39 thoughts on “Music 2022

  1. I’ve been listening to old episodes of Night Music, which aired between 1988-1990. I actually remember watching some of the episodes. In fact, I first heard Pat Metheny on the show, which I remember because he was so passionate while he played. (I even picked up my guitar, trying to imitate Metheny’s fingering, wishing I was actually making music.)

    The diverse types of music, including experimental musicians, on one program made this show stand out. This approach encouraged viewers to appreciate music beyond styles and even time periods. (They would feature older musicians, both live and older film footage, on the show.) I think that’s really cool. I didn’t really appreciate this aspect of the show back then, but since my musical palette is much broader, I enjoy this show a lot more now. I wish some musician would do something like this on youtube.

    Here’s a performance of Leonard Cohen, with Sonny Rollins and the lead singers to Was Not Was. What an odd combination of musicians–but it really worked well. I like the song, the backup singers, and Rollins’s solo.

    1. I thought he was kinda awkward. At first, I thought comic relief was his main function, but he can also play the piano, and he seemed quite good.

  2. The next group might be my favorite new pop group. I came across them listening to an interview with the late Colonel Bruce Hampton. Hampton complained about the contemporary music scene, but when the interviewer asked him about any artists he liked, Lake Street Dive, was one of the groups he mentioned.

    I especially like the first two songs–“Hypotheticals” and “Same Old News.” This is a kind of contemporary version of Hall and Oates–i.e., blue-eyed soul, albeit with a female lead, Rachael Price, who I would lump in with female leads like Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Meghan Trainor.

    There are many influences, particularly from older styles (e.g., soul, R&B, pop from the 70s), but I wouldn’t necessarily call this retro. The music sounds very familiar, as if I’ve heard the style before, but I can’t really identify any specific, older artist(s) that they sound like. (Price reminds me of another singer, but I can’t put my finger on it.)

    Here’s another clip, prior to the keyboardist/vocalist, Akie Bermiss, joining the group. (I like the way they speed up their first song.)

    Some things I’ve noticed, after listening to more of their songs:

    • They’re good musicians–the bassist, Bridget Kearney stands out. I think the drummer, Mike Calabrese’s approach deserves some credit, as he plays in more lighter, spared down way–which gives more space for the bass. In general, I feel like they have a stripped down sound, which allows the vocals and the bass to stand out and have more of an impact. I like this feature of their music.
    • I like the background harmonies.
    • Berniss, both vocally and his keyboards, adds an interesting dimension to the music.
    • To me, this is really good pop music–good singing, good songs, good musicianship and tight playing. In a way, they kinda remind me of the Beatles.
    1. I love this band. I saw them on a late-night show (Letterman, maybe) and immediately purchased their 2014 album Bad Self Portraits. Been following them on FB for about the same time.

  3. I was never really a big classical music fan–not in the sense of choosing to listen to it regularly. I’ve liked composers like Beethoven, Mahler (but not really Mozart for some reason), but my desire to listen to them was never on par with jazz, for example.

    But that’s been changing lately–at least with one classical composer–namely, Bach, particularly his pieces for solo instruments (e.g., cello, violin, or piano). I’ve been drawn to that music–it may be the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.

    Today I was listening to an interview of a classical guitarist who spoke about her love of playing arrangements of Bach compositions (for other instruments). I decided to check her out. The two performances I saw brought tears to my eyes:

    Watching her left hand really adds to the enjoyment of the music, particularly when the tempo increases. Her left hand looks like a spider playing the guitar.

    1. That’s really pretty. I love classical guitar. When we were in our first year of college, I used to listen to the HPR early classical show, and I’d actually call and request Andrés Segovia or Liona Boyd or Christopher Parkening once or twice a week, which I now realize is kind of weird because you don’t call in to those shows with requests. But the host was accommodating, and he said on air he’d never really known much about classical guitar until I kept requesting it.

      If you haven’t heard it, I recommend Yo-Yo Ma’s 2018 Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites.

