Saturday, December 27, 2008

Things I Have Done Since My Last Post


1) Finished my Christmas Shopping (God bless on-line stores. I hate the mall at Christmas time)


2) Finished unpacking from my move into the new house. (oh, who am I kidding, I still have boxes in almost every room)


3) Put together about a thousand toys for my boys for Christmas (Daddy, why did Santa paint all the toys with Red dots?)


4) Watched a lot of football (which the wife hates but 'tis the bowl season in college so it had to be done)


5) Worked. And worked. And worked (anyone who said middle management is easy has never been in the middle of those in power and those who are not...let's face it you can't please anyone let alone everyone)


6) Hung Christmas lights...in the dark. Because I like a challenge.


7) Watched a lot of TV (Hey honey we have almost 34 hours free on the TIVO!!)


8) Hung about 30 shelves (why do houses not come with shelves? Do people not feel the need to display dust inducing chochkees in their houses like we do?)


9) Put together a bunch of storage units and pre-fab furniture (again, more red dots)


10) Procrastinated. Kinda like I'm doing right now.


Coming soon...Your Moment of Zen's Top albums of 2008. Maybe.


Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Something that got stuck in my head...

I was driving home tonight when I flicked across a cover of U2's "Seconds" by Rogue Wave and I thought, "Wow, I haven't listened to WAR in forever!" My U2 consumption lately seems to be mostly the last two records and THE JOSHUA TREE (because that is all that is currently on my iPod). So when I sat down to re-ignite the blog with posts I dug out WAR and popped it in and was instantly reminded why this was my favorite record of theirs for a long time.

WAR has the mark of a band making the leap. In sports, the leap is when a good player ascends to greatness right in front of our eyes. I remember when I saw Kobe Bryant of the Lakers make the leap. It happened with my beloved LA Angels in 2002 (when they won the World Series) and WAR was when U2 made their leap. The songs had more bite and polish than BOY or OCTOBER. The lyrics now encompassed a more direct marriage of the spiritual and the political and The Edge found his signature guitar sound here. Most critics say that THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE is the leap record because of the presence of Brian Eno but I argue that the images that came from WAR (The band in the snow for "New Year's Day", Bono and his white flag at Red Rocks on "Sunday, Bloody Sunday) are what most people remember from that era of the band.


The real secret of this record though are the album cuts. Unlike other 80's bands, U2 took their time crafting a whole album. Sure the singles are brilliant but "Like a Song..." and "The Refugee" hit the mark for their power and musicianship better than many other bands hits. Re-listening to the record as a whole it strikes me how each song seems to flow into the next, as if part of a larger plan all along. In essence, a band moving away from their established style into something new. In fact, WAR departure in sound from the first two records set the tone for the bands experimental nature (another thing most critics credit to FIRE, when in fact FIRE is more along the lines of OCTOBER than WAR ever was).


So, what does all this mean. It means it's a damn good record (although you probably already knew that) and one that should be included on your iPod just in case you need something that still kicks ass...



Monday, November 17, 2008

In Case You Missed It

I may or may not post a larger rant later tonight but in case I don't I wanted to put this song up for several reasons:

1) Wilco is a great band
2) It's only performance was on the brilliant COLBERT REPORT right before the election. (something I will attempt to comment on later)
3) It is a nice return to the old blues/country roots of the band (with shades of Uncle Tupelo) and away from the more experimental stuff they have been putting out.


So here it is:


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Catching up with...

So, I have been away (I know, nothing new there) so I have some not necessarily thematic thoughts to get everyone caught up:

1) Hands down my new favorite TV Show of the moment is Chuck. Not only is it funny and full of action, it has great music. Case in point was the superb use of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" to illustrate the climactic battle Chuck has to go through against the old game Missile Command. It was a brilliant use of the song and made me jump on the net and grab it for the ole' iPod.

(mp3) Rush -- Tom Sawyer


2) I have, for the most part, ignored the new OASIS record. For someone who is card carrying member of the Britpop fan club to write these words might constitute blasphemy, but I just haven't been able to get excited. The two exceptions to my blah attitude are the singles "Falling Down" (both the original and the Chemical Brothers remix) and "Shock of the Lightning". Both of these songs could very easily have fit onto the first two records so this is most likely why I enjoy them. The rest feels like filler to me.

(mp3) Oasis - Shock of the Lightning

3) Has a band coming off a huge commercial album ever had a quieter follow up release than SNOW PATROL? I would have expected their new stuff to be plastered all over the radio and TV but I have heard nary a peep from their new album. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

4) This past week was homecoming week on my campus. This is one of my favorite times of the year and makes me a bit sad I chose to go to a college with no football team and very little school spirit. Perhaps that is why every year I lose my voice screaming at the top of my lungs to get a bunch of teenagers excited about a game. (BTW, our team lost again this year, making it 13 straight loses to the cross town rival). In honor of that here are some of the best collegiate fight songs around.

(mp3) USC Fight Song
(mp3) Notre Dame Victory March
(mp3) Michigan Hail To The Victors
(mp3) Florida State War Chant
(mp3) University of Tennessee Rocky Top



Hopefully it won't be as long till my next post.

Cheers.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I Love Democracy

I love the process of voting. I am one of those old fashioned types who believes that one should actually go to the polls, stand in that little plastic booth and punch the card with your choices. I have yet to give in to the absentee process mostly because I think it robs us of the joy of electing people and making choices on those propositions interest us the most. I admit that often I approach voting with less than a full plate of understanding of the intricacies of the different measures and some of the lesser known judges that are running. But I still like the pageantry of election night. I will be glued to the TV as the results come in and states are lite up either red or blue. (by the way, how cool are the sets for election night. Seriously who wouldn't want to play with a huge electoral map).

So I will wait till tomorrow night after work to go to cast my vote. I will be tired and hungry (and given my new house payment poor) but I will be right there to punch my card and get my sticker. I owe the democratic process that much..




Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Six)

One of the odd things about the Britpop of the 90's is that it was divided into several camps. You had those bands that came from Manchester and had a decidedly dancy style to their music. You had the bands that were still recovering from the shoegazer movement. Then you had those bands that were climbing the pop charts by channeling the Beatles and the Stones (*cough* Oasis). Every once and awhile one of these bands would dabble with their musical formula and would be met with either derision by the mainstream press or adoration for stretching their musical legs. Herein lies the problem with a band like KULA SHAKER. These lads had several strikes against them when they first came to prominence:

1) Lead singer Crispin Mills was more famous for his mother (Disney staple Actress Hayley Mills) then for his music.


