140 thoughts on “Music 2020

  1. Some thoughts I had while listening to and enjoying Poco’s eponymous album:

    1. Country without the twang–which comes close to being country pop;
    2. The musicianship stood out a bit, including the bass. I’m not sure if that was Timothy B. Schmidt, but whoever it was, I liked the playing.

  2. New stuff released this year I’ve checked out.


    Selena Gomez (Jan 10), Rare: Pop R&B. Slick. Musically not my cup of tea, which gets in the way of my enjoying the themes, which are very positive. I like that she’s toned down the sexiness from her last album and upped the women power. Probably need to keep revisiting this before it grows on me, if it’s capable of doing so.

    Alexandra Savior (Jan 10), The Archer: Dream pop, indie rock. This has more potential to hit me, but so far it hasn’t. I like the lyrics and presentation, and I’d go see her in concert, but nothing seems to be catching hold of me, which is a little disappointing. I wonder if I’m too old.

    Hawktail (Jan 10), Formations: Americana (but really I don’t know what to call it). Brittany Haas is my favorite bluegrass fiddler and I love almost everything she does. This group has a lot of energy but the album feels strangely subdued to me, and it’s really mellow. It’s also really pretty, and it’s growing on me, ‘though I admit my attention just kinda wanders in and out whenever it’s on. I wish I knew why.

    Stroke 9 (Jan 17), Califrio: Alterna-pop. So far the best non-metal album of the year for me. It’s mellow and groovy, much more like their recent songs than their older, more aggressive stuff (which includes “Little Black Backpack,” their one hit). I recommend it for any fan of early 2000s alt-rock who wish they weren’t too old for that music anymore.

    Stone Temple Pilots (Feb 7), Perdida. Acoustic alt-pop. This album is pretty as heck but it all sounds the same to me. The whole thing would be good for a late-night writing session playlist, which would keep your brain awake but not distract you from your task. Come to think of it, everything on this list so far would be, too.

    Still wanna check out the new albums by Echosmith, Huey Lewis and the News, Richard Marx, and Pet Shop Boys. New James Taylor coming at the end of the month.


    Sons of Apollo (Jan 17), MMXX: Proggy alt-pop-metal. This reminds me a lot of Asia, not musically but conceptually. Take a currently popular sound, but let really really really good proggy musicians play and write the songs. So the result is a a weird mix of Nickelback and Dream Theater. I like it, especially when the band kind of lets loose with the chops, as with several moments where keyboardist Derek Sherinian gets noodley. I wish I liked it more. The other band members are Mike Portnoy, Jeff Scott Soto, Bumblefoot, and Billy Sheehan.

    (to be continued)

  3. Amazon prime streams an older British(?) TV series on classic rock/pop albums. I recently watched one (made in the late 90s) on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.” Here are some thoughts that occurred as I watched this:

    –Lyrics, especially the meaning, is usually not something that really draws me to music, but I’m curious to check out more of Stevie Nicks’s songs. The lyrics for her songs on this album seem really good. They’re poetic without being cheesy in my view, and if someone wanted an example of good pop lyrics, I might choose her songs–and actually some of the lyrics of other songs on this album;

    –If there is such a thing as a pop album masterpiece, this might be one I feel comfortable mentioning.

    1. You wouldn’t be reaching. Only Thriller has more certified sales than Rumours.

      Thunder only happens when it’s raining
      Players only love you when they’re playing…

      Over the band’s whole output, I like the Christine McVie songs best, but my favorite Fleetwood Mac song is “The Chain,” a Lindsey Buckingham song, with “Landslide” (the live version), a Stevie Nicks song, a close second.

    2. You wouldn’t be reaching. Only Thriller has more certified sales than Rumours.

      I don’t think I would have guessed that, but it’s not really that surprising. Having said that I was thinking more in terms of aesthetic merits, not financial.

      but my favorite Fleetwood Mac song is “The Chain,” a Lindsey Buckingham song,…

      According to the documentary the band got credit for writing this. And Nicks claims that Buckingham was having trouble finishing the song, but he insisted. I can’t remember the reason, but she looked at some of her old songs or lyrics and thought it was perfect, and she claims that’s where the lyrics (or most of it) came from. It’s a really good song. The whole album has really good songs. I need to listen to see if the sequence of them work well, too.

      1. I wasn’t assuming you meant a financial pop masterpiece; I was saying it wouldn’t be a reach to make the claim that it’s a pop masterpiece, as more than 40 million sales indicate it’s touched a lot of people.

        The top-selling (certified) albums are quite a list of artistic achievement, although I can’t really speak to Come on Over except what I’ve heard on the radio: Thriller, Come on Over, Rumours, The Bodyguard (soundtrack, which I don’t care for), Back in Black, The Dark Side of the Moon, Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack), and Bat out of Hell.

    3. What I’m saying is that the financial success, even as a proxy for popularity, is a criterion I don’t give a lot of weight. If Rumours didn’t make the top 100 top selling albums, that would not change my position. Another album that came to mind is Steely Dan’s Aja. I have no idea how many units have been sold.

      I’m mostly focused on an album that would a) fit my definition of pop–versus rock, R&B, or another genre, and b) also fit my definition of a good-to-great work of art. Rumours seems like a really good candidate. By the way, I would lean towards choosing Off the Wall over Thriller; and I tend to think of both as more of an R&B album than a pop one, but I’d have to re-listen to both to be sure.


      I forgot one other criteria. I’m also considering the way the songs fit together forming a cohesive whole, like a suite.This would preclude greatest hits or other compilation albums.

    4. This was #7 on the RS 500 all-time greatest albums. For me, it would be a strong contender for the #1 album–at least based on the other albums that made the top 50. It’s weird because it’s not an album I’d have a strong desire to own, and I don’t consider myself a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. Still, I think the songs are really good on this (There are two that are just OK to me.). I like the vocals, especially of the female singers. And I like Nicks’s lyrics as well.

      1. Its power is in its infinite listenability. The variety of lead voices, the combination of lead voices, and the difference in singers’ personalities all make for just a really strong collection of songs. The album is accessible enough to hear on pop radio (or it was, when they played pop rock on the radio) and virtuosic enough to be on rock radio. And the hooks are just so infectious.

        A lot of my friends (rockers, pretty much all) name “The Chain” as their favorite Fleetwood Mac song, and the fact it’s on the same album as (in fact, the next track after) “Songbird” is illustrative of how a collection of musicians with their varied talents can appeal to millions of people with different listening tastes.

    5. The variety of lead voices, the combination of lead voices, and the difference in singers’ personalities all make for just a really strong collection of songs.

      I agree with the first part, but I’m less certain that those factors lead to a strong collection of songs. Do you know of any covers of these songs? That’s a way to test that theory. If the songs are great, by themselves, I think they would sound good with merely a competent vocalist and group of musicians.

      But there’s no doubt the vocalists, plus the quality of the songs, make the performances so good.

      1. Maybe, but I did say a strong collection of songs, not a collection of strong songs. I’d have to hear another group do the whole album, or at least five of the songs, as well in order to make me feel differently.

    6. Maybe, but I did say a strong collection of songs, not a collection of strong songs.

      So you didn’t mean the songs–that is, the written compositions, separate from the performances? “Songs” refers to the composition and the performance together?

      I tend to think “songs” refers primarily to the written compositions–or at least I use the word that way; or I try to clarify if I mean the songs, plus the musicians performing them and the overall recording of the music versus just the written compositions.

