1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2014. 1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014, Concerti, Modern creative, Music, Orchestral Music, and Song Cycle.
This is a compilation of performances of some of Thomas’ writing for orchestra. I got this from the library by accident but decided to listen to it anyway. Read More
1965, 1967, 1985, 1986, 2004, and Music. 1965, 1967, 1985, 1986, 2004, Chamber Music, Modern Classical, Music, New Music, and String Quartet.
This disc collects the first three of Kagel’s quartets and pairs them with a piece he wrote for string quartet and piccolo (Dietmar Wiesner guests on that piece). Read More
1915, 1919, 1922, 2004, and Music. 1915, 1919, 1922, 2004, Lieder, Modernism, Music, Piano music, and Post Modernism.
This is one of those discs that pairs two different types of music and so, right off the bat, kind of annoys me. Ives has plenty of songs to release a whole disc (or many discs) of them, without instrumental music. (For example, one of his collections is called 114 Songs.) And he’s got plenty of piano music to do the same. I know this is something I need to get over, but I don’t fully understand the reason to program like this. As to the actual music: Read More
I haven’t read the novel (I gather it’s one of Maugham’s lesser regarded works) but I feel like the edge that I have always felt in his writing is present here, which is no small accomplishment. Benning gives a bravura performance in the title role (though everybody’s good) and the production design is excellent. But it’s all a little All Above Eve. 7/10 Read More
This band plays pretty traditional jazz for the 21st century – sure, there hints of more radical stuff, including odd syncopation and some relatively out playing by Ellis. But, for the most part, this is pretty mainstream jazz., primarily rooted in the blues. What makes it more interesting is Hunter, who is a phenomenal player who manages to play both bass and rhythm or lead at the same time (on his custom guitar). Ellis’ range of instruments also helps create a wider variety of experiences for us. So this is basically just above average mainstream jazz. It’s good, but it’s Read More
Like most music obsessives, I know of Townes Van Zandt. But I don’t know his songs too well – I have only ever heard his debut and Steve Earle’s tribute album. This is an impressionistic film: though there is some attempt a chronological portrait of Van Zandt’s life, it is inter-cut with performance and interview footage and reminiscing. And though I am not inclined to agree with those who think Van Zandt was The Greatest American Songwriter of All Time (sorry folks, that’s Bob Dylan…by a lot), I do find this a compelling portrait, when it could have been messy. Read More
1920, 1924, 1928, 1933, 1946, 2004, and Music. 1920, 1924, 1928, 1933, 1946, 2004, Impressionism, Music, Orchestral, Romantic, and Symphony.
This is a collection of some of Honegger’s works, pairing his three most famous pieces – the “symphonic movements” with one of his symphonies and a symphonic poem. The third symphony begins with a loud, fast movement that has been aptly described as “stormy.” It’s the kind of thing that makes me think maybe I was wrong to not invest more time in Honegger. Sure, it’s rather traditional for the era, but it’s the kind of thing I like. The second movement is considerably softer, more lyrical, though not exactly as somber as I might have expected (though it gets Read More
This is one of those mildly amusing sit coms that everyone goes nuts for because it’s British. Okay, maybe that’s a little mean. But I feel like this premise (irascible shop owner and his friends) has been done before. To be honest, it took me a really long time to warm up to this show. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood. I do feel like it got funnier as it went on, even if the pattern of the jokes really didn’t change much. Sit Coms are generally boring. This is better than many, but hardly one of the great Read More
I’ve generally enjoyed these movies way more than I ever thought I would, but this one is so ridiculous, so convoluted, so unbelievable that whatever goofiness really doesn’t make up for the mess. (Though, I can’t help but think that the second one was maybe more of a mess than I remember.) It shouldn’t be this hard to figure out what is going on in what is, essentially, a kid’s movie. The character motivations are entirely – and I mean entirely – at the service of the plot. And it’s sooo long. Oh, and the weird Once Upon a Time Read More
A manchurian slave camp?!?!? Seriously, who writes this stuff? There’s no fear of consequences for anyone because so many of the background characters are animated and it feels like most of the human characters will make it. Super worshipful of old comics, old movies and particularly Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon (not one of my favourites). But beyond that film, did anyone really make movies like this? It actually feels more indebted to old comics that nobody alive would have read. (Well, most people.) I feel like this is supposed to be part of a serial as the Sky Captain doesn’t Read More
