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Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Great Feeling

The Concert for George CD and DVD Cover
Earlier this week it was announced that the Concert for George will released for the first time on vinyl to celebrate George Harrison's 75th birthday. It's set to be released at the end of February, and being the crazy diehard Beatle fan that I am went and ordered myself a copy. While I was doing that, I pulled out my CD copy my sister got me for Christmas back in 2003, and began re-listening to it.

Beyond being a magnificent concert in and of itself, there was something else about it that I seemed to have forgotten, but was reminded of when I was re-listening to it. Have you ever experienced a feeling when listening to an album? A feeling of comfort, joy, remembrance of happy times, friendship, and such much more?  I can't describe it, but I just got overwhelmed with these positive feelings.

Maybe it's because it reminds me of my first two years of college, and that period of time was such an incredibly happy time in my life. Whatever it is, I really love the feeling. Over the past three days, I've probably listened to the double album 2 or three times in its entirety, and each time I still get these wonderful feelings.

I think I'll have to add this album to my regular rotation of albums I listen to throughout the year.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Favorite Albums of 2017

10. Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound

A great combination of indie, pop, and punk, Cloud Nothings put forth a fantastic record called Life Without Sound. Released early in January 2017, this was a record I loved blasting while driving home from work, or going to meet up with friends. Full of energy, Cloud Nothings' Life Without Sound was an excellent way to start off the new year.

9. Spoon: Hot Thoughts

Hot Thoughts is a GREAT Spoon record. It really highlights all of their strengths as a band, and features some of the best songs they have ever written. I think my favorite part of the record is the jazz number "Us" which closes out the album. Unfortunately, they don't have a video for that track on YouTube, so instead here is "Do I Have to Talk You Into It".

8. Wolf Parade: Cry, Cry, Cry

It had been seven years since Wolf Parade had released a full length album. During that time, the band members formed other bands, wrote great songs, and toured the world. But I always hoped that they would get back together, and record another Wolf Parade record. Thankfully, my prayers were answered, and in October Wolf Parade released their fourth album Cry, Cry, Cry. This record showcases a mature Wolf Parade, but one that still has its edge. It's one of my favorite indie rock albums of 2017.

7. Portugal. The Man: Woodstock

I think it is physically impossible for Portugal. The Man to do nothing, but write insanely catchy music. They continued that trend with their latest Woodstock, and with what was one of my songs of the summer "Feel It Still". I dare anyone to listen to this song, and not immediately start dancing away.

6. Beck: Colors

It seems like we have been waiting for this Beck album for ages! Dreams was released in 2015. WOW was released in 2016. And finally we get the full length Colors in 2017. I love Beck. Every record he does is different and interesting, and Colors is no different. This record is Beck making a straight up pop rock record. I almost think this record has a Cheap Trick vibe to it.

5. LCD Soundsystem: American Dream

LCD Soundsystem first record in over seven years does not disappoint. I feel as though LCD Soundsystem really struck a chord with this album as to where we are currently as a society. American Dream really does explore the American dream, in all of its complexities. And all the while, you can dance to it.

4. The Kronos Quartet: Folk Songs

This is a really interesting record and band, and I want to do more research before I write a more in-depth article on them. Essentially, the Kronos Quartet is a quartet of classical musicians who experiment and re-interpret classics and folk songs. Hence their new album Folk Songs. Their re-imagining of American and French folk music is incredible. The songs are beautiful, peaceful, and thought provoking. This is definitely a band I want to learn more about.

3. Chris Thile: Thanks for Listening

Three records in a single year. Chris Thile is a machine, and each album kept getting better and better. Released in early December, Thanks for Listening is a compilation album of all of his "Song of the Weeks" he has performed on A Prairie Home Companion, now known as Live From Here. Many of these songs benefit from the recording studio. Over the past two years, Chris Thile has sky-rocketed into my top five favorite artists ever, and based off his this past year, that trend looks solidified. I cannot recommend this record enough.

2. The National: Sleep Well Beasts

Up until a couple of days ago, this was my favorite album of the year. It's dark, moody, and slightly depressing. It's The National at its very best. Reflecting on the events of the past two years, The National write what could be this generation's American Idiot. Sleep Well Beasts has The National hitting the mainstream by performing on such daytime talk shows as Ellen. And the mainstream is eating them up. Additionally, I feel that the song "Day I Die" is the song of 2017.

1. St. Vincent: Masseduction

I really needed to take my time, and digest Masseduction because there are so many different layers to this album. Not only is it about heartbreak, depression, and drugs, but it's also a well thought out reflection on our society as a whole. How we interact with celebrities, what are expectations of them are. How the press interacts with celebrities. How we interact with one another, etc. All of this is accomplished with incredible poppy music, and catchy hooks. St. Vincent, very quietly and confidently wrote what is my favorite album of 2017, what may be the best whole album of 2017, and what very well may be her masterpiece. I've talked to a number of my friends who are diehard music fans, and I keep hearing the same thing from this, this is St. Vincent's best album to date. And that is saying something.

