Thursday, April 18, 2013

Music I/O

No new music for December, January, and the 1st 3 weeks of February. I think that the new Mumford and Sons came out but I decided they wanted too much for it. Odd. But then things got back to normal.
  • Jamie Lidell, eponymous. I think the 4th album I have from this British DJ turned R&B singer. Great stuff, great dance music. 3 stars.
  • Gold Panda, "Lucky Shiner", 2010. I think I got from my oldest daughter Erica tweeting. Instrumental electronica/dance music, I like it much better than most instrumental albums. Definitely catchy tunes. 3 stars.
  • Passion Pit, "Gossamer". I think Amazon recommended. Nice tunes, and I really like the different vocal textures of the male and female vocalists. 4 stars.
  • Young The Giant, eponymous, 2010. I think Amazon again. Nice tunes, maybe a little too commercial at times. 3 stars.
  • Atoms For Peace, "Amok". Thom Yorke of Radiohead's super band. Very listenable, Mr. Yorke's style is totally evident. 3 stars.
  • Idiot Glee, "Life Without Jazz". 5 track EP by Lexingtonian James Friley released by the local Hop Hop Records. These are very good songs, but the vocals really don't work for me. I think there are intonation problems that they try to hide with a lot of reverb, and I don't think it comes off. Too bad, because the songs are good. 3 stars.
  • Matt Duncan, "Soft Times". Another Lexington artist, he follows his fabulous 7 track first release with 12 great songs. Seriously pop arrangements, sunny, horns, it is a great sophomore effort. 4 stars.
  • Jimi Hendrix, "People, Hell & Angels". Whoda thunk it, a new Hendrix album? Unfortunately, nothing much very memorable at all. 3 stars.
  • David Bowie, "The Next Day". Wow, 17 tracks, and really not a weak one. Bowie has still got it. But, most of it very energetic, edgy, and anxiety producing. So 3 stars, except for "Where Are We Now?", which I really like and have worked up and gets 4 stars.
  • Bob Dylan, "Blood On The Tracks", 1975. This was a $2.99 special. The songs I knew off of this were "Shelter From The Storm" and "Tangled Up In Blue". The other 8 tracks are pretty mediocre. They grew on me some after more listens. Plus this is one of Dylan's crappy vocals periods (did he have good vocals periods?). 3 stars.
  • Dido, "Girl Who Got Away". Very easy listening, nothing really really catchy. 3 stars.
That brings us through March. Two new albums so far in April are still sinking in.

On the music out side, I feel like I get more comfortable performing all the time. In descending order of pleasedness, I am by and large pleased lately with my rhythm guitar playing, singing, lead guitar playing, and bass guitar playing. Last Sunday played at the jam at Paulie's Toasted Barrel, which goes from 4-8, and did a set of 6 songs. Then Tuesday night played 2 sets of 4 songs at the Electric Jam at the Henry Clay Public House. Then last night at the Wednesday Blues Jam at Cheapside I played 6 songs on bass behind the excellent Brent Carter -- and got to sing harmony on "Why Get Up", "That'll Be The Day", and "Thunderbird" -- and then got another 5 songs at the end on guitar and lead vocals. A little more of a crowd there, I think some Keeneland people, and it was a beautiful warm night.

Tuesday night was the last night for the Tuesday night jam. Jairaj Swann, bass player extraordinaire, had several reasons for not continuing to host the jam. So last night I talked to the owner and he was amenable to me hosting it. I talked to a good young bass player and drummer who were interested in continuing as well. So we'll see. Probably 1st time I'd try would be May 7, if nobody jumps on it before then. If I do it, I think I'm going for The Tuesday Night Rock & Roll Party.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Three Novels

I read three novels in the last week or so.

First, "Ship Breaker", by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is set in the same future dystopia as "The Drowned Cities" discussed here. It also has in a supporting role the half-man Tool who was one of the lead characters of "The Drowned Cities". From where Tool is, this seems to be before the other novel. I mentioned that this is being distributed as a Young Adult novel. The protagonist is indeed a teenager; he helps rescue the beautiful plutocrat "princess" and maybe wins her heart. Potentially another YA component: he has serious issues with his father. In fact, that relationship is so dark that I would not recommend this book for young teens.

Bacigalupi has made himself the master of this future dystopia, where the rising seas have vastly disrupted civilization and Monsanto rules the world. It is a chilling vision that he portrays. The narrative arc of the story is simple (single threaded), the pacing is good, it is an easy and enjoyable 336 pages.

Man, one thing I don't like about ebooks is how hard it is to figure out how many pages are in the book. I usually have to go to Amazon or B&N. I wish they would fix that.

Second, "Bitter Seeds" by Ian Tregillis. I think this was a $2.99 special I saw in the TOR blog. Basically, engineered, electrically powered Nazi superheroes fight British warlocks invoking elder gods in the Spanish Civil War and WW II. The story is told with narratives from both sides. It is well written and is a definite page turner. There is a sequel out and a third one due to be released this month. I will definitely read those. 352 pages. Amazon sez it is Tregillis' debut novel -- definitely a good start.

Third, "A Time Of Changes" by Robert Silverberg. I'm not sure how I picked this one up. Probably on sale and I thot, I haven't read Silverberg in a while, and I've been enjoying his stuff for 40 years, let's give this a try.

Then found it is a 2009 reissue (with a new preface by the author) of a 1971 release. I don't remember reading it then which is surprising because I was reading all of Silverberg in the 70s.

The story is of a planet whose culture/religion is based on complete abnegation of the self. Using first person pronouns is "talking dirty". The protagonist rebels against this, catalyzed by his meeting an Earthman who introduces him to a drug that allows people to share minds. You can't love others until you love yourself. The catchphrase of his new movement is "I love you" which you would never say under the old system.

Kind of fun to go back to the hippie ideals of the 60s -- taking drugs and opening up to others lead to a world of peace and love, yay! Of course, it didn't really work out that way, but, it was still fun to revisit those days of heady hope. 304 pages.