Posted on March 16th, 2017
I'll visit San Francisco at the drop of a hat for any reason at all. It's just an hour-and-a-half flight out of Seattle, which means I can get there from Redneckistan in around four hours. Wrabel has a show at the Rickshaw Stop? Sign me up!
One of the many nice things about San Francisco is that I never have to worry about playing tourist when I'm in town. I've been here so many times that I'm over it. Another nice thing is that there's a lot of vegetarian fare to be had in the city.
I've been wanting to try this Singapore-based burger chain called "Vegan Burg" but never wanted to venture out to The Haight to actually do it. Today was finally the day for a Cracked Pepper Mayo Vegan Burg. It's a beautiful presentation and a decent alternative to other veggie burgers, but I'd have rather have gotten my regular Johnny Rockets Streamliner (no grilled onions). The Vegan Burg is kind of boring. The only thing notable about it is the crispy texture... which I'm not sure I liked. Bun is decent. Seaweed fries were okay. The mango lemonade, however was weak. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Then it was time to meet up with Jester and friends for the show...
Which absolutely did not disappoint.
If Wrabel shows up in your neighborhood, go. Just go.
In addition to being a brilliant songwriter/musician, Wrabel is massively entertaining. He tells stories. He interacts with the audience. It's just non-stop wonderful from beginning to end...
He says he's working on an album. Hopefully to be released later this year.
Posted on March 9th, 2017
I was discussing those "songs that other people like, but you hate" lists and found out that no matter what a person's taste in music... there's inevitably some overlap on the "hate list." I find it to be strangely comforting.
When it comes to my personal list, it would be easy to populate it with popular artists I don't care for... like Nicki Minaj, Bob Dylan, or Lou Reed... but the least I can do is put some thought into it.
So here we go. Twenty Songs Other People Seem to Like But I Hate. It's an incomplete list, because I can only grab those songs that pop into my head... and songs I hate get buried and forgotten... but it should give you a pretty good idea of what I don't like in a song.
Mr. Roboto by Styx.
There are no words to describe my raging hatred of this idiotic song. Whether it's Dennis DeYoung's awful, awful voice and delivery... the inane, insipid, and painfully bad lyrics... or the fact that this is the cornerstone of one of the worst albums of all time, the "rock opera opus" Kilroy Was Here, it all adds up. Hate, hate, hate everything about this "music" and the fact that it was so popular back in the day.
Whip My Hair by Willow Smith.
I scream every time I hear this musical travesty. Repetitive garbage. Nobody gives a shit.
Your Love by The Outfield.
The whiny, horrific, screeching delivery of every word in the lyrics is enough to make me want to kill myself.
Take Me to Church by Hozier.
I do not get it. I cannot for the life of me understand how people like this song. I furthermore do not understand why everybody and their dog wants to cover this song.
Zombie by The Cranberries.
I was never a huge fan of The Cranberries, but I didn't hate them either. Songs like Linger were actually nice. But this... THIS piece of repetitive, unbearable screaming is not music. It's noise.
Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil.
THE LEAD SINGER CAN'T FUCKING SING! GAAAAHHHHH! And while I appreciate the Aboriginal people advocacy that this song strives for... the lyrics are just shit.
Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex.
No. Just no.
You're Beautiful by James Blunt.
This song is the very definition of "painfully awful," and yet it was a massive hit. Bad for me, because massive hits get a lot of airplay. The lyrics are grotesquely insipid and are delivered in a kind of wavering falsetto that drives people to kill.
Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye.
Boring as fuck with no redeeming qualities to make it worth listening to, this torturous pile of shit was posted to everybody's Facebook wall for weeks.
My Humps by The Black Eyed Peas.
Why, Lord? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?!?
Tall Cool One by Robert Plant.
If you love hearing "Lighten up baby, I'm in love with you" repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you want to die... this might be the song for you!
Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars.
A song so fucking popular that it was impossible to escape... which is all kinds of horrible when it's as bad as this is.
Hey, Soul Sister by Train.
It's not just me. Everybody thought this song was just plain awful.
The Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg.
Having to listen to whiny crap like this is what I envision hell to be like.
Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
How the hell anything by Macklemore gets airplay is something I will never understand. Thrift Shop is the most inexplicable of all. Its lame lyrics punctuated by swear words that are wildly out of place and seem to be added solely for effect. Making a lame song even worse.
Hey Jude by The Beatles.
Proving that even one of the greatest bands in the history of the world makes mistakes, Hey Jude and it's endless refrain of "na na na na" is as bad as it gets.
What's Up? by 4 Non-Blondes.