2) They utter pretentious nature of their musical influences. (think Pink Floyd mixed with The Stones and Ravi Shankar)


3) Mills gigantic mouth.


Obviously, the combination of these elements meant that they were slated for a meteoric rise and fall (isn't that always the case with these bands) and true to form their first record, "K", was a huge hit in the UK and made quite a bit of noise in the States. With it's mix of mystical lyrics, dancy drums and layered guitar work, Kula Shaker's debut was unique and I have to admit, very addictive. "Hey Dude" hits you from the moment it comes from the speakers with all the bravado of Trex. "Govinda" uses guitars to transport the listener to the hills of India, while "Tattva" is a perfect pop song about love and peace that seems straight from the sixties. Really, that is the key to the album; it has a dated and yet modern feel to it. Listening to it today it does not feel out of place or wain in it's potency to excite.


The rest of the Kula Shaker story is the typical downfall of a popular band. The band broke up after their second record with Mills going on to various other bands and solo projects before reforming the band in 2004 and releasing some new material. I get the impression that Mills is cut from the same cloth as other musical savants who feel that their music is never quite right and that must have driven his band mates insane. You can hear a lot of studio trickery on his later work that was not present on the debut. But for sheer joy and musical pleasure, their first album still delights.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Honor Of My New Commute

I have never been one who likes to drive. Part of this is due to the fact that I currently tool around the greater San Gabriel Valley in a 1993 Nissan pick up that is lovingly referred to as a "P.O.S.". But it is also due to the fact that I get bored easily and a long drive is just about the greatest form of torture for someone with ADD. So with the new move arrives a special present; a 45 minute commute to and from work!! This has meeant getting up a half hour earlier (those of you who enjoy sleep undersatnd the importance of the last half hour of rest prior to the day) and sitting in traffic with the countless others on the 210 freeway heading off to the day's activities. Then when the day is done I get to do it all over again.

The drive has forced me to listen to a ton of sports talk radio (just about the lowest common denominator of entertainment is the afternoon drive talk show.) Although I do, from time to time, find the guys on AM 570 (Money and Petros) entertaining, the 710 ESPN yakkers (Denholm and Long) are god awful and make me want to leap screaming from me semi moving vehicle. Seriously, I could do these guys jobs in my sleep. The only reason I listen is to keep abreast of the day in sports. The talk is broken up by a combination of KROQ, 100.3 the Sound (a new alternsative for old people station that is like THE WAVE but with REM and U2) and the old iPod. So in honor of my new found time in the car, here is a mini-mix of songs. Happy commuting everyone (I will now go load my gun for the tomorrow's onset of road rage...)

(mp3) Snow Patrol --Headlights
(mp3) The Perishers -- Let There Be Morning
(mp3) It Hugs Back -- Other Cars Go
(mp3) A3 -- Woke Up This Morning
(mp3) Jimi Hendrix -- Crosstown Traffic (Courtesy of Metal Bastard)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not Dead...just moving

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, just moving into a new house. Once things settle down I will be back at it. Cheers!

Monday, September 29, 2008

200th post -- nothing but chaos

So I had intended to Post a podcast for my 200th post but haven't had five minutes to sit down and record it due to the following:

1) My wife having surgery and being bed ridden for a week and a half
2) The impending purchase of a new home and the subsequent packing required
3) A tedious and time consuming job interview for a promotion.
4) No support network in the area (although a last minute call to the bullpen to bring in my dad for babysitting duty paid off)
5) My two sons simultaneously deciding to channel Dennis the Menace and spend every waking hour hurling themselves and any convenient object at each other.


All of these factors have led me believe that my karma is currently out of whack. Now the surgery could not be avoided. After seven months of intense pain it was finally time to end the household nightmare for my wife. Buying a new house is actually a good thing, but if you have ever gone through a house hunt and the accompanying purchase process you know that this is some sort of Chinese torture program. The job interview kind of came out of left field and let me say that finishing second in a job race is no fun. Having no parents (my mom is in Oklahoma packing my brother up to ship out to Afghanistan and my wife's parents live in Oregon) makes corralling the children somewhat complex and required me to take a week off. If anyone actually knows me then you know what a rarity it is for me to take any time off, let alone a week. Finally, the only explanation I have for my boys is that they are 2 1/2 and boys ('nuff said).

So where does this leave me? Will I maintain my sanity long enough to get through October? Will I survive all the various trials to succeed and prosper? I hope so. In the meantime I feel the JOY DIVISION just about sums up my mood right now.

(mp3) Joy Division -- Disorder
(mp3) Joy Division -- Day of the Lords (for the chorus of "When will it end" over and over again like a mantra)


But fear not fair readers, salvation is near because baseball playoffs start Wednesday.


(mp3) Train -- Calling All Angels

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Promoting a Blog I Love

I always admire other bloggers. It takes dedication and passion to keep posting music day in and day out (lord knows I have trouble putting down a post a week!!) So when bloggers move beyond the realm of just commenting on music and onto actually putting music out I have to take time to say "Way to Go"! One such blog I frequently read is 17 Seconds run by a very knowledgeable chap named Ed who has started his own label. Taking the DIY spirit to heart and putting out what I hope is a long line of great Scottish bands that are sorely in need of some attention. Case in point is ABERFELDY, which has just released a a divine slice of pop heaven as a single called "Claire/Talk Me Round". If you love catchy indie pop then check out these songs on their myspace and by all means by the damn single when it comes out. I know Ed will appreciate it.

17 Seconds Records (Official Site)

Stream Aberfeldy Single here

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Quick Hit for the Day

Things are nuts around the house right now. I am prepping a move into a new house so I don't have a ton of time for anything enjoyable. I did however want to share this song with you just because it came on the iPod today. I think I will probably do a proper RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE post later, but here is probably my favorite track of theirs recorded live at a show I was at (which ended up being the last time they performed live until recently).
More later...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kanye West gives good Daft Punk!!

So, I stopped watching the Video Music Awards via MTV (perhaps the most misleading moniker in TV these days..but that's a post for another time). Anyway, I stopped watching the VMA's mainly due to the fact that most of the artists that are performing are not my cup of tea. But I happened by the show a few days ago, just in time to catch KANYE WEST's live performance of his new single, "Love Lockdown". Some thoughts about the performance and Mr. West himself:

1) It takes real guts to play a new song live on an awards show. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, so I have to applaud him for that. This was always my biggest complaint against THE CURE, who would religiously trot out "Just Like Heaven" for the umpteenth time rather than risk any sort of fan backlash.


