Category Archives: Music

He Gets Me. He Really Gets Me.

Okay, Alexa gives me unparalleled access to music and can play a couple of cool trivia type games around bands.  Spotify makes excellent recommendations every Monday and has turned me on to a LOT of cool bands I otherwise never would have found.  However, I really feel like IBM’s Watson and I could be best buds, sitting around drinking beer and analyzing tunes for hours on end.  I normally loathe infographics as tools for those with limited understanding to misinform those with limited attention spans (sorry, my profession is writing very large, very thorough analysis documents, and I enjoy it) but this one seems benign enough.  I’m not sure what measurements and metrics a computer algorithm

I’m not sure what measurements and metrics a computer algorithm uses to infer the meanings of songs and assign emotional scores to those meanings, but I’ll keep searching.  Case in point, Roy Orbison’s “Crying” can really only be objectively considered significantly Sadder than NIN’s “Hurt” if you measure it based on the tone of Roy’s voice (far sadder sounding than Trent’s), or the the fact that it repeats the “sad-related” word “crying” about a bajillion times, where Trent uses lesser-relatable words like pain, hurt, feel, kill only once each.  Otherwise, bumping into your ex (as in Roy’s song) hardly seems on the same plane of sadness as stripping yourself down to your emotional core and not knowing if what’s left is even truly alive (as in Trent’s song).

And don’t get me started on Lovely Rita, a song about getting a parking ticket and realizing you have a homoerotic fetish for guys (or masculine women) in uniforms, being the happiest thing the Beatles ever put out?!

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New Playlist Sunday #20

4th wave.jpgApparently, the embed code isn’t working, so I’ll just provide the links.  This week’s playlist is inspired by an article in Music Aficionado discussing the “Ten Best Modern Prog Bands.”  Not sure all of this would be considered progressive, but I’m still exploring everything.  Either way, on the whole, I really enjoyed the music they were recommending.  Oddly enough, the day after I made this playlist, a local musician messaged me asking if I had been turned on to Syd Arthur yet, and I could totally impress him with my knowledge of what Kate Bush’s nephew was up to these days.

So this playlist consists of those bands who exhibit a progressive aesthetic to their music, but are firmly in the post-metal spectrum that dominated the likes of Dream Theater, Spocks Beard, Liquid Tension Experiment, et al.  We’ll be optimistic and call this the start of the “Fourth Wave.”

Fourth Wave Prog on Spotify

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Musical Finds

Props to Simon, my doppelganger in Doncaster, who turned me on to two bands he’s seeing in Sheffield tonight. (Last night?  I don’t know time zones.)

Hidden Charms is an alt rock band out of London that has sort of an early Who meets White Stripes sound to them.  They haven’t yet blown up massively on this side of the pond, but this one of the guys who called out Catfish and the Bottlemen to me before they were ever heard by anyone, so it’s best to pay attention here.

Vryll Society, don’t ask me how to pronounce that, are slightly more dreamy psychedelic than Hidden Charms, so you KNOW I latched on to them, since my current penchant seems to be towards modern psych and shoegaze these days, honestly I don’t know why.  They DO still have a solid blues/rock background, though not exactly 60’s-ish in tone, still a very modern sound to my ears.  I really dug both, particularly coming just a couple of hours after finding a neat article in Music Aficionado worthy of creating a new playlist, but that one is for tomorrow.

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New Playlist Sunday #19

Inspired by an article in Music Aficionado, this week I’m exploring classic “Space Rock” of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Not that I necessarily condone the consumption of ergoline-derived chemicals, it’s probably perfectly possible for the mundane listener to enjoy this playlist on it’s own merits.

Open Playlist Directly in Spotify

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God Speed, Ray Ruiz …

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June 25, 2016 · 4:08 PM

Playlist Sunday #1

I was doing these as 20 song playlists over on my music blog, but figured I’d start doing them here instead, since this blog is getting more hits these days. Sorry if it was because I don’t normally force music on everyone here.

