Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: bright eyes

The Maine – “Thinking Of You” and Notes from CMJ

When life gets busy this blog gets quiet, and between work, CMJ, and a trip to Houston for a wedding I’ve hardly had time to gather my thoughts. Couple that with the fact that I’m backed up on things I’m supposed to be reviewing (sorry Zack!), and in the beginning stages of work on a large writing project I’m undertaking (to be revealed at a later date), and there hasn’t been much time for posting over here or, really, for any internet fun at all. So, instead, a couple quick hits:

It’s Time To Redesign Makeup For The Silence

This coming weekend the clocks change, which means it’s time for a little spring cleaning.

When I launched this blog a few years ago, I intentionally left its parameters rather open ended. And while the content of the blog has evolved over time like I expected, what I didn’t expect was how other parts of this website might evolve along with it.  As I’ve added links to more and more outside projects over the years, Makeup For The Silence has become a hub for my writing content, as well as something of a homepage/personal brand.

In the coming weeks, I’m planning on redesigning to reflect this better. This blog will still be at its core, and if you’re following on Tumblr or via RSS feed you may not notice any change at all. But the site itself will be more fully fleshed out, with better links to my writing for other sites*, as well as connections to my other personal detritus around the web.  It will be not just a music blog, but a landing page for all things me.

I’ll also be sprucing up Makeup For The Silence’s other internet presences. I’ve switched the Makeup For The Silence Facebook Page over to the new “timeline” view; if you’re a fan of the site and haven’t liked it on Facebook, now might be a great time to do so!  And don’t forgot that I update both the Facebook Page and the Twitter Feed anytime something I’ve written/been involved with gets published, not just with what I write for this blog. All the content, and no spam ever, promise!

Ultimately, I have some rough ideas in my head of what this all might look like, but as always I’m sure it will change as it comes together. All I know is I’m excited to see how it turns out!

*don’t forget you can always find up-to-date links to stuff I’ve written at the Reviews page; there’s been a lot added in the last month!

Rolling Stone Gives The White Stripes 5 Stars

now playing: The Strokes – Is This It [spotify] – Trying Your Luck [spotify]


Just got this month’s Rolling Stone. The new White Stripes disc got 5 stars. 5! For any of you who are regular RS readers, you know that they NEVER give 5 stars, unless you’re Mick Jagger or David Bowie or Bruce Springsteen. They give maybe two 5 star reviews a year, tops. Of course, this means I now need to go download the CD; I really like 7 Nation Army but I wasn’t planning on getting the CD, but this has changed my mind.

You know, as a magazine, RS has gone to shit, as have most of the music mags (barring, say, Big Takeover), but they still have the best reviews and reviewers in the business. Like in Almost Famous, it’s my dream job. I don’t even want to go on the road with bands doing features. I just wanna sit on my plus couch in my hip office, listen to CDs and pound out reviews all day, then spend the nights going to concerts


Lots of good shows this month; White Stripes, Bright Eyes, the Faint, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Plus CDs from the White Stripes and all the Uncle Tupelo Reissues.


originally posted 3/30/03

Bright Eyes – “Blue Christmas”

Bright Eyes – Blue Christmas

So about three years ago, right around this time of year, I had a revelation.

I like Christmas music.

Nay, I love Christmas music.

Which yeah, I suppose, is a little weird for a Jew.  (Though of course Jews wrote some of the great Christmas classics Irving Berlin blah blah blah good god do I really need to see that “fun fact” EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR?)  I think there’s a cultural thing, at least among us mainstream American Jews, where we sort of have this instinctual don’t-push-your-Jesus-on-me! gut reaction to the way our country turns into a giant Xmas theme park every December. Which of course is deeply ironic, in that lots of Christians aren’t real happy with the fact that most of what goes on around Christmastime has actually been pretty well de-Jesused.

So let’s bifurcate the holiday for this discussion – let’s call them Disney Christmas and Jesus Christmas.

