Friday, July 17, 2015

How Does Walter Tunis Do It?

Walter Tunis is the Lexington Herald Leader's music critic. We moved to Lexington in 1981, and he had become their music critic just before that, so he has been the music critic for our entire Lexington history. I follow his blog, which normally means I read his pieces before they hit the paper.

He goes through I'm guessing 2x the new music that I do. So the question is, how does he do it? I listen to new music most afternoons, and it still doesn't seem like there's enough time for the music to sink in to where I can form an opinion on it. So how do he do it? I'm guessing he's 5-10 years younger than me, but, I really think it's that his brain is wired for it somehow.

OK, enough excuses, down to new music. A little sparse lately, but lots of good stuff in the spring. This goes back to March.

  • Bjork, "Vulnicura". Another fine effort from our greatest living modern composer. 4 stars.
  • Modest Mouse, "Strangers to Ourselves". This is more reminiscent of their earlier stuff, particularly "Good News For People Who Like Bad News". 3 stars.
  • The Lone Bellow, "Then Came The Morning". I believe a Krugman recommendation. From Brooklyn, 3 great singers. I was going to move it from Alternative Rock to Folk, but then thought, Country? Some songs have pedal steel, and then they came through Lexington as the opening act for some male country singer. But I left as Alternative Rock. Great vocalists, 4 stars.
  • Will Butler, "Policy". The non-frontman brother from Arcade Fire. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the songs. 3 stars.
  • Van Morrison et al, "Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue". Van does the standard duets album, with a more varied group of artists than you would expect. He and Taj Mahal have fun with "Now Can A Poor Boy?" off of his latest album. I worked it up but I think it's too repetitive for the jam. "Some Peace of Mind" with Bobby Womack may be one of Bobby's last recordings. Also nice to hear Mavis Staples, George Benson, Joss Stone and Steve Winwood. Also fun was the nicely self-referential "Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby" with ... P.J. Proby. 3 stars, 4 stars for "How Can A Poor Boy?".
  • Sufjan Stevens, "Carrie & Lowell". An ode to his parents. He has become my exemplar of Emo. I love his high, reedy vocals. 4 stars. Here's the 1st track.

  • Derek & The Dominos, "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs", 1970. Somebody told me I needed to get this. Some great material, 3 stars. Note, I have started creating smart playlists such as "Eric Clapton +", which has this, Cream, his solo work, etc. Fun to listen to sometimes.
  • Passion Pit, "Kindred". Not as good as their last, but I still really like this kind of peppy pop. 4 stars.
  • San Fermin, "Jackrabbit". Seems like less than a year since their 1st release. Still very different. Another Krugman pick. 4 stars.
  • My Morning Jacket, "The Waterfall". The pride of Louisville delivers some great tunes. A very consistent effort. 3 stars.
  • Mumford & Sons, "Wilder Mind". Very different than their prior (1st?) album. That was one of the epitomes of modern Power Folk, this has lost the folkiness and is just more poppy alternative rock. 3 stars.
  • Todd Rundgren, "Global". What a great album! I particularly liked "Blind", which calls out climate change denial.

    Also a nice feminist anthem "Earth Mother". I went on and posted, mansplaining be damned.

  • Rainy Milo, "This Thing of Ours". Thank you WRFL. I am such a sucker for Britpop like this - I love the cockney accent. 4 stars. I posted the title song twice already, might as well do it here too. I love the harmony on the chorus.

  • Eric Clapton / B.B. King, "Riding With The King", 2000. Bought this and the next just after B.B's death. This has some great tunes, 4 stars. I love this album cover too. It shows the proper respect.

  • B.B. King, "Live At The Regal", 1965. Someone, I think maybe Clapton, called this out as one of the finest collections of some of B.B.'s early stuff. I totally agree, I love the band, and the upbeat, syncopated arrangements. 4 stars.
  • Of Monsters And Men, "Beneath The Skin". Nice tunes, not as good as their last tho. 3 stars.
  • Florence + The Machine, "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful". This apparently went to #1 with a bullet. There were some very interesting, very complex vocal arrangements. But, overall the tone of her singing is I think a little too uniformly strident for my ear at this point. 3 stars.
  • The Pimps of Joytime, "Jukestone Paradise". From my friend guitarist Dane Sadler from Richmond. He posted this tune:

    I was like, what is this, hiphop rockabilly? The band has bass/macbook, drums, guitar/vocals/macbook, and 2 female vocalists/percussionists a la Sheila E. As I listened to more of it, I got strong memes of Prince and Sly & The Family Stone. High praise indeed. From Brooklyn via New Orleans. 4 stars.
Ok, that's up to the middle of June. It's been a bit slower since then, phew!

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