Category: Music

Music review: Bob Mould – Life and Times

By , July 29, 2014

 Bob Mould – Life and times

A tremendous, thoughtful, tuneful, just over 36 minute work by Bob Mould – full of bittersweet, longing and often melodic tunes.  I find myself letting it immediately play over in the car as the music washes over me in a comforting way during a somewhat stressful time.

Of course for those of you who remember or dug the mid ’80s independent force Husker Du provided – along with the Minutemen from San Pedro, Minneapolis’ Replacements and the Meat Puppets in their Heyday will know Bob once fronted (and thankfully didn’t blow out his vocal chords!) that seminal band.  Then went on to form Sugar (Copper Blue a highwater mark) and has since put out several generally very impressive recordings.

This one has great songs from the beginning with the title track followed by “The Breach” - a great opening one-two.  I find myself really enjoying snippets of lyrics and the overall, forward blasting yet melodic feel of this recording throughout.  “Mile Marker 17″ is another  gem as is the memorable “I’m Sorry, Baby, You Can’t Stand in my Light Any More”.  The credits: Bob Mould, vocals, guitar, bass, percussion, keyboards, programming; with Jon Wurster, drums. (and very good drumming I might add).  Mr. Mould’s guitar playing is stellar and instantly recognizable as being “his sound” throughout this recording. Great indeed.

Bob has written an autobiography a couple years after this was released (in 2009) and has dealt with a lot of painful issues including the loss of his father and addresses some personal demons here so it’s an emotionally charged album for sure.   The past and present is refracted  through a prism of reality, reconciliation and the need to move forward again. Many well thought out lyrics abound when you can get them…

Also available through Hoopla so check it out or stream it; you won’t regret it.

-Phil

Music review: Sara Evans

By , July 8, 2014

Slow Me Down
By Sara Evans

Back in the day – oh way way back In the Year 2000 - I was a Sara Evans fan. I think I listened to her Born to Fly album 9 bazillion camillion times – which is a lot. Then she had all that drama surrounding her dirty divorce and other court battles, and I kinda wrote her off as “one of those musicians” who get buried by a batch of bad press and let their personal lives swallow their careers.

So when her latest album came out this year, my first thought was “she’s still recording?” I thought Evans had just married her football player and was happy to drift into oblivion. But I’m so glad she didn’t because this album is so good. It’s Born to Fly good. Just as I’ve been sitting here listening to it while I write, I’ve heard my favorite track -”Put My Heart Down”- like, 5 times.

If you’re interested, and you should be, we have the CD you can check out, or you can download/stream it from freegal. It’s less than 40 minutes long and worth checking out one day when you’re bored at work. I will say that it’s not super country, but more like what Shania Twain would be recording if she weren’t spending her days partying at Caesar’s in Vegas. It’s more poptastic (not to be confused with Popmatic). Evans may have named her album Slow Me Down, but it’s anything but slow. (Plus, the first single “Slow Me Down” came out on my birthday! It’s a sign.) Take a listen, but you better stretch your toes first, because they will want to be tappin’.

Happy listening…

:) Amanda

A Book and Some Tunes Girls Like

By , April 22, 2014

Record Collecting for Girls
By Courtney Smith

Ok, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only listen to five albums for the rest of your life, what would they be? Or list the Top 10 Rock Songs with Flute (hello, Jethro Tull)? Anyone who has seen High Fidelity or spent 5 minutes in a real record store has either played this game or heard it played – usually by boys. Author Courtney Smith used to work at MTV, and she thinks girls should get to play too. So pick your favorite category: Where Have All the Girls Bands Gone?, Making Out with Romeo and Juliet, or The Smiths Syndrome. Hmm…I think I’ll take Rock N Roll Consorts for $200, Alex.

At the end of each section, Smith has assembled her own topic specific playlist and they span quite a few diverse genres. This book is as fun for exploring her playlists as it is for reading. In the spirit of Record Collecting for Girls, I put together my Top 5 Guilty Pleasures of Right Now (they may change in five minutes). You can listen to all of these courtesy of NPL – some in CD form, some from freegal. Here they are, in no particular order:

Hall & Oates – Private Eyes (freegal)
When I was little, I used to think this song was “Privatize. We’re watching you.” Think about it…

Phil Collins – Sussudio
To this day, I still have no idea what this song is about. It’s a catchy tune though. O oh.

Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA
You can thank Pitch Perfect for this one.

Lady Gaga – Do What You Want
I hate the message of this song, but it’s very peppy.

Cake – The Distance (freegal)
I love the singer’s deadpan delivery. It’s like he’s reading the Nightly News.

Think I’m geeky? Think you can do better? Ok, Mr. or Ms. Smarty-Music Pants, post your Top Five Guilty Pleasures in the comments and see what the world thinks.

Why should we listen to new (or old) music? Because it’s there.

Happy Collecting…

:) Amanda

Music Faceoff: Lea Michelle vs. Karmin

By , April 8, 2014

Battle of the March 2014 Releases
Lea Michelle’s Louder vs. Karmin’s Pulses

It’s a nail bitter folks. Who is going get your weekly freegal downloads? Will it be the latest release from the Glee diva? Or will the underdog hip-hopster steal the glory? What would P Diddy tell Barbra Streisand to do? Let’s go to the chart shall we?

