Category Archives: Music News

Just a quick thing that’ll hopefully be a fun distraction…

I hope you’re all doing OK, and I’ll post in more detail soon, but in the meantime, if you’re stuck in the house, and have an iOS (iPad or iPhone, especially iPad; sorry, Android/etc. users…) device, go get yourself a free Minimoog. You’ll be glad you did, even if you’re not what you’d consider to be a musician.

Some life updates…

I am alive.

It’s been a little over a month since I did that thing I did.

I hear from far fewer people on a given day than I was hearing from before I did it, and I don’t know a lot of what’s going on in your lives. Plenty of you are keeping the faith, though, and I appreciate it. Shoot me a line, leave a comment here, or whatever. “I’m always home. I’m uncool!”

I’ve done my best, given my general state of being, to reach out, too. There’s room for improvement, but I’m very human and my sleep was a mess for weeks. I’ll continue working on it.

I’m also torn between my desire to nuke multiple accounts on really terrible websites, and my concerns about further isolating myself at a time when people need each other.

Back here on the other side of the screen, it’s tough for a middle-aged man with my interests to make local friends without either volunteering somewhere or being an alcoholic. Where volunteer work is concerned, the spirit is willing, but I’m tired and physically unreliable. I’m retired from the other thing. Alternate suggestions are welcome.

I’ve started the next round of doctors for the various things that are wrong with me. My goal (barring new catastrophes) is to figure out what can be fixed, what’s likely to get worse, and what’s going to stay about the same relatively soon. Wish me luck on all that.

I figured out, during this process, that Monday appointments are a really bad idea for me. It’s a combination of the stress of not knowing if I’ll be awake for said appointment, and wanting to get started on my week when other people do, especially since my productivity is often limited during business hours.

Little by little, I’m trying to clear the cobwebs from a year’s worth of post-concussion syndrome. At least, I hope it’s post-concussion syndrome, and some more of it will wear off, and not permanent brain damage, where life’s just gonna be like this or worse from here on out. There are good days and bad days.

I’m still experiencing some writer’s block, which has been ongoing since I pulled the plug on the motherfucker. It’s impacting this website and my other one, but I’m trying to push through it. How obvious is it that I’m straining to write this?

I’ve been a little behind on current music (I’ve got a backlog of at least Kesha, Marc Almond, and Ozzy; best wishes to Ozzy, by the way…), but Richard Marx, that beautiful bastard, put out an album that I’d describe as a best-case scenario for a Richard Marx album released in 2020. I’m going to guess that if you’re not already a fan, this isn’t for you, but who knows?

There are also new songs from Sparks (full album out May 15th)…

…and Choir Boy (full album out May 7th).

I haven’t gotten out a lot lately. Definitely feeling the urge, but there’s a time and place for it.

With that said, I highly recommend going to see Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn while it’s still in theatres, or at home when it isn’t. I think it’s the best live-action DC super-hero movie I’ve seen since Keaton was Batman (though I haven’t seen Aquaman or Green Lantern yet).

I’m pretty sure that the world’s still on fire, figuratively and literally, and getting worse by the second. There’s some good stuff too, though.

Does anyone have any questions?

“Scott, you weren’t even alive for the 1960s. What the fuck?”

Yeah, for the hell of it, I did the ’60s, too.

I enjoyed making this one more than I thought I would, given how overplayed to hell and back most of this stuff is. I still think my ’70s playlist is the best one, and will remain that way, but this felt similar to my process for the ’70s one. Around 1966, stuff got weird in a hurry, but it did so in a way that made sense, similar to how disco impacted the ’70s.

For those who might be wondering, doing the 1950s is a really distant possibility (I’m looking at it right now). I don’t know if I’m going to do the 1990s, though. I looked at the lists the other day, and found that my interest in what was on the pop charts started to really tank around 1993, then wore down to a trickle by the end of the decade. I’m also still really sick of the worst of the 1990s music, as it wasn’t that long ago that it was popular, and as I got severely overexposed at the end of the decade by working in a mall that was home to a “best of the ’80s and ’90s” radio station.

