Funny Glasses Day 2024

I hope your cones and rods are okay

Funny Glasses Day 2024
Photo by Justin Dickey / Unsplash

Here's hoping you all did something fun for the big eclipse today, or at least you were in a building with windows so you could enjoy nature briefly adjusting the brightness on our display. If I were writing this post 30 years ago, I might be tempted to include a few passages about how events like this can remind us of how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and tempt us to imagine how our earliest ancestors must have freaked the fuck out when they saw this happen, hooting and throwing their poop at the sky like Marjorie Taylor Greene when the Cracker Barrel hostess makes her wait too long for a table — but given that being human in 2024 means experiencing or reading about some variety of strange weather or freak natural disaster with growing regularity, I'm going to be charitable and assume most people reading this have those thoughts often enough anyway.

For a pretty hefty chunk of the day, my eclipse soundtrack was Country, the new album by Medium Build, a.k.a. singer-songwriter Nicholas Carpenter. I could have sworn I'd written about Carpenter's music here before, but apparently not — which is my bad, because I've been looking forward to Country for some time.

This isn't really country music. I'd put it more in line with acts like Gang of Youths or maybe Judah and the Lion — tasteful pop-rock with a heavily confessional bent. I don't know the details of Carpenter's personal history, but from song to song, it really sounds like he's tapping veins to bring his music to life; every track is scattered with the sorts of seemingly minor details that make you feel like you're listening to someone sing pages from their diary in an earnest, possibly last-ditch attempt to make sense of the world and their place in it.

(Update: I have written about Medium Build here before. Ghost, your search function fucking sucks.)

Anyway, musically speaking, I think it's safe to say Country won't change anyone's life, but if you're in the right place to receive it, I also think it's safe to say this album will move you on a lyrical level. I've spent several hours in its company and emerged from the experience an avowed fan; there are several Medium Build records that came out before this, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with them as well.

Before hanging with Country, I invited Isaac Dunbar's Banish the Banshee over for a bit. Like Medium Build, Dunbar is an artist I encountered courtesy of New Music Friday, and I've had him on a list of acts to investigate further for several weeks. Today turned out to be the day, and I'm glad for that; Dunbar's clearly an artist with a lot of ambition and no shortage of things to say, and Banish the Banshee does a fairly excellent job of getting all that across.

Look at the album cover, and you might be tempted to assume you're about to listen to the work of a baby Prince; there might be a dash of that in here, but really, I often felt like I was listening to the work of a dancier Rufus Wainwright. There's a lot going on in these songs, on a musical as well as lyrical level, and even though the record isn't even half an hour long, it traverses an impressive amount of territory, from R&B-adjacent bangers to vaguely baroque pop. Whereas Medium Build occupies immediately identifiable musical ground, Dunbar comes across as much more of his own individual thing; I'm really excited to hear whatever he comes up with next.

Watching: Well, you know I had to make time to catch the series finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm. There's been an awful lot of discourse around this episode, much of it centered around whether or not it continued Curb's alleged slide toward suckitude and/or whether or not it pulled off its relatively ambitious attempt to relitigate the Seinfeld series finale more than 25 years after the fact. If you regularly read this space, you know I enjoy this show, and I have enjoyed its final season despite some pretty visible ups and downs. This might be because I do a lot of my TV watching while I'm running, and am therefore grateful for anything that distracts me from counting the seconds as they pass. Even still, I thought this was a perfectly Curb way to say goodbye to Curb, and I also thought it folded the reaction to the Seinfeld finale into the story in a fairly funny, generally entertaining way. ["Pretty, pretty, pretty good" joke redacted]

Reading: Still making my way through The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, The Rise of Improv, and the Making of An American Film Classic. I'm up to the part where Chevy Chase has fucked off from SNL and people are really starting to worry about Belushi's health, but not to the part where the Blues Brothers are really a thing and/or about to become film stars. Even though I don't consider myself a hardcore fan of the show or Belushi or Aykroyd, I'm still a big fat sucker for this kind of book, and it has me pretty well hooked thus far. Obviously I can't speak to how deeply it'll delve into the making of the movie, but if you give any kind of shit about Belushi, Aykroyd, SNL, or the Blues Brothers, this is probably a worthwhile investment for you.