2) You could tell the crowd wasn't feeling the song right away. There appeared (at least on TV) to be a bit of pause.


3) The song is a real change of pace for Kanye. He sings and the song has no real chorus. Two things that don't often spell hit.


4) This song is his "heat check" moment. For those who do not play basketball, a heat check is when someone who is playing especially well decides to just throw up a ridiculous shot to see just how hot they are. No matter how crazy or insane the shot, if one is hot it always goes in. This song is an experiment in how hot Kanye is. If it's a hit, then he might just release a polka single next.


5) My main point of this mini rant is this: How come no one is calling Kanye out for cribbing from DAFT PUNK? It was one thing to lift a sample for his hit "Stronger" (a song I actually like quite a bit), but now he's just writing songs that sound as if they were already created by the French techno band. Really, one of the remixes I heard sounds like it leapt right out of the setlist for DAFT PUNK'S last live disc. How come people will buy millions of copies of this, but will ignore the DAFT PUNK catalogue?


The truth is I actually like this song (and a few others of his as well). It pushes the boundaries of what most pop music is today and I am all for pushing boundaries. But kids, do yourself a favor and check out the Daft Punk song I'm posting here for your pleasure. Who knows, Kanye may decide to make this one his next single.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Five)

Some bands just catch lightening in a bottle. They are great for one record and then disappear. For some it's not that they don't release other stuff; it's merely that it's ignored. For others, one record is all they can muster. ELASTICA actually fit into both categories. I remember getting the 7" record of their first US single "Stutter" (back in my radio days when records were still pressed for playing purposes) and I was shocked at what I heard. Not since THE PRETENDERS, had I heard a female voice with such power and focus. Justine Frischmann had the kind of raw emotion to her voice that made their songs jump out of the speakers and grab hold of you. I must have played "Stutter" three dozen times prior to the release of their debut record. Needless to say, my hopes were high for the whole album. And it did not disappoint. Now, Elastica, wasn't exactly setting off in uncharted waters with their mix of pop and punk but it had a real sense of urgency and the entire collection had a drive and immediacy to it that it mad it infectious. Then radio got a hold of "Connection" and everything changed. Justine became the new it face of British rock (due in large part to her very public relationship with Blur's Damon Albarn) and the band couldn't put a follow up together. Time came and went, as did several members of the band, and most of the world forgot about the band.

Justine and a new line-up put out a follow up but it didn't go anywhere. This is what I mean by a band that falls into two categories. They didn't have enough in their creative repertoire to sustain a second record when the first took off. Then by the time they did, music had moved on. It's for the best really. Even now, the first album stands up remarkably well to the test of time. "Never Here" and "Waling Up" could still fit into US radio today (and they weren't even singles here). "Connection" still hits a wondrous note with the siren style guitar lick. Even the album tracks have the same bite they did almost thirteen years later. Truly, Elastica was one of the great lost britpop bands.



Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Just When I've Lost Faith in Humanity

These were the top headlines from the local rag today here in Pasadena:




Seriously, that is one bad news day. So just when I have seemingly lost all faith in my fellow man, my iPod blessed me with this track late in the evening. Not only does it have a wonderful message, but the way it builds musically as Michael Hutchence (an underrated singer in my mind) plays out his story is breathtaking. It just made my day a little brighter and gave me hope that there still is beauty in this somewhat messed up world of ours.




I don't normally put lyrics in my posts but I have always loved these. They might be a bit hokey and naive but they still produce a lump in my throat.

In a room above a busy street
The echoes of a life
The fragments and the accidents
Separated by incidents

Listened to by walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other
Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other

Listened to by walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

The nature of your tragedy
Is chained around your neck
Do you lead or are you led
Are U sure that you don't care
There are reasons here to give your life
And follow in your way
The passion lives to keep your faith
Though all are different all are great

Climbing as we fall
We dare to hold on to our fate
And steal away our destiny
To catch ourselves with quiet grace

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs

Listened to by walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thank God for Sarah Palin!!!

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet (just consumed by the first of many 65 hour work weeks in the coming year). I have every intention of resuming my semi-regualr schedule of music related posts tomorrow.


It's hard to believe that since my last post the Democrats nominated the first ever minority for President and the Republicans selected someone even less qualified than former VP Dan Quail for their ticket. Isn't progress grand? Seriously after the week I had I needed a good laugh and god bless the GOP for giving me a good one. Now before being accused of being a sexist let me be clear, I fully believe that a smart woman can one day be president. And I admit I know very little about Mrs. Palin (seems more appropriate to call her this so as to go with her whole hot librarian vibe - to steal a line from about 10,000 comedians in the last week!) but is running the state of Alaska for less than two years really enough of a resume for the second most powerful person in the US. I mean, Jesus it's FREAKIN ALASKA!! What's her primary constituency...moose and geese? So maybe I'm being a wee bit harsh. After all, she is probably smarter than me (Dear God let's hope so or we are all doomed.) But just think one should have logged more than 1 and 1/2 baseball seasons as a leader of people in order to be allowed to chair the Senate.



I think this video is the perfect intro to the woman who may be VP




Well, at least the next two months aren't going to be boring. Hold on to your hats folks...it's gonna get a bit bumpy.




More tomorrow...I hope.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Bloc Party

I have made no secret of my disdain (or perhaps apathy is a better word) for the last BLOC PARTY album " A Weekend in the City". Maybe it's because "Silent Alarm" was so good and so polished for a debut that I raised the bar on the band too high. Maybe it was that I had a poor digital download of the album which made the nuances harder to appreciate. Maybe the darker feel wasn't where I was at the time, but the whole album left me wanting more. Anyone can see these guys could very well be a great band and make great music for a long time. But with the surprise release of their third album "Intimacy" we might be seeing a full fledged band emerge with the kind of adventurous spirit of RADIOHEAD or U2.

"Intimacy" a record that is all over the place. The lead single, the horn and back beat infected "Mercury" recalls early CURE with it's cacophony of sounds and lyrical nonsense. "Ares" has the feel of an anti-war rant (still digesting the lyrics) when it suddenly softens in the middle. "Halo" could be a Silent Alarm outtake with it's driving guitar/bass combo. But it's when the band unleashes "Biko" that we see something totally different. Here the band writes the closest thing they have to a ballad but full of longing and suffering that makes it an extraordinary listen. The second half of the album has an anthemic feel of a band writing for arenas and large concert venues. Clearly the band has big ideas of it's mind for the immediate future.


