Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
REM - Accelerate
The Stills - Oceans Will Rise
Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping
Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers
The Rosebuds - Life Like
Skydiggers - City of Sirens
Todd Snider - Peace Queer
Over the Rhine - Snow Angels
I wasn't going to include "Snow Angels" because it is a Christmas album, but after I got into this, I realized that I didn't actually have 10 favorite new albums of 2008, so I decided to include it to help fill up the list (and I really do like the album a lot).
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Dodos - Fools
Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
Justin Townes Earle - Ain't Glad I'm Leaving
Department of Eagles - Teenagers
Jose James - Park Bench People
The New Year - The Company I Can Get
Odd Nosdam - Fat Hooks
Sigur Ros - Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur (track #2)
Walkmen - The New Year
Deerhunter - Never Stops
Vampire Weekend - Campus
Benga - Zero M2
Two Hours Traffic - Backseat Sweetheart
Last Shadow Puppets - Calm Like You
City and Colour - The Girl
Cut Copy - Out There on the Ice
Wolf Parade - The Soldier's Grin
TV on the Radio - Family Tree
Jay Reatard - Painted Shut
Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love for Planet Earth
Favourite Albums: Walkmen, Deerhunter, Frightened Rabbit, TV on the Radio, Department of Eagles, Sigur Ros, City and Colour, Cut Copy, David Torn - "Prezens", Marcin Wasilewski - "Trio"
Albums that got all sorts of hype that came no where close to their billing: Lindstrom, Santogold, Portishead (are they paying music critics under the table?), Vampire Weekend, and Fucked Up.
And in case anyone is wondering what happened to Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Plants and Animals on my list something about the overlap, at least in my mind, on these 3 records prevented any one of them from really standing out as one of my favourites of last year as much as I enjoyed each of them.
Hope you all have a great xmas and all the best for 2009.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Okay, albums. I estimate with the number of downloads I get from emusic (90/month), buy from itunes (another half dozen), get from the odd torrent (another handful), and buy in cd form (again another handful), I've probably listened to 80-90 albums this year. Some of these are jazz and classical issues and the odd pop album from previous years but I would guess that around 3/4 or 60-70 of these were 2008 releases. Why do I mention this at the outset?
Well, mostly to put this whole list-making exercise in perspective. I haven't come anywhere close experiencing even a fraction of all the music released this year, certainly when compared to what the average music critic experiences each week. But I still think it’s a good enough sample size to allow me to truly separate ‘Best’ from the ‘Rest’.
1) I keep going back to the album and playing it over and over
2) When I’m listening to the album in the background, I frequently stop what I’m doing in the foreground just to listen and admire
3) I start creating playlists in itunes that includes these songs for year-end compilation cds because I feel I have to share them with my friends
4) I will, or at least attempt to, sing this song in the shower
Here then are the discs of 2008 that satisfied 3 or more of the above conditions:
- Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
- Hauschka – Ferndorf
- Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
- Ben Benjamin – The Many Moods of Ben Benjamin
- The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
- Deerhunter – Microcastles
- Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping
- Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
- Pete and the Pirates – Little Death
- The Walkmen – You & Me
The next five:·
- TV on the Radio – Dear Science
- The French Kicks – Swimming
- Au – Verbs (perhaps a good accompaniment to No Age’s Nouns)
- Ida – Lovers Prayers
- Adele – 19
Worst of 2008
- Steve Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash (subtract the first two words and the title sums it up)·
- Portishead – Third (and yet it appears on most of the best of lists I’ve seen….why???)
- Mercury Rev - maybe one or two salvagable tracks off of 2 discs (one instrumental)?
- Coldplay -Vida La ...even the title goes on forever and annoys me
- Catpower – Jukebox – really really really bad covers of songs that don't need to be covered again by anyone ever (New York?)
Released in previous years but only discovered in 2008:
- The Microphones – The Glow Part 2 (hat tip to Brian for the suggestion)
- Odd Nosdam – Level Live Wires (hat tip to Derek for the suggestion)
- The Acorn – The Pink Ghosts
- Jason Palmer – Songbook
- Etudes - Geri Allen w/ Charlie Haden, Paul Motian
Artist of the Year:
Bradford Cox, of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound. Deerhunter released 2 albums this year, Microcastles and a second album of more electronic stuff
Hope Santa brings you some nice music this week and Happy New Year!
Friday, December 19, 2008
All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue
Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It goes without saying that many of these will be making an appearance on your christmas discs. Mike, since I won't see you in time for the holidays, I'll make you a special groundhog's day disc.
