Saturday, September 20, 2014

An Update & Tired Pony

So. I haven't really been listening to music lately. Admittedly, it didn't help when my favorite radio station changed formats and became awful (I miss you Alice 102!!). And Morrissey didn't help.

So I now sit in the office in the quiet. Silence. All day. Occasionally I'll have music on in the car, but not a lot.

The good news is that I'm recovering.

Every now and then I turn on Pandora. Or Amazon's Music Library (they have free music for Prime members, which I highly recommend taking advantage of). And if I hear a certain Police song I find myself singing along. I've also taken to soundtracks again, particularly Lord of the Rings (for the record, I'm also updating my old blog again: Geek Yogurt). I used to have those CDs flippin' memorized!

Anywho. I'm getting better.

I will post more bands/artists again.

For now, I recommend Tired Pony.

Something about their vocal harmonies that woke me up and made me thing about things, and be like "hmm, remember when I loved music? I guess I could do that again."

Tired Pony is a super band. Made up of people from other already-famous bands, especially the guy from Snow Patrol. And I know, you're thinking, "Snow Patrol? Really?" One, I say give them a chance. Two, I say they are actually surprisingly good.

My two favorite songs are "All Things All At Once" and "I Don't Want You As A Ghost". Highly recommend. Just chill, make you feel something, music. I'm going back to the basics, I guess.

Here's a pic:
Album art, woo!

Can I interest you in a video?


Monday, June 2, 2014


Last year I had a blog about being a geek (my other passions being significantly less "cool" than my love of music) and one of my favorite posts was about Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. It was about how I both liked and disliked the guy at the same time (aka "Schrodinger's Friendship" instead of "Schrodinger's Cat"). You can read it here if you are so inclined. But I say all this because I feel the same way about Morrissey...

Generally it's a bad idea to learn more about a music artist than what's revealed on their Facebook page or album's liner notes. They have a high tendency of being pompous a--holes; pretentious attitudes run rampant in any of the arts. This is no less the case with Morrissey. When I first started listening to him, I read up on him, and quickly learned of his vocal opinions regarding both politics and animal rights. The dude is kind of infamous for being controversial. I think a lot of that's by design too, but it certainly seems genuine in origin. But usually when it's that in your face, it can be off-putting; it feels like taking advantage of your celebrity. You are famous for being a singer, that does not permit you to tell me what I should think about anything. But I let it go and listened to his music no less, with Year of Refusal especially becoming a permanent favorite. Morrissey's picture became my phone's background for the longest time, and his lyrics are tattooed on my arm.

Music swoon. #morrissey
He may be controversial, but he is ridiculously cool. And then again, isn't it good that an artist would want to use their fame and time in the spotlight to stand for something? His ideas may not be more merited for his fame, but it certainly doesn't make them less so simply because he's not a politician or ethicist. A good idea is a good idea, regardless of the source... but when you make it personal - making their music and life mean more than a source of entertainment as it was originally intended - it's that much easier to become offended. Someone wanting to be a role model can inspire with more than a peppy lyric, but now can disappoint beyond just a mediocre album release.

So I kept listening. And when his tour was announced I was ecstatic! Bought tickets the hour they went on sale and was just shy of counting down the days. It was going to be a small road trip of sorts to see him, but undoubtedly worth it. This is Morrissey, dammit! And as close to seeing The Smiths as I'll ever get. And then his new album was announced and up for pre-sale. I definitely shelled out the cash for the over-the-top-premium-plus-package whatnot that included more than I actually wanted (which was really just the shirt, vinyl and CD) but then I was like, autograph?? YES. Even if I don't want it, I'd rather just have it and not want it then decide later that I wanted it and not be able to get it (which I'm also pretty sure it the definition of gluttony...oops). Anyway. I anxiously awaited the concert. Excited? Yes. Nervous? Yes. Because I still couldn't completely ignore the wobbly pedestal I had placed him on, and my fear that seeing him live would push it past the tipping point.

And it totally did.

