Friday, December 21, 2018

Top 5 - 2018

What a year in music!

Sure.... confusion exists at the cross roads of popular and independent music. The music festivals we've cherished now more closely reveal the Super Bowl. Tons of Octogenarians have reunited to pay for their 5th divorce (but, who's counting).

2018 took an interesting turn: Hip Hop has given way to trap music, the singer/songwriter genre seem to have taken a year off, guitars that were being replaced by keyboards are now being replaced by guitars.

With a million different avenues to making music, the entry point is easier but enhanced exposure all the more difficult.

In 2018 Damien Jurado gave us an unforgettable love letter to the Seattle that was. Lucero returned with ghost stories from the South. Nada Surf and The Mountain Goats got well-deserved tribute albums.

Bands like Mom Jeans, Middle Kids and Nap Eyes established their place in the indie lexicon.

Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists and Superchunk proved themselves as relevant as ever.

In the most important year for the establishment of the female voice bands like Hop Along, Steady Holiday, Camp Cope and Boy Genius gave us an unapologetic explosion of the glass ceiling.

We were afforded posthumous releases from Lil Peep, The Glands and Richard Swift.

Mr Tweedy took away the fuzz and gave us a down home retrospective of his life in print and musical format.

Here are the Top 5 Albums of 2018:

5. C'est La Vie by Phosphorescent

" You've got nothing to doubt or fear... not as long as I'm standing here "

A beautiful blend of swamp escape fan boat instrumentals coupled with Matthew Houck's most accessible tunes.... at moments poppy. The birth of a child creating a new muse. This album takes the listener through every emotion. A terrifying soundtrack back drop intervened by rollicking singer/songwriter fellowships. Houck keeps an eyebrow raised while softening some of the edges that flipped his former work from the turntable.

4. Big Red Machine (self-titled)

" and you know we'll need a minute to repair so when you teach em better teach em to share "

Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (The National) have established themselves as Indie Rock's collaborators to introduce new talent, so it's only logical that they would combine forces. This record has the vocal layering of a Bon Iver record with the sonic complexity we've come to know as The National's repartee. Teeming with emotion, lyrical complexity and dense in it's composition; this record can be on rotation all day. Remarkable! 

3. Skylight by Pinegrove

" whoever you are.... I've been waiting for you "

2016 saw Pinegrove's meteoric rise. They were sidelined for a year in reflection of an alleged incident later revealed as a less-than-credible report of "inappropriate influence" by an unlicensed mental health resource who breached client confidentiality. On Skylight, Evan Stephens Hall respectfully extols the transition without animosity or conviction. Pinegrove emerge more thoughtful than ever. Better suited to continue the intimate, emotional wanderings that are their journey in song composition.    

2. Be More Kind by Frank Turner

" You should spend more time with the do's than with the don't's"

We need Frank Turner in 2018. His reflections on politics, diplomatic relations and the right to exercise individual influence are raw without over-calculation. Frank's outrage with the current state of world politics are coupled with an unwavering call for kindness. The punk rocker turned folk singer touches every nerve in the human psyche without apology while willing to try harder to get better.

1. Animal Companionship by Advance Base

" Gary's beautiful at night by the lights of the refinery, it's like Christmas in Nightmare City... it's absolutely shocking " 

Owen Ashworth began his career two decades ago speaking his asthmatic mono-tone over a multitude of toy Casio plug-ins. Before there were programmed samples, Owen created them live on stage through rotating devices while speaking remarkably profound stories.

Animal Companionship is Owen's crowned jewel; a journey through recovery, relocation and the humble recognition of the moments in-between. Our narrator celebrates mediocrity as a welcome means to survival... all while walking his dog.

A thousand listens reveal a thousand perspectives. Owen is among the greatest lyricist of our era.

In Humble Summation of the Year that Was:
Rock is not dead. The independent ideology has never been more prominent. There are amazing people writing amazing songs in a variety of genre across the world. If you can't find it, you're not looking hard enough.

In a hopeless world, the one thing we can rely upon is music!

"It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win"

Thank You For Listening,


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Leveling Up

Where are we going?

What is our process for getting there?

Are technological advancements having an adverse effect on a social level?

Is accessibility to all things via the Internet putting blinders on our ability to identify the glory that exists outside of our window?

I came upon a young man today in our office building. He was noticeably flustered. He asked where a certain office was located, I informed him and he accelerated in that direction. Minutes later he returned telling me that he was in the wrong building (as if he wanted an explanation from me for his confusion). When I asked where he was going he told me he was heading to a job interview. Not sure this young man was in the best frame of mind to be sitting in an interview.... today or any other day.

What are we going to reflect upon 50 years from now?

Will every child who grew up with a phone in their hand be deemed unfit to hire due to something they posted when they were 10 years old?

Will our children chase their parents and grandparent's digital trails to find political arguments or inappropriate pictures?

Surely, we cannot remove ourselves from active participation in humanity by assuming we are receiving the appropriate level of human compassion from a machine.

Common sense would dictate that the wave of social media as we know it will crash into sand on the beach.... and we'll get back to enjoying the sunset.

Mastery vs. Interpretation 
I know so many really smart people whose intelligence is an albatross. The intellectual would argue the aforementioned statement might be an indication of the lack of intelligence in our society. However, all the knowledge in the world is a deposit without return if you cannot articulate your purpose.

Subject Matter Experts exist in a rabbit hole know as intense knowledge from a functional standpoint accompanied by the baggage of existing experiences. Said experts pull back the curtain so far that they confuse people. Expelling the technical elements of application for the sake of how a solution solves a problem is far more important.

It's called common sense.... and we lose site of it when we replace our hearts and brains with batteries.

Hugging the Good Stuff
While we prioritize our point of view in the social space with people far from us we tend to neglect the fact that none of it matters.

No child ever gave a speech to their class about the bravado-laced stupidity of their Grand Mother's social perspective. I'd like to think the digital trail we leave for generations to come will be searched, correlated and shared to showcase the brilliance of how it used to be. God knows we have an ability to dress up the past.

More important than the disagreement you had with your uncle over gun control is the hug you give him when you see his undeniably wonderful stupid face.

You'll forget the team for which you cheered, the person for whom you voted, the proposed educational path to enlightenment or the standards by which people should manage their lives.

Insults are a transactional validation of  the stubborn nature of ego protection.

Forgiveness is a transformational act of progress.

In the end, we don't remember the insults. We are not robots. There are no analytics or statistics that measure one's ability to tire of their baggage and change.

Don't Forget to Remember,