"Intimacy" is not as fresh as the debut or a nuanced as the second album, but the entirety is a wonderful listening experience and the sign of a huge leap forward for the band. In a year full of great albums this one is in the running for top honors.



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Zencast #15 (The Indie Cast - B)

Being the attention whore that I am, I looked at the stats for all of my podcasts and found that the most successful one, based on listener downloads, was the so called "Indie Cast" I did about 5 months ago. So I threw together some random new indie rock and ,VOILA!, a podcast was born. Hidden gems here include the latest from MOGWAI and THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT as well as a great new single from RA RA RIOT. Enjoy these 49 minutes of fun and, as always, feedback is appreciated.


Tracklisting

Mogwai -- The Sun Smells Too Loud
Working For A Nuclear Free City -- Kingdom
The Airborne Toxic Event -- Sometime Around Midnight
A Classic Education -- Badlands and Owls
Anthem In -- Down
Cerulean -- Quiet Release
Alexi Murdoch -- Home
Lackthereof -- Last November
The Little Ones -- Boracay
Ra Ra Riot -- Dying is Fine

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Four)

THE BLUETONES were supposed to be a big deal - at least, that's what the PR guy from their US label said to me in line one night at the annual CMJ festival in New York. CMJ was a magazine/charting service for College radio that was my personal bible while in college. When I was in the industry, these charts were the make or break for a new band because it told the world whether or not a band had indie cred. This is an antiquated notion these days, but a fair analogy would be a hit record today on about a thousand blogs would be the same as getting played on a thousand college stations back then. So, when you went to CMJ, you would be seeing the hippest and coolest of the music industry at that time. Each night was a collection of showcases for different bands trying to sway stations to play them on the air. Each night there was that one band that was the big ticket that every radio and industry type wanted to see. For one night in New York, The Bluetones were that band.

Now, it is never fair to raise expectations on any band to the height that they were at that night. I walked into the club expecting a band on par with OASIS, BLUR or THE CHARLATANS. What I got was an average sounding Britpop band with a couple of strong songs. I left disappointed, and turned to my PR friend and said, "So what else you got going tonight?". To a PR guy working a radio Music Director, this statement was akin to shooting his dog. Upon my return to California, I never even took the time to buy the full album. I had enjoyed the ep they had sent me and at the time that was enough for me.


About a year ago, I found "Expecting To Fly" online and downloaded it. I was surprised at the quality of the record. "Slight Return" has a nice sing-songy feel to it that never translated well live. "Bluetonic" is textbook britpop (as if recycled out of The La's leftovers), while "Talking to Clarry" has that open the show slow build to a somewhat majestic anthem feel that shows off some above average guitar work. It's a nice record and one I should have not dismissed. Were they the second coming? NO! But I was glad to see that they have carried on and I might just see what they have done since their debut. I guess the lesson here is that some bands just aren't good live (at least the night I saw them), but that shouldn't be the kiss of death. Who knows, maybe the pressure was to much for them and they were tight? Maybe a few more shows would have benefited them and given them a greater presence in the US. Still, for a britpop nugget they feel like a nice addition to the Lost Bands Catalogue.




I had the whole album on my computer but apparently deleted it to save room!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Plugging back into the Matrix

It's amazing how reliant I have become on technology. Now, I have always been relatively in tune with the latest gadgets and advances. But over time I have become more and more attached to the notion that I can get information any time I want via the Internet. For many of us who lived prior to the Internet days, this development has changed how we act when we go on vacation. I recently spent 10 days on a ranch in Southern Oregon where I had no cell-phone reception (thereby slicing me away from being able to check my blackberry for e-mail), a computer with a dial-up modem (which makes getting information off the net next to impossible) and a local paper that was 14 pages total (mostly about local news which has no bearing on my life). Add to this the fact that, even though there was cable TV, it was in another state so forget trying to keep up on local baseball teams and their games. I was reduced to checking the ESPN crawl at the bottom of the screen over and over to see if the Angels were winning or losing. For someone who has a information addiction this is some form of sadistic torture.

(NOTE: I did have a very nice time and actually spent quite a bit in a wonderful hammock between two shade trees with a nice breeze blowing. So don't get the idea that I am ungrateful bastard who can't appreciate a little R and R)


So obviously my wife and I fought tooth and nail to see who got to the computer first upon our return home to check e-mail, facebook, websites, and other Internet related gobbledy gook (I lost which is why this is being written today instead of yesterday). So now I'm plugged back in and ready to go. Now excuse me I have to go refresh my e-mail... it's been two whole minutes.


Computer Club is a great new electronic act which seemed to fit with the theme today. All song links courtesy of I Heart Comix


(mp3) Computer Club -- Bizarre Love Triangle (yes, another version of the New Order Classic)



Friday, August 01, 2008

Hitting the Open Road

Summer school is at an end so it's time to pack the family up in the car and head North to the great state of Oregon for our annual family trip. This year we decided to try to minimize the pain on the boys and drive through the night rather than wasting an entire day. This does mean, however, that I will have to pull an all nighter to accomplish this feat. So given the fact that I have to rest up and that I will be on vacation for the next 10 days I leave you with a couple of parting gestures. See you in a couple of weeks...





Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Three)

In every movement there are those bands that don't get the respect and admiration they deserve as compared to others. THE AUTEURS clearly are one of those bands. Led by singer and principle writer Luke Haines, The Auteurs brought a sense of poetry and lyricism to the Britpop movement that cut against much of the original working class leanings of the other larger bands. Haines traveled in imagery of French lifestyle and love found and lost. The bands use of acoustic guitar and synths gave their sound a more cosmopolitan feel as if plucked from the soundtrack of a foreign film.

The band's second record, "Now, I'm A Cowboy", refined their debut's style and was even more esoteric. Although it leads with a bang with the rocking "Lenny Valentino", the record settles into a leisurely pace of melancholy and dreaminess. Highlighting the record is the sublime "New French Girlfriend", which had even more power live. I think it's just that most people simply didn't get the band. The next album saw the band hook up with Steve Albini who pretty much decimated the band's sound and one of my colleagues at the college station to publicly call for both Albini and Haines' heads. After that it was downhill from there. Every once and awhile they get name checked as part of the movement of Britpop but they actually were quite removed from the style that was the signature of the genre. There closest peers would probably have been PULP (who will get there own mention in the future) and gave the sound a more grown up, less working class feel.