This is the first playlist I built on Spotify, and has the most followers of all my playlists. I was calling it Indietronica, now I call it Chillwave/Synthpop. Frankly, it’s kind of a hodgepodge of genres, but all of the songs have the common thread of using very 80’s sounding synth voices, which is just nostalgia for me.

Chillwave/Synthpop Playlist on Spotify

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PodConcert X

Our leather, lace, and latex concert was an unqualified success …

 

 

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The Top Ten Most-Annoying Types of Music Fan

umVgUBb_LHMPGJ2_O7A8jTNDb-lw1umq47my9-U9fdAYes, okay, we’re all guilty to some extent. Even I fall into a few annoying stereotypes with my eclectic musical choices. You gotta love passion though … or do you? At the risk of alienating many of my friends (sorry guys, you know I love ya), here are my picks for the ten most annoying classifications of music fans.

Author Note: Sorry, this is my first attempt at a top-ten list like this, so I just posted it as one big article. I know this is wrong, and I have to break it into 400 separate pages, one sentence per page, with a shit-ton of adds taking up 85% of the screen, like Answers.com does. I assure you, #4 really will blow your mind, though.

10. Deadheads

While the very name conjures up images of the “patchouli hippie” stereotype, the fact is that these days there is no such thing as “the average Deadhead.” By now the rumors that “The Dead” (sort of a Zombie-offshoot of the Grateful Dead) officially disbanded in ’09 have reached even the farthest ends of the astral plane, and the last of the die-hard fans have moved on to real life and become lawyers and doctors and Phish fans. In general, these are about the nicest people you will ever meet. In fact, in the unlikely event one ever threatens to beat the hell out of you — because, (oh, let’s say … ummm … hypothetically for example) you refused his generous offer of a grilled cheese sandwich and instead asked if he knew where you could get a spotted owl burger (it was hilarious at the time, okay?) — you need only say, “Hey chill out, man. What would Jerry do?” and he instantly backs down and apologizes like Klattu in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

9. Indie Evangelists

I recently hit upon the idea that indie rock, by its very nature, should be a lot more popular than it is. Let’s face it, ASCAP, BMI, and the RIAA are doing all they can to make their own music inaccessible between shutting down venues, suing fans, and DRM software that makes “authorizing” your player to accept the music only slightly less difficult than diffusing a bomb. Indie rock is everywhere, often available for free, is usually encouraged to be shared, and is produced by people who are more accessible, more talented, and more visionary than the computer-enhanced pop-tart-of-the-week that makes millions on stage each night lip syncing like an eight-year-old with a hairbrush. So what’s the problem? In my estimation, it’s the people trying to get me to listen to it. You know, the secretly self-loathing, PBR-swigging elitist indie music fan who is always right — unless everyone agrees with him about his music, in which case he’s “over it” and moving on to something else.  Honestly, if you want to be a taste-maker in this genre, you gotta be an early adopter.  Next time try getting into bands that break up before they even get together.

8. Metal Heads

Now, we’re not talking about the whisky-slugging, heroin-shooting, bar-brawling, roided-out meat heads in a mosh pit variety here. The true metal heads, in my experience, look just as scary, but in reality are talented, passionate, intelligent, and — aside from the ear gauges and persistent tang of goat’s blood on their unwashed leathers — are almost indistinguishable from Eddie Haskell. Consequently, this is something of a liability for them, since not only is it difficult to take anyone seriously when you’re trying to imagine sticking your finger through any one of the numerous gaping holes in their flesh, but also you assume they’re joking when they tell you that their band’s latest track, “Demonic Anal Monkey,” isn’t literally about Satanic simians with a penchant for “the other side of sexuality” so to speak, but instead are a metaphor for the deep emotional scars of the lead singer’s inner child. Their other redeeming charm, of course, is that they are genuinely baffled as to why their band isn’t more popular with the mainstream listener than it is.

