1974, Music

Country Life (1974) by Roxy Music

I have approached Roxy Music in a strange way – listened to their second album first, got really into it, and then listened to their last album and didn’t enjoy it. And I’ve jumped around ever since. And because of the way I feel about their earliest and later albums, I’ve approached the ones in …

1974, Music

Sheer Heart Attack (1974) by Queen

This is, by all accounts, the record where Queen really becomes Queen, taking their bizarre (insane, really) hybrid style and finally pairing it with enough quality songs that it no longer seems gimmicky. I’m not sure I entirely agree, but I get why people feel this way.

1974, Music

Autobahn (1975) by Kraftwerk

Though I might sound like a weird comparison, this record reminds me a lot of early, post-Barrett Pink Floyd albums, where they hadn’t figured out yet how to combine their three disparate impulses into a coherent whole that made musical sense. This record has the famous title track taking up one whole side of it. …

1969, Music

Scott 4 (1969) by Scott Engel

I think I just have to face it: the Scott Walker I like is the one who completely reinvented himself later in his life, demolishing his earlier image and creating some of the weirdness, most unique singer-songwriter albums I’ve ever heard. Try as I might, I don’t like the original version of him. This is …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Republic of Lies (2019, Anna Merlan)

This is a survey of contemporary American conspiracy theories and the extent to which some of them can be found in mouths of the powerful in America. It is well-written, engaging and sometimes quite funny. But if you’ve read anything about American conspiracy theories before, there isn’t much new here.

1994, Music

Geek the Girl (1994) by Lisa Germano

I knew nothing about this record going in and, frankly, nothing about Germano. The name maybe rung a bell, a teeny bit, but that’s all. So I had no idea what I was in for, which is maybe why I keep can’t help but compare her to other people.

1994, Music

No Need to Argue (1994) by The Cranberries

There are so many ’90s alternative albums which I thought I ignored when they came out but I must have heard at some point. Like so many of those, when I put this on, I thought I just knew the singles. And then I remembered other songs. And I was confused. I don’t ever specifically …

Politics, Psychology

Incremental Socialism is a Conspiracy Theory

I was having a conversation with a conservative on Reddit a while ago. The conservative I was primarily engaged with shared many of my views (to an extent) when it came to the nature of reality, something I was not expecting. I had posted those views because I thought fundamental disagreements of the nature of …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up (2019, Dave Meslin)

Full disclosure: I live in Toronto. I have met the author, Dave Meslin, at least once and possibly up to three times. Moreover, I used to volunteer for a group he founded (but no longer ran when I was a volunteer). So that both makes me likely biased in favour of his ideas and part …

1989, Music

On Fire (1989) by Galaxie 500

Having heard Luna a bunch before this band, I found their debut, Today, a bit of a deja vu experience (with a lot more grime and feedback) but I tried to put that aside due to when that album was recorded. Listening to this roughly a year later, I still don’t know enough about the …

1989, Music

The Sensual World (1989) by Kate Bush

Kate Bush, ever the iconoclast, finds a good balance on this record between contemporary art pop – and all of the obsession with technology that entails – and folk music influences. In the vaguest sense this one sort of reminds of Peter Gabriel’s work, only they are incorporating very different forms of folk music and …

2019, Personal

On Trying to Publish My Fourth Book

I published my first book in 2011. I worked for five years on it and made a lot of stupid decisions, particularly with regard to the publisher. But in the next couple years I pumped out two other books, on some kind of crazy roll. All three were basically self-published, though my first book was …

2012, Movies

China Heavyweight (2012, Yung Chang)

Basically the Chinese boxing equivalent of Hoop Dreams, this film follows two boxing coaches and two boxers over a couple of years or so as they attempt to use boxing to get out of rural life in China and as one coach decides to come out of retirement.

2019, Music

Turandot live at the Four Seasons Centre October 27, 2019

I’ve seen a number of operas in my life, but I’ve listened to far more on CD or digitally. This is the first time, that I can recall that I have seen an opera I’ve listened to much ahead of time or at least, one I’ve listened to as many times as Turandot. So this …

1979, Music

Damn the Torpedoes (1979) by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

This is the Tom Petty I like – full of attitude and spunk, with a touch of meanness or bitterness. Like basically everyone, he mellowed out significantly with age, which is the version of him I’m much more familiar with.

1979, Music

Tusk (1979) by Fleetwood Mac

The number of times I’ve heard that Tusk is “experimental” in my life…well, if I had a dollar, I still wouldn’t be able to afford a down-payment on a house in Toronto, or anything, but maybe I could lease a car or something. The problem with pop music fans telling you that some pop album …

1979, Music

Broken English (1979) by Marianne Faithful

Broken English is one of those records I heard so damn much about throughout my life that, by the time I listened to it decades after first hearing about, there was going to be a let down, it was inevitable. With multiple listens, the record is growing on me a bit, but it’s still worth …

1974, Music

Caught Up (1974) by Millie Jackson

For the most part, R&B doesn’t do high concept. The only thing I can really think of from the ’70s which is an exception is Funkadelic (and Parliament, too, I guess), where there is a concept, only it’s extremely nutty and kind of impenetrable. (Well, I can think of other albums which are built around …

1974, Music

Natty Dread (1974) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

I am on record as saying the best songwriter in the Wailers was Peter Tosh and, a few Marley solo albums later, I’m not sure I have changed my mind. But this record, the first without Tosh I believe, is definitely doing more than some of his later records to convince me I might have …

1974, Music

Fear (1974) by John Cale

Paris 1919 is my favourite John Cale album but it’s not coincidentally the album of his I’ve heard the most, by far. That seems to be the way with me and Cale’s songs, it takes some time for them to impress themselves upon me,  I don’t like his other albums as much not just because …

1964, Music

Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian (1964) by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash always had a little bit of a rebellious streak in him, one which conflicted with what was acceptable to many Americans at time. (Think of the famous middle finger or, a few years after this, recording albums at prisons.) One assumes that is one reason why he made this record, aside from a …

1959, Music

The Genius of Ray Charles (1959)

I genuinely love musical left turns, they are among my favourite experiences when handled well, especially when I’m around to experience them. (Obviously I was not around for this one.) But I am much more ambivalent about musical left turns towards the mainstream – it’s a lot harder to get excited by a drastic change …