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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Random Thoughts

I wonder how many people realize that their tweets are being included in the Library of Congress? And if they knew, would it change what they tweet about? There is a lot of stupid tweets out there, yet at the same time it is capturing 1st person accounts. Who knows down the road, historians may be using old tweets in formal historical papers to illustrate how this generations feels about particular topics.

I hate it when people don't use turn signals when they turn. Are we mind readers?! How are we supposed to know that they are turning?!

Project Trio.... awesome jazz band. Just heard them the other day on NPR's Music app. Check them out.

Continuing my longstanding tradition of getting into TV shows right when they are about to end or have been canceled, I present to you: "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23".

Have you ever found yourself reminiscing about a particular year and wished that you could be your current age in that year? I think it would be cool to be 29 in like 1994 or 1989.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The End of Fringe, Alt-J, and My Cousin's Photo Project

This past Friday, one of my favorite TV shows, Fringe, came to an end. Fringe followed the adventures of Olivia Dunham, Peter Bishop, and Walter Bishop as they saved the world from strange anomalies. There are many things I enjoyed about Fringe. 1. The characters. All three main characters brought something unique to the show. Walter brought humor and heart to the show. Peter logic and bullheaded emotion. And finally Olivia brought you the viewer into the program. She was the anchor of the show. Fringe showcased Olivia as a strong, independent individual that did not need a man to save her. In fact, she saved the men quite a few times on the program. The character is a perfect example that an audience will welcome a strong female lead, and it was incredibly refreshing seeing a women character that wasn't helpless. 2. It was true to itself. Fringe is and was a corky/weird program. But it never tried to be anything that it wasn't. It always remained true to itself, and cared about the story it was telling. For that I think Fringe will go down as one of the best SciFi programs of the last 20 years. If you like shows that are great character pieces, engaging storylines, and a dry sense of humor, Fringe is definitely a show for you.

Also this week I was introduced to a band called Alt-J. Alt-J is a British indie rock/electronic band. They very much remind me of Radiohead, Thievery Corporation, and Muse. Every year it seems like I get into one new band. 2010 Frightened Rabbit. 2011 was NewVillager. 2012 was Titus Andronicus. I think this year maybe Alt-J. Below is a video of my favorite track off of their debut album An Awesome Wave. It is called Taro

Finally my cousin Matt has a really cool blog post of the 50 most interesting photos he took over 2012. The photos he showcases presents a wide variety of images. Photography is one thing I just could never quite get the handle of. I think I just don't have the eye for it. But Matt does. Be sure to visit his website

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Thrill of Being Done Listening to Critics

I've been wrestling with this question for the better part of a year. Critics, why listen to them? Let me provide a little back story. I have worked in radio for the better part of ten years. In that time I have listened to a large variety of music. Metal to underground hip-hop. Classic rock remasters to local area garage bands. The new indie rock sensations to new wave punk. Having listened to such a wide variety of music for such an extensive period of time, I found myself becoming hyper critical of ever song and new band I listened to.

Actually to be more accurate I became a music snob. "What do you mean the drum beat is in a 5/4time scale, how dare The Shins do such a thing!", "What do you mean their new record doesn't sound like their debut album!", "The Black Keys at the United Center, well they sold out. I remember seeing them at enter the name of any small club in Chicago. They were good then, now they are not". These would be typical comments you would hear from me whenever I talked music. 

I reason that since I listened to so much music, I just knew more than the average person did. I read Pitchfork daily, listened to Sound Opinions weekly. I knew of bands before they made it big. I could argue music with the best of them, and on my radio show I would make a point of letting the listener know that I knew better than they did. Yet I didn't play any instrument. I never wrote a song. I was and am still a complete novice to the creative process it takes to create music. But it didn't matter. I knew what music was better than other music.

Then in late 2011/early 2012 as I continued in my music snobbery something happened to me that shook me loose. One of my friends just mentioned to me, after one of my music rants, "Pete it's music. You should just enjoy it, and besides it's your opinion. When did your opinion become fact." These words hit me like a ton of bricks. Mainly because they were true. It's my opinion. Just because it is my opinion doesn't make me more right than another person's opinion. After that I began an 180 degree reversal. On my radio show I changed my year in review show from "The Best of...", to "My favorites of...".

As I continued changing my views something else happened. I began enjoying listening to music again. At the height of my music snobbery there was very little new music that came out that I enjoyed. I would shit on everything. Because I saw myself as a critic, that is what critics are supposed to do. Listening to music was my job, and it had begun to lose some of it's fun factor. However after I switched my viewpoint, people were more willingly to talk to my about music again, and the conversations would be very enjoyable. Listening to music became fun again.

About two weeks ago, Jim DeRogatis from Sound Opinions wrote a review of the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour. Now in full disclosure, I am a diehard Beatles fan. They have been my favorite band since 1996, and they could put their name on a bag of dog shit and I would buy it, for the shear fact that it says The Beatles. Now Magical Mystery Tour is a bad movie. I don't think anyone will argue that point, it is pretty common knowledge. In his review, Mr. DeRogatis takes the film to town, discussing every bad point of the film, and why it is so bad.

As I was reading his review, I became of the opinion that Mr. DeRogatis was almost getting personally offended that A) This bad movie was re-released and B) A few famous people (Martin Scorsese) have said they like the film and have been inspired by it. Now I know that a critics job is to be critical, but it seems like in order to be a critic you have to give up any sense of joy you have towards that subject matter. It is almost like you have to become a snob.

Now Mr. DeRogatis is entitled to his opinion, and he has every right to express that opinion. (Plus he makes his living doing it.) At the same time I just want to say, lightened up. It's a movie. The world will not end because it has been re-release or a few famous people have defended it. Just don't listen to/ watch it. Is it the Beatles best stuff, absolutely not. But who cares!! It totally reminds me of when Homer Simpson became a food critic. All his critic peers yelled at him because he loved all the food he ate.

He went from loving everything to this:

Don't become what Home became. Just remember it's opinions, not facts. Since I realize this, I have enjoyed so much more music, and people are more willingly to talk to me about music. It's a win, win!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Music to Look Forward to in 2013

Well 2012 is in the books, and from my point of view it was a very good year for music. Below is my 12 favorite albums of 2012. I'm not going to go into detail about album, but videos are provided below. 2013 promises to be just as good. Here are some of the releases that are coming out that I am really excited about.

Atoms for Peace
The Black Keys
Queens of the Stone Age
Black Sabbath
Toro y Moi

1. The Shins - Port of Morrow

2. Mumford & Sons – Babel

3. Murder By Death - Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon

4. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

5. The xx – Coexist

6. Cody Chesnutt - Landing On A Hundred 

7. Titus Andronicus - Local Business

8. Minus The Bear - Infinite Overhead

9. Local H - Hallelujah, I'm A Bum

10. Bloc Party – Four

11. Dr. Dog - Wild Race
12. Jack White - Blunderbuss