Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hingis

I can't believe she is leaving our game. She has been the most magical player of my life. 

A bad line call here, on-fire power hitters, and a slap happy pothead kept us from slams 6-10.  But if you want a GOAT... I've got your girl... Swiss Miss.

She made the most beautiful game even more beautiful. Cleverly working every point to its fullest. Anticipating everything and making it look easy. 

Martina Hingis is my favorite female player of all time.  That smile made it all the more intriguing. Was she pleased with herself as she amazed her opponent?  Or just happy to play the game we love?

Either way, she made me smile the whole way. So proud to call myself a fan.  Hit where they least expect it... With precision!

#MartinaHingis

Monday, January 2, 2017

Favorite albums of 2016

To the joy of my 2 (maybe 3) fans, I give thee my top albums of the year.

First, Nine Inch Nails little EP "Not The Actual Events" (just released last week) will likely end up being my long-time love,  But, it is only 4 1/2 songs; and, I haven't really had time to absorb it.

On that subject, The Strokes released some throw away music from earlier sessions "Future Present Past" which is certainly better than most of the music released this year.

Which leads to this musing...2016 will not go down as one of the great moments in musical history.  I hope that is just a blip, but one never knows with today's blather of pedestrian verse (yes, that is a direct slam on Frightened Rabbit...a prior year top group).

It was so bad that I decided to give it all up for 10 days of nothing but Morrissey/Smiths in December...just to prove to myself that I was right.  Still, my electronic playlists had lots of plays. Ergo, I must have loved something.

My list is organized into the categories that exist in my brain.

- Classics who can do no wrong, but outdid themselves -

Strange Little Birds, Garbage
Super, Pet Shop Boys
Girl At The End Of The World, James
Breakin' Point, Peter Bjorn and John

From the over processed guitars and Shirley's vocals, Garbage is still loud and raucous.  I'll be listening to this PSB album the rest of my life (along with everything else they've ever done!).  James are by far the most under-appreciated band.  Once again, they sing songs of themselves and put together a fantastic album.  Maybe most surprising is PB&J.  I've never loved an album of theirs this much, and they gave one of the best live performances of my year at Music Midtown.  

- Knowles Sisters - 

The Altar, Banks
A Seat At The Table, Solange
Lemonade, Beyonce

O.K.  I know Banks is not a Knowles.  However, her album grooves and moves just like the sisters.  At the end of the day, I probably liked Solange a little more for now, but I bet Bey will be listened to more often throughout my life.  There is just something intoxicating about wondering what is wrong with Jay-Z.  She's Beyonce dude...behave and treat her with some respect (or call Becky).

- Pop Music - 

Conscious, Broods
All I Need, Foxes
AIM, M.I.A
Love You To Death, Tegan and Sara
I Like It When You Sleep, for you are so beautiful and yet aware of it, The 1975
Everything You've come to Expect, The Last Shadow Puppets

This broad category is all over the place.  Broods are the type of music to which I am naturally drawn...slightly darker and electronic.  Tegan and Sara are getting close to being in the first category.  The Last Shadow Puppets put together such smooth, sexy, "baroque" rock (I love this term "baroque" for them, but it is not a KLF original!).  Alex Turner gets to croon instead of the more bombastic A.M.  I'm sure someone of my musical taste is not supposed to like Foxes or The 1975, but I admit to it.  Both albums are loaded with great songs.  It is hard not to sing along, as you drive down the road.

M.I.A. is the most important album of this bunch and probably the most played in my playlist.  (I do want to be her and have this control over sounds and words!)


"Freedom, 'I'dom, 'Me'dom. Where's your 'We'dom?"

- Beyond whatever anyone else seems to be able to create -

A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead

The only album from 2016 that I consider masterful is A Moon Shaped Pool.  Mesmerizing is probably the best word to describe it.  Honestly, I can listen to the album and find clever sounds and shifts every time (even after about 480 times!).  The textures hover over quiet guitar rifts that are just magical.

Of course I knew from reviews that this was Thom's "break-up" album, as he separated from his long time partner and mother of his 2 kids. What I didn't learn until December was that his ex was suffering and dying of cancer.  (She passed away on December 18.)   Songs that had already touched me personally in one way suddenly took on even more poignancy.


"And in your life, there comes the darkness
This spacecraft blocking out the sky

And there's nowhere to hide"




Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Songs of the year

Naming songs of the year is always hard, because I change my mind about every minute.  This year is no different.

