[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
[ << Previous 20 ]
[ << Previous 20 ]
|Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009|
|Marv Albert and Reggie Miller are Gold
The pair were announcing Lakers-Jazz Game 2 last night. Reggie Miller is a smart guy, by ball-player standards, and had occasion to use the words "plethora" and "cordial."
Marv Albert, of course, was sort of amused by the whole thing, and did his Marv-Albert-reacts thing in that great voice: "Plethora!" "Cordial!" It was as if he was commentating Reggie's performance as well as the game.
|Sunday, April 5th, 2009|
Adam was driving me back from Vancouver last night after losing in the GNT semifinals.
We had just passed by one of the Indian reservation casinos, I think Tulalip. I was slipping in and out of consciousness when a speed limit sign passed by. I could swear it said:
|Wednesday, March 25th, 2009|
|Tuesday, March 24th, 2009|
We just gave our friend Pete his belated Christmas gift.
|Monday, March 16th, 2009|
|Technology slammed together rapidly enough produces energy
Last thursday I was at a planning meeting at which a bunch of technology from different companies came through in a pinch.
We were meeting in a conference room, but were also meeting with two remote people, one from the eastern U.S. and one from out of the country. We hadn't done much pre-arrangement, but needed to get the meeting going in a hurry.
First of all, I found out I could AIM them through Office Communicator. I just typed in UserName@aol.com
, and bam! They asked "is this a new username?" I never figured out what my screenname actually is when I use Communicator.
Okay, so over IM, we agreed to try Skype. So I downloaded it... I was a bit worried about whether it would work on Windows 7 Beta build 7000, but it worked fine.
Another participant had brought a webcam, so I plugged it in via USB, and immediately Windows recognized the camera, and Skype figured out how to use its mic and video feed. Finally, I plugged in the conference room's AV system into the audio out slot, I called both of the remote participants, and voila!
The only hitch was that Skype seems not to support video mode with a more-than-two-way connection. Perhaps they do that out of consideration for bandwidth.
|Thursday, March 5th, 2009|
Puzzlehunt 12 was a weird mash-up of a Jeopardy-themed hunt and a Halloween/hell-based hunt. What that meant was that it was the longest hunt ever, with a whopping 66 puzzles!
Team Liboncatipu rocked this hunt. We came in second, finally breaking into the echelon of powerhouse teams. There were a lot of great "ah ha" moments, and the whole team had a blast.
My favorite puzzle may have been Trouble Jeopardy
. In this puzzle, you have crossword-style clues where the letters have been transformed in some way. You figure out that transformation to determine what the clue is, get the answer to the clue, and then transform the answer using the same method that transformed the clue. Here's an easy example:
The transformation is apparently to take the last letter of each word and make it a th. So it becomes
Organized Crime, with "the"
Which is "Mob". Transforming Mob gets you "Moth."
They got extremely creative with these transformations, so it was a lot of fun quadruple-teaming this puzzle.
Here's some photos from my camera.http://cid-a1ca7f534fc0cb72.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Puzzlehunt%2012%e2%88%9513
I've commented on each of them, but I noticed that you can't see the comments if you view it as a slideshow..
|Wednesday, February 25th, 2009|
Jonobie and I went to a bluegrass festival in Tacoma called Wintergrass. I was really impressed, so much so that it was almost worth the exhorbitant $65 price of admission.
We're not certain if there was a cheaper way to get in. For example, we didn't do any workshops, so we're not sure if there was a cheaper non-workshop admittance. But they certainly weren't forthcoming with said information.
The first notably cool thing about the concert was how much jamming was going on in every nook and cranny of the hotel. Random people seemed to converge and play together, and not badly! There was even a sign next to the bathrooms: "No Jamming Beyond This Point
Jonobie and I seemed to form similar conclusions about who we liked, didn't like, or wanted to go see, so the whole day was pretty effortless and fun. We saw:
Belle Monroe and her Brewglass Boys: Belle was a great vocalist, and they had good songs and vocal harmonies. Least talented backing band, though.
Cody Bryant and the Riders of the Purple Sage: we only caught the tail end of their performance, but it was enough to be impressed by their fun loving spirit and effortless virtuosity, if not their purple-and-black getup.