10. Fat Hooks - Odd Nosdam
9. Her Morning Elegance - Oren Lavie
8. Creeper - Islands
7. Dead Sound - The Raveonettes
6. In the New Year - The Walkmen
5. Creature Fear - Bon Iver
4. Never Stops - Deerhunter
3. Fairie Dance - Plants & Animals
2. White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
1. Cape Canaveral - Conor Oberst
Honourable Mentions: Everybody Here is a Cloud - The Cloud Cult, Gila - Beach House, Sex Tourists - The French Kicks, Travel in Time - Marching Band, River Card - Atlas Sound
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I am working on my year end list. Am trying not to read other year end lists, other than Exclaim's, which I recently mentioned here, so that my own list isn't just a rehash of what everybody else is picking. I don't expect I'll be able to avoid inclusion of a lot of the usual suspects but will try to craft my list accordingly. Time to hold your breath.... now!
I saw the Luna documentary Tell Me Do You Miss Me this week (it's a couple of years old now) and really loved it. Has anyone seen it? Reminded me what how hard it is to be a musician, perhaps especially in a rock band, for a living, and was a really good portrait of the people in the band, particularly Dean and Sean, who couldn't be more different people. Really hard to believe they survived 10 years (maybe because Sean is a fantastic guitar player). Also, what great simple songs.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
With regards to criticism, I've just found that so much of what has been highly recommended or rated this past year has been, for the most part, pretty damn mediocre. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that 2008 has been, imo, mostly a pretty mediocre year for pop music in general. The reason I linked to this article and posed the question is because I felt that too many mediocre or just not very good albums were being given a pass or graded on a curve.
Two relatively popular cases in point:
Example 1: Coldplay's Vida La Vida, a collection of shallow, overproduced songs trying to out-epic each other, received mostly glowing reviews upon its release this spring, most of which were based on the fact that the album wasn't as bad as its predecessor.
Example 2: Kanye West's latest 808s & Heartbreak, listless vocoder-enhanced whining that NOW magazine just gave a glowing 4 stars, similar to accolades received elsewhere.
Are either albums terrible? No. But the reviews either suggest brilliance or gloss over the shortcomings. I think I'd like to read more balanced assessments.
UPDATE: Lest you think I'm picking on some bigger names, easier targets, here are some examples of over-hyped new bands/releases see, "Ra Ra Riot", "Ladyhawke" and "Santogold".
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
So....from my perspective, criticism is meant to highlight the extra layers in the art, the artist's influences and intentions, put it in the context in which it was created, and consider the context in which it might be reviewed in the future. And good critics find words to illuminate the beauty and power of art, and potentially the truth or falseness.
All of this is obvious, I know. But I truly don't veer far from that perspective when I read criticism, even something as puny as local-rag critiques of pop music. So I tend to think, not about whether the critics are using a negative or positive lens, which I'm sure happens, but whether their critiques ring true, inspire me to listen, look at, watch, make the art mean more to me.
Good/great critics can be generally scathing (think of Jay Scott) but have to convince you of their love for the medium to be compelling - if you like movies, you won't want to read a guy (not every day anyway) who always says they're crap. They can also be cheerleaders, like say Roger Ebert, as long as their knowledge of the art form works for me.
All of which is to say that, no I hadn't noticed a trend towards pollyanna-ism in reviews. And Malkmus for me is dead dead dead (incl, the latest). Too bad re Malkmus, possibly as much a function of me not wanting him to change that beautiful thing that was Pavement as him getting "worse" at writing and performing songs (but more likely just that). So any paper that touts his latest as one of the best of the year is describing a rough year in pop, and/or isn't listening to the good stuff.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The question: Are there too many positive music reviews? (As interesting as the initial post is, the comments below offer some thoughtful responses).
Several of us in the past have expressed our distaste for the manner in which some local music wags seem to delight in criticizing music, either to deliberately provoke or to project their indie credibility/sophistication/cultural know-it-all-ness. But has the pendulum swung too much in the opposite direction? Are we all too willing to embrace the mediocre?
In recent conversations with some of you, I've itemized some of my biggest disappointments of the year (to be posted here in coming weeks as part of year-end list making exercises, to which i look forward annually), like the Portishead and Stephen Malkmus discs, both of which appear--inexplicably to me--on Exclaim's Top 20 of 2008. I'm not sure the last time I read a negative review that wasn't also apologetic in tone, as if the author was embarassed by his/her reactions. I'm thinking some reviewers are becoming more sympathetic to their subject matter because 1) they know how little contemporary musicians are likely to make and 2) the reviewers probably have their own band as well and don't want to put themselves into a bad karmic position.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Also, not sure how many of you guys are using ITunes as your major source of music at home (connected to your stereo etc) but if you are, the relatively new Genius is pretty cool - makes great playlists automatically, lots of good info about the music etc.
