associated with premarital sex.

Parents should “not just talk about abstinence, but talk about why abstinence makes sense,” Null said. “Not only is there a risk of unplanned pregnancy, but there’s a risk of a permanent infection” due to sexually transmitted diseases.

Baird agreed that parents play a vital role in helping prevent teen pregnancies.

“The best prevention is to share your family values and be an open and accessible parent,” she said. “Parents need to voice their opinions and share their values.”

yes, poverty, yes, talk about sex, and yes, need for—¡wait!  but susan null, of the harrisonburg pregnancy center, the statistics seem to show there’s a huge need for real sex education and resources??  in fact, the study in the washington post seems to say that abstinence only education is more dangerous than other methods:

“Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.”

i know public policy and programs take time to reform, so until we can give worthwhile education and resources locally, i suggest a modest first step: print savage love in the local paper & make sure the teens have uncensored access to the internet.

-of music in 2008; jason by jpremmus
Sunday, 28 December 2008, 21:57
Filed under: -of jpremmus, -of sound, -of the new year

[jason is a guitarist and vocalist with the harrisonburg band preacher and manager at downtown wine & gourmet, as well as an occasional contributor to the state.]

it seems to me that a best of list should be mostly music from that year, but if we’re going for what i’ve been listening to this year, i guess it would be:

the black angels: directions to see a ghost

texas. shoegaze. psych.

cat power: jukebox

power of soul

the flying burrito brothers: gilded pallace of sin

cosmic american music

monotonix: body language

mustaches and mayhem

the walkmen: you & me

ever since the nanci raygun

the black keys: attack and release

the old and the new

grinderman: grinderman

luscious loops and nick’s words of wisdom

spindrift: the gift of god’s gun

sergio introduces ennio to mr. meek

rolling stones: let it bleed

thanks for being a friend gram

neil young: everybody knows this is nowhere

and it was

-of jokes, wasting time, etc. by jgrimsrud
Sunday, 28 December 2008, 14:29
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of politik, -of reads

youtube strikes again.  as i wrote up 1 and 2 end-of-the-year music lists, i was frequently derailed by this stuff.  other than the small format, it’s better than mtv is, or has been for years, if ever.

here’s an official video from the national, a group i and friend andrew have both been obessed w/ this year:

there’s also this video, set to their song “fake empire”:

this hilarious joke of a video bridges me from time-wasting, ¡to joking!  as a certain fellow (¿or she-fellow?) pointed out (christian name: “anon”), many people have an impression that al jazeera is some kind of state-run, terrorist-cell, media jihadi. 

to avoid total blog cliché, i won’t dredge up all the ways in which western media outlets fell pathetically short of useful in the leadup, say, to the iraq war, for example.

instead, let me just toss out two useful bits related to this credible news source:

1: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  the bush administration has targeted al jazeera and its journalists in unprecidented ways, including targeting and bombing their bagdad bureau during the initial stage of the iraq war, and detaining a cameraman, sami al-haj, for 6 years on no credible charge.  al-jazeera was a media outlet unique in its access to the middle east and its freedom of influence from washington (unlike aforementioned u.s. media).  amy goodman wrote a piece that sums up some of the recent, sordid history:

In November 2001, despite the fact that Al-Jazeera had given the U.S. military the coordinates of its office in Kabul, U.S. warplanes bombed Al-Jazeera’s bureau there, destroying it. An Al-Jazeera reporter covering the George Bush-Vladimir Putin summit in Crawford, Texas, in the same month was detained by the FBI because his credit card was “linked to Afghanistan.” In spring 2003, the U.S. dropped four bombs on the Sheraton hotel in Basra, Iraq, where Al-Jazeera correspondents—the only journalists reporting from that city—were the lone guests. Another Al-Jazeera staffer showed his ID to a U.S. Marine at a Baghdad checkpoint, only to have his car fired upon by the Marines. He was unhurt. That can’t be said for Tareq Ayyoub, an Al-Jazeera correspondent who was on the roof of the network’s bureau in Baghdad on April 8, 2003, when a U.S. warplane strafed it. He was killed. His widow, Dima Tahboub, told me: “Hate breeds hate. The United States said they were doing this to rout out terrorism. Who is engaged in terrorism now?”

any media source should be questioned and held to account, but by virtue of their identity and history alone, i think al-jazeera deserves a reader’s/viewer’s fair shake.

& 2: they do a persuasive job, um, at their job.  just ask josh rushing.  he was a CENTCOM p.r. officer (you may have seen him in control room, the great documentary about al jazeera), and now works for al jazeera enlish.  (he spoke on the daily show last year).  while serving in iraq, rushing’s experiences led him to (slowly) change his attitude on al jazeera (check rushing’s ’07 democracy now! interview.)

anyway, he came back from iraq, wrote a book,and got a new job:

so, as israel blows up the gaza strip, or as the next conflict erupts, i absolutely believe, as jill posted on the blog yesterday, that folks should look to diverse media to keep track of the story.  and i would gladly go to al jazeera first, no joke.