We got to the show between acts, as there was no way I was going to see the opener (her stuff is wretched, so I won't even name names). It didn't help that the venue was cheap and over-hyped and not well situated for a concert really. But we waited patiently by the AV set-up (go figure, ha) and nervously watched the artsy/quirky music videos projected on two large white drapes while the crew set-up in the dark. Here's hoping for the best! ...And admittedly it really got off to a great start. The crowd was enthusiastic, the band was sharp, and Morrissey was up close and sounded fantastic. He sang one song from his Smiths' days, but the rest were great songs from his solo stuff. It was awesome. A dream come true! ...Until he opened his mouth to talk. I don't think he knew where he was, as he spoke about sea life and how sad that is (which is really weird as I do not live anywhere near sea life, a coast, or large body of water, or even a decent aquarium.) So that was odd, but laughable. BUT THEN. In the most offensive concert experience I can fathom, he began to play Meat is Murder. I guess in a way I should have seen that coming. The guy is definitely a vegetarian and is very very vocal about animal cruelty and rights. Won't even have dinner with someone who eats meat, according to an interview on Graham Norton (I think). So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised about that alone. I guess what did it, was the video projected during the song which solely depicted how farm animals are treated and killed. It even started with the "Graphic Content, Viewer Discretion Advised". UM WHAT? I just paid a decent amount of money to be here, it's not like TV where I can just change channels. I couldn't look up for a long time, and at one point felt uncomfortable enough to turn around and face away from the stage completely. This wasn't some art gig intending to make people uncomfortable, it wasn't a happening, it was a concert and that's how it was pitched. And for the record, he was in effin' farm country. We're totally aware of what we are eating, thankyouverymuch. I'll avoid a diatribe on the ethics of animals rights. Not relevant. What is absolutely relevant is that it was totally disgusting and not what I paid for honestly. I paid for a music concert, not a lecture on ethics. And realistically it wasn't a lecture anyway. It was appeal to emotion, which can persuade to a do a lot of things regardless of actual rightness or wrongness. The irony is that if he really wanted to do something to change our minds, his concert was held down the street from one of the largest universities in the area. If this is something he's that passionate about, he could have made the time to do an actual lecture and explain why he was opposed to it. I bet even if he charged people to go to that in addition to the concert plenty of people would have done both. I would have at least considered it. So instead, I left completely defeated.

So now what? I don't know really. I still enjoy his music (although his solo stuff significantly less so as it just makes me think of his show). And it's quality really hasn't changed. He still is incredibly talented. And he didn't ask for me to adore him [although he's not happy when his audience doesn't adore him -- e.g. Lincoln, Nebraska. (If you are unaware, he ended up being supposedly boo-ed by a single fan, and was quite irate about it, and then skipped the encore (which I don't think is owed to fans, I will grant him that) and then the fans proceeded to heckle as they all got on the tour bus to get the heck out of dodge.) Ha.] So maybe I set him up to fail. But man, did he fail. I'm a fan of his music, his intelligence, and his humor. But I'm not a fan of being told what to think, especially in a demeaning and offensive manner, that completely disregards my own intellectual merit and decision making abilities. Shouldn't we deserve at least as much credit as we give him?

But I'll keep listening...I guess.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Foster the People

I won't lie, today hasn't been great. I hate waking up miserable. But I did today, and I just couldn't shake the gloom, and only found relief by turning to apathy like a hard drug (that sounds stupid, but I'm leaving it because it's still oddly accurate.)

For the record, complete indifference is terrible when you work in customer service. Fortunately someone pointed out the black cloud over my head before I managed to make a mess of everything. My only hope to fix my attitude (since there was zero I was willing to actually do about the situation). The only way I could think to do that was to listen to music.

So today it was Foster the People...

I freakin' love this band. Few artists have CDs that I can play on repeat as many times as I have with this band. Torches was the soundtrack of my summer last year. I'm okay with that also being the case this summer. It's just such a solid album from a kickass band. Their music is just super fun and makes me wanna dance and have a good time, which then makes me happy. The only songs I don't care for are the ones they play on the radio, oddly enough. Otherwise it's just joy listening to them (although my love for their newest album is not nearly as deep, since it shifted gears pretty hard. It's still good, but not as good.).

Sometimes their lyrics actually get kind serious and could potentially be a buzzkill. But the way I see it, it balances out into this weird combo of "moly cow life can suck sometimes...but screw it, I'm just going to go crazy and dance!" I'm way okay with that... I think the problem with the new album, Supermodel, is that I hear it more as "moly cow life can suck sometimes...meh, lets just kind of sway around and do whatever." I miss the crazy. I mean, the new stuff is good. It's just sooo different. I need to give it more of a chance really, because musically it's still really well done.

(photo source)

Best Song:
ALL OF THEM. Haha, just kidding. I love every song on Torches except "Pumped up Kicks" and "Don't Stop" (the ones that were so prevalent on radio and commercials). But my all time favorites are easily "Call It What You Want" and "Houdini". I can't help it, and I won't apologize for it. Each time I hear them, I feel a little bit better about everything; which is way better than apathy. Coincidentally enough, they also are the songs with their best music videos. So that's pretty cool too.

Listen Now:

"Call It What You Want"

"Helena Beat"


Friday, April 25, 2014

(A Band Called) Death

Haven't forgotten about you, promise! (Heh, that's kind of a funny intro considering the topic today...) This is the beginning of what I affectionately call "Hell Week," which is actually two weeks of constant work stuffs...It's actually not bad, but I will not be posting as often, as a result. I'll try my best!

Okay, here we go!