Mike, sorry to hear about Randy. I liked the music, really soulful acoustic tunes.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I completely agree about Radio Paradise. I discovered that station years ago and have listened to regularly since then. The owner/DJ programs sets of music that are generally cohesive in some way - the songs are connected musically, lyrically, thematicly or in some other way. He covers a broad range of styles (not all of which I enjoy) and there is very little talking. The web site has lots of nice features including discussion boards about the playlist, a database of songs and artists, a gift shop and lots of help for those who have difficulty listening because of firewalls or whatnot. I have often used Radio Paradise as an example of the huge potential of Internet Radio.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
You should check out paradise radio.....its on itunes radio under eclectic ...we play it all day at the office somedays and it is most incredible...They do what good radio should , which is mix music from many genres...country, rock , folk, alt rock, electronic and from the 60's to today. They also dont play just the hits, they pick the good but obscure album tracks that you never hear on commercial radio , mixed it with more well known tracks. For example last hour they played tracks off U2 unforgettable fire, Bob Dylan, blood on the tracks, Neil young , after the goldrush, the new , new pornographers, Elliott smith, some Beck off sea changes , ray charles , patsy cline, etc.....and a bunch of new bands I didnt know...generally they dont rock out hard, which makes it good for the office....
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Over the years, Randy sent me a bunch of links to You Tube videos of performers that he liked. I had never heard of most of them, but most of it was very good. I believe I’ve mentioned him in a past entry in this blog, and included at least one of the links that he had sent me. I thought a fitting tribute to Randy would be to share a few more of them with you today. Enjoy!
The Subdudes - Standing Tall
HEM - Redwing
Martin Tallstrom - Freight Train
Griffin House – The Guy that Says Goodbye to You
Monday, November 17, 2008
As the most recent blogger, I felt immune from the (dare I admit it) pressure to blog. Plus, I naturally assumed that, to a degree, the quietness stemmed from the reverence due such a bitching blog as my last one (and thanks).
But ignoring for a moment my crystalline brilliance in analyzing the music of the mid-90's, there is a genuine fear on my part that I won't be able to make it through another work week without a blog thread to amuse me. So I would ask that we each offer up what we are listening to on our IPods these days. Pop/rock? Jazz? Classical?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Thanks to Brian once again for that 60s comp that he handed out at the last CD club. I've been listening to the "Nazz Nazz" album by the Nazz tonight and it's a beauty. I might even have to go out and find myself a legitimate CD copy. Anyone seen this on disc?
Friday, October 17, 2008
Another good blog question concerns the nexus of pop charts and good music. When (like, which year) were they most closely aligned? And why are they generally so far apart? Would top-selling albums provide a better barometer?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
For purposes of full disclosure Le Freak, Good Times and Pop Music were some of my favourite tunes of that year. As for Heartache Tonight I think you all know how I feel about the Eagles.
(And this is where Stuart jumps in and says "le Freak" and "I Will Survive" are great songs that he had a lot of early-teen romantic success with.)
01.My Sharona » Knack
02. Bad Girls » Donna Summer
03. Le Freak » Chic
04. Da Ya Think I'm Sexy » Rod Stewart
05. Reunited » Peaches & Herb
06. I Will Survive » Gloria Gaynor
07. Hot Stuff » Donna Summer
08. Y.M.C.A. » Village People
09. Ring My Bell » Anita Ward
10. Sad Eyes » Robert John
11. Too Much Heaven » Bee Gees
12. MacArthur Park » Donna Summer
13. When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman » Dr. Hook
14. Makin' It » David Naughton
15. Fire » Pointer Sisters
16. Tragedy » Bee Gees
17. A Little More Love » Olivia Newton-John
18. Heart Of Glass » Blondie
19. What A Fool Believes » Doobie Brothers
20. Good Times » Chic
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So I thought originally that I would choose my fave 60's year based on a sort of top five approach (since there's so much music), so was thinking 1968 based on The Stones Beggar's Banquet, The Beatles White, The Zombies Oddysey, The Kinks' Village Green, and Love's Forever Changes. Wow, I thought, what a Big Five. Plus I think of 1967 as primarily the year that psychedelia peaked (just listen to the Hollies playing sitar on their release from that year....boo hiss), which while in many cases is magnificent ear candy, in my gut I know hasn't aged as well as music before and after. So I felt good about 1968.