Mike Marshall and Choro Famoso featuring Danilo Brito: Choro Famoso is essentially a bunch of americans geeking out over brazilian music. Danilo Brito, however, is a stunningly good Bandolim player. A Bandolim is like a mandolin, but with a clear, brazilian-style tone. Brazilian music isn't my favorite, but I suspect that this will be the performance I remember in two years.
Alison Brown: Financier turned Banjo player that used to tour with Allison Krauss. She played a low-key, jazzy, contemporary form of bluegrass that we found pleasant but ultimately boring.
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper - This was a fantastic traditional bluegrass band headlined (but not fronted) by their fiddler, Michael Cleveland, whose fiddling skills were outstanding. It was an instance where your assumptions are completely shattered: he was short, fat, blind, and had an excessive southern drawl. But he was both fun and incredibly talented. The rest of the band was also superb, although amusingly, they did each try to get their instrument miked up more than everyone else's during the soundcheck. The cocky, hot-shot mandolinist was the worst offender, though I must admit his skills almost met his level of swagger.
Scythian - Scythian does "speed-folk." They are essentially a rock band fronted by a good fiddler instead of a guitarist, and they do rocked-up folk of various nationalities, including Celtic, Klezmer, and Ukrainian. Oh, and they threw in a killer rendition of They Might Be Giants' Istanbul, as well as the old classic My Son John. They were easily the highest energy act of the day, and by the time they finished I had done a lot of awkward dancing and bouncing up and down.
I actually think the quality of the music at the event was significantly higher than that of, say, Bumbershoot, and the best thing is that nearly everyone there is so into the music, that there's a lot of energy. I think if I go back, though, I will do more advance planning to make sure it's worth the price of admission, perhaps by attending mandolin workshops.
Jonobie has now informed me that I should go to the Seattle Folk festival as well. Sounds cool.
|Thursday, February 19th, 2009|
|Music Collection - Various Artists (Part 2 of 5)
Soundtrack - Gladiator -Hans Zimmer/Lisa Gerrard – This dramatic instrumental album accompanies one of my favorite movies. It accompanies the movie perfectly, and I’ll freely admit that whether I like a movie often has as much to do with the music as it does the plot or characters. Perhaps I should say that the movie accompanies the music perfectly. Many of my favorites here are those written by Dead Can Dance member Lisa Gerrard, especially Elysium and Now We Are Free, the stirring end-credits tune. Zimmer’s The Battle has some inspired moments, but is too long as a standalone tune. Much of it is a lesser retread of Holst’s Mars: Bringer of War. 4 stars
Soundtrack – Gosford Park – Patrick Doyle – Gosford Park is a movie about a murder during a party at a Victorian-style English manse in the early 20th century. The soundtrack alternates between period vocal-and-piano pieces, performed by one of the partygoers; and somber, minor-key ruminations that lent to the mysterious air of the movie. The trick is that both aspects actually work for me. The latter is more my style, and is no surprise, but the former are fun and engaging as well. 4 stars
Soundtrack - The Last of the Mohicans – Trevor Jones/Randy Edelman – This album has accompanied me through the last half of my life. I can listen to it attentively, as background music, or before bed. I remember the night after I went to my first concert (Smashing Pumpkins), my ears were ringing badly. I listened to it on cassette in my Sony Walkman to try and drown out the noise… but the walkman kept randomly clicking off and reawakening me. And I still listen regularly. Strings are the lead voice for much of the soundtrack, but there’s such a grandeur, drama, and beauty to it, it easily stands among the best soundtracks. 5 stars
Soundtrack – Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – This is a very pretty album, with memorable themes pertaining to the Shire and the Fellowship, and with a sublime, moving end-credits song, Enya’s May It Be. 3.5 stars
Soundtrack – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – The second installment in the soundtrack series is largely inessential, as it mostly rehashes themes already introduced more expansively in the predecessor. You may remember the editing pace of the Two Towers, at least in its cinema form, was frenetic. The soundtrack is the same; we segue multiple times between different themes in each track, as different characters arrive in the scene. Also, there are too many suspense-sound-effect passages to make it a good listen. The most notable addition here is the beautiful theme of the Rohirrim, but even that isn’t given proper time to develop. 2.5 stars
Soundtrack – Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – The third installment is more of the same, but with the notable addition of Annie Lennox’s masterful performance of the credits song, Into the West. 3 stars
Next Up – Various Artists (Part 3 of 5) – pirate songs, a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, new wave, and sci-fi.