      This is a tricky issue for me when writing about music. Making the type of distinctions I’m talking about is kind of a hassle.

      1. Sorry. I meant as an album with a sequence and themes, in a moment in time, not merely 10 songs judged as 10 songs.

  4. The one thing cool about subscribing to an online music site is the ability to investigate songs of certain musicians you’ve liked only because of one or two songs. There are many musicians that have made songs that I’ve enjoyed, but I haven’t heard most of their songs or albums. Robbie Dupree is one example of this, and the other night I decided to listen to his other songs. When his “Steal Away” first came out, I really liked this song, and til this day, I enjoy singing this on karaoke. What if he made other songs like that? (I’m familiar with “Hot Rod Hearts,” but I didn’t like that one as much. Strangely, that song isn’t available on itunes.)

    Here are two that I kinda liked:

    More than the song or singing, the song is within a style that I really liked at the time this type of music was made. On some level this style and sound still appeals to me, although I can’t tell if it’s mostly nostalgia or just the music itself.

    Here’s one I like even more:

    What’s the opening remind you of? I’m not sure, but it seems like a cross between Paul Davis’s “Cool Night” vibe, which I like and CSN’s “Just a Song Before You Leave.” Also, the mood is in the same ball park as “Her Town.” This is sound I really like (but again, I don’t know how much nostalgia is fueling all of this).

    Another critical part that appeals to me is Michael McDonald-ish vocals–either from Dupree himself or the backround vocalists. I wonder if McDonald sang background on this, but when I tracked down the personnel listing it wasn’t him.

    Anyway, while listening to Duprees tracks, I started investigating some of the artists itunes recommended. Many of these musicians I had never heard of before–a group called, Pages; Bill LaBounty (actually I knew one of his songs, but his name was unfamiliar to me); and Ned Doheny. A part of me felt skeptical I would like their music. To my surprise, this proved wrong. It was like a discovered a catalogue of music done in this style–giving me the opportunity to hear what would essentially be new music but done in this older style. By the way, I guess some would call this yacht rock, which I’m not crazy about. I prefer the terms “marina pop” or even “beach funk” that I heard in this review of Doheny’s music. (“Beach funk” doesn’t really describe the music I mentioned here, but “marina pop” does.)

    Here’s one by Bill LaBounty in the same vein:

    One by Pages

    (This kind of has a Ambrosia vibe or maybe Player.)

    As for Ned Doheny, I can’t recall a song that would be a good example of the songs above. His music seems a bit different. Surprisingly, I think he had some of the most interesting music. More later.

    By the way, before I forget, I’d be interested in hearing if you guys discovered any good songs or albums from musicians who played only one or two songs you were familiar with.

  5. As I mentioned above, Ned Doheny was one of the more interesting discoveries in my exploration of Yacht Rock. I just re-read the Pitchfork review of a 2014 compilation that describes the music better than I could, so I would recommend reading that, to get a sense of his music. (I’ve lost interest in reading music reviews, but I thought this one was well-done.)

    Doheny’s music firmly rooted in pop, lyrically and in terms of the overall vibe. I do think that the music, instrumentation (horns) and arrangements are more interesting and sophisticated–at least enough to perk my ears up on first listen. Acoustic guitar (which I believe Doheny plays) is a constant presence, reminiscent of groups like America or Eagles. What’s interesting is when Doheny incorporates R&B-ish horn sections and funkier basslines.

    What I find hard to peg down is why Doheny and his music wasn’t more popular? A part of me thinks that the songs are OK-to-good, but lack the type of hooks to become really popular. The same might be said for Doheny’s vocals. He is not a bad singer, but I think one might be able to argue that his voice lacks charisma, if that makes sense. Something is lacking in his vocals or the music–but both are far from bad.

    One other thing about this music: I feel like there are a lot of echoes in the songs and Doheny’s voice of other 70’s musicians–the Eagles for one song, Al Stewart in another, America in another, Little River Band, and many more. This is not derivative or a bad thing–just a neutral observation. I’d suspect anyone who likes that type of music would want find something interesting in Doheny’s music.

  6. I just watched a documentary on Lawrence “Butch” Morris. He’s a jazz musician who has developed a style of spontaneous composing with an ensemble–a combination of conducting and composing. I always found this style really interesting, and I wonder why more musicians haven’t worked in a similar fashion.

    Here’s a clip of Morris talking about and demonstrating conduction:

  7. Good solo intro, bass solo, and drum solo. I really like Marc Johnson, the bassist–his sound, groove and melodic sense. But the drum solo might be my favorite–nice groove, interesting development, and impressive chops. Phew.

    Now something totally different–namely, an avant-garde solo saxophone performance by John Zorn. Recently, I’ve been more interested in Zorn’s compositions and the groups that he’s lead, but I liked the solo, particularly his use of extra-musical techniques.

  8. Shared this on FB but copying it here for the benefit of non-FB people.

    One third of the way through the year. Here are my favorite albums of 2020 so far.

    1. I Am Abomination — Passion of the Heist II (8/10, progressive metal?)
    2. Katatonia — City Burials (8/10, progressive metal)
    3. Thoughts Factory — Elements (8/10, progressive metal)
    4. Kvelertak — Splid (8/10, uncategorizable)
    5. Apocalyptica — Cell-O (8/10, symphonic metal)
    6. The Night Flight Orchestra — Aeromantic (7/10, retro pop rock, glam metal)
    7. Delain — Apocalypse and Chill (7/10, symphonic metal)
    8. Fluisteraars — Bloem (7/10, atmospheric black metal)
    9. Seven Planets — Explorer (7/10, hard rock / psychedelic rock)
    10. Psychotic Waltz — The God-Shaped Void (7/10, progressive metal)

    Non-metal (I haven’t rated these yet, so this is mostly by feeling)
    1. Pearl Jam — Gigaton (best 2020 album I’ve heard in any genre)
    2. Stroke 9 — Califrio
    3. Gordon Lightfoot — Solo
    4. The Boomtown Rats — Citizens of Boomtown
    5. Cowboy Mouth — Open Wide (EP)
    6. Alexandra Savior — The Archer

    Still listening and haven’t rated yet: Nightwish, Morrissey, Vanessa Carlton, Maria McKee, Echosmith, Pet Shop Boys, Hawktail, Sepultura.

    Listened to and not making the list as of April 30: Haunt, Sons of Apollo, Odious Mortem, Mark Morten (this one would be #11 on the metal list), Ryte, Annihilator, Anvil, Testament, Serenity, Ozzy Osbourne, Selena Gomez, Stone Temple Pilots, Huey Lewis and the News, James Taylor.

    Stuff I’ve purchased on physical media: Testament, Thoughts Factory, I Am Abomination, Katatonia, Surrija.

    1. I didn’t realize Gordon Lightfoot, and the Boomtown Rats are still performing. This reminds me about something that came to mind when I was listening to Robbie Dupree’s music. I noticed that he recorded albums in the 90s and 2000s. That surprised me–did he really have a big enough audience where he could continue to record?

      Lightfoot or Pearl Jam recording now doesn’t surprise me, as they were quite popular in their heyday. I guess I was surprised that Lightfoot is still active and maybe even alive.

      By the way, have you ever checked out recordings of more obscure, less popular pop musicians (e.g., one-hit wonder types)–especially their more recent fare–and found really good music? Actually, I’m also interested in hearing about any good discoveries of later recordings by more popular pop musicians. For example, Daryl Hall has this solo album he put out in the mid-90s that I discovered a year or so ago that I really liked.

