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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Random Thoughts for 2.20.18

1. I've almost finished time-coding my interviews for the next episode of my podcast "The Looking Glass". I'm really blown away by the content that I have on these interviews. I knew they were good, but I didn't realize how good they were. Should make for an interesting program.

2. Additionally I've mapped out the overall format structure of the episode.

3. I'm trying to cut down on the purchase of books. I'm doing this for two reasons. 1. I'm running out of space on my bookcase. 2. I want to utilize the library more. Libraries are magical places. They are home to unlimited opportunities, and I need to spend more time in them. When I go to a random neighborhood in Chicago, I think I'm going to try and find its library, and spend a few minutes in them.

4. I'm writing this blog entry while listening to a new folk group called "I'm With Her". It is very smoothing music.

5. It really rained today. Rainy days are my favorite days to do radio. I always get the feeling that people are more willingly to turn their radios on for longer periods of time on rainy days.

6. My friends Tony and Missy bought me a Ghostbusters pillow. It's pretty dope.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Mozart in the Jungle Season 4
If you are looking for a new show to binge watch, I cannot recommend Mozart in the Jungle enough. Over the past few years, it has slowly become my favorite show on television. Its balance of comedy, drama, interesting and complex characters, along with a great classical music soundtrack make the show irresistible and refreshingly different from a majority of the shows currently on television.

In a modern television world where every show is dark, full of anti-heroes, and overly complex, Mozart in the Jungle basks in sunshine. That being said, the show does have its "darker" moments, but they are well within limits. The show doesn't take its audience to dark places just for the sake of going dark. We go to dark places because a character has taken us there, and this journey furthers the plot along.

Season 4 of Mozart in the Jungle dropped last night (February 16th), and I've binged the entire season. It's funny, heartfelt, and full of surprises. Please, take a chance on this program. I promise you, you won't be disappointed. Not only will you experience a wonderful television show, you'll also experience wonderful classical music. The show has made me a fan of it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Making a List

I was recently reading the liner notes for Moby's record Innocents. In every album he has released, Moby usually includes an essay in the liner notes, and for Innocents Moby's essay was a list of random things on his mind. I really liked it, and thought it would be fun if I did something similar.

1. I find myself being more drawn to analog technologies. Writing in notebooks, talking on the phone, reading physical books, writing letters, and of course listening to records. I feel like I'm spending too much time on my phone or computer, and that it's effecting my general happiness. But I feel much more connected to life when I do things in an "analog" way.

2. Which makes me think, should I get rid of my phone? I like the idea of having an old school flip phone, so that you were forced to talk to me, or I to you.

3. But texting is very convenient, and I feel like I would miss that a lot. How do you strike a balance?

4. I'm currently reading "All of the President's Men" about the Watergate scandal, and how the Woodward and Bernstein's reporting forced Nixon to resign. I feel like in current political environment, this would be an appropriate book to read. I'm a chapter in, and I'm already hooked.

5. I've been watching a lot of Star Trek recently. Growing up, I was more Star Trek than Star Wars, mainly because more Star Trek movies and TV shows were being released during that time period.

6. I wonder if Star Trek is generating any new fans? It seems like everyone is fans of Star Wars, but you never hear individuals discussing Star Trek. Is this part of nerd culture too nerd still? If so, I'm okay with that.

7. I'm writing this blog while listening to the soundtrack of Ghostbusters II. It's glorious with its 1980s hip-hop.

8. I'd love to watch a critical essay at some point, and see if I could get it published.

9. What would I write about? Maybe I would argue that you should become fans of Star Trek.

10. I liked this blog entry. I think I might try and do this style of entry once a month.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Music from Andrew W.K.

For the first time in almost 12 years, Andrew W.K. has a new record out. Coming out in March 2018,  "You're Not Alone" features W.K. has his head banging best. His new singles Music is Worth Living For and Ever Again are just wonderful.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Podcasting Update

For the past three months, I've been hard at work refining the format of my podcast series "The Looking Glass".  I feel like I've created some pretty solid episodes, but over the past year or so, I've felt like these episodes are ultimately "over glorified interviews", and could be so much more. So that has been my goal. How do I find a way to make the podcast stand out more, and have a more unique feel to them. I've thought of three changes that I think will give me that unique feel that I am looking for.

1. My approached to interviews. I'm going into the interviews in a much more relaxed and conversational way. I have general questions written out, along with general talking points that I want to hit, but I'm much more informal in how I ask them. Having listen back to the two interviews I've conducted this technique, I must say I am very pleased with the results. I sound relaxed, as does the guest.

2. Music and SFXs have been the two biggest missing pieces of the puzzle for my podcast series.  Music and sound effects add atmosphere and emotion. They also help with transitions and quite frankly create a more well-round story. The biggest issue as to why I didn't have them in the Looking Glass before was I haven't been able to find an affordable site for music and sound effects. Until now. I recently read a book called "Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio". The book mentions a website called: as a great resource for music and sound effects. Sure enough, they are, and I am very happily utilizing their services. Their library is vast, and I like how the site has a nice mix of modern and classic sounding music beds.

3. Emotion. My new focus that I wish to have imprint on every episode is emotion. I have the listener to feel the interviewee's passion for the subject. Additionally, I'll be focusing a little more on general interests of mine to serve as a backdrop to the other individuals passion for the subject. For example, my first new episode under this new format will focus on vinyl records. I'll mention my love of them in the beginning, how I got into them, and then explore how others got into them. I feel as though it will help anchor the story a little bit more.

I'm thinking I should have the next episode completed in three weeks, and I am really looking forward to publishing it.

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.