Princess Chelsea :: The Loneliest Girl
DeVotchka :: Second Chance
Tunde Olaniran :: Mountain
Pip Blom :: Pussycat
Our Girl :: I Really Like It
Beirut :: “Galipoli”
SOAK :: “Everybody Loves You”
The Sha La Das :: “Okay My Love”
Yaeji :: “One More”
AdriAnne Lenker :: “symbol”
When I moved to Boston 20 years ago, the Red Sox were a team that always played well but often fell short of making the playoffs. Or if they did make the postseason, they would lose in some horrible way. Now they seem to win World Series Championships routinely. Last night’s win by the Red Sox finished a 4 games-to-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’ve added another trophy to go alongside the ones from 2004, 2007, and 2013 for 4 championships in 15 years.
Each team is special in there own way, but the 2018 team is by far the most dominant Red Sox team I’ve ever seen. After winning a team-record 108 games in the regular season, they beat the 100-win Yankees 3-to-1 in the ALDS, the 103-win defending champion Astros 4-1 in the ALCS, and the Dodgers – returning for a second consecutive World Series – 4-1. The team went 7-1 on the road in the postseason and clinched all three series in the opponent’s ballpark.
This team also just seems to be plain likable. There’s the core of young killer B’s – Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts. There are veterans brought in from other teams specifically to get the Red Sox to another World Championship – J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, and David Price. And there are the role players who stepped up big in the most unlikely situations – Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and World Series MVP Steve Pearce.
I got to see the Red Sox with my family at several games at Fenway, as well as at the White Sox ballpark in Chicago, and even game 2 of the ALCS. Is was a fun and entertaining season. And now the long winter of baseball emptiness begins. But first, there’s a parade on Halloween!
Album: Love is Magic
Artist: John Grant
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Love is Magic,” “Tempest,” “Diet Gum,” and “Is He Strange?
American expatriate John Grant resides now in Iceland where he makes very weird music. The synths and disco beats make the album feel straight from the early 80s complete with spoken word segments reminiscent of Laurie Anderson. The lyrics are crude, angry, deeply personal, and sometimes just plain bizarre. It took me a few listens to warm up to Love is Magic, but it still doesn’t feel as good as Grant’s earlier work.
Believed :: The Good Guy
This podcast series from Michigan Radio investigates the story of Larry Nassar, the women’s Olympics gymnastic doctor found guilty of sexual abusing his patients for decades. This first episode depicts how Nassar was seen in the gymnastic community as a respected and lovable figure, not appearing as a monster despite performing monstrous acts. There are obvious content warning for rape and trauma for anyone considering listening to this episode.
The Memory Palace :: The Dress in the Closet
This Halloween episode is a ghost story of sorts telling the sad story of Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone and how they were haunted by being guests of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his murder.
Hit Parade :: The Oh. My. God. Becky Edition
The Hit Parade visits the charts circa 1991-1992 when hip-hop hits finally reach #1. It was a transitional period for hip-hop between its party song roots and the West Coast gangsta rap that emerged as a hit-churning style later in the 90s. The new styles sampled pop and R&B songs and featured more conscious lyrics. Artists included De La Soul, PM Dawn, Arrested Development, and … Sir Mix-A-Lot. Host Chris Molanphy credits the newfound success of rap on the charts partly to Billboard introducing the new SoundScan system which more accurately tracked record sales and airplay. This was another nostalgic episode for me as I liked a lot of the rap music from this period but never cottoned on to gangsta rap.
Album: Sugar & Spice
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Sure,” “Sleep,” and “Try.”
The debut EP by Australian singer/songwriter Hatchie (no apparent relation to Waxahatchee), a.k.a. Harriette Pilbeam, is five tracks of dreamy, ethereal vocals over layered, jangly pop. It’s reminiscent of the early 90s alternative acts (think The Sundays or cranberries) who were drowned out by grunge, but nevertheless created some of the best music of the period. It’s a sweet treat and I look forward to more from Hatchie.
