Thursday, September 03, 2009
Can I Get a Hell Yeah?
Dovetailing nicely with the last post--and with a mood that hasn’t subsided--comes this from Instapunk, whose vicious and vibrant take on politics and culture mirrors much of the way I’ve been feeling lately.
It’s a longish post, but it’s well worth your time.
As a bonus, and not without point, is a snippet of video from Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson driving an Aston Martin. The car is beautiful and so are the scenery and the soundrack (provided by a gorgeous V-12 overlaying some ambient bits of Brian Eno’s prettiest work, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, which album also has some lovely touches from Daniel Lanois) but it’s just this side of maudlin.
If I may paraphrase Mr. Clarkson (watch the Aston Martin video), “I just have this horrible, dreadful feeling that what I’m experiencing here is an ending.” For him, it centers on that car while for me it centers on the freedom that I grew up believing in--a faith as strong as any other in my life.
Friday, August 14, 2009
New Music on Friday
I’m giving the Soulsavers’ new album, Broken a first listen right now and I am stunned. It is utterly gorgeous and may very well stand as one of the finest things that Lanegan has been involved in for a very long time.
Time permitting, a full review will follow in the next few days, but the upshot is this: go ahead and get this one. It ain’t party music, but it’s a wonderful bit of art.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This Little List of Mine. I’m Gonna Let it Shine.
What do Christ Whitley, Mark Lanegan, Kurt Cobain, Screaming Trees, Patty Griffin, Social Distortion, 16 Horsepower, School of Fish, Soulsavers, Elbow, ZZ Top, Madrugada, Placebo, Stevie Ray, Wovenhand, Otis Rush, Gorillaz, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonia Dada, Catherine Wheel, Bomb the Bass, Otis Redding, The Sundays, Arbouretum, Sam Cooke, Corrosion of Conformity, Fury in the Slaughterhouse, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Gary Moore, The Handsome Family, Fred Neil, Mazzy Star, and Jeff Buckley have in common? Not much except their presence in this little list of mine.
Blues, rock, folk, country, and a smattering of other stuff for your listening pleasure. Hopefully.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
That’s One Small Step for Obama, One Giant Step for Obama-Kind
While I’m all for celebrating the historic nature of the upcoming inauguration (and, for a day, ignoring the fact that our country chose the wrong guy to be president--but that sounds a bit churlish, doesn’t it?), the width and breadth of the coverage of the celebration has been a bit overwhelming. I can’t wait for the moment to be over so we can get to seeing what happens next.
But I’m afraid that celebration won’t be over after the inauguration has ended because the true believers are living in a moment far beyond the reality of the thing. In fact, like supporters throughout the election cycle, it seems that some believers are pressing their own priorities onto the blank template of Obama’s unformed presidency.
Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe everyone will have their needs and expectations met by Obama. Maybe miracles happen.
And maybe Joaquin Phoenix will have a long and fulfilling career as a rap artist.
But I think that Victor Davis Hanson’s view is right (please read the whole thing):
I continue to wish President Elect Obama good luck in the presidency. I hope that he shows wisdom and good judgement in his decisions and that our country is better for his presidency. More than that, in an immediate sense, I just hope to catch a glimpse of what he truly intends to accomplish and how he intends to lead us there. The campaign is over and it’s time to get beyond the vague promises of the campaign speeches.
Friday, January 09, 2009
In naming themselves Naughty by Nature, were they merely riffing on the concept of original sin? Or were they referring to their own brand of deterministic rap music? Which would, of course, provide practical cover for all of the bad things that can happen when you try to rhyme body parts with the word “cleanest.”
This moment of religious and philosophical curiosity brought to you by an iTunes shuffling through a humorous ode to a catchy kind of naughtiness with Other People’s Property.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Thank You, Toto
Without you I might never have known that love isn’t always on time. Don’t you worry, though, I’ll hold the line.
This moment of eighties pop music clarity brought to you by the shuffle setting on an overstuffed iPod. Mock at will.
Friday, January 02, 2009
The Bailout Beat Goes On…
Perhaps the worst aspect of the recent government bailouts of some of America’s biggest industries/welfare recipients with fat stacks of America’s taxed income--and boy are there some ethical, practical, and political “worst aspects” to choose from--is that doling out that much money to bail out failed and failing businesses has given license to everyone with a bad business plan to come, hat in hand, to Uncle Sugar asking for their very own personalized bailout plan. We can argue over the merits of the plans (not that I want to; I’m growing a bit sick of the whole thing), but I did have to highlight what I can’t help but think is a particular bit of lunacy in Matt Rosoff’s letter to Obama: Hey Obama: Reboot the music industry!
