Does it Remove All of Our Pain?

For a couple of years some of my friends and I have been sharing music with one another. We review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group.

This week, we did something different. We tried an audio review; a pilot podcast episode.

Editors – The Back Room (2005)

There’s something about his voice I can’t pin down that reminds me of some more famous late ’90s/early ’00s alt. rock band. I’m not sure I nailed it exactly, but I’d say they’re kind of Tonic meets The Strokes meets Foo Fighters meets David Bowie meets The Bravery. And (I didn’t realize this until after we recorded) the late Chris Cornell. Continue reading

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A Sudden Taste of Magic

For a couple of years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music with one another. We’re supposed to review/rate whatever’s shared with us, but that doesn’t always happen.

The Winery Dogs – Hot Streak (2015)

Spencer shared another blues rock band he discovered, but this time it’s a bit harder. And it features Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater on drums. Continue reading

It’s Such a Fine Line

For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

Neil Young – Harvest (1972)

While I’ve heard a bunch of Neil’s stuff, I’m more of a CSNY fan – if only because I love their harmonies. Neil’s voice is a little nasally and whiny, and you really notice that when it’s just him singing. Continue reading

Why Don’t You Take Another Little Piece of My Soul

For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends (1968)

This is one of those albums I listened to on vinyl. Not that it really makes a difference, but there’s just something about laying on the floor at the end of a long day, listening to the quiet static of a needle as the record starts.

I tend to think of this as two separate EPs. The A side (Bookends to Bookends) as a one concept EP and the B side as just a collection of other songs.

I know it’s one of “the arts,” but like dance, I don’t always think of music (especially “popular” music) that way. Simon and Garfunkel are one of the few groups who make me remember music really is art. And this album specifically does so. Continue reading

Into the Half Light

For more than a year, some of my friends and former coworkers have been sharing music. The idea is that we’re supposed to review/rate what’s shared with us, then share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

The Aristocrats – The Aristocrats (2011)

Apparently the band got their name from a somewhat dirty jokes, and that shows in some of their song titles.

Spencer wasn’t kidding when he said this was an instrumental hard rock album with jazz influences. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Except maybe instrumental prog.

Instrumental albums all seem to have the same upsides and downsides. The main downside is that everything blends together. A potential upside (if done well – otherwise it’s another manifestation of that main downside) is that they have to be musically interesting to be more than background soundtrack to whatever else you’re doing while you listen to them. Continue reading

What They Say is No Surprise

One year ago this week, four of my coworkers (well, now they’re former coworkers) and I started playing a little music sharing game. In honor of this being our one-year mark, instead of sharing a complete album, I decided to share something a little different: a mix tape of songs I thought the guys who’ve been playing this game would share, or songs I’m surprised they haven’t shared yet.

In addition to the five of us that started playing a year ago, we’ve had four others play this game with us: our boss, a former colleague, my brother, and (currently still playing) a guy I’ve been in a band with since about 2005.

But of course Spencer couldn’t put together a playlist based on Tim, Chris and me, plus five other people who stopped playing before he started. So he just shared an album. And then so did Chris and Tim.

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra at the Sands (1966)

When Spencer shared this album, he also related a story that was often told to the USU jazz band by the director, Dr. Gudmundson.

Dr. G. was playing saxophone in the house band on a cruise ship through the tourist season. The drummer of the band was an incredible player, great swing feel every night. Every night after the gig, this fellow would get monstrously drunk and listen to this album on his Walkman, tears streaming down his face, bottle in hand, shouting, “Can you believe they swing this hard? This is beautiful, man!”

Dr. G would tell every one of his students to buy this album and listen to it, so we could learn to swing that hard. I never did. But Spencer did, and he claims that nobody except the Count Basie Orchestra can do it. I’m not sure I agree. They sure swing, but maybe I’m not drunk enough to think nobody else can do it. It’s all in the drummer. Not that I’m claiming to have ever played as well as the Basie band, but in my limited experience a jazz band is only as good as their drummer. Continue reading

Just Play with Me

Some of my co-workers and I started sharing some of our favorite music. We’ve been doing it for a while, but now we’re actually reviewing them and sharing those reviews with one another.

This week, we decided to share live albums, partly because one of the songs I shared last week was a live version. I think live albums should be held to a greater standard than a studio album. The studio albums are there for me to familiarize myself with a band’s music and enjoy them when I can’t see them live. But the point of a band is not to put out great studio albums. It’s to be great entertainers, and that really means putting on a great live show. If all a band is going to do is play their songs just like they were on their studio albums, I’m going to be disappointed. At least improvise your solos. Of course there are examples of bands taking it too far – Dave Matthews Band will jam on one song for 20 minutes, and while the band might be having fun, it doesn’t always translate into fun for the crowd. Unless you’re so high a Hootie and the Blowfish concert sounds good. But the point is live concerts should give you something you can’t get from a studio album, otherwise what’s the point?

These are a live albums, so there’s some language between songs, etc. If that kind of thing offends you either A) find an edited version or 2) don’t listen to it all.

Also, all of these except one are double albums, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy them. I didn’t listen to a single album straight though except for Chris’ suggestion. I listened to the first half of everyone’s, then the second half. It was a nice way to break it up.

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.

Queen – Live at Wembley Stadium (1986)

I was sure Tim was either going to share Kiss’ Alive! or this. So I wasn’t surprised.

Most of the songs off this album I had heard before. Some of them though, were nice new introductions. Songs like In the Lap of the Gods (which is so like most of the stuff off A Night at the Opera/A Day at the Races, I’m surprised I haven’t heard it before), Tear it Up, Impromptu, and Brighton Rock were new to me. Well, the covers on the second half of the album were also new to me, but I haven’t heard the original version of those, so I have no reference on them as covers or as live versions. Well, whatever (also, that was a sweet run-on sentence). Continue reading