|Ken Follett - Pillars of the Earth
This was an excellent tour de force about the building of a cathedral in 12th century England. It follows the journey of the Kingsbridge Cathedral's start-and-stop-and-start construction over many years. The people building it change, and there are villains, intrigues, and memorable heroes.
Framing the story is the question of successorship of the throne of England, and it's neat to see how Follett weaves the characters' fictional lives into actual history as behind-the-scenes players.
I found it a very edifying and satisfying read, as you get to learn a lot about the period, and about construction of cathedrals. And it's an immersive read because the characters' motivations and knowledge are so deeply tied to the mindset of post-Norman England. It's interesting to think about what master builders of that period new and didn't know about engineering a cathedral.
Ken Follett writes simply; he does not dazzle with his use of language or artistry, and the plot is engaging but methodical, kind of like a protracted Elton John melody. He excels most due to his great characters.
|Sunday, February 1st, 2009|
|Santonio was awesome
My Week 12 pick to win the super bowl won! Yay! And what a classic game.
Santonio Holmes was awesome, while Hines Ward served mostly as a decoy.
Sure, Holmes's impossible catch in the end zone FTW was amazing, but perhaps cooler was his touchdown celebration. He impersonated LeBron James's pregame ritual of putting powder on his hands and then throwing a cloud of it up into the air.
People who don't watch basketball probably didn't pick up on that, so I figured I'd let you know.
Very classy, as far as TD celebrations go.
|Wednesday, January 28th, 2009|
Check out this 1.4 gigapixel photo of Obama's Inauguration!http://gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=15374
BTW, anybody know who the two creepy-looking dudes in hats to Bush's left and behind Obama are? They seem like they might be Cancer Man's cronies. I think the guy immediately to his left is Cheney, but I'm not sure about the other one.
|Sunday, January 25th, 2009|
|Various Artists - Part 1 of 5
Soundtrack - Batman Forever – The tone of this soundtrack is muddy, edgy, and hip. Highlights are U2’s sexy Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, Seal’s surprisingly melodic Kiss From a Rose, and Michael Hutchence’s low-key version of The Passenger. For a more obscure favorite, check out the sweet-voiced Eddi Reader’s track Nobody Lives Without Love. 3 stars
Soundtrack – Batman and Robin – This soundtrack to the sequel to Forever is more up-front and poppy than its predecessor. Like the movie. There’s a lot to like here, including The Smashing Pumpkins’ The End is the Beginning is the End, R.E.M.’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi outtake Revolution, and cuts from Bone Thugs ‘n’ Harmony and the Goo Goo Dolls. My favorite Jewel song, Foolish Games, is over-the-top but delicious. Like the movie. A woman named Lauren Christy sings here, and she sounds just like Rush’s Geddy Lee. Strange. Me’shell Ndegeocello’s cover of The Coasters’ Poison Ivy takes on new meaning here, but it is ultimately more satisfying than the original. Not like the movie. 3.5 stars
Soundtrack – The Big Chill – Lots of old Motown hits are here, such as I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Tracks of My Tears, and Aretha Franklin’s version of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Everything is good here, it’s just dated. 3 stars
Soundtrack – More Songs From The Big Chill – Essentially, this is a more rock-oriented counterpart of the other disk’s predominant R&B. I prefer its highlights – Bad Moon Rising, The Beach Boys power-poppy Wouldn’t It Be Nice, and What’s Going On. It ends nicely with The Band’s The Weight. But the quality is not uniform. The Steve Miller band’s Quicksilver Girl doesn’t exactly qualify as classic. 3 stars
Soundtrack – Garden State – The Zach Braff (of Scrubs)-produced movie about a man’s return to his home state sports a fantastic collection of soft and indie rock songs. In fact, it became a landmark album for the indie genre, turning a lot of people onto it, including me. I was already listening to similar music, like Guster and Death Cab for Cutie. But this album introduced me to The Shins and Imogen Heap, and things went from there, to bands like The Decemberists and Band of Horses. Speaking of the Shins, they also have this movie to thank for their popularity, due to Natalie Portman proclaiming “The Shins will change your life, man.” In my estimation, they have three songs that live up to this praise, and one of them is here: New Slang. Their other song here, Caring is Creepy is also excellent. Also, check out Coldplay’s Don’t Panic, which reminds us of the band’s roots as an understated art-rock band. Imogen Heap’s old duo, Frou Frou, is featured with Let Go. It is keyboard pop like nothing you’ve ever heard. In addition to a treasure trove of new material, it doesn’t hurt that my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song, The Only Living Boy in New York, is thrown in. 5 stars
Next Up – Various Artists (Part 2 of 5) – two instrumental soundtracks, two with vocals, and one that’s half-and-half.
