Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend is upon us and so I'm back once again to ramble on about my music listening habits of the week. This week features a wealth of new discoveries for me as well as a few artists whose new work I checked out. It's heavy on psych rock and garage rock, with a little outlaw country just to round things out. The summer is coming, so expect a lot more new releases in the coming weeks. Hopefully there will be something on here that you'll want to check out. Enjoy.

Church of Sun - Golden Ram: The third album from the heavy psych band out of Southern Cali. This album is a pretty dynamic and original. It's very uptempo and very heavy. I was entranced from the very beginning and my enthusiasm never faded. This sounds like a Flaming Lips record that has discovered the power of metal and punk. "Sad Sad Days," "Monkey See Monkey Do," "Yellow Rose," "Satanic Panic" and the brilliant cover of The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog" are standouts. 

Thurston Moore - Rock n Roll Consciousness: The newest solo record from the Sonic Youth frontman. The title of this seems ironic, because it's more like a subconsciousness of Rock 'N Roll, as Thurston's guitar work has always been. Consisting of five lengthy tracks, this is vintage Moore. It starts a little slow, but finishes with genius. "Turn On," "Smoke of Dreams," and "Aphrodite" are perfect noisy tracks that are right at home with the artist's best work.

Waylon Jennings - Dreaming My Dreams: Released in '75, and the height of Waylon's outlaw country image, this album channels the ghost of Hank and is inspired by Cash. This is old time country, the kind that I like. Considered one of his finest, I found a copy of this for $5 at the local store and have been digging it ever since. "Waymore's Blues," "I Recall a Gypsy Woman" "Let's All Help the Cowboys (Sing the Blues)," and "She's Looking Good" are my personal favorites.

Dead Moon - What a Way to See the Old Girl Go: Recorded in 1994, right in the middle of the Portland garage rock band's career, this newly released live album captures the band at their peek. Years ahead of the great garage rock revival, this trio brings an intense punk vibe to the genre that wasn't included in the revival a decade later. "It's OK," "Walking on My Grave," "Demona," "Killing Me," and "Running Out of Time" are standouts on this great live set.

Electric Moon - Stardust Rituals: The seventh album from the German space rock band is clearly inspired by the transition period of Pink Floyd in the late '60s. Lengthy songs of psychedelic sound conjuring up the mysteries of space, this is one of those moody albums that I really like on rainy days. There's only four songs on here, but they they are all very decent. One of those perfect headphone albums that can take you to a transportive soundscape.

Goldfrapp - Silver Eye: It's been four years since the British electro-pop artist's last album, but nothing has really changed with her style. I've had mixed reactions to her previous records. I've always found them to be uneven, and always found myself hoping there would be more trip-hop elements mixed into the the dream pop. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

North Country

I just finished watching Season 2 of the FX series Fargo, based on the Cohen Brothers' film. Departing from the movie and the first season, this installment takes place in 1979, which beyond allowing for wonderful wardrobe, soundtrack, and cars, it also places the cop aspects in a world before DNA and databases and hyper media hysteria. I found this to be one of the most intriguing parts about this season.

We quickly learn that some of the characters are ones we met in the first season, albeit much earlier in life. Though it has no bearing on the show, it's another intriguing aspect that adds to the creation of this world that the viewer spends time in. In that time, the view become entangled in beginning of a mafia turf war between a North Dakota family and the expansion of the Kansas City mafia. Through chance events, this war crosses path with a small town in Minnesota and snares a few of the residents in its web.

The surface entertainment is certainly quality drama that is well-scripted and well-acted, but the the underlying themes are really what steal the show and reveal the reason for the time period. Society was changing drastically through the late '60s and '70s and by the time 1980 was coming around, a lot of those progressive movements were about to meet a new set of resistance. The show subtly deals with the issues of woman's rights, the changing way of big business over small town culture, and the scars of Vietnam. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to catching up with Season 3.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

It's the weekend again, and it's raining, so that means I'm fairly pleased with the world. This week I look at four highly anticipated releases in my universe from bands that I truly enjoy. I also ramble on about to more Record Store Day purchases, one a release issued for the day, and one just a record that I picked up at the local store to take advantage of their RSD sale. All in all, this is an all star kind of Roundup filled with goodies that you should check out...or in some cases, maybe lower expectations a bit. Enjoy. 

