Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2007 End Of Year Music Post

O:KMMS - January 10, 2008

I might just get this in before 2008. :) (nope. :)

Song I've neither heard nor heard of before Blender voted it Song of the Year: "Umbrella" by Rhianna (My reaction upon hearing it? "Meh....")

Album I was totally gay for this year: Life in Cartoon Motion by Mika. "Lollipop", "Grace Kelley", "Big Girls (You Are Beautiful)" - All tons of fun and gay, gay, gay. I loved it. :)

Most surprising album: Jesse Malin - Glitter in the Gutter - I was never a big D-Generation fan; their marketing sold them as NYC punk but the music reminded me of West Coast hair-metal more than anything and I never gave them a second thought.

Jesse released this album this year and I probably wouldn't have heard it at all, except that I had to put together the alt.country station for the web radio broadcaster Slacker.com. The album opens with the anthemic "Don't Let Them Take You Down (Beautiful Day)" and keeps up a good pace with solid songwriting, good flow, ballads and rockers, through the album-ending heartbreaker "Aftermath".

If you'd've said someone I'd never heard of would have released an album that contained a duet with Bruce Springsteen and a slow piano cover of "Bastards of Young" that I'd really, really like, I think I probably would have been wildly skeptical. Turns out, you'd've been right. :)

Best alcohol-soaked discovery: Lucero. Their last album Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers was released in 2006, but it was another alt.country station discovery. First caught by the lyric "c'mon baby won't you dance/make good use out of these drunken feet" from "What Else Would You Have Me Be?", I soon found "San Francisco" and "She's Just That Kind Of Girl". The clincher for me, though, was hearing the opening riff from "I Don't Wanna Be The One" today in my car. It sounds more like a Knack riff than Lucero, but there's soon the boozy drawl and pounding rhythms, and it made me glad I discovered them. :)

Best pleasant surprise: Kevin Devine, Put Your Ghost To Rest First heard the song "Not Over You Yet" from the Make the Clocks Move album while doing research for building my Slacker.com station and really liked the opening lyric "You were always cute/But goddamn! you got hot/Hot enough to streak the streets white with sunspots when you walk" and was taken with his ability for a melody and a lyric. PYGTR was released in '06 as well, but this guy is so below-the-radar that I still consider it an '07 release. :) "Brooklyn Boy", the song opener, is a song about taking drugs, a very happy-sounding song about "Chopping lines, hey hey/It's my birthday". Great juxtaposition. I'm also very fond of "Less Yesterday, More Today". He's got a unique voice, but I've taken to it pretty quickly.

Best local band (Denver): Laylights. They remind me a lot of the Chameleons. I need to try to catch them live this year. "Sparrow" is my favorite, but they're all good. I'll post "Highwires", too, because it's really captured my musical sensibility of late.

Best Late Entry: Romantica. Thanks, funoka! :)

Best radio station: alt.country on Slacker.com. Hands down. :)

http://www.slacker.com/?sid=stations/1205463/571

Best single re-discovery: The Chameleons' "Swamp Thing". Heard on the freeway in L.A. in October while driving to my company's Santa Monica office. It was overcast and, well, industrial L.A. can be kind of depressing. The haunting guitar riff came on and had me. It sounded familiar, and I grooved a long for a bit. When Mark Burgess started singing, I realised it was the Chameleons, but I didn't know the name of the song, but I'm sure I'd heard it before, based on the refrain at the end, "The storm comes/Or is it just another shower?" But such a great song, the way the Chameleons make the music soar.

Best Asian-themed guitar riff to open a song on my radio station: "Hearts of Iron" - Handsome Furs. I 'm a sucker for an Asian-themed riff. "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors. "Over the Border" & "On The Shore" by Big Country. "Physical Climber" by aMiniature (well, the end part. I'll nominate the opening of "Zero In Trust" as well).

Best lyric: (tie) Art Brut

From "Pump Up The Volume": "I know I shouldn't/Is it so wrong/To break from your kiss/To turn up a pop song"
From "St. Pauli": "Punk rock ist nicht tot!"
From "People In Love": "What becomes of the broken-hearted?/They're drunk for a few weeks,/Then back where they started/So pass me the wine/A cigarette too/We've about a week and a half to get through"
From "Sound of Summer": "Play and record/Held down together/Tabs pushed off/So you can't tape over it ever"
From "Jealous Guy": "I should be flattered that it's come to this/Where you're satisfied by just a goodnight kiss/I can't sleep because I've started to question/Whether your ex-boyfriends let you get this much resting/I'm not going to let you sleep/I'm pulling on blankets and tugging on sheets"

Funny thing, a friend of mine writes lyrics like this and they totally annoy me. But it's charming coming from a Brit. It's kind of like Nick Swardson's "British Kid":

..