2000s to present, hell naw. I looked already, and the number of 2000s pop hits I’d want anything to do with is a third of the ’90s list (which is shorter than the ’70s list, and about the same size as the ’60s list). The 2010s list would be half of the 2000s list. I really liked 2012 in mainstream pop for some reason, but not a lot else. Despite the fact that I do keep up as best I can, there have only been 3 songs in the past 4 years that made Billboard’s year-end lists that have really resonated with me.

Anyway, enjoy, let me know what you think, and with all of these playlists, feel free to tell people about them.

02/15/20 Update:

Yes, for better or worse, I went through the entire history of the year-end charts. Individual decades are available as public playlists on my Spotify profile.

“Scott, what were the 1980s like?”

They weren’t like this, because the Hot 100 is a very different filter than MTV was, and a much, much different one than the music I got exposed to through the people I met, and on the various margins I became privy to from the moment I got cable television, but this was an interesting experiment that I, of course, couldn’t help pissing away 2 days on, and I think it produced some fun results.

This list is twice as long as the ’70s one, which sorta makes sense, because I was alive for the entirety of the decade instead of 5 1/2 years of it, and paying more attention, as a slightly more fully formed person.

I’ve given y’all 51 hours and 28 minutes’ worth of playlists this week. I’d love some feedback on how I did, if you’re feeling up to it.

“Scott, what were the 1970s like?”

No one asks me this.

Being a rabid oversharer, though, I do volunteer a lot of what I remember, which isn’t a ton, and was almost all wildly inappropriate for someone in early childhood, just by virtue of life being fucking complicated. For some reason, though, I have a pretty strong sort of sense memory of what the music was like in the last age before widespread music video. I’ve wanted to do something like this for quite some time, but the combination of insomnia, caffeine, time I should’ve used on something else and obsessive behavior hadn’t aligned until last night.

(Note: share embeds from Spotify only list the first 100 songs, roughly 48.7% of the playlist, so you’ll need to go to Spotify for the entirety of the big list.)

This is an evolving document, but to the best of my recollection, give or take some things I never wish to hear again, either because they were terrible or because the people who made them were a bit shit, this is what the 1970s sounded like to me, as they were happening. My extra brain for this was Wikipedia’s series of annual “Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles”  from 1970-1979 (start here). Almost everything on this playlist can be found on those lists. A few non-chart songs snuck on. A notable exception was Giorgio Moroder’s “Chase” from the “Midnight Express” soundtrack, because, while it did not chart on those year-end deals, the song was absolutely everywhere in that time period. So many local television stations used it in the background of sports video packages, public affairs calendar stuff…you couldn’t get away from it. Which, of course, took a somewhat uncomfortable turn when I got cable television at a young age and wanted to see the movie that cool song was from, but that’s another story.

I will also mention that at least one song on here (David Naughton’s “Makin’ It”) is definitely a re-recorded version, and normally I wouldn’t go with those, but that song was such an important part of my 1979 (some of my earliest phone calls were to a local radio station to request it over…and over…and over again…) that it’d leave a gaping hole if it wasn’t in there, and it’s actually not a bad re-record.

You may notice that there’s really not much in the way of hard rock, heavy metal, punk or new wave on this playlist. I don’t really remember hearing it until 1980 or so. “1980, you say?”

Bonus: yes, because I’m a horrible cheater who is firmly in the “decades are 0-9” camp until I have to actually define eras of my musical life, I made a 1980-specific playlist. In my head canon, 1980 was still part of this period, but you can see that the selections I went with from memory were already very different than the ’70-’79 stuff. I would call both of these playlists part of the same era, but also sorta not.

Why stop here, though, if I’ve crossed the decade line already?

Two things happened around the end of 1980 that really created before/after markers, at least in my head. First, as I alluded to above, music videos started to be broadcast on a pretty widespread basis. My first exposure was probably Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 10 in 1980, and from there, we got cable in June of 1981, so I saw a lot of things on HBO Video Jukebox, and, eventually, MTV.

The other thing, which is pretty unpleasant, is that John Lennon was shot and killed. Hearing of a popular musician being shot and killed when I was 6 years old…well, it left a big fucking dent that I’m still grappling with almost 4 decades later. Yeah, that got dark, but it’s absolutely relevant to a conversation about my personal musical history, and really my life.

