2018, Music

Hadrian by Rufus Wainright Live at the Four Seasons Centre, October 17, 2018

This was the second ever performance of Rufus Wainwright’s second opera, Hadrian, which tells the story of Emperor Hadrian’s final day of his life, as he mourns his dead male lover. I should say at the outset that this is only the third 21st century opera I’ve ever seen, most of the operas I know …

1993, Music

The Black Rider (1993) by Tom Waits

I’m always willing to listen to any Tom Waits record, particularly any record since he changed his sound, but I also agree with the general consensus that work written (or assembled) for stage shows rarely meets the level of an artist’s best work, especially when that artist is a singer-songwriter (who, by their very nature, …

1993, Music

Return of the Boom Bap (1993) by KRS-One

It’s shocking, but the more I listen to hip hop the more I know what I like and don’t. (Imagine that.) And from the first time I heard this, I knew I liked it (well, the music) more than I liked most other hip hop I’ve heard to date.Something about the production here sounds more …

1993, Music

Houdini (1993) by Melvins

One of the great things about the early 1990s is the signing frenzy the major labels went on trying to find the next Nirvana; as my friend once put it, not trying to find the next Nirvana sound-alike, but the next band that would break an entire genre, which would be the centre of an …

1993, Music

Judgment Night Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1993)

I know this record was a big deal to fans of these bands at the time, but I had literally no idea about it until an anniversary of it maybe 5 years ago. I had low expectations, despite how many of these rock bands I like.

1993, Music

Cure for Pain (1993) by Morphine

The thing that makes Morphine so unique is, in some ways, the thing that keeps them from ever being a band that I will truly love. That’s not their fault, of course, but it does make them one of those bands who I like more or less depending upon the quality of their songs.

1993, Music

Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993) by Meat Loaf

Full disclosure: I don’t like the original Bat Out of Hell. I know most of the words to the songs and probably even most of the words in the spoken word parts. But I hate what that record represents – nostalgia meets the Broadway musical meets arena rock – and the whole thing is so …

1993, Music

Focus (1993) by Cynic

Most of the time, when I encounter “progressive death metal” (which this sounds like to me, but which it isn’t categorized as on RYM), I think “this isn’t very progressive.” It usually sounds like more ambitious death metal, but it doesn’t sound very proggy. Well, not so here. If there is one thing this record …

1993, Music

August and Everything After (1993) by Counting Crows

I was talking to a guest of the podcast a few episodes ago and I described how my “alternative” junior high school had been just full of alternative rock, pardon the pun, even though I was firmly into “oldies.” I mentioned the grunge usual suspects, which I do remember hearing for the first time at …

1993, Music

Into the Labyrinth (1993) by Dead Can Dance

Though I have heard a lot about Dead Can Dance over the years, like so many bands it has taken me forever to hear them. And like so many bands that it has taken me forever to hear, I found myself surprised.

1993, Music

Post Historic Monsters (1993) by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine

Though this band were a really big deal in the UK when I was young, I don’t know that they made much of an impact across the pond. I don’t remember anything about them except their name. And even then, I don’t really remember why I remember their name, just that I heard it somewhere.

1995, Movies

Carrington (1995, Christopher Hampton)

This is an extremely episodic film about the painter Carrington and her highly unconventional personal life. The film is mostly about her personal relationships and not really about her work so if you’re looking for a biography of a painter, look elsewhere. The film won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1995 but with …

1988, Music

Land of Dreams (1988) by Randy Newman

Full disclosure: I do not like Randy Newman. I have yet to hear more than maybe two or three songs of his that I think are really, truly great. (One of them is on this record.) Sure, most of them are above average, but his reputation far exceeds what I’ve heard, in my opinion.

1988, Music

No Rest for the Wicked (1988) by Ozzy Osbourne

I was really tempted to think of Ozzy as an anachronism by 1988, as metal had changed one hell of a lot in the last 20 years. But the opening intensity of the guitar gave me hope that maybe he wasn’t! Then that talk box kicked in, and I wasn’t so sure.

