Wednesday, November 30, 2022

RIP Christine McVie

That's about all I have to say tonight. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

October 2022 Song of the Day

 It was little more of a normal month for me October, finally being home from the hospital and the rehab.

For new readers, this blog entry refers to the monthly Song of the Day list on the Sputnik Music website. Each month, one User hosts the list and names a theme. Everyone then recommends songs in line with this theme, and people rate the various song recommendations. The list of October songs can be found at Sputnik Music Song of the Day October 2022.

1. The theme of the month was to pick a song that would be good as part of a horror film soundtrack.

2. Participation for the month was pretty good, although I actually got to make three different recommendations. The first of these was Gerard McMann's "Cry Little Sister" which actually was the main theme song from the soundtrack of the 1980s horror flick the lost boys The Lost Boys. The second was a track by 1970s folk/prog rockers Strawbs, "Witchwood". The third was "Alison Gross", from 1960s folk rockers Steeleye Span. Gerard McMann - Cry Little SisterStrawbs - WitchwoodSteeleye Span - Alison Gross.

3. I didn't have a great month listening wise. The average rating I gave was only 2.73 out of 5. My highest rated song was "The Serpent" by Myrkur. Myrkur - The Serpent.

4. However, the highest rated song by the group in general was "Vitamin C' by the 1970s German experimental band Can. Can - Vitamin C.

And that's that.

Alrighty then - hope to see you all next month.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

My Favorite Artists, Part 16: About Rush

Unfortunately, I think this is going to be the last post in the My Favorite Artists series, at least the last solo entry. I'll try to do an abbreviated list to at least address the other 14 artists and bands.

Rush released their first album, an eponymous one, in 1974. However, it wasn't until their seventh release, 1980's Permanent Waves, that I really took notice of them. The track that first drew my attention was "The Spirit of Radio". I didn't know what to make of them at first - I was used to high-voiced rock vocalists like Robert Plant, Steven Tyler and Peppi Marchello, but Geddy Lee was like one of those guys on helium. Before long, I decided I liked it, though.

The next year, they released what I still consider to be the ultimate Rush LP, Moving Pictures. This one contained a number of their greatest hits, including "Tom Sawyer" (probably their most popular song), "Red Barchetta", and my personal favorite, "Limelight". At this point, I clearly knew I liked this band. They rocked like a mutha*****, and they obviously knew how to write a song. I didn't actually add them to the My Favorite Artists list until the end of the decade, though, with the release of 1989's Presto and 1991's Roll the Bones.  This is kind of ironic, as many Rush fans consider these two the band's weaker albums (as assessment I don't entirely disagree with - although there's a lot I enjoy about them, these are two LPs that haven't aged as well as many of their others). But nevertheless, they were just enough to make me say, "Yes, this band deserves to be called one of my favorite artists.

But why Rush, and not, for example, Led Zeppelin? I certainly love a lot of Zeppelin songs, maybe even more than I do of Rush's. I think it's a combination of Rush's musical acumen and something else, some hard-to-define quality that makes me identify with them. Because as formidable as they are, Rush is also kind of nerdy. Zeppelin was one of the most popular bands in the world. They had gorgeous groupies at their beck and call every night. With Rush (as with my beloved Good Rats), this was not the case. Rush was a trio of geeky guys. One look at Geddy Lee's long nose and stringy hair or Neil Peart's reading list told you these weren't guys who were bowling over the ladies. (Dude based his epic "2112" on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead!) 

I've also always found Rush admirable, especially when they decided to risk their career after 1975's Caress of Steel to expressly go against the record label's demand for more singles to create an LP like 1976's 2112. They bet it all on themselves, and in the end, they won big time.

So yeah, there's something both heroic and likable about these guys. I also loved that Geddy would do a joke song like "Take Off" with the fictional hosts of SCTV's The Great White North show, Bob and Doug McKenzie. And I was intrigued and touched by Peart's reaction to the tragic deaths of first his daughter and then his wife - he basically took to his motorcycle and just drove his way through the various stages of his grief, as detailed in his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. That the band was able to come back after this and make three subsequent (and substantial) LPs and an EP was eminently admirable to me.

And no, it certainly didn't hurt that all three members were masters of their various instruments and could write the hell out of a song. Some of my favorites, other than the ones I've already listed, include "Free Will", "Subdivisions", "Red Sector A", "Time Stand Still" and "Fly By Night".

Although Lee and Lifeson declared that Rush was finished after Neil Peart's passing from brain cancer in 2020, this past summer, the duo reunited at the South Park 25th Anniversary Concert (with Matt Stone of South Park on drums). And they immediately stated that they'd like to play together again, although it will never be Rush without Peart.

This gladdened my heart. I hope they follow through.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

September 2022 Song of the Day - Correction

I totally screwed this up. I did a full write-up on September a week ago. Then, a surge of late voting changed the final results. And instead of creating an update as a second post, I accidentally wrote over the first one. So let's try this again.

For new readers, this blog entry refers to the monthly Song of the Day list on the Sputnik Music website. Each month, one User hosts the list and names a theme. Everyone then recommends songs in line with this theme, and people rate the various song recommendations. The list of August songs can be found at Sputnik Music Song of the Day September 2022.