      1. The Boomtown Rats reunited for this record. Their last album before this was in 1984.

        I don’t know what “big enough” an audience is anymore for artists to keep recording music. There was a time when if your music wasn’t released by a record label, you didn’t have an album unless you paid for it all yourself and then sold it out of the back of your car or at whatever shows you could perform. In the case of one musician we knew in high school, you could also sell your music to your students. 🙂

        But it’s so easy now to record and release your own music that many successful artists opt for independence rather than owing something to a label. Whatever Robbie Dupree’s audience size has been, I’d guarantee it’s larger than the Choir’s, yet the Choir has released albums every few years, largely on advance crowdfunding and regular touring. Their most recent Kickstarter campaign in March drew 893 backers pledging $49,902.

        Dupree’s most recent album, Arc of a Romance (2012) was released on Spectra Records, whose website says, “The Spectra Music Group is a United States music company founded in February 1997 comprising the independent record companies Spectra Records, Monarchy Records, Spectra Jazz and Spectra Heritage—which is based in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.”

        The internet’s a good thing. It lets musicians and their audiences find and keep in direct contact with each other. Dupree shared in February on FB:

        I will be performing a few shows and I hope you can attend
        May 1 Daryl’s Place , Pauling New York
        May 2 Bearsville Theater , Woodstock New York
        July 12 Bogie’s , West Lake Los Angeles

        For some musicians, this stuff is written by publicists or communications directors or managers. For some, this stuff is shared by the artists themselves, a direct line of communication between musician and fans, which develops the kind of goodwill that enable these people to keep creating and sharing their music. I think it’s beautiful, honestly.

        By the way, have you ever checked out recordings of more obscure, less popular pop musicians (e.g., one-hit wonder types)–especially their more recent fare–and found really good music?

        I don’t listen to a lot of pop, so possibly not as many as you. I guess from the lists I just shared, Huey Lewis and James Taylor qualify, although I found both albums kind of boring. The Gordon Lightfoot album is very good.

        Maria McKee was the lead singer of Lone Justice, a one-hit wonder in the 80s. I have like three of her albums, none of which I like as much as the two Lone Justice albums.

        Too tired to answer the question the way it was really meant. Lemme sleep on it.

  9. I think it’s beautiful, honestly.

    Oh, I think it’s cool. It just surprised me. I can understand underground musicians or musicians who have found a niche making new records. A part of me feels like they knew, at least at some point, that they would be obscure and have a small audience. But I just assume that pop musicians who have a hit have different expectations–namely, selling a lot of records and having a celebrity status, and once they can’t achieve that their music making would end. I admit this is kind of an insulting assumption, although maybe it’s not entirely unfair?

    Too tired to answer the question the way it was really meant. Lemme sleep on it.

    No big deal. I just thought it was an interesting question–interesting enough that I might try to explore some of the newer recordings of these type of older musicians.

  10. Apropos of nothing, I just learned that Frank Zappa liked Amy Grant. (Moon, his daughter, said he liked her voice.) Also, she said he liked the Spin Doctors. The guy interviewing her seemed appalled, but that’s not so surprising to me–Amy Grant was, though.

  11. I’m listening to Toto albums, looking for non-popular songs that I might like. I like the groove on this one, one of the most danceable Toto songs:

    1. Skimming through a few songs of Toto’s 1992 Kingdom of Desire, I thought I was listening to a Van Halen album. “Gypsy Train” is an example, especially Lukather’s solos.

      “How Many Times” sounds like a Living Colour riff, plus Yes melody.

      I think the best thing about this album is hearing Lukather shred. Also, it’s nice to hear the times the band go in a harder direction.

      I think “She Knows the Devil” is one of my favorites on this. (It kinda has a Spin Doctors groove.)

    2. Waiting for Your Love: It’s a decent song. I listened to this album several times before I saw them in concert. This song didn’t stick for some reason.

  12. After listening to some clips of Vince Gill singing with the Eagles, I re-listened to Dolly Parton’s version of “Seven Bridges Road,” which I may like even more than the Eagles version. That lead to listening to more of her music. One thing that stands out–Parton may be one of the most emotive singers I’ve ever heard. I still don’t care for the timbre of her voice and her twang, but in terms of singing with feeling, there’s not many singers I’d put above her. She’s up there with Aretha, for me, in terms of singing with feeling.

  13. Jazz + strings rarely produce good results. Or at least that’s been my impression. (And it’s generally true with rock and pop music, too, I think.) When I was younger the idea seemed appealing on the surface, but often the results weren’t satisfying. I finally got around to listening to Wayne Shorter’s most recent recording, Emanon, in its entirety, and while listening to this, I thought this might be the best synthesis of a classical orchestra, specifically the string section, with a jazz quartet.* The way Shorter combines not only sounds really good, but also natural and organic.

    I think part of my positive reaction also stems with some familiarity with the music and some of Shorter’s albums, starting in the 80s. This feels like a fully-realized culmination of the previous efforts. Specifically, it seemed like Shorter was working in a more orchestral way, expanding from a jazz quartet situation. I want to say he turned to synthesizer in Atlantis and High Life to get that orchestral feel, and utilized an actual orchestra (?) in Alegria, an album I also really liked. But Emanon feels like he’s reached the apex of what he was going for. I also thought Shorter’s playing sounded really good. He definitely didn’t sound like an 85 year old!

    For those interested, here’s the first track, “Pegasus.” This first tune really got my attention, capturing the qualities I mentioned above:

    (*I have to re-listen to the music to confirm this. It would not surprise me that if I go back to the music, with the impression this impression, the music will not match that impression. It could be that my assessment was an over-estimation or exaggeration. Or maybe I’m created too big of an expectation that subsequent listenings will fail to live up to?)

    1. I think you’re crazy. Rock with strings is the best. I mean, since the vast majority of rock songs is trash, I guess I can’t fault you for saying anything “rarely produces good results” in the genre, but of the stuff you’re most likely to hear, it’s an amazing combination. Metal was born for orchestral music, for example, and Kansas’s entire output cannot be separated from its violin arrangements. I don’t really want to get into it with you because you’re predisposed toward not being impressed by the music I like best, so it’s kind of a losing cause, but “rarely” is a really strong word.

    2. It could very well be that I’m forgetting a lot of rock/pop with strings, or I haven’t heard a lot of good examples of this. How about giving me some examples, and I’ll check them out.

      Also, to be clear, I’m thinking more of an orchestra accompanying a rock or pop group–not just the use of a violin or cello. If you can think of good examples of this, let me know.

      By the way, I can’t dispute your preference for this combination, but, for me, the essence and nature of rock seem to make this a hard combination. I think the same is true for jazz. With jazz I think the problem has to do with rhythms–merging classical music, played by an orchestra, with a small jazz combo. The thing with Shorter example, I think the overall music seems rhythmically more like classical music, at least for the most part. (I should go back and re-listen to see if this is actually the case.)

      1. Sure, but the very origins of progressive rock, which you know I favor, have to do with classical ideas (including rhythms) as the basis for rock music, rather than being based primarily on the blues. It’s why prog rock often follows the theme-variation-variation-theme kind of structure than verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure.

        I could give you many examples, but as I said, it’s unlikely you’ll be impressed because of your tastes. I haven’t yet watched the video you shared here but I will. Just wanted to point out that your side comment is somewhat objectionable to people who like some wide swathes of rock music. 🙂

  14. Apropos of nothing, there are two musicians that I really like in terms of their guitar playing, but almost equally dislike their singing. I think you could guess one of them, but I’d be surprised if you guys could guess the second one. I’ll wait a little before I give my answer.

