Saturday, April 25, 2009

A work in progress

I'm kind of weird about my hair. I have been since high school. Cutting it, dying it, whatever. It's the perfect place on the human body to experiment because no matter how badly you screw it up, it will always come back. Well, unless you really screw it up.

The past few years I'd had my hair pretty short. It was kind of a messy spikey deal; some would call it a fauxhawk. It was pretty simple to set up. A little gel and some fancy stuff with the hands and viola, instant hipster. Even though it takes minimal effort to set up it was too fragile. I couldn't touch it without screwing it up. I just hate being that way about my hair.

So I've decided to grow it out.

I've been at it for a couple months now. To say it's at an awkward length would be an understatement. For a while I was just letting the hair fall into its natural part. The problem is that my hair wants to part all the way on the edge of my head. So all of the hair on the top of my head is laying in the same direction. It looks almost like I'm trying to force a comb-over. Or worse yet, like the part is a hinge for my hair, and if you were to grab the lip on the opposite side you could pop open the top of my head and reveal my brain.

There really isn't much I can do with it. It's probably at a perfectly good length for a normal guy, but I'm quite abnormal. To make matters worse I don't really know what I want. In high school I had it to about my chin and the maintenance was pretty mild; much less then when it's short.

What I didn't expect was to have such an audience for endeavor. The majority of which are my co-workers. Mostly the older men, most of which are losing their hair. I didn't realize that I held the hopes and dreams of so many men in my beautiful brown hair. One of the gentlemen at work had not seen me in a week and then when he saw me he was remarked, "Wow, J.P. That hair is really growing out!" Everyday someone has a comment for my head, and being starved for attention I am there and willing to receive it. "Trying something new today?", "What kind of product do you use?", "What, did the cat attack you in your sleep?" I receive all kinds of inquiries.

I'm in a slow and steady race and I have no idea what the finish line looks like. I was reading the new issue of Paste and I noticed I have a very similarly shaped head to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. Then I noticed that he's got a pretty good look. I mean, I'm not down for that shirt and tie deal all the time, but I can pull of a shaggy haircut as much as the next hipster. I guess that's my temporary goal. I have no idea if it will work out. Please stand by for gratuitious angst.

Things have been pretty mundane lately, so this is just something to do. A project. When people ask me about my hair I say it's a work in progress, which is my way of saying I really don't know.

I'm probably giving this too much though.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

The Decemberists never shy away from a challenge, and their newest effort, The Hazards of Love is proof of that. The Hazards of Love is the riskiest album in recent memory. It's one continuous song that spans over 17 tracks, but don't you dare call it a rock opera. Originally intended for a stage performance, Decemberists front man Colin Meloy decided piece was better suited for an album. The story focuses on Margaret and William. Margaret is pregnant, and William, her baby daddy, is a shape-shifter who transforms into a fawn during the day. While they try to figure out how to make their strange relationship work William's mother, the queen of the forest, tries her best to keep the two apart. The lyric book reads like a play, with different singers singing different parts.

What's challenging about this album is that it doesn't give the listener a chance to catch their breath. Each track weaves carefully into the next. The problem with that is that the songs could might not work taken out of context of the album. How could they perform any of the songs live without doing all of them? This isn't the kind of album you could listen to on shuffle on your iPod.

Then again, maybe that's exactly what Meloy and company wanted. In an age where music is quick and cheap and reduced to snippets on commercials and ringtones, here is an album that demands to be listened to from beginning to end. Granted they're expecting a lot from their listeners, but that's what makes it so daring. It's a ballsy move to be sure.

What is missing on this album is a couple happier, less morose songs. The most cheerful sounding song on the album is about a widower murders his three children. There's no 'Sporting Life' or 'Valencia', it's all dark and dreary. Sure, a happy, flowery song might seem a bit out of place on this album, but it might provide the listener with a much needed aside.

After having the album for a little over two weeks I'm still conflicted on my opinion of it, and the reviewers certainly aren't helping. Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars and called it, "an old–fashioned prog concept record." Entertainment Weekly gave it a D+ and said it, "drowns in convoluted plots, blustery guest vocalists, and comically out-of-place guitar shredding." Pitchfork gave it a 5.7, but they hate everything so that's not too surprising.

I had listened to the ablum about a dozen times I and I still couldn't decide if I liked it or if I thought it was too heavy. So today I decided to sit down and listen to the album in its entirey with the lyrics book handy for the intended effect.

After having listened more carefully and read along with the lyrics it is safe to say that this albums fits in nicely with the Decemberists library. While it might require a bit more effort to enjoy, it is definitely an achivement. It's not going to be your favorite Decemberists album to be sure, but it might go down as the most impressive. B