Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's Too Darn Hot

Musical theater is great!

Usually, I go into these blog posts with a specific point I’m trying to make. My original intention was to pack a weekly punch of well-articulated musical opinions. Well, at the moment, it’s upwards of 90 degrees and in the heat of the moment, I’m going to be completely spontaneous and extemporaneous. Plus, it will give all my thousands of faithful readers out there a little something different. And I promise there will be no more puns.

First of all, I’d like to make a plug. This book is an absolute gem. I’ve started calling it the Bible for in this collection of reviews, Mr. Tom Moon writes about music with the perfect combination of sophistication and user-friendliness. Not only is it fantastic writing, it is an invaluable resource for just about any level of music fan. The quote on the front cover just about says it all: “The more you love music, the more music you love.” Spend that $12.97 now. This man deserves to be a millionaire!

I think the one thing I love the most about that book however is the way Moon convincingly describes the greatness of any type of music you can think of. Dozens of world music recordings, hundreds of classical, and more soul than a sock with a hole, this masterpiece does so much more than your typical “Top 100” list. And it doesn’t give confusing explanations for what it is. 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. You don’t have to love all of them, you just have to hear them. And it’s a lifelong goal, not a demanding list that makes you feel ignorant if you hadn’t lived and died to each album. Not to mention, it’s recordings not albums. Believe it or not, the album format has not always been the standard for music making.

In other news, I just acquired a whole bunch of music making my goal of finishing a “Best of the 2000s” list even more daunting. Whatever, I put myself in this black hole of music to begin with and I’m content on never escaping.

So final words of wisdom, go out and listen to Steely Dan then jump headfirst into some Cat Stevens followed by a healthy dose of Buddy Holly. And here’s a nice summer playlist if that isn’t enough:

1. “Bummer In the Summer” by Love
2. “Summer Day” by Coconut Records
3. “Summer Teeth” by Wilco
4. “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” by Joni Mitchell = SO SEXY
5. “A Summer Wasting” by Belle and Sebastian
6. “Summer’s Cauldron” by XTC = GLORIOUS
7. “Summer Crane” by The Avalanches
8. “Summersong” by The Decemberists = I HEART MELOY
9. “Summer” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”
10. “Summertime Blues” as performed by The Who
11. “It’s Summertime” by The Flaming Lips
12. “Summertime” as performed by many people but specifically John Coltrane
13. “Summertime Clothes” by Animal Collective
14. “Summer Babe [Winter Babe]” by Pavement
15. “Summer Skin” by Death Cab for Cutie
16. “Indian Summer” by Pedro The Lion
17. “Long Hot Summer Night” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience = ELECTRIFYING
18. “Summer’s Gone” by CunninLynguists
19. "Summer In the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful = TASTY
20. “Oslo In the Summertime” by of Montreal
21. “Summer Soft” by Stevie Wonder = GENIUS

Check these out (especially the ones with bold captions)

*Last week’s subheading was from John Cale’s “Paris 1919” which I just reviewed.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Got a Back Beat, You Can't Lose It

After writing my last post about the current decade, I felt the need to clarify my brief comment about middle-age people angering me by questioning my music taste. Getting the good ol’ “Why are you listening to that?” actually never prompted me to start listening to music of “my time”, for I try to listen to music not according to era but according to quality. But this has not always been the case. Way back in the day, after I finally opened up to bands that weren’t the Beatles, I still was hesitant to listen to anything post 70s. Being the ignorant 14-year-old I was, I stayed away from the “current” music which, to me, consisted of Avril Lavigne and P. Diddy (as I believe he was known at the time). It was so easy to be a teenage curmudgeon and say that music just isn’t like what it used to be.

However, college has been an about face for me as I’ve more or less stopped listening to my old friends such as Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix in search of newer, lesser known artists. But as I’ve recently started going back again and dusting off the old MP3s, I must publicly reaffirm my convictions: the late 60s/early 70s are about as good as it will ever get for rock and roll.