    1. No, not Gabby. Over time, I went from not liking his voice, appreciating the originality of it, and then actually starting to enjoy it. (A similar thing has happened to me with Willie Nelson’s voice.)

      As a kind of hint, I would say, in general, the voices that I don’t really care for tend to fall into the white category versus black. (I’ll try to think of singers with a black sound that I really don’t like.) That’s definitely true for one of the musicians above, and I sort of think it’s true for the other, too.

      1. Yeah same here about Gabby. And Willie Nelson has gotten better as he’s aged. He’s not nearly as nasally. and that rough edge suits his persona well.

        Is either of the two musicans known more for begin a solo act than part of a band?

    2. One of them is more known for being a solo act. I would say that’s less true of the other. To the extent that he/she is known, I would say it was when he/she played in a fairly well-known band.

    3. I’m unfamiliar with Thorogood’s guitar playing, but his voice is fine, from the one song I’m familiar with.

      I know Gibbons is in ZZ Top. Is he the lead singer? Whoever does the vocals, I like it–so it’s not him. (I’m not that familiar with his guitar playing as well.)

      I’m guessing you’ll be surprised by the fact that I don’t like the vocals of one of these musicians–otherwise, I think you would have gotten him/her by now.

      Also, I didn’t known the other musician until fairly recently (maybe in the last ten years…). I must say that the more I think and hear about his voice, the more I don’t like it. When his guitar playing and the music, overall, is good, his voice comes close to ruining it for me.

      1. Thorogood is amazing. His style is all sloppy and sweaty. And you only know one of his songs? You should hear a live version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” Not a radio edit of a studio version. They always cut out the good stuff.

        Clearly I’m barking up the wrong trees here, because Stevie Ray Vaughn was going to be my next guess.

        What about Eric Clapton and James Taylor?

    4. Your comments about Thorogood sound familiar. I think we talked about this before. I feel like I might have listened to “One Boubon,” but whatever the case, I’m listening to it now. (I fee like you told me it’s more his rhythm playing, not his soloing that you liked. Is that right?) I was also listening to one of his albums. For me, his guitar playing doesn’t stand out, but his singing is enjoyable enough. This is the type of music Larri really likes.

      Clearly I’m barking up the wrong trees here, because Stevie Ray Vaughn was going to be my next guess.

      Yeah, I like his voice, and his playing. Same with Clapton and Taylor….You’re going to be really surprised by one of the musicians. And I think I might have said something that unfairly threw you off for one of them. The other one, I don’t think you’ll get. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of him. (I think I may have talked about him on V-I, though.)

    5. I like the guitar in the intro here:

      If that’s the sound and style you like, I like it, too. I feel like there’s no enough of it in the song, though.

      1. I would have been surprised if it were James Taylor; that’s why I guessed him. He’s an underrated guitarist, by the way.

        Is either of the guitarists British?

    6. One of them is Hendrix! (I like Prince’s voice.) Do you think describing his vocals as a “white-ish” sound is inaccurate or too misleading? I’m not sure, but I feel like he doesn’t really have a black sound…Well, when he’s singing the blues, it’s more in that vein. Overall, I feel like has a goofy sound that doesn’t really fit with the sound and style of his guitar playing.

      By the way, I’ve heard that Taylor is a good guitarist. My college roommate, who was a (rock) guitarist really liked him. His playing has never caught my ear, although I’ve never really focused on it all that much. Is his guitar recorded well? I wonder because I feel like the other instruments drown it out, except in pared down situations. And in pared down situations, it hasn’t really stood out…I need to listen to his playing more.

      1. I never noticed it until I saw live performances on PBS and when I tried to play his songs via tablature.

        Hendrix sounds black to me. His adlibs are like adlibs in soul music, like in “Hey Joe” and “Foxy Lady” (here I come, baby. comin’ to getcha!) And in “Foxy Lady,” the way he does the “you GOT to be all mine, all mine…” it sounds totally like black music.

        I can’t separate the vocal stylings from the playing. Nobody played like him before, so to me his vocal and playing are just part of the Jimi style.

        Is the other guitarist alive?

    7. I never noticed it until I saw live performances on PBS and when I tried to play his songs via tablature.

      When you watch those type of performances, which I assume usually features a band, can you hear his guitar parts? I feel like I have a hard time hearing them in those settings.

      Hendrix sounds black to me. His adlibs are like adlibs in soul music, like in “Hey Joe” and “Foxy Lady” (here I come, baby. comin’ to getcha!) And in “Foxy Lady,” the way he does the “you GOT to be all mine, all mine…” it sounds totally like black music.

      Yeah, his way of singing definitely, but I feel like the timbre of his voice fall into the black sound, which, I think, has two general categories. You have the more gruff, gravelly sound and smoother, sometimes high-pitched sound–e.g., James Brown versus Marvin Gaye, respectively. Hendrix doesn’t fall into either, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      I can’t separate the vocal stylings from the playing. Nobody played like him before, so to me his vocal and playing are just part of the Jimi style.

      Both his playing and singing are pretty unique, and I can understand why you seem them as one. I just really like his guitar playing and almost equally dislike his singing (although at this point I’ve acclimated myself to it), so for me I can separate them. The thing is, his guitar playing can be so hard, and then this voice just doesn’t really match that.

      Yes the other guitarist is alive. I’m pretty sure he is American, but he kinda sings in a way that I associate with the British for some reason. I feel similar about David Byrne. I don’t generally like that sound.

      1. I’ve seen him in live performance with a band, but I’m talking about when he’s playing solo.

        I’m going to guess Brian Setzer even though I think you have disdain for rockabilly. Another guitar player who doesn’t get enough credit except in guitar magazines.

      1. More obscure rules out my next five guesses: Lindsey Buckingham, Jack White, Joe Walsh, Steve Miller, and Neil Young. Too bad. I had a good feeling it would be Jack White if you’ve actually explored his guitar playing, which I wouldn’t have bet money on.

        Is the second guitarist white?

      1. Okay, I think you’d been saying “him” but now it’s “him/her,” so I’m going to ask if the second guitarist is a woman. I had a few women guesses but took them off the list.

      2. I tried to not reveal the person’s sex, but I might have slipped a time or two. I will reveal it now: The musician is a man.

        Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if you or Don never heard of this guy. He is not someone who would be frequently mentioned on a list of guitar gods, at least I don’t think he would.

    8. Nope, not Healey. Healey had videos on MTV, right? Late 80s, early 90s? I remember watching those. I don’t think the guitarist had any MTV videos, or not any that I remember.

    9. No, not Cooder, but a not-bad guess–although I think the guitarist is a bit more obscure. I think I knew of Ry Cooder in high school or college because of his score in Crossroads. I might have seen him in other contexts as well.

        1. Yes, and you’ve heard his music, notably on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. He also died last year, but I didn’t expect you to know that.

          I can’t imagine your having a problem with Richie Furay’s voice (but then I couldn’t have imagined it with Jimi Hendrix either), and you mentioned listening to Poco some time ago. What about him?

        2. I don’t know who Richie Furay is. But if he sang for Poco, of the few albums I’ve heard, I’ve never heard any vocals I didn’t like.

          1. He sang lead vocals on most of their songs, but I guess he mostly played rhythm guitar anyway. He was also the pastor of Cavalry Chapel in Broomfield, Colorado until a few years ago.

