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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.

It's Been Awhile

It's been awhile since I lost posted here. Surprisingly the month of November has been very busy for me. One cool thing that did happen was on Wednesday the 28th I hosted Mitch Rosen, Operations Director of 670 The Score and 93XRT at the university I work at. Rosen came to speak to the communication students about how to break into the broadcasting industry.

It was a terrific talk. Afterwards I felt energized and ready to begin working on all of my projects that I have lined up. The one thing that is preventing me from beginning work is I'm starting to get sick. Hopefully I won't be sick for very long, and I'll be able to start work on my next episode of the Looking Glass.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Interesting Classical Music

Over the past year and a half, I have found myself listening to more and more classical music. I feel like most people my age turn their noses up to classical music. I feel like there is a stereotype that classical music is for "older rich people", is boring, or even stuffy. The more I listen to it, the more I feel myself breaking away from this stereotype. The more I listen to classical music, the more I find myself being engaged, and blown away by the many layers and beauty of the music.

As I've continued my exploration of the genre, I've found myself listening to film scores. This is usually the incidental music composed specifically for a film to add dramatic weight to particular scenes. The film scores that I've really enjoyed are the scores for Start Trek movies. They are utterly beautiful. One song that I particularly enjoy comes from Star Trek: Insurrection. It's called: Ba'Ku Village, and is from the opening credits of the film. It's really lovely.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Revenge of Analog Part 3

As promised, below you will find my complete interview with David Sax, author of: "The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter". I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Revenge of Analog Part 2

So this past week was very exciting. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to interview David Sax, author of "The Revenge of Analog". It was a very insightful interview. I came away from the interview even more convinced that the resurgence of analog technology isn't a fade, but a new reality. 

Whether we as a society want to admit to it or not, we live in an analog world. And analog isn't going away. In fact it's almost like our natural and best way to communicate is through analog. It could be the more we embrace this reality, the greater our ability will be to thoughtfully engage with one another through music, art, or conversation in a meaningful way.

I'll be sure to post the interview here as soon as I have finished editing it.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

New Music from St. Vincent

On October 13th, St. Vincent released her 6th full length album "MASSEDUCTION". It's incredible!!! It's a breakup record set to pop music. I love it, and have been listening to it pretty much non-stop since its release.

The song Pills is my favorite thus far. It's a great example of what St. Vincent does musically on this record. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Revenge of Analog

Photo Credit:
I was browsing a book store in Hyde Park two weeks ago, and I came across a book by David Sax entitled "The Revenge of Analog". The theme of the book is how many analog technologies such as record players, paper books/journals, and film photography are making a comeback in the digital age.

Not just a comeback, a very big comeback. I'm only two chapters into the book, but thus far Sax is arguing that we (humans) need to have some sort of connection to certain types of objects in order to have a connection. With digital technology, we can own "stuff", but they are just codes. Nothing we can hold. But if we have a vinyl record of Rubber Soul, we have something in our hands that represents that art.

I'm really enjoying the book thus far. I do find myself drawn to more analogy technologies recently. I try and listen to a record an evening. Cut down on my phone time, and watch DVDs instead of streaming. (I know DVDs are still digital, but you still can hold them in your hands.) I almost feel like I'm more connected to the analog/physical object than the digital.

I sense that this may be a future topic for my podcast series 'The Looking Glass'.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Four Formats

Over the past month or so, I've been thinking of ways to improve my podcast series "The Looking Glass". Overall, I feel that the show has many bright spots, but it is in danger of becoming stagnate. After listening to a wide variety of shows, speaking to friends, colleagues, and family, I feel that I might have thought of four "formats" that I could employ that will help improve my series drastically. Here are my ideas, and I should not that none of these format ideas are original. They've all been employed by other broadcasters, but nevertheless they will be new to me.

1. First person storytelling. Little to no narration throughout the entire piece. This will allow the guest to tell their story.

2. Documentary Style. Interviews. Soundbytes. The public interviewed for opinions. Narration used to tie the story together. Very traditional style.

3. Current Style. Interview cut up with narration connecting the pieces together.

4. Unabridged Interview. Air the interview as is.

I'm excited about these new styles, and can't wait to employ them into my storytelling.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Star Trek Kick

Photo Credit: Star 
I've been on a Star Trek kick recently. I think part of it is I have the opportunity to see Wrath of Khan in the theater. Just rewatching the films reminds me how unique and interesting the series is. Plus it's ultimately just a good old fashion adventure show, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sound Designing for The Looking Glass

I had a great lunch today!! Not only was the food terrific, but I came away with some incredible ideas for my podcast series, 'The Looking Glass'. First some background. For the past few months I've been slightly dissatisfied with my podcast series. Ultimately, I've seen it as an "over-glorified" interview series. Yes I still thought it was good, but I feel like there was nothing that helped it stand out. When people listen, I really want them to know that they are listening to a project that I worked on.