  4. My recent conversation with Reid in this year’s movie post made me think of something else.

    He once told me he hates Whitesnake, and I wondered then (as I wonder now) how much Whitesnake he’s actually heard. I didn’t pick an argument then because you like what you like, y’know? And I like them.

    The band goes back to 1978 or so, and it released several albums before they broke out with a glammy, arena-rock sound in 1985.

    Before that, though, they were quite a bit rougher. I got into them in 1984, when I spent the summer in San Diego with my grandparents and uncle. The local rock station, KGB FM (yes, the station whose mascot was the San Diego Chicken), had several tracks in rotation from the 1984 album Slide it In, and I really dug it.

    David Coverdale has said he formed Whitesnake with bluesy, soulful, melodic hard rock in mind, and this is how I still think of the band. More denim and beer than spandex and whiskey, at least pre-1985. They’ve been compared to Led Zep, a band Reid likes, but they remind me more of Bad Company.

    Anyway. I’m up late writing this evening, and Led Zep was my writing music until I switched to Whitesnake, and they both worked great. Nice productivity in these wee hours.

    This is from Whitesnake’s first EP, Snakebite. Offered for your enjoyment, enlightenment, or disregard. 🙂

    1. The start of “Snakebite” sounds good. Coverdale sounds good–Yes, he and the music/band remind me of Bad Company, and that’s not a bad thing at all. (I guess if I listened to this more, it may sound derivative.) I was entertained.

  5. He once told me he hates Whitesnake, and I wondered then (as I wonder now) how much Whitesnake he’s actually heard

    Answer: Not much. Basically, what played on the radio and MTV or VH1. I will say that the amount I’ve heard is not enough to really judge them fairly. So I should take back my dismissive comment.

    Using this standard, I really should do the same for a lot of 80’s English groups that I said I really disliked, too (e.g., the Smiths, the Cure, etc.).

  6. Which groups are the best boy/girl bands of all time? I’m listening to Backstreat Boys now, and that’s what lead to this question. Who would actually be the first boy or girl band? The Jackson 5? A young MJ may single-handedly make them to best boy band of all time.

    Then again, do they count as a boy band? A part of me feels like boy/girl bands don’t play instruments, but I don’t know if this is an essential criterion.

    1. There is certainly a difference between bands who actually play instruments (writing songs, too) and bands who just sing. It’s funny that you’d call an all-vocal group a “band” at all, but that’s what we call it.

      Example: If Backstreet Boys are a boy band (and I think we all agree they fit the unstated definition perfectly), are Hanson a boy band?

      And: If Backstreet Boys today are a boy band, are Hanson today also a boy band?

      And: If Hanson today are a boy band, isn’t Aerosmith a boy band?

      1. Follow-up.

        People definitely called the Go-Gos a girl group. Same for the Donnas, the Runaways, and maybe the Bangles. I wonder if “girl group” is a different concept, and not simply the opposite-gender version of a boy band. Because nobody calls Aerosmith a boy band, despite their also being called the Bad Boys from Boston.

  7. Off the top of my head, I would say “boy band” has a very specific, maybe specialized meaning–beyond the literal definition of the words. The members of the band would primarily be singers, for one thing–or at least that’s the primary emphasis. Indeed, the sense I get is that musicianship of the members don’t go far beyond singing. Along with this, there’s a sense that the boy/girl bands are manufactured by record labels. The latter would provide the people to write and play the music, and they would also choose members for their looks and dancing, just as much, if not more, than singing ability. Actually, the dancing part seems really important to the definition. I think the younger the more they fit would fit the mold.

    Hansen could qualify, using this definition, but they wouldn’t fit it as well as other groups. Aerosmith would be excluded–and so would the Go-Gos–by this definition. A group like Milli-Vanilli would be included–although I wouldn’t include them if you asked me.

  8. 50 greatest bluegrass albums made by women.


    Published on International Women’s Day. It’s a solid list — I’ve heard a lot of these albums and own a few — so I’ve been spending time working to these albums, beginning with the ones I’m already familiar with.

