Sunday, March 3, 2013

January/Feburary Roundup: Yourself in Disguise

I try to impart my band students with a sense of self-sufficiency and responsibility, so I felt pretty hypocritical when I could not find my suit for contest. I cleverly went with the contemporary "all-black" conductor look and flew under the radar, but there were several family functions coming up that required formal dress. I would not be able to them dodge so gracefully, so I was going to need a replacement.

A few years ago, this would have been cause for panic and shame. Although I was always considered “the big kid,” between 2006 and 2008 I was looking at almost 300 pounds.  In truth, I'm not exactly sure about that figure because at its worst I was too ashamed to even get on the scale (278 was the highest recorded). Needless to say, I was engaged in an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle, and, as a result, I was incredibly unhappy.

I made some drastic changes in 2008, and have basically continued on a positive path since then. I am now weighing in at a pretty lean 210. Needless to say, going to get fitted for a suit was awesome. For the first time, I had to get a split suit for the right reason - to show off my physique rather than hide it.

I admit that this post rings of self-indulgent egoism, but is also my intent to motivate and inspire. Whatever seems to be standing in the way of you achieving your goals, examine it closely to make sure it is not yourself in disguise.

Oh, and the elephant in the room: where has the blog been? Well, it’s presently on little scraps of paper stapled together and tucked into folders, just waiting to be transcribed and posted. So yes, I’m behind. This post represents my listening from both January and Feburary, so its a little long.  Good playlist, though.  Two albums are unavailable for streaming through the widget:

Aimee Mann - Charmer: Through her past collaborations with Grays contributor and studio contributor to Spilt Milk, Jon Brion, Aimee Mann could also be tied into the Jellyfish Family Tree. These days, she's got what she does down to a science, so if you like introspective, metaphoric pop songwriting, she’s your gal.

Ulver: Wars of the Roses: Ulver is a somewhat dark, gothic band that seem to have a wide variety of labels assigned to their style. They have enough progressive flavor, however, to keep my attention for the time being.

Otherwise, here are some examples from the albums I have been listening to for the past couple of months.

JanFeb2013 by Jeff Hodges on GroovesharkJason Falkner - Can You Still Feel? & The Bliss Descending EP: Although neither of these albums recapture the fire of Falkner’s first release, they still harbor an astounding amount of melodic and harmonic detail. These are both masterful works by an amazing and effortless songwriter.

Dirty Projectors - Swing Low Magellan: The Dirty Projectors have a sound that is both polished and fuzzy, measured and deranged. It is also, in its essence, subtly framed by the classic, which gives Swing Low Magellan an ease that is the trademark of experienced musicianship.

Tame Impala - Lonersim: Its pretty amazing that an album that so clearly identifies with a certain era of music contains sounds that would have been nearly impossible to create in that time. In a side-by-side comparison with Lonerism, the most vivid albums from that high psychedelic period would probably sound brittle.

My Bloody Valentine - mbv: It took me nearly three years to “get” Loveless, so I don’t know that I should comment on mbv after just a few weeks. At this point, I don’t quite see what all of the critical hype is about.

The Format - Interventions and Lullabies: In the early 00's, I had shifted my attention in underground power pop, and The Format would have fit into that paradigm quite neatly. It is somewhat unfortunate that it took me nearly a decade to discover and appreciate their work.

P.O.S. - We Don't Even Live Here: Unlike a lot of hip-hop, P.O.S.'s work seems to get better and better with subsequent listens. I have absolutely no regrets about including it on last year's Top 20, although I think that I might have rated it higher given a bit more time.

Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - The Land of Pure Imagination: For quite awhile after Jellyfish's breakup, the band's members released music that did not always resemble that of the band that defined them. Roger Joseph Manning's US "debut" is the most reminiscent of Jellyfish's original mission statement, and at points almost reaches the heights of their best work.

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange: Ocean seems to be struggling to reconcile Prince's opulent fantasy with Stevie Wonder's street-level reality on Channel Orange. Granted, my encounters with r&b and soul music are pretty much limited to these two giants, but for Ocean to even bring them to mind is quite a feat.

Charlie Parker - Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Collection: Parker is nothing short of mindblowing. In fact, following his soloing, in which he effortlessly creates a vocabulary of stunning complexity out of thin air, can be exhausting after an extended period.

GenesisTrespass: The band’s first album as a full-fledged progressive rock outfit predates even Phil Collins’ and Steve Hackett’s contributions to the band. It is perhaps not as memorable as the recordings from that classic prog lineup, but it does have a few outstanding moments that predict the future of the group.

HuskyForever So: I have had this one in rotation for awhile on the suggestion of several readers. I enjoy listening to it, but it's hipstery folk trappings don't seem to grab me for any length of time.

Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard - Dark Knight Original SoundtrackFor many reasons, I was very attached to Danny Elfman’s soundtrack to the 1989 Batman movie. Although it is not as melodically obvious, the Dark Knight OST is miles ahead of Elfman’s work in terms of timbral and harmonic complexity.

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