            One of them is more known for being a solo act. I would say that’s less true of the other. To the extent that he/she is known, I would say it was when he/she played in a fairly well-known band.

            Is Jimi the one who’s more known for being a solo act? Also, I notice you said you dislike the singing almost as much as you like the guitar playing. Jimi’s voice is that bad to you? Or you don’t love his playing SUPER plenty?

          2. Yes, I was thinking of Jimi as the one known for more of a solo act. I really don’t care for his voice–it is kinda that bad for me, but I’ve also built up more of a tolerance for it over the years. I can say that timbre is original.

            I guarantee you know the musicians/groups the other guy played in–at least the two that I know of.

    10. I don’t think it can be Jason Isbell, but that’s my next guess while I think of a new question to ask.

      No, not him.

    11. No, but that seems like a decent guess–although I think you’d have more chance of knowing Anastasio than the guy I have in mind; then again, maybe not.

      (On another note, from what I remember of his voice, I’m not a fan of it, but I’m not familiar with his guitar playing.)

      1. Okay, it can’t be Steve Lukather beecause you said you only became aware of him in the last ten years or so, plus his band isn’t obscure at all. But maybe you meant you only became aware of the guitarist. And he’s not a good singer. So that’s my next guess.

          1. I’ll have a heart attack from shock if it’s Rik Emmett, or if you even know who Rik Emmett is, but he fits a lot of the descriptions (sorta), even if he’s not American. But that’s my guess, and since it’s incorrect, here’s my next question.

            Is the guitarist’s band especially associated with a specific American city and scene, such as 90s Seattle, 60s San Francisco, 80s Athens, or 80s Los Angeles?

          2. I don’t know Rik Emmet, so you’re right about being incorrect.

            This guy made albums under his own name. Whether this is considered part of a “scene,” regional or otherwise, I’m not sure. He did play in a band that I would say is part of a scene.

          1. I’d be almost as shocked if it were Tom Verlaine, but that’s my guess.

            Was he the primary lead vocalist in his most notable band?

          2. I’m unfamiliar with Verlaine, so no.

            I believe this guy was the primary vocalist in his most notable band, while he was in it.

  15. Last night I was in the mood for Caetano Veloso, a musician I first started liking after seeing his performance of “Cucurrucucu Paloma (Hable Con Ella)” in Almodovar’s Talk to Her. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to him. Anyway, I partly mention this because I think this is a guy who both Mitchell (and maybe Don) could like. Here’s a clip from a relatively recently new album, a duet between Veloso, on guitar, and a clarinettist.

    And here’s the clip from Talk to Her

  16. In the conversation above about the two guitarists, I became aware that there aren’t many guitarists I really like because of their rhythm playing. That is, my favorite guitarists are those whose solos and riffs appeal to me. Oh, the timbre/sound is also important.

    I find this is a little surprising and odd because I really like strumming accompaniment as well. And yet I can’t think of many that stand out enough to the degree that would attract me to them on this basis alone. I can’t really think of many rhythm guitarists with an original style, too–but there’s gotta be a bunch of them. It’s a weird blind spot I have.

    1. One we discussed (but you didn’t say you particularly liked) is Richie Havens. In the rock world, the acknowledged beast is James Hetfield of Metallica, not only for his riffing (which is the heart of the Metallica sound) but his fast, steady strumming, often while singing lead vocals. I saw a red-carpet interview video leading up to a (stupid) awards ceremony where the (stupid) interviewer asked guitarists how they might Frankenstein the perfect guitarist, and a few respondents said, “James Hetfield’s right hand.”

      I’d suggest Malcolm Young is another who gets a lot of attention for defining his band’s unique sound.

    2. I need to check out Havens again, and thanks for the other recommendations. I was hoping you’d give some. If you have specific albums or songs that you’d recommend, I’d appreciate those, too.

      1. Richie Havens opened Woodstock, and the other bands hadn’t shown up yet, so he ended up performing for two hours (according to some apocryphal accounts I’ve read). The last song he performed, “Freedom,” he made up on the spot, having run out of rehearsed material. He combined some impromptu “freedom…freedom” lyrics with “Motherless Child” and it’s one of the iconic Woodstock performances. I would start there. I haven’t been able to find a video with decent audio, nor a video that shows him actually playing his guitar (dang it). Sometimes I hate editors of concert video. Still worth checking out on YouTube.

        This is one of my favorites, though. “Here Comes the Sun.” I’m as fascinated by Havens’s toe-tapping as I am the extremely unorthodox use of his chording thumb. Is he playing in an open tuning? Whatever he’s doing, it just makes me feel good. And the way the song climaxes near the end, I feel like I need a smoke when he’s done. You may respond differently, but I love this performance, and watched it repeatedly the day he died a few years ago.

        1. I appreciate the originality of the approach and the energy in his playing, but overall this doesn’t appeal to me much. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the Woodstock performances, too, and I think I had the same reaction.

          What’s a bit strange is that, when I used to play guitar, the general strumming style could be in this ballpark. I’m not implying that it was as good, though. But you would think I’d fine this style more appealing. I can’t explain why I don’t, except to say that I’m not really happy with my style of playing.

      2. This is a pretty good example of Kirk Hammet’s rhythm playing. “Battery.” I’ve been impressed lately with a new energy they’ve brought to their live performances in the last couple of years. They always do a good show, but there’s something different lately, and honestly I like this band of old guys better than I liked the young guys, at least live. This is from just a year and a half ago.

    3. In thinking about this topic a bit more, I feel like I can think of specific examples of strumming/rhythm guitar playing that I’ve liked, but I struggle to think of rhythm guitarists I like for their overall strumming style. And I can think of guitarists whom I like for the way they accompany soloists (e.g., Jim Hall, John Abercrombie), but I’m not drawn to an original strumming style that they have. I don’t know if that makes sense.

      One musician that might come close is Roland Cazimero. I like his overall style of playing, and i like the sound as well, which I guess is not super original, as other Hawaiian musicians have that 12 string sound.

      Here are few strumming I like on individual songs. I like the strumming here, but it’s also the licks added to it as well:

      I love this Mexican (Mariachi?) style (I wish this track weren’t so short.)

      Oh, I like the strumming of the Gypsy Kings, but it’s also the percussive effects (e.g., hand claps) as well. In general, I like Flamenco strumming, as well.

  17. Sad news the other day about Eddie Van Halen’s passing. A few weeks ago I was going through all the Van Halen albums, making a playlist of the songs I liked. I noticed that Eddie didn’t really have a lot of solos–or at least his solos seemed to be the least interesting aspect of his playing for me, which is interesting because generally I tend to like guitarists for their ability to create lyrical solos.

    For me, there are two things I really love about Eddie: his rhythmic licks and his use of sonic effects. He sort of like a combination of Jimmy Page and Hendrix–and taking it to another level. On a side note, another Bill Frisell is another guitarist whose masterfully use of effects creates a unique sound.

    One another thing–like Hendrix, he seems to be able to get a lot of sound and music out of one guitar.


  18. I came about this yacht rock playlist by Questlove. The backstory is that he and Anthony Bourdain would argue about the genre–with Quest for and Bourdain against. Everytime Bourdain came on Jimmy Fallon’s show, Bourdain would want a harder, edgier song, but then Questlove would play a Billy Joel or something.

    What I find interesting is the mid to late 80s selections on the list (e.g., Sade, Phil Collins, etc.). If these songs are accepted, than it suggests yacht rock is a more substantive genre and not just a style that really doesn’t have any creative life beyond a certain time period. (Aside: This may be true of something like New Orleans/Dixieland jazz as well or be-bop, as distinguished from hard-bop or post-bop).