My Favorite Albums of 2017: Honorable Mentions

2017 was an interesting year in music for me. There wasn't one single album that made me say "This is my favorite album of the year". There were however a lot of very good albums though which I enjoyed very much. My preparation for compiling this list included going back, and re-listening to all of the albums I had on my original rough draft I wrote up in mid-December, along with re-listening to big tentpole albums of the year. And now my favorite albums of 2017.

Honorable Mentions: 

Arcade Fire: Everything Now

This is a very controversial album amongst diehard Arcade Fire fans. Some like it, most hate it. I feel like it is their weakest album thus far, but there is enough interesting stuff on it to make me want to listen to it every once in a while. (It's not as bad as everyone says it is.) Additionally the songs off of "Everything Now" are fantastic live, and I'm curious if "Everything Now" is one of those records that we re-visit in five to ten years and go "Whoa! That record is incredible!"

Moby & The Void Pacific Choir: More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse

Moby's second effort with the Void Pacific Choir is just as hard hitting and political as the first album "These Systems Are Failing". It's good, but this album feels like its mainly composed by B-sides. Still good, just feels like more of the same.

Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer: Bac Trios

In 2017, Chris Thile released three albums. The first is a jazz album with pianist Brad Mehldau which is very interesting. (In fact I'm still trying wrap my head around it.) But his second release is much more traditional. It features bassist Edgar Meyer and the world's greatest cellist Yo-Yo Ma, covering arguably the greatest classical music composer ever Johanna Sebastian Bach. It's an incredible album. You can tell that Thile, Ma, and Meyer are having a blast playing together. If you are interested in exploring the world of classical music, this is a great first record. If you are interested in Thile's music outside of his work with the Punch Brothers, this too is an excellent introduction to his other musical interests.

The Shins: Heartworms

This is a very good Shins record. I'll admit, I feel like if this came out later in 2017, instead of March 2017, it would be higher up on the list. James Mercer always puts out interesting music, and this album is no exceptions.

Esperanza Spalding: Exposure

Always one to experiment, Esperanza Spalding follows up her 2016 masterpiece Emily's D+ Evolution with a very interesting concept. Entitled Exposure and recorded over the course of 77 hours, while being streamed on Facebook live, the viewer is able to be the fly on the wall of her creative process, as she and her band wrote and record a brand new record. The album truly exposures the creative process. Properly released in mid-December, I haven't had too many listens to it yet. However, I feel like this would of made the top ten if it were released soon in 2017.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Compiling My Favorite Albums of 2017 List

It's the end of the year, and that can only mean one thing. It's time to publish my favorite records of the year list. I always enjoy putting this list together.  I'll have to have the list posted here before the end of the year.

2017 has been an interesting year for me musically. There really hasn't been an album that "stood above" all of the others as my number one favorite album of the year. But there have been some very good releases, which I have enjoyed very much. On the flip side of the coin, the live shows I've been to in 2017 has caused me to believe that 2017 has been the greatest year of live music of my life. I was lucky enough to literally see all of my favorite artists perform live this past year. 

Because of that, I think I might write a post just about live music, and why it was such an eventful year for me. Till there, below you'll find some really solid 2017 music that I enjoy, but unfortunately didn't make my list. 

Moby & The Void Pacific Choir: More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse 

Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer: Bach Trios

The Shins: Heartworms

New Music from Moby

Well my 2018 music calendar just got its first major can't wait for album. Earlier this past week, Moby announced  that his latest album "Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt" will be released on March 2nd, 2018. The first single "Like a Motherless Child" was also released. I'm really digging it thus far.

It's crazy to think, but this is Moby's third release in three years. 2016 and 2017 saw the releases of Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. Both of those releases have a punk, house, hip-hop, electronic, metal vibe to them which was a radical departure for Moby. Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt seems to be more of a return to the "classic" Moby style, which I love. 

Thoughts on The Last Jedi

Photo Credit: Star
This past week I saw the latest installment in the Star Wars saga: The Last Jedi. On a very quick side note, I really enjoy how over the past three years the release of a new Star Wars film has coincided with my birthday. Anyways, not to get into spoilers on the film, because not everyone has seen it yet, I'm not sure how I feel about the movie. Don't get me wrong, there were certainly elements to the film that I enjoyed very much. It's big, has some terrific battle sequences, and some really fun surprises.

But overall, I think my biggest "issue" was that it didn't feel like a Star Wars movie. It's difficult to explain without getting into the territory of spoilers, but all of the previous movies had a certain feel to them. You knew you were watching Star Wars. (Yes even the prequels had that feeling to them.) I don't know if I get that same feeling from Last Jedi. I know that I need to re-watch the film. For me, the fun of Star Wars has always been the swashbuckling element to the stories. They really felt like old 1930s serials set in space. For me at least, The Last Jedi felt very "serious". Which is fine. But personally, I just prefer the general sense of adventure. Star Wars always had that sense of escapism. I'm not sure Last Jedi has it for me.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Wonder...

I wonder how many posts I have on this blog of me just saying: "Man it's been awhile since I've last posted here." Or "I feel like I'm neglecting this blog". I'll have to look. Not tonight though. Too tired.