Anyway, we won't say what this makes us think about the P-fork's (lack of professionalism in) maintaining a "sprawling illegal download hub" since most of us seem to get everything illegally anyway -- it mostly just made me annoyed that no one's cracked the copy protection on that Hold Steady record yet. Oooh, was that out loud? Anyway...
The cover: Yes, okay, I admit it: In junior high, I was a total Anne McCaffrey (the fantasy author who wrote all those books about dragons on a planet called Pern, in case you uh, don't know...) nut. Look, I was that weird girl that read in the library every day -- like this is some big shocker. Anyway, the cover of Ys reminds me of the work of Robin Wood, a fantasy artist who did a whole book of portraits called The People of Pern as well as a pretty neat (not Pern related) tarot deck, which is the one I used when I read cards at a crystal shop my senior year of high school after I flunked out of calculus and had a free period in the afternoons (no, really!). This is getting completely irrelevant, but anyway -- once upon a time, before I got even stranger and started reading Bret Easton Ellis and listening to Husker Du and Nine Inch Nails constantly, that book was totally my most prized possession. I think I hung on to it years after I'd lost interest in fantasy "literature" and finally sold it on eBay during a spate of college poverty. It was probably for the best. I may still have that tarot deck though. Needless to say, I am not among the people who are mocking this cover; it makes me totally nostalgic and I kind of wish Joanna'd been around to listen to when I was 16 and totally weird and contrary.
Joanna Newsom -- The Book of Right-On
Van Dyke Parks' string arrangments: What can I say, I adore his work (though the stuff he did with Matthew Sweet a few years back was a bit cringeworthy), and he's a perfect compliment for Joanna's sweeping vision. The songs are fleshed-out, but not overblown. Yet more totally nerdy stuff: I'm really enamored with VDP's live CD from the late 90's, Moonlighting. The most applicable track I have, though, is his contribution to the soundtrack of Robert Altman's The Company; this scored the totally weird modern ballet that's the albatross of the film, Canadian choreographer Robert Desrosiers' The Blue Snake. Oddly enough, there already was a score for The Blue Snake, by John Lang and Ahmed Hassan. Goodness only knows why it wasn't used in the film. Perhaps VDP's was more cinematic.
Van Dyke Parks -- Blue Snake and Zebras