Wednesday, January 13, 2016

AWESOME Yahoo Headline of the Day

"Discarded Christmas Trees Transformed Into an Ethereal Forest"

Beautiful and kind of eerie.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New music Tuesday

From their 2015 debut album, here's some lush, jangly, 90s-esque girlypop from Wolf Alice.

Stupid clickbaity headline of the day

"12 Archaeological Finds You Won’t Believe Were Found On Earth"

I will though, since I'm pretty sure "space archaeology" doesn't actually exist as a field.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Something to think about

If an artist like David Bowie emerged today, what would happen? Would he still become an international superstar by sheer force of talent and personality, or would he be relegated to indie icon by the music industry that squeezes the creative life out of everything?

I'm glad Bowie's star was able to shine so bright. There will never be another like him, but I hope future artists with a similar spark will still be able to find an audience. Imagine a world without these classic artists. We might have already lost a Bowie, McCartney, etc. level talent in all the computer-generated noise. We might have lost several. My hope today is that organic music, created by musicians rather than studios looking for a quick buck and things that need to be plugged in to have a soul, can keep living on.

Remember. This is what we might be missing. This is what's at stake. Don't let the classics exist in a vacuum of "the good old days." Another legend is gone. Let's honor his memory by honoring music, the kind of music that comes from an intangible place inside the creator and is theirs alone. Music that is created rather than programmed. It can be acoustic, it can be electronic, as long as it comes from the opposite of cynicism.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Worthless Yahoo Headline of the Day


"John Stamos Talks Rehab and Surprise Pregnancy"

...what kind of rehab was that, exactly?

Thursday, January 07, 2016


For today's throwback Thursday, I'm gonna talk about something that clearly belongs in the throwback category - self-empowerment songs! With the near-universal negative critical reception of "Fight Song," as well as the dull "Roar" a couple years ago*, I think this well has pretty much run dry. Exactly how many times can you say, "NO, I'm awesome, take THAT!" and make it sound fresh?

*remember when you were a kid enjoying some sweet tunes in your room and your mom asked you to keep it down to a "dull roar?" Yeah. And that was definitely not the sweet tune you were listening to.

Let's start in the 1970s. One could ask the question, did we really need any song like this other than "I Will Survive?" Doesn't that kinda say everything, while also sounding ridiculously awesome? Well... here are a handful of other empowerment anthems I actually find worthy. This is just off the top of my head, no research this time so if I forgot something, maybe I'll revisit it.

The Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston was amazing. She was my favorite artist for a time, because I've always been about vocals. This song nails it not so much because of the melody or lyrics, which could sound trite in the hands of a lesser vocalist, but because Whitney owns the shit out of this. Like she did everything in the 80s.

Eye of the Tiger - Not so much an empowerment anthem as a kickass rock song, but it's from a Rocky movie and there are like, none of these songs sung by men, so I'll take it. And it sure gets you pumped up. Just ask Dean Winchester.

My favorite thing in the world, ladies and gentlemen.

One Way Ticket - LeAnn Rimes - I like this one because it focuses on something different, and rather specific: I'm going to have adventures! I'm not just going to feel good about me, I'm gonna do it in... Paris! or wherever. Drink champagne! Sail the seas! Arrrrr! This song doesn't just say "hey, I can do things," it lists actual things you can do. You go, girl!

Born This Way - A gay empowerment anthem from Lady Gaga, because duh. Obviously it can appeal to more than just gays, but this is a rare one of these songs I could actually see saving someone's life, or at least cheering someone up if they're getting bullied or something.

Follow Your Arrow - Another smart and modern take on being yourself. Some people might be put off by the pot and lesbian references, especially in country music, but it clearly speaks to its audience. I neither roll joints nor kiss girls, and I dig the hell out of this. Because I drink wine and kiss cats. I'm following my arrow. Yeah!

Firework - This one borders on generic territory, but Katy Perry saves it. Her voice can be underwhelming at times, as I pointed out on Roar, but she brings a real power and intensity to this song that's undeniable. That said, this is the last pop song like this we ever needed. Katy closed out this chapter with um, a bang. (sorry.)

AND YET, we still got "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger," which I thought would be the worst, most generic example until "Song Song," I mean Fight Song came along. (First rule about Fight Song: don't talk about Fight Song. Seriously, there's nothing to say about it. Go read a book or something.) And that's a shame, because Kelly Clarkson is both a great vocalist and a likeable artist. But not even she could save, "You know the bed feels warmer sleeping here alone" - WHY? Did you move it next to the fireplace? Is your cat sleeping on your head? - or "You think you got the best of me, think you had the last laugh" MUAHAHAHA! MINE IS AN EVIL LAUGH! God, I hate that song. And Fight Song one-upped it. Or... one-downed it. Whatever.

Oh yeah, "Shake it Off" is in a whole other category, cause it's not really a self-empowerment song, it's a Taylor Swift-specific-empowerment song. It's pretty bad, but it's catchy and harmless, so whatever. I can't work up much hate for Taylor Swift, if anything I like her more since she dropped the country shell and went full pop. THAT is kind of empowering, to be honest.

