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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife 2006.10.25.08:10

This is another one I first heard about on NPR. It's very different from My Brightest Diamond, and in a lot of ways it's more my style. There's no really easy basis of comarison, though, so I'll stick to the merits of this one on its own.

Again, I know next to nothing about this group. The first time I even heard their name was the NPR review of this album. The review included snippets from two of the songs– "The Island" and "Sons & Daughters"– that are probably the two strongest tracks on the disc. The latter, in fact, is my personal favorite. I have yet to tire of it, and I have no idea how many times I've played and re-played it. This isn't to say that the rest of the album is weak, though. Like my last review, this is an album that has a quasi-concept feel to it, in that it plays very well from start to finish as if it were a whole musical piece in 10 segments. The other track highlighted in the review, "The Island", is itself a three-movement piece (the NPR review excerpted from the second section). And the title track, "The Crane Wife", is in three parts that are divided oddly: Part 3 opens the album, and parts 1 & 2 make up the next-to-last track. Other noteworthy tracks include "Shankill Butchers" and "Yankee Bayonet".

The sound reminds me a lot of XTC, with the vocalist coming across a little like Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots. "Shankill Butchers" really reminded me of some of the simpler accoustic LPD material I've heard in the past. Musically, the group is very tight and clearly very comfortable playing together. There's a moderate progressive vibe running through the album, with some of the songs being a good distance from the "safe" 4/4 beat. I've listened to this one straight through, end-to-end, at least a dozen times since I got it last Saturday. Highly recommended.

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me the Workhorse 2006.10.20.09:29

Heard about this one on NPR. It's hard to describe– a strong Yo La Tengo vibe with a sprinkling of Lou Reed. The singer's voice reminds me a little of Portishead, though not quite as brittle. Thus far, "Disappear" is my favorite single track. But this album has a whole-entity feel to it (again, reminiscient of Portishead and Yo La Tengo). I'm listening through from front to back for the second time, now, and it just has a really nice smoothness to it.

I know next to nothing about the group, except that I had enjoyed the excerpts from the review on the afternoon news show on the local NPR station. There's some nice use of strings, and the melodies are on the alternative side, venturing towards prog-rock territory without getting close enough for the pretentious to rub off. The lyrics are engaging, as well. Certainly worth a test-listen on iTunes, or borrowing from a friend.

My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me the Workhorse

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

Chicks With Casios 2003.11.19.08:59

By way of Warren Ellis, I was led to the website for a female duo who call themselves The Capricorns. Two women with Casios, and they aren't afraid to use them either.

At the site, you can download two of their songs, The New Sound amd Pretty Girls.

Joe Bob says, "Check 'em out."

# [/entertainment/music]

Underrated Albums: Concrete Blond's "Mexican Moon" 2003.11.14.10:25

[cover] (The first in what may or may not be a series...)

While cleaning house recently, I came across my copy of Mexican Moon, the 1993 release by Concrete Blond. So I slotted it into the player and gave it a spin. Wow.

I had forgotton just how really good this album is. And I started wondering why it didn't run the charts like Bloodletting had. I suppose (and this is purely conjecture) that the legions of tortured goths who felt that CB really "felt their pain" with songs like "Bloodletting" and "Joey". And maybe they felt left behind when Walking in London wasn't another paen to children of the night. Of course, if you read the reviews at Amazon, they're all written by people who feel, as I do, that this album has always been unfairly dismissed.

Who knows, I guess. But this one strayed even further from BL than WiL had. Not that I don't like those albums; "Tomorrow, Wendy" remains one of my favorite songs by any band. But this album just meshes really well. From the opening "Jenny I Read", into the title track, you just know that you're going to enjoy every track on the disc.

Money, art, a broken heart, where do you want to go?
     —Mexican Moon

I think it was the track, "Heal It Up," that got the radio air-play. I know that I'm not a tour-following devoted fan. I had BL, but hadn't gotten around to getting WiL. When I heard "Heal", though, I had to get this one. It's a powerful track, with great lyrics and poetry. And in a disturbingly smooth blend, it goes right in to the sampled excerpts of Jim Jones that open up the track, "Jonestown". And we're only up to the fourth track.

I can go one about pretty much every track. The whole album is very listen-able, from start to end, on auto-repeat even. The last track is titled, "Bajo La Lune Mexicana," and as you might guess even without speaking any Spanish, it's the title track again, only with the lyrics in Spanish (though alternating lines of the chorus are still in English). In a way, this is the most relaxing, almost ambient track of the disc. I don't focus on the exact words as much, and instead on the timbre of the singer's voice and the music that accompanies her.

Very happy that I dug this up.

# amazon (and on and on and on) [/entertainment/music]

Pax Warren Zevon 2003.09.08.18:41

Singer Warren Zevon dead at 56

I can't claim to be a huge Zevon fan, and I don't own any of his albums. But he was original, eclectic, and he gave us the title, "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". It's always a shame to lose such talent at a comparitively young age.

At least he won't have to play "Werewolves of London" ever again. As I understand it, he really came to hate that WoL was his best-known and most-requested tune.