Before that happened, though, I had a good almost 6 1/2 years of musical discovery. Here’s what it sounded like. You’ve got about 17 hours to listen to. Some of it will be really familiar, some might not. I consciously put songs in vaguely chronological order, but also in “this would sound good here” order, but I’ve been testing both playlists on shuffle, and they work that way, too, oddly enough. Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments or otherwise.

I picked a hell of a week to get writer’s block, didn’t I?

Anyway…

First, some stuff that isn’t about what I haven’t been doing in the past week (I’ll admit it: I’m proud of that turn of phrase):

If you love over-the-top 1980s horror movies and/or present-day “Nicolas Cage gets weird” movies (but it appealed to me mainly as the former), see Color Out Of Space while it’s in theaters. I may see it again this week.

Wire and the Pet Shop Boys both have new albums out as of Friday. In fairness, I will tell you that I didn’t love either album on first listen. That doesn’t mean I won’t love them later, and the fact that they have albums out is still certainly noteworthy. Feel free to give a listen below. If you’re not Spotify-inclined, you can either catch them on other streaming platforms or buy them.

I’m going to be reworking some stuff on this site and the other site soon, mostly consolidating some sections here, and deciding once and for all which things I talk about where. Historically, this site has been the “personal insights and artifacts from past Internet lives, peppered with some stuff about what I watch and listen” site when it’s actually active. The other site is the “physical objects, sports, and occasional travel adventures, but clearly born out of both a previous site about trading cards and a desire to keep my personal life away from my hobbies and vice-versa” site. There’s definitely been some bleed-through recently, though, so it’s high time to set clearer definitions there, and stick to them.

As for the other stuff I’d really like to stop talking about, so I don’t bore you all to death:

I am a little under 2 hours past the 1 week mark, and quitting Facebook is really hard.

I’d say I’m mostly past the point where my brain tries to open Facebook on instinct. Unfortunately, my brain’s still making me try to find substitute activities online to get me that Facebook dopamine rush. When I do this, I don’t find them to the same degree, and end up just sitting here. I’m basically going through withdrawal symptoms, at least psychological ones, but possibly physical ones as well. As someone who’s quit a lot of social media over the years, I can tell you that this is unusual. This also tells me that Facebook are relentlessly effective at their goals, which is very bad.

I also figured out, a few days after I pulled the plug on my account, the one thing I didn’t account for: Facebook’s Crisis Response tools, or the “Mark Yourself As Safe” stuff. For reasons they’d probably describe as being privacy, security and safety-related, those tools are behind Facebook’s login wall. You can’t see them at all without an account, despite being one of the only helpful things the company does. That is gross, awful, emotionally manipulative shit right there, maybe the worst I’ve found so far in this entire process. What’s worse is that not even Google seems to have created an similar app that isn’t chained to Facebook. It’s also worth noting that telling Facebook that we’re near crisis situations could backfire on us. They’re not so good at keeping our data safe.

If you’re wondering what I did about the crisis in question, I emailed the people I know who may have been in or near the area, and asked a friend to check on the one person I know who I don’t have an email address for. My friend got ahold of that person, but five days later, I haven’t heard back from two of the people I emailed. Me noting this isn’t an attempt to shame anyone at all, and no one should feel shamed. It’s just commentary on how dismissed email is in 2020. I also don’t think that emailing my friends to ask them if they’re dead is going to scale well. As we know, “crisis situations” happen a lot these days, especially in the States.

The other thing that’s been unexpected so far is that I haven’t gotten one of the “Please, baby, baby, please…” emails from Facebook, begging me to come back, that I’ve heard of so many people getting after they quit Facebook. However, this is a welcome development. They must have me on a “yeah, fuck this guy” list or something.

These experiences, especially the “sitting here trying to make the Facebook feelings happen” thing (though I think the Crisis Response stuff is far, far more insidious, because eventually, my habits will change, whereas the crisis response stuff is a hostile corporate monopoly on public safety information), are anywhere from an annoying inconvenience to a little debilitating (and I say that without exaggeration). However, understanding the cruelty behind Facebook’s processes, and seeing that cruelty in action, is strengthening my resolve, rather than making me feel like I should just give it a rest and come back.