    I was a little surprised to see Uncle Earl and Della Mae on the list but not Bearfoot, Crooked Still, or Nora Jane Struthers, who I like better, but these things are representative rather than all-inclusive most of the time, and it’s a good representation.

  9. Via an NPR recommendation, I had an enjoyable time listening to Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasion Segun San Macros, the Passion story from the Gospel of Mark. Golijov is Argentianian, although he’s Jewish with his family originally coming form Eastern Europe. The music reflects the various music from the Americas. I didn’t always get to follow along with an English translation, but the music itself sounded really good.

  10. I heard a snippet of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” and I wondered what other songs used primitive drum machines effectively. (Yes, I liked the use of the drum machine on that.)

    Some other examples that came to mind:

    “I Can’t Go for That”
    “One on One”
    “When Doves Cry” (although if Prince counts there’s a bunch of songs that you could choose; but the drum machine is really prominent on this one).

    Any others? Does “Tainted Love” has a drum machine?

    1. What do you mean by primitive drum machines? Do you mean the musicians are programming drum machines with primitive-type rhythms? If so I would nominate Toto Coelo’s “I Eat Cannibals.” Oh, and Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” and “C30 C60 C90 Go.” “I Want Candy” sounds Polynesian to me. Polynesian with a Bo Diddley shave-and-a-haircut vibe.

      What about Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes?”

    2. I meant early drum machines with simple beats/rhythms, not drumming from primitive societies. For example, with the Hall and Oates songs, I think they just used a preprogrammed beat, which they planned to change later.

      1. Ah man I was way off.

        It’s got to be a short list, right? I mostly dislike drum programming — don’t even really care for Simmons drums except when you can’t tell they’re Simmons drums.

        I would be surprised if Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” wasn’t all drum programming, since the band was a synthpop group with only one instrumentalist.

        I just watched a ten-minute live performance on YouTube of Soft Cell doing this song. Marc Almond sings; David Ball plays synths. There’s this extended section where Almond moves to some Simmons-type drums but that’s after the main part of the song is over. Tangent: during this extended section, the crowd starts singing the “Where Did Our Love Go?” part in the “Tainted Love” extended dance remix, which is super cool. It doesn’t look planned at all, because Almond leaves the Simmons kit and joins the crowd mid-verse. I enjoyed this clip more than I expected to.

        I’m rather certain the original “Tainted Love” was not drum-programmed. 🙂

        Okay, I’m not saying I like the drum programming in “Hooked on Classics,” but it’s about as primitive as it gets, sounding like someone just turned on a Casio keyboard and used the first canned beat it had. However, you asked for effective, and I think it does the job it’s meant to do, which is turn this medley of classical excerpts into a dance song.

    3. Ah man I was way off.

      My initial post wasn’t clear enough; I totally get what you were thinking.

      “Hooked on Classics” would count, although it’s not a “song” I like. It also reminds me of “Stars on 45, the Beatles Medley.” I liked that song when it came out. I’m not sure I’d like it now, though.

  11. I’m participating in a music discussion group where we listen to great albums and meet to discuss them. There have been three albums that really surprised me, in a good way. Remain in Light by Talking Heads, Lemonade, by Beyonce, and now On the Rocks (2017) by Midland, a country group.

    I understand the reasons I liked the first two, but I’m not sure why I like this one as much as I did. (Note: I think Lemonade is a really good album, one that I found surprisingly moving, but it’s not something I would purchase and listen to a lot. Remain in Light, on the other hand, is something I would purchase, and want to listen to repeatedly.)

    Now, I wouldn’t say I loved this album, but I enjoyed it–and I’m surprised that I did. My guess is that I just like the quality of the songs. I liked the singing, too, but I can’t really pinpoint the reason. The vocalists don’t really have a distinctive sound, and I’m generally not keen on the country twang. (I just realized this is one reason I really like bluegrass, while not really caring for country music, in general. Bluegrass singers don’t really sing with a strong twang–at least not the ones I’m familiar with.)

  12. I’m listening to a compilation of a Coldplay’s greatest hits, and I’m not really getting into the music. Question: Would it be worth it to read the lyrics while listening to the music?