It doesn’t take a big-L Libertarian to balk at the idea that the music industry is in need of saving. There is simply no way to begin to make the argument that we are in danger of running out of musicians, that the entire music industry is near collapse, or that it is in our government’s interest to help usher in the next wave of pop music abominations. While I do fear for the future of classical music and opera in America, our government’s involvement isn’t likely to be meaningful or particularly positive. More likely, it would be inept, fill half-empty music halls with less than half-baked talents, cost outrageous sums of money that could have been better used if left in tax-payers wallets, and benefit nearly no one.
His idea of stipends for non-classical musicians is simply dumb. No matter how much it sets wannabe rock stars salivating at the thought of Uncle Sugar paying for their ramen, pot, and cable bill for a few years while they noodle away at a soon-to-be-failed career, what precisely is the payoff for the taxpayer? Where is the benefit to the people footing the bill? That Canada has a similar plan for “self-trained” musicians is hardly a big selling point; I haven’t noticed an emerging army of latter-day Canadian Elvii swarming through the world and hoovering up entertainment bucks from the international buying public in a way that might offset the government expenditures or contribute so significantly in any cultural way as to be an undeniable argument for the nurturing of hundreds or thousands of no-talent hacks who think that being a rock star is the best way in the world to get laid.
So let’s just say “no” to this poorly considered bailout (or “reboot) of the American music industry. There’s no need for it and, even if there were, it would hardly be the responsibility of our ever-growing government to provide the solution.
Luckily, this was an idea from someone who isn’t able to reach directly into my pocket and pull out the cash he needs to fund his dreams. But it’s representative of the direction people will be looking whenever any American industry hits a difficult patch from now on--and that’s going to be a hard habit to break. Once we citizens hand over a responsibility to the government (like our retirements, for instance), it becomes nearly impossible to ever take that responsibility back. Most people prefer the security of a bad investment backed by an agency they trust over the scary monsters of having to find a way to provide for themselves. Government tends to be big, dumb, inflexible, slow, cumbersome, and inefficient--just the kind of organization that can revitalize big, dumb, inflexible, slow, cumbersome, and inefficient industries like those that are now in trouble in the US.
Whatever answers there are that can solve the problems of America’s industries (whether it’s financial institutions, car manufacturers, or the music industry), the answers aren’t likely to come from Uncle Sugar or from money foolishly and inefficiently spent by a government agency.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Zombies, Village Voices, and Damnation: Three Quick Notes
Firstly, a kind friend sent me a series of albums for Christmas. One of them in particular is grabbing my attention--although Sia’s Some People Have Real Problems deserves some notice, too--and it surprised me quite a bit. Not a surprise in the quality, but a surprise in the tenor of the album. Opeth’s Damnation is a hell of a good album, trading the heavier sounds that I was familiar with for much quieter and delicate tones. Sounding, to my ears, much like Porcupine Tree (a good thing), songs like “Closure” and “In My Time of Need” sound nothing like the Cookie-Monster vocals that I’ve heard from them before. Admittedly, since I’m no fan of that vocal style, it shouldn’t be surprising that I don’t own any of Opeth’s albums. I’m curious to see if Damnation has any stylistic brethren in their catalog.
Second, without Nat Hentoff is there really any reason to read the Village Voice? I can’t think of any…
Third, who knew that LibertyGirl was a damned, evil zomby-hater? Though, to be fair, Zomby bin Laden is a bit of a disgrace to the league, isn’t he?
And, yes, I remain firmly committed to the proper misspelling of “zomby.” So there.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I don’t do this every year, but this year I’m feeling extra thanks-y. For what am I thankful?
I am thankful that the war in Iraq has become something that the newspapers rarely put on the front page. The military and political situation has improved so dramatically over the last year that it is almost unbelievable. Here’s to Iraq and her future; I hope that it is bright, free, and friendly.
I am thankful for the 18 women who turned themselves in after being convinced that suicide bombings are not acceptable expressions of Islamic faith. I am thankful for the lives that have been spared and i hope we see more follow their example.
I am thankful for my darling girl who is patient and kind and wonderful. Even if she does try to bully me into snuggling with her while I’m busy writing my Thanksgiving day post.
I am thankful to be gainfully employed in a difficult economy. And I hope I stay that way.
I am thankful for the fact that I live in America where I have always had opportunities that throughout much of the rest of the world I would never have enjoyed. We are, in large part, a spoiled, pampered, and materially wealthy people--and, in large part, we have earned the wealth that keeps us fat and happy. Hopefully we won’t forget the work, the spirit, and the sacrifice that went into building our national riches and helped create our opportunities.
I am thankful, in the extreme, for my friends and their understanding of my quirks and my frequent silence.
I am thankful for the men and women who serve in our military with honor and dignity and for their families who often sacrifice more than anyone should ever be asked. What they do for the rest of us (and it is hard to explain just how important the term “serve” is to the grand majority of folks that I’ve known in the military--it isn’t just a word, it’s a philosophy of being that accepts that the highest calling is in service to something greater than one’s self) is nothing short of heroic.