    For me, I make a fairly strong distinction between Robbie Dupree type of sound from the mellow, night vibe of mid to late 80’s mellow or slow jam music–or even anything beyond…I guess some of Meyer Hawthorne’s stuff could be categorized as yacht rock. At the same time, his music is very retro.

    And I guess what I’m going after is post 70s yacht rock that doesn’t sound retro. Sade or Phil Collins “One More Night” seem like good candidates. (I also like Hall and Oates’s “One on One” as a candidate.) Or even a group like Swing Out Sister (although I don’t know I say that). If we can get behind the musical trappings specific to an era (e.g., fender rhodes), then we can get closer to the heart of the genre.

    On a side note, I discovered two songs that I was totally unfamiliar with, but I ended up really liking. I’ll post them below.

    (Just found out the Sun Rai song is a more recent song.)

  19. While I like Frank Zappa’s music, I never really cared for his songs with lyrics. I also never really cared for Zappa’s voice. Over time that’s changed a bit, although I still prefer his instrumental music. In any event, I came across this live performance of “Coneheads” that I’ve liked so much that I’ve been listening to it over and over again. Here’s the clip:

    I guess like the groove here, but also here’s a song where Zappa’s singing works so well, especially in terms of being funny. He has a good solo here, as well. I’ve listened to the album version of this song, but I like this one much better.

    1. No, the other guitarist is not Zappa. I know you are familiar with him, and I’m pretty sure Don is somewhat familiar with him, too. There’s a good chance you guys may have never heard the other guitarist’s name…Actually, I think there’s a decent chance you know his name. I know for sure you know two groups he played in, but he is probably the least known guy in one of the groups. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you never heard any of his music outside this group.

  20. Don Caballero is the name of a instrumental alt-rock (math rock?) group. I don’t know if Caballero is a real person, but if he is, based on the music, I’d guess he was a great drummer or percussionist–or maybe he’s a fictional drummer leading an instrumental hard rock/metal band. I don’t know if the drummer is the leader, but it sounds like it to me. He’s also the star of the group, and the music seems to be one that would be composed by a drummer, as it’s rhythm based. Think of the way James Browns music is kind of funky, rhythm machine. DC’s music is like an instrumental hard-rock machine. The melodies are non-existent or sort of in the background. The rhythms, with each instrument contributing a component to that, is what is at the forefront. What makes it interesting to me is the way the rhythmic terrain changes through the course of the song. Here’s one example:

    1. Nothing on either of his two lists have I listened to, although the Steve Earle album is on my to-listen list, and I didn’t know about either the Gillian Welch or Willie Nelson albums, so I may add those.

  21. A couple of weeks ago, I thought of listening to classic rock/pop albums in their entirety. Rumours and Joshua Tree (although I didn’t finish the last one) are two examples. Today, I’m giving Sly and the Family Stone’s Dance to the Music a spin. Of the well-known black musicians/music during the 60s and 70s, this group has never really grabbed me–not the songs I’ve sampled anyway; and musicians I respect think highly of them, particularly within the context of great fun/R&B musicians. So far, I find the music OK–but the groove is not really standing out prominently for me.

    The other thing that comes to mind: Prince seems like the 80’s version of this music.

    1. Do you have any recommendations?

      I have a hard time thinking of really good pop/rock albums–particularly in terms of being music that works as a whole, not just a collection of good songs.

      Some albums that come to mind off the top of my head:

      Dark Side of the Moon
      Off the Wall

      1. I’d like to know your responses to these albums first. Although I guess not finishing the Joshua Tree is a telling response.

      2. For what it’s worth, the fact that I didn’t finish the Joshua Tree shouldn’t be taken as a negative–at least I don’t think so. I recall that something else came up, or I just got in the mood for something else (which I guess could be seen as a bad sign).

        As for the other albums, I really liked them–although it’s been a while since I’ve listened to DSoftM. After college I had a cassette tape of that album, and I enjoyed listening to that in the car. I probably haven’t listened to the whole thing since that time, so I don’t know how I’d respond now.

        Besides the fact that I really enjoy the other three albums, I can’t think of any specific comments. I guess with the Dan/Fagen albums, I appreciate their unique sound, including Fagen’s voice, and the synthesis of jazz-pop is something I really like. Some critic, I believe, describe them more as bringing jazz into pop rather than jazz musicians bringing rock/pop into jazz, and that sounds right to me.

        Speaking of jazz-pop, I really like Basia’s first two albums–Time and Tide and London Warsaw New York–and I’m put them on the list, or maybe just the first one. Anita Baker’s Rapture might also make the list.

        Oh, I really liked Arrested Development’s 3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days In The Life Of…


        For Off the Wall, I like the use of the horns. The quality of the songs are good as well, which surprised me a few years ago. The musicianship, overall, was surprisingly interesting than I would expect. Also in terms of the bass, I like the way the instrument was used in the ’79-’81 period.

      3. Comments about the self-titled album. Your comment is not crazy, although I don’t know if I would agree–and by this last comment I don’t mean to imply strong disagreement. I wasn’t paying close attention to the lyrics, so most of my assessment is based on the music.

  22. (too many words about this one album, but the guys deserve them)

    Power Up (2020)

    Stevie Young, the nephew of Angus and Malcolm Young, stepped in for Malcolm on rhythm guitar in AC/DC a few years before Malcolm’s death. This is how old the members of AC/DC are: young Stevie Young is 63.

    When old (and I mean old) favorites put out new albums long after their prime, you can usually expect, at best, one or two standout songs and a lot of stuff that’s just okay. It’s as if these great musicians already wrote the five or twenty great songs they had in them, but they keep trying either to find the groove they once owned or to discover something new, because this is what artists do.

    There are other factors, too. They’re old and not as pissed at the world. They already said what they have to say. They are still musicians but what sounds great to them would have been right at home thirty years ago.

    Sure, Ozzy Osbourne surprised this year with an interesting, introspective album injected with the youth of today’s popular musicians. It somehow was the Ozzy we all knew and loved but applied effectively to where Ozzy is today, in today’s world. But this is a difficult trick to pull, and so rare I can’t think of another example.

    I bought AC/DC’s Black Ice the day of its release in 2008, on CD only and only at Walmart (they only recently allowed digital streaming and purchasing of any of their music). One song, “Rock and Roll Train,” truly rocked, and I include it in my best-of AC/DC playlist. The rest had the AC/DC sound but were utterly unmemorable, except for “Big Jack” which is memorable because it sucks.

    AC/DC put out another new album in 2014, but it completely escaped my notice. I did see the band on SNL several years ago, and they still sounded great, but Brian Johnson really worked to hit the notes, getting the melodies out of his battle-worn throat but not from his guts or testes as he once did.

    Johnson is 73 now, so I expected absolutely nothing from him or the other lads (Angus Young on guitar, Phil Rudd on drums, Cliff Williams on bass, and Stevie Young on rhythm guitar) on this new album, Power Up.

    God bless the magic of the studio: Johnson sounds great here, still more throat than gut, but with enough conviction to bring a nostalgic tear to my eye, and the rest of the band sounds as good as ever. I mean as ever.

    Power Up is a small miracle, because it’s not just good for a bunch of old guys still somehow on their feet. It’s a good album, and even better: it’s a good AC/DC album. You can hold this up with Back in Black and For Those About to Rock We Salute You, and while it’s clearly not their equal, the quality of the songs and recordings is quite nearly as good.