I'll start with some shout outs to some of my favorite girls.

  • My friend Allison Shockley is in a band called Pale Clear .  "Sailor Song" simply blew me away.  I was expecting to like the music, because one always likes their friends' endeavors.  But, I found myself going back to this song all year.  Love the whistle, super love the trumpet...beautiful!
  • Continuing the genderqueer theme, Kate Pierson's "Mister Sister" uplifts as good as any B52s tune.   
  • My favorite lady in all rock-n-roll, Courtney Love, released a "Honour" with Ginger Wildheart.  Got to get your Courtney fix, and this does the trick.  "I will take the world by vengeance in your honour!"
  • "Magnets" by Lorde and Disclosure. Disclosure can piss me off sometimes, but this song worked because Lorde was the perfect match.  The video made it even better. 
  • Lastly, my Marilyn (that's Manson for anyone not paying attention) asked the question, "Want to know what Zeus said to Narcissus?".  I squealed the answer all year..."You better watch yourself". "Deep Six"

As in all years, there is one super hit that must be mentioned.  "Uptown Funk" wins by a landslide.  I just love Mark Ronson. (Although, the "Hello" parodies almost made Adele get a mention in my blog.)

There must be some good shit coming.  Let me see if I can put some order to it all and make a Top 10 list.

10. (tie) "Art Deco" by Lana Del Ray...Moody, dirty, pretty, and perfectly Lana.  "Empty Threat" by CHVRCHES...hard to keep from pounding the steering wheel when this song kicks in after the (I gotta tell you) bridge.
9.  "The Remedy" - "Our home, our rules, respect them or bitches, receive stitches".  Maynard can only get his petty and silly with Puscifer.  "Yes, we're being condescending.  Yes, that means we're talking down to you." 
8. "Giant Peach" by Wolf Alice,  Modern punk with a hint of Black Sabbath and a smooth female voice.  
7.  Being the best song on Art Angels by Grimes is quite an achievement.  I had 8 tracks shortlisted for picks.  However, "Kill V. Maim" wins primarily for the use of screaming on top of about 5 other voices and a cheer ~ B-E-H-A-V-E
6. "Pyongyang" by Blur.  Moody track from genius who spent a few lonely days in the repressive isolated country.  I feel like I've experienced what the country must be like.
5. "In Time" by FKA Twigs.  It is hard to separate the dance from the music,as the visual art is part of the appeal.  But, this song has a raw beauty that holds up even without the erotic moves.  The pacing is simply incredible.
4. "WTF" by Missy Elliott.  Good grief.  How did we live without her for so long?  I'm still on fire every time I hear the first beats.  Posers need to stand back! 
3.  "A juxtaposition in fate"  "Stonemilker" by Bjork.  The string arrangements for this song would probably be enough to make the top 5.  Add gut wrenching lyrics,prepare to be lost in the angst of wondering how a great relationship could come to an end.
2.  DJ music probably hit an all-time high this year.  The magic of "Loud Places" by Jamie XX is that the loud places are always brewing just below Romy's questioning verse and the hymn-like refrains. It is such a simple song with such extraordinary power.

For those closest to me, the following is the no-brainer announcement of the year.  

1. "Lampshades on Fire" by Modest Mouse.  This nihilistic ditty perfectly frames the concept of human beings dancing and partying while we destroy the very planet that supports us.  

Isaac spews lyrics like "Shaved off my eyebrows when I fall to the ground, So I can't look surprised right now", as if that is the only thing that could be said.  

There are characters whose feelings get hurt by being replaced by clones, yet they are more concerned with how their asses look in their jeans and don't really want to work.  So, on to the next party or next town.  All just metaphor for mankind's wasteful ways.  

"The air's on fire, so we're moving on
Better find another one cause this one's done"


Monday, December 7, 2015

Timeliness in Art

We're all goin', we're all goin'

Well, the lampshade's on fire when the lights go out
The room lit up and we ran about
Well, this is what I really call a party now
Packed up our cars, moved to the next town

Well, the lampshades's on fire when the lights go out
This is what I really call a party now
Well, fear makes us really, really run around
This one's done so where to now?

Our eyes light up, we have no shame at all
Well you all know what I'm talking' about
Shaved off my eyebrows when I fall to the ground
So I can't look surprised right now

Pack up again, head to the next place
Where we'll make the same mistakes
Burn it up, or just chop it down
Ah, this one's done so where to now?

