April 23, 2007
this week in Ipod

I got tired of trying to remember the best songs I had heard in the past week since I hear so many. So instead from now on I've decided to just sit down, put my Ipod on Shuffle and write about the first ten songs that get played.

Big Mouth Strikes Again by The Smiths from The Queen is Dead - I was never a big Smiths fan, but the album The Queen Is Dead is pretty darn brilliant. I like the toungue in cheek aspect of this song. The production is pretty smart too. I like the use of the Eventide Harmonizer on the lead vocal during the chorus to create the pitch-shifted harmony part that seems so out of place.

Time For Temptation by Duran Duran from Duran Duran aka The Wedding Album (japanese edition) - This song is a bonus track that was also a b-side. I actually like this song better than some of the tracks on the album. It has a housy piano part and John is playing funk bass in a similar style to what he did early in their career.

The Power (single mix) by Snap! from House of Groove - I have quite a few dance collections on my iPod filled with remixes and dance tracks from my club kid days of the mid-80's through to the early 90's. I skipped through this song about 3/4 the way through it was too repetitive. What I remember most about this song was that while on a club tour to promote the album the main guy/rapper behind Snap! made a homophobic comment and killed his career in one instant. Rule Number One if you are going to make club oriented music: never piss off the gay community. It is the very backbone of dance music and the biggest part of your audience.

Switchblade 327 by the Brian Setzer Orchestra from The Dirty Boogie - What can I say I was just like millions of other people hooked on the BSO after the success of Jump, Jive and Wail from the Gap ads. I had also liked the Stray Cats and I do think Brian is a great frontman and guitarist. I keep this CD in my collection because it can serve as a nice change of pace when one of it's tracks come on when in Shuffle mode.

Good Day Sunshine by the Beatles from Revolver (UK) - Just about every pop songwriter out there wishes he could be Paul McCartney. He could take any topic and make it into a brilliant pop song. He could also be a bit soppy, silly love songs indeed. It served as a great balance against John Lennon's need to be obtuse and meaningful all the time.

Medication by Garbage from Version 2.0 - I love Shirley Manson's ability to be honest without seeming self-serving. Listening to her music I feel like I get a good idea of who she is a person. Though I can't relate to most of it I love her voice, image, and melodic ideas. I also love Garbage's use of electronics, pop, and rock production and arrangements. They are a band I can listen to for inspiration or for emotional release.

Evan and Chad (safety scissor remix) by DNTEL from Rarities and Remixes (bootleg) - This is a track from this bootleg of stuff associated with The Postal Service I downloaded recently. I don't know much about it. There are several versions of this song with different vocalists including Ben from The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie. From what I do know, DNTEL is the main project of the other guy in The Postal Service who clearly does electronic/club music. The production is pretty amazing, but the vocalist on this version didn't do anything for me.

Lady Xanax by Duran Duran from Pop Trash - most longtime Duranie's like myself will tell you that Duran Duran has had the most uneven career of any band of their stature. They have managed to put together one amazingly bad record Liberty and one amazingly mediocore album Pop Trash. This album is such a clear attempt to retain the audience they had built with The Wedding Album and the huge success of "Ordinary World" that it has no inspiration and no life - just bland middle of the road, uninspired song after song. Titles like "Lava Lamp", "Playing With Uranium", "Hallucinating Elvis", and this track make a mockery of the band as they try to seem like they were a part of the club scene in Europe at the time. The music and production is just bland bland bland. I actually start falling asleep everytime I try to listen to this album as a whole.

Who Needs Sleep by Barenaked Ladies from Stunt - Stunt is Brie's favourite BNL record, mine is Maroon to me this album is uneven and I'm not a big fan of the production on a lot of it. This track though is one of my favourites. It is especially potent nowadays as I am finding it hard to sleep for more than 5 hours at night even when I am tired. I am most impressed by the bridge section and the use of the marching footsteps. The arrangement is smart and the lyrics are not too clever which I often think is the downfall of many BNL songs.

Dowtown Lights by Annie Lennox from Medusa - Ahhh Annie Lennox, what can I say. The greatest female voice to come from the 80's and the benchmark of iconic imagery and artistry that even Madonna couldn't live up to. Medusa was a collection of covers and "Downtown Lights" was one of the songs I was already quite familiar with. The song was originally performed by the Blue Nile a Scottish act. I first heard this song in the mid to late 80's through a friend named Allison. She subscribed to a radio show she found in the back of Rolling Stone magazine. It was sent to subscribers on cassette tape. I don't remember the DJ's name. He was British and worked for the Quake before it's demise and then for Live 105 out of San Francisco. The tape introduced me to Xymox and the Blue Nile. Most of the covers on the album I find a bit boring mainly do to the production and the fact that all the songs were made into mid-Tempo adult pop. This song was pretty much left in it's original form and it's beautiful.

Posted by John at 02:23 PM
April 22, 2007
weekly update

posted a quick update. I'll do my "week in iPod" post tomorrow.

Posted by John at 11:49 PM
weekly recap

Once again I find myself staying up later than I should be.