|Thursday, January 22nd, 2009|
|Windows 7 notes
I believe that the Windows 7 beta is being taken down Saturday, so please make sure to download it and try it out!http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/beta-download.aspx
It should run fine on low-end PCs like netbooks. I've heard of some people running it successfully with 512MB ram, though that's lower than the official beta requirements, and I've not personally run it on machines with less than 1G.
I guess I should caveat my 'strictly better' speech by noting that the beta comes with an older build of IE8, which could use some polish and speed.
Also, we've discovered an early adopter of the ribbon. TurboIRC!http://www.turboirc.com/t7/
TurboIRC joins Paint, Live Moviemaker, and Wordpad as ribbon applications.
Very exciting to see things popping up so soon!
|Monday, January 12th, 2009|
|Music Collection - W (Part 3 of 3)
Lo-fi rock band The White Stripes go to lengths to maintain their aesthetic: “No computers were used during recording,” they proclaim in the liner notes of Elephant. They are Jack White and his
sister ex-wife Meg. Jack writes and plays various instruments, usually piano and guitar. Meg drums, badly, but to be honest Jack makes just as many mistakes, which are not corrected during production. The songs justify all the fuss, though sometimes one is infuriated that they didn’t take the time to perfect some of the truly great songs.
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells – Their commercial breakthrough album features raw, emotional lyrics, rawk arrangements, and insidious melodies. Highlights Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, Fell In Love With a Girl, and I Think I Smell a Rat would be nothing in lesser hands, but in the White Stripes’ hands, they are stripped of everything but their impact. The softer material, like We’re Going to be Friends, is touching but not quite as effective. Also check out the bizarre The Union Forever, a send-up of Citizen Kane. 3.5 stars
The White Stripes – Elephant – Elephant is an electrifying listen. Check out the stomper Seven Nation Army and the tantrum version of Burt Bacharach’s I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself. Jack is at his best when he’s just belting it, as he does repeatedly, and the lack of production makes these deceptively simple songs sound like we’re listening at the key moment of fruition. Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine, Little Acorns, and Hypnotize all have this quality. The Air Near My Fingers is brilliant: listen to Jack musically mutter “I get nervous when she comes around.” Others are more distant, but have a stylish swagger that is no less effective: Ball and Biscuit and The Hardest Button to Button both assure us of The White Stripes’ power. Even the song Meg sings, the folky In the Cold, Cold Night, is effective, and a breath of fresh air to break up the album. This album is recorded more carefully than White Blood Cells, but it’s still not inviting, and that’s really the only relevant criticism I can level at this album. 4.5 stars
The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan – Nobody is better than Jack White at distilling pure emotion into a lyric and a melody, as evidenced on My Doorbell. It has the perfect hook: “I’m thinkin’ about my doorbell\When you gonna ring it?\When you gonna ring it?” It could have been an all-time classic if it just had professional recording quality, but the volume goes down in the middle, sapping it of its energy. Blue Orchid is a revved-up stomper, and The Denial Twist is classic White Stripes. Little Ghost hints at Jack White’s fondness for folk that can be seen in the movie Cold Mountain. Meg’s contribution this time is Passive Manipulation, which is effective, if slightly out-of-tune, in its deliciously creepy 35 seconds. Overall, this record is more diverse in style but not as effective, as Jack White tries to slow it down and be soft more often. 3 stars