Well, the lampshade's on fire when the lights go out
This is what I really call a party now
Well, fear makes us really, really run around
Ah, this one's done so where to now?


Our eyes light up, we have no shame at all
Well, you all know what I'm talkin' about
The room lights up, well, we're still dancing around
We're havin' fun, havin' some for now
Pack up again, head to the next place
Where we'll make the same mistakes
Open one up and let it fall to the ground
Pile out the door when it all runs out

We're all goin', we're all goin'

We have spines in our bones
We'll eat your food, we'll throw stones

Oh, this is how it's always gone
And this is how it's goin' to go

Well, we're the human race
We're goin' to party out of this place
And then move on

Tough love

We'll kill you off and then make a clone
Yeah, we got spines, yeah, we have bones
This is how it's always gone
And this is how it's goin' to go

As our feelings are getting hurt
Ah, we want you to do the work
Our ass looks great inside these jeans
Well, we all just don't wanna' clean

Oh, this is how it's always been
And this is how it's goin' to be
So, you just move on

The air's on fire so we're movin' on
Better find another one 'cause this one's done
Waitin' for the magic when the scientists glow
To push, push, push, push, pull us up

Spend some time to float in outer space
Find another planet, make the same mistakes
Our mind's all shattered when we climb aboard
Hopin' for the scientists to find another door

Monday, January 26, 2015

2014 Albums (a little later than usual, but before the ridiculous Grammys)

Being judgmental feels rude.  I'll celebrate the past year in music by simply rambling a bit (in no particular order).  Truth is, I can probably only place one or two albums above my other favorites. Plus, those closest to me already accuse me of saying that every next artist/album/song is the "all-time greatest, ever" ... hyperbole being my greatest trait!

So, let's start with my all-time favorites and call it the "they can do no wrong category."

U2, Interpol, Erasure, Broken Bells, Kylie, Dolly, Shakira, Suzanne Vega, RuPaul, Jack White, Stars, Julian Casablancas and Thom Yorke released albums in 2014.  Each one is as good as any of  their previous work.  Their only undoing is that their talent probably can't be exceeded, so how could they possibly blow me away?  (U2 - If you are reading this, you'll need another "Zooropa" to blow me away.)  I'm always amazed that these greats can be so consistently good.  Certain songs will forever be in my artist playlist (ie. "Iris", "I Was Gonna Cancel", "Don't Uncork What You Can't Contain", "Sissy That Walk", "Lazaretto", "From the Night", "No One Is Lost", and "Human Sadness").  And, just how does that Thom take all those discordant sounds and somehow reconcile them to something beautiful and harmonic?  However, I can't be bothered with full reviews.

A few of the old-timers actually do deserve a bit more explanation.

Symphonica, George Michael - He sounds amazing.  The covers are spot on, particularly "Idol" and "Going to a Town".

I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss, Sinead O'Connor - "TAKE ME TO CHURCH", I rest my case!

Natalie Merchant, Natalie Merchant - She waited long enough to give us a "real" album, but it is beautifully worth it.  I actually care about each character's story and am dying to know more about each of them. (In the case of Lulu, one can actually learn more about her.)

Stockholm, Chrissie Hynde -  Still rocking it with attitude.  If you like the Pretenders (and who doesn't), you'll love every song.  She may be in her 60s, but she is still a rock god.  Look at her!

Cover photo

Four of you roared back into my iPod and can compete with all of the upstarts.

World Peace is None of Your Business, Morrissey - There is a reason that I am betrothed to the great Moz.  Every single syllable he utters is more important to me than anything else ever muttered.  (Perhaps, I go on too much.)  Point is, he still creates clever pop songs that are better than everyone else.  Why write a blatant song about the good ones dying young when you can just personalize it to Neal Cassady and demonstrate how ridiculous an old beatnik is?

Unrepentant Geraldines, Tori Amos - What is a middle-aged woman to do?  For starters, write songs that perfectly match one's life.  Tori stays engaged in the world around her, yet simplifies it at the same time.  She is mother, revolutionary, seductress, mystic rolled into one.  Most of all, she understands what her fans crave.

La Petite Mort, James - This album came out of the blue.  I am a member of their fan club and missed the release by a month.  Song after song, they visit what is expected.  Yet, the magic is in the pure delivery of those themes now that they have aged.  The 3 song start is as good as any in the career.