Slowdive - Slowdive: The shoegaze band was one of my favorites in the mid-to-late '90s and on constant rotation during my drugged out college years. Then they broke up and Mojave 3 was born, and they became on of my favorites of the early '00s. Like other fans, I was thrilled when they reformed a few years back and have been looking forward to this album, their first since '95. I knew it would be hard for them to live up to the hype, and while this is a fine album, it doesn't feel revolutionary to me, by that I mean it doesn't really add anything to their legacy. "Sugar the Pill," "Go Get It," and "No Longer Making Time" are standouts on a quality release.  

The Wooden Sky - Swimming in Strange Waters: This is the fifth album from the indie folk band out of Toronto. They've been a favorite of mine since their debut back in '07 and I've been looking forward to this one. It's been three years since their somewhat disappointing last album and I'm happy to say that the passion is back on this great album. It starts a little slow, but ends with a string of amazing songs. "You're Not Alone," "Deadhorse Creek," "Matter of Time," and "Black Gold" are my personal favorites. 

The Bevis Frond - Triptych: One of two albums released by the British psych outfit in 1988, this was another Record Store Day release that I picked up on colored vinyl. Nick Saloman hits his stride on this record, the band's fifth and most popular of the decade. His guitar work is Hendrix like on here and his poetry is Lennon-esque. This is one I hadn't had either on CD or digitally in the past and it was a thrill to hear it for the first time. Stunning.

Gorillaz - Humanz: It's been seven years since Damon Albarn's (Blur) cartoon band has released a proper LP. This time they delve even further into the realm of hip-hop, which has been a standard of the band since their first single. Loaded with guest spots, another staple of the band, this record runs a good groove throughout even if it feels a bit souless at times. Personally, I think it lacks enough Damon and would've liked to hear more of him. His feature tracks, "Andromeda," "Busted and Blue," and "She's My Collar," are my favorites. All in all, a solid okay.

Woods - Love Is Love: Last year's release by Woods was one of my favorites of 2016, so I was excited to see they were releasing another record so quickly. This is another psychedelic folk gem as this band continues to evolve and mature. This album settles into its groove immediately and flows beautifully from start to finish. "Bleeding Blue," "Lost in the Crowd," "Spring is In the Air," and the two versions of the title track are outstanding.

T.Rex - The Slider: The third album from the glam rock legends, release in 1972, was another Record Store Day purchase. It was not re-released, I picked up an original. I've been really into Marc Bolan this past month and this album is brilliant. This was the creative peak, along with Electric Warrior album which came out the year before. At the height of his fame, and the height of the genre, this record is absolutely essential.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dict(ator) Move

So I'd be neglect if I didn't comment on the news of the week. Our president fired the FBI director who was in the process of investigating his campaign, stating some excuse that nobody except his ignorant base would believe. Of course, it's since come out that the real reason was because the FBI wasn't doing enough to silence all this Russia intrigue. This was either the stupidest thing this very intelligently challenged President has done, or it's the first step toward his dictatorship.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend has arrived the way it always seems to every seven days or so. And like the weekend is predictable, so is the fact that when it comes, I'm prepared to ramble on about music. This week I talk about new releases by a pair new bands to me, both of which were very impressive. I also continue to plow through some Record Store Day purchases, one released for the event and two that I picked up just because. A nice mix here of varying genres of rock. Hopefully there's something you be intrigued by. Enjoy.

Aye Nako - Silver Haze:  Four years after their debut, the Brooklyn indie outfit released their second record this past month. This album reminds me of some '90s bands, bands that were inspired by punk and crafted into lo-fi indie rock, bands like Bikini Kill and others that were born from Sonic Youth's 80s NYC sound.  "Half Dome," "Muck," "Nightcrawler," and "Practice Mace" are standouts for me on an interesting album. 