I believe that brings you all up to speed on my bullshit. If you have questions, feel free to comment!

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead’s “X: The Godless Void and Other Stories”

I’d somehow lost track of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead for about 15 years.

It feels good to spend some time with them again.

Devon Gilfillian’s “Black Hole Rainbow”

Devon Gilfillian brings us his “Black Hole Rainbow”, the first great album of 2020. This is a fantastic soul record. You should listen to it. That’s all you need to know to start. I knew even less when I put it on.

 

Aaron Lee Tasjan tipped me off to this record over on his Twitter. He brings a lot of great music to my attention (I first heard about Sturgill Simpson and Darrin Bradbury from him, among others…), so thanks again, sir.

My Favorite Albums of 2019

Update: this was published initially on 12/25/19, and I recognized, through doing a different “year in…” recap that I’d missed some stuff. I’ve added it. Hopefully y’all check back and find it.

Just in time for you to hopefully spend some of your holiday gift moneys on it, here’s my annual list. If you’re wondering where the 10 records that are on everyone else’s lists are (and my list isn’t devoid of that sort of thing), there were a bunch of records out this year that were objectively good to great, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy (my big playlist of noteworthy albums that were anything from recommendations to ubiquitous albums to “Hey, this act I’m familiar with released something” hovers around 72 hours long, and if you’re feelin’ frisky, it’s here), but these were the ones I had the best listening experiences with, and defaulted to listening to the most. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

In no particular order, beyond that the Karen O & Danger Mouse record was pretty much the soundtrack to my year, and that Julia Michaels’ “Happy” from “Inner Monologue Part 1” was my song of the year. (I loved both of Julia’s “Inner Monologue” records, but Part 1 got the edge from me over Part 2, if you’re curious.)

Karen O & Danger Mouse-Lux Prima

Julia Michaels-Inner Monologue Part 1

Julia Michaels-Inner Monologue Part 2

Mercury Rev-Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited

The Young Gods-DATA MIRAGE TANGRAM

bis-Slight Disconnects

Mekons-Deserted

Wand-Laughing Matter

Lloyd Cole-Guesswork

Pissgrave-Posthumous Humiliation (Content Warning: the album cover is REALLY fucking gross and violent. Like, seriously, y’all. It’s a great record, but holy fuck, that record cover is literally the worst. I can provide a Spotify link as well, because they didn’t use the uncensored cover for the album on Spotify, but there are “also by Pissgrave” links from the album page that also point at the really gross album cover now because they used it for their singles there, so yeah, you kinda have to commit here.)

New Model Army-From Here

Darrin Bradbury-Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs

Tom Kiefer-Rise

Sturgill Simpson-SOUND & FURY

Black Marble-Bigger Than Life

Medicine-Scarred For Life

Candlemass-The Door To Doom

(As with last year, wherever I could, I got people links to as many different music outlet options as I could. When I couldn’t, I shot for Bandcamp. If I couldn’t do that, I went to Spotify.)

I’ve also made a brief Spotify playlist of some of the songs that stuck out the most this year, which is directly below this sentence.

Questions? Comments? Recommendations, if one of your favorites didn’t make my smaller or bigger lists (and please check, before you ask me why I didn’t mention this act or that one)? Discuss!

My Favorite Albums of 2018

In no particular order, but listen to the Wreckless Eric record first, because it’s an adventure.

Wreckless Eric-Construction Time & Demolition
Andrew W.K.-You’re Not Alone
The Damned-Evil Spirits
The Motels-The Last Few Beautiful Days
Zeal & Ardor-Stranger Fruit
Wand-Perfume
John Grant-Love Is Magic
The London Suede-The Blue Hour
Anaal Nathrakh-A New Kind Of Horror
Arndales-Shops
Ex:Re-Ex:Re
Neneh Cherry-Broken Politics
Voivod-The Wake
Aaron Lee Tasjan-Karma For Cheap
Mass Gothic-I’ve Tortured You Long Enough

(Wherever I could, I got people as many different music outlet options as I could. When I couldn’t, I shot for Bandcamp. If I couldn’t do that, I went to Spotify.)

In addition, this is my annual “kind of the short version of the year” playlist for 2018:

Questions? Comments? Discuss!