7. Bluegrass Purists

There are certain immutable truths that all musicians must eventually accept. 1) You will never be famous enough to OD on caviar and drown in your backyard swimming pool because you didn’t wait 20 minutes before getting in the water. 2) You will never have groupies open minded enough to let you do perform the “mud shark” on them. 3) You will never be a true bluegrass artist. You see, in order to be “true bluegrass” you must be raised exclusively in the hills by indigenous local people who speak their own bizarre clicking language, thus requiring all of your lyrics to be phonetically transcribed to you. The wood of your instrument must be infused with at least one (preferably two) of Bill Monroe’s bodily fluids, or alternatively, bestowed to you by the ghost of Bill Monroe himself, or someone who breathed the same air as him at some point during their career. And finally, even though all music since the 12th century is derived from 19th century bluegrass, you must never have heard any of it, an must henceforth pledge yourself to a life of musical chastity, less the inferiority of other, less-evolved musical forms influence you and taint the bluegrass purity of your performance.

6. Proggers

Mostly comprised of middle-aged, socially inept, computer nerds, the average prog rock fan requires that all “good songs” be composed in a time signature that cannot be mathematically proven, be no less than 17 minutes 38 seconds long (unless sub-divided into “movements”), and have a completely irrelevant and obtuse title that, as an in-joke, mis-quotes mythological, medieval, or 20th century bohemian literature. The most dangerous thing you can do to a progger is express any kind of interest in their music, as this will instantly trigger a veritable regurgitation of obscure trivia about the artist in question … and the session players … and the sound engineer … and if they’re a true fan, the janitor on duty at the studio that day. Mercifully, most know full well that your attention span ticks down like Jack-in-the-Box playing in 11/8 once you realize your error, and will thus spew this information at you faster than Rick Wakeman’s solo in the final movement of Journey to the Center of the Forest God’s Sylvan Temple of the Ancients.  Trust me, it’s saved me getting a drink thrown in my face on more than one occasion.

5. Freedom Rockers

It seems strange to say that one of the defining moments of my life was while “relieving myself” in the 1st turn men’s restroom at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The “troughs” there are legendary. To think that I was making use of a stainless steel tub that had been used by hundreds of thousands of other men (and a few women while I was there) over the decades. There, on the historic walls, great minds of the ages exercised their First Amendment rights and left wisdom for a captive audience representing a true cross-section of Americana. So, what holy litany was evoked on the wall across from whence I stood? What battle cry of the oppressed was permanently etched on that stone so that others may feel the author’s pain and take up his holy, righteous crusade?

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The human race is apparently doomed to be ruled by people that think that there hasn’t been any good music written the past 40 years, isn’t it?  Q95 rocks, man!

4. Singer/songwriters

Back in the 90’s, very tight regulations limited these people exclusively to pretentious coffee shops, but now strict smoking bans and lax enforcement have inadvertently allowed them to branch out and emasculate brewpubs, tasting rooms, and man caves all over your city. The singer/songwriter is easily identified by hair color about three shades too dark to be natural, spray-on hip-hugging jeans, cats-eye glasses, and a plaid shirt with plenty of exposed cleavage. (The girls dress similarly, but you can usually distinguish them by the addition of a knit cap.) Singer/songwriters spend the majority of their time drinking water, playing the same song to five people for 45 minutes at a stretch (we’re not fooled by the capo, by the way), and complaining that they should be paid for all the time they spend practicing, driving to the gig, and waiting for the waitress to bring them the water they ordered, like, fifteen minutes ago. I mean, sheesh, no wonder this place loses money, the service is terrible.

3. Nickelback Defenders

Okay, admittedly, these aren’t all bad. A sizable percentage in fact are Franzia-slugging MILFs who, to their credit, have been fans of the band since they were hot co-eds, and who can still do a fairly decent job of grinding a bar stool at Applebee’s whenever “How You Remind Me” comes on the Muzak. No, we’re talking about their husbands, the former high-school all-star jocks, now fat and balding, who think it’s just not a barbecue unless “Silver Side Up” is blaring so loud on the CD Player that it can be heard three suburbs over. Certainly the word has been trickling out to the masses about this “lowest common denominator” music for almost a decade now, and many of these fans have repented, often denying they’ve ever been down The Long Road. The problem is, Nickelback ranks as the 11th best-selling band of all time, so statistically speaking more than one of you bought a damned CD!