The Sword - Low Country: Released after 2015's High Country, this is the Austin stoner rock band's acoustic version of the album. For Record Store Day this year, it was released on vinyl. Though I found High Country somewhat disappointing, I picked this up, knowing that at the very least it would be interesting to hear them play acoustic. These songs seem better suited for these versions, which make them less cliche than the electric versions. I love the gothic folk feel that comes out on here.

Black Doldrums - People's Temple: This is the debut album from the London duo and it's quite impressive. It has Jesus & Mary Chain and Spacemen 3 elements of fuzzed out guitar, mixed with garage rock elements. The result is something pretty great, and I found myself really digging this record even it it wasn't revolutionary. "Take Me," "Dreamcatchter," "Sidewinder," and "Maya" are standouts. Definitely worth checking out.

David Gilmour - About Face: Though I've been a huge Pink Floyd fan since I was 15, and though Gilmour has always been preferred to Waters, I was slow to get into his solo work until recently when I discovered the brilliance of his self-titled debut from '78. Finally got a copy of 1984 follow-up and it's another quality album, with "Murder" being an epic track. Not a strong as his debut, but still a great record that fans will like. A nice addition to the collection.

Count Five - Psychotic Reaction: Released in 1966, this is the sole album from the San Jose proto-punk band and became an inspiration for generations that followed, especially the unbelievably brilliant title track. This was re-released on 180g vinyl in Mono for Record Store Day. Limited to 1,500 copies, I'm glad I was able to come across one of them. This is years ahead of its time and a pure piece of garage rock bliss. 

Ralph Stanley - I Want to Preach the Gospel: I first heard Ralph when he recorded the "O'Death" song for the film O'Brother Where Art Thou and his voice was instantly ingrained in my consciousness. I came across '73 album during my Record Store Day shopping and it's a brilliant gothic blue-grass record. "Great High Mountain" is a real stand-out on this spiritual journey. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alphabetcial Disorder

There's this notion out there that organizing things alphabetically somehow makes you efficient and conscientious. The arguments are easy to make. You always know where to find things because you know where they are. Nothing ever gets lost. You won't waste time searching shelves to find this book or that record, because you simply go to the letter in the alphabet where that item is supposed to be. And that all makes sense. It's hard to argue with the notion, but I'm going to.

My two library collections, books and music, are not organized alphabetically. Does this create search problems? Well, yes...sometimes. But not usually. The problem with alphabetical, especially when it comes to my own personal collections, is that I'm rarely looking for something specific. When I want to read a new book, or listen to an album, I don't typically have a title in mind. I rarely jump up thinking ooohhhh, I know what I want to hear! My brain doesn't work that way.

I think in moods and ideas and look for things that will conjure the images I seek. I'm looking for a vibe or a groove, not for a particular item. My collections are organized by genre and mood. When I'm feeling a certain way, I know which area in the collection to browse. And I enjoy browsing through those sections to find what I want. In that way, I'm often refreshed on what I actually have in the collection. It may not be efficient or conscientious, but it's inspirational and that's better in my opinion.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

Though it's still April, it's like July outside up here in the foothills of the Catskills. But despite the heat, it is weekend, which means time to talk about music, which is my favorite thing to talk about. This week features new releases by artists I've followed for a long time, and one backlist album from another band that I enjoy. All in all, lots of good stuff that ranges from folk to hip hop to metal. More new releases to come in the coming weeks, as well as reviews of my Record Store Day purchases. Enjoy.

Timber Timbre - Sincerely, Future Pollution: The Toronto indie band's fifth album sees them moving a bit further away from their folk sound to a more art rock sound which if fuller, though less immediate. I enjoyed this record, though I must admit to preferring some of their earlier albums. However, on the songs where everything comes together, this is easily some of their most ambitious and rewarding material. For me, those songs were "Sewer Blues," "Western Questions," and the title track.

