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.

Podcasts of the Week for the Week Ending November 27


Okay, it’s been several weeks since the last Podcast of the Week, and I’ve decided this will be the last installment of this feature.  In the future I may do a monthly roundup or an irregular schedule of posts.
To start of this final post, here are three new podcasts feeds I’m subscribing to:
  • Maeve in America – Irish comedian Maeve Higgins interviews a different immigrant to America in each episode
  • Hub History – a new podcast on one of my favorite topics, Boston history, which has already covered topics ranging from Cotton Mather’s smallpox innoculation and the Great Molasses Flood
  • Stranglers – a 12-part documentary focusing a particularly notorious time in Boston history, the strangler murders of 1962-64
And here are some good episodes from the past motnth or so:
  • Planet Money – Bad Form, Wells Fargo – Career destroying practices for employees involved in the Wells Fargo scandal
  • 99 Percent Invisible – The Shift – the history of baseball’s revolutionary defensive strategy
  • Politically Re-Active – W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu  with guest Roxane Gay  on Anger After the Election
  • Sounds in My Head – Special Post-Election Episode with a playlist of very sad songs

Podcasts of the Week


A short list for the last week of July:

Planet Money – “When Women Stopped Coding

An illuminating but sad history of when computer science moved from being woman-dominated to a “men’s only club.”

Politically Re-Active – “Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman Gives Us the Election Unfiltered”

A podcast I just started listening to that is hosted by W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu features an interview with the noted alternative media host who manages to keep a straight face amidst their goofiness.

The Gist –  “Celebrating the Nerd Mentatality

This podcast is worth listening primarily for Mike Pesca ordering a salad as if he were delivering a convention speech, but the stuff on nerds is good too.

 

Podcasts of the Week


Whenever Cleveland is mentioned, one hears about the Cuyahoga River catching fire, but until listening to this podcast I was unaware that there were multiple fires over decades and the considerable damage that they caused.
The much-maligned shark gets a fair shake.  And I still love Jaws even if it’s wrong.
Insight into what may make a person commit horrible atrocities, and what we can do to counter that.
A subject near and dear to my heart, riding on public transit with children.  Features Lee Biernbaum, author of the Kids in the Stairwell blog
Not a typical Planet Money episode as it focuses on people tortured and forced to confess by the Chicago police, and the thorny issue of deciding on how much to pay in reparations.
Interviews with people affected by violence, both people harmed by police and officers harmed by suspects.  Particularly interesting is the black man who served as a police officer and participated in protests to reform the police, sometimes on both sides on the same day.
Wind down with another collection of great music featuring DIRTYGIRL (including my song of the week), Eerie Wanda, Flowers, Failed Flowers, and The Avalanches!

Podcasts of the Week: Planet Money & Decode DC


Two podcasts this week with a shared theme:  the people who work to sell you food (that’s largely bad for you).

The first is Planet Money (Episode 700: Peanuts and Cracker Jack) which spent a night at Fenway Park to learn of the economy of concessions vendors at a Red Sox game.  There’s a draft for products and sections of the ballpark and then it’s up to each individual to use their skills to sell as much as they can.  The mystical Jose wears #1 on his back for his marketing skill.  Surprisingly, vendors don’t seem to make much money for their efforts (although I supposed no one would have a job that’s only about 4 hours 81 times per year as their sole source of income).

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/05/06/477082513/episode-700-peanuts-and-cracker-jack

More sinister is this week’s Decode DC episode (Episode 139: Big Sugar’s Secret Playbook) where tobacco industry marketing and legal tactics are used to get you eating (and paying for) more sugar in your diet.