Blank Project, Neneh Cherry - Huh?  What?  The girl who gave us intelligent hip-hop returns with a jazzy, hot, sweaty, understated, cocky masterpiece.  The overall album is stripped down, yet it is full of trippy beats and melodic dreamscapes.   She has her niche, and nothing else relates.

This brings us to the techno point of our show...All five of the albums listed below are unbelievably good.  They cover the gamut from old school DJ to modern distortion.  

Syro, Aphex Twin
One Love, Caribou
The Inevitable End. Royksopp
Voices, Phantogram
Pe'ahi, Raveonettes

Phantogram wins, because Voices transcends the genre and is the 3rd best album of 2014.

Let's see, there is La Roux.  Trouble In Paradise is perfect pop music.  It is that album that you can play in any audience, and everyone loves it.  Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence keeps growing on me.  I'm drawn to it like a burnt out moth to a hellish flame.  I'm not sure I want to like it, but I do.

My new find of the year is Working Out by Arthur Beatrice.  They have created an album that doesn't fit into a category.  It is modern, yet it harkens to a simpler form of music. Sample "Grand Union"

Alt-J continue to impress with This is All Yours.  I'm not sure what to even say about them, because they are so unique.  I think the magic is in the album construction as a whole.  It is like a moment away from the world we know...one can simply get lost in the mesmerizing soundscapes.  I love this homemade video of "The Gospel Of John Hurt".

Well, I guess I have to make a stand and put it out there.  Critics pick the top album of the year...it is what we must do.

St. Vincent by St. Vincent is by all accounts (and most other critics) the album that demands to be on top.  Annie's talent on the guitar rivals anyone on this list...and quite frankly, even Prince!  And, she has something to say. Her songs are diverse, funky, maudlin, and clever.  Enjoy this ditty..."Birth in Reverse". Unfortunately in the past year...she is only the 2nd best album.

In 2014, our world was witness to the divine LP1 from FKA Twigs.  It is the Best Album of 2014.  From the introductory "aah, ahh, aahs", we knew this journey was going to be ecstatic. Then, the electronics lead us with a fury to sex.  And, I'm still not sure think of the sex.  But, I feel like I had it with her!  She can trust me and do it with the "Lights On".  But, I'm fully aware she is in control of this trip. I've forgotten all others by the time my lonely thirst is quenched in "Two Weeks".  I want to be the one who instigates...higher than a mother fucker.  We could do this for "Hours". (And, I need a cigarette!).  You "dance feelings like their spoken", and I am mesmerized.  Even when a song doesn't fit the cycle ("Video Girl", "Numbers"), it is a lovely break from the intense personal onslaught.  Back to the ultimate control of this album, as I too want to be "Closer".  Don't question yourself, I am still wanting to go deeper with you.  I am hooked watching you get your "Kicks".  The repeat button will kick in as soon as it is "clear", and we'll do it all again.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sarah, my beautiful girl

Almost 16 years ago, in suburban Atlanta (read Alpharetta), a little girl ran down from upstairs where she no doubt stayed in during "off-times".  We were in the kitchen talking to the person who thought she had to give up her baby.  We were on a lark (more of that in a moment).  Everyone was so excited!  Seconds later, I caught a flash of something slide by the kitchen door and out of sight.  Huh?  Only moments later did a cute little whippet puppy gallop into the room (and instantly into our life).

You see, we had met a whippet in the south of France while on an over-the-top vacation.  So, we thought we might add a second dog for our Ellie (a golden retriever).  We studied the breed, thought the whippet at a bar in Cannes was fabulous, had time to go see an available puppy, and could always say "maybe another time".

No such luck!  This little angel romped up to me and before we could come up with questions, I drooled, "I'm in love" (or some other dramatic response).


Needless to say, we went home with sweet Mona that day.  (Mona was her puppy name, because she had a way of whimpering in a low moan.)  This was to be telling.  This dog spoke and listen (in English).  Upon arrival to our lives (that's Ellie, Paul and me), she was a terror.  Ellie was nipped at constantly, until our puppy was worn out (at which point she collapsed and snuggled on top of Ellie).  

When she wasn't wildly scampering, our baby was simply beautiful, graceful, elegant, and nothing like a plain dog.  Because Mona was from a reputable family (ie. breeder), she needed a formal name.  At that moment in time, nothing could have been more beautiful and lady-like than Sarah McLachlan.  Her latest album had a song that was so heavenly inspired that I had to anoint our child "Sarah's Full of Grace". 