    From opening track “Realize,” you realize these songs, written by Angus and Malcolm before Malcolm’s death, have the funky blues and sweaty rock of AC/DC at its best. It’s riff heavy, groovy as heck, singable, and catchy. “Kick You When You’re Down” sounds like it was the last track to be cut out of Back in Black, and “Witch’s Spell” sounds like it would have been the B-side for “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”

    The only truly weak moment is this weird, nearly spoken-word intro to “Demon Fire,” which reminds me of the “no mercy for the bad if they want it” intro to “Inject the Venom” from For Those About to Rock. Johnson sings it in this weird lower register that sounds completely out of place (and does it again a few bars in), but the riffing and fills are so good they overshadow this one bad decision.

    Perhaps most impressive is how the album’s twelve tracks all sound like classic AC/DC without all sounding the same. I mean besides in the way all AC/DC songs sound the same. Old bands just don’t pull this off, ‘though many keep trying.

    Hats off to them all. If this is how it ends for AC/DC as recording artists, they go out as champs.

  23. Reid might pshaw this review (here) of the new Boris & Merzbow album (out today), but I found it amusing:

    What better way to see 2020 out than Japanese iconoclasts Boris and noise terrorist Merzbow mangulating songs mostly drawn from 2019’s Love & Evol (plus a bonus cover of the Melvins’ “Boris”) for 80 minutes? I’m sure that sounds like somebody‘s idea of a good time. That said, if you come into this with the appropriate, uh, expectations (that is, don’t have any), you are certainly in for a unique experience. And if you like the sound of dental drills scraped over Boris vinyl, this’ll sure finish your year right. I dig it but it’s hard to recommend to people less broken than myself.

    Almost makes me want to give it a spin.

    1. I’m curious who the audience is for the review. If it’s other noise fans, the review makes me want to check out, but it sounds more like a review for non-noise fans.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve liked the bits I’ve heard from recent Merzbow/Boris albums.

      If you ever want noise or noise-rock recommendations, I’ll be happy to give you some, although maybe you already listened to a lot of them.

      1. Well it’s a metal blog, which comprises fans of all kinds of hard music. I suspected the writer’s tone would spark a shake of the head for not getting it, even while seeming to appreciate it.

      2. What’d you mean by this: “I suspected the writer’s tone would spark a shake of the head for not getting it, even while seeming to appreciate it.?”

        1. Oh, “shake of the head” from me specifically! I thought this was meant for the typical readers of the site.

          In any event, for some reason, I’m kinda indifferent to his reaction. He doesn’t really that much, too.

  24. Hearing different versions of songs that I really like is one of the reasons I enjoyed Live from Darryl’s House, and I want to write about reasons I like different versions of a song. I actually have a clear idea of this, and I will fumble around trying to articulate my thoughts. Here are some preliminary thoughts:

    • These different version enrich the song–making it more multi-faceted in a way. This may mainly apply to good songs. Or maybe interesting and effective renditions are possible for mediocre songs–and if that happens, the songs is enhanced.
    • I really like expressions of a personal style, particularly those that are original, distinctive, and even innovative. Different renditions of a song allow the display of different expressions. Hmm, I don’t know if this exactly right, but I feel like there is something to this. When there are different rendtions of a song, the song/composition itself feels less significant….sort of….
    • I feel like there is some tie-in with jazz here–maybe a tie-in with the appeal of jazz for me. With jazz, individual performances of a song are less important and more important. They’re more important because the performance of the song–or more specifically, the improvisations that occur–are what’s really critical. The music happening in the present is central–that moment, where there are many possibilities. Recordings are valuable, too, but they don’t have the possibility for failure or success. The unique circumstances that were contributed to the music-making is no longer present. Those circumstances give value to the music.
    • But a specific performance is also less important–relative to the collection of all the performances of that song. All the performances somehow have a greater value in a way–and I think this relates back to the reason LfDH appeals to me. Ugh, this is not a great explanation. I need to work on this more. There’s something about having many versions ofa song–including songs in the future–that appeals to me and maybe even enhances the music….Maybe it’s the collection of different styles or expressions that I love? This goes back to the earlier point I made, and I think there’s some truth to this.

    Oh, here’s another way to look at this. In a live performance, some people like hearing a song performed exactly how it sounds on a record. I feel close to the opposite–generally. It is more interesting to hear a different rendition, and even if the rendition isn’t great, this still appeals to me on some level. (In a cover band, I don’t mind hearing a song performed as it is on the record–particularly if the performance is really good.) In some ways, only performing the song one way is constricting, maybe suffocating to the song. Different versions add life to the song, making it more expansive and rich. I guess there’s a display of creativity when there are different renditions, and that’s understandably appealing.

    1. I feel the same way. I have Spotify playlists of different artists performing the same song: The Clash’s “Train in Vain,” the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home,” the Sunday Manoa’s “Kawika” (actually written in 1930 but I can’t track down the definitive first performer), the Edison Lighthouse’s “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes),” and that kids song “Ulili E.”

      Of course, I don’t equate this fondness with jazz; I equate it with Romeo and Juliet, a play I’ve read at least ten times and seen performed onstage a few times. I’ve also seen four film versions of it.

      A lot of people complain about film remakes, but right around the time I saw the Footloose remake, I figured out that I don’t agree with the complainers. A film is different from a stage performance because it continues to exist, viewable by any, but a filmmaker wanting to interpret a great work of art should attempt the truly great works. If you’re remaking a film, why not one of the films dearest to us? I admire the effort, even if the results are often unsatisfying.

    2. Oh, your remark about films and film remakes brings an interesting angle to this. I want to talk about that, but before I do, I’d like to ask why you like different versions of songs. Can you help improve upon my explanation, making it clearer or even enhancing it by adding further insights? I say this particularly because I’m not satisfied with it. I don’t think I’ve fully captured the reasons different versions of songs appeal to me.

      OK, back to films. What I find interesting here is that I’m less interested–or, I should say, more leery–of film remakes. But I suspect that this is because of the motivations behind them seem suspect (read: trying to make an easy buck) and/or the results are often not great. Additionally, there are usually only a small number of remakes, generally only one. I think my reaction might be really different if there were many remakes. For example, with Shakespeare’s plays, I feel differently–i.e., similar to the way I feel about songs.

      Off the top of my head, I feel like films are static or more rigid works of art–similar to paintings, sculpture, etc. Many versions of the “Mona Lisa” would not appeal to me. Then again, maybe it would appeal to me if many versions existed, with some being really interesting and creative.

    3. I wanted to expand on the last point I made in the OP:

      But a specific performance is also less important–relative to the collection of all the performances of that song. All the performances somehow have a greater value in a way–and I think this relates back to the reason LfDH appeals to me.

      I’m not sure if this is related, but I was recently making a playlist of Van Halen songs. When I’m choosing the songs, I think I’m focused on the extent to which the songs have that really hard sound. But then I’m also looking for expressions of this that are both varying and interesting. So when I listen to playlist, I can get this sound, but in a variety of ways. In this way, each song has less value independently. And it’s almost like the entire playlist is an album or even just one interesting, rich song. I like the collection of songs more than each song independently. I don’t know if that makes sense.

      For what it’s worth, I like Frank Zappa’s guitar albums for a similar reason. Those albums are basically Zappa’s favorite guitar solos that he’s put together. I really like this concept, and I would love if other rock/pop musicians did the same thing. (If you know any albums like this, let me know.) One thing that I like is that the grooves played by the rhythm section varies (which I guess is obvious), but when you string them all together, it’s almost like listening to one really interesting songs.