San Fermin - Belong: The third album from the Brooklyn indie pop band was released earlier this month. The band continues to refine their sound, developing a deeper sense of melody. However, with that comes a loss of some of the psychedelic elements that crept into their first and second album, elements that I enjoyed. This is far more appetizing album for most listeners, and still quite good if somewhat less special. "Bride," "Better Company" and the title track are my personal favorites.

Orchid - Capricorn: Released in 2011, this is the debut album from the San Fran doom metal band. I acquired their 2013 follow up record about a year ago and truly loved it, so I was excited to check this one out, their only other full length to date. The first half of this album sound much less like Black Sabbath than their later album, falling more into a heavy metal sound than blues based origins of Sabbath. By the second half of the album, it begins to find that sound which made the follow up super intriguing. "Down Into the Earth, "He Who Walks Alone,"and "Cosmonaut of Three" are my personal favorites.

Elvis Perkins - The Blackcoat's Daughter: I eagerly await every new release by Elvis, one of my favorite contemporary songwriters. While this soundtrack isn't exactly what I'd call an "Elvis Perkins" album, it does represent his most ambitious project to date. He moves beyond the folk ethic of his previous work and explores the more experimental ambient sound that crept onto his last record. This could easily be an album Pink Floyd would have made for a soundtrack, with a feel similar to their "Zabriskie Point" material. Haunting and beautiful, this album offers a number of memorable soundscapes.

Raekwon - The Wild: After a brief period of silence from the Wu Tang Clan member, The Chef has been quite active lately, releasing his second album in two years, as well as appearing on various other projects and mix tapes. While this newest effort may lack the grit that he displayed in the late '90s, it's still a solid record with interesting and fresh sounding beats. The highlights on here are "My Corner" with Lil Wayne, "M&N" and "This Is What It Comes To."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Unseen Playmate

The other night, I was reading A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson to my daughter before bed and came across the "The Unseen Playmate." The first two stanzas may be the most terrifying thing I've ever read:

"When children are playing alone on the green,
                     In comes the playmate that never was seen.
When children are happy and lonely and good,
                    The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.

Nobody hear him and nobody saw,
                    His is a picture you never could draw,
But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home,
                    When children are happy and playing along."

It instantly conjured images from Pinterest Dark Imagination board and got me thinking about a story I had been envisioning while creating that board. I'm currently working on something else, but this passage has certainly inspired me to revisit the horror story I had been thinking back a few years ago. Be very afraid. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

Happy Record Store Day! There's no better way to celebrate my favorite day of the year than by rambling on about music. This week showcases some new albums from some of my favorite artists, and therefore, some of the albums I've been anticipating this year. I'm happy to report that most lived up to my expectations. Hopefully you'll be out there today supporting your local record store, and if you have time to read this before, hopefully there might be something here to look for. Enjoy.

The Black Angels - Death Song: This is the fifth album from the Austin psych rock band. Their debut album, released 11 years ago, was a revelation for me when it came out, and they have never disappointed with any of the albums that followed. This is no exception. Another fantastic psych rock record that stretches the genre while also reinterpreting sounds created by The Doors so many years ago. "Hunt Me Down," "Medicine," and the epic "Life Song" are standouts for me.

Karen Elson - Double Roses: It's been seven years since the former Mrs. Jack White's remarkable debut folk album, making this one of the most anticipated releases of the year for me. This is a departure from the Gothic country sound that made her fist album so memorable. This album is more of a chamber folk record, with lots of string arrangements to highlight her beautiful voice and poetic lyrics. At first listen, it doesn't strike quite the same chord within me, but it's still a great sounding album. "Call Your Name," "Raven," "Wolf," "Million Stars" and "Why Am I Waiting?" are my personal favorites.

Cold War Kids - LA Divine: On their sixth album, the Long Beach indie band pays tribute to the city I love with their most dance/pop effort to date. I've enjoyed following this band since their stellar debut eleven years ago. Their catalog has it's ups and downs following the great first two records, followed by two mediocre records, and then another good one three years ago. This is a down one for me, not because it doesn't do what it sets out to do, but rather because it accomplishes what it sets out to do and that is to be an extremely catchy indie pop. Indie pop just isn't my thing, but this could end up being their most successful album because there are plenty of stadium ready beats on here. For me "Luck Down" is the real standout. 