I heard about the documentary A Band Called Death before I heard about Death. And I think it's fair to say that that's probably the case for most people that know about Death at all. They were a black punk rock band in Detroit during the early 70s. (That is easily the most interesting description of a band, ever.) They obviously didn't make it big, or music history/evolution would probably look quite different than it is...but they were also, frankly, pretty damn good. Fortunatley their music was recently found and adored, and they re-released an album and created a documentary about this music anomaly of awesomeness.

So, the documentary is easily fantastic. It's such a compelling story and you can really tell that this whole resurgence and rediscovery is completely surreal for the band members. But then that just makes it even easier to cheer them on, because they are so down-to-earth and cool about everything. If you get a chance to watch it, I highly recommend it. It's on Netflix right now, so there is really no excuse not to...

So, the music is actually really good. I think I've said that already, but it's worth reiterating. It would be totally unfair to think the hype is only because of who was making the music, where they were, and when they were doing's also really good. They grew up listening to rock, and didn't just emulate their favorite bands, they totally molded it into something unique. Imagine a combination of the Ramones' punk rock rhythym (mind you, this was before the Ramones took off) but with the vocals that can at times sound just like Jimi Hendrix. Um, what??

(photo source)

Listen Now:

Trailer - A Band Called Death

"Politicians In My Eyes"


Friday, April 18, 2014

In Other News...

Recently I've been dabbling in audio/visual technology, in hopes of getting into the industry a bit. Although both sides were extremely fascinating, I definitely was more partial to the audio section, for fairly obvious reasons. Audio technology is really the "man behind the curtain" that makes music appreciation even possible, so I totally geek-ed out learning about the science and equipment involved...

Yes. I modified it a bit. Otherwise it was the most boring certificate ever.
As a way to celebrate learning all the things and becoming a A/V tech (in theory), my reward was buying the stuff for my first turntable set-up. Growing up my parents had a small but sacred collection of records that for the most part went un-played. I was always intrigued, at least mildly so, but even I didn't find use for them with the ease of acquiring a digital collection instead. And in my generation, digital is always better, right? (Haaaaa.) Truthfully, I wouldn't have decided on this present-to-myself if a friend hadn't giving my husband and I a copy of The Smith's Louder than Bombs on vinyl. It was so wonderful of a gift that I just had to get the gear to play it!

Anyway, I did my research and ordered the equipment. When it arrived I was freakin' excited! I had a bit of trouble with the cabling involved -- after reading such mega-technical details about the equipment, to find that Amazon just lists the bare minimum on facts was super annoying -- but we got it to work anyway! (Yes, I had to enlist the help of the husband, but I did pretty good for being such a rookie!)

I've got to say I highly recommend the set-up I picked out! I know most audiophiles declare that a set-up doesn't qualify as "good"-- even for beginners-- until you've spent at least $300. But I call bullshit snobbery on that; all together I spent about half that and it sounds amazing. If you wanted to go the route of a lot of people and get a Crosley system, you could do that for even less -- you know the ones, the little suitcase looking things they sell at Target, Hipsters R Us, and the like. I've heard they aren't bad, but I didn't want the built-in speakers, and wanted the option to update parts as I got more familiar with it all.

The Equipment:
Audio Technica -- AT-LP60
Pyle Home PCA1 30-Watt Stereo Mini Power Amplifier
Pyle Home PCB3BK 3-inch 100-Watt Mini Cube Bookshelf Speaker

Those speakers sound flippin' amazing by the way. Sure they came in partly rusted and there was a suspicious rattle in one them too, but really for what little I paid, I don't care!

Not a great picture, I know. [Insert lame excuses here.]
It's been awesome building up our collection of records. Louder than Bombs wasn't my favorite Smith's album previously, but now I could listen to it all damn day. For the most part, the people in the few record shops in town have been super friendly, and we've found some great deals. (I can't believe I managed a copy of Led Zeppelin II for $2 because it had a beat-to-shit cover. The record was scratched a bit, but I think we can clean it up and it'll look as good as new and it still sounds fantastic). I gotta say, I didn't think analog would make that much of a difference, but it really does. You lose more than you think with the lossy file formats, like MP3s. And I love how intentional it is to listen to a record. I'm someone who has music playing pretty much all the time, but I don't really tune it out. I'm the annoying kid in a noisy bar that freaks out about a song playing when no one else can hear it. It's awkward. But anyway, I love that when I put on a record, I can just sit and enjoy it, without feeling like I should be doing something else. I am doing something, I'm listening to music.