Disney Christmas – Holidays that involve bringing light and cheer to the darkest and coldest times of year certainly predate any modern religious practices.  So in a lot of ways, Disney Christmas – the Christmas of bright colors and decorated houses and gift giving and drawing friends and family together and even those red Starbucks cups – is an ancient and universal tradition in itself, and one that makes a whole heck of a lot of sense.  I think picking what could be the most miserable time of year to focus on loving each other and making each other’s lives brighter makes a heck of a lot of sense, and I’m happy to participate in it.  And Christmas music absolutely fills me with that feeling.  It keeps me smiling all through December.

Jesus Christmas – what might be a little more surprising is, frankly, I like this Christmas (and its music) too. Sure, I don’t share in the faith, but that’s really sort of beside the point. It takes an awful cold heart to not see the beauty in another’s commitment and depth of belief.  The story itself is beautiful, and though I don’t believe it to be true, it wouldn’t be so bad if it was, you know?  A savior of the world who will bring about a Messianic age, born to poor and humble parents in a manger – I can get behind that.

The other side to that is, most of the best songs come from people who believe deeply in something, be it the power of love, or smashing the State, or baby Jesus.  Passion and conviction are powerful things, and they often inspire the best in people.  I think the beauty in a song like O Holy Night or The First Noel is pretty undeniable, especially when sung be someone who clearly has their whole heart in it.

Ultimately, Disney Christmas and Jesus Christmas do overlap some, at the intersection of Peace On Earth and Goodwill Towards Men.  Which are sentiments I think most of us can get behind, regardless of your thoughts on either Christmas.

So every year, right after Thanksgiving – and I do insist on waiting until after Thanksgiving, because too early and it just doesn’t feel right – I throw my Holiday playlist onto my iPod. I’ve built up a pretty good-sized collection of by now, an assortment of traditional numbers, Christmas classics, covers of said classics, and a lot of newer originals too. One of my favorite parts of December is going through all the new Christmas releases each year and cherry-picking the best tracks to add to my playlist.

(It should be noted, there’s some Hanukkah music on there too, but honestly, there really isn’t much in the way of Hanukkah music out there, and most of what IS out there is pretty terrible, or else is just gimmicky.  Other than the LeeVees album from a couple years back, I don’t think there’s been much of anything in the way of an even-half-decent modern Hanukkah CD.  I would love to see that change.)

This one’s a cover of one of my favorite Christmas classics.


(feat. track – Cartel – “Save Us (Alternate Take)”)

So for the next 4 days I’m going to post my Top 10 lists from the past 4 years, along with one cut from my choice for top album of each year.  Remember, these were the lists as I made them at the time.  In retrospect, there are a lot of great albums from some of these years that I didn’t discover until later, and some of my choices haven’t held up, but that’s the danger anytime you try and make a list I suppose.  These things naturally change over time. So consider these lists a snapshot of my view on each year in music, right at the conclusion of that year.

So with that said, my Top 10 Albums Of 2005 (originally published Jan 2006)

Top 10 Albums of 2005:

10. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
9. Mae – The Everglow
8. Gratitude – Gratitude
7. Bright Eyes- I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
6. Bob Mould – Body Of Song
5. The Rocket Summer – Hello Good Friend
4. Fall Out Boy – From Under the Cork Tree
3. Adam Richman – Patience And Science
2. Gatsby’s American Dream – Volcano

and the number one album of 2005 is…

Honorable Mentions:
Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Coheed And Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
Death Cab For Cutie – Plans
The Higher – Histrionics
Marathon – Marathon
Maria Taylor – 11:11
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
Pitty Sing – Pitty Sing

Song of the Year:
Maria Taylor – One For The Shareholder
Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark

(I should also note, I’m cheating just a tad here.  The version of Save Us I posted was originally recorded for Chroma, but it was later rerecorded in a different key.  My understanding is that vocalist Will Pugh couldn’t sing it in the original key night after night without shredding his voice – listening, it should be pretty clear why, and also clear why this version not only destroys the album cut but might also be my favorite thing Cartel has ever done).

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