Sunday, May 31, 2020

Not Posting Enough

You would think with everything going on, I would be posting more. There's so much to process. It's utterly surreal.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The History of Q101 with JVO

Last week, something took place, which reminded me why I love radio. 101WKQX's morning show did a 34 hour radioathon to raise money for Chicago music venues. The cause was great, but the content was even better. Hosts Brian, Ali, and Justin were able to break the "modern radio rules", and go old school with the broadcast. Talking segments were substantial and entertaining, deep cuts were played, and you never knew who was going to call in.

It was awesome! It had the vibe that anything could happen, and if you turned your radio off, you would miss something important. It made me I feel nostalgic about old school radio, specifically old Q101. So I went to my bookcase and starting thumbing through James VanOsdol's book on Q101 'We Appreciate Your Enthusiasm: The Oral History of Q101.'

It's a great book, and if you are any bit curious about the history of one of Chicago's most infamous radio stations, it's a must read. The book also lead to one of my all-time favorite interviews, James VanOsdol known on-air as JVO. Growing up, JVO was my favorite DJ, so talking to him was a BIG deal for me. Listening back to this interview makes me smile. 

I've included it here. *

*Soundcloud appears to be down and won't let me embed the file. Once this issue is fixed, I'll embed.
**The share button has returned!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Moby's Seventeenth Album 'All Visible Objects' is a Career Reflection

Over his 30 year plus music career, Moby has evolved from a techno dance master to an alternative pop hit maker to an Avant-Guard tone poem composer.  With his new album ‘All Visible Objects’, he takes all of these musical styles and genres and puts them together on a single record.

The album can be divided into two parts. The first part is very disco-y dance pop heavy with tracks like Morning Side, Refuge, or Power is Taken. In fact, any of these new songs would fit perfectly alongside his earlier work like My Beautiful Blue Sky, Drop a Beat, or Electricity. (All of these tracks can be found on his self-titled debut and sophomore follow-up ‘Ambient’.) It’s safe to say, this first part will have you reminiscing for early 90s techno.

The second part of the album consists of the final four songs, and is more in line with his later, more melodic albums ‘Wait for Me’, ‘Destroyed’, or ‘Innocents’. Rich in melody and clocking in at a whopping 33 minutes 19 seconds, these final songs illustrated Moby’s skill at composing beautiful and haunting songs.

So, the question, does this album work? In all openness, I don’t know. I think ‘All Visible Objects’ would best be served by picking one musical style and sticking to it. The changes in genres can be very jarring, due to how different they are. For example, the opening track Morning Side is followed by a melodic song My Only Love, which is then followed by a massive dance song Refuge. The dancing themes go through the rest of the album until the final four tracks. I should mention, in full disclosure, I do prefer Moby’s latter, more melodic work. So the second part of this album is what I will be going back to in the future.

But, if you are looking for an album that could serve as a retrospect of Moby’s entire career, capturing his musical evolution, this might just be the album for you. There isn’t a “standout” single, but taken as a whole, you’ll get a great view of Moby’s career.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

'Esmé Patterson Channels Ray Bradbury on Latest Album ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’

So I wrote an album review for I think it turned out pretty good. I hope you enjoy it and listen to the album.

‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ isn’t just a short story in Ray Bradbury’s seminal work The Martian Chronicles; it’s also the title and inspiration of Esmé Patterson’s fourth solo album released in March of 2020.

I first heard of Patterson a few years ago when she and William Elliott Whitmore participated in the ‘Play Each Other’s Songs’ series. I was immediately taken by Patterson’s cover of ‘Not Feeling Pain Anymore’. Her vocal performance on the song is utterly beautiful. There’s a strength to her voice that is yet underlined by a vulnerability that creates this balance that immediately connections the listener to her.

Needless to say, that strength and vulnerability carry over to ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’, as it does not disappoint in its catchiness, hooks, lyrical content, and overall beauty. Patterson’s vocals sound almost angelic on ‘Light in Your Window’. There’s a longing in this song that is so relatable. Add to that an incredible 80s sounding synth keyboard, and you have pure perfection. For me, this is the standout track of the album.

In addition to a cool 80s pop vibe on ‘Light in Your Window’ and ‘Shelby Tell Me Everything’, she is able to achieve a funky blues vibe on ‘Out The Door’, an indie alternative vibe on almost like the Black Keys on ‘Sleeping Around’, and an almost singer/songwriter style on ‘Take It Easy’. You could almost say, there’s a little bit of everything on ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’.