Best show: You'd think it'd be easy, considering I only went to 3 this year. The three were, in chronological order: Morrissey; Bloc Party; Hannah Montana feat. the Jonas Brothers. They were all great for different reasons. Morrissey, because it'd been over 20 years since I'd seen him last, in that other band of his. He was great, his band was great, the sound was great...just a wonderful night. Having him close the show with "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" brought tears to my eyes - I never thought I'd hear him perform that song. Bloc Party was great because I was largely there by myself and was able to enjoy it unencumbered by any sort of inhibition. I closed my eyes and danced and rocked and swayed...it was a great experience. Hannah Montana, you ask? Well, I have two daughters and it was the first concert either had been to, and it was a complete surprise to them up until I handed them the tickets after we parked at the arena. They were very happy and thankful and they had a great time. It was a great time to be a dad.

Three-way tie. :)

Best album: Bloc Party. From my review when it came out:

"More dense than Silent Alarm, lots of textures moving around, or I should say under. The vocals are out front as usual, where they should be.

I love Bloc Party. Even more now. If I were a drunk 20 year old wanting these same things, I'd be singing this in the mirror to myself instead of the Cure.

It's bringing back memories that aren't mine, yet I wish were."

Best song to remind me of a deceased friend: "Pearl", by Maritime. It's in a previous playlist. Go find it, and go remember Crash.

Holy fucking crap, 2007 was an amazing musical year for me. Let's hope 2008 is half as incredible. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day 2011

I’ve written about my father a lot, but I don’t seem to write about my mother much. I’m not sure why my relationship with my dad is on my mind so much more than her. Maybe I’ll go into that another time.

I’d say that the reason I don’t write about my mom much is that there’s not any conflict, really.

She rarely has reason to get mad at me anymore. Not like she used to when I was a stupid teenager who knew it all. Like the time my parents were having a party. It had snowed and she asked “Do you want to shovel the steps?” Now, most of us know this statement as “Go shovel the steps.” Smartass kid me answered her question directly - No. No, I did not want to go shovel the steps. Well, naturally, she got mad. Pissed. Which was the proper response to a know-it-all teenager. She went out to shovel. I tried to tell her that I meant that I didn’t want to shovel the steps, but that I would. That was a tough lesson learned that I obviously still remember all these years later.

She worked at a small tchotchke shop in our high school years to have a little extra money around for things. She drove us to practices and games. She was interested in the things that I was interested in - (although she may just have been humoring me, but I’ll never know).

She has stories she likes to tell about me. Like when I was a little boy, I walked up to her and a friend and said “Wanna see an amazing trick?” She’ll tell you she doesn’t remember the trick, just that this smart little kid popped out with that sentence. Another is of a teacher’s comment on my report card: “Sammy is uniquely himself.”

Yet another story is the year she asked me what I wanted for Christmas. “Same thing I wanted last year” was my exasperated reply. “What was that?” she asked in return. “A piANO” came the teenage response. Perhaps as a way of testing my resolve, the terms of the deal were laid out. “Only if you take lessons” she said. I agreed quickly. We obtained a piano. I took lessons for the remainder of my high school years.

She likes it when I rub her shoulders, something she used to ask me to do to help her relax. She laughs hysterically at my Kevin Meany impression: “Walkin’ around with your tight pants on…we’re big pants people!” She rolls her eyes when I make dumb jokes but still smiles.

She has merely been the most supportive, consistent, available, constant, gentle, strong, kind, patient, giving person in my whole life. My mom has been everything you ever want in a mother.

Have you ever heard someone say “You have the coolest mom!”?

I have. A lot.

Happy Mother’s Day to one of my best friends. Thank you. For literally everything.

Love,

Your Son

Monday, May 2, 2011

Unsure

This is kind of a strange feeling.

I think my first reaction to hearing the news about Osama bin Laden was a bit of shock. My wife & I watched Obama's speech and took that all in. I read more reactions on Twitter and started seeing the jokes come and that was ok. Not very original, lots of retweets.

Then I heard "USA! USA!" from the TV and asked my wife what that was. She told me people were celebrating outside of the White House and chanting.

That's when things got weird for me.

Yes, I know who he was and what he did, what he was responsible for. He was a terrible person, and gave rise to a lot of suffering and death, directly or indirectly. Somehow, to me, celebrating in that manner didn't seem right, though.

I feel kind of sad. Not in a "poor bin Laden" kind of way, but in the way that someone was killed. Someone was murdered. For some, that won't be enough or won't seem like enough.

It may serve as a deterrent for someone else thinking about committing terrorist acts. "Damn, they found him, I don't stand a chance." It may bring about retaliation events.

I just can't bring myself to be elated, or happy about this.

I'm not happy that animals are killed to be my food, but it's the best way for me to sustain myself and my health. I'm not happy that he was killed, but I also can't help but feel that eventually it will help heal the wounds of his actions and the resulting wars.

But, I don't know that for sure. Right now, I just feel...a little empty. And conflicted. Unsure.
 
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