Let me begin today’s post with a favorite passage from the book I’m currently reading: “For what is genius, I ask you, but the capacity to be obsessed? Every normal child has that capacity; we have all been geniuses, you and I; but sooner or later it is beaten out of us, the glory fades, and by the age of seven most of us are nothing but wretched little adults.” An apt description as to why I’m NOT a genius. The only things I have the capacity to be obsessed over are chocolate and burritos. Not always in that order. The power of concentration eludes me. Like Homer Simpson, I’m so easily distracted, not by squirrels like Homer, but by all sorts of flights of fancy: reading, writing, picture taking, music listening, journaling, bike riding, skateboarding, snacking, and fathering, that I never obsess over any one thing and therefore fail to excel at anything (with the exception of fathering: I’m working like mad to raise three responsible members of society).

Likewise, Annuals seem unable to pin themselves down to any one sound. “Dry Clothes” shines through like a summery Beach Boys tune, “Bleary Eyed” trots along like a Grateful Dead jam, “Brother” inches along as an atmospheric meditation, and they drop a dance-floor beat into their remake Manchester Orchestra’s “Where Have You Been?” Eventually all these comparisons break down as the songs break down as well into something sometimes entirely different. It seems concentration escapes Annuals as well, but their lack of focus still retains a playful childhood capacity for genius.

Touring soon with Manchester Orchestra.

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Wow. It’s not hard to see why members of the JSBX seem to be fighting each other over getting the chance to produce Boy/Girl. Hmmm, who would win Judah Bauer vs. Russell Simins? The straddling-the-line-between-lo-and-no-fi fuzzed-out blues-inspired duo-rock of Boy/Girl interprets what the JSBX would have been like on downers.

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The Dears

On a recent day off, I took my wife’s truck in for a transmission flush. While checking in, the service guy neglected to mention that the entire staff took a whole hour off for lunch, which started about ten minutes after I arrived. In other words, I had serious time on my hands. I flipped through an issue of Spin, then Scientific American, People, Jet, Field and Stream and Redbook before returning to the single copy of Spin because, why not? What else was I going to do? Upon this closer, maybe even desperate inspection of the issue, I noticed a blurb on Montreal that mentioned The Dears, and they sounded pretty cool. Little did I know that a random collection of their MP3s, gathered off a smattering of label websites, would reflect my experiences at the auto shop so perfectly. There’s the smoldering righteous indignation of “Summer of Protest,” the hope and determination of “We Can Have It,” the bitter loss of said hope in “Heartless Romantic,” and finally, the goofy, bouncy happiness of “Corduroy Boy,” also known (in my mind) as “Yeah, I Got the Damn Truck Back!”

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Man Man

If you’ve ever been hitchhiking along a muddy country road in the middle of nowhere and been picked up by a beater Econoline van filled with career carnival professionals (and their children) who entertain you the remainder of your journey with their song and lore, Man Man should sound pretty familiar. If you haven’t…well, you haven’t really lived, have you?

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