Recommended diversions

Small, but Big

Something most retail stores do before a busy Christmas season is run some kind of “sales report” to determine what products were most popular through the year thus far.

For the first time at In Your Ear Music Emporium, local music made an appearance on such a report. Area bands Commonfolk, Cerberus and Southern Cross generated enough sales for IYE’s computer to determine that local music is indeed something that people want — heck, they’ll even pay money for it! No, these weren’t huge numbers, but it’s at least a small drop of hope for other local musicians willing to stick it out there for all to see. So while many are still justified in snickering when they hear somebody describe Sylva and the surrounding area as having any sort of “music scene,” at least we’re seeing the growth of some roots to support one.

The Unofficial Top 10 List

What’s an end of the year music rant without a list of personal favorites from the previous 364 days? In no particular order of preference, I’d have to say that M. Ward, Grant Lee Phillips and Roman Candle put out some marvelous music this year. Chris Rosser continues to paint with deeper hues and even more delicate strokes than I’d thought possible. The new Deftones album reminds us that you can graft searing distortion to atmospheric, tortured washes of melody without ripping off Tool in the process. Speaking of, 10,000 Days actually lived up to the hype and massive expectations of those that waited almost as long for Maynard and co.’s newest disc to drop. Chris Knight captured something real and disturbingly familiar on the aptly titled Enough Rope. KT Tunstall wrote a whole pile of tunes that have a serious knack for getting stuck in the noggin. Jim Lauderdale is just plain good, and Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys just killed me with vibe and groove. So there.

A Very Krypton Christmas

If you’re old enough to remember the days when there were really only two big contenders in the world of comic books, you probably found yourself either in the Marvel bullpen or the DC camp, with very little crossover. I just never really dug ol’ Kal El as much as I did Daredevil and Wolverine, but of late the big blue and red guy has been popping up more and more in my life. Case in point: I acquired some awesome Superman pajama bottoms, the newest Supes movie on DVD and a gorgeous graphic novel about his super-ness over the holidays without any hinting or prompting. The “graphic novel” in particular (which is nerd-speak for “big fancy comic book” if you didn’t know) is a wondrous piece of art as a whole, mostly a deconstruction of Superman’s whole existence by a fictional author’s love/hate relationship with the character. It’s much more than that, though. The book is called “It’s a Bird ...” and I’ve read it three times in the last week. Good stuff.

— By Chris Cooper

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