Not having heard the initial album, where she apparently rapped, I can’t say what exactly about this is supposed to be nu metal (though I’m hardly a nu metal expert). To me it sounds more like what I might call emo metal, way to metal to be emo, but way to artsy fartsy to be straight up metal. Also, it’s signicantly more hardcore (or rather metalcore, yuk yuk yuk) than most nu metal I’ve heard.The relatively straight-forward metal is made less enjoyable by the sheer ponderousness and pretention of the concept, which makes me wish that some people just weren’t Read More
Full disclosure: I never once took physics in high school and I certainly never took physics after that. My math background is so far in my past that I cannot rely on it. So you have to take everything I have to say about the physics of this film with a grain of salt. But before I get to the nature of the content, let me just say that this is a poorly made film: the narrator is brutal (his voice is given some kind of effect to make him sound like he’s from “Deep Space” and the script is Read More
Coming at an artists backwards is always a big of an issue. Not only as it’s sort of unfair to the artist – we get our notions of what the artist sounds like when they are “mature” and try to apply that to their early work – but also as it’s unfair to the listener, often, because we don’t have a chance to grow with the artist, to learn from whatever journey they’re on. For example, I had no idea Acoustic Ladyland actually started out as an acoustic band performing Hendrix covers. I mean, I did know that intellectually, but Read More
It’s amazing what a great director can do with material that might otherwise turn you off. The wife assures me that the third book is considerably better than the first two, and that may be true, but it’s pretty much astounding to see the quality improve so drastically with the change in direction. Cuaron practically reboots the franchise here: the colour of the students has changed and they now represent multicultural Britain instead of the white private school of the first two movies; and whether or not its closer or further from the source material, Cuaron’s Hogwarts is drastically redesigned Read More
1590s, 1610s, 1988, 2004, and Music. 1590s, 1610s, 1988, 2004, Choral Music, Music, Polyphonic Chant, Renaissance, and Vocal Music.
How we remember the past is always fascinating. They say the winners write history and that’s fine when it comes to political violence, but how relevant is that to art? Why exactly was Gesualdo forgotten for a couple centuries? Very briefly, the story with Gesualdo is that he was considered a minor Renaissance composer and then completely forgotten. When he was “rediscovered”, contemporary musicologists and composers were shocked to hear how adventurous his music was for the era; in fact little of the baroque and classical eras was this daring in terms of chord changes and the use of dissonance. Read More
I think there is a real tendency to look at a few of the moments on this disc – when Frisell really lets loose in the ways he can – and decide that this is some kind of return to form – for those people who do not enjoy his Americana obsession. My problem isn’t with his playing – though occasionally he does play it too straight – it’s more with the music surrounding his playing. I’m all for artists taking risks and this is a real curve ball given the kind of music he had mostly been making over Read More
I feel like they really are on to something on the first track, like some kind of unholy mixture of post-hardcore and Stereolab. But the second track – and all future noise fillers on the album – is just pseudo-avant-garde nonsense – honestly people have been making “music” like that since at least mid-’70s (and likely the 1950s). “Autant zig-zag” is I guess a little closer to what I thought I would be getting; like a more directionless GY!BE without the chamber influence and with more of a not so obvious pop – or at least Krautrock – influence, but Read More
This is yet another excellent Michael Palin travel series with the usual: great scenery, fascinating places and people, and Palin’s general affability. The only thing I can really say in criticism is that it seems a shame they were only able to get 6 hours out of 6 month trip through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I am guessing that a longer series would have involved endless shots of him walking up or down or along a mountain. Well worth seeing for any fan of travel documentaries, as is always the case with everything he has Read More
I have always sort of been annoyed by our collective obsession with vocalists. The human voice is indeed a powerful instrument, but it is hardly the only instrument out there. And I always am mystified when I see releases credited to vocalists when that vocalist isn’t even present on every track. Now, the music here is intended to feature a vocalist but there are moments that do not and one piece that does not include vocals at all. Why feature it under a vocalists name? It doesn’t make any sense!!!!! Alright, I’m over it. Now, the real review begins: Frankly Read More
Watt’s second album is an interesting thing: a guitarless trio playing what I guess you could call post-hardcore rock and roll with lyrics that often seem almost country. I’m not sure if that description sums it up. Idiosyncratic might do a better job. The musicianship is excellent – this is Watt after all, perhaps the best bass player to emerge from the various American punk scenes of the ’80s – and the arrangements are consistently interesting. The songs aren’t the most compelling despite, or perhaps because of, their idiosyncratic nature. It’s certainly a unique beast. 7/10 Read More