Stupidly, I suppose, while in the afterglow of my smug I've-nailed-the-right-year state, I glanced at the release date for Forever Changes, only to find that it was actually November 1967. I was surprised. OK, I figured, that's an important record, so let's make sure that if I lob it back into 1967 it doesn't tip the scales. And a bit of research (and just giving my head a shake becase I own all these records) more than convinced me that, really, 1967 wasn't all just hype. It was an unbelievable year, and yes, quite possibly the best single year of pop and rock records.
I'll throw a few out, and if you don't have all of these records, well, for Christ's Sake go get them.
Buffalo Springfield - Again
The Doors - self-titled
The Velevet Underground and Nico
Beatles - Sgt Pepper's
Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow
The Monkees - Headquarters (I kid you not this is a great record)
The Byrds - Younger than Yesterday
The Stones - Between the Buttons (plus, Satanic Majesties' Request)
J Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced
Moby Grape - self titled debut
Cream - Disraeli Gears
Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gaets of Dawn
Love - Forever Changes
Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed
The Kinks - Something Else
Traffic - Mr. Fantasy
Dylan -John Wesley Harding
Those are kind of the obvious ones, the A list if you will. There's great B List of slightly lesser knowns as well:
Ten Years After (debut)
Donovan - Mellow Yellow
Nico - Chelsea Girl (one of my very favourite records)
Mamas and Papas - Deliver
Procol Harum - self titled debut
Arlo Guthrie - Alices' Restaurant
Absolutely Free - Mothers of Invention
The Turtles - Happy Together (amazing summer pop)
Big Brother and the Holding Company (self titled debut)
Yardbirds - Little Games
The Rascals - Groovin'
Lots more too. So, there you have it, my first choice for best single year, is, predictably (but not without justification) 1967.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I did look at 71 but without a beatles album....I couldnt quite justify it....68 is great too (wherefore art thou list Brian)....I thought you would pick 67 though....
actually 1989-91 is a very similar transition.(granted that is 3 years not 1) ..from oldies like the cure(disintegration, ) Lou reed new york, morrisey (viva hate) and newcomers stone roses pearl jam 10 nirvanna (nevermind) pixies (doolittle) again it is the changing of the guard...what about 1999-2001??
I thought we might get some picks for 1971, with, off the top of my head, Led Zep IV, Who's Next, Sticky Fingers, Pearl, multiple others, or 1970, with All Things Must Pass, Derek and the Dominoes, Cosmos Factory, etc.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I'm sure that many of you, and some already have, could make a case for a year in the 60s but I'd find it difficult to pick a year where the music, the radio play, the live scene all pre-dated my enjoyment of the records. As much as I adore the Zombies "Odyssey and Oracle" there's no personal connection with any of the tracks on the record. I'll never remember where I was or how I felt when I first heard "This Could be Our Year". I distinctly remember how I felt upon first hearing "Making Plans for Nigel" and understanding that my parents would never ever get this song.
To add to Mike's already very complete list:
Squeeze - Cool for Cats
Joe Jackson - Look Sharp
The Police - Regatta de Blanc
Blondie - Parallel Lines
The Cars - Candy-O (not as great as their debut but pretty great, the sort of reverse Strokes)
Buzzcocks - A Different Kind of Tension (the band along with the Jam that, more than the Sex Pistols, defined the late 70's UK music scene)
Cheap Trick - Dream Police
B52s - B52s
Stranglers - The Raven
Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Gary Numan - Pleasure Principle
Pretenders - the album came out in 1980 but Stop Your Sobbing and Brass in Pocket were both singles in 1979
Flash and the Pan - Flash and the Pan
Sunday, October 12, 2008
- Breakfast in America by Supertramp
- Daman the Torpedos by Tom Petty
- In through the Outdoor (Led Zeppelin's final studio album)
- London Calling, by the Clash
- Rust Never Sleeps AND Live Rust by Neil Young
- The Fine Art of Surfacing by The Boomtown Rats
- The Wall by Pink Floyd
- Caroline Mas (not a widely acclaimed record, but one that I've always liked a lot)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan (an early favorite of mine, and the band I saw at my first concert)
- Crusader by Chris de Burgh (again, more of a personal favorite than an industry milestone)
- Rickie Lee Jones
- Queen Live Killers
- Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
- Low Budget by the Kinks
- Communique by Dire Straits
And moving beyond my personal collection of music, we have:
- Armed Forces by Elvis Costello
- Setting Sons by The Jam
- Fear of Music by The Talking Heads
- The Undertones
- Drums and Wires by XTC
- The Great Rock 'n Roll Swindle by The Sex Pistols
- Labour of Lust by Nick Lowe
It doesn't compete with '69 from a rock history perspective, I don't think. But it's one of my favorite years.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Beatles - abbey road and arguably let it be also..
