Some of my co-workers and I have been sharing some of our favorite music, rating them, reviewing them and sharing those reviews with one another. I thought I’d share my thoughts on their suggestions (and their thoughts on mine) with you here.
Here’s how I rate things. If I give something one star, it means I don’t think it qualifies as music. Five stars mean I wish I wrote the thing. Most music for me is a three.
Washed Out – Life of Leisure (2009)
My coworker told me this was made to sound dreamy and nostalgic, like it was being played from an old cassette deck. “Like ’80s beach music,” he said. Whatever that means. Actually, it means this. I would also add synthpop to that description, just so you know. You could assume so from likening it to the ’80s, but there was other stuff going on then, too.
At the core of some of this, like all electronic music, is sampled music. That bothers some people. And it might bother me if someone was sampling my music. But since that hasn’t happened yet, we may never know. I prefer my musicians to write their own music, but it’s common enough that I’m not surprised to learn someone didn’t write something they’re known for.
This is just an EP; six songs representing a snapshot of what this guy was working on at the time. The downside of only six songs? Nothing really stood out to me.
Well, there was one lowlight. Get Up definitely sounded like it was being played by a tape deck; one that wasn’t quite working right all the time. Sometimes it sounded like the tracking was off and it was a little annoying.
I liked most of the album, but it’s not something I’d put on to listen to. This is background music. There seem to be two main kinds of electronic music. Dreamy synthpop stuff like this that plays in the background or pounding party music. I wouldn’t really go to either, but it’s nice to know about if I need to set a mood. I’d give this a 2/5 just because I wouldn’t miss it if I forgot about it.
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
The only Stevie Wonder I’ve heard before is stuff off the radio. So I wasn’t quite prepared for what I got.
It wasn’t until Contusion that I started feeling good about this album. I had been getting a political and religious commentary, but then I just got a kinda sweet, kinda weird instrumental prog jam. Sure. Why not?
Then I got the only Stevie Wonder song I knew I loved. I mean, I liked I Wish‘s funky beat and I liked the groove in Pastime Paradise (I think I recognize it from Weird Al’s Amish Paradise, which parodied Coolio’s Gangsta Paradise, which sampled Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise), but Sir Duke is the one Wonder song I sought out after hearing on the radio. I love everything about it.
Of course I had heard Isn’t She Lovely, but a radio edit version. But I’ve never really been a fan. It’s not bad, but it’s just not my thing.
And the rest of the album … meh. It wasn’t bad. With those few highlights, I’m giving this album a 3/5. I doubt I liked it as much as the coworker who shared it with me, but that’s not unusual.
I shared a bootleg of a live concert, so it’s technically not a real album. It came straight from the soundboard at the Ed Kenley Amphitheater in Layton, Utah. I think less people have this album than have walked on the moon. I’m not even sure the band has it.
The artwork is something I created for my iTunes library based on the logo from a couple of their albums. I don’t like that the “N” throws it off balance, but I’m not sure what to do about it.
Anyway, I’m sorry that you won’t be able to listen to what I shared with my coworkers. I did put together a Spotify playlist with most of the same song, although some are studio recordings (I couldn’t find a live versions of some) and the ones that are live are from different shows, so I doubt it’ll be the same. And I couldn’t find the Dirt Band playing some songs at all.
These guys are grammy winning country/folk rock artists. They’ve been around for almost 50 years now. American folk music saw a revival in the 50s and 60s and eventually lead to the hippie folk rock of the 60s and 70s. In response, the Dirt Band were instrumental (pun intended) in a bluegrass revival with their seminal Will the Circle be Unbroken series of albums which featured guest artists who are legends in the bluegrass community.
Some of the songs at this show were a little more country than I usually listen to, but that’s not why I love this album. They play a lot of songs I like, and they don’t just play the album versions. They riff off one another, both musically and in their stage banter. They’re real entertainers.
While the band as a whole has been an influence on me, how I do shows, and how I write music, John McEuen – their banjo player – if one of my top three banjo influences (ahead of Guster and Flogging Molly). When he played Grandfather’s Clock at this show, it blew my mind. First of all, that song is the reason why standing floor clocks are called Grandfather’s Clock. It originally had words to it, but how McEuen does it is my favorite. You need to watch him play it to really understand:
I love it. I can’t replicate it, but I’m working on it.
What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. If my coworkers ever let me know what they thought (they probably won’t), I’ll put that here.