1990, Music

Goo (1990) by Sonic Youth

Sometime between their earliest albums and Daydream Nation Sonic Youth learned how to write melodies and, as importantly, learned how to swing. (Obviously this happened gradually.) And that development is perhaps nowhere more apparent than on Goo, their most accessible album to date.Sure, calling a Sonic Youth album ‘accessible’ is a relative thing, but it’s …

1990, Music

No Depression (1990) by Uncle Tupelo

There are people who will tell you that this is the first ever alt country album. They are wrong about that. They have apparently never heard of the Jayhawks or any of the alternative rock bands incorporating country into their music in the 1980s. (I just finished reviewing an album also credited with inventing this …

1990, Music

Step by Step (1990) by New Kids on the Block

New Kids on the Block make subsequent boy bands sound sophisticated. Maurice Starr’s songs on their earlier records show a level of contempt for their fans that later boy band songwriters mostly avoided. (Both musically, in how unsophisticated and imitative his songs and musical ideas are and, especially, lyrically, as he realized that teens don’t …

1990, Music

Left Hand Path (1990) by Entombed

The early history and evolution of death metal is controversial. Like many genres of music, it’s possible that it was invented in two different places around the same time. (Or, rather, the sounds that came to be called death metal appeared in two different countries around the same time.) I’ve always found this evolution nebulous …

1985, Music

Fear and Whiskey (1985) by Mekons

This record is credited by many as the birth of alt country. (Funnily enough, a record by an American band released exactly five years later is also credited as the birth of alt country…) I’m not sure that’s true for more than a few reasons, but it’s still a remarkably unique post punk record, especially …

1985, Music

Theatre of Pain (1985) by Mötley Crüe

They often say familiarity breeds contempt. But with albums and me it’s the opposite: familiarity breeds acceptance. The first time I listened to this album I thought it was awful. Just awful. I’m on listen #3 now and I can no longer muster up my hatred. I don’t think it’s good but what the melodies …

1985, Music

Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good (1985) by Megadeth

The Bach-inspired opening of this record gave me high hopes that I would be listening to something in the real of Celtic Frost in terms of its willingness to break from the conventions of thrash. Alas, it is the only sign that Mustaine has music ambitions beyond what I think of as Megadeth’s sound. (I …

1985, Music

The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) by Sting

Sting’s songwriting grew leaps and bounds while The Police were together. But what grew more was his musical palette, as the police moved from a band that played one style of music (essentially poppy art punk-reggae) to a variety of styles. The Police basically never really got along with each other but, at some point, …

1988, Movies

Cinema Paradiso (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)

There is a genre of film that is basically someone remembering their life growing up in a small town. (As opposed to the genre of going home to a small town.) For reasons beyond me, most of the movies I’ve seen in this genre have been Italian -maybe they are better reviewed? – so it’s …

1980, Music

Uprising (1980) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

I am on record as stating that I think Peter Tosh’s departure from the Wailers was not good for the Wailers. Tosh is, to me, the better songwriter. (Shock! Horror!) Not melodically, necessarily. (Really, I should say “of course”. Who has more hits, Marley or Tosh?)

1975, Music

Main Course (1975) by Bee Gees

This album is considered a bit of a landmark in the Bee Gees catalogue because it marks the transition (or the beginning of the transition?) from their earlier baroque pop sound to their disco sound, as well as the introduction of Barry’s falsetto. This is as far as I know one of their albums.Personally, I’m …

1975, Music

Why Can’t We Be Friends? (1975) by War

This is my second ever War album but I didn’t remember The World is a Ghetto until I looked up my review. I was going to say they reminded me a little of Earth, Wind and Fire on this one, but not that much. (In the sense of combining ballads and funk on the same …

1975, Music

One of These Nights (1975) by Eagles

I have an irrational hatred for the Eagles that was developed long before I could articulate why I hated them. Now the reasons are that I dislike the whole aesthetic of the Mellow Mafia (and their sheer dominance of American popular music in the 1970s) and I don’t like what they did to country rock. …

1975, Music

The Heat Is On (1975) by The Isley Brothers

When a band attempts more than one style, I usually prefer when they mix things up in the sequence. I find the “one side this, other side that” a bit annoying. I’m not sure why I don’t like it, but it bothers me enough that I often find myself docking a point for sequencing like …

1965, Music

The “Angry” Young Them (1965)

When I was younger, I was really into British R&B. But the older I get the less essential it seems to me: it’s not the genuine article and so much of it sounds the same. 55-60 years later, do we really care about British interpretations of American music? I mean, it made sense at the …

2016, Movies

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016, Matt Tyrnauer)

I always thought Jane Jacobs was from Toronto. Shows you what I know. This is an interesting documentary specifically about the battles between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over roads in New York and more generally about the urban renewal and how to plan cities in general. It’s interesting, informative and thought-provoking. As one of …

1981, Movies

Die Fälschung aka Circle of Deceit (1981, Volker Schlöndorff)

This is an extraordinary movie, a little like a more cynical Killing Fields, or a less plot-driven Quiet American. A German journalist with marital problems is sent to cover the war in Lebanon. The film was shot primarily in Beirut, during the civil war, and the location shooting does a ton of the work.

2004, Books, Non-Fiction

Out of Gas (2004) by David Goodstein

Note: I read this book in 2020. It was published in 2004. It’s not that wise to read a book about energy reserves and climate change 16 years later, when the situation is continuously evolving. This is a book by a physicist about the energy crisis caused by “peak oil” with some discussion of climate …

2006, Movies

Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)

Can you imagine being so angry at a band that you drove over their CDs with a tractor? I can’t imagine Jeff Tweedy doing something that will that would make me so angry I would drive over my Wilco CDs or light them on fire. I just can’t relate to it. At all.

1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1952, 1953, 1956, Books, Fiction

Ficciones (1941, 1944, 1956) by Jorge Luis Borges

I read “The Aleph” possibly in university or, if not, then a few years later. I thought it was pretty crazy and incredible and resolved to read more Borges. And then I just didn’t for 15 years or so. (Not entirely true: I stumbled upon one other story – a late one – at some …