Stones let it bleed
the who - tommy
led zepillin - I and II !!!
dylan- nashville skyline ( granted not his best but highly underrated)
Neil Young- everyone knows this is nowhere
velvet underground - self titled
fairport convention- 1st 2 albums!!!!
creedence clearwater --3 fucking albums!!!!..bayou, green river and willy
nick drake- 5 leaves
presley- suspicious minds , in the ghetto....
Neil diamond- sweet caroline
Johhny cash- a boy named sue
probably more if i think about it
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
But now I realize you're talking about...Dr. Dog show. Enjoy!
And thanks for pointing the way to the gratis Mercury Rev instrumental stuff, which for some reason I suspect I'm going to enjoy more than the with-vocals new album.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
And in the how do you know you're 45 department. This Friday night (yes October 3rd) I will be attending my first rock show of the soon to be departed 2008 at the Elmo. Shouldn't be too much longer before Ciaran has me beat in the live music department.
Has anyone seen anything live that's blown them away this year?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Did you bring up Mercury Rev purely on a whim or did they come to your attention via the ever moronic Tim Perlich's review in yesterday's Now magazine of their new album? Contrast and compare with the Guardian's review.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Listened to it yesterday on a long drive and burst out laughing quite a few times, so I recommend downloading it and giving it a listen.
Apart from the just skewering of ripe targets (hair metal bands, Hall & Oates), I think they kind of missed the boat on a lot of really great English pop bands (The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen) that I guess weren't as popular many places stateside. The urban/rural divide seems to inspire either a wary regard for, or slavish devotion to, Guns n Roses, depending on where you lived as a teenager. Will be interested in hearing other comments.
Consider this an assignment, which of course you can, and likely will ignore.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Brian, your BMO-backed, US-based IP address, online music gravy train days are numbered!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I've had the Duke Ellington for a few years and it is a really great disc with the possible exception of the opening track "Chinoiserie" which I find overdone and rather annoying.
Looking forward to downloading the Bags and Wes and the Woody Shaw discs. The only Woody Shaw I own is a fairly recent compilation. I'm sure there are original discs I should be picking up but they seem to be very scarce anytime I check the jazz section at the local stores. Not even sure he has his own slot these days as the jazz and classical sections continue to be trimmed down to the lowest common denominator. More Mozart or Diana Krall anyone?
(1) Vijay Iyer - Tragicomic; new release, piano player working in a quartet / quintet setting, composition based, lots of variety, though generally mood-based. Really high quality.
(2) Anne Mette Iversen - Best of the West + Many Places ; Interesting combination of two recordings; one incorporates a string quartet in a third-streamish way (Iversen is Danish, a bassist), and the second is lively and creative writing/performances in a traditional quartet setting
(3) The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse - Duke Ellington ; Fantastic late-period Ellington (1971) with lots of modern elements mixed into his big band arrangements, with an overriding exotic theme of Africa Eurasia. I'm really loving this.
(4) Flora Purim - Butterfly Dreams ; some really nice early-seventies Brazilian jazz from one of the better performers in the genre. Lots of South American stylings mixed with "real" jazz arrangements and playing.
(5) Sun Ra - Lanquidity ; really cool groove-based late-seventies record from Sun Ra. For those of you who like their music a little less conventional, Sun Ra never disappoints...this one is fairly easy listening bu his standards, with lots of fat grooves, and soulful bigger band arrangements.
(6) Milt Jackson and Wes Montgomery - Bags Meets Wes; great session between vibes and guitar heroes from the early 60's. Not sure how I missed this when I was collecting everything from that period a few years ago.
(7) Woody Shaw - Blackstone Legacy ; The first session as a leader for the trumpet legend from 1970, also the only bona fide WS record on emusic, but a great one (Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, other greats). If you don't know him, check it out.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping
Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
The Come Ons - Hip Check
The Raveonettes - Lust, Lust, Lust
Pete and the Pirates - Little Death
The French Kicks - Swimming
But it all sounded like Lily Allen to me.
And by me, I mean Stuart.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
What struck me primarily about the article is the fundamental truth that musical appreciation is, above all, subjective. And I think the term "new classical" is part of the problem. Classical music is historical by definition. Perhaps a better term would be "modern orchestrial", but the fact is that the orchestra is no longer the most popular (or the most sensible) configuration. One no longer needs to assemble 100 musicians to enable a full range of sounds. Larger groups are harder to organize logistically, harder to conduct musically, and more expensive. I don't know how one would determine who are the best living composers, but it would not surprise me to learn that they were focused on electronic or other, smaller configurations as a rule.