Brian Wilson – Smile – If you’re interested, read up on the web about how this is the Beach Boys’ long-lost classic that was shelved because Brian Wilson was going insane, only to be re-recorded and released 30ish years later. If you believe the critics, this is one of the best albums ever recorded. So let’s push hype aside a find out about the music. Smile plays like a devilishly clever children’s album that appeals to adults, leaving out teenagers who probably will find it too fun. Great hooks abound, set to silly Americana or nursery rhyme lyrics. Consider “I’m gonna chow down my vegetables\I love you most of all\My favorite vegetable” or “Rock, rock, roll, Plymouth rock, roll over.” With the exception of the last track, the adored Good Vibrations, there are no choruses or bridges. It plays more like a symphony, as a sequence of great ideas with abrupt transitions between them. It’s fun, beautiful, and engaging, and doesn’t cross the line to being to corny or earnest. It’s an album written by a great songwriter in his prime, but recorded this decade, which means it sounds fantastic. So while it may not be my favorite album, like, evar! it’s still a quiet classic. 5 stars
Amy Winehouse – Frank – Amy Winehouse is a sultry neo-soul songstress who’s as infamous for her tabloid life as she is famous for her music. Her debut Frank was a hit in Britain, and it’s easy to see why, with her jazz-informed pop tackling contemporary girl issues in a fresh and forward way. Check out Know You Now for a fine example, lyrically and musically. Unfortunately, all the ingredients aren’t here yet. There are hints of great songwriting, but she sounds very young (think Corinne Bailey Rae) and her voice can get shrieky. However, stay tuned… 2.5 stars
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black – Back to Black is a fantastic, purposeful musical statement. The songwriting is more assured; her voice deeper, huskier, and stronger; the beats fatter; the jazz more jazzy. Frankly, it’s more frank than Frank. Consider the irresistible pop sensation Rehab, or the jazzy You Know I’m no Good. If you liked those on the radio, the quality of the remainder is only slightly lower. Me & Mr. Jones invokes the old standard of the opposite gender. "What kind of fuckery is this?" she demands, and we all want to know. Love is a Losing Game floats along majestically, and her vocal performance is brilliant. In Wake Up Alone, her stream of consciousness is buoyed up nicely by nice rolling arpeggios. She brilliantly invokes 60s pop with the horns and backing vocals in He Can Only Hold Her, and yet it sounds fresh. Wow. 5 stars
Next Up – Various artists (Part 1 of 5) – Some soundtracks from the 90s, plus an Indie rock touchstone.
|Thursday, January 8th, 2009|
Windows 7 is coming out in beta this weekend. It's a no-brainer upgrade from Vista, as it is, for my purposes, a strictly superior OS. And if you're stuck on XP, it's finally time to move on. If you're running Leopard or Linux, there's probably nothing I can say to convince you anyway.
This article and the article it rebuts may be useful to you if you're running XP. http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=630
I installed Windows 7 on my tablet (which was designed for XP) for my trip out east, and used it all weekend for DMing a D&D adventure (using the killer DMing tool, OneNote). It's fast, responsive, the new handwriting input tip is awesome, and I could swear I gained an hour of battery life just by installing Windows 7. Also, the new fingerprint scanner drivers are pretty sweet.
One thing Windows 7 introduced is triggered
services, which means services that start up automatically when someone needs them. Pretty obvious addition, and it's a nice middle ground between automatic and manual start services. Now that services don't have to make the tough choice, it really helps reduce the normal load of background processes.
There are a bunch of cool new features in Windows 7 of the type one will use every day. They're the kind of features that integrate into your workstyle, and then you go back to an XP or Vista machine and can't stand using it. As one blogger nicely put it, (paraphrasing) "there's not a lot of wow
in Windows 7, which is exactly what's needed. It's satisfying on a much deeper level."
My favorite things about Windows 7:
- the new taskbar, especially the jump lists.
