2004, 2013, 2018, TV

The Staircase (2004, 2013, 2018)

Full disclosure: I am very biased when it comes to these types of stories. For the number of years I’ve been listening to wrongful conviction podcast called Undisclosed. I have listened to a number of other podcasts with similar themes. So I am more predisposed than ever to side with the defense over the prosecution, …

2020, Movies

Palm Springs (2020, Max Barbakow)

This is a very funny romantic comedy inspired by the classic romantic comedy [redacted], and which has many similarities to the recent TV show [redacted], but which still manages a fresh spin on what is becoming a pretty tired concept. What is that concept? Well, I don’t really want to tell you. Rather, I suggest …

1970, Music

Starsailor (1970) by Tim Buckley

I guess this is the logical end of Tim Buckley’s pursuit of jazz – a record that has basically nothing in common with his debut or any of his early music, and which feels really mislabeled if the term “singer songwriter” or “folk” is used.

1970, Music

Tea for the Tillerman (1970) by Cat Stevens

At his worst, Cat Stevens is like a sappier James Taylor (which is really saying something). But, at his best, he’s more musically interesting and ambitious than his bloodless contemporaries. My problem with this record is that he’s at his worst far more than he’s at his best.

1970, Music

Stephen Stills (1970)

Though I became kind of obsessed with Manassas’ debut album and Super Session back in the day, Stills is the last of CSNY for me, in terms of listening to proper solo albums. Some of that is accidental (or technical, depending upon how you feel about Manassas). But some of that is also because, though …

1970, Music

Van Morrison, His Band and the Street Choir (1970)

Imagine you were so talented you could come up with an album concept, have it fall apart completely, and then have your record company release some of the tapes against your will and you still end up with this great album. The more I get into Van Morrison the more I am just in awe …

1965, Music

Going to a Go-Go (1965) by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

This record is reputed by some to be the best Miracles record out there. I have no idea if that is true because I’m pretty sure this is my first ever Miracles record. And given that I have no intention of listening to every Miracles record, I guess I just have to take it on …

2000, Music

Stankonia (2000) by Outkast

In first year university I lived a few doors down from a girl who played “So Fresh and So Clean” and “Ms. Jackson” on repeat for what felt like weeks. (There were probably other songs in between but I don’t remember them. I certainly don’t remember a single other track from this album.) That, combined …

2000, Music

Hybrid Theory (2000) by Linkin Park

My roommate was so excited when Meteora came out and I was just like “What are you talking about? You like Linkin Park? What are you, 12?” Or something like that. And I moved on and probably didn’t think about them much again until their singer died. Maybe it’s because I just endured a Limp …

2000, Music

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000) by PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey is one of the great songwriters of her generation, and this album is another fine example of her abilities. but the record marks a bit of a change in aesthetic for her (as far as I know) that I don’t exactly love.

2000, Music

Whoa, Nelly! (2000) by Nelly Furtado

I’ve paid basically no attention to Nelly Furtado. I was aware of her hits – and remember the hits from this record – but was otherwise utterly uninterested. Some of that has to do with my music tastes – specially my tastes when I was 19 – and some of that appears to have to …

2000, Music

Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (2000) by Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit are so monumentally dumb that, while I’m listening to a Limp Bizkit record, I have trouble imagining there are dumber bands. Now, I know there are plenty of dumb bands, but the scale of the Bizkit’s dumbness is so immense that, during the album, you just sort of forget that there could be …

1995, Music

Daydream (1995) by Mariah Carey

I’m on my fourth ish Mariah Carey album. And, with listening to her actual albums, I’ve come to believe she may be the most technically gifted female vocalist in pop or R&B. (I might go even further than that.) With every album of hers I listen to, I become more and more convinced that she …

1990, Music

Nowhere (1990) by Ride

I’ve never gotten shoegaze, it’s just not anything that appeals to me on a fundamental level. Some of this comes from the nature of the genre – pop music drowning in distortion is still pop music – and part of it I’m pretty sure comes from not seeing it live at the time it was …

1978, Movies

Death on the Nile (1978, John Guillermin)

This is a goofy – at times almost campy – adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel which benefits from location shooting but perhaps suffers just a little bit from the characterizations of its excellent cast, a few of whom feel like they are just reveling in their roles.

2020, Books, Non-Fiction

American Madness (2020) by Tea Krulos

(Way) Before Pizzagate there was the Phantom Patriot’s raid on Bohemian Grove. I had never heard of this before I read this book and completely missed any news coverage of the story, if there was any. So I’m glad I read this alternately hilarious and saddening story of one man’s obsession with conspiracies and his …

1955, Books, Non-Fiction

The Age of Reform (1955) by Richard Hofstadter

When I picked this up I wondered, “Why the hell am I reading a history book written in 1955?” My experience with much older history is that it is incomplete, lacking more modern insights that have since become general knowledge. But I knew of Hofstadter’s reputation, I’d read his most famous article at some point …

1985, Music

In My Head (1985) by Black Flag

I guess there was a point in my life where I could have become a big Black Flag fan and become interested in the little stylistic changes they made throughout there career. But that point was a while ago and, instead, I found other things that suited my desire for noisy music.

1985, Music

Spreading the Disease (1985) by Anthrax

I have both come to Anthrax backwards – having heard a later record before this one – and come to Anthrax last among the Big 4. That makes it harder to appreciate them. But worse, I’ve been listening to Seven Churches, a way more brutal, way more innovative metal record, released the same month as …

1985, Music

Hunting High and Low (1985) by a-ha

It’s hard to imagine that anyone who was born between 1965 and, say, 1995, has never heard “Take on Me”. Not only is an ear worm but it has that incredible video, which meant that it got played so much more than it otherwise wood during the heyday of music videos (which corresponds with the …

1985, Music

Seven Churches (1985) by Possessed

One of the conventional narratives about the invention of death metal is that it is so named because of the band Death, who supposedly pioneered the genre. Now, there were other bands in other places that also either claim credit or have been retroactively given credit, but Death’s claim is pretty good simply because they …

1985, Music

What Does Anything Mean? Basically (1980) by The Chameleons

I sort of don’t know why I ended up listening to this. It seemed to have pretty positive reviews and they released so few records, I guess I figured I had to listen to this if I was ever going to listen to any Chameleons record. So here we are.

1980, Music

A-Z (1980) by Colin Newman

One of the things I find fascinating about musicians is when a frontman or primary songwriter or leader of a major band goes out and makes a solo record…which sounds exactly like their band, or close enough. It’s like, what was getting in your way in the band that made you think you couldn’t make …

1980, Music

The River (1980) by Bruce Springsteen

We were driving back from a ski resort in Vermont – Bolton Valley or Killington, I don’t remember which – and we got slowed by a massive snowstorm. I was in my tweens or early teens. We were driving up the west side of Lake Champlain and we could only get one radio station from …

1980, Music

Love Zombies (1980) by The Monochrome Set

We all have things we like more than other things, that hit certain buttons or pleasure points. And the moment the title track started I was like “This is for me”. I love carnivalesque music in places where it shouldn’t be, for whatever reason, and the lead off track to an album by a band …

1980, Music

Kilimanjaro (1980) by The Teardrop Explodes

It’s funny what gets labeled “psychedelic”, especially when music wasn’t particularly psychedelic. I’ve never heard this band before – though I’ve heard Cope’s solo music but the label “neo psychedelic” really steers one the wrong way. Yes, it’s a spectrum, but this is pretty typical 1980 British post punk with a couple of major differences: …