1. The theme of the month was Songs About Nature.

2. Participation for the month was a little lacking. But because I was in the hospital/rehab all month and wasn't able to rate everybody else's songs, I chose to only offer up one rec. It was "Carpet of the Sun" by the impeccable Renaissance. Renaissance - Carpet of the Sun. It was pretty well received.

3. As I said, I didn't get to listen to any of the songs for the month, because I was in the hospital for two weeks and physical rehab for three, without access to much internet.

4. Guess I wasn't patient enough. There was a bunch of late voting, so the winning song was neither by The Hu nor by Revel, as I had originally announced. Instead, it was "Lamp" by Haruka Nakamure. Haruka Nakamura - Lamp.

Well excuuuuuuuuuse me!

Friday, October 7, 2022

August 2022 Song of the Day

I was just about to do a writeup on the September 2022 Song of the Day when I noticed I'd never written up the August one. At first I was confused by this and wasn't sure if this was because I hadn't participated in it. Then I realized it was because I went into the hospital on either August 31 or September 1, so while I'm sure I participated in the month, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to write it up. So let's start with August, shall we?

For new readers, this blog entry refers to the monthly Song of the Day list on the Sputnik Music website. Each month, one User hosts the list and names a theme. Everyone then recommends songs in line with this theme, and people rate the various song recommendations. The list of August songs can be found at Sputnik Music Song of the Day August 2022

1. The theme for the month was "Duets", loosely defined as songs with two vocalists.

2. Participation for the month was slow-to-average. As a result, I got to make three picks for the month. The first was "When I Was a Boy I Watched the Wolves" by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick, from their excellent Sunfighter LP. It scored pretty well with the other Users, at a little over 3.34 out of 5. The second was "Working Class Jacket" by My Favorite from their Love at Absolute Zero album, which scored even better at 3.48. The last was "How Not to Drown" by Chvrches with Robert Smith of The Cure, from the Screen Violence album. This last pick was not popular, scoring only a 2.8, but I suspected it wouldn't be - modern alternative pop rock is not a popular genre with this group. Paul Kantner & Grace Slick - When I Was a Boy I Watched the WolvesMy Favorite - Working Class JacketChvrches and Robert Smith - How Not to Drown.

3. I had an enjoyable month listening-wise - my average score was 3.16. My highest rated song for August was a cover of the George Gershwin song "Summertime" from the opera Porgy and Bess by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (although being a child of the '60s and '70s, I've always been partial to the Janis Joplin version of this one). Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Summertime.

4. However, the highest rated song of the month was "Marble House" by The Knife, featuring Jay-Jay Johnson, which I also liked. The Knife, featuring Jay-Jay Johnson - Marble House.

OK, glad I got that updated. I'll try to do the write up for September over the weekend. 

Be well, folks. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Catching Up Quickly

Been in the hospital/rehab for the last 5 weeks. Just got home today. I will try to update you on the September SOTD list within the next day or two.

Dorothy was right. There IS no place like home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

My Favorite Songs of 2022 So Far

Most years, it's just around this time of the year that I start organizing my favorite songs. This year, I'm going to let you in on the process.

I usually keep a playlist of potentials that consists of my favorite song (or sometimes two songs) from each album I've listened to for the year. Around halfway through the year, I start organizing that list into five categories (in relation to the my Favorite Songs of the Year) list: Definite, Probable, Possible, Maybe, and No. As I listen to my playlist over the course of the year (constantly adding new songs to it), I shuffle songs in and out of the various categories.

Right now, I've got 69 songs in the overall 2022 Potentials list, including four each in the Definite and Probable categories. I think those are the only ones I'm going to describe for you here. So here are those eight songs, in alphabetical order by artist:

Alexia Avina - I Am Opening - A slow, quiet, ethereal song that almost floats away on its own.

Barrie - Dig - Quirky but pretty little alt-pop love song.

Beach House - Over and Over - Dream pop at its finest by this Baltimore, MD duo.

The Birthday Massacre - One More Time - Hook laden alternative rock.

Graveyard Club - Broken Wide Open - '80s influenced alternate pop rock with male and female vocals.

Matisyahu - Lonely Day - Just another heartfelt, well-written Matisyahu song.

The Monochrome Set - My Deep Shoreline - Slighty sarcastic but lovely track from this veteran '80s indie pop band.

Nocturna - The Trickster - Bombastic ballad from this Italian gothic symphonic rock band.

And here, without descriptions, are the 21 songs in my Possible category:

Antigone Rising - Badlands

Bastille - Shut Off the Lights

Big Thief - Spud Infinity

Broods - Piece of My Mind

Calexico - Cumbia Peninsula

Chaos Magic - Garden of Winter

Darkher - Immortals

Envy of None - Never Said I Love You

Faun - Innisfree

Graveyard Club - Rose Wine

Lights - Easy Money

Johnny Marr - Night and Day

Moonlight Haze - It's Insane

The Ninth Wave - Maybe You Didn't Know

Peregrine - The Awful Things

Placebo - Chemtrails

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Not the One

Royksopp (with Alison Goldfrapp) - Impossible

Say Sue Me - No Real Place

SheWolf - Lone Wolf

Visions of Atlantis - Legions of the Sea