So, since this kind of song is clearly played out, where do we go from here? Well, I like the idea of more specific themes. Maybe not "empowerment" songs, per se, but... let's look at two interesting, personal songs from 2015.

Kacey Musgraves' Pageant Material - I wouldn't call this an empowerment song, more of a humorous slice of life with a message, but the message is an empowering one. "I ain't pageant material... I'd rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain't."

Alessia Cara's Here - This is almost an anti-empowerment song ("I HATE THIS PLACE AND EVERYONE IN IT") and yet... well, it kind of is empowering for us introverts and other people who don't like loud, stupid parties and just want to hang out with the people we actually like. It's empowering because people just don't say stuff like this, usually. The introvert narrative just isn't out there. So for people who find this song empowering by way of being relatable, I get it.

And that's what I think the future is. Relatable songs using specific anecdotes, rather than broad platitudes we've heard a million times before. Bring something new to the table, and you might actually change someone's life for the better instead of putting them to sleep. Unless the person is an insomniac, then awesome, you solved their problem.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Oops, I missed New Music Tuesday. Well it's Wednesday, and here's some music. I'm a rebel.

Eric Church is an artist I haven't mentioned much, other than I really like "Springsteen." He's someone I feel like I should be into more, but just hasn't pulled me in. He's obviously a talented musician, he probably listens to a lot of cool stuff, but most of his songs just leave me wanting. I don't know if his own conceit got in the way, or he was trying to straddle mainstream and indie and not really succeeding at either, or just hadn't found his groove, or whatever. That said, I've only heard his singles, so I understand he might have good album material. But until Mr. Misunderstood, I was never inclined to check out one of his albums.

How can I describe this song, besides "it's really good?" Well, this is pretty much what I wanted Eric Church to be. Finally, a single that doesn't fall short of his artistic perception. He definitely went with the "indie" side, and that was 100% the right choice. It suits him, and it's just damn good music. Because he's an established radio artist, I imagine this will get some airplay. I don't know how much play it will get since it's clearly too good for radio, or if it will resonate with mainstream listeners. But I applaud Eric Church for putting quality music out there, and this song and album will have much more lasting appeal than the latest Luke Bryan dropping, in the long run. That's the sign of a musician, an artist. I never thought he was a "poser" like some seemed to, but this is the first I've heard him live up to his potential. This is that perfect mix of country and heartland rock I was waiting for.

I hope this at least cracks the top 20, so I can put it on my best hit songs list of 2016. It's only January 6, but I guarantee this song is a shoo-in. I love it. EDIT: Mr. Misunderstood is currently at #17. Hot damn, pencil it in. I've only just started processing the album so I don't have all my favorites down yet, but I can tell you it's rich, textured, smart, and deserving of many listens.

Church's album is the first country album I've listened to in a while, since Ashley Monroe's excellent The Blade (which I got to late). I've definitely been more on a rock kick, especially alt-rock lately. I needed a break from country. (Though surprisingly, Church's album fits right in with my alt-rock mood. It's a cool, indie record store kind of album. In the good, non-pretentious way.)

The album that kind of took over my life when I first heard it last month is Weezer's 2014 release, Everything Will Be Alright in the End. First of all, what a great title. It might as well have "Don't Panic" written on it in large, friendly letters. Second, the title doesn't lie. After a string of mediocre to almost bad albums, Weezer came back BIG TIME here. Like, this might have actually unseated Maladroit as my favorite Weezer album. (Maladriot is hard to beat, as it's basically Weezer catchiness set to hard crunchy rock music.)

If you like Weezer, especially their classic early stuff, Everything Will Be Alright will probably be one of your favorite albums of the past few years. It's definitely one of mine. Just one great, catchy song after another, from "Back to the Shack" to "Lonely Girl" to "The British are Coming" to "Foolish Father" to the burst of an opening track "Ain't Got Nobody" and my personal favorite "Go Away," with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino. (Which I posted previously.) Pure OMG sonic yumminess.

I lost the thread of Weezer post-Maladriot (I guess you could say, I came undone) since I didn't care for anything off Make Believe other than the ubiquitous "Perfect Situation." That's actually a great song. I gave brief listens to the unremarkable albums they released between that and Everything, and came up with only one song I really liked, off of Hurley. But wow, what an awesome song. This would fit right in on Everything. Despite a few missteps, I count Rivers Cuomo as one of the top songwriters of my generation.

So there you go, two unrelated artists who have expanded my musical happiness lately!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Worthless Yahoo Headline of the Day


LIKE OMG YOU GUYS!! Hurray, apparently both Gwen and Miranda are more mature than the people who write Yahoo news headlines, who are clearly twelve. (I'm not betting the farm on Blake, though. Seriously, how does that corny doofball get these amazing women?)

I hate when celebs I love become tabloid fodder. Miranda might be the first one. I wish her happiness, dignity, and great music in her new relationship.