Author: rnhaas

1984, Music

Junk Culture (1984) by Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark

This is my first experience of OMD but perhaps it is not the best place to start. This band was one of those that was so much bigger in the UK than North America, I don’t think I could even name their biggest hit. (I am trying right now, without looking it up, and I …

1984, Music

A Walk Across the Rooftops (1984) by Blue Nile

Many years ago, I learned that first impressions should be ignored and overcome as much as possible when it comes to music. There have been many days in my life I’ve been happy about doing that and today is one of them. Because my first impression of this record was not a good one, and …

1984, Music

At War With Satan (1984) by Venom

I don’t know why I skipped Black Metal last year. I may have listened to it once but I honestly don’t remember. If I did listen to it, I assume that I didn’t hear black metal, and read something about how it was more the title and the production values, rather than the music, that …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers (2018) by Michelle Gelfand

This is a fascinating book about how cultural norms impact our lives. You might not get that from the title, but I’d say ignore the title and look at the subtitle. (The title, to me, sounds like it’s some kind of business success book or something.)

1979, Music

New Values (1979) by Iggy Pop

One might be tempted to read into the title of this record, given that it’s Pop’s first record without David Bowie and his backing band in a few years. That might be reading into it too much, though, as I’m not sure this record is dissimilar enough from Lust for Life to really spend to …

1979, Music

Bad Girls (1979) by Donna Summer

I do not like disco. I do not like disco for both intellectual reasons and emotional ones. My intellectual reasons? Disco, to me, sounds like robotic, neutered, safe funk where everything musically interesting within funk has been abandoned to emphasize repetitiveness and sameness. My emotional reasons are more complex. I am pretty self-reflective and can …

1974, Music

Second Helping (1974) by Lynyrd Skynyrd

This record is notable for containing Skynyrd’s most famous song (apologies to “Freebird”), perhaps the definitive Southern Rock song, their biggest hit and such a cultural touchstone that Kid Rock managed to have a hit sampling it decades later. (The less said about that last one, the better.) But the presence of “Sweet Home Alabama” …

1969, Music

Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

Imagine you were out on the street and you went to check your phone, and the battery ran out. And you said to the person nearest you “Do you know what time it is?” And he responded “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? If so I can’t imagine why. …

1969, Music

It’s Our Thing (1969) by Isley Brothers

If you are sick to death of “It’s Your Thing” from all those TV ads masquerading as female self-empowerment messages you could be forgiven for never wanting to listen to this record, ever. I mean, that’s sort of where my mind was at when I saw the title. That song is one of the most …

1991, Movies

Daughters of the Dust (1991, Julie Dash)

This is a landmark film to my knowledge – the first wide release directed by an African American woman. That in and of itself makes it notable and it is a testament to the nature of the film industry that it both took until 1991 for this to happen and that most of us still …

1969, Music

On the Threshold of a Dream (1969) by The Moody Blues

Many people, or at least many rock critics, consider the Moodies to be the first ever progressive rock band or, at the very least, creators of the first ever progressive rock album. Now, I haven’t heard the previous album, but I have heard their album which supposedly invented the genre (Days of Future Passed) and …

1969, Music

Songs From a Room (1969) by Leonard Cohen

Songs of Leonard Cohen is over-produced. Like so many singer-songwriter debuts from the late ’60s and early ’70s, somebody somewhere didn’t trust the songs and/or the singer and made the decision to dress up his songs. Cohen likely didn’t know any better himself, not being a musician. But after the record came out, people complained …

1964, Music

The Rolling Stones (1964)

If you were British when this came out, and especially if you were a kid in Britain which didn’t have access to London’s blues scene (or any of the other blues scenes, if they existed), this record was likely a revelation to you – dirty, gritty, blues-based music (more blues-based than anything you’d ever heard …

1994, Music

Bullets Over Broadway (1994, Woody Allen)

Obligatory mention: Woody Allen has been accused of sexually assaulting his adopted daughter. He also married the adopted daughter of his former partner. I can completely understand if you want to never watch another Woody Allen film, or read about Woody Allen. Bullets Over Broadway has been on my “To Watch” list for my entire …

1999, Music

Come On Die Young (1999) by Mogwai

Mogwai is one of those bands I’ve been meaning to listen to forever and I just didn’t get around to it until the last year or two. This is their second album that I’ve ever heard (in addition to being their second record) and, though I don’t like it as much as the debut, I …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Killington, Vermont – March 21-25, 2019

I have been to Vermont many times. I have skied at Jay Peak something like six times. I have skied at Bolton Valley and Stowe and, once before this year, Killington. But I hadn’t been to Vermont since I was in University, so long ago now it makes me feel old. So it was nice …

1989, Music

Like a Prayer (1989) by Madonna

Many years ago I was drinking at a bar in grad school, when the title track came on. A colleague of mine said it was a good song, I scoffed and we got in an argument, with everyone else siding with him and getting annoyed at me for being stupid. For my entire life I …

1984, Music

Burning the Witches (1984) by Warlock

Music has long been a boys club. It is only very very recently that women musicians have some control over their careers and it wasn’t too long ago, that women musicians were thought capable of only playing certain types of instruments. If there is one genre that would seem utterly impenetrable for women, it would …

1984, Music

My War (1984) by Black Flag

This record has a very mixed reputation, with some people viewing it as a daring left-turn, and a major step in the evolution of a genre Black Flag usually had nothing to do with, and far more people seeing it as a utter betrayal of Blag Flag’s sound. I tend to think that the most …

1984, Music

Love at First Sting (1984) by Scorpions

I have been avoiding listening to a Scorpions my requisite three times for a long time, every time an anniversary of theirs has come up, because every experience of them I’ve had has told me I do not like them. From their biggest hit (heard here) to any of their records I’ve begun to listen …

1984, Music

Run-D.M.C. (1984)

I know nothing about the history of hip hop but I particularly know nothing about the early history of hip hop, from when it emerged (early 1970s???) to when it began to be a commercial force. But everything I read paints this as a seminal moment in hip hop, the beginning of the “new school” …

2018, Movies

Free Solo (2018, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

I thought I wanted to see this movie in theatres. Watching it on the small screen, I think I’m okay with not seeing it in theatres. I’m not sure I would have been able to watch some of it in theatres because I have a fear of heights. SPOILERS if you don’t know anything at …

1979, Music

Breakfast in America (1979) by Supertramp

I grew up listening to Oldies Radio when that meant music from the 1960s and, occasionally, the late ’50s. Especially as I got older, the station I used to listen to would make exceptions for some music from the 1970s, usually MOR and singer-songwriter stuff. Supertramp was one of the bands that made that cut. …

1979, Music

Overkill (1979) by Motörhead

I have never listened to Motörhead’s debut in part because I have been warned off it by bad reviews. It came out a year and a half before this record but, in the meantime, the much more polished but still fast and relatively rough (for ’70s metal) Stained Class came out. What I’m trying to …

1979, Music

Live at the Witch Trials (1979) by The Fall

Debut albums can be quite hit and miss. Most bands do not record their first album with a completely unique sound. The unique debut albums we do remember which stick out do so because they are so rare. Most bands’ debuts are not only not their best albums, but don’t capture them doing something wholly …