      I think this relates to an idea I mentioned somewhere in this thread–specifically, the idea of improvising on grooves. For example, a song may start in a James Brown early 70s funk groove, but then morph into disco groove of late 70s, and then some Prince funk-rock thing, etc…Music that grooves or has a catchy beat can get too monotonous in a way. Switching the type of grooves within a song could really add a dramatic shift. If the musicians can do this in a seamless, organic way, then I would enjoy that.

      The Van Halen playlist functions in a similar way, I think, except the grooves don’t change that dramatically. But I end up liking the fact that the riffs, baselines, drumming, etc. vary from song to song. Now that happens on their albums, but here’s the difference: all the songs are in that hard rocking vein.

      …Here’s an idea that appeal to me: If I can take all those Van Halen songs edit them to splice together together, cutting on parts that I don’t like, adjusting the length–to make one long song, I think I’d like that. I’m thinking more of an instrumental thing to. Actually, I could see splicing various groups this way, making one big rocking song.

  25. I was out for a walk this morning while listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash’s second album, CSN. It’s not their best album, but it’s a little special to me because it was one of the first LPs I bought when I discovered Jelly’s, the summer after eighth grade. The beginning of a stupid, stupid collection.

    Anyway I was wondering if two songs on it would qualify for Reid’s spooky rock playlist. No, it’s not a genre, but I’m less scornful of it as a label. I mean, I embrace yacht rock, so it seems inconsistent of me not to accept spooky rock.

    Dark Star:

    This one has less of the vibe, but it does remind me musically of “New Kid in Town.”

    Just a Song Before I Go

    1. Probably studio recordings would have been better for my examples, but I just like their live performances so much. I’ve seen them in concert twice. The first time was amazing.

    2. I was being kinda facetious with the “spook rock” label–although I do have songs in mind. “Dark Star” really doesn’t have that vibe, but maybe the studio version does?

      Just as a describe the sound I mean, I would point to something like Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew; “Witchy Woman or “One of These Nights;” or Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “So Into You.”

      “Just a Song Before i Go” kinda has the sound, but not quite. Something like “Captain of the Heart” might seem like it qualifies, but it doesn’t.

      I think the vibe and/or lyrics are the two main components.

      1. I think you were being more playful than facetious. At least that was the vibe I got.

        Also, if you’re going to keep referring to it, I would gently suggest calling it “spooky rock” because “spook rock,” depending on the specific artists you put on the list, could be a problem. Plus, there’s a difference between spooky and spook. Spook sounds like you’re talking about ghosts playing music.

        Anyway, could you name the specific songs confirmed for this playlist?

      2. I thought facetious combines not being serious with being playful. Anyway, playful is definitely describes where I was coming from.

        Point taken about “spook rock”–what you have in mind didn’t cross mine.

        I listed some songs above. “Hotel California” could be in there, too.

        Something like Zappa’s “Zomby Wolf” or something like “Monster Mash” or “Zombie Jamboree” would not, though. In my mind, the eerie, haunting vibe is a key part of the sound, in addition to eerie, supernatural lyrics (at least for songs that have lyrics).

        Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight” has the right vibe, but maybe not the lyrics.

        Miles Davis’s Dark Magus might be another. It has a swampy, eerie sound–more raw than Bitches Brew if I’m remembering it correctly.

  26. I’m finding that emo, the music genre, is a common crossword puzzle word. I don’t think I’ve heard any music from that genre. Can you guys give me representative examples of that genre?

    1. I don’t like many emo bands but I like a few songs.

      This band doesn’t get enough play. I think they’re better than most of the popular emo groups.

      I saw these guys in concert a couple of years ago and ran into a bunch of former students from the early 2000s. I may have been the oldest guy in a room of thirty-somethings.

  27. Yeah, this is something to think about:

    My first thought: Think of all the types of music, movies, etc. that would likely not be profitable and therefore subject to elimination by streaming giants. Right now, a site like Apple Music has a great selection of non-mainstream music, but it might not always be that way.

    If Gioia is correct, the value of cds, records, dvds/blu-rays are far more valuable then I’ve realized.

  28. These are raspy vocals. The style is typical of black metal.

    These are guttural vocals, more typical of death metal although the style creeps into a lot of other sub-genres too. This is technical death metal, from an album that really grew on me in 2020 with repeated listens.

    I need to say that I distinguish growling vocals from guttural vocals, but Wikipedia (and therefore many people with learned opinions) use the terms synonymously. I have a different opinion, but darn if I can think of a good example.

    I should also say I’m not recommending these to your son, necessarily — neither is very accessible.

    Here are a couple of bands popular with younger metal fans. More accessible and slightly less metal, but still metal.

    This band is super popular with twenty-somethings, even among people who don’t listen to any other metal. I don’t know why.

    This band is outstanding, and the video is cool. French band whose songs are mostly about protecting the environment.

    1. OK, I played snippets for him. (I interrupted something he was doing so he only listened to brief snippets.)

      According to him, the second choice, Dissonant Theology, was the one he liked best–particularly the vocals, but he said he liked the music, too (but again, he only listened to a few seconds). He said he wouldn’t mind finding more music like this.

      I believe he liked the other stuff, at least mildly. He seemed to not like the songs that were popular with younger metal fans.

      1. If somehow he turns into a metalhead, you should be encouraged. He could have rebelled musically by liking something normal and lame. But instead he’ll have chosen something on the fringe, something non-commercial.

        Also, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my time, and people at metal shows are easily the nicest. I suspect part of it is the very low female-male ratio (the more couples there are in a venue for a show, the more a-hole guys there are), but I think a lot of it is the connectedness, just being in a place with other people who like what you like, since most of us don’t have lots of friends who dig our music. Which means if your son somehow turns into a metalhead, he’s probably pretty nice, too.

    2. For what it’s worth, I was mostly joking. The only think I’d worry about is if he really got into the sub-genres that are much darker in content.

    3. I’ve never seen those movies, but I would worry if he really got into them (and I probably wouldn’t allow him to see them now). I’m not talking about enjoying horror films–but really getting into them. You wouldn’t have a problem if your child really got into these movies or music with really dark content?

      1. I don’t know what it’s like to be a dad. I only know what it’s like to work with teens as their teacher, and whatever they were into, I tried to engage them in intelligent conversation so they weren’t consuming anything without considering why, or what it did for (and to) them.

        I’d like to think I’d be much more concerned about darkness that presents itself as light, or at least as harmless. In my years at HBA, I heard a lot of people talking about the supposed negative influence of Metallica (which is preposterous if you’ve ever listened to their music or read their lyrics, which critics clearly had not) and nobody talked about Phil Jackson’s coaching philosophy and where it originated.

        I’m not judging Buddhists or their philosophies, which tend to be pretty positive. But if something could lead a teen away from Jesus, it seems much more dangerous (if you consider it dangerous at all, which I’m no longer 100 percent sure of) if it looks like Jesus but isn’t.

        Anyway. When you were a kid, did you ever look with fascination at a dead cat? Death is one of the weird mysteries of life some teens deal with, as are evil, love, sex, and justice. Different teens lock on to different kinds of these mysteries in different ways. There are healthy ways to do so and there are unhealthy ways. That’s the important part.

      2. . There are healthy ways to do so and there are unhealthy ways. That’s the important part.

        I agree. I’m not against him exploring unpleasant aspects about life. By “dark” I meant more unhealthy ways of exploring those topics.

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