Ok, so the chart, while fun, was absolutely no help. I guess you’ll just have to download them both from freegal and have your own sonic duel. If you’re feeling more introspective and schmoopy, Lea would be a better bet. I’ll save a Kleenex for you. If you just wanna dance, definitely rock the Karmin – my head’s bobbing with you right now.

Happy downloading…isn’t freegal awesome?

:) Amanda

Oh PS…you can listen to both albums by streaming them on freegal before downloading anything if my highly non scientific chart didn’t help you decide either.

Big Ears Festival Wrap-Up

By , April 4, 2014
This past weekend, fans of experimental music gathered for the third ever Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, myself included.  Rolling Stone has called it “the most ambitious and avant-gard festival to emerge in America in more than a decade.”   Its first year in 2009, offered a diverse line-up of rock, electronic, ambient, noise, and minimalist composers and performers.  After a more commercially driven follow-up, it took a long 3-year hiatus.  When asked why they kept festival fans waiting for so long, its founder Ashley Capps replied that they were waiting for this year’s lineup:
Headlining the festival was Steve “Kind-of-a-big-deal” Reich. While many of Reich’s pieces were performed throughout the 3-day festival, his presence provided more of a focal point.

Perhaps no other living composer has influenced the direction of both classical and popular forms of music.  Reich was one of first musicians to experiment with sampling, which he claims to have discovered by accident. For more on Reich’s use of sampling, check out his introduction to the book Sound unbound : Sampling Digital Music and Culture

Among the host of musicians influenced by Reich is the band Radiohead, specifically guitarist Jonny Greenwood who both performed at and attended the festival.  Greenwood began his music career studying viola at Oxford, but dropped out to become a rocker.  In recent years he has returned to the classical world, scoring films like There Will Be Blood and The Master.  While these scores hearken back to earlier composers, Reich’s influence on Greenwood, I find, is more evident on recent Radiohead releases (see: In Rainbows).  Greenwood paid homage to this influence at Big Ears with a performance of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint on electric guitar.

Reich returned the complement by arranging a suite of Radiohead music, titled Radio Rewrite, also performed at Big Ears by an ensemble of strings and pianos.  In his talk with festival-goers, the great composer seemed, at times, dismissive of the popular forms of music he has helped create.  My question, left unanswered, was what had led him to single out Radiohead for the distinct honor?  For me, Radiohead served as an introduction to more experimental music.  Did this homage validate the musical depths of the band, or was Reich just trying to appeal to folks like me?

Other Big Ears Performers found at your library:

Music of Steve Reich

Buke and Gase excellent, and accessible jangly pop

John Cale : a major songwriting force of Velvet Underground, etc.

Dawn of Midi : jazz instrumentation evoking electronic composition

Glenn Kotche : drummer from Wilco’s recording of Reich’s ”Clapping

Bryce Dessner : from the band The National

Tim Hecker

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

John Adams’ Shaker Loops

Book review: Five Flavors of Dumb

By , March 25, 2014

Five Flavors of Dumb
By Antony John

I used to work in the music industry. It’s a pretty tough business, and I must admit that I was not enough of a balla or shot calla to really hustle up fame and fortune. Silly me – I thought it was all about great music (feel free to insert appropriate scoffing in the comments).

But that was what I liked most about this book. Our main gal Piper, band manager extraordinaire, was able to push her band, Dumb, through the glass ceiling of dreaming about music to actually having a shot at something beyond bar gigs and college tours. This feat was even more impressive because Piper is moderately to severely deaf. She simply had the gift to seek out opportunities and then make them  happen. Sometimes with disastrous results, yes – but hey, in the music business no press is bad press, right? (example: Miley Cyrus).

I also think the author did a great job of building authentic and relatable characters. I wanted to be friends with the members of Dumb. Except maybe Josh, but every band needs some kind of ego maniac at some point in their careers. In addition, I must mention that it was fun to read a book written by someone in ma-ma-ma-my generation for the next generation (this is a young adult book after all). Oasis who? Nirvana what?

My delusions aside, the music industry is at its best when great music coincides with a strong vehicle for promotion – think Hendrix or Clapton. And it’s up to the pink-haired Pipers of the world to make sure this great music gets heard.

Happy reading…or listening to Wonderwall…or whatever…

:) Amanda

Book review: Wild tales : a rock & roll life by Graham Nash

By , March 20, 2014

Wild Tales: a rock & roll life
by Graham Nash
Those of you who came of age in the sixties and seventies will want to rearrange your calendars Friday to make sure you don’t miss the Nashville Public Library appearance of Graham Nash. The book signing is Friday, March 21st at noon.

Few individuals have had such an influence on the musical direction of a generation as Mr. Nash. Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice, first in 1997 with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and again in 2010 with the Hollies.

He is currently touring to share tales from his memoir, Wild tales : a rock & roll life. The Nashville Public Library collection is rich in materials penned and created by Graham Nash; music spanning five decades, a photography collection, concert performances, politics, work with Musicians United for Safe Energy, celebrating songwriters.  The list goes on and on and wonderfully on.

Graham