Linda Perry and her stupid-ass hat belting out this screech-fest of a song is enough to drive anybody suicidal. Which is a shame, because Linda Perry herself (AKA Mrs. Sarah Gilbert) seems like she's that effortless kind of cool that most people strive for but never reach.
Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
I would hope that I don't have to explain this one.
The Final Countdown by Europe
The song itself isn't quite so bad... it's just the way that Europe sings it like it's this massive epic that's crushing every other song ever made that has me hating on it.
Baby by Justin Bieber
To be honest, I loathe every single Bieber song I've ever heard. Which hasn't been many, because I avoid his "music" like the plague. The worst offender to me is Baby which is just lame-ass boy-band lyrics on repeat.
And there you have it! Hope I haven't destroyed your will to live.
Posted on February 23rd, 2017
The song Winterbreak is effortlessly haunting and beautiful, and is everything I love about the band wrapped up in a single song...
If you've heard a song by MUNA, it's probably I Know a Place which is poppy perfection...
And their latest bit of lyrical wonderment is called Around U...
Needless to say, this is an easy bet for one of my favorite albums of 2017
Posted on February 22nd, 2017
Katy Perry has a catchy catalog of hits which she supports with a variety of excellent music videos. She's an artist of talent and vision, and I've always respected her for the visual "world" she creates, even though I've not always been a fan of her music.
Her latest video for Chained to the Rhythm has just been released, and my estimation of her has ticked up a notch.
Yes, it's unnecessarily complex in spots for a pop song, but I do like it... and the video is amazing. On the surface it's all clever eye candy... but there's some depth there.
And a message...
Good luck getting that hook out of your head. It's been stuck in mine all day.
UPDATE: KAty performed the song at The Brits and it was pretty spectacular...
A lot of work went into that performance!
Posted on December 30th, 2016
My favorite song of 2016 is Somebody Else by The 1975. My second favorite song is Eleven Blocks by Wrabel. And had this song been on an album, it would have made my "Best Of..." list for 2016 even if the rest of the album was shit.
That's how awesome a song it is...
Anyway... here's my list of favorite albums from this past year...
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it by The 1975
This should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, as I've been raving about it this whole year. Just as I raved about The 1975's previous album non-stop since I first heard it. This is easily my favorite band going now, and seeing their live show last December made them a serious contender for one of my favorite bands ever. I just can't stop listening to their music, and their latest album dropped a slew of new songs that made that a truth throughout 2016. Hands-down my favorite is Somebody Else, which is a beautiful, haunting tune that has permanent residence in my head. I'm also loving Change of Heart, which is a direct song-sequel to The City. Rounding out my favorites are Paris and This Must Be My Dream.
#2 Reverie by Postiljonen
More haunting magic from the Swedish overlords of dream-pop. I love every song on this album but, if forced to pick, Blood Flow is a song that feels like a romantic warm blanket enveloping you, and it's tough to top that. If that song grabs you, Wait has a slightly more ethereal edge and is worth a listen. And if you want something a little more pop-forward, give Are You Thinking of Me a spin.
#3 E•MO•TION: Side B (EP) by Carly Rae Jepson
The original E•MO•TION (released 2015) should have ended up in my top five last year, but inexplicably didn't make my list at all. In an effort to rectify this, I'm putting Carly Rae Jepson's EP of songs that didn't make the cut as my No. 3 pick (thanks, Howard!). Given how these tracks are every bit as good as what did end up making the cut, you have to wonder if she's capable of making a bad song.
#4 Super by Pet Shop Boys
One of my favorite bands of all time, Pet Shop Boys has been releasing new music at a frantic clip, and I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Good, because it's more PSB music. Bad, because the best tracks from the past three albums would have made one of the best PSB albums of all time. Still, if your favorite PSB songs are their infectious dance tracks, Super has a lot to offer. Oddly enough, my favorite song is not one of those tracks, but the flawlessly-constructed The Dictator Decides, which sports some terrific lyrics over electro-pop accented tones of despair. Equally haunting is Sad Robot World, which is a track that drags you through a slow-moving tale of desolation... exactly the kind of thing Pet Shop Boys excel at.
#5 DNCE by DNCE
No, I have no clue how I ended up liking an album from a group headed up by one of the Jonas Brothers, but here we are. A great deal of my liking this album has to do with their breakout hit, Cake By The Ocean, which is pop genius (and originated when a friend of the band couldn't remember the phrase "sex on the beach"). They followed that with a video for Toothbrush (starring ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM!) and I was hooked. Then DNCE dropped a video for the infectious Body Moves and suddenly I was a fan of Joe Jonas & Company.