1988, Music

Watermark (1988) by Enya

“Orinoco Flow” floated around my aunt and uncle’s house every time I was there in late 1988 through 1989. In my memory, that song is playing every single time I visited their house as a child. I had no idea how to spell the title, and didn’t understand what it meant. All I knew was …

1988, Music

How Will I Laugh Tomorrow If I Can’t Even Smile Today (1988) by Suicidal Tendencies

This is one of those records which, had I found at the right time in my life, I might have really, really liked. It’s not that I don’t like it now, but I know too much now to be as impressed as I would have say, 5-10 years ago.

1988, Music

Power (1988) by Ice-T

Something seems to have happened within hip hop, between this record and the music that was everywhere during the 1990s (and everything that’s come since). To me, someone who doesn’t know hip hop at all, this sounds considerably older to me than N.W.A or Wu Tang, and even significantly older than Public Enemy. I think …

1988, Music

Eazy-Duz-It (1988) by Eazy-E

When I was younger and more of a music snob than I am now (still a snob, though), I used to dismiss singers who didn’t write their own songs as lacking talent. I’ve come to realize that’s pretty dumb, as most singers are not great songwriters and many if not most great songwriters are not …

1988, Music

Suffer (1988) by Bad Religion

My first impression of Bad Religion was from a significantly later record, when what they may have helped pioneer was everywhere. I thought, “Great, another skate punk band.” Sure, they’re a very literate punk band, but I’ve heard a lot of these bands and they pretty much sound the same.But if I try to put …

1988, Music

Hangin’ Tough (1988) by New Kids on the Block

I had turned 7 just a few days earlier when this came out so, though I am aware of NKOTB, and I’ve heard two of these songs way too many times as a child, this isn’t really the boy band that annoyed me. Sure, my step-sister had the tape, and I guess that was annoying …

1988, Music

Peepshow (1988) by Siouxsiee and the Banshees

The opening song “Peek-a-Boo” really threw me for a lip – those samples are a massive departure from what I’m familiar with from this band. My initial impression of it was that they were trying to piggyback on the emerging sound of hip hop and electro which they didn’t understand and were failing terribly. That …

1983, Music

Shout at the Devil (1983) by Mötley Crüe

I have managed to avoid Mötley Crüe for most of my life, beyond their biggest songs, and I can’t say I was looking forward to this. But I find myself…. not pleasantly surprised but at least not horrified. For all their reputation as a “hair metal” band, on this record at least they still sound …

1983, Music

Sports (1983) by Huey Lewis and the News

Imagine recording a song denigrating no wave and new wave in New York and hair metal in Los Angeles (not that I care about the latter) and who knows what else, and celebrating the music of your youth instead – kids today! – but recording that song with terrible ’80s keyboards and a shitty heartbeat …

2010, Movies

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is an episodic yet frenetic documentary about Jack Abramoff and his lobbying scandal. I can’t say I loved the style of the film, which was a little over-reliant on pop culture cues, but the film takes a serious issue and makes it entertaining, which is something that should be commended.

2014, Movies

The Case Against 8 (2014, Ben Cotner, Ryan White)

So any pretense to “objectivity” for a message movie “documentary” like this is thrown out the window. But if you believe there is a “both sides” to marriage equality you are likely not going to watch this documentary about the law suit to overturn California’s infamous Proposition 8, nor will you accept this film, which …

2004, Books, Non-Fiction

A Short History of Nearly Everything (2004, Bill Bryson)

This is a super readable and entertaining layman’s overview of the state of scientific knowledge about the universe and humans as of 2004. If you don’t feel like you know enough about science in general, or you’re looking to get more familiar with various fields you’e never paid attention to, I can’t imagine there are …

1998, Music

Hellbilly Deluxe (1998) by Rob Zombie

At some level I think I just don’t get Rob Zombie. When I’ve heard his music it’s never made much of an impression on me. (I think I enjoyed the video for “Dragula” when I was 17, though.) I absolutely hated House of 1,000 Corpses and so never bothered to see The Devil’s Rejects or …