But the other phenomenon that surfaces in this article is the fact that audiences prefer familiar things. I believe this is true across all disciplines - until the Internet created greater accessibility, it was very difficult for today's bands to get radio airtime because the airwaves are clogged with classic rock. Modern playwrights have a hard time getting their plays staged because every serious drama company is busy putting on productions of Shakespeare's plays (or at least the dozen or so that are very popular). Those of us who play in bands know that nothing clears the dance floor faster than an original song. Most of the movies coming out these days are either sequels or prequels or based on a pre-existing popular work (a comic book, as often as not). I think it is always challenging for new creations to find their audience and establish a lasting connection.
As I mentioned to Brian the other night there is a also a bit of a cheat on my list with two compilations. The Orange Juice and Siouxsie and the Banshees records are both comps but for me these are the two discs by bands that I dearly love that got the most spins and, if you know neither band, are definitely a good starting point.
Bill Pritchard, who I believe is English, was actually biggest of all in France. I'm not sure he was ever CFNY material and I might have first heard him on CBC's Brave New Waves, back when I could stay up past 10 o'clock in the evening. As a big fan of Lloyd Cole it was pretty easy to fall in step with Pritchard's soft-toned story telling music.
As for classical music and it's fans knowledge or lack thereof let me be the first to admit that I am somewhat intimidated by the depth and breadth of the music that this all encompassing term covers. I never studied music in school beyond the pissing about in primary school years and as such always feel at a big disadvantage in truly understanding what is going on in the great works. I can enjoy it at an emotional level but feel I will always be left on the sidelines in really getting what is being conveyed by the composer. This is something I've never felt with jazz as it operates for me primarily on an emotional basis and I can leave it at that and not feel that I'm missing out somehow.
Having said that I don't feel that classical music fans are necessarily less knowledgeable just because a few pompous gits like to feel they can lord it over the rest of us with the sheer magnitude of their insight and connection to the classical world.
Reading an article in BBC music magazine the other day by a young Russian conductor made me want to pull what remains of my hair out. He had a valid point in that too many orchestras rely on the old war horses to make their money (Dvorak's 9th, Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto etc). He also stated that too concert goers tend to scurry like rats whenever the program contains something new or less well known. The sentence that had me cringing was that this 28 year old felt that it was up to him and his ilk to "educate the concert going public".
I'd be quite happy to hear something like Dvorak's tone poem "The Golden Spinning Wheel", a Norgaard symphony or a clarinet concerto by Kalevi Aho. If the TSO is any indication too many orchestras fall back on the tried and true knowing that this will pull in the same old crowd. Why not throw in regular new or lesser known works instead of ghettoizing them like the TSO does when they shovel them all together in one week every spring. I think they might be surprised by the interest us plebs would show. I don't think educating us Soviet style has anything to do with it.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I always forget that the Stone Roses album is 1989....didn't really listen to it until 'Fools Gold' was played on the radio in 1990 so I always associate it with the 1990s. Perhaps I could include this in a 90s list, the same way that Brian was able to sneak London Calling into the 80s?
I'd never even heard of Bill Pritchard...was he bigger in the UK, played here on the radio (CFNY)?
Still working my way through 20th century classical and the Alex Ross book so I'm not sure that I'm comfortable in assessing whether these composers connect with audiences as effectively as did their coherts from previous centuries. I did find it interesting that the author can, “no longer believe that fans of classical music are especially knowledgeable - certainly not in the way jazz fans are". I tend to agree....do others?
Monday, July 14, 2008
I use single quotes because music downloaded from this site is essentially borrowed, not owned, meaning you can't burn cds with it or transfer it to an ipod. Thus, unless you're into listening to music on your computer, it's kind of useless. But if you're into listening to music on your computer--say during business hours--it can be quite useful. I've downloaded both the new Beck and Coldplay albums, as well as an older Sonic Youth disc. It tends to showcase more popular, or at least established, artists, which makes it more of a complement than a competitor to emusic. And of course, you don't get to 'own' it. But as a means of previewing new music before buying, it beats the hell out of a 30-second samples.