Author: Kathleen Rooney
Title: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Narrator: Xe Sands
Publication Info: Macmillan Audio (2017)
In this delightful first person-narrative, the octogenarian Lillian Boxfish celebrates New Year’s Eve 1984 in New York City goes to a bar, dines out at Delmonico’s, drops in at a party of a pair of young artists, and faces down some potential muggers. Lillian walks everywhere she goes amid the decay of 1980s Manhattan with the then current Subway Vigilante story a repeated warning of New York hitting bottom. But Lillian’s charm and curiosity means that she consistently is meeting and engaging with ordinary people in meaningful conversations – bartenders, clerks, security guards, drivers, a mother-to-be going into labor, and yes, even would-be muggers. Despite the city’s flaws, she despises the suburbs, Lillian admires the city’s energy and the opportunity to take her walks.
Along her walk, Lillian reflects upon her life in New York, starting in the 1930s when she became a successful writer of advertising for R.H. Macy and a poet. Eventually she marries and has a child, but the loss of her career and a troubled marriage lead to depression. These autobiographical details are sprinkled well throughout Lillian’s walk and experiences. For audiobook listeners, Xe Sands is terrific in capturing Lillian’s whimsical and thoughtful voice.
This book is a tribute to New York set at a transitional time that reflects on the city’s golden past and emerging future. It’s also a portrait of a fascinating woman who may be ahead of her time, but I think Lillian Boxfish would say she was right on time. Better yet, the novel is inspired by a real life person, Margaret Fishback.
“…the suburbs had always seemed mealy and unresolved. I understood that their in-between-ness — neither town nor country! — was supposed to be their very appeal, but I didn’t find it appealing. I always wanted either to be in, or get away from the city, not just be close to the city. Were I off in the pastoral hills shingling my own roof or riding a horse, well then, what fun. And were I catching a subway for a night at the opera, well then, hooray. But in the suburbs I could enjoy none of those pursuits with ease.” – p. 185
King Charles I of the United Kingdom was executed by beheading in 1649. Over 300 years later, in 1965, the people of Boston and Cambridge began commemorating his decapitation with the annual Head of the Charles Regatta.∗
I was on the banks and bridges of the Charles River and snapped a few photos. Thanks to all the rowers for being so darn photogenic.
* This origin story is completely fictional.
To the Best of Our Knowledge :: Pick Your Poison
The most stunning segment of this episode on poison regards “The Radium Girls” of Ottawa, Illinois, who were poisoned painting clock dials with radium. It’s another example of cruelty of capitalist greed, misogyny, and indifference to human suffering.
Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Theremin
I’m fascinated by weird instruments like the theremin and the career of Bob Moog, and this podcast has a lot of both.
Fresh Air :: Don’t Be Fooled By The Talking Horse — ‘BoJack’ Is A Sadness ‘Sneak Attack’
I’ve written reviews of BoJack Horseman here stating it’s the “best show on television,” and Terry Gross’ interview with its creator is revelatory.
99% Invisible :: The Worst Way to Start a City
What if a city was born by just having 100,000 people show up at once and claim their spot? That’s the weird story of Oklahoma City. Listen to this just for the “Oh, Joe – here’s your mule!” part.
Some new albums that don’t exactly contain new content, so I’m reviewing them in bulk.
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Slow Disco,” “Los Ageless,”
Thoughts: A release of Masseduction with everything stripped away except Annie Clarke’s voice and a piano, making her sound more like a chanteuse. I think I like this version better, although I didn’t really like the original much at all.
Album: My Way
Artist: Willie Nelson
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Summer Wind,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “One for My Baby (And One More For the Road,” “What is This Thing Called Love?,” and “My Way”
Thoughts: Willie Nelson sings swinging standards in the style of Frank Sinatra. What’s not to like?
Album: Piano and a Microphone 1983
Release Date: September 21, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “17 Days,” “Cold Coffee & Cocaine,” and “Why the Butterflies”
Thoughts: The first posthumous release from Prince’s music vaults is a glimpse of an artist at work. Just Prince tooling around on a piano, working on several songs, and being amazingly talented.