On an album description sheet sent to WXAV, Patterson describes the songs as the album as: “…echo[ing] the surrender of starting over and failing and starting over again many times. I was hoping to convey the bittersweet peace of letting go alongside the courage to start again, being swallowed by fear and pain and coming out the other side stronger.” I couldn’t agree more.

If you are looking for an album of great indie-pop music with deeply personal lyrics, look no further than ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’. It’s one of my favorite albums of 2020. Also, read Bradbury’s short story. It’s incredible too.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

1973: A Surprisingly Great Year of Solo Beatles Albums

1973 is typically not the year you think of when someone mentions great “Beatles” music. The band had been broken up for three years, and John, Paul, George, and Ringo were all well established in their solo careers. But what if I were to tell you that in 1973, each of them released an incredible album? Because that’s exactly what happened.

There was a total of five albums released in 1973. While a few of them are “lesser known” albums; a couple of them are pure masterpieces. Let’s take a moment and explore each one individually.

 Paul McCartney and Wings: Red Rose Speedway Released April 30, 1973.
The McCartney machine was in full swing as Sir Paul would release two albums in 1973, along with three of his most popular singles (C Moon, Hi, Hi, Hi, and Live and Let Die.) While Red Rose Speedway is not the most well-known of his albums, it does contain the song My Love. An incredible tribute to his wife Linda McCartney, My Love has gone on to become a staple at any McCartney show.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World Released May 30, 1973
Living in the Material World had the unenviable task of following Harrison’s masterpiece solo debut All Things Must Pass. Out of all of George’s solo albums, Living in the Material World is his most spiritual. With songs like: Give Me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth, Be Here Now, and The Day the World Gets Round, it’s like an open invitation from Harrison to join him on his spiritual quest for enlightenment.

John Lennon: Mind Games Released October 29, 1973
In my opinion, Mind Games is Lennon’s most underrated solo album. Recorded at a turbulent time in his life (the Nixon White House was working to deport Lennon and he had just separated from Yoko Ono), Mind Games finds John struggling to continue. Yet through all of this heartache, pain, and fear; Lennon crafts an album full of humor, beauty, and top-tapping music. Highlights include: Tight A$, Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple), and Out the Blue.

Ringo Starr: Ringo Released November 2, 1973
If there is one album from this list that you should go out of your way to listen to, it’s this one. Ringo puts together an album of great pop-rock songs that have stood the test of time. From I’m the Greatest to Photograph to Oh My My, Ringo is without a doubt the best solo album from Starr. Add to that, this album is the closet we ever got to a “proper” Beatles reunion album as John, Paul, and George all contribute to this incredible debut album.

Paul McCartney and Wings: Band on the Run Released December 5, 1973
What can we say about Band on the Run that hasn’t already been said before? It truly is a masterpiece. It’s one of the best albums of the 1970s and McCartney’s best solo album. It’ll get you rocking from the very first note, and hold you to the very last. And how could it not, with songs like: Band on the Run, Jet, Let Me Roll It, and Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five. This album is pure perfection.

And there you have it. The five albums each former Beatle released in 1973. If you have a moment, check them out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Audio Journaling During COVID-19

My Wonderful Audio Recorder
I decided to keep an audio journal during the Coronavirus outbreak.  I don't know yet what I'll do with the audio. I don't even know if I'm going to publish it. But I think it'll be an incredible artifact to have of what my life was like during this historical event, and have my real time thoughts and feelings discussed and heard. Could be something I share with my family in the future.

Selfishly, it also give me an opportunity to get behind a microphone, and stay sharp. I recorded my first entry about an hour ago, and these are the questions I'm going to focus on for each entry:

1. Any new developments and reactions to them.
2. How am I doing physically and emotionally. How is my family doing?
3. What's the overall experience been like?
4. Any thoughts or reaction as a whole to what has been going on, or towards to developments.

I think these questions will provide fertile discussion points for my audio journal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Lost and Found Sounds: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Edison Part I

During these stressful and uncertain times, I've turned to podcasts as sources of entertainment and distractions. One series in particular has offered much needed reprise from the modern world, and I hope you'll give it a listen.

Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, better known as the Peabody Award Winning independent producers 'The Kitchen Sisters', produced an incredible series entitled "Lost and Found Sounds", which aired on All Things Considered on NPR. Described on its website as "Richly layered tales chronicling people possessed by sound who shaped the sonic landscape of the nation."

I LOVE this series. I love it when storytellers are able to tell you a familiar story, but from a totally different and unusual perspective. That's exactly what "Lost and Found Sounds" is. Here's my favorite episode thus far, it's entitled: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Edison Part 1.