Which brings me to my lunch today. I had lunch with the man who literally created the college radio station I over see, WXAV 88.3FM. His name is Chuck, and he's worked for Oprah, the Super Bowl, the Today Show. He is legit in every single way possible, and is also one of the nicest people you can meet. I brought this up to him, and he mentioned that I should look into creating some sound designing elements.

Basically what I'm looking at doing is utilizing some type of SFX or musical inter log to serve as a transition between topics. He also encouraged me to allow the person to tell their story as much as possible. So I should look at ways of using less narration. It's gotten me really excited about working on the project again, and I can't wait to begin work on the future episodes.

BTW I wrote this blog while listening to the new LCD SoundSystem album. It's fantastic, and I highly recommend you go and check it out. The name of the album is American Dream. Thus far, my favorite track is Oh Baby.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Relevant Superman Story

I was online earlier today and found this old Superman radio drama online that is incredibly relevant to the events of the past few weeks. The story arch aired originally in 1948 on the Mutual Broadcasting Network, and it's about Superman fighting the racist organization known as the 'Knights of the White Carnation'.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Jonathan Goldstein Interview

I meant to share this earlier, but below you will find my interview with Jonathan Goldstein. I've been reflecting on this interview for the past few weeks, and I think it turned out well. I'm always looking for ways to challenge myself, and I think this interview was a challenge for me.

I'm thinking of re-purposing this interview for my podcast series "The Looking Glass". Maybe I'll experiment with how I will present it for that series to make it different from the straight interview for WXAV. But I digress.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Interview with Jonathan Goldstein

So tomorrow (Wednesday August 16th) is going to be a really cool day for me. At 2pmCST on WXAV 88.3FM and, I will be airing my interview with Jonathan Goldstein. Goldstein is currently hosting a series from Gimlet Media called "Heavyweight", and is the former host of of my all time favorite podcast "WireTap".

To say this is a big deal for me is really an understatement. Goldstein is, without a doubt, my favorite audio storyteller/podcast, and I've been a fan of his work for about eight years now. I love the way he crafts and organzies his stories. They are told in a way that I find incredibly engaging, and I wish I was half as talented as he is.

It's weird reflecting on this, but when I interviewed him a week ago, I was really nervous. I mean, here's a guy who I would listen to when I ate my breakfast. And for a few moments, he knew who I was! It was a really cool honor, and I think the interview turned out well.

I'll be airing it as a special edition for my podcast series 'The Looking Glass' in the coming weeks as well, and I'll be sure to share a link here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My 25 Favorite Albums Recap

Well I've just finished my 25 favorite albums of all time list. It was a lot of fun putting the list together. If there was one thing I would do different, it would be the layout of my articles. I think I could of done it much better job with it, and made it easier to read. Because of the weird layout, I am reprinting the list below in a standard layout below.

1. The Beatles: Rubber Soul
2. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
3. John Lennon: The Plastic Ono Band
4. Arcade Fire: Funeral
5. Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All of His Friends
6. William Elliot Whitmore: Field Songs
7. Moby: Wait For Me
8. Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues
9. Nirvana: In Utero

10. Nick Drake: Pink Moon
11. Paul McCartney: Flaming Pie
12. Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
13. St. Vincent: St. Vincent
14. The Living End: The Living End
15. Radiohead: In Rainbows
16. The Postal Service: Give Up
17. System of a Down: Toxicity 
18. Ringo Starr: Ringorama
19. Norah Jones: The Fall 
20. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around
21. Beck: Guero
22. Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine
23. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
24. The Garden State Soundtrack
25. Newvillager: Newvillager 

The Top 5 Favorite Albums of All Time

5. Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All of His Friends
I still remember hearing Viva la Vida for the first time like it was yesterday. One of my closest friends from college was working at a Best Buy, and he called me to see if I wanted a copy of Viva la Vida on Vinyl. His store had a copy, and he would hold it for me if I wanted it. I was in my car before he even finished that sentence, racing over to racing to his store to pick it up.  After purchasing I saw that it came with a CD copy, so I opened it, and popped it into my car stereo. It was like a smack in the face of beauty. Hearing Life in Technicolor for the first time is a moment etched into my mind forever. I think I listened to that record, and nothing else for like three weeks straight when it was first released.  I think it is still their best album ever, and it's my favorite. The music videos that accompanied this record are beautiful too. Especially the one for Strawberry Swing.

4. Arcade Fire: Funeral
Much like William Elliott Whitmore's Field Songs, it is very difficult for me to put into words as to how much I love Arcade Fire's debut album Funeral. Funeral is the soundtrack to my college years, or as I like to call them, the best years of my life. I was first introduced to Arcade Fire by one of my closest friends from college. She pulled me into the student newspaper's office, looked me straight in the face and said "Listen to this album, it will change your life". She was right. Arcade Fire was the "smart" band that I would advocate for throughout my college tenure. Everyone I met needed to know why they were so great. They captured the feeling of the mid-00s and college for me perfectly.

3. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
In my humble opinion, John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band is the most pissed off, angry album I have every heard. Recorded shortly after the Beatles breakup, and while participating in Primal Scream Therapy, Lennon goes on the attack, and nothing is spared from his wrath. He attacks his parents, the music industry, God, and his ex-bandmates. The only person spared from his wrath is his wife Yoko Ono. This is a very therapeutic album for me. When I am at my most pissed off, I listen to this album, and I feel the angry subside. I think that is one of the things that I love and admire the most about Lennon. He verbalized things I would never say out loud. It is so cool, and something I wish I could. But there is only one John Lennon for a reason.

2. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
John Lennon is my favorite Beatle of all time, but George Harrison created the greatest solo Beatles album of all time. The epic All Things Must Pass was released in 1970, and featured all of Harrison's backlog of songs that were either rejected by The Beatles, or were never brought to their attention. Which utterly blows my mind. All Things Must Pass is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is never boring, and it showcases Harrison's genius and equal to Lennon/McCartney. It made George a superstar, and well-deserved too. Every autumn, I listen to this album. I love it, and is a perfect record.

1. The Beatles: Rubber Soul 

Finally we have reached my number 1, and of course its a Beatles record!!! The Beatles are my favorite band of all time, and it makes perfect sense for them to have the number one spot. For my money, Rubber Soul is the perfect illustration as to why the Beatles are the greatest band of all time. It is a perfect middle years album. It showcases the Beatles at their pop music height with such songs as: Drive My Car or You Won't See Me. But it also shows where they will be going in the future in regards to song and music experimentation. This can be seen with such songs as: Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, and In My Life. All of this is perfectly blended together into a my favorite album of all time. And the amazing thing, Rubber Soul is the second album the Beatles released in 1965. That is unbelievable when you think of that. And though not on the official album, We Can Work it Out was released around the same time as Rubber Soul, and is a perfect representation of this time period in Beatles history.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

10 - 6 Favorite Albums of All Time

10. Nick Drake: Pink Moon
Nick Drake's life and career utterly fascinates me. Due to cripplingly shyness, Drake only performed a handful of concerts ( I think the number is seven), never gave an interview, and never toured. There is no footage of any of his live performances, and even few public color pictures of him. He sold fewer than 5,000 records during his lifetime, and died a premature death. You only have three albums, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon and that's it. Pink Moon is my favorite and I feel it is his best work. Stripped to its bare bones, Pink Moon features Drake's incredible guitar playing and vocal accompaniment and place it at the forefront of this album. It's beautiful, and I feel a MUST listen to any music fan.

9. Nirvana: In Utero

For my generation (early thirties) Nirvana was the equivalent to The Beatles. Kurt Cobain was able to express emotions in his music that many felt, but were too timid to say out loud. This created an authentic connection with Cobain and his fans that is difficult to explain, but is strongly felt. Nirvana released In Utero in late 1993, which was the follow up to their highly successful major label debut Nevermind. In Utero is incredible!! It sees Nirvana exploring new territory, and pushing their limits as musicians. Which makes it a little sad in my opinion. It's an opportunity missed out on because of the tragic events of the week of April 6th, 1994.

8. Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues

I love the Punch Brothers!! I think they are the most exciting band in the world today. For the past two years, there hasn't been a week that goes by where I do not listen to one of their albums, or a rock block of their songs. My love for the band really began with this album,  The Phosphorescent Blues. I still vividly remember my excitement and awe when I heard the album for the first time. I could not get enough, and I still cannot get enough. Without a doubt, this album made the Punch Brothers one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time.

7. Moby: Wait for Me
A common theme of my all-time favorite list seems to feature albums that made me fans of the band. This statement is true for Wait for Me. I knew of Moby, but I never really listened to his music before this record. When I did, I was blown away. It almost felt like I was "going home" when I was listening. Their is a melodic quality to Moby's music that adds sadness, and thoughtfulness.

6. William Elliott Whitmore: Field Songs 
It's difficult for me to put into words how much the music of William Elliott Whitmore means to me. There's happy songs, sad songs. He has music that I want played at my wedding and at my funeral. It's music of the earth, and it speaks to me in a way that only John Lennon and The Beatles can compete with. For me, Field Songs cements Whitmore's place as one of my all-time favorites. The poetry is moving, the music gets the foot tapping, and it makes you feel emotions that can be scary to confront at times. It's beautifully simple. And that quality makes it epic.

Paul McCartney Setlist 2017

Photo Credit: Me
I'm taking a brief pause from my favorite albums of all time list to bring you the setlist for Paul McCartney's setlist from his Tuesday July 25th, 2017 performance at the Hollywood Bank Amphitheater out in Tinley Park, IL.

