What I’m Listening to Now – April 2017


Song of the Month

“Cherry Blossom” by ALA.NI

Podcasts of the Month

Best of the Left Progressives Fight on Multiple Fronts

I hear too much infighting about the best way to conduct the resistance, so it’s good to hear this podcast the multiple fronts on which progressives are fighting for our country and our future.

Sound OpinionsMavis Staples

An insightful interview with the musical legend.

The Memory PalaceTemple

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Turns out that the temple is not as old as I thought nor has it been in the Met for as long as I’d imagined either.  The stories of why it was built and how it ended up in New York are equally fascinating.

Ben Frankin’s World Paul Revere’s Ride Through History

Four scholars explore the history of Paul Revere and why we remember him today.

99% InvisibleSounds Natural

Viewers of nature documentaries expect that everything in the film comes directly from nature, but having microphones in the right place to capture sounds is so difficult and dangerous that most animal sounds are produced by foley artists.

StarTalk Radio – Baseball: Physics at the Plate

A baseball player, physicists, and comedians join together to discuss baseball at SXSW.  Good things happen

Planet MoneyGeorgetown, Lousiana

The story of a Louisiana town where many of the residents are descendants of 272 slaves sold to fund Georgetown University.

Albums of the Month

Artist: Charly Bliss
Album: Guppy
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Glitter,” “Black Hole,” and “Ruby”

Thoughts: The Brooklyn power pop quartet bring back a mid-90s sound reminiscent of  Letters to Cleo and Velocity Girl.  Eva Hendricks sings a bit nasally over fuzzed-out guitars and drums with lyrics that aren’t anywhere as sweet as they’re sung.  It’s a great throwback but having lived through it all the first time around, I’d prefer something new.
Rating: ***


Artist: Future Islands
Album: The Far Field
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Beauty of the Road,” “Cave,” and “Shadows”

Thoughts: I was not familiar with the Baltimore-based synthpop outfit, but the reviews of the album were good so I thought I’d give it a shot.  The sound is very 80s, reminiscent of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, but Samuel Herring’s vocals overlaying the synths are more growly than romantic.  Once again, I’m feeling that I’ve heard this all before. The highlight is the duet with Debbie Harry on “Shadows.”
Rating: **1/2


Artist: Alexandra Savior
Album: Belladonna of Sadness
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Thoughts: This debut from the Portland, OR singer-songwriter features moody crooning over 60’s style jazz-pop.  It’s a little bit reminiscent of Fiona Apple, not to mention umpteen singers from the swinging sixties.  There’s too much polish on this album and the raw talent Savior has is unable to shine through.
Rating: **


Artist: The New Pornographers
Album: Whiteout Conditions
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “High Ticket Attractions”

Thoughts: I’m a long-time fan of The New Pornographers and I’m disappointed by their latest release.  There’s nothing new about it as the reliance on synthesizers seems to just water down their traditional sound rather then expand into new territories.  The emotion and variety of previous albums.  Perhaps the absence of Dan Bejar contributes to the lack of balance and feeling of incompleteness.
Rating: **


ArtistGorillaz
Album: Humans
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Ascension” (feat. Vince Staples),”Momentz” (feat. De La Soul), “Let Me Out” (feat. Mavis Staples and Pusha T), and “We Got the Power” (feat. Jenny Beth)

Thoughts: The band of animated characters is joined by an army of guest artists on this hip-hop, indie pop, electronic dance party album.  It’s all over the place and delightfully strange but there’s a little something for everyone.
Rating: ***1/2

That’s April!  If there’s something I should listen to in May, let me know in the comments.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Y is for Yawn #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“Y” is for “Yawn”


Could I be doing an A to Zzzzzzzzz challenge instead?

Music Discoveries: Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir’s Top 8 Albums


I’m switching things up this month. Instead of focusing on the musical output of one band or artist, I decided to listen to all the albums on a list of favorite albums from one artist.  That artist is Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir of the duo My Bubba, she being the Icelandic Bubba with her Swedish partner My Larsdotter.  My Bubba have appeared in my Song of the Week posts on two occasions for their tracks “Poem Found in the Pocket of an Amazon” and “Big Bad Good” and the latter song also made my favorite songs of 2016 list.