I am thankful for the handful of people who still drop by to read this site.
I am thankful that I missed Rosie Live--and I’ll be more thankful still if her new show fails in a dramatic and newsworthy way. Which might be violating the spirit of Thanksgiving, but still…
I am thankful for good music. Of particular note this year are the Gutter Twin’s brilliant little EP, Adorata, Lizz Wright’s gorgeous album, The Orchard, and Wovenhand’s latest gospel gothic masterpiece, Ten Stones.
And, of course, I’m thankful for the extra two days off, the good food, and the extra football. Which almost goes without saying.
Update: I’m also thankful that someone wrote this post. Nicely done.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
12 Observations Evenly Divided Between the Broncos and Other Stuff That Caught My Attention Today
Friday, September 19, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
We’ll Return to Politics Shortly. For Now, Let’s Talk About Ike.
I generally don’t pay too much attention to hurricane news--living in Colorado has left me fairly well insulated from worry. Ike grabbed my attention, though, because the company I work with has two events scheduled for the new future in the region. One, in Texas City, happens about four weeks from now and the other, in Baton Rouge, comes a little more than a month after that one.
No, I’m not mentioning names, industries, or events--I still work to keep my professional life separate from my personal life.
Anyway, watching the news over the last few days I’ve become a little obsessed with the path, the regional reactions, and the potential damage that the storm is going to do. Frankly, the size of the damned thing is terrifying and Brendan Loy’s warnings aren’t making me feel any better.
What is really bizarre to me, seeing the warnings from the National Hurricane Center in particular, is to hear that people are refusing to leave Galveston. Apparently “certain death” isn’t enough of a guaranty.
I’ll be watching the news tomorrow, hoping for a miracle, and hoping that some of our friends in the Gulf region are okay. Hell, I even hope the idiots who chose to ignore the warnings are all okay, too, although a little spanking wouldn’t hurt.
In a grand show of misplaced solidarity, I’ll also be dying into Sean Stewart’s wonderful Galveston. And I’ll be listening to Kenny Roger’s best song, too--although that’s just a personal, current preference and it has absolutely nothing to do with politics or hurricanes. “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in...”
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Perhaps He Forgot to Pay the Ferryman
Pity poor Chris de Burgh; fame in Tehran simply may not be in the cards.
And, yes, I’m passing this important information on only because it gave me a chance to make a ridiculously bad joke. I’m remarkably stupid that way.
Read the story. Or just find some way to make a “Lady in Red” comment. Your choice, really.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
In Inconvenient Bottom Line
From the spectacular magazine, BBC Music, comes this news of the decline of modern opera. Well, that’s probably not the way they would put it, but it still seems a solid symbol of the decline to me.
Sadly, no link.
Anyway, the upshot, am betting, will be a failure both critically and financially. The most inconvenient bit will likely be the loss to the bottom line for the show’s investors. An opera based on a hectoring lecture from a self-important, pompous windbag like Al Gore will likely be remembered for its idiocy instead of its artistry.
Besides which, hasn’t anyone told these folks that global warming fear-mongering is so 2006?
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Mid-Morning Play List (Because, Damn, I’m Tired)
Want a playlist to help wake you up this morning? I sure as hell needed one--and this did a pretty good job of waking me up.
Consider it a public service--and, perhaps, an antidote to the swirling political stupidity that we can’t ignore, can’t avoid, and seem powerless to change.
Of course, I’m feeling a little cynical today…
Speaking of cynical, I tried to hold this back but my filters seem to be down right now. If it were a stand-alone post, it would be called “Uma Thurman’s Dad Loves Dick"--but that would be crass, so we won’t go there. Instead, I’ll just stick this little teaser in and let y’all decide what to do with it.
Read the rest And thanks, Shawn. Kind of.
And, speaking of loud music, because we sort of were, check out Shawn’s swipe at a bunch of bands you probably like. Again, kind of.
I haven’t seen Heavy Metal in Baghdad, so I can’t comment on that, but I have seen American Hardcore and found myself caught somewhere between digging the music, the interviews, and all the interviews and rolling my eyes at all the gee-golly-weren’t-we-just-the-most-rebellious-rebels talk. That stuff grates a bit but doesn’t take away from the story of hardcore in the US--and some of the footage of shows I never got to experience was absolutely exhilarating.
Still, whatever I got from American Hardcore, it doesn’t sound like it compares at all to Heavy Metal in Baghdad--I’ll have to check that out.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound like fun party music, does it?
Or Is it Just Me?
Was anyone else surprised by the Fed’s quarter point rate cut yesterday?
I haven’t been following the financial sites lately, and apparently I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. It seemed like a good time to sit back and do not too damned much.