Btw...the Beck is interesting if not mind-blowing on the first listen. The Coldplay is kind of lame. But then, you knew this.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Adam & the Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier
The English Beat - Just Can't Stop It
Billy Bragg - Talking with the Taxman
Kate Bush - The Dreaming
The Chameleons - Strange Times
Cocteau Twins - Treasure
Lloyd Cole & the Commotions - Rattlesnakes
The Cult - Love
Depeche Mode - Some Great Reward
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
Eric B & Rakim - Paid in Full
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (3)
The Housemartins - London 0, Hull 4
Human League - Dare
The Jam - The Gift
Jazz Butcher - Bloody Nonsense
The Jesus & Mary Chain - Psychocandy
New Order - Power, Corruption & Lies
Orange Juice - In a Nutshell
OMD - Architecture & Morality
Pixies - Doolittle
Prince - 1999
Bill Pritchard - Three Months, Three Weeks & 2 Days
Public Enemy - A Nation of Millions
The Ramones - End of the Century
REM - Murmur
Roxy Music - Flesh and Blood
Simple Minds - New Gold Dream
Siouxsie & the Banshees - Once Upon a Time
The Smiths - The Smiths
The Stone Roses - Stone Roses
Teardrop Explodes - Kilimanjaro
Tears for Fears - The Hurting
That Petrol Emotion - Manic Pop Thrill
The The - Soul Mining
U2 - War
The Undertones - Hypnotised
The Waterboys - A Pagan Place
Woodentops - Giant
XTC - Black Sea
Friday, July 11, 2008
For classical music with no hooks to speak of check out this column from the Guardian. Joe Queenan, the article's author, has more than 20 years of classical music listening over me and has seen 1500 concerts to my paltry 30 or 40 but he gets it right on the money with respect to new classical music. The key paragraph for me is the following:
I have tried to come to terms with the demands of modern music. I am no lover of Renaissance Muzak, and own tons of records by Berg, Varèse, Webern, Rihm, Schnittke, Adès, Wuorinen, Crumb, Carter, and Babbitt: I consider myself to be the kind of listener contemporary composers would need to reach if they had any hope of achieving a breakthrough. So far, this has not happened, and I doubt that it will.
I've never heard of Wuorinen and I've never listened to Crumb but I own discs or have listened to the rest of this crew and with the exception of Berg, who can hardly be considered new since he died in 1935, there's really not a whole lot to write home about. Like the author I should be the target market for modern composers but they're failing miserably. I'd like to hear how others have fared coming to terms with mid-late 20th and 21st century classical music.
I have some Holliger and Kurtag for anyone who'd like to give this sort of thing a listen.
I'll get around to posting my top discs of the 80's shortly.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I've been prevaricating on the 80's list, but have finally come up with a top 11. I based it on what I honestly listened to and loved at the time, not so much what now seems cool. No doubt missed some obvious ones.
I liked your list a lot, mostly because it's music I don't know intimately in some cases. You were, I guess, 9 - 18 years old in the eighties, so a very different thing from 16 - 25, plus you just have different musical tastes, and of course you grew up in Scarborough I think? (versus Kanata). All in all a good list to navigate through for me.
REM - Murmur / Reckoning (I'm cheating already)
Clash - London Calling (Dec 79 - more cheating, but this was really the first record of the 80's)
The Pretenders - Learning to Crawl
Tom Petty - Damn the Torpedoes (Nov 79)
Springsteen - Born in the USA (yes it's true)
Big Dipper - Heavens
That Petrol Emotion - Babble
Jazz Butcher - Fishcoteque
Midnight Oil - Diesel and Dust
The Church - Starfish
Paul Kelly - Gossip
New York in retrospect was mostly a 90's record for me
Monday, July 07, 2008
For those of you with time on your hands and the thirst for more new music, Wired magazine just did a feature on their '10 Hottest Digital Music Sites'.
Also, a little late to the game (hectic travel week late June + needed down time last week) but here is my contribution to the 80s album discussion:
The Queen is Dead – The Smiths
Music for the Masses – Depeche Mode
Disintegration – The Cure
The Unforgettable Fire – U2
Murmur - REM
Power, Corruption, Lies – New Order
Surfer Rosa – The Pixies
Love – The Cult
Closer – Joy Division
It’ll Take a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – Public Enemy
Though 'Thriller' was great at the time (I was 11 when it was released) , I don't really look back on it with much fondness, and don't presently own a copy. I'd probably say 'Purple Rain' is important and I'm sure I'd enjoy listening to the soundtrack again but don't think I could play it more than once every few years. All of the albums listed above are ones I could still listen to at least a few times a year, and were important and interesting when they were released/became popular.
Anyhow, enjoy the links.
Friday, July 04, 2008
I've got one more '80s song to add to my list of overlooked top ten candidates - Lou Reed's "New York". Pretty great album. You've gotta love the wailing feedback.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
There were a few others that I was listening to a ton at that time that I'd forgotten about, and something about your post reminded me; World Party's Private Revolution; Guadalcanal Diary's Jamboree, Let's Active's Cypress.