- gestures for docking two windows side-by-side and maximizing
- the fact that desktop search is significantly faster and searches the control panel now.
- action-oriented troubleshooting wizards that work
and are actually helpful!
- improved responsiveness
- improved battery life
- simplified and customizable Shutdown/sleep/etc button in the start menu
- Libraries. Libraries are virtual folders which aggregate various folders across your disks and network. This means that your experience with different apps doesn't suck when your music isn't in "My Music", because now programs interact with your Music library.
|Tuesday, December 30th, 2008|
|Crazy or Cellphone?
I enjoyed this well-written article. I still haven't gotten to the point where I hear someone talking to himself on the street and I assume he's on a cellphone, so this resonated:
Also, this morning at the Pro Club, I heard Vangelis's Chariots of Fire
done pacific-islander style. Now, I've actually enjoyed some of the musak they play there. But this, I think, was the most ordinary I've ever heard a great tune made.
|Sunday, December 28th, 2008|
The Patriots (11-5) are out of the playoffs this year since both the Dolphins and Ravens won their games! They've had bad luck this year, I must admit, but I'm not complaining.
Meanwhile, the Colts at 12-4 will be matched up at either the Broncos or the Chargers, who are sitting at 8-7 and 7-8 right now and had easy schedules this year.
The bad news: Dungy rested his starters in the game against Tennessee. The only year they won the super bowl was the year Dungy didn't rest the starters.
At least this year they have to play in a wild card game, which means they won't have 3-4 weeks without starters playing in real games as they have in some years past. My only worry is that all their last 4 opponents were weak teams, including Tennessee without 8 of its starters. Will they be in for a shock even against a mediocre team like Denver or SD?
|Saturday, December 27th, 2008|
|Music Collection - W (Part 2 of 3)
Weezer is an alternative rock band that has sounded more and more like a classic rock band as it matured. Weezer is best known for its geeky, offbeat lyrics, and an emotional core that is more personal than the bands it sounds like. It comprises singer/songwriter/guitarist Rivers Cuomo, and three others that lack distinctive voices.
Weezer – Weezer (a.k.a. The Blue Album) – Weezer first made waves with Buddy Holly, a tongue-in-cheek throwback with an undeniable hook. I think the video shipped with Windows 95. Say It Ain’t So, a rocker about alcohol addiction, appealed to a grunge audience. The album is peppy, jangly, geeky, romantic, and endearing. Every single song is a highlight. It was way more fun than the dire, angsty rock coming out c. 1994. From Buddy Holly “Oo-ee-oo I look just like Buddy Holly\Oh, oh and you’re Mary Tyler Moore.” From Undone- The Sweater Song: “If you want to destroy my sweater\Hold this thread as I walk away\Watch me unravel;I’ll soon be naked\Lyin’ on the floor, I’ve come undone.” From In the Garage: “I’ve got my Dungeon Master’s Guide\I’ve got a 12-sided die.” From No One Else: “I want a girl who will laugh for no one else\When I’m away, she puts her makeup on the shelf.” Each clever lyric is set to a catchy melody. The Blue Album walks that tightrope between fun and depth, and I still love this album. 5 stars
Weezer – Pinkerton – Pinkerton was scorned (by me and many others) upon its release. It was darker, less geeky, and not as immediately catchy. Pinkerton, plus the four year wait until the next album, meant that Weezer lost the parts of their audience which were geek-first, music listener second. It didn’t help that the band got sued by Pinkerton, Inc. for the title. I rediscovered this album maybe 6 years later. In the meantime, this album had slowly become a cult favorite, with some diehards claiming that it’s their best. Butterfly is a touching apology for cheating on someone. Pink Triangle is a hilarious rocker about how Rivers fell in love with a lesbian. The reveal: “pink triangle on her sleeve let me know the truth.” El Scorcho is also really funny and catchy: “Goddamn them half-japanese girls do it to me every time…” The first half is darker and filled with distortion – the first song, Tired of Sex, is a painful listen, and what a bad move to put it first! I expect it’s largely responsible for the initial demise of this album. 4 stars