    Other comments:

    • I can’t really place the lead singer’s voice–in terms of similar vocalists. He makes me think of Bono or even Ray Davies at times. I feel like I’m missing someone else.
    • It’s possible that with repeated listening, the music could grow on me, but I’m not really motivated to do that.
    • The songs themselves, based on what I’ve heard so far, don’t really stand out.
    1. I decided one day that I like the Coldplay songs I hear on the radio or in movies or wherever, but I don’t need to own any of their music or really pursue it.

      I dig “The Scientist” and “Yellow.”

      There’s a great cover of “Yellow” by a then-unknown Chinese American musician named Katherine Ho, sung in Mandarin, on the soundtrack of Crazy Rich Asians.

    2. I’ve given these songs several listens, thinking that maybe with some repetition, I’ll become more accustomed to the vocals and more familiar with the songs. I am indeed more familiar with both, but I still don’t really care for them.

      The only thing I haven’t done is to really focus on the lyrics. At this point, the lyrics will have to be incredible for me to like this music or even think highly of it. It’s not that I think the songs or music is awful–they’re just not doing it for me. (The vocals kinda turn me off, too.)

      On a side note, is it off base to think of them as a 90s offshoot of 80’s groups like Simple Minds.

  13. For my music discussion group, participants are choosing albums to listen to and discuss. I want to pick one by Sting or The Police. I’m going through albums by both, and here are some thoughts.

    Right now, The Police albums are winning–specifically, Ghost in the Machine and maybe Zenyatta Mondatta. If these albums are not more rockin’, they’re edgier and grittier, while Sting’s albums are cleaner and more sanitized. I’m not really a great fan of the reggae elements in their music, but the music seems more lively and interesting.

    Additionally, I feel like The Police albums are more interesting musically. For example, I didn’t realize Ghost would feature a horn section, at least one several of the songs.

    I’m guessing my current response has a lot to do with the mood I’m in, as well as the expectations I brought to each album.

    More later.

  14. While listening to a few U2 albums, Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby (the latter better than I expected), a thought occurred to me: who is better: U2 or Bruce Springsteen. To me, this seems like a good question because there are similarities between both, besides the overall quality and popularity. Most notably for me, the music of both have a soaring, high-emotional style, and I’m tempted to use the word histrionic. (I’ve been struggling to find the word to describe both…There’s a grand, showy quality like a Broadway musical…the word “bombastic” has the right sound, but not the right meaning; same with “pompous.” “Loud” is too general….Maybe “exuberant…” but that seems inadequate as well.)

    Springsteen might be a better lyrcist, but I think I like U2’s music more, particularly their rhythm section and Bono’s vocals.

  15. In my music discussion group, someone picked the song below. It was familiar to me, but I never knew the title or the band that played it. I always thought it was sung by Blood Sweat and Tears. It’s a good song.

  16. I don’t know how common this is among jazz fans, but the majority of my listening is not spent on classic albums, and, to a lesser degree, the well-known great jazz musicians (unless I have never listened to them in the past).

    I think subscribing to a streaming service is the a big reason for this. I’ve always been interested in hearing new music and music I haven’t heard. In the past, in order to satisfy this interest, I relied a lot on magazine reviews and listening stations. The streaming service (apple music), with its huge catalogue, and am better able to do this.

    Having said that, even if I wasn’t as interested in hearing new (innovative) music (and I’m now as interested in this as I was before), I don’t think I would spend a lot of time listening to great musicians and albums that I’m already familiar with. My guess is that the the music that is unfamiliar to me sounds fresher. As a great as some of the older records are, in a way, they can be stale, maybe especially compared to music I’ve never heard. A one-time (live) performance seems to be the ideal context for a jazz listening. Listening to a recording seems less than ideal, a kind of practical compromise (which sounds more disparaging than I intend). (Interestingly, to some degree, this applies to pop/rock music as well. I notice I like listening to unfamiliar musicians/artists playing in styles that I like.)