I will put my thoughts together into a list this week. Kind of a fun exercise, because my impression of the eighties is that it hasn't aged well, and yet (a) it was a hugely defining period for all of us musically, and (b) it is (somewhat inevitably) coming back into vogue and so the only-recently kitschy sounding production / sensibilities are very popular again. Useful to go through ti, because I know it will warm me up to some music I once loved.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This is the Sea, The Waterboys
The Joshua Tree, U2
Life’s Rich Pageant, R.E.M.
Graceland, Paul Simon
SwordfishTrombone, Tom Waits
Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits
Starfish, The Church
Live 1975-1985, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Copperhead Road, Steve Earle
Amonia Avenue, Alan Parsons Project
This is based entirely on my own enjoyment of the music, rather than on my perception of its historical significance. I found it very hard to eliminate some of my other favorites, so for those who are interested in such things, I'll include the other albums that I originally listed before the painful sorting exercise began. These are partially sorted, but I gave up trying to complete that task.
Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys
Lyle Lovett, Lyle Lovett
Eastern Wind, Chris de Burgh
Making Movies, Dire Straits
The River, Bruce Springsteen
Fleetwood Mac Live, Fleetwood Mac
Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
In My Tribe, 10,000 Maniacs
The Unforgettable Fire, U2
If I Should Fall From Grace with God, The Pogues
Fables of the Reconstruction, R.E.M.
Diesel and Dust, Midnight Oil
Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty
The Game, Queen
The Lonesome Jubilee, John Mellencamp
The Rose of England, Nick Lowe
The Wishing Chair, 10,000 Maniacs
Crowded House, Crowded House
Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega
Rain Dogs, Tom Waits
Pontiac, Lyle Lovett
The Final Cut, Pink Floyd
Various Positions, Leonard Cohen
The Turn of a Friendly Card, Alan Parsons Project
Gossip, Paul Kelly & The Messengers
Eye in the Sky, Alan Parsons Project
Scarecrow, John Mellencamp
Exit 0, Steve Earle
Red Roses for Me, The Pogues
Love Over Gold, Dire Straits
Up to Here, The Tragically Hip
The Traveling Wilburys Vol. I, The Traveling Wilburys
Slow Turning, John Hiatt
So, Peter Gabriel
Most of my favourite eighties music is nowhere to be seen here, which would include That Petrol Emotion's "Babble", Husker Du's "New Day Rising" (or Zen Arcade), Midnight Oil's "Diesel and Dust", REM's "Murmur" or "Reckoning" (I mean, c'mon!), The Feelies' "Only Life", Waterboys "This is the Sea" or "Fisherman's Blues", Billy Bragg's "Talking with the Taxman about Poetry", Camper Van Beethoven's "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart", Smithereens "Especially for You", Paul Kelly's "Gossip", The Church's "Starfish" (or Heyday or Remote Luxury), or The Jazz Butcher's "Fishcotheque" or "Bloody Nonsense".
In terms of nineties and oughts, I won't go on at length, but a few oversights like Nevermind (ridiculous to exclude), but for me also Eleventh Dream Day's "El Moodio" Sufjan Stevens "Illinoise", Sebadoh's "Bakesale" and a ton of others.
Not to discourage further discussion of this list, but my rantings above prompt me to ask for input (given that I'm back to downloading via Azureus) on everyone's Favourite Records of the 1980's. A top ten, ideally.
Wondering if I can get some input from the likes of Derek and Stuart and (dare I hope) Marc, on this, as well, of course, as the new regular threesome of me, Mike and Kyle.
Monday, June 23, 2008
This is their 'Best Albums of the Past 25 Years', which takes us back to 1983 (can you believe I failed Grade 11 and 12 Math?). While there are some odd choices and the rankings are ridiculous, it's not an altogether horrid list. Not sure how Amy Winehouse cracks the top 10 or Nirvana's Unplugged disc makes the list while Nevermind is nowhere to be found....my guess is that they're being deliberately provocative.... I'm happy to see they've included 'Disintegration', 'Slanted & Enchanted', 'Surfer Rosa', 'Loveless', 'Low-life', 'Siamese Dream', 'The Queen is Dead', 'Play', 'Dummy', 'The Soft Bulletin', 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot', among others but it's a weird list overall. The Bjork choice is 'Homogenic'...really? Kind of luck saying you like the third Strokes album the best.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Always thought Malkmus was a cross between Dave Lowry of Cracker and J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.. My evidence:
Total excuse to post youtube vids on a Friday. Happy weekend all.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
And Kyle, re Malkmus (from Pavement....Mike, I assume you know this but just in case) I think it is his voice that elevates the songs. It works so in tandem with the shambolic lo-fi-ness in their earlier records that it is hard to separate the two. But it's a remarkably expressive instrument in its own right.