Author: rnhaas

1975, Music

Godbluff (1975) by Van Der Graaf Generator

Van Der Graaf Generator’s firs reunion album feels like the first step in the band’s evolution from its dense prog sound of its early days to the almost new wave sound they would have on The Quiet Zone. It’s a notably sparer record, which may seem like an odd thing to say if this is …

1975, Music

Rock of Westies (1975) by Elton John

Based upon the title, the cover, and the presence of “Island Girl”, I thought this was going to be John’s Caribbean record. (I thought “westies” meant “West Indies”; I didn’t know it was a spoonerism.) So colour me surprised by (most of) the actual content.

1970, Music

Tumbleweed Connection (1970) by Elton John

Try as I might, I cannot fall in love with Elton John’s music. I have listened to many of his records at this point – basically only from the ’70s – and I have quite liked one of them. The others don’t really connect with me yet and this one is just another of those.

1970, Music

Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

I honestly had no idea this was an album first. I think because it has been so successful as a property I just assumed it had to have been a musical. But, instead, it was an album. And, as a result, it got reviewed as an album. (And, hilariously, it was banned in some countries …

1989, Books, Fiction

And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) by Nick Cave

Nick Cave is both one of my favourite songwriters and, I think, one of the great songwriters of the era. (He is in my 20th century songwriting canon.) But I don’t think too many would argue that he has greatly improved as a songwriter from when he first started out in the Boys Next Door …

2000, Music

Let’s Get Ready (2000) by Mystikal

When I first started purposely listening to hip hop about 5 years ago, the idea that a rapper had charisma was something I couldn’t really stomach. As a music fan I am primarily a fan of chops and, for me, vocal chops had to do with singing, not rhyming. I didn’t understand flow and I …

2000, Music

Music (2000) by Madonna

For one of the few times in my life, I can actually say I’ve heard the previous Madonna record before listening to this one, so it gives me context that I normally wouldn’t have. (Normally my context would be “I remember the hit singles.” And I do! But I’ve actually listened to Ray of Light.)

2000, Music

Felt Mountain (2000) by Goldfrapp

The British really did like a certain sound circa the turn of the millennium. It was one I was entirely oblivious to, living in rural Quebec, even though I had what was then an incredible internet connection. I suspect some of my radio station friends were into stuff like this, but I was honestly unaware.

2000, Music

The Teaches of Peaches (2000)

Remember electroclash? It felt like such a big deal for a couple of years there, but I must say I tried to pay as little attention as possible. I was super into prog rock, and post rock, and I was getting into jazz and “classical”, and I had no taste for minimalist things. And, also, …

2000, Music

Hearbreaker (2000) by Ryan Adams

Faithless Street (specifically the expanded edition from 3 years later) is one of my favourite albums of the 1990s and easily my favourite alt country album of all time. I went through a phase where I was chasing that dragon a bit, listening to the other Whiskeytown records and some Adams solo stuff, and never …

1995, Music

The Gold Experience (1995) by O(+>

I can’t claim to know Prince’s catalogue that well, especially since the ’80s. So you can’t take what I say as gospel. But, listening to this, I’m inclined to agree with the critical consensus that says it’s his best record of the ’90s (or one of them). There may well be better ones, of course, …

Music

See You on the Other Side (1995) by Mercury Rev

Transition albums often have a bad rap. Of course, we usually only know they are transition records in hindsight so it must be that we retroactively apply the term. That or maybe some critic guesses extremely well at the time. (I really doubt it, though.)

1995, Music

Up (1995) by Great Big Sea

There have been a lot of bands like this over the years. “Celtic rock” has existed since the ’70s and folk punk came not long after that. This particular band might be relatively unique given their focus on Newfoundland but I doubt it. (I have spent very little time in Newfoundland but I suspect there …

2020, TV

Eco-Challenge is Now The World’s Toughest Race

My favourite first wave reality show, Eco-Challenge – the only returned this summer as The World’s Toughest Race now hosted by Bear Grylls. (It’s on Amazon Prime if you’re interested.) I loved this show when it was on and, for years, sort of assumed that nobody else had watched as, when I described it to …

2020, Movies, Sports

4 Issues You Have To Overlook In Sports Films

We all have our favourite sports movies. But it’s fair to say that there’s a lot that Hollywood ultimately gets wrong about our favourite sports. That’s why documentaries like The Last Dance feel like such a breath of fresh air. It provides an honest perspective of the game. So, let’s run down some of the …

2017, Books

Canadian Whisky, Second Edition: The New Portable Expert (2017) by Davin de Kergommeaux

I’m Canadian but I know every little about Canadian whisky. For most of my adult life I’ve definitely conflated “rye” and “Canadian” and only knew that some whiskies were Canadian through osmosis. Aside from a period of drinking “CC & G” as my go-to cocktail and another period of always having Wiser’s at home (usually …

1990, Music

Heaven or Las Vegas (1990) by Cocteau Twins

The Cocteau Twins, arguably the inventors of dream pop, have an inimitable sound. On their early records I find that sound a little too reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees but, at this stage of their career, I find that comparison basically useless. Bands with such distinct sounds, who I don’t love enough to listen …

1990, Music

Mama Said Knock You Out (1990) by LL Cool J

Before he was an actor, LL Cool J always struck me as a rapper with less weight. I don’t really know if I heard much of his music beyond the title track here, but the moment I learned what LL Cool J stood for, I smirked and I couldn’t take him seriously. (Not that this …

1990, Music

Jordan: The Comeback (1990) by Prefab Sprout

Note: This album has nothing to do with Michael Jordan. It’s always weird coming to a critically acclaimed album by a band you’ve basically never heard a note of in your entire life. I was like 6 or 7 when Prefab Sprout had their big hit, and it was a hit in the UK. I …

1990, Music

Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) by George Michael

More than his debut album, this record strikes me as the work of a singer-songwriter, one who also happens to be an incredibly dynamic performer, and a multi-instrumentalist. I’ve only listened to Faith a couple of times, but this feels more personal. And I must say I like it more. As an aside: the fact …

2020, Politics, Psychology, Society

70 Million Americans Voted to Re-Elect a Con Man to the Presidency

In August of 2016, before his election to President, I wondered whether or not Donald Trump was the Greatest Con Man of All Time. (The GOAT-Con? The Con-GOAT? The GCMOAT?) A year and a half later, still mystified by his support, I wondered how people continue to trust him, as he burns one after the …

1985, Music

Flip Your Wig (1985) by Hüsker Dü

Time can really change perception, especially when it comes to cultural artifacts. I have read online abbout how this is one of Hüsker’s great albums, perhaps even their best. But I don’t hear it. I don’t know if that’s because I haven’t sat down and listened to New Day Rising recently or whether it’s because …

1985, Music

Hounds of Love (1985) by Kate Bush

Though I have yet to listen to every one of her albums, this strikes me as her most ambitious album, at least to date. Recording a side-long suite of songs is borderline prog rock (and would actually be, I guess, if the music was a little more connected).