I have to say I was surprised at how well this record stood up over time. It has a timeless quality to begin with that is only enhanced when you appreciate the subtlety in the music. This is a shining example of the excitement of the music from this time.




Friday, July 25, 2008

I Can't Get No Sleep

From time to time I get insomnia. My wife also suffers from this inability to get to sleep, but in a much different capacity than what is currently afflicting me. Her's requires a nightly sleep aid to allow her to sleep. Mine strikes intermittently making it impossible to even lay still in bed. I can't really say what causes it or why it strikes, but it's as if my body has these twitches and leaps in it making it very hard to drift off to sleep. Sometimes I can pinpoint a cause (usually consumption of large amounts of caffeine prior to bed does the trick) but then there are those nights when it becomes obvious that sleep is not coming soon. So what does one do? Do I lie there in the dark hoping that something will allow me to calm down? Do I give in and take a drug knowing that the sleep will not be true? So, instead I came out here to the computer to type to see if that might help center my thoughts. So I have nothing original or thought provoking to say just musings to pass the time.

I suppose I could write a review of THE DARK KNIGHT since I saw it today, but what could I say that would be unique or new to the conversation? (other than that I personally enjoyed it quite a bit despite the unrelenting darkness of the film and yes Heath Ledger is very good...)


I could take the time to talk about the state of my beloved LA ANGELS (best record in baseball) but since no one else in mainstream sports media cares about them then why should I?


I could opine on the state of the US economy and the eerie parallels between the current situation and the beginning of the GREAT DEPRESSION of the 1930's (but that would only put you to sleep, not me)?


I could pick something random and just babble on about it, but that might just get my mind all fired up and then I never get to sleep!!! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY MADDENING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So I put this to you dear readers, how do you fight insomnia? How do you drift off to sleep when every ounce of your body is fighting you? Leave suggestions in the comments section. I'm gonna go have some warm milk...

(mp3 ) The Perishers -- Trouble Sleeping

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bring That Beat Back (Dancing Around the World)

Just a quick post here because this totally blew me away when I saw it and it gets better each time I view it. Added bonus for a really cool song:

Seriously who wouldn't want to be this guy. To see all that he has seen. I wish I could have seen a fraction of the world that he has danced through. What amazed me every time I watch this is how universal the joy of dancing like a fool can be. So get up and dance around your city tomorrow. It will make you feel better!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Simply A Beautiful Movie

My wife and I finally sat down and watched "Once" last night, and I, for one, was floored by the beauty of the film. Now, I have a soft spot for Irish films, since I had a truly life altering trip to Dublin while I was in college. In spite of that, I was not prepared for the elegance and grace of the film and how it depicts the struggles of two lost souls who, only when connected through music, can be whole. Glen Hansard, of the band THE FRAMES, has such passion and depth to his voice when he sings - it makes you feel the anguish and despair he feels. Add in the gorgeous harmonies of Marketa Irglova and you can easily hear why their music won an Oscar.

"Falling Slowly", as performed in the film, is almost like the first time you realize you are falling in love with someone. It starts off tentatively then builds to a chorus as two voices find harmony, then drifts off at the end as you and your love find peace with each other. Conversely, the other musical focal point of the film "When Your Mind's Made Up" seethes with the hopelessness of a love that is gone and the realization that you cannot get back what has already left. The filmmaker doesn't give us a traditional payoff (I won't spoil it if you haven't seen the film, but it is a bit of a surprise), yet it feels true to the intention of the movie. Having had a day to digest it, I can say I'm actually haunted by the sounds and feelings of the film. I was glad to have seen it and I hope you will be as well. You will not be disappointed.




(mp3) Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova -- When Your Mind's Made Up

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Two)

A quick note: A fellow whom I have tremendous respect for and read every day, The Vinyl Villian, has started a similar series on Britpop bands from the 90's. Let me assure everyone that I did not steal his idea. If you get a chance you should read his take on this genre of music. Who knows, it's possible some of the same bands will show up in both spots.

During the 90's I bounced around the record industry interning at a variety of record labels. This consisted mostly of taking phone messages and sorting through stacks of CD's in warehouses. I worked at different times for London Records, Maverick, Interscope and Polydor (a subsidiary of A&M). While at Polydor a London quartet by the name of GENE was signed with the hope of cashing in on the Britpop craze that had infiltrated America. The label executives called us into a room to listen the their debut record, "Olympian" which was followed by a briefing on the talking points if we dealt with the public on this record. What struck me upon listening to the record was the blatant attempt the band was making in imitating THE SMITHS but in a way that made them sound more like a Smiths cover band than being influenced by Morrisey and Marr. This fact was almost universally ignored by the upper management types instead we were told to focus on the song writing and musicianship. Needless to say every college radio person I spoke to over the next few months refused to play the record because, "I'd rather just play The Smiths".


Upon returning to the record for this series I tried to approach it as a fresh group and overlook the influence. I mean, if I could do it with OASIS, why not these guys. But it's just to hard. Martin Rossiter's vocals don't have the same melancholic moan of Morrissey but there are certain vocal intonations that are similar. Steve Mason's guitar doesn't chime the same way as Johnny Marr, but there are moments of Marr-esque picking. I imagine I could overlook these things and say, yes it is a good record. I do remember over time actually enjoying some of their songs and it appears that the band has had some success in Europe before disbanding in 2004. Of the songs, "Be My Light, Be My Guide" is a real gem mostly because it has an edge that a lot of the other songs lack. I know this isn't the most positive review but sometimes mediocrity can be enhanced by one great song. That was the case here.






Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part One)

This series may increase my readership through the roof or it may single handily destroy everything I have accomplished to this point (which frankly is not saying much). Following the viewing of the aforementioned SEVEN AGES OF ROCK I traipsed through the old record collection and dusted off a few choice Britpop nuggets that I hadn't spun in a while. I have no idea how many of these posts there will be and if I can sustain a fascination with Britpop for any length of time, but here is the first of those records that at the time I thought were brilliant.


CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE gained most of it's notoriety due to its name and the play on words they often employed in their song titles. I often felt ridiculously cool playing this for friends because it seemed a bit seamy and dirty as a band name. (Admittedly, I was a giant dork in my youth) "101 Damnations" was their debut album and came out during the "Madchester" scene of the late 80's and early 90's. Similar to Happy Mondays and EMF, Carter deployed a healthy dose of keyboards, drum beats and samples to fashion a danceable eletropop sound. Lyrically, the themes of disenfranchisement and the life of the working class in England are housed in a spitfire, rap delivery by lead singer Jim "Jim Bob" Morrison. In many ways Carter is a great example of a band that should have been more of a cult act but because of the success of other Brits they attained a higher place in music then they might have deserved. Still, songs like "Sheriff Fatman" and "Twenty Four Minutes to Tulse Hill" have their charm (I dare you not to clap along to the intro to "Fatman").


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Everything I Love About Music in Two Simple Steps

If you haven't seen the Documentary series THE SEVEN AGES OF ROCK, then you have missed out. It shows up on VH1 every so often and I always have to stop and check out pieces of it. Here are three outttakes that sum up just about everything I love about rock music and what I was into when I was diving into the rock pool for the first time. (all that's missing is a bit on U2 but you all know that band's story...)


REM MEETS NIRVANA IN ALTERNATIVE ROCK HEAVEN


THE BIRTH OF BRIT POP

Zencast #14 (Songs from The Wife's iPod)

Normally acts of undying affection are best saved when one is in trouble. The entire florist's industry is built upon the maxim that it's better to arm yourself with something pretty when apologizing. Many men have spent countless hours scurrying around malls searching for the gift that will get you out of the doghouse. But sometimes it's nice just to show appreciation without a need to remove guilt or suspicion from what you might have done. I SWEAR THIS IS THE CASE HERE!!

My wife has a unique taste when it comes to music. She loves Country and Classic rock (Eagles, Jimmy Buffett). She has cornered the market on mopey, chick rock/folk and girl electro-pop. But every once and awhile, she stumbles across some truly extraordinary music. So I thought I would take a break from my own personal quest to expose the world to quality music to give you a glimpse into her musical catalogue. Enjoy...




Tracklisting


1) Jimmy Buffett -- The Wino and I Know
2) The La's -- There She Goes
3) Third Eye Blind -- The Background
4) Jesus Wore Dickies -- Ant Farms
5) Pet Shop Boys -- Home and Dry
6) Sarah Harmer -- Lodestar
7) The Little Ones -- Lovers Who Uncover
8) Azure Ray -- Rise
9) Kaiser Cartel -- Before
10) Maria Taylor -- A Good Start
11) Tara MacLean -- Dry Land
12) Yann Tiersen -- L'Autre Valse D'Amelie
13) Tori Amos -- Tear In Your Hand

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Collective Nostalgia

So, I was racing to work this morning and didn't think to plug in the old iPod - so I ended up listening to GASP!! the radio. (I know my distaste for the radio is well documented, but bear with me; this will end well I promise). Anyway, as I was flipping from station to station, "Hey Jealousy" by the GIN BLOSSOMS drifted by - a song that I hadn't heard in awhile and which made me think fondly of my earlier days. I then came home tonight with the intent of picking this record out and giving it a proper listen. Sadly, I was too lazy to find it in the collection, so I did a quick search and found three other blogs that had posted the song. This in and of itself is not remarkable; what was interesting is that all three referenced the song in the exact same manner: a song that was a piece of nostalgia that contained fond memories and made no mention of the band or it's musicianship. Which got me thinking - do we suffer from collective nostalgia? Did we all subconsciously decide one day that certain songs have a shared meaning to all of us of the same age bracket? Conversely, do we all have the same break-up songs? Anthems of our youth that have moved beyond our personal attachment to some sort of Generation X storehouse of experiences (like the fact that everyone I know who spent anytime living in or around Los Angeles was at the Depeche Mode "riot" on Sunset during the release of "Violator" or those who swear to the almighty that they were "way into Dave Matthews" before they became popular...)?



In the same vein, how does a song escape our personal catalogue and reach collective nostalgia status? How did this rather run of the mill pop song about a girl and boy alluding the authorities become something we all identify with (trust me when I say this never happened to me)? Is it because it's catchy? Did it have something to do with the band being a big summer tour draw when we all had more free time to play the same thing over and over ad naseum? Or is it simply because we used to listen to the radio more as a society and music wasn't as fractured with variances as is it is today (which I am not saying is a bad thing); did we have a smaller pool of songs to make up our generational soundtrack? Will the next generation say to each other "Wow, that song brings back memories!" only to have the other person look at them quizzically and reply, "You mean the remix with Nas or the club remake from Kylie Minogue featuring Miley Cyrus and Timbaland?" as a result from the fact they don't suffer from collective nostalgia?






Monday, July 07, 2008

The Fairline Parkway

Label mates of THE GREAT NORTHWEST (who I featured a few days back), this Washington DC band traffics in soft, soothing acoustic indie pop similar to THE PERISHERS but with the added touch of a female vocalist (I could give you about a hundred more comparisons because the sound is so familiar but it's late and my head hurts). Some of the tracks on their album, "A Memory of Open Spaces" hint at a POSTAL SERVICE vibe if they grew up in Nebraska rather than Seattle. "Homesteaders" is a gorgeously crafted slice of pop music that meanders over a skippy little beat as a soft acoustic guitar strums to the accompaniment of Raj Gadhia's vocals. "A Given Day" takes a subtle turn to a slightly darker place, while "Robbed Blind" has a Wilco style country flavor all it's own. "Westward Bound" is probably the best example of the band's formula has a beauty in it's simplicity (and a great use of a trumpet to boot).

This is a record that might not grab hold of you right away but after a few listens you will wonder how you ever lived without it in your collection.





Saturday, July 05, 2008

General Fuzz Loves You Back

Two days in a row for unsolicited new music!!

GENERAL FUZZ is one guy making music his own way. I have to admire someone who just gives his music away. Why would he do this you ask? "Mostly it's because I have a day job and my underlying goal is to have my music heard" is what his bio says. The problem is that people who often give stuff away are giving it away because it's not very good. FORTUNATELY, that is not the case here. General Fuzz operates in the Electronica lite section of music that is a cut above mood music but not as hyper kinetic as rave or trance. I listened to his latest record, "Cool Aberrations" and found myself actually enjoying it (I must have been in the right frame of mind!)