This is a very solid “post-fusion” album, you might say. I say post-fusion because this is mainstream jazz that has been made in the awareness of fusion (and free to some extent, as well) but it is hardly readily identifiable as fusion. Everything here is great: the tunes, the playing, the moods. The one problem is that it isn’t exactly new. 8/10 Read More
This is one of Herzog’s least coherent recent documentaries but despite that, it is still full of powerful moments and, as always, contains an interesting portrait of someone driven to extreme behaviour. Herzog seems even more interested in following his whims here than in most of his other docs: he goes to a diamond mind, he examines a rooster, etc. But he has also found an interesting subject (I’m guessing he looked into Plage’s death and that is how he found this guy). Herzog’s tendency to focus on people longer than their prepared statements last lets us see the real Read More
This is a shock coming after their debut. Where their debut lacked songs, felt like a brain-dump with no editing, opted for some pretty cliche sounds in the production department and generally seemed to try to hide what competent musicianship existed, this is the opposite. This sounds like a band this time out, rather than some people tinkering around in the studio with their friends. And they actually sound like they can play all of the time. And there are some actual songs written (more than two). The lyrics are still often pretty cringe-worthy, but on the whole this is Read More
2004 and Music. 2004, Arabic Popular Music, Avant rock, Death Metal, Experimental, Grindcore, Metal, Music, Spaghetti Western, Surf Rock, and World Music.
Trey Spruance can do whatever he wants. Yes, this is certainly more scattershot / inconsistent-tonally than their earliest efforts, if only because of the concept of different bands playing different styles. And yes, the concept doesn’t quite hold up. But so what? As usual, Spruance shows that nobody can really hold a candle to him in the genre-hopping “genre”. He can do anything. And well. He continues to blow my mind. If I had any kind of musical talent, this is what I would be doing with my life too. 9/10 Read More
Years ago I saw a film he scored and evidently I liked his music enough that I wrote his name down. I can’t say that I remember what film, but it wasn’t this one. This isn’t exactly my kind of “art” music but it has an insistent quality that makes me want to keep listening. I like it more the more I listen to it, even though at first I was a little disappointed. But at the same time it is hard to recommend it to English listeners as a piece of music, as it has a little too much Read More
This is one of the most provocative movies I’ve ever seen. It’s also hilarious. The stunt casting actually works, as it’s one of the neatest visual tricks I’ve seen for seeing inside a character. It’s also a very ambiguous and thought- (and outrage-, no doubt) provoking discussion of abortion that perhaps leaves you with as many questions as it suggests answers for. It’s a remarkable movie. The episodic nature is perhaps the one drawback. 9/10 Read More
I remember the instant hipster derision when this came out. Specifically, I remember watching the lead single’s video, and a friend of mine – a hipster if memory serves – was nearly apoplectic when Slash stepped forward to play the solo. Apparently such a longstanding expression of “rock” authenticity was just totally uncool, at least at that moment in time. But hipster derision doesn’t really tell us anything at all about the music on Contraband. Hipster derision usually – but not always – involves not listening to something but judging it anyway. I think this derision is – in this case – Read More
I heard the single from Pawn Shoppe Heart way back when and thought nothing of it. But I must say this is very solid stuff: the songwriting is above average (for this genre), the band is full of energy, the singer reminds me of someone I can’t quite place (that’s a good thing, because if I could place him, I’d probably be annoyed). Very solid. 6/10 Read More
Though hardly the most original band ever, the Tea Party are clearly extraordinarily talented musicians (if not much else). Their second album, The Edges of Twilight, boasts as many instruments as you can possibly imagine on a mid-’90s rock album. And though they were never original (and they stole a little too much) they were at least remotely interesting in their desire to be so out of touch with the rest of the musical world of the early ’90s. So its sad to see what has happened. Yes, there were hints of their descent on their last album, but there Read More
I have a real problem rating these guys. You see, I saw them live before I ever heard their music. And well, if you like live music, I’m not sure you want to see Stars. To begin with, Campbell is definitely the most obnoxious frontman I have ever had the displeasure to see in person. He appeared to be trying to out-Bono Bono with his vague generalizations about the “fucking fascists” in power (this at an all-ages festival; I am not one for censorship but there is also something called ‘tact’). He spent a good half the show looking at Read More