If you've ever been intrigued by vinyl, or want to revisit it, I highly recommend that now is the time. I know a lot of people are bitching about the resurgence compromising the "original" fans' efforts of collecting, since their is more demand prices have admittedly gone up on a lot of albums; but I think they are ignoring the fact that access too has increased. Also, this Saturday is Record Store Day, where some shops will have special releases and festivities for shoppers. What fun!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Boston is one of those bands that whether you like them or not, you should at least be able to recognize them and familiar with some of their (iconic) work. Granted, I spent most of my youth getting them confused with the sounds of Foreigner and Journey (kind of), and bands with other city/place names -- Kansas, Chicago, etc... and so I was never really that impressed or enthusiastic about them. But they really do have a decent list of hits that if you've listened to a classic rock station at all, then you've heard them at least once: More than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, Rock & Roll Band, Smokin', Something About You, and Foreplay/Longtime...

So, the cool thing about Boston is that they are totally 80s arena rock, but since they started in the mid-70s they still have a lot more similarities with the classic rock bands than traditional hair bands or whatever. They have a slight hint of southern rock in their occasional use of "twang" on the guitar, that keeps their slower jams from sounding like blander rock ballads. And I still can't figure out if that's legitimately an organ, or just a keyboard in all their songs; I've only recently noticed how prevalent it is, but somehow it blends so well with everything else. I think the iconic parts of Boston, however, are the vocals and guitar. That guys voice sounds like butter, but like powerful epic butter that I can't help but sing along with - especially when he harmonizes with the backup! And then the guitar - man, it's good. And what makes their songs so interesting is that they structure them so it's a careful balance between rhythm guitar or simple riffs that repeat and build into these ridiculous solo sessions that could melt your face of with their awesomeness!

(photo source)

Best Song:
For once, this is an easy decision for me. Granted, their hits are all hits for a reason - they are all truly great songs. But Foreplay/Longtime is actually one of the best classic rock songs I've ever heard.That's a pretty hefty claim, but here's my justification - that song successfully features everything I love about classic rock...It's seven minutes long, and each portion of the song could be it's own successful hit, but instead it's this chaotic awesomeness that just won't quit.

It starts with power guitar and keyboard session, with the drums in the back just going nuts...then, suddenly quiet...and it starts back up ever so softly, the hum of the guitar, which then breaks out into it's own solo...queue sweet vocals...then it's like this weird acoustic guitar clapping thing that's all folksy and cool...and then put it all together with more aggressive singing...another guitar solo (yay!)...more vocals, but you can tell it's building again to something great...but instead they pause and go back to the acoustic awesomeness...yet another guitar solo thing that just goes crazy again...another verse...and it just goes back and forth until it all blends and plays on top of each other, then slow fade out...whew! ...Seriously. This song has everything!

Listen Now:

"Rock and Roll Band"



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fleet Foxes

[This was written yesterday, as you will quickly figure out...but alas, I couldn't publish until today. Tax Day. Lovely. But, I think it's still a very fitting choice...]

Mondays suck... But I have good news. There exists a band whose music is so good for your soul that it will make Mondays just a little more bearable. They will make you smile and feel at peace in the midst of the storm. Or if they're not really you're thing, they could help you fall asleep and enjoy a nice nap. Your call.

I first heard the Fleet Foxes at the end of high school, maybe the start of college. I was experiencing the normal social anxieties that go with the territory, and my older brother offered to help in the only way he knew how -- by sharing his music collection with me. If I listened to "cool" music, I too would become "cool", right? (Wrong, and fortunately I don't give a shit now.) Within that collection, I remember hearing the Fleet Foxes' self-titled album and thinking something to the effect of "well, I really like it, but it's kind of boring." And that was the end of that...until recently, when I heard "Mykonos" from their Sun Giant EP, and it all kind of made new sense to me. I've listened to that EP repeatedly, and today I just bought their first album again. For a stressful mid-spring Monday (which irritatingly enough included snow earlier!), listening to the Fleet Foxes has certainly raised my spirits!

Fleet Foxes is an indie folk-revival band from Seattle. I feel like that's a pretty generic description that fits half the indie music scene out there. But I think these guys deserve credit for really paving the way for that genre to take off, even if they don't really have the same commercial successes of other indie folk bands (e.g. Mumford & Sons). Fleet Foxes blend harmonies that are both delightful and grand, with minimalist percussion, and classic folk banjo and guitar-work. Some songs have been appropriately named hymns, as the echo effects make it truly sound like it's filling some old chapel tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains (coincidentally another song's title) or somewhere equally quaint. I can't mention the lyrics, because honestly I have no idea what they are saying, but I don't really care - for me, the vocals are more of an instrument in their compositions than a means to get across an idea.

(photo source)

Best Song:
This is a tough one, because I think their strength is the cohesion of their compilations. I recommend listening to their albums in order and in one sitting. Although if I have to narrow it down say to make a playlist, I would definitely include "Mykonos" from Sun Giant EP and "Sun It Rises" from Fleet Foxes...but then I would probably try to sneak the rest of my limited collection too (there is another album from 2011, Helplessness Blues, that I would buy right now if it wasn't tax day. Ha.)

Listen Now:


"White Winter Hymnal"