Music and Art Monday, February 12, 2018: Soundtracks

How many times have you heard a song in a show or movie, only to have it get stuck in your head until you watched the show again or at least satisfied your brain with a listen on Spotify? Such is my life lately.

This past week was “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” by Irma Thomas. I got sucked into Black Mirror by Netflix’s great marketing. I swear this song is the only song they got permission for. It shows up in so many episodes you can’t help but wonder what exactly are the writers trying to communicate with this choice? Are we to assume all episodes of the show take place in the same horrific universe? Eek.

Before that it was yet another Netflix show, Stranger Things. The unmistakable sounds of the 80’s make this not just one of the most listenable soundtracks but one of the most memorable as well. It makes for particularly great driving music. And if you are the passenger you can enjoy Spotify’s “Stranger Things Mode”. Oooooo….

Ok, so it’s just a flash light… booo

The last song that gets stuck in my head all the time is the very first song from the movie Youth. Not only do they shove you right into the singers face for the first three minutes of the movie, they play the entire length of “You’ve Got The Love”, thereby placing it squarely in your subconscious, only to come back weeks and months later begging for a re-watch. While listening to this on Spotify I actually discovered the rest of the soundtrack is pretty darn good as well. Even the song sung by cows. If you never watch the movie (which you should) you should at least give the soundtrack a spin. Cows people, cows…

Sir Michael Caine directing cows in song, does it get any better than this?
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Music and Art Monday, January 22, 2018: Christian Metal

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I once had a pastor who said one of his nightmares was to get stuck in a rock concert. I had to chuckle when he said it (in a sermon) because one of the members of our church headed a metal band. Despite what the pastor may think, rock music isn’t all sex drugs and rock n’roll. Sometimes it’s theological.

Metal was not a genre I grew up listening to per se. Sure, there were bands like Metallica, Def Leppard, and Poison. But 80’s hair “metal” hardly qualifies as metal. In my teens, I listened to much of the roots of metal with Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, AC/DC, and The Who. The heavier sounds eluded me until my wife introduced me to Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, Nodes of Ranvier, and Alice Cooper’s Brutal Planet and Dragontown.

Still not sold on it, it took a moment of anxiety to change my mind. She had always claimed that metal mellowed her out. I was incredulous, how could something so loud and raucous mellow one out? So one particularly crappy day I looked up Christian Metal, because I figured if I couldn’t understand the lyrics, they might as well be “good”.

The first band I stumbled on was Becoming the Archetype. What got me hooked on them was their rendition of “How Great Thou Art” on the album Dichotomy. I could understand every word! It probably helped that I already knew them, but you know. The fact that they were loud and roaring made my anxiety melt, the noise drowned out my crazy thoughts.

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The whole album was so melodic, classical music came to mind. It was exactly what I needed in that moment of my life. Mellowing indeed.

My second favorite album of theirs, Celestial Progression, is a little less heavy and mixes in another of my favorite genres, electronica. There is also some sitar and a little ska thrown in, it’s an incredible mix of eclectic styles. It’s definitely worth a listen.

After that I explored the genre a bit, even joining Facebook groups dedicated to it. They introduced me to many other awesome bands including Demon Hunter, Sleeping Giant, I Shot the Albatross, and Haste the Day.

My current favorite, and what inspired me to write this post, is Seventh Star. Seventh Star is (was) headed by a guy in my church, so i may have a bit of a bias. I’m not even much a of a fan of their first album, released before he was the lead singer. Particular highlights of his career with the band are “The Seventh Star”, “My 96th Thesis” (the most Reformed metal song of all time), and the entire third album Undisputed Truth.

Unfortunately, the band broke up in 2008, but have reunited on occasion. If we are lucky they will do another tour soon. For the most part you can understand the lyrics, but metalcore wouldn’t be nearly as fun if you knew all the words. The good balance of comprehensible lyrics to unintelligible ones is a testimony to Johnny’s skills as a singer.  Having spent some time with him, I can hardly see him being such a great metal singer, he’s way too mellow. Hey, maybe I should take lessons! If listening to metal is mellowing, singing it must be all the more! He’s proof!

Maybe with some poking I could get some singing lessons!

Who’s up for listening to my first release? 😀

Music and Art Monday, January 15th, 2018: Just One Thing 

Otis Redding

I’ve been on a Motown kick lately, which is probably appropriate given today’s holiday.

It started as an innocent request to Google to play Otis Redding. Then all the flashbacks of listening to the oldies stations in my youth (when this music was only 20-30 years old!) came and made me find a Playlist on Spotify. 

Well here it is: https://open.spotify.com/user/classicmotownrecords/playlist/0bI05scZoM5amVNebOVZkH?si=7wDI64RIQWm_bRMWLbaNxw

Music and Art Monday, December 11th,2017: What Was I Thinking?

I was sorting out a tub of crusty old stuff the other day and found some of my old cds. What a time capsule!

You know you are “old” when you have to make sure your cd drive is hooked up to the computer. Who listens to cd’s anymore?

So what was I listening to just a few short years ago?

The first oldie I popped in was Carla Werner’s first album “Departure“.

Daparture

Never heard of her? There’s probably a good reason. Her last album was released in 2009, and it was much better than the first. But not much better. Snooze fest and an anemic voice. What was I thinking back then?