Of the tracks on the album the lead track "Acclimate" has a sort of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" feel to it. "Fugal" adopts a female vocal over the top of a nice little break beat. If I have one minor complaint is that it does get a bit repetitive over the course of an entire album, but that is usually the case with most electronic music. I would love to see what he can do with a greater sonic palette. At his best his music has shades of LTJ Bukem and Moby. I recommend you check it out.



Download all General Fuzz Albums here

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Downtempo Goodness from The Great Northwest

Anytime someone sends me something to listen to I indulge them as best as I can. Such is the case with Portland's THE GREAT NORTHWEST. When a band drops MY BLOODY VALENTINE, SPRIITUALIZED and THE DANDY WARHOLS in their opening bio then they had best bring the good when you press play. After a few listens the their debut, "The Widespread Reign of...", you can finally get past the obvious references to the aforementioned artists and see what this band has to offer that is in some way their own.

"Chief John", the official first single has a nice lazy acoustic feel to it that allows lead singer Brian James Coates to drift over the top with his vocals. The whole song is an exercise in atmosphere that becomes more infectious as you listen (somewhat reminiscent of the Beta Band's "Dry The Rain"). "Know What I Mean" openly aped Spritiualized, but that is not a bad thing. "Reverie" has a nice clipped guitar intro before it opens up to a kind of dreamy ballad. My favorite track is probably "Western American" which somehow got stuck in my head while I was at work one day and I was actually forced to shut my office door, crank up the computer speakers and blast it so I could get it out of my head. So it's worth the money to get this if you are into the kind of dreamy, slightly fuzzed out space rock sound. I will certainly follow up what they do next...





Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anthem In (Finally some new music)

So it's been a bit stagnant on the whole new band front lately. (although I admit I have been absorbed by huge releases by huge bands lately.) But fear not I have a new minor band crush. Thanks in part goes to the wonderful blog Speed of Dark for turning me on to this Brooklyn band called ANTHEM IN. Kind of a mix of Straylight Run, Rogue Wave and early Jimmy Eat World, the band plays the kind of heart on your sleeve, fuzzy guitar rock that always sounds great out of the car stereo. (added bonus for the use of female harmonies to a male lead singer, I have always kinda dug that). The sound can get a bit repetitive at times, but for a debut album it's a good start. I think once they get some time under their belt they could be something special. I dare you to keep still on "Down", which is the lead single. Really fun stuff!

(mp3) Anthem In -- Down (Courtesy of Speed of Dark)


Thursday, June 26, 2008

In Fond Memory Of...

George Carlin passed away recently. Here are two of what I think are his funniest bits. First is a routine he did on the need for stuff, which illustrates his mastery of the absurdity of language.





Second is a comparison of baseball and football. The single funniest five minutes he has ever done. He will be missed.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Track By Track: Review of Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

I have put this off for a few weeks because I wanted some of the hyperbole to die down. Much has been made of Coldplay's latest as a great leap forward for the band and their establishment is the pantheon of great rock bands. The use of producer Brian Eno (of U2 fame) and the focus of the music away from the more bombastic nature of "X and Y" seems to have paid off. Whether this was just a one off or a genuine advancement in their work is yet to be seen. But, despite the fact that many slag on them for their Radiohead-esque sound, the band still managed to craft something that after many listens does have tremendous staying power.

Track One -- Life In Technicolor
It is always tricky opening your record with a instrumental. Some might find it pretentious while others will call you artistic. I think the song sets just the right tone for the record as a whole. It has a slow build before hitting stride as Chris Martin does his best Sting impression.


This might be the darkest song the band has ever made. It has some great images and a sing along chorus that will play very well live. What struck me about this song is the use of the handclap drum beat and the great guitar work. Definitely an early highlight.


If Cemeteries set the tone for the record, then Lost is the juxtaposition. An upbeat organ driven track with another unusual drumbeat (is this Eno's true influence on the band, an expansion of percussion?) Lyrically the message of hope seems to be a direct rebuttal to the darkness of the record so far. This song raises the bar for the rest of the record and after several listens is easily my favorite.


Track Four -- 42
What starts out as a traditional Coldplay piano ballad takes a sharp left turn about a minute at a half in with the first real Radiohead nod. The guitar seems to have been lifted from the 'Head catalogue which is a little disappointing (I had hoped they had outgrown the need to openly ape other people's sounds). The song then fins a nice acoustic groove at the end as Martin intones "you didn't get to heaven but you made it close." which is a nice turn of phrase.


Track Five -- Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love
On my third trip around the album I cam to the conclusion that Coldplay was actually trying to make an noncommercial commercial album. Hidden songs, instrumentals and songs with odd breaks run throughout the disc. Case in point are these two separate songs that are placed together despite the fact they have no real relation to each other. I will be surprised if "Lovers in Japan" is not released as a single by itself, it is probably the most radio ready song on the album and a definite candidate for biggest live song on the record. The second half, the more subdued "Reign of Love" is another Coldplay ballad with a Beatles feel to it, which frankly left me underwhelmed.


Track Six -- Yes
I imagine when the band was putting this album together they were up very late one night and starting messing around with different sounds and percussion cadences and out popped "Yes". A lot has been written about the Middle Eastern flair on this track, and yes it is there, but I think it's a bit overplayed. What struck me more was Martin's voice is so deep, as if he is trying to consciously play against his falsetto image. This is a nice touch and makes the song much more ominous. Another hidden track plays out the tail end of this song, a My Bloody Valentine knockoff that would have played better as a b side rather than taking up space where another actual song could have been.


Track Seven -- Viva La Vida
The first of two title tracks is the second single (first single depending on how you classify singles these days). It's a great song and will be played for a long time alongside "Clocks" and "Yellow". It's the best of all that is this band. Martin is in his comfortable register singing about French Monarchs. The band is here but only on the fringes, darting in a out behind a string and piano crescendo. I have not taken this song out of any playlist since it came out, so my total plays on this tops 40 so far.


Track Eight -- Violet Hill
When this first came out I wrote of the similarity to Pink Floyd. Now as part of an album it is a song that sort of sticks out. It almost doesn't belong with the rest of the record. In retrospect it was an interesting choice as a lead single. It is so different from what we would expect and gives the guitar work a chance to really shine. If they are smart they open the concerts with this, it will be some much better live. I also think burying it towards the end of the record was a mistake. If you had placed this behind Cemeteries the record would have had a more natural emotional flow. Still a good song though.


