June 25, 2012

Just a few reviews

Americana - Neil Young & Crazy Horse - I get that Neil Young likes these old songs. They're old songs that I've known for most of my life: "Oh! Susannah", "My Darling Clementine", "Tom Dula." But I know the songs as folk songs, acoustic guitar folk songs. These certainly aren't acoustic guitar arrangements.

Neil Young, of course, isn't the kind of guy to take the straight and narrow, predictable path. He's said, after his #1 single "Heart of Gold," "This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there." He's a man heading constantly toward the interesting ditch.

This isn't exactly a ditch record by any means, but it's certainly a Crazy Horse record. There aren't any pretty, acoustic arrangements to support these long-sung songs. Instead we get fuzz and feedback and unexpected phrasings. It's certainly interesting, but it's not what I want when I hear these songs.

Boys and Girls - Alabama Shakes - One of my coworkers recommended this album to me on the last day of school this year. She makes an annual summer mix and spreads the mix around to some of her musically-interested friends and coworkers and also shares music she thinks we might find interesting. Luckily, her tastes tend to run true.

The Alabama Shakes have a spectacular soul sound, rich and true, rolling along full of mud and blood and bass and southern soul. These are sounds decades old returned in modern form and tapping into elemental guts and blood, bringing the south, the sound of Muscle Shoals, the echo of Booker T, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and a bloodline of American soul musicians.

This is music that feels real and rich and right.

Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins - The Girl's been recommending this for a couple of years now as she has the entire trilogy on the shelves downstairs. Well, if I'm going to be laid up and flat on m'back for a week, I'll catch up on some reading. Once the Vonnegut was finished, I moved onward to the wildly popular Hunger Games.

I've seen the movie, so I knew what was coming throughout much of the book, but I still enjoyed the read, and there were enough differences that the whole thing wasn't too awfully predictable.

I dug the book enough that I'm headed into the other books in the series at least.

Just After Sunset - Stephen King - When you're trapped in an airport flying all day from Houston to Atlanta to Dayton, you're going to need something to read. I was halfway through Hunger Games, but the book was a hardcover and a little big to pack in the suitcase, so I was stuck picking from the airport bookstore/newsstand.

This one was the choice. I figured a Stephen King short story collection would be a good choice for broken up reading on the plane, off the plane, between snippets of naps, easy to drop into and back out of again. Plus I hadn't read this one - also a bonus.

I've enjoyed King's short stories in the past, and these certainly did a successful job of passing the time in the various airports. The best of the bunch were "Willa" (couple discovers they're ghosts)..."N." (OCD passes from patient to psychiatrist with demonic origins)...and "Stationary Bike" (man is hunted by the men of his metabolic work crew). They're not all hits: "Graduation Afternoon" (teen girl sees NYC destroyed in a nuclear explosion)..."Harvey's Dream" (premonitions with an older couple)..."A Very Tight Place" (man is locked in a tipped port-o-let by his nemesis and has to climb out via the toilet).

It's a hit-or-miss collection here. Some good, some meh...

Because I Can - Daphne Willis - meh...

I'm digging the concept of rdio. I've got a long list of things to read, see, and hear built up on Amazon - things that pass through my media awareness but that I can't readily find to check out or that I don't have time to read through at the time. It's a list that's constantly building up and up and up but that rarely gets a whole lot checked off of it. Thanks to rdio, however, I've been able to check off a number of cds that I wanted to listen to - such as Daphne Willis's Because I Can.

Now, of course, I have no idea at all why I added this one. Must've been something I heard about on NPR or something. This isn't one I'll be checking out again. It's a'ight, but it's not anything special.


cmorin said...

AH! Finally someone that is hip to Alabama Shakes. They've been on steady rotation the past several months. Saw them perform at Bonnaroo and they did not disappoint.

Ame said...

I enjoyed Hunger Games. Read the trilogy before placing it in my classroom. I enjoyed it more then the movie (which is normal for me).

PHSChemGuy said...

CMorin - I'm often slow to pick up on things. I swear people were recommending Mumford & Sons to me for two years before I heard the album and said - back to one of them - "Hey, have you heard this group, Mumford & Sons?"

Ame - I'm halfway through book two. Interesting