As a forerunner to all things good, Sarah didn't necessarily have it perfect.  She was our first dog from this glorious breed, and it wasn't long before she had to have a friend (ie. whippet people don't just have one!).  Within a year, Mary Louise showed up and took the C.O.A. crown off of Sarah's head and bitched her way to prominence.

Though she often played second fiddle to all the others that were to come, she carved out a space in our lives.  She was the one you couldn't find (hiding from her overbearing "sister"), the one who wouldn't be held down, the one who wanted squirrels so bad she was willing to risk her life to run across Boulevard and be hit by a car, the one who would fight a possum because it was trespassing on her turf.   


Finally, her moment for all eternity came when she played the role of loving Aunt to a litter of puppies who needed her life skills (since their own mother was exhausted by the whole birthing thing!).  Sarah jumped right into our project and loved those kids like they were hers. 

Soon the puppies took all the attention and Sarah was back to role of under-study.  I believed she learned to use this to her advantage, as friends and neighbors decided they should pick her as "favorite", since we had so rudely pushed her to the side!  This was the first era of "Poor Sarah".

Relief came when life changes allowed her to have a new home with bushes.  She could explore and chase small vermin!   She escaped her over-bearing, twisted sister woman, and had her own space.  Ivan and Frances are who they are because of their dutiful Aunt.  Her claimed to fame during these days was appearing in Bark Magazine's smile photos.  (January-February 2012, page 24)





When her daddy moved out west, the threesome became a pack of 4.  Almost instantly, the domination games of Mary Louise kicked in and "Poor Sarah" era 2 had begun.

With age came a more sedate lifestyle, and seclusion from some of the activities of the pack.  Walks were still important, even though at times she held us up.  Up to a week ago, she still gathered herself up to act excited about eating, going outside, and getting a lick of leftovers.  Mary Louise started realizing that there was nothing left to dominate, as Sarah didn't have the energy to deal with that old stupid game.  So, Mary just plopped down with Sarah and quietly enjoyed her company.


As Sarah became weaker over the last few months, something beautiful also occurred for me.  She could no longer fight being held in the bed...she had to acquiesce.  Now was my chance to take advantage of a situation.  I finally got to snuggle and love on her like I always wanted, and she was powerless to stop me!

A week ago, I had the joy of holding Sarah in my arms as I came to terms that she was about to leave us.  I had a moment to fully digest just what she had meant to my life, my family and my friends.  Today would have been her 16th Birthday, and I am lucky to have had those years

As your namesake sings, "(We) will remember you."




Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July (Imagine)



I am proud to be a part of the United States of America (having been lucky enough to be born here).  Yet on this date, I also want to declare my pride in simply being a human being. 

In the 1770s, our intellectual forefathers coalesced a philosophy of human rights, government responsibility, and civility that truly started a revolution.  This was not unique or somehow god-given.  It was the evolution of political thought that started with the ancients, was fed by peasant revolts, theorized by great thinkers, and experimented at local levels in feudal systems.

Humans are wired to be single minded individuals in an enduring fight against all things natural (ie. things we can't control).  Over the millennium, we decided that we could "conquer" nature by teaming up and organizing a tiered community whereby each of us could collectively improve our lot.  We "agreed" to live under a social contract where we gave up certain individual rights and allowed some other authority to govern.  This is what gave Kings their "right" to the throne.

All of this worked well, unless somehow the governing bodies were not keeping their side of the bargain.  And, we would be better off fighting nature on our own.  The ebb and flow of this tension is exactly what was happening in the mid 1700s with the frontier against the English crown.  The long term sovereign was not helping us in a meaningful way, so we revolted and set up a new form of "social contract" and established a new political band that would connect us.  While not perfect, our system has provided the equilibrium between the collective and the individual.

We should be celebrate our achievements!  Further, we should continue to strive to spread our version of utopia to all mankind.  We are not unique or special in our "unalienable Rights" to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  

My experience should not be just for me within my borders.  The poor Indian, raped girl in Nigeria, transexual in Russia, etc., etc. etc. should be a part of our social contract; and, we should all "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor".  When we do not, we bring shame to the very forward thinking of our beloved founding fathers.

Happy 4th of July (but don't forget to imagine a better world for all)

For more reading on the subject, I suggest the following: 

The Ideological Origins American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn

Chances are, you'll learn more about our country's legacy from these pages than all the television you'll see in a lifetime.