-of music in 2008; andrew by vastate
Sunday, 28 December 2008, 11:59
Filed under: -of localism, -of sound, -of the new year, -of townie-to-townie

our friend andrew, local musician (the wolf gang), author & journalist (rocktown weekly, virginia correspondent for lancaster farming, formerly of the page news and courier, as well as freelance work) sent us his list for the year.

as we at the state suggested, these lists need not be limited to the calendar year.  what someone is listening to & excited by this year says something about the year’s musical environment, but also gives a bit of autobiography-via-music.  so, here we go, andrew’s “list of my best of all time music, as conceived at the end of 2008”:

“In no particular order, other than alphabetic, b/c that’s how my iTunes is organized:

Aesop Rock – Labor Days.

The best description I ever heard of Aes Rock’s stuff was “musical dadaism” which seems to totally fit.  I completely love everything about this album, but especially the completely bizarre raps that come out of left field but somehow talk to me. Every time I listen, some new phrase jumps out of nowhere, e.g. “You won’t be laughing when your covered wagons crash,” and I think, “so true.”

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm.

So cool. Apart from Radiohead, who will appear later on this list, there’s quite a bit of British hipster rock that’s generally pretty cool, but this album stands head and shoulders above most of it, IMHO. I love how the song Helicopters sounds has some of the most helicopterish guitar work I’ve ever heard.

Bob Marley – All four glorious discs of the Songs of Freedom box set,

but if you absolutely forced me to pick one, I’d go with Disc 2, which includes Craven Choke Puppy, High Tide or Low Tide, Burnin’ and Lootin’, Concrete Jungle … OK, better stop before I just name every song. Bob is in the serious running for my favorite/most influential artist ever, and if your only exposure to him is Legend, shame on you. And if you belong to that huge group of morons who think that “liking Bob Marley” is code-talk for “I smoke weed” DOUBLE shame on you. He does the love songs, he does the fight songs, he does it all… Do I make my love for him clear?

Danny Schmidt – Parables and Primes.

This is a tough call, b/c I have to include Danny on this list (b/c he’s Bob M.’s biggest competition for the single most important musician ever) but I don’t think he has one album that stands out from all the others. Parables and Primes has the highest concentration of essential tracks, though, so I’ll go with that. It’s very sad that this means songs like “McCreary’s Pipes” from Enjoying the Fall don’t get on this best-of list.

Iron & Wine – Woman King EP.

Is this too trendy of a choice? Is Iron & Wine sooo 2005? Whatever. It’s a beautiful album and we had some friends play “My Lady’s House” at our wedding because it’s the prettiest song in the whole entire world.

The National – Alligator.

So this is a best-of-ever list, but I’m writing it Dec. 2008, and this is on heavy, heavy personal rotation because it just sounds so cool. Could get bumped next year.

Pedro the Lion – Control.

The first time I ever heard this I was with a college buddy, and we listened to it start to finish in his apartment, and we didn’t talk once. We just sat there listening, and then, when it all ended, we sort of looked at each other and went, “whoa.”

Radiohead – OK Computer.

I won’t get started on why this is, without doubt, without hesitation, without question, the NUMBER ONE ESSENTIAL ALBUM of all time (this designation slightly different from essential artist of all time). Just trust me, and by the end of Paranoid Android, track 2, you’ll agree unless you suck. One of the most memorable, exciting and important nights of my life ended with me listening to this album in its entirety just before I went to bed. Long story, but please trust me and listen to this album.

Ratatat – Classics.

This one snuck on b/c of the year 2008 currently-enjoyable thing going on here. Cool instrumental electronic rock, turned awesome with Garage Band and an iBook. I saw them live once; the mosh pit was more violent than at the Rammstein show I was at (they are cool too, but not going to make this list), if you can believe that, or if you have any appreciation for why that’s surprising, or if you care.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium.

I had that same “which album to pick” conundrum here, but went with their latest, mainly because it has two whole discs of Chili goodness. Flea was the main reason I bought a bass guitar at age 18, and the album art from Blood Sugar Sex Magik is probably the reason why I have a few tattoos, and and and. John Frusciante has a few solo albums, all of which are honorable mentions on this list.

Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind.

It’s true. Third Eye Blind on my Best of List. This is one of those rare albums that I thought was great in high school, and I still think is great 10 years later. Plus, I went to a 3EB show right after I graduated, and it was one of those seminal moments in my life that I realize, in retrospect, had a big impact on me in all sorts of ways that I won’t get into, because I already feel sheepish about this pick. But certain.

Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary.

I’m almost done typing now. This makes the list because I love this album, and I’m feeling a defiant backlash after my Third Eye Blind sheepishness, so I’m not going to justify or explain Wolf Parade at all. Listen to it.”

¡thanks andrew!

-of music in 2008, postscript by vastate
Sunday, 28 December 2008, 3:52
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of sound

an honorable mention for my top 10 of the year list (the new 6 & the old 4):

johnwayneoscar’s mad: fight songs & paper girls

since we wrote, performed, & recorded this ep, my informed opinion should carry some major weight: this is a great record.  a must-own.  (we at the state are fond of the cover art, as well.)

…anyway, we (samuel joseph, jason summer, and johan grimsrud) finished recording the music, mixed it w/ matt doctor at bear creek studios, mastered it w/ chris hanzsek, put the package together, and toured through the southwest in the depths of summer.  ¡voilá!

no word on upcoming oscar’s mad shows, but jason & johan’s band preacher will be playing at harrisonburg’s blue nile with the wading girl and other musicians on wed., jan 21.