    I wonder if this is true for other jazz fans. If they had easy access to a large catalogue of music, would they rarely listen to the older, more famous albums?

    By the way, there is one notable exception to this–namely, Thelonious Monk, especially his Columbia recordings with Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone. I think I feel this way because I really, really like Monk’s compositions; I don’t get tired of listening to them. If I haven’t heard his music in a month or two, the desire to do so will arise. I don’t think I can say that about any other jazz musician.

    1. I think this is true for music lovers of all genres past some uncertain age, and it disappoints me. A look at the comments section on YouTube (which I seldom recommend) of any long-favorite musician from the 80s or earlier is almost sure to reveal many commenters saying something like, “This is real music, not like the garbage they make now,” or “She was a real songwriter and musician; Taylor Swift is just a pretender.”

      Similarly, when I try to talk about new music with other serious music lovers, they just aren’t that interested. Nothing new can match up with the music of their youth. I get it, of course: I’m the one who says the music you loved when you were 15 will almost always be your favorite music.

      The weird thing to me is that these people are not interested even in today’s musicians playing music clearly inspired by (or even very like) the music they love most. I find this baffling.

      I think I asked you recently if you use the “radio” function on Apple Music. I use it on Spotify pretty often, especially for driving or working at my desk. You pick an artist, select “radio,” and the algorithm plays music by that artist and other artists you might like, often artists you’ve never heard of. I have discovered a lot of cool music this way, especially these past two years.

      And yes, I also spend a fair amount of time reading websites where I’m likely to hear about new music. This helps too. It’s one reason I love looking at best-of-the-year lists. If a list compiler likes three albums I like and a few others I’ve never heard of, I’m very likely to check them out. Or if certain albums keep showing up on year-end lists, they almost demand a spin. Have you heard of Boris, the Japanese group who has sometimes collaborated with Merzbow? Their album from this year is on several best-of-2022 lists, so of course it’s on my list of things to check out.

    2. I don’t think I explained myself well.

      For jazz, I actually prefer to listen to things I haven’t heard–including younger musicians and jazz that reflects the current times. However, my desire to seek new, innovative jazz musicians is not as strong as it was in the past. This was something I really sought after. Who is the next Bird, Coltrane, Miles, Monk, etc.? I loved discovering those guys. I’m still interested in this, but not as much as I was before.

      In any event, I wouldn’t be surprised if jazz fans–especially those who have a streaming service–didn’t spend a lot of time listening to the familiar musicians/albums. Now, for the jazz fans who are into vinyl, that might be a different story, but that probably has to do with the medium.

      For pop/rock, I do love listening to music played in older styles, by unfamiliar musicians or albums. But I’m also interested in pop/rock outside of those genres, outside of the 80s. I think you recommended Mars Volta to me, and I was checking them out again.

      I’m not one who believes that the older music was superior. Indeed, I think people who think older music is superior–that music has declined are likely wrong. I wrote a post about that earlier this year.

      1. I guess I did misunderstand because now I don’t know what your point was. Is it about you the listener and how your listening is changing, or is it about you compared to other listeners of jazz?

    3. I started the post because I noticed that, over the years, Thelonious Monk is one of the jazz artists I keep going back to, and this seems even more noteworthy since I’ve been subscribing to apple music. Since that time, noticed that I listen a lot less of the well-known jazz musicians and jazz albums–with Monk being a notable exception. Besides Monk, I don’t think my children are growing up listening to a lot of famous albums and famous jazz musicians.

      I’m curious to know if I’m the outlier among jazz fans or if this is common. In a way, I wouldn’t be surprised if I weren’t the outlier, but it does seem like an interesting phenomenon. Then again, with a streaming service, maybe it’s not so interesting or surprising. If I listened to music via cds or albums, I’d probably spend more time listening to well-known albums.

      (With non-jazz, I think my behavior is similar. I spend more time listening to music or musicians that I’m not very familiar with, generally. What was confusing about my post was that I said I’ve been enjoying older genres (e.g., yacht rock) performed by musicians I’m unfamiliar with (e.g., Finis Henderson).)

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