Category Archives: music

>Another Stupid Year End List

>I’ve never done this before but folks everywhere are compiling their year-end lists of favorites, so I thought what the hell. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. First item listed is my favorite, others are honorable mentions.

I have to qualify my list by saying a couple things mentioned here were released at the end of 2009 — notably the One EskimO album and the Margaret Atwood book. Both came out in September 2009, but they didn’t cross my radar until 2010 so I’m including them here. They’re just that good and fuckit, it’s my list, dammit.

Anyway, tell me what cool music/movies/books/TV crossed your radar this year. I’m always looking for good recommendations.

Music:

1- Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs, God Willing & The Creek Don’t Rise. If he doesn’t win a Grammy for this I’m gonna cry.

• Pacifika, Supermagique
• One EskimO, One EskimO

Books, Fiction:

1-The Passage, Justin Cronin. OMG clearly the best vampire novel ever written, bar none. Do not pick up this book if you haven’t cleared your schedule because you literally will be unable to put it down.

• The Year Of The Flood, Margaret Atwood
• Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

Nonfiction/Memoir:

It’s purely coincidental that both of my pics are music-related (on my to-read list is the Patti Smith memoir, which won the National Book Award. I’m sure I’ll love that, too). Oh, and if you’re wondering why the number of eff-bombs has escalated on my blog in recent weeks, blame Keith Richards.

1- Composed, Rosanne Cash. Loved this book, despite her infatuation with the word “elegiac.” For anyone wanting gossip about her marriage to Rodney Crowell or other kiss-and-tell subjects, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But if you want to know about how music can move a soul, well, this is the book for you.

Life, Keith Richards

Movies:

This was a tough call because we haven’t seen a few biggies yet: “Black Swan” and “Winter’s Bone,” for example. And I’m trying to think if a movie really astonished me this year, in the same way that “District 9” and “Up In The Air” really moved me last year. I loved the three “The Girl…” movies, but the first one didn’t really make sense without the second, and the third was a throw-away. I didn’t love “Inception,” I thought it was an FX movie without any real story or character development. We tend to see documentaries but I missed a couple of the biggies as well. So my list is definitely incomplete.

1- The Social Network

• 127 Hours
• Exit Through The Gift Shop

Documentaries:

1- Casino Jack & The United States of Money. Damn. To think we went from this to the fucking Tea Party. Amazing.

• Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work

Television:

TV really sucked this year. I was disappointed in “Mad Men,” which seemed to kinda run out of steam. “Boardwalk Empire” was promising but I can’t really say it was the best thing I saw all year. Probably the most interesting new show I saw was Bravo’s “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist,” which actually gave the contest reality show concept a little class. But really for this category I’ve got nuthin’.

Theater:

1- Time Stands Still. Heartbreaking story about two war correspondents dealing with the horrors of Iraq. Absolutely superbly acted. Will probably get ruined when someone inevitably turns it into a movie.

• American Idiot
• Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Magazines

1- Harper’s, my perennial favorite. If you aren’t reading Harper’s you’re just wasting your time.

• Cook’s Illustrated. I know they’re derided as cooking Nazis but I love the recipes and the information.

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>Feel Good Friday

>So much bad news, so many depressing pictures: sometimes you need to hear something positive.

Macy Gray’s newest did the trick for me. She says she wrote the song during a really difficult time, but she got pulled out of her funk when she heard her daughter’s laughter. Good reminder to us all. So shake your booties, boys and girls.

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>Christian Music’s Loss Will Be Mainstream Music’s Gain

>This week the enormously talented Christian singer/songwriter Jennifer Knapp came out.

I have interviewed Knapp many, many times over the years. I’ve always admired her as a songwriter and performer. She’s been nominated for Grammy Awards, won Dove Awards, had major Christian radio hits, you name it. And now, of course, her Christian music career is over.

Seriously, if Amy Grant’s albums could be yanked off store shelves for getting a divorce, I’m not holding out much hope that the Christian music industry will continue to play Knapp’s music or sell her CDs. Hey, they could surprise me, but I’m a realist.

Knapp’s decision to come out was extraordinarily brave; already I’ve seen so-called Christians label her “an example of hellbound Christianity.” I’m sure the next few weeks will be un-fun for Knapp as the intolerant freak show rears its head. So I just wanted to send a cyber-hug to Knapp for having the courage and faith to step out of the closet in which so many of her fellow Christian music artists remain–you know who you are, people! And guess what: so does everyone else!

This is the dirty little secret of the Christian music industry, of course. There are loads of gay artists, and I daresay most of them suffer with the psychological trauma of feeling there is something wrong with them, of having to live a lie or live in the shadows. How screwed up is that: make someone choose between a career and living an authentic life, just so we can maintain the comfortable status quo? That was the exact opposite of what Jesus was about.

And here’s another thing: everyone knows who these gay artists are and they are happy to ignore it because they are all making loads of money off of these artists. Until someone has the courage to step out and say, “enough. I’m not going to live like that anymore.” And then they’re gay-listed from the radio playlists and their CDs are pulled off the shelves of the Family Christian bookstore. That’s pretty hypocritical, if you ask me. And it also just proves how wrong your worldview is and how intolerant and anti-Christian your brand of religion is.

So here’s one of Jennifer Knapp’s songs, performed on Live From Studio B. It’s a Christian music TV program, so watch it before they yank it to purge themselves of teh gaiii. If you like her style of music, consider checking out her new CD, “Letting Go,” which releases in May.

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>Feel Good Friday

>I love this song from The Heavy. The video’s a little trippy but the song will get you moving.

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>What I Did This Weekend

>We were in New York City to catch this preview:

The verdict? Very good, and bound to be another big hit with you young kids.

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>Don’t Have To Read The News

>I was first introduced to the amazing folk musician Greg Brown thanks to “Prairie Home Companion.” Now I’ve been reintroduced to him thanks to the movie “Crazy Heart,” where this extraordinary songwriter’s “Brand New Angel” appears. So I dusted off a couple of my old CD’s, including a favorite, One More Goodnight Kiss, and found this gem of a song, “Our Little Town.”

Sorry for the cheesy video, it was the only one I could find on YouTube. Give the song a listen, and give the lyrics a read.

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>Why We Help

>Rush Limbaugh is an ass. He doesn’t seem to know that a helping hand is far more powerful, and far more enduring, than a shower of bombs.

He forgets we come on the age’s most uncertain hour, and sing an American tune….

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Filed under Haiti, music, Rush Limbaugh

>Your Burdens Will Be Shared

>For the people of Haiti and those suffering everywhere, may you find Grace in the most unexpected places, a friend to help carry the load, and someone to lift you higher.

For more, read Bob Herbert’s column today, ”Resolve Among The Ruins.”

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>Beach Music

>I wanted to introduce folks to one of my most favorite artists, Pacifika. They’re Canadian by way of Peru and the Caribbean, and their music gives off so much warmth, I feel like I’m on the beach in Costa Rica. The perfect warm-up to a snowy January day.

I also think vocalist Silvana Kane is so unbelievably gorgeous and sexy that I’d like to come back in my next life as her. Just in case I get to pick these things.

So enjoy. I’m thrilled to learn that they’re putting the finishing touches on a new album right now. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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>So You Think You Can Dance?

>It would appear that’s up for debate. The harshest critic is the assistant manager-type who tries to end the shenanigans by walking off with the boom box about halfway through. Dude, that’s harsh.

Anyway, I submit this for your amusement. Blogging will be light as I’m off to spend my economic stimulus check in Norway and Sweden for a week. Vi sees!

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