#6 Oh My My by OneRepublic
OneRepublic often feels like a band that's been spinning its wheels. Their songs (and albums) just kind of blend together in a homogenous blob. Except... what a great blob it is to listen to. Yes, Oh My My is more of the same, but that's not always a bad thing because it keeps me loving the band. A standout track is Kids, which has a kind of M83-infused hook to it. Note that the video for Wherever I Go is one of my favorites of 2016.
#7 Blackstar by David Bowie
For me, Bowie will forever be enshrined in an alter devoted to his 1983 album Let's Dance. Anything outside of that can be appreciated, but my love was reserved for that one album (come on, it's perfect!). Which means I've largely been ignoring his work for 33 years. Then Blackstar drops and my love of all things Bowie is renewed in a huge way. Two days later, Bowie dies and the world starts falling apart. I am convinced this is not a coincidence. Recorded as he was battling liver cancer, Blackstar is yet another example of Bowie being ahead of the pack, the album sounding like some kind of experimental leap of brilliance we're not going to hear again any time soon.
#8 Moth by Chairlift
In my humble opinion, Chairlift's best song is Bruises. It's lyrical, smart, and fun, and nothing else that's come out of the band has reached that height. It hasn't kept them from trying. Moth is another nicely subdued pop release that, unfortunately, will assumably be the band's last since they recently announced a breakup.
And now, just because I love it so much, here's Bruises...
#9 Junk by M83
Much like OneReublic, M83 just keeps slogging through more of the same. And, just like OneRepublic, I find myself being secretly grateful so I don't end up discouraged when a band I like heads in the wrong direction (see: Depeche Mode). Junk doesn't stray to far from formula, but it's a listen I enjoy just the same.
#10 Run the Jewels 3 by Run The Jewels
My being a fan of Run the Jewels confuses a lot of people. Probably because my love of music fits nicely into the pop genre (with emphasis on synth-pop and the 80's) and that's what I'm listening to 95% of the time. But then... then... there are times I need something else. There are times I need metal. There are times I need electronica. And, yes, there are times I need rap. And when that time comes, there's something about Run the Jewels that hits the spot. Their past two albums were fantastic... this third one was released early just last week, so I haven't quite settled into it yet... but I love what I'm hearing.
#11 Version Of Me by Melanie C
My favorite Spice Girl was Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham). My favorite singer of the Spice Girls was Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell). But lurking in my consciousness was always Mel C, who has been just plain solid both in and out of Spice World. Version of Me isn't breaking any new ground, but it's eminently listenable and one of those "in the background albums" I play often while working. That may not seem like a glowing endorsement, and maybe it's not, but the album gets played enough to earn a spot on my list for 2016.
#12 Perfume by Cosmic Explorer
My interest in J-Pop is firmly planted in the past, but every once in a while something new comes along to sink me into that world once again. Perfume was just such a ticket. Something about having Cosmic Explorer's sweet melodies and heavy synth playing at full volume while driving provides a calming effect... even though my grasp of the Japanese language has long-since faded.
And, that's a wrap for 2016! As always, I'm sure I missed something. If I think of it in these coming weeks, I'll be sure to add it here.
Posted on December 25th, 2016
Hoping you're having a Happy Christmas if you're into that kind of thing, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Faith. I was saddened to hear that yet another of my pop artist favorites from the 80's had passed away... this time George Michael. As half of the duo WHAM!, and later a solo artist, he had an entire catalog of hits that influenced a generation of musical artists and pop culture at large...
Rest in peace, sir. Your music will live on and on.
• LIVE FROM NEW YORK! I've watched this behind-the-scenes video three times now. Absolutely fascinating how Saturday Night Live can time things down to the wire like this on a live show...
I wish SNL would release more of these. Sometimes, they would be more entertaining than the actual show.
• BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR! This is epic...
This guy should totally do audio books.
• IT'S NOT MINE! For those who think I'm paranoid for having two complete camera security systems at my house... I give you this IMGUR thread about a guy who found that somebody was living in his home while he was at work. Holy. Crap.
• The 1947. I always love behind-the-scenes videos of manufacturing processes and this one from my favorite ball-cap manufacturer, '47 Brand, is pretty slick...
A lot of work goes into creating a great cap!
• The 1975. And now, for the best Christmas present of all, here's The 1975's full concert from The O2 in London. Don't know how long they'll keep it posted, so enjoy it while it lasts...
Amazing. And the only contender for my favorite album of 2016.
Here's ho ho hoping Santa treats you kindly tonight.
Posted on December 1st, 2016
I wish I had a nickel for every time Jester redefined my love of music.
I'd blog about something, but the only thing in my head right now is the lyrics to this hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking song by Wrabel.
Probably the best lyrics video I've ever seen. Magical.
His Twitter feed is filled with magic too.