Johnny Flynn - Sillion: Back in 2008, this London folk singer's debut blew me away and I've been following his career ever since. Released at the end of March, this is his fourth album and easily his best since the debut. He branches out a bit here, performing songs that feel deeper than prior efforts. "Heart Sunk Hank," "The Night My Piano Upped and Died," "In the Deepest," and "In Your Pockets" are standouts on this wonderful folk record.

Pinback - Some Offcell Voices: It's been five years since the San Diego indie band has released new music, and still no update on a new album. So this compilation of their 2000 and 2003 EP releases is going to have to hold fans over, and luckily for me, I did have either "Some Voices" or "Offcell", so these are new songs to me and they represent the best of what these guys do best. In many ways they are like a more pop minded version of Fugazi and the songs from "Some Voices" clearly demonstrate that.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard -Nonagon: I recently reviewed this Australian band's newest album and just received this, their previous record from last year. While I liked their new album, this one is leaps beyond it. The nine tracks extend over forty minutes and bleed into one another making the whole experience feel like one repetitive psychedelic groove. Part metal, part garage rock, part lo-fi electronica, and entirely trippy, this is complicated and simple record at the same time. Certainly one to give a listen to if you're a fan of this kind of thing as I am.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Choose Life.

Twenty years after the original Trainspotting became an iconic film that helped defined my generation, the characters have returned to show us how choosing life worked out for them. Both films are based on exceptional novels by Irvine Welsh, one of my personal favorite authors. Unlike the movies, the books were not written with so much space between them, which meant there wasn't the typical lapse in continuity that one might expect. 

Trainspotting 2 sees the characters aged and still stuck in making wrong choices and struggling with the despair that comes from wasted opportunities. It also deals with the feeling of nostalgia we all have when looking fondly back at our younger years, even when the events from those years weren't always so fond. It examines the bonds of friendship that are developed in those formative years, and explores how they are easily rekindled even after years of absence and bad blood. I often encounter this with my oldest friends. Though years may pass between visits, that time quickly evaporates and it suddenly seems like no time has passed at all. The movie captures that phenomenon wonderfully.

It is certainly not as "hip" or "iconic" as the first film, but doesn't try to be. This is about dealing with the fact that life has set different priorities for us as we grow. It is perhaps best summed up in the comparisons between the opening "Choose life" speech that opens and closes the first movie, and Renton's "Choose life" speech in the new film.

Renton in Trainspotting: "Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?"

Renton in Trainspotting 2: "'Choose life'. 'Choose life' was a well meaning slogan from a 1980's anti-drug campaign and we used to add things to it, so I might say for example, choose... designer lingerie, in the vain hope of kicking some life back into a dead relationship. Choose handbags, choose high-heeled shoes, cashmere and silk, to make yourself feel what passes for happy. Choose an iPhone made in China by a woman who jumped out of a window and stick it in the pocket of your jacket fresh from a South-Asian Firetrap. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and a thousand others ways to spew your bile across people you've never met. Choose updating your profile, tell the world what you had for breakfast and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, desperate to believe that you don't look as bad as they do. Choose live-blogging, from your first wank 'til your last breath; human interaction reduced to nothing more than data. Choose ten things you never knew about celebrities who've had surgery. Choose screaming about abortion. Choose rape jokes, slut-shaming, revenge porn and an endless tide of depressing misogyny. Choose 9/11 never happened, and if it did, it was the Jews. Choose a zero-hour contract and a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and maybe tell yourself that it's better that they never happened. And then sit back and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody's fucking kitchen. Choose unfulfilled promise and wishing you'd done it all differently. Choose never learning from your own mistakes. Choose watching history repeat itself. Choose the slow reconciliation towards what you can get, rather than what you always hoped for. Settle for less and keep a brave face on it. Choose disappointment and choose losing the ones you love, then as they fall from view, a piece of you dies with them until you can see that one day in the future, piece by piece, they will all be gone and there'll be nothing left of you to call alive or dead. Choose your future, Veronika. Choose life." 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