2. Parrotheads

They once dominated the countryside in an endless sea of Hawaiian print.  Now the increasing impact of climate change, and an aging baby-boomer population, has caused a mass migration of the North American Parrothead to the warmer, more hospitable climate of Florida, and the few stragglers that remain, while incredibly annoying with their tequila-soaked antics, are a mere shadow of the flock’s former glory. The number of indecent exposure charges has been sagging for years, and most specimens have been resigned to simple public intox or drunk-driving charges, occasionally possession of a controlled substance (usually Viagra) and, in the case of one local mayor, beating up girlfriends in the parking lot. In a surprise announcement last week, the National Audubon Society decided that, despite it’s endangered status, modern ticket prices mean it’s no longer cost-effective to attempt preserve the species, saying, “Sometimes you just gotta give one up for the greater good.”

1. DMB Fans

I really want to like Dave Matthews. For a minute there, I think I actually experienced an emotional reaction to one of his lyrics. Turns out I just misunderstood him. I would, however, like to thank him for providing his Fire Dancer logo in the form of easily-spotted window decals. This means we may now identify DMB fans safely from parking lots, without actually entering bars they frequent. You see, the other fans on this list might play one song by their favorite band, followed by a half-dozen obscure anthems from other bands they are into this week. The DMB fan, however, is unique in their single-mindedness — and lack of knowledge about the existence of any other music. Do not engage these people. Have no commerce with them and above all do not let them get control of the jukebox. You see, apparently DMB is like a potato chip — you cannot stop at one song. You apparently must play entire set lists … often back to back … you know … for comparison. You never know if “Crash Into Tree” is better when played after a 20 minute yodel of “All Along the Watchtower” or a 15 minute slow jazz version of “Where the Hell Do You Think You’re Going?” I suspect it’s the later, since the whirring sound coming from Hendrix’s grave has to get distracting after a few minutes. Frankly, there’s not enough pot in the world to get me to sample objectively however.

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Joe Bonamassa Must Be Stopped!

Okay, I have been tolerant. I have been patient. I have quietly bitten my tongue and endured the overt display of “show biz” mentality, but after a month of this incessant display of hubris, I just had to vent. No, I ‘m not talking about Kanye and the “imma let you finish” shtick.  No, I’m here today because Joe Bonamassa must be stopped! Oh sure, it all started innocently enough. “Like Jimi Hendrix? You need to download my free album!” Okay, cute. Possibly an apt comparison. I’ve heard Joe’s stuff. He’s a really good player. Never really saw the Hendrix comparison, but maybe he’s changing direction a bit. Okay, I’ll check the album out.  The next day, he’s implying he’s the new Jimmy Page or something.  This, of course, was met by internet trolls with a wonderfully scathing list of insults, name-calling, and lathered threats to start a campaign that would have all keepers of the Zeppelin gospel boycott future Joe Bonamassa concerts.  Basically, grab a bowl of popcorn and start scrolling, it’s more entertaining than Bonamassa’s music anyway.

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Okay, I will go on record saying I like Joe Bonamassa as much as the next guy … err … the next guy who likes Joe Bonamassa, I mean. But, wow, that’s pretty bold. Both Hendrix and Page? He’s got a pretty high opinion of himself. Leaving those ads up after getting a virtual smack-down from a bunch of 14-year-old classic rock experts was possibly suicidal.  Meh, I wasn’t concerned yet.  Comparing yourself to products greater than you really does invite the “I knew Jack Kennedy.  You’re no Jack Kennedy” response, but heck, sometimes you need a little controversy.  Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. It quickly escalated every couple of days for the next few weeks.  Sure, I could have hit the kill button and stopped them (brilliant feature of Facebook), but honestly there was a train wreck mentality about it. I just had to see who he would pit himself up again next. Well that and the comments were truly amusing.  The Internet appears divided between the “Love them both” crowd and the “I met Joe Bonamassa once, and he kicked my dog” crowd.  A few people offered some musical critiques of the various artists depicted, attempting to refute any similarities between the iconic guitarist selected and Joe.  I mean, this is all great.  Some people are entitled to their own opinions; others, not so much.