Track Nine -- Strawberry Swing
One of the reviews I read of this song said that it's only a matter of time before this is the theme to some quirky romantic drama on TV or in theatres. I think that about some this Lennon-esque track. It's hummable but I think the band will regret it in the long run. I can't see it being one that will be a fan favorite but because it will be popular they will be obliged to include it in their eventual greatest hits. Hell, every band has one!!


Track Ten -- Death And All His Friends
For the first minute and half I hated this song. I dislike the Coldplay ballads, always have. Then the drum comes in and the song goes in a whole new direction as Martin yelps, "No, I don't want a battle from beginning to end, I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge, I don't want to follow death and all of his friends". It's almost as if he is trying to convince himself that everything will be okay after all. A nice way to end the record properly. There is a short coda that brings the music from "Life in Technicolor" back only with some lyrics about escaping and dreaming to close the record.


It's a really, really good album. I stop short of saying great because only time will tell how it shapes up in comparison to their entire catalogue. It could be their "Unforgettable Fire", the record that looking back was the beginning of their time as an artistic force. Or it could be a momentary step forward before a regression back to the original formula. I sincerely hope it's the former. I could get used to this new and improved Coldplay.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zencast #13 (The Electro Pop Cast)

Anyone who has ever lived in California knows that when the calender hits late June the temperature goes through the roof. Lately it has been about 104 degrees here in Pasadena with little sign of relief in site. What does this have to do with 80's and 90's electro pop you ask? Well, nothing but I have to bitch to someone and you'll do.

Anyway, this particular podcast was born from my profound love of electronic pop music. I grew up on this stuff so it was only a matter of time before I slapped a playlist together. Although not a definitive collection to be sure I think it does a good job of representing the genre with the highlights here being probably the Camouflage track and the hidden gem by B Movie. Enjoy!!




Tracklisting

1) Depeche Mode -- Enjoy The Silence
2) Pet Shop Boys -- Domino Dancing
3) OMD -- Enola Gay
4) Cause and Effect -- It's Over Now
5) Moev -- Capital Heaven
6) Manufacture -- As The End Draws Near
7) Camouflage -- That Smiling Face
8) Red Flag -- Russian Radio
9) B Movie -- Remembrance Day
10) Erasure -- Drama!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Don't Care If It Is Kids Music...It's Catchy

I have tried to avoid writing about the state of Kid's Music on this blog. My wife does a pretty good job of detailing what my boys are listening to and what they like over on her site (see sidebar for link) and I choose not to focus on music for the toddler set. But when one has kids your listening patterns do change. So I have had my far share of Laurie Berkner (GAG!), Raffi (The Pied Piper on Ritalin) and The Dirty Sock Funtime Band (Don't ask, we're both better off with you not knowing...) So when something comes along that I actually like it is a double blessing. Since 2 year olds feel the need to listen to the same thing over and over and over, a good song is like a piece of manna from Heaven. Case in point, "Pop Fly" by Justin Roberts. This song has several things going for it.

1) It's about baseball. This in and of itself might be enough.
2) Roberts sounds like Mike Mills from REM. Go ahead listen to this followed by REM's "Superman" and I dare you to tell me they are not separated a birth.
3) The song has a catchy chorus. This would be a great summer song even if it wasn't aimed at those still riding with their training wheels attached.
4) Seriously, it sounds like a lost REM song. Take away the lyrics and just listen to the music and it could fit right in to any of Stipe and Company's albums. (Come on, isn't "Shiny, Happy People" really a kids song?)

So put aside your prejudice to music for toddlers and give it a listen. I even included the video which is also kitchy fun!!

(mp3) Justin Roberts -- Pop Fly




Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quick Hit

So I have three huge posts coming in the next couple of weeks.
1) A Track by Track review of the new COLDPLAY CD. I think I am finally ready to tackle it head on after about 8 listens.
2) A new podcast which has been gestating for about a month.
3) A post about movies and politics in light on back to back viewings of "Recount" and "Primary Colors" over the weekend.


But since the day is winding down I thought just a quick hit post to let you all know I'm still active.


I had to throw together some music for my school's Senior Class breakfast which required me diving into the realm of hit music. Normally I stay out of these waters with only a passing interest in what kids are into these days. Without really knowing the difference between RIHANNA and any other would be Mariah I had to rely on the Billboard Hot 100. Let me say I feel really bad for the youth of America. 99% of what passes for hit music these days is crap (which is exactly what every other old fogey has said about popular music since the dawn of Elvis...). I did however come across a couple of choice nuggets buried in the muck:


Featured in a car commercial and has a decent hook. Not the most popular song out there but it does have a way of sticking in your head.


I actually like her style. Some of her newer stuff is grating and she appears to be pandering a bit to the hip hop crowd but she is so unique that I will forgive her.


This is either the greatest tribute to Prince ever or the greatest rip off I can't tell. But the guitar hook is great and I predict it will be all over the radio by the end of the month.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Post about Nothing

So I realized the other day that I have been woefully inactive when it comes to this particular blog and the truth is, I have no real excuse. Sure I could say I have been busy at work or with family. I could say that I have been wrapped up in the frustrating drama that is following the Los Angeles Lakers or the Angels. I could say that my lack of inspiration is due to many factors, but the truth is I just haven't been inspired to write anything. Maybe I don't read enough. After all where does one get inspiration but in the words of others. I have been reading "Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt for like 1/2 a year and while it is truly brilliant, one book does not a reader make. My interest in politics has dwindled to the occasional reading of Newsweek or a perusal of the internet but that's about it. So you might say I have let myself down as a literature consumer.


So why then would you, dear reader, continue to trek through such dribble. Because hopefully you trust me enough to know eventually I will snap out of it and get back to writing at least something interesting. So here a couple of songs to tide you over till I get it all figured out.

(mp3) Paul Weller -- 22 Songs (courtesy of The World of Wingrove)

He look a new Paul Weller album. These type of records tend to sneak up someone who is following the artist religiously. Some artists reach a point in their career when they can pretty much release music whenever they feel like it and their fans will buy it. Weller's not looking for a return to greatness, just a comfortable place to play the music he loves.

(mp3) The Editors -- When Anger Shows

For some reason this song has hit a chord with me lately. Things at work have been darn near unbearable. Everyone is looking for excuses and scapegoats. Everyone is looking for someone else to blame. This can lead to a lot of anger and pain for those involved. And you thought being in public education would be easy. Heck, anyone can teach right? (this is cryptic I know, but I can't divulge specifics, needless to say I doubt the others involved in the heated conversations had any idea their words had such an impact...)