It's the weekend, and being that it's spring, it's also the beginning of a wave of new releases. In the last few weeks, so many albums that I've been looking forward to have been released. Some of them are here on the Roundup this week, others will follow in the coming weeks. So look forward to a bunch of excitement. This week features some singer songwriters that I really enjoy, some indie bands that I like, and a few others. Hopefully you'll all find something to check out. Enjoy.

Aimee Mann - Mental Illness: This is the indie singer songwriter's first album in five years, and while it doesn't depart from her earlier work, it's very welcomed to my ears. This is right in line with her best albums, filled with songs of complete honesty and beauty that are never tiring or trite. "You Never Loved Me," "Stuck in the Past," "Lies of Summer," and "Good for Me" are standout tracks on a fantastic record.
The Orwells - Terrible Human Beings: The fourth album from the Illinois indie band is the follow-up to 2014's breakout album, "Disgraceland." I really enjoyed that album, but this one is definitely better. Their mixture of punk and garage influences creates an indie sound that is in short supply these days. "They Put a Body in the Bayou," "Vacation," "Hippie Soldier," and "Heavy Head" are standouts. I look forward to seeing how this band progresses through their career.

Samantha Crain - You Had Me at Goodbye: This is the Oklahoma singer songwriter's fifth album. I've been a fan of hers since I saw her in concert during her debut almost ten years ago. Her voice is one of the best around and the stories she tells are always compelling and honest. Nothing earth shattering on here, this is just good indie folk with the exception of a little bit of jazz fused in. "Red Sky, Blue Mountain," "Wise One," and "When the Roses Bloom Again" are standouts. This is another fine addition to her catalog.

Guided By Voices - August by Cake: Since the lo-fi Dayton band reformed six years ago, they've been quite prolific. This is their eighth album since 2011 and follows the band's trademark style of snippets and fragments that add up to a whole which is often brilliant. Remarkably, this is the band's first double album, which given their prolific tendency is a little surprising. Like most double albums, this one suffers a little from simply being too much...but not enough to make it any less essential for fans.

Ruby the Hatchet - Ouroboros: The 2012 debut from the Philly heavy psych band was recently re-released on vinyl and digital. Having loved their follow-up album which came out in 2015, I was glad to have the chance to get a hold of this one. While not as dangerous sounding as the followup, this is still a good rock record. It reminds me of Dead Weather whereas the newer album reminded me of Uncle Acid. "Black Tongue," "Taking Sides," "Wicked Ones," and "Good God Damn" are personal favorites. Definitely worth checking out on their Bandcamp site.

Steel Panther - Lower the Bar: The new album from the glam band formerly known as Metal Shop, Danger Kitty, and Metal Skool is their fourth under this name. It seems to be getting a lot of attention, primarily because of the revival of 80's hair metal. Given my interest in the genre, I was curious. I didn't realize that these guys don't take it seriously. There's a comedic element to it, but overall, I found it just immature and tasteless. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fiction Friday (51)

So, this isn't really a true Fiction Friday in the sense that I have not furthered my reading goals. But it is a Fiction Friday in that I'm going to discuss a work of fiction. While looking on my office shelves the other night for a new book to read with my daughter as I tried to convince her to eat her dinner, I came across The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, nestled between a handful of Seussian classics which are still a little too advanced for her. But The Foot Book, that's perfect! 

My daughter loves feet.
She loves silly pictures.
She loves rhyming words.

I pulled it off the shelf and it has been an instant hit. We've read it multiple times and she especially loves lifting her feet in the air during the "In the Air" feet page. 