I found 7 of the 8 albums on streaming services. So here is my venture into Icelandic sometimes folkish, sometimes jazzy, often minimalist, and always vocal oriented popular music

 

ArtistBjörk Guðmundsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar
AlbumGlíng-Gló (1990)
Favorite Tracks: “Kata rokkar,”  “Tondeleyo,”  and “Börnin við tjörnina”
Thoughts: I suspect this isn’t for everyone, but if you find the idea of Björk crooning jazz standards in her native tongue appealing, then this album is for you.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistEmilíana Torrini
AlbumFisherman’s Woman (2005)
Favorite Tracks: “Nothing Brings Me Down,”  “Today Has Been OK”
Thoughts: If Björk’s voice doesn’t do it for you, Emilíana Torrini’s is more accessible, both ethereal and emotive.  Her style reminds me of the English folk  rock movement of the 1970s but these tracks are accompanied by minimalist guitar.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistÓlöf Arnalds
AlbumVið Og Við (2007)
Favorite Tracks: “Í Nýju Húsi”
Thoughts: Troubadour-style performances of traditional Icelandic music.  Again, I’m reminded of the folk revival styles of the 60s & 70s, but in Icelandic.
Rating: ***


Artist: Sigurður Guðmundsson og Memfismafían
AlbumOft spurði ég mömmu (2008)
Favorite Tracks: “Lady Fish And Chips” and “Veðrið er herfilegt”
Thoughts: Another retro album described as “old Icelandic popular tunes,” but here “old” sounds like pop songs of the 30s to 50s.  And it’s pretty clear that one of them is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which sounds more sexy than creepy in Icelandic.  I can’t find anything on the web about this album in English, but the vocalist has a Frank Sinatra vibe, and the whole album swings.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistMúgíson 
AlbumHaglél (2011)
Thoughts: This album apparently resonated strongly with the people of Iceland, but I’m not as impressed.  Of course, I know nothing of the lyrics, but musically it sounds like 70s pop songs with maybe a little 90s angst.
Rating: **


ArtistValdimar 
AlbumUndraland (2010)
Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts: Cheerful indie pop. The brass section moves this from mundane to a bit interesting.
Rating:**1/2


Artistamiina
AlbumFantômas (2016)
Favorite Tracks: “Simplon Express” and “Entrepots de Bercy”
Thoughts: This was composed as a score for a 100-year-old silent film, and it’s a beautiful work of minimalist post-rock.  Definitely worth listening to if that’s your bag.
Rating:  ****

 

That’s my music discovery for the month, let me know if there’s something I should be listening to in May by leaving a comment!

Blogging From A to Z Challenge: X is for X-ing #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“X” is for “X-ing.”

I was totally going to photograph something that actually starts with X but the day’s almost over so I had to settle. 

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: W is for Water #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“W” is for “Water.”

 

The Charles River has appeared in several of my A to Z photographs, so today it plays center stage.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: V is for Verdant #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“V” is for “Verdant.”

If you go back the the “A” and “B” posts you can see these same trees, but now they are budding!  Summer is coming!

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: U is for Underneath #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“U” is for “Underneath.”

Apologies for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ear worm.

Only five letters of the alphabet to go! Let me know what you think of this photo in the comments or at @othemts.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: T is for Turning #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“T” is for “Turning.”

 

One of those fidget spinner doohickeys that are all the rage!

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: R is for Request #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“R” is for “Request.”

Today is the day I took readers’ requests for my photo subjects.  Unexpectedly, the most of the suggestions I got were also “r” words. After dispensing with the facetious and impractical requests, I had a fun photo scavenger hunt.  As an extra challenge, today was a rainy day and I had to photograph quickly before my camera got wet.

Robin in the rain.  This was not a request but I couldn’t resist the “r” words.

Rascally rabbit.

Pollution. Trash by the Charles River.  The water is probably polluted too.

Rapid tranist.  Bonus “r” – it’s the Red Line!