What can I say about Sir Paul, that already hasn't been said? He was amazing live. At 75, he sounded incredibly, and performed a slew of songs that haven't been performed in years. A Hard Day's Night, Temporary Secretary, and In Spite of All the Danger are just a few examples of this.

On another not, I do note like Hollywood Bank Amphitheater. It took 45 minutes just to get into the parking lot, and the actual venue itself was dirty. Highly disappointing. All well. What can you do?

2017 Setlist

1. A Hard Day's Night
2. Save Us
3. Can't Buy Me Love
4. Letting Go
5. Temporary Secrtary
6. Let Me Roll It
7. I've Got a Feeling
8. My Valentine
9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
10. Maybe I'm Amazed
11. We Can Work it Out
12. In Spite of all the Danger
13. You Won't See Me
14. Love Me Do
15. And I Love Her
16. Blackbird
17. Here Today
18. Queenie Eye
19. New
20. Fool on the Hill
21. Lady Madonna
22. Forty-Five Seconds
23. Eleanor Rigby
24. I Wanna Be Your Man
25. For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
26. Something
27. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
28. Band on the Run
29. Back in the U.S.S.R.
30. Let It Be
31. Live and Let Die
32. Hey Jude

33. Yesterday
34. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
35. Hi, Hi, Hi
36. Birthday
37. Golden Slumbers
38. Carry That Weight
39. The End

Monday, July 24, 2017

15 - 11 Favorite Albums of All Time

15. Radiohead: In Rainbows
I still remember when Radiohead first released In Rainbows. It was the fall of 2007 and it was a revolutionary moment for the music community. In fact, the event was so big, that the Press Secretary of the White House was asked to comment on its release. In Rainbows was offered at whatever price fans were willingly to pay for it. If they wanted to pay $9.99, they could. If they wanted to pay $.99, they could. This pay what you want model was further adapted by other musical acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Saul Williams. So it was really cool when In Rainbows came out, it felt like an epic event. But the best part, its one of Radiohead's best albums. Which is really saying something. Maybe even top three that they have ever done. It is my favorite for sure.

14. The Living End: The Living End
I have loved this record since my freshman year of high school. Australia's The Living End burst onto the American music scene with a mixture of punk and rockabilly that to this day I have to play at a very loud volume. It really captures a moment for me. Whenever I listen back to this record, I almost feel like I'm back in high school. I remember what that feeling was like. And that's a really cool thing for an album to be able to do. Plus it has some great songs on it. I need to find the old "The Box" cable channel and spend a $1.99 to see this music video again.

13. St. Vincent: St. Vincent
I am so happy that I was able to include this album on my list. I almost got bit by my own rules that I set for this series of postings. Thankfully this record was released in 2014 and meets all of the aforementioned rules. Which again makes me very happy because I really love it. This album made me a fan of St. Vincent. For me at least, it served as a great introduction to the art that Annie Clark (St. Vincent) produces. It is abstract, yet accessible. Additionally, she is probably the greatest guitarist I've ever seen live. She absolutely shreds!!! Birth in Reverse is a great example of her kicking ass.

12. Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
Man, this is a cool sounding record. I mean, it sounds really, really cool. Much cooler, than I will ever be. Mid-00s Britpop will always have a very special place in my heart, since it was a large component of my college soundtrack. Released in 2005, Bloc Party burst through my stereo with such great songs as: Banquet, Helicopter, Like Eating Glass, and This Modern Love. Recently, I re-listened to it, and it still sounds really, really cool.

11. Paul McCartney: Flaming Pie
The second solo Beatle album to make my all-time favorite's list comes to use from the one and only Sir Paul McCartney. I love Flaming Pie. I think it is his best solo record he has ever done. Recorded right after McCartney's participation in the Beatles' Anthology series, Flaming Pie really sounds like a Beatles album. From start to finish this is a must listen for any serious music fan. It really shows McCartney at a creative high point.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

20 - 16 Favorite Albums of All Time

20. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around
This is the album that caused me to fall in love with the music of Johnny Cash. For most alternative music fans my age, I knew who Johnny Cash was, I respected him for his contributions to music, but I really didn't listen to his music. That all changed when I saw the music video for "Hurt". It is  a truly haunting piece of art. Listening to this song caused me to get the record, and the rest as they say his history. I fell in love with Cash's music, and finally understood his greatness. I now see him as a modern-day commentator on life, spirituality, and politics. Someone who has something to say, and one you should listen to. (Unfortunately the official music video is no longer on YouTube, so I must use a lyric video.)

19. Norah Jones: The Fall
Very similar to how American IV made me a fan of Johnny Cash, The Fall made me a fan of Norah Jones. The first time I heard Chasing Pirates, I fell absolutely in love with her music. For me, this is pop music at its finest. Great lyrics, catching beat. What more could you ask for? In addition to having this great song, The Fall also features some other great songs such as: "December", "It's Gonna Be", and "Even Though". The Fall is still my favorite Norah Jones album, and my number 19 favorite album of all time.