I was a little unfamiliar with this book before our reading. Sure, I'd read it, but not for years, and not from a more mature point of view. And though I'm a huge Seuss fan, this book highlighted an aspect of his work that I hadn't thought about before. In addition to his gift for rhyme and imaginative stories, he's also a master of nonsense in the tradition of Edward Lear. This book demonstrates that gift particularly well.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Carefully Worded

A school assignment this week got me thinking about writing and word choice. The assignment was to think about the differences between the words vision, mission, goals, and objectives. It pointed out that these words are often used interchangeably though they have very distinct differences. While I know the difference between these words, primarily that vision and goals are more aspirational, while the others are more focused on tasks, I also know that I often use them interchangeably. 

Most people think that writers wouldn't make these mistakes because they think of writers as being very careful with their words. And that is true, as a writer, I am very careful with my words. But for me, it's not careful in the sense that I try to be exact with language. I'm careful to use words that fit best in the sentence, in the character's voice, and in the narrative style of the text, and let definitions and exactness fall by the wayside. 

I've always been a stylistic writer, for better or worse. The art and sound of words is more important to me than the clarity of their meaning.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The groovin' kid photo can mean only one thing...the weekend has arrived, and with it comes my usual ramblings on music that has either inspired me, angered me, entertained me, or just made me curious over the past several days. This is a list compiled of a couple of new releases that I'd been looking forward to along with a few albums that are recent additions to my vinyl collection. All in all, there are plenty of fantastic albums on this list, many of which I would recommend to everyone. Hopefully some of you will take my recommendation and find something to listen to. Enjoy.

Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me: This band is just Phil Elverum (of The Microphones) and one that I've listened to for over a decade. This is the first album in two years and the first since the passing of his wife from cancer. The songs on here detail his heartbreak over losing his wife and raising their baby. Though consumed by overwhelming sadness, this is nothing short of a beautiful album that reads like an eternal love letter. An album that everybody should listen to at least once. Stunningly honest and remarkable.

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy: The iconic '80s post punk band just released their first studio album in 19 years and it's far more enjoyable than I expected. Gone is the deep fuzz and distortion that characterized their legendary albums. This is far more noise pop than shoegaze. It reminds me of Spiritualized, and had this album come out twenty years ago, it would have been a favorite of mine. As it stands now, I enjoyed it, but it didn't feel special enough to love in this day and age. "Mood Rider,""War and Peace," and "Facing Up to the Facts" are my personal favorites.

Roky Ericson - Outtakes from "All That May Do My Rhyme" & Live 1975: This is a bootleg album that I got for my birthday, but never got around to reviewing it because I needed to enter into the database first. The outtakes are from Roky's later quieter work, and is phenomenal. The live songs on the flip side are also dynamite. I'm a huge Roky fan and don't think he can really do any wrong, so my take on this might be skewed. One of the most under appreciated rockers in music.

Marc Bolan - Skycloaked Lord (...Of Precious Light): This archival US radio show was recorded shortly after T-Rex's Electric Wizard album, at the height of the glam rocker's career. But this is very different. It's just him and an acoustic guitar. I went into this not expecting any very different than what I was used to from him, but I was so wrong. This was mind-blowingly good! Released on limited blue vinyl, this is a gem.

John Cougar Mellencamp - Scarecrow: Released in 1985, at the height of the Indiana rocker's career, this is the signature album of his career, featuring the mega hits "Small Town," "Lonely Ol' Night," and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." It also stands as one of the few political rock albums of the mid-80s which were caught up in the glamour of rock life and left the social issues on the back burner. This album cemented the Cougar as the torch bearer to Bruce Springsteen's '70s work. Though he continues to make music, he would never again reach the level of fame from this time. A great '80s rock record.

Family - Bandstand: In their five years as a band, between the years 1968 and 1973, the UK psychedelic prog band released eight albums. This one, from '72 is the next to last, but no less exciting and rewarding than previous. It takes on more of the maturity of early '70s era psych blues than early albums, but still has that Traffic vibe that I enjoy so much. This is still part of my going through the three missing pieces of my Family collection that I recently snatched up for cheap. "Glove" and "Ready to Go" are stand outs on this one.