Weezer – Weezer (a.k.a. The Green Album) – By the Green Album, Weezer has completely opted for a darker, richer, rockier sound, leaving behind any fans who preferred the breezier Weezer. The lightest thing here is the excellent Island in the Sun, but with the inventive Hash Pipe, they also proved they could have a hit with harder material. They also corrected their error from Pinkerton: here, it’s the first half that’s classic. The second half is very solid, each song a good listen, but it’s not particularly diverse. That’s fine, as the album is quite short. 4 stars
Weezer – Maladroit – Maladroit is very similar to Weezer, but is heavier, with a fuller sound than anything previously. Bass and low guitars grind and crunch on the opener American Gigolo, where a high guitar flourish provides just enough levity. Dope Nose is a catchy sing-along that’s no less muscular. Basically, Maladroit a hard rock album with a soft rock singer who rocks just enough to pull it off. Keep Fishin’ continues the stream of excellent, catchy tunes, which continues throughout much of the album, but one wishes that the songs had been given more unique performances or arrangements, with a little less in the low frequencies. If they’re going to be a hard rock band, they need James Hetfield or someone. Therefore, Maladroit is not refreshing. It’s satisfying and rewarding, but not refreshing. 3.5 stars
The Roland White Band – Jelly on my Tofu – This is a really cool bluegrass band with contemporary-sounding performances on mandolin, banjo, bass, guitar, and fiddle. The vocals are too twangy even for me, and the singer just sounds like an old hick surrounded by younger talent, even though he still has his mandolin chops. Luckily, many of the tracks are instrumental, led by the title track. Others are sung by a better female vocalist, such as on the fun, bluesy Flesh, Blood, and Bone. 3 stars
Next Up – W (Part 3 of 3) – Divorcees, an ex-beach boy, neo-soul.
|Thursday, December 18th, 2008|
|Saturday, December 13th, 2008|
|Music Collection - W (Part 1 of 3)
The Wallflowers – Bringing Down the Horse – Jakob Dylan fronts this influenced rock band that was big in the mid-nineties. They hit here with the pop gem One Headlight and the rambling 6th Avenue Heartache. Jakob sings better than his dad (which isn’t saying much), and also has some of his songwriting chops. Touching moments intersperse this blue collar, folk-influenced effort. 3 stars
The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues – I know I already reviewed this album on my best-of list last year, but I’m going to write another review without reading that one, to see if I contradict myself. This Irish rock album is an amazing epic of stunner after stunner, beginning with the raucous title track, moving into the passionate, fiery We Will Not Be Lovers, and turning in a majestic performances of Van Morrison’s Sweet Thing and a stirring reading of The Stolen Child. The way they mix passion and bombast with a really interesting rhythmic playfulness fully appeals to me, like on When Will We Be Married?. This album is one that will eventually lead to me buying the rest of their catalog. So far, I’ve got just one other… 5 stars
The Waterboys – Book of Lightning – This recent effort by the Waterboys is a weird one, but really good. It rocks harder and simpler than Fisherman’s Blues, and singer/songwriter Mike Scott over-enunciates everything, which is weird at first, but ultimately really works as a way of putting some rock punch into intelligent lyrics. Check out the uncannily affecting Strange Arrangement, whose title could refer not only to the lyrics, but to the song itself. Also fantastic are the opening rockers The Crash of Angel Wings and Love Will Shoot you Down. With 19 years between this and the other album, I can’t wait to fill in the gap! 4 stars
The Waybacks – Burger after Church – McKenzie turned me on to this band by taking me to their concert at Bumbershoot a couple years ago. They have a laid-back flavor of bluegrass with a lot of melody and style. They are great in concert, and pretty good on disk, though at times are a bit too low-key. 3.5 stars
Andrew Lloyd Webber – The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber – Webber penned the music for a bunch of hit musicals, including the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, and Cats. This has all his career highlights, and the songs and performances here are excellent. Arguably, they miss the best moments from my favorite, and easily the edgiest, Jesus Christ Superstar, but it doesn’t matter because I have that album too. Check out Another Suitcase In Another Hall from Evita for a great pop tune that you may not know. 5 stars
Next Up – W (Part 2 of 3) – Nerd Rock, Contemporary Bluegrass