Last week Brie spent most of her time training the person she has hired to replace her in Tracy and Hayward so that she can focus on Sacramento full-time. This transition has been in the works since last year.

Sebastian had his physical fitness assessment on location at the school Wednesday. He ran a mile in 20 minutes. Not so great, but he was able to do 16 crunches in the time they allowed.

We had planned to head up to Sacramento on Saturday to go to Islands Restaraunt and to get some new shoes for Madeline, but at the last minute there was a business emergency in Fresno and Brie had to spend Saturday and Sunday there helping out down there. It looks like she will be spending the next couple weekends there as well. So instead I took the kids to our favorite local Restaraunt/Bar The Great Plate I love that place it's a Tiki Saloon Restaraunt Bar. They make pretty decent food and serve a nice large Windmer Hefeweizen to boot. I had the ribs which are the Saturday special and man they were fantastice. SO tender they were falling off the bone before I could get them in my mouth. The cole slaw though was horrible. I t was chewy cabbage in peppered mayonaise. Yuck!

Brie and I hit a rough patch one morning this week as well. We've decided it is best for her to get ready for work at the gym as the stress of getting the kids ready tends to get the better of her and it can lead to all of us getting our day off on the wrong foot.

Not much I can report about me personally. I always feel busy and I always have more to do than I can get done. But I spend most all my time doing stuff for other people and when I have some free time I play CoH so I never have anything interesting to say about myself.

I have been going to the gym more regularly since I need to take Sebastian for school. But I don't have much to show for it I've been at 232-240 for years now. I have set a goal to get below 200 this year, and I have consistantly stayed below 235 for a couple months now. Brie being on WW helps me to make healthier food for the family, but it just doesn't seem to cause any changes in my weight.

Posted by John at 11:48 PM
April 15, 2007
this week's iPod list

So this is the time when I sit back and think about all the songs I heard on my iPod and write a little blurb about my favourites. I need to keep a notepad with me or something. Songs come on and I think, man I need to make sure to write about this in my blog, then when I sit down and think about what I've heard over the past week I draw a blank.

"For Reasons Unknown" - the Killers from Sam's Town This was the track that jumped out at me on my first listen to the album. I'm not a big fan of the album, where most critics laud it for it's "Americana" and their new found appreciation for the music of their homeland, I think it's not something they do well. In particular the blatant "borrowing" from Bruce Springsteen just leaves me flat since I've never like "the Boss" to begin with. But this song, isn't like most of the album. It's the song the is most tied to Hot Fuss.

"Is That You?" - KISS from Unmasked Wow! another KISS song makes my list. I think to a lot of fans the period from Dynasty to Creatures of the Night is generally looked upon with disdain. The band seemed to have lost their way and it was clear they felt the way to hold on to mass popularity was to turn themselves into cartoon versions of what they once represented and musically they started to become derivitave of the trends of the day. In many ways Unmasked is KISS's New Wave record. That's probably why I appreciated it so much. This song however is a pretty straight forward rock song. It is also what I think is the first time I heard a swear word in lyrics. I like the energy and the production sheen.

Survivalism - Nine Inch Nails from Year Zero This track was a download through iTunes for preordering the upcoming NIN album. It is an ok song. Trent's at that point where musically he is being derivative of himself and I hear production and melodic parts that come directly from previous songs. The main change is his lyrical position. For an artist who built his career focusing inward this song is about the what sees happening around him. The more I listen to it the more I like it because it isn't just blind rage or self-loathing.

Radio Free Europe - R.E.M. from And I Feel Fine: The Best of the IRS Years I've always liked R.E.M.'s music, but I've never liked them much as a group. Over the years they have managed to put out some great singles and a couple really good albums. This song from their first album, Murmur, has a great hook, but I still have no idea what most of the lyrics are let alone what it is about, and I don't care to know. When it comes on and mumble along until the chorus and that's ok.

Fly Me Away - Goldfrapp from Supernature This album was very deceptive. When I had my first listen, I thought that it wasn't a very big jump from their last, Black Cherry. But this song is an example of how with this album they managed to take a much more traditional pop approach this time around. This song is so straight forward in both lyric and production that it's actually quite a big leap for them. This song makes me feel like I am in love. The fact that it also sounds like something I wrote endears it to me as well.

Dazzle Ships, Pts. 1-3 - OMD from Dazzle Ships There was a point in time, long before "If You Leave" and "Dreaming" that Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark was so experimental they seemed to have more in common with Cabaret Voltaire than Depeche Mode This composition is 2:21 of found sound construction not a song by any means, but each time I hear it, it reminds me that along time ago you could be a pop band and put out albums that were artistic and challnged the listener at the same time. Something like this would never be allowed by a major label act nowadays.

What Goes Around - Justin Timberlake from Future Sex/Love Sounds This album is a failure on so many levels to me. Most of that comes from the fact that it sounds like a Timbaland album with JT guesting on vocals. This song shows that Justin is still a pop artist at his core and that Timbaland is helping him disguise that for reasons I don't know. Maybe he feels it gives him more urban credit. Justin can sing better than most and he is capable of writing strong melodies. This song is as close as the album gets to showing that off.

Posted by John at 05:02 PM
April 14, 2007
repost

I wrote a post a couple days ago, then in a rush closed out all the Tabs on my browser not realizing that I had yet to publish the post.

Brie's hair looks great. I was a bit concerned when she said she wanted to get it cut off because she once got this Pixie cut that as much as I love her I could not hide I disliked. Her new cut is sleek and sexy, not unlike something I imagine Annie Lennox would get. She is talking about adding highlights, but I'm not sure I would do that. I like that it is short and dark right now.

Speaking of hair, after growing mine past shoulder length, then cutting it into a shag ala Keith Urban and then cutting it short now part of me feels like just shaving it off, not bald mind you, but little more than fuzz. I'm just tired of having to do something with my hair. It's about 40% gray now even more and some areas and I love the way the silver shines in the light. I'm not even thinking about dying it as I always wanted silver hair.

Larry and Kathe - or Nonie and Papa as the kids call them, Brie parents in San Diego are coming for a visit at the end of the month. It will be the first time since March of 2003 the kids have seen Larry. IT seems like a lifetime ago. I don;t think Keegan or Maddy have any memories of him which seems so odd since they were such a big part of our lives for those 4 years we lived in San Diego.

Brie and I are going to be participating in the Autism Awareness walk. We will soon be sending out pleas for money .. err requests for sponsorship donations.

We spent Easter Sunday at my Dad's we had a great day, even if we had to play "find the hearing aid" Not much to say, egg hunt, good food, and family time is always nice. I will say that every time I go out to my Dad's now a piece of me gets more and more jealous. I want to have a house out in the country with a nice garden. I am ready to own my own house again, I just hope we can find a way to get one.

On that note I guess I should mention that we signed another lease extension on this home so we will be here for another year at the least. It's always a relief to know we don't have to move. It's hard to believe there was a time when I looked forward to moving and actually would pack up and move for no real reason other than wanting to be somewhere new.

I think that's it for now. I took the time to read old posts made around the time we moved to Virginia and I wrote one thing that I just found so funny. I described my dreams at the time as a cross between "pornography and a HGTV Design show" I think that says it all!

Posted by John at 05:27 PM
April 08, 2007
this week's iPod Treasures

These are the 10 most enjoyed songs on my iPod this week.

"Time Has Got Nothing To Do With It" - Peter Murphy I've been a real Peter Murphy mood lately and this song from Love Hysteria along with "Crystal Wrists" from Deep seem to be the two I am enjoying most though you can never go wrong with "Indigo Eyes".

"Against All Odds" - The Postal Service I was going through YouTube looking for videos from artists I like that I haven't seen and this song came up. It was on the soundtrack to Wicker Park and yes, it is a cover of the Phil Collins song. I really enjoy their take on it.

"Say Goodbye and Go" - Imogen Heap Imogen's album is something that Brie and I both can't get enough of. I really do like every song on the album but this is the one that makes it to my playlists.

"Let Me Know" - KISS Really disappointed with Gene Simmons' Family Jewels this season because it all seems carefully staged this time around for maximum impact. This song is from Dressed to Kill one of my favorite KISS albums. This one has a great breakdown where Paul and Gene sing harmony acapella.

"Starfuckers Inc" - Nine Inch Nails It has to be the version from The Day the World Went Away single because it ends with a sample from KISS Alive that isn't on the version from The Fragile. I need to look at the dates again as I am not sure which came first, this songs chopping up of vocal parts into staccato effect or the electronic/dance artist BT who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for doing the same thing and coincidentally sings another one of my all-time favourites "Simply Being Loved (Somnabulist)"

"Wind It Up" - Barenaked Ladies One of my favourite tracks from their record Barenaked Ladies Are Me. It's very rare they just do a straight ahead riff based rock song and it has the classic lyric, "I was a baby when I learned to suck, but you have raised it to an art form". Now that's how you tell someone off.

"Walkie Talkie Man" - Steriogram Sebastian turned me onto this song. It's used in his current favourite Nintendo DS games, "Elite Beat Agents" a rhythm tapping game (think DDR but just by tapping a stylus) that for some reason I can't do at all. I don't know anything about this band, but this song with it's pitched shifted lead vocal/rap and punk/emo guitar makes me want to jump around.

"Look On the Floor" - Bananarama You can really tell I am getting most of my new music exposure from watching "New Now Next" and "The Click List" on Logo. I've always had similar tastes as the GLBT crowd. This is a song released not to long ago. It's not unlike Cher's "Believe", it's electronic based dance music with processed vocals and an amazing hook.

"I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" - Scissor Sisters Speaking of GLBT, at first I wasn't sure how I felt about the song because I was only hearing it with the accompanying video which I hate. But on it's own I hear just how great this song is.

"Clumsy" - Fergie While Brie is still digging on "Glamorous" her latest single. This track, track two on her album, is the song I like the most. It's got a 50's inspired vocal loop then cuts into 80's type electronics. It's both vintage soul and forward looking hip-hop. I think the song genius and I hope it becomes a single. It's far better than "London Bridge".

Posted by John at 10:40 AM