# [/entertainment/music]

Soundtrack to 28 Days Later 2003.07.07.03:14

(I promise not to cajole you about seeing the movie in this entry.)

cover One of the things that really stuck with me long after seeing this movie was the music it featured. Most of it is very soft and menacing, staying in the background only to leap out for a few bars (or even just a few notes) at a time, before dropping back to the shadows again. The acapella hymn sung at an early point in the movie is just as haunting without the imagery it accompanies. Maybe because everytime I hear it, I remember what was going on at that point. The tracks "AM 180" and "Season Song" should be making the rounds of radio stations by now, but they haven't caught on. I won't be at all surprised if/when they do.

The U.S. release of the S/T features some club mixes of a couple of the tracks, as well as some data tracks for PC users. Haven't checked out the latter, but the dance tracks are a nice touch. But they don't dredge up memories like the original versions do.

Highly recommended.

(OK, I lied. If you haven't seen the film yet, do so.)

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002RN9/rjrayorg-20">Respighi - Ancient Aires and Dances</a> 2003.06.10.10:44

[cover] I'm more than a little behind in my original pledge, even despite my burst of resolve a few months ago. So let me now return to this effort with a collection of light four-movement suites from the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi.

I picked this up a few months ago, in a sort of mourning state. I had been looking for this excellent CD I had, that featured Respighi's "Pines of Rome", "Fountains of Rome", and an excellent performance of Moussorsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". But it seems that the CD was victim to one of the two times my car was broken into. I cannot find it anywhere, even by mail-order. So I happened across this CD while moping around the Respighi section at the storefront I buy most of my classical from (yes, it's a Tower Records, but it has an excellent classical section).

Funny thing is, after the first two or three listens, I wasn't that keen on it, and had decided not to recommend it. But it was "passable enough" to add to my classical play-list of Ogg's (same function as an MP3, no licensing problems) for a while. And as it would happen, it has really grown on me over the last few weeks. I find myself humming along to the principal themes, which not only means I'm enjoying it, but that it's imprinted on my memory as well. So I've decided to recommend this one, after all. It's Respighi, it's Neville Marriner conducting the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, what can I say– I shouldn't have judged it so hastily.

(Not sure if I should call this my "March" selection, or just quietly overlook the three months I've missed...)

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000I77A/rjrayorg-20">Music Of Silvestre Revueltas</a> 2003.03.05.07:49

cover My musical pick for February (albeit late) is this collection of works by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. Although the Amazon page I link to simply calls the CD "Music Of Silvestre Revueltas", the CD is actually titled Sensemaya, which is also the title of the first track. The recording is by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, both under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen.

I learned about this composer one Sunday evening while driving to a friend's for dinner. I was listening to NPR, and the weekly Latino news program Latino USA. Had I left the apartment that evening even five minutes earlier, I'd have arrived before the story about this composer came on. The excerpts they played got my attention. The reporter compared his style to Stravinsky, but I heard what sounded to my ears like a strong Aaron Copeland influence, another of my favorites. I made a note to find any recording I could, to see if I would enjoy full pieces as much as these excerpts.

Like I said, there's (what seems to me to be) a strong Copeland influence at work, and certainly some Stravinsky as well. But the music is very original, very unique in style and flavor. I especially liked tracks 3-6, the 1939 composition Las Noche de los Mayas. There's no track on the CD I don't like, in fact. The title track is probably my next favorite. The three-movement Homenaje a Federico Garcia Lorca is considered one of his most creative works.

Another highly-recommended recording, and with this one I truly met my goal of introducing myself to something completely new, that I hadn't heard of at all before. I hope my March selection is just nearly as good.

# amazon (and on) [/entertainment/music]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000041AP/rjrayorg-20">The Best Of Saint-Sa&euml;ns</a> 2003.03.05.07:17

For my first musical recommendation, I would like to offer this 2-CD set of works by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Despite a somewhat presumptious title, this recording offers a really amazing range of musical textures. The first disc contains the full Carnival of the Animals suite, as well as my personal favorite piece of his, Danse Macabre. The Danse is a great piece of music to play for any of your more goth friends. The other tracks on disc 1 are three each for the Violin Concerto no. 3 in B (Opus 61) and Piano Concerto no. 2 in G (Opus 22). These are also great works — I've actually never been a big fan of solo violin, but the violin concerto is really gripping.

Disc 2 is no less amazing, with an Intro and Rondo Capriccioso for the first track, that is another violin piece I really enjoyed. There is a rendition of "The Swan" from Carnival as a cello solo, followed by another piano concerto, this time no. 4 in C (Opus 44). The last 4 tracks of disc 2 contain the Symphony no. 3 in C (Opus 78), "Organ". This piece is a great way to finish the collection. The final movement (featuring the organ) is based around a principal theme many people will recognize from a surprise blockbuster movie from 1995.

This is a recording I've had in my collection for almost 4 years. It was stolen about two years ago when my car was broken into and all CDs in the front seat scooped up with the stereo. I was lucky to have found a replacement in short order. I never get tired of either of these two discs.

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

A Cultural Resolution 2003.03.05.06:36

So, one of the things I had intended to do in 2003 was to spend more time listening to classical music. In fact, my words were to the effect of planning to find a new recording or or composition, or maybe even a new composer or artist, each month.

Well, it's March now. Clearly I'm behind in my quest for a cultural evolution. I suppose I had best be about addressing this.

# [/entertainment/music]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

Category quick-links:


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30 31          

Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec

Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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