Next up was a copy of Forest For The Trees’ “Planet Unknown“.

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This isn’t a bad song for late 90’s electronica. But they aren’t on Spotify and judging by Google results, they probably aren’t around as a group anymore either. ‘Tis a shame.

Next into my cd drive was The Beatles “Anthology 2”. The middle anthology is personally my favorite. This is definitely the best period of the band. I’m actually quite glad to have found this one.

Anthology2

There was also a Paul McCartney live album, which is pretty meh. I saw him in concert, and after that there are very few good live albums that are worth it. Either be there or be square.

I stopped listening at this point. Sometimes nostalgia is not so fun. It just reminds you of better times or worse times, or just the fact that your taste in music isn’t always the most discerning. 

Also in the tub was some Norah Jones, a couple of compilation cd’s from record companies I used to get for free at the local record store, and a random Dave Matthews Band disc that I found in a whole case that some bro had dropped in the university parking lot. Nothing that I still listen to.

If I had continued I would have popped in Lily Allen’s “Alright Still“.

Alright

Which is actually my favorite of the bunch…

(except for the Anthology. But that’s not nostalgia, that’s timeless.)

Music and Art Monday: November 20th, 2017: Native American Heritage Month

I have been horribly lax with MAAM’s lately. Working and taking care of five little hooligans doesn’t leave much time for music or art appreciation. But Spotify reminded me that it’s Native American Heritage Month.

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Thanks Spotify

I was excited to see these playlists, as I got used to listening to KIYE while in Idaho this summer. This is probably the only station in the world to play pow-wow music, Marty Robbin’s “El Paso“, and an entire album of T-Pain, all in the same hour.

Sadly, when I clicked on the main playlist I was greeted with new aged flute music. While I understand this is certainly a genre produced by many Natives, it certainly didn’t satisfy my desire to hear the good stuff from KIYE. Some of the playlists were slightly better, but here is my version of a Native American Spotify Playlist:

Fawn Wood and Dallas Waskahat: One More Chance

This has some of that new agey flute in it, but I don’t care, I love the harmony.

Robbie Romero & Red Thunder: Ya Na Neh Yo

This is a bit of a rock song, in fact the whole album is pretty good.

Alex E Smith: Just For Old Time’s Sake

This is somewhat more “traditional” and what most people think of as Native music. Great harmonies.

Edmund Bull: Follow Your Dreams

Edmund Bull does a great blend of western country and chant that makes for a smooth and easy listen if you’re not used to some of the drums and dance circle music.

Northern Cree: She Was Gone

Pretty much anything by them. My favorite thing about them is their ability to place totally modern situations into round dance chants, like in “Facebook Drama”.

My eastern very white upbringing comes out on this one, I actually chuckled a little at the juxtaposition. Growing up on the politically correct East coast, we were taught to be anti-stereotypes to the point of being anti-culture. It was a jarring experience to come out West and see roadside stands selling beads and artworks and run by actual Natives, and even more jarring to hear them actually singing similarly to the “stereotypes” I had been taught to shun in school. Wasn’t this exploitive? Not that this describes all Natives, but the simple fact is that it is deeply intertwined into the culture.

On my very first trip to Northern Idaho in 2013 I actually had a crew boss tell us to turn off KIYE because he thought it might be considered “offensive” by some of the Native firefighter crews. Having worked with several Natives I can assure that crew boss that no, they are not offended.

If you are not stupid (i.e. disrespectful) about it, appreciating a culture for what it puts out on the public airwaves is not offensive at all. As long as you understand that there are in fact differences between tribes of different regions (for instance, teepees were a plains thing, not a SW thing) and don’t make stupid assumptions based on TV or movies you’re not generally going to make anyone mad.

Enough of that political sidetrack. Back to music. There is actually a pretty decent Playlist here of just powwow music. Look around Spotify or just tune in to KIYE or other similar stations online for some more great Native music.

Music and Arts Monday October 23, 2017: Meet Mo

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Mo at home in his cigar shop Holy Smokes

It’s been a long time since I did a M&A Monday, so I thought I would start anew with a good one.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Holy Smokes Cigar and Pipe Shop during it’s weekly “Cigars and Guitars” night. It seems the turnout was a bit lower than normal, but that didn’t stop the shop’s owner Mo Leverett from treating us to a few of his songs.

I met Mo just before heading out on last year’s adventure to Arizona, and even from that brief meeting I knew I liked the man. Occasionally you meet someone who you just know has had an adventurous life, from his look, his manner, or his way with words. This is one of those men. That evening he told the men gathered at his shop  his testimony, and confirmed to me his interesting life. I remembered that much when walking in to Holy Smokes Friday night.

But I forgot about his music.

It’s not often that I get hooked on someone’s music from hearing a live performance of it,  possibly because I don’t get out that much, but largely because live music can often lack the quality and depth of music carefully manufactured in a studio. Mo proved to be one of the rare cases. His music almost begs to be performed live, just so he can pour his emotion into it time and time again.

So here’s my recommendation this week, go check out his videos on YouTube. In particular I really enjoy “Like Hell Inside“, “Florida“, “If You Know What I Mean“, “It’s Your Family”, and “His Claim To Fame“.

Then if you like what you hear, head on over to his site and purchase a CD or two. Or three.

You won’t be disappointed.