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Running music

I just got back from a run and I want to share the music that was shuffled at me. It's a range of tempos and moods, but all VERY intense:

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All has come before

I just heard Faster Pussycat's "Ship Rolls In" for the first time in probably over 20 years. I used to like Faster Pussycat for some reason--perhaps there are other songs of theirs that hold up better. That song, however, is a blatant ripoff of the New York Dolls signature tune "Personality Crisis." I don't know how I never noticed before--I feel kind of like a dope: not only is the chord progression and event the melody almost EXACTLY the same, but the Dolls clearly were the fashion inspiration for the later band as well.

Then again...

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Sunday was sunny and warm! We stayed in the yard most of the day, doing yardwork (Alexis) and loafing about (me).

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Musical interlude

Mostly the first two minutes but also the rest of it but especially the first two minutes.

Also This Week

When my brother and my father and I were in Los Angeles, we saw Sara Watkins and her brother Sean and an amazing band play as the Watkins Family Hour. We all dug the music, but the country-inflected singer/songwriter vibe is right in my dad's sweet spot, musically speaking. We spoke with some of the members of the band afterward, and asked if they would be coming to New England. They said no, but upon reflection, I think they thought we were asking about the Watkins Family Hour, which seems to be a special project that only takes place at Largo.

Fortunately I thought to google up the Watkins family and like 'em each individually on facebook. So as it turns out, Sara is touring on her album Sun Midnight Sun and playing in a new spot in Harvard Square. Long story short: my dad and I went to see her on Monday. Story made better: Sean Watkins was there too. So it was as close to seeing the Watkins Family Hour again without making the trip back to California as we could hope.

Here are some videos (not mine) that capture the feel pretty well. (Initially I wanted to make this post about how I seem to like some country music as long as it feels a certain way to me, but I've strayed from that point, and Sara's music--especially as it appears on the CD--isn't all that country. Besides I don't want to start a discussion about the difference between bluegrass and country, because I'm way over my head.)

This reminds me so much of the way RAchelle and Katie used to sing this song, gives me goosebumps.

Music of 2012

So I was sure that They Might be Giants put out a record this year but it turns out that Join Us actually came out in 2011. You can't fault me however, because TMBG have been producing and installing quality melodies since 1983, and in 2012 they DID release a live album. Also I saw them live in 2012. This isn't a great song so much as it's a great experience:

(Spoiler alert: The people always win. Poor apes.)

Speaking of live shows I went to this year, I was here, and this is the first time I ever heard this song.

I also saw my favorite live act, Firewater, this year, touring on the release of International Orange.

I didn't like the album as much as The Golden Hour (which I gave a mild review when it came out, but it's turned into one of my favorite records). Firewater combines dark contemplative bar rock with insanely upbeat traditional music from the east and near east. That was the worst description ever, so please just listen to some of it and love it or not.

The opening act for Firewater in Boston was a group I'd never heard of called The Skeleton Key, touring on a new album called Gravity is the Enemy. This turns out to be my favorite new album of the year. Bass-heavy art rock with a junkyard percussionist, full of weird deliberately off-key bits and stop and start Helmet-like rhythms, Alexis can't really stand it, so I'll have to listen while she's out of the room.

Also definitely see them live, dance near the front of the stage, but watch for flying metal bits.

Speaking of flying metal bits--what? No that was a horrible idea for a seque. Anyway, there's a new Soundgarden record out this year and while I've heard some criticism that they're not as edgy as they were in the early 90's, who is? Also I love "Jesus Christ Pose" but it's hard to kick back with, know what I mean? On the other hand I keep listening and relistening to their new song "Halfway There."

Also this year there was new music from the greatest hip hop act of all time, Public Enemy. In case you missed it, here's the song that became the theme for the London Paralympics:

And finally, for fans of 60's throwback garage zombie music, here's my friend's new band's theme song, The Unlivin' Dead:

Musical interlude

Hodgman posted this about a month ago; I thought it was very sweet and nostalgic. I was sure I had heard the song before, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you where. Then I was trying to find this video and YouTube offered up this:

Oh yeah. That would have been it. I did read the wikipedia page about the song and found that the Chipmunks had recorded a version too, which I must have heard at one point. Then there's this version, which has lovely vocals but somewhat irritating background music:

This caused me to learn that the Lennon Sisters are still an actively performing group, and that "Masculiminated" is a word used by people who like to fantasize about a world where men never existed and where there are two genders of "girls" of different hair color. Apparently there are several novels and such.

And that's why I didn't get anything productive done this weekend.

Music review

I waited a while for some reason, but I recently bought the new Jonathan Coulton album. I've been listening to it almost constantly the past few days, and I just love the beautiful melodies, and I like the production values from They Might be Giants' John Flansburgh. What this album doesn't have is any explicit mention of mad scientists, or monsters, or songs sung by planets or sea creatures or odes to mathematicians. A distinct lack of geekiness.

It used to be that to explain who JoCo was, you'd play "The Future Soon," or "Skullcrusher Mountain." This new album--really his FIRST album--is much like any collection of soft rock / singer songwriter type music. Granted, there are two songs from the point of view of a murderous Artificial Intelligence, but those are previously released end themes from video games. But the title track "Artificial Heart," is much more ambiguous. The artificial heart is symbolic of detached emotion--it's not a real artificial heart. Other songs are more opaque*--in the exquisite "Today With Your Wife," is he singing to his lover's ex, his widowed sister's husband, or just a man who is emotionally absent from his family? All you know is "you should have been there."

Another songwriter wouldn't demand such scrutiny, but Coulton's earlier output was almost completely a collection of songs that told funny and/or sad stories. Even when the song didn't take place on an asteroid prison mine, it took place somewhere. His best song (in my humble opinion), "Shop Vac," takes place in the most mundane place on earth, but you know exactly where it is and who lives there. I think this is a positive development, but it is a confusing one.

It's positive because it allows him to move past being a novelty act (which I have nothing against, you should know) and show off his amazing sense of melody. I've been playing and replaying the song "Nemeses," a hopeful love song to a potential enemy, just to hear the first six notes. On this song and two others, Coulton steps back and lets other people take the lead vocal. "Nemeses" is sung by John Roderick, of a band called The Long Winters; I had not heard of the band before but I have since listened to a few more of their tracks. Roderick, I have to say, is a better singer than Coulton, but they sing together beautifully.

I suspect that Artificial Heart has already created a contingent of "I liked his old stuff better" JoCo fans.

I am sure others have written better developed, more lucid reviews of this album and what it means, but I had to get this out. Maybe I'll look around and see what others have to say.

*Exceptions to the claim that the songs on this album are opaque include "Good Morning Tucson," about a local TV anchor--like a Weird Al song without enough jokes, and "Je Suis Rick Springfield," a song entirely in French from the point of view of a guy at a bar trying to pick up girls claiming that he's Rick Springfield, and "The Stache," a respectful number about ironic hipster facial hair.

30 day song challenge part three

Oh yeah, I forgot I was doing this. Hope you aren't bored or annoyed by it. Well, you can always skip past if you are.

30 Day Song Challenge day 19 - a song from your favorite album

Now playing! Avenged Sevenfold, James Kochalka Superstar, Sebadoh, Al Green, and yes once again: The Beatles!Collapse )


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