18. Ringo Starr: Ringorama 
In my opinion, the last twenty years has seen Ringo Starr release some of his best music since The Beatles. A few highlights include the albums: Liverpool 8, Vertical Man, and Postcards in Paradise. But for my money, his best album during this time period is 2003's Ringorama. This is my favorite solo Starr album, and it features a heartfelt tribute to George Harrison "Never without You", commentary on the British Royal Family with "Elizabeth Reigns", and good old fashion rock n' roll with "Eye to Eye". From beginning to end, this is one great album, and one of Ringo's best ever.

17. System of a Down: Toxicity 
I love System of a Down. I love the fact that there isn't another band in the world that sounds like them. Their music is aggressive, yet informative. I started listening to System in college, and I vividly remember reading Toxicity's lyric book, and being shocked with the content they were discussing throughout the album. Issues such as the drug epidemic, prison overpopulation, the environment, and orgies and groupies. All on a single album. Like Rage Against the Machine, I feel like I learn something new every time I listen to System of a Down. It's true they cover a wide range of topics, but they are also probably the best modern metal band.

16. The Postal Service: Give Up 
They say you are either a Death Cab for Cutie fan or you are a Postal Service fan. I am a Postal Service fan. Ben Gibbard's side project only released one album. One album. And its perfect! And beautiful! From beginning to end, Give Up captures an emotional feeling that is difficult to put into words without sounding "corny". Its not emo, but it is very emotional. It has an electronic/computer sound, yet it still sounds very organic. Part of me wishes that Postal Service would release another album. But then again, having one perfect album is not a bad thing at all either.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

25 - 21 Favorite Albums of All Time

25. NewVillager: NewVillager
Newvillager is a really cool band, with a really cool sound. They sound artistic if that makes sense? Yet their music is very poppy. Their self-titled debut album came out in 2011, and has never really left my regular playlist on iTunes. NewVillager consists of a group of artists that utilize music and visual means to get their message across. In fact, and I may be wrong with this, but all of their music videos for their debut tell a story across all of the videos. They are visual, and I love their sound. I've been hoping that they would eventually release another album, but if they don't I am very content with their one and only release. Six years later, and I still hear something new every time I listen to it.

24. The Garden State Soundtrack
This soundtrack is 2000s indie rock 101. If you want to get into indie rock, and I think you should, this is an excellent jumping off place. I discovered so many bands solely because of this soundtrack. The Shins, Iron & Wine, Nick Drake, and Thievery Corporation, just to name a few. But it doesn't just feature, what at the time were up and coming artists. It also features mainstream acts such as Coldplay and Simon & Garfunkel. Picking a single song to showcase from this soundtrack is incredibly difficult, but I think I need to go with the song that is synonymous with the movie, Frou Frou's Let Go. It's amazing!!

23. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
This was the first "weird" record I listened to in college. Before college, I was pretty mainstream in my musical tastes. Whatever was on Q101 or 94. 7 The Zone at the time was pretty much what I was listening to. But this record left such an imprint on my subconscious that I still vividly remember the first time I heard it. I was in the on-air studio at my college station with my best friend Kev Kellam. He asked me if I had ever heard Yoshimi. I said no, and he replied with "It's weird, but mainstream. You'll like it." Boy, was he right. I still love this record, and I hope that one day, The Flaming Lips will return to this level of weirdness. Fingers crossed.

22. Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine
It never ceases to surprise me people's reactions when I tell them that I love Rage Against the Machine. They look at me like, "you like metal?" Yes. Yes I do. Although I'm not as into metal as I used to be in the early 2000s, I still, every once in awhile headbang. Whenever I listen to Rage, I feel like learn something. I feel encourage to read books and ask questions. I felt this when I was younger, and still do now. Rage's debut is an amazing record. From start to finish, it doesn't let up.

21. Beck: Guero
I feel like with Beck's 2005 release that I finally understood his greatness. Beck reinvents himself with every record he releases, one of the things I really appreciate about his now. But back then, I can't say that I "got it". But then I heard Guero. Guero is nothing more than a great alternative rock record that has great riffs and killer lyrics. It should me why Beck is so popular, and made me want to check out more of his music, which I did. Now I'm a huge fan of his, and I credit Guero for making me a fan.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Expanding the List

Hi! June has been a very busy month. I apologize for not writing sooner. But you know life happens. I've been busy though working on my favorite 10 albums of all time list, and I must admit, it is much harder than I thought it would be.

So I actually ended up with a list that consists of 25 of my favorite albums of all time. So I think I'll expand the list and make it my favorite 25 albums of all time. Now it is time to place them in their proper order.

And since I am expanding the list, I will be making a slight change to the rules of these posting. Instead of only allowing two solo Beatles' albums, I'll now allow four in total. Each Beatle will be represented on this list.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parameters for my Favorite Albums of All Time List

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to begin compiling a list of my favorite albums of all time. But before I could actually put that list together, I thought I should develop a set of parameters. These parameters aren't meant to be super specific, just general guidelines.

1. Timeframe. All records that make it to my list must be at minimum one to two years old. I want my list to consist of albums that truly hold up. I've noticed that over the years, when I've assembled my "End of the Year " favorites list, I've included albums that really don't hold up. Some reasons are based on quality, some is based on my musical taste changing. I don't want that for this list. I want a "timeless" quality to it. And for me, if I consistently listened to an album over the course of a few years, you can bet that it's one of my favorites. Which is a perfect segue way into number 2.

2. Re-listenability. I should go out of my way every now and then to listen to this album in full. For example, once a year, I always try to listen to George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. I love everything about the record. It's so good. Again for me, that's a characteristic of a great record. I go out of my way to listen to a album at least once a year. Now since I've mentioned a Beatle, I should move onto number 3.

3. Limited Beatles. I love the Beatles, and I could totally make this list consisting of nothing but Beatles albums along with solo Beatles albums. But I don't want to do that. I want my all time list to have some diversity to it. Hence I am limiting myself to one Beatles album and two solo Beatles albums for this list. In total this list will consist of 10 entries, with two honorable mentions, so three spots out of twelve should be plenty to house my Beatles selections. Plus it'll allow me at some point to develop a favorites list consisting of nothing but the Beatles.

There you have it. My basic parameters for my Favorite Albums of All Time List. I'll start next week with my two honorable mentions.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Favorite Albums of All Time

Over the past few days, I've been doing some reflecting regarding what my favorite albums of all time are. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be fun to put a list together of my top 10 favorite albums of all time are, and why they mean so much to me.

Before I compile the list, I need to set a few parameters for what makes an album one of my favorite of all time. This will be a fun list to develop.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Remaster

I am utterly blown away by how GREAT the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sounds. It's crisp and the volume is note muted. This remaster allows room for the harmonies, instruments, and other effects. I feel like I am hearing this record for the first time.

In fact, I think the harmonies are the real highlight of this remaster job for me. Hearing how John, Paul, and George's voices blend together in perfect harmony is incredible. I really hope the rest of their catalogue gets a remaster job like this. I will gladly repurchase the catalog if it sounds as good as Sgt. Pepper.

There's also a part of me that hopes that this remastering reminds people why they feel in love with Pepper in the first place. Over the last few years, Pepper's standing in the musical community has gone down slightly, and I truly hope these reminds everyone how great it is.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New Records of 2017

I've always prided myself on embracing new music. I've always had an open ear to check out new records or new artists. This year feels different though. In fact I'm a little disappointed in myself. I feel like there has been absolutely nothing that has "grabbed" my full attention. It is true that there are a number of new records that I have enjoyed very much (Check out the listing below.) There's just nothing that has grabbed my attention.

Maybe it is true, as you age, you get more set in your musical ways. Maybe that's what has happened to me? Maybe 2017 hasn't been that great for music thus far? Maybe the records that will speak to me haven't been released yet. All of the aforementioned ideas could be true or false. Only time will tell. It just feels like last year at this time, I had some many favorite new albums. This year, I feel like I'm in a musical drought, and I keep returning to old favorites.

Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau: Self-Titled

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

Spoon: Hot Thoughts

The Shins: Heartworms

Gorillaz: Humanz

Los Campesinos!: Sick Scenes

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Episode of 'The Looking Glass'

I meant to post this last week, but here is the latest episode of my podcast series: 'The Looking Glass'. The season 2 premier episode is entitled: "The Bradbury Chronicler", and it features Sam Weller. Weller, who is Bradbury's official biographer, discusses how he fell in love with Bradbury's writing as a child, and how he eventually went onto becoming friends with his literary hero. I really like this episode, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did putting it together.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Music from the Gorillaz

I know I'm a little behind the curve on this, but my goodness, is the new music from the Gorillaz really, really good.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Illustrated Man

Photo Credit:
Earlier this year I read an incredible biography of Ray Bradbury entitled: "The Bradbury Chronicles". It is one of the best biographies I've ever read. After reading it, I feel like I knew Bradbury the man. Plus one cool part is the author of the book is a professor at Columbia College here in Chicago, and I was able to interview him for the new season of my podcast 'The Looking Glass'.

Anyways, after I finished reading the biography, I thought it would be fun to go and read one of Bradbury's books. So the book I selected is 'The Illustrated Man'. It's a collection of short stories that are interconnected in an interesting manner. The stories in the book are "tattoos" on a traveling man, and the proceed to tell their stories to a hiker at night.

