The 'Plays' column in Banshee, my music application.
Since I received a significant amount of positive feedback to my earlier post about my top albums of 2006, I present to you seven songs at the top of my playlist for January 2007. For reasons I explain further on, these songs are probably not be the ones I listened to the most during January, but they are the ones that were most important to me. They are the songs that would stick in my head, the ones that would the first thing I would feel like listening to when I woke up in the morning, the ones whose lyrics I would pore over looking for hidden meanings and secret symbols, the ones which I would listen to two or three times in a row, simply unwilling to hear anything else.

Neutral Milk Hotel's On Avery Island
Neutral Milk Hotel's Where You'll Find Me Now: I have written entirely too much about Neutral Milk Hotel, so I would not be surprised if you, gentle reader, are tired of hearing about them. This song is appealing to me mainly because of its first lines, "All I perceive is wasted and broken."

Those lines make me think of Radiohead's Planet Telex. I did not listen to much Radiohead during January. Nor Pixies. Nor Decemberists. The three bands were at the most played bands at the top of my profile, mostly because they have each released several full-length albums, as opposed to the two albums Neutral Milk Hotel (I think it was sixth, right behind Pretty Girls Make Graves and Sufjan Stevens) made before Jeff Mangum decided he had enough. When I realized that I was subconsciously trying to compensate (by skipping prolific bands' tracks on shuffle) in order to give artists who had released smaller numbers of albums a better shot at breaking into my own personal Top 40, I got annoyed. Since there is no way to export data, I deleted my entire profile. Bye musical listening metadata, hello world of listening to music at 3am without worrying about whether someone might be using my profile to track my sleeping patterns.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' Shake the Sheets
Ted Leo + Pharmacists - The One Who Got Us Out

Sometimes there's something about my being on the sidelines doesn't jibe...

If I was going to make a list of the things that agitate me, Iraq would be somewhere on the first page.[1] When I have read too much news and cannot sleep,[2] this song helps, just like The High Party helped during a previous era.

Of course, the verb help is relative. I eventually go to sleep and then wake up in the morning, unlike tens of thousands of others. While I sometimes worry about whether an injury to my right big toe has healed properly[3], I should probably just be thankful I have all of my limbs.

Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs
Mercury Rev - Goddess on a Hiway
If this list of songs has a theme, it is transience. It is entirely possible that the music video I am linking to could disappear, if V2 Music get annoyed at the fact that this version has more hits than their alternate music video (considering the content of the video that V2 uploaded, this would be ironic).

Silversun Pickups' Carnavas
Silversun Pickups - Future Foe Scenarios
While several music critics seem to be calling this band the next Smashing Pumpkins, I gave up on that horse a long time ago. I like this song because when I listen to it, I momentarily stop worrying about our country's "future foe scenarios."

I hope it holds the same solace a month from now. Otherwise, their track Common Reactor might appear on next month's songlist:

let's break the window panes
and separate the walls from all the nails
cuz maybe if we're loud we'll stay alive
while everybody wants to join the fight
but now it's too late

John Vanderslice's Pixel Revolt
John Vanderslice - Trance Manual

here cowboy bars
and dance clubs don't exist
the trance manual says just stand alone
and then shift and shift

Since Surge is no longer just a soft drink, it is difficult for me not to think about Iraq. This song, with its references to "coalition guards" and a prostitute being "a flag of a dangerous nation," plays directly into those thoughts.[4]

But the music video is interesting as well. It is minimalist, yet expansive. It is beautiful while being horribly sad.

The Shins - Phantom Limb
On the strength of their first two albums and the sublime appearance of Joan of Arc in their music video for this song, I was convinced that this album was going to be one of the best of 2007. Alas, my hopes were burnt up while listening to it for the first time. For any other band, it would be decent. For The Shins, it is mediocre.

Kanye West - Gone

Yeah, I romance the thought of leaving it all behind...

During lunch one day in December, the girl I was eating with started talking about how one of her friends had disappeared for a while, "but it was okay, because he does that." I smiled to myself, thinking about what would happen if after lunch, I did not go back to work, but just disappeared for a couple days, weeks, or months.

The truth is, I have too many attachments and too much responsibility. I have talked about disappearing a decent amount over the last couple of months, but it would be unrealistic for you to worry that you will wake up tomorrow and I will be gone, never to return. A Wanderjahr would be nice, but it is not exactly something that can be decided on impulse.

[1] I am, on occasion, a very agitated young man.

[2] Please do not misunderstand me: the problem with the world today is not that people are reading too much news, but that too many people are not reading enough news. The ignorant sleep blissfully.

[3] It is possibly just stiff.

[4] Horrible thought: what if Iraq is our Syracuse?