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I mostly point this stuff out as an example to the many local artists and musicians I deal with on a daily basis, because there are sooooo many lessons to be learned here. First of all, I am long on record that you should never give your music away for free. Yes, maybe it worked for Radiohead, and it will probably work for Joe Bonamassa (who gets a pass because it’s a greatest hits album and not a new release). You, however, are not Radiohead … or Joe Bonamassa. Next, overt comparisons, particularly to artists whose heydays were 30-40 years ago, do not make those artist’s fans buy your music. In fact, those comparisons say, “Hi, I’m stuck in the 70’s. I’m a musician impersonator. I have no originality to my playing. I justify this by overtly comparing myself to the people who invented the style I emulate — people that you (rightly or wrongly) hold up as sacred cows. I say, they are not gods, and I am here to tell you that your praise of them is wrong, for I, a mere mortal, have matched them!” (Okay, at least that’s what it’s saying to me.)  Even worse, comparing yourself to seemingly every iconic band in multiple genres!?  We are to believe that Joe is just like Phish, Queen, and the White Stripes?  That’s got to be the living definition of an apples to oranges to pears to lychees comparison.  (Yes, lychees are a thing, look it up.) Third, pay attention to your fans. If people who like you and have followed you for some length of time start saying that they’re embarrassed for you, or telling you that possibly comparing yourself to Freddy Mercury is a bit of a stretch, then maybe they have that objective view you’re looking for.

Now, maybe it’s possible Joe didn’t have time to go back and see the comments/debates that were now running rampant in the posts. This is completely understandable. He’s playing a cruise ship gig right now (really spotty Internet) and is getting ready to kick of a European tour. He’s got other things on his mind. At this point, it is probably best to pay a marketing firm to handle promotion of your … um … free album.  (Okay, go back to point #1 there.)  Because then we start going from marketing by way of “slightly arrogant comparisons” to, this is completely unprofessional.

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“Prodigy” is a person possessing exceptional qualities, typically younger than would be expected for their level of talent. “Progeny” is an heir, descendant, or offspring. It seems to me he’s kind of mixed the two up here. You ARE a prodigy. You are SOMEONE ELSE’s progeny. I’m pretty sure he meant the later, seeing has how BB is a big supporter of Joe’s, having given him some of his first gigs.

And it just seems it get’s weirder the more you go on. Classic Genesis? Seriously, a band that has zero blues influence or stylings in their music?!
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Oh, and a group that didn’t even have a guitarist!? Seriously, Joe, have you ever even heard these bands?
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When I saw this one, I really had to rack my brain for a few minutes to figure out whether it as Joe or me that was completely insane.  When was Ozzy in the Eagles?!

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Seriously, the sunglasses are just for show right?  I mean, you’re not blind?  Wrong words … wrong pictures … irrelevant comparisons … honestly … I can give you the names of some musically-savvy PR teams who can do this kind of stuff for you.  They work cheap.  You can pay them out of merch sales.

This latest one has been running for a week, proving that nobody is reading the comments or doing any sort of market focus studies to see how the ads are playing out.  I don’t think this one is strictly Joe’s fault.  You see, Bon Jovi has always been too polite to correct him for calling him Billy all these years.

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It’s getting to be like a collector’s baseball card game.  Question is:  Has anybody seen the Stevie Ray Vaughn ad?  That one might actually be a fair comparison. In fact, it’s probably the only one that’s a fair comparison.  He should have led with that and left it alone.  Really, though, I shouldn’t get all critical.  It’s just a Facebook ad. Far greater sins have been committed in that right-most column of my timeline when you think about it.  For example …

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New Toy!

New baby has arrived and is set up. Needs a bit of love, but in pretty solid shape. Maybe a nice, appropriately-proggy space jellyfish painted on it painted by Miranda Thomas?

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