It's an incredible book. I'm utterly blown away with how great Bradbury is at short stories. Many of the stories in "The Illustrated Man" are emotional, frightening, unnerving, happy, and hard hitting. One of the things that Sam Weller, author of "the Bradbury Chronicles", told me in our interview is that he believes Bradbury will be mentioned in the same breathe as Poe, Hemingway, and Shakespeare. After reading "Illustrated Man", and earlier the "Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451", I must say, I agree with that statement.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sherlock Holmes on Vinyl

One of my new great pleasures in life is listening to the old Basil Rathborne Sherlock Holmes' movies on vinyl. I first came across these amazing pieces of memorabilia about a year ago.

I was record shopping with one of my dear friends at the Reckless Records in Wicker Park, and I found 'The Voice of Terror' in the oddities/soundtrack section of the store. For the small, small price of $1, I purchased one of my all time favorite Sherlock Holmes stories.

Surprisingly, these films translate very well to the audio medium. They are rich in sound recordings, and the performances are terrific. They truly showcase b-movies/film noir at its best.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And Speaking of 'The Looking Glass'

And speaking of 'The Looking Glass', here's my announcement regarding season 2 of my podcast series.

Finding Some Unexpected Inspiration Today

So I'm in full production mode on season 2 of my podcast series, 'The Looking Glass'. I'm really excited about this upcoming season, as I feel like this season's stories are really strong. What will probably end up being my season premiere will be an interview I conducted with Sam Weller, Associate Professor of Creating Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Professor Weller is/was the "official" biographer of literary titan Ray Bradbury. His biography, "The Bradbury Chronicles" is one of the best biographies that I've ever read.

The interview went great!! Professor Weller is a really nice guy, and he gave a great interview. But there was something that he said that really stuck out at me. We were talking about the creative process, and Bradbury's thoughts on the matter. According to Weller, Bradbury truly believed that creativity was a spiritual exercise, and if you were going to be "something", i.e. writer, storyteller etc., you needed to just do it. Don't worry if it's bad, the only way you get better is by doing.

I feel like I subscribe to the same philosophy, and it was just really rewarding to have this ideal reenforced by someone who became a very close personal friend of Bradbury. I feel a sense of re-energization with my podcast and my other storytelling exercises.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What is Wisdom

I'm currently reading a fascinating book. It's entitled: Wisdom: A History. It's written by Revor Curnow, who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Cumbria in England. The book discussions wisdom as it is seen through very areas: literature, history, spirituality, etc. But the one thing that Curnow emphasizes early in this book is that there is no "universal" definition of wisdom that every agrees to. Yet, we are all able to identify wisdom by a certain set of characteristics.

I never really thought of wisdom like that. Yet it makes sense that there isn't an official definition of wisdom that all agree to. But yet we always usually describe wisdom through a particular set of characteristics. Just a little food for thought.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Episodes of the Looking Glass Podcast

I'm really excited. I've begun pre-production on season 2 and season 3 of my podcast, the Looking Glass. I'm really excited, because the two interviews that I was able to book today, all came to me as ideas over the past 24 hours.

The first interview will be with the photoplay artists (organist) for the Silent Film Society of Chicago. His name is Jay Warren, and he's been a photoplayer for over 40 years. I'm very interested to find out how his passion for silent films began.

The second interview that I booked is with my former Communications advisor, and radio production professor. His name is Dr. Jim Walker, and he wrote a book on the history of baseball on the radio. Plus he just launched his own podcast series called: 'The Baseball Buffet'. He and fellow baseball fans meet once a month, eat lunch together, and talk baseball.

Overall, I believe I have two solid episodes lined up for the next installments of my podcast.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Posting of March

I cannot believe that I have gone twenty days without a single posting here on my blog. It wasn't even laziness on my part. I got pulled into reading multiple books over the course of March that were absolutely captivating.

The first book was a biography of Ray Bradbury entitled The Bradbury Chronicles. It's absolutely terrific, and I feel like I know Bradbury after reading it. The other cool aspect of the book is that I feel like I found my "spirit animal" where it comes to art, creativity, and storytelling. Bradbury always said be true to the story that you are trying to tell, and keep working. Actually, now that I think of it, it's a pretty inspiring book. Highly recommended if you are interested in Bradbury or just a great biography.

The second series I've been reading quite a bit of is DC Rebirth. Thus far I've read the general Rebirth title, Action Comics, Superman, and Green Arrow. The hype is real for DC Rebirth. It's a great reintroduction to the legendary cast of characters. It's almost like a love letter to fans and to the history of these characters. Plus, I'm really happy that both Superman stories are written so well. He is after all my favorite superhero.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Not a Fan

I am not a fan of tornado warnings at the end of February. Not cool!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Reading DC Comics Again

Photo Credit:
As Michael Corleone said in the Godfather Part III: "Just when I think I was out, they pull me back in." Well this is how I feel regarding DC Comics. When the new 52 was announced five or six years ago, I was excited at first. Then afterwards I sort of felt blah about it, and eventually I took a break from reading them, instead focusing on the absolutely fantastic Ghostbusters series at IDW.

Then about a year ago, DC announced "DC Rebirth", which at first I must admit, I was  very dismissive of. I thought it was just another reboot. Well over the course of a year I've read very positive reviews of the storylines, and thought maybe it was time I gave DC another shot.

So over the weekend, I went out and picked up the first graphic novel volume of Action Comics under the "Rebirth" banner. Yay, after I finished reading it last night,  I ended up buying four more volumes. They are so good, and serve as a great reminder as to why these characters are timeless.

I feel that DC comics really has something special happening right now, and I can't wait to see where it goes. Plus, it their "great mystery" of the Rebirth reset, which somehow involves the characters of the critically acclaimed graphic novel "The Watchman", is beyond fascinating and doesn't appear to be any closer to being solved anytime soon. Which I like. Give me a good storyline, and make it last awhile. It'll keep us interested.

So yeah, I know I sound like a commercial for DC Comics, but I highly recommend checking Rebirth out. It's making superhero comic books fun again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ray Bradbury Biography

Photo Credit:
I'm really excited. I was in the library today, and as I was walking through the stacks a book jumped out at me! The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury is a biography of the great Sci-Fi writer, written by Sam Weller.

What particularly grabbed me was the description of the book on the dust jacket. If this book is half as good as that short description, I am in for a real treat. For instance, I never knew that Bradbury never learned to drive, he only took public transportation or rode his bike. As I get older, I find myself more drawn to that type of lifestyle. In fact, whenever I go downtown or to the north side of Chicago, I always try to take public transportation. There's something about sitting there with a whole group of individuals that makes me feel truly apart of a community.

Plus, anytime I can learn more about the writing of Fahrenheit 451, sign me up.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Looking Glass Season 2 and 3

After taking a month and a half off, it's time to begin pre-production on my podcast series: 'The Looking Glass'. I'm really excited because I have not one, but two season of content planned. Over-achieving and proud of it.

I'm looking at changing formats slightly for season 2. Instead of exploring a number of random areas, I want to explore one particular subject, and the various arms that connect to the subject.  I'm looking at exploring art, but specifically how individuals choose their particular art form to express themselves in. I've always been interested in exploring the idea of what exactly art is? However I feel that this particular question has been explored at great lengths already, and ultimately, art is subjective. So it may not yield the type of storytelling I'm looking for. But exploring the personal natural of art to a particular individual, should yield some very interesting stories.

For season 3, I'm planning a more traditional season, very much in the vain of season 1. Lots of interesting people, telling their stories of how they got into their particular interests. Some of the topics I'm looking at include, but are not limited to:

  • Classical Music
  • MMA
  • College Radio
  • Pop Culture/Entertainment as a whole
  • Pro-Wrestling
  • Parisan Culture
I'm going to pull a James Cameron, and work on both seasons simultaneously. It should be a very interesting experience to say the least. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

One Final Thought For Today

Before I completely signed off for the day, I wanted to share one final piece. Over the past month I've been listening to a lot of music from artist Chris Thile. He is the front man of one of my favorite all-time bands, Punch Brothers, and current host of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. (Both are excellent, and you should really check out both.)

Anyways Thile, along with musician Brad Mehldau, recently released a jazz album entitled Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau. Its fantastic!! It's full of original compositions, along with some great covers. The musicianship of Thile is quite frankly awe inspiring.

Here's a great example.

Why the Post Office Matters

One of my favorite podcasts that I listen to is 99 Percent Invisible. Each week host Roman Mars explores the history and creation of some sort of man made design element that impacts our daily lives. Whether we realize it or not.

This past week's episode is no different. In the episode entitled: 'The Revolutionary Post", producer Katie Mingle and Mars explores how the Post Office played a crucial part in the development of the United States.

I hope this episode will cause you to never look at the post office the same. I don't think I will.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Very Interesting Question

My cousin posted a very interesting question on his Facebook the other day. I find He asks: "The question we all need to ask ourselves today... What is more important to you: the world or America?"

I find this question to be absolutely fascinating. With the recent Presidential election primarily focusing on this question, I feel that we as a society are still left without an answer. I do think that members of each of the two major political parties would answer this question in a certain way.

I feel that like I might explore this topic further, and create a podcast based around it. I think it would make some very interesting radio.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Great Story on NPR Today

NPR had a really incredibly story posted on its site today. It's the obituary of Clare Hollingworth. She is the journalist who broke the story of World War II beginning. Reading about her 105 year old life was awe inspiring. The things this woman saw are absolutely incredible. If you have a moment, it is so worth your time.