Does anyone else think that it’s sort of cool that the Chinese government now has a super secret underground lair?
Well, maybe not so super secret since everyone seems to know about it, but it does fit the bad guy image they’ve been cultivating of late, doesn’t it? And, no, I’m not particularly worried about the thing; I’m pretty sure James Bond managed to single-handedly destroy more impressive super secret underground lairs a few times in his career. Once call to our friends in the UK and that thing is toast.
Does anyone else think that Josef Fritzl is going straight to hell when he dies--and that his is a clear case where his government should give him a helpful push down the path?
There are reasons that we keep the words “monster” and “evil” in our non-ironic lexicon. He serves as a reminder that evil is very real, that there are monsters in the world, and that we need to remain vigilant if we plan to keep citizens safe from the worst of us.
Is anyone else terrified of the fact that we’re having a worldwide spike in food prices and availability because, largely, of destructive government policies?
Let me continue that thought for a moment: most modern food shortages occur because of natural events. Floods, droughts, disease--acts of God if you will. The food shortages now (because we are tying our food policy to our energy policy, because trade barriers are being erected, because the cost to bring food to market are growing wildly) are manmade. I’m sure that, as we always do, we’ll absorb the painful losses, change our policies somewhat, and adjust to new realities and costs. We always do. What scares me, though, is that if our policies aren’t changes wisely, what happens to energy costs, food costs, and food availability when God visits us will a really good flood, drought, or plant disease that severely limits the supply of some staple grain? Because what has happened over the last year or so has happened without dips in actual production.
I might be missing something that makes it all okay, but this has me worried.
Does anyone else think that the whole Lesbos/Lesbian thing is absolutely hilarious?
I’ve got nothing to add to that. It’s just funny, I tell you.
Does anyone else think that the Open Source Boob Project kerfuffle sort of goes to prove all the worst stereotypes about a certain subset of geekdom?
To the point, that this class of geek imagine themselves to be extra-special-evolved in cultural terms while the rest of us just recognize the reality of their sexually immature, juvenile social ineptitude. To try to somehow demystify breasts by making such a big deal about an ongoing gropefest seems a good way to miss the actual point of their point.
That’s only compounded by the native geek tendency to suck the spontaneous fun out of a thing by codifying it, over-explaining it, and extending it like overeager schoolboys into places where it doesn’t belong. All the while they see it as a way to make a social statement of some indistinct kind.
Hi, I’m socially evolved and don’t buy into the cultural taboos about boobs. Can I fondle you now? I promise it will be totally non-sexual.
Proving with impressive emphasis that some of the worlds smartest people can still buy into stupid like nobody’s business. Especially when breasts are the topic.
I originally saw this on Scalzi’s site. He’s nicer than I am.
For the record: any deals you make to grope or be groped by another consenting adult aren’t any of my business, I know. But pretending to some heightened sexual enlightenment because of something like the oddly named “Open Source Boob Project” just looks dumb.
In the face of high royalty payments owed by online radio stations, does anyone else think that we’d all be better off when the record companies had to pay for their stuff to get played?
Instead of working toward the destruction of Internet radio, we would see a boom in the number of stations, the variety of music, and the financial health of the businesses that, for all intents and purposes, are advertisers for the record companies. By comparison to this superhighway robbery, was payola really such a bad thing? Hell, I think it was more honest.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Album Day (Or: Fighting the Power of My Damned, Evil MP3 Player)
My MP3 player (a second generation iPod Nano) has done good things for my music listening habits. On the positive side, in place of the stacks of CDs that I used to keep in my car and office, I now have a mini library of music wherever I go that I can easily change and which holds enough music to match nearly my many moods and tastes.
On the negative side, I rarely listen to albums anymore. Unless it’s a new purchase, my favorite tracks get picked and placed with others to create some wonderful mixes, but the cohesive pleasure of listening to a great album from front to back is mostly gone. So, today I’m reacquainting myself with my favorite albums while I’m working.
Not that I don’t enjoy the playlists that I create--because, I’m here to tell you, I am the playlist king--but I know that there are hundreds of songs that I haven’t listened to in some time because they don’t easily fit into any of the playlists that I make. Like Screaming Trees’ “Look at You” from the first album on my list, Dust. It’s a gorgeous love song, but I haven’t heard it in quite some time.
The point being, since I doubt that I’m alone in the near abandonment of listening regularly to albums, you’re invited to play along and rediscover your own favorite albums. If you do play along, though, I’d love it if you would let me know what you’re listening to--it might give me some ideas for my own rediscoveries.
First up for me, as I noted, is Dust--the Trees’ last album is a wonderful little rocker. Not great, perhaps, but with some brilliant moments.
Update: This is list of albums thus far.
And definitely look in the extended entry for some worthy suggestions.
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