It may seem odd to post this after heavily praising the work of current artists. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be plenty of goodness to go around. But 40 years ago seemed to be an aligning of the stars for so many gifted individuals. The year 1969 alone gave us Tommy, Abbey Road, Let It Bleed, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, The Band, The Velvet Underground and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Aaaaah! So many great albums! And all of them seem to come out just a heartbeat after the previous masterpiece!

So going back to the purpose of this post, it’s partly because I feel like I’m in the minority in being quite passionate about both old and new rock music. People I’ve met generally fall in one camp or the other. Well I want the Beatles and Radiohead playing at the pearly gates when I get there.

Another reason why this is relevant is that it seems like music critics focus on the present too much to be more in line with the journalistic side of their profession. It certainly makes sense. If you want readers, you write something people haven’t already read all about. However, this is my blog and I’ll write about the 60s if I want too!

P.S. This little family tree is highly amusing and seems to fill in some of the gaps between my last two posts.

*Last week's subheading was from Wilco’s "Kingpin."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ten Years Gone

It may be hard to believe but there are less than six months left in this decade. Soon, we’ll all be met with a barrage of lists. Everything from “The Top 100 Celebrity Marriages of the 2000s” to “The Top 50 Romantic Comedies of the 2000s” to “The Top 20 Fashion Mistakes of the 2000s!” Oh what we have to look forward to!!

But of course, we can also expect all kinds of interesting music lists as well. If there’s one thing that music journalists can’t live without, it’s “definitive” lists. I’ll be sure to see what Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Uncut, Metacritc etc. have to offer when these things are released in a little while but before I become biased by these publications, I plan to make a list of my own. Yes, my summer music project here on Page 43 will be going through all 112 albums I own from this decade and narrowing it down to the best ten. It may be too hard to rank this top echelon from 1 to 10, but I will decide as I get closer to finishing.

is the alphabetical list of the albums I own from the current millennium thus far. I’m sure I’ll add a few more on before the year is up but hopefully not too many as I have enough on my plate as it is. The one danger of doing something like this in the middle of the year is the possibility of the next Sgt. Pepper’s being released in October. If this happens, I will be painfully forced to edit the list. Nonetheless, I think this will be a fun project and the summer months suit such a conquest best.

Before I begin this, I guess I’ll try to briefly sum up the decade from a musical perspective. In terms of what artist instantly comes to mind associated with each decade, I’ll say the 60s=Beatles, the 70s=Zeppelin, the 80s=U2, the 90s=Nirvana and the 00s=Death Cab for Cutie. These aren't always my favorite artists from each decade but their image and style seems to best represent the decade as far as rock and roll is concerned. Why Death Cab for the zeroes? They define “indie” while being tremendously popular. As access to music has gotten easier for all thanks to technology, being universally popular has become even more difficult and hence, “indie” is the way to go. Maybe I’m not quite impartial being a Seattleite, but it seems to me that nobody screams “indie” better than Gibbard, Walla, Harmer and McGerr. Just my opinion though. Feel free not too get heated over this as there are probably as many ideas on "what artists define any given decade" as there are sand grains on the beach.

I didn’t intend this post to be all about Death Cab and what exactly indie is. That may be a good post for the future. But for now, I’d like to say something I never would’ve imagined saying five years ago: it has been truly a great decade for music! I will have a hard time narrowing down my favorites records but I’m really excited to go through and listen to music that my generation put out!! I’m ridiculously tired of middle age people saying “Oh wow, that takes me back! What are you doing listening to that?” when I mention who some of my favorite artists are (Beatles, Floyd, CSNY etc.). Well, I’m ready to take a headfirst plunge into the artists of Generation Y and I encourage you to do so as well. A lot has happened since Y2K and I’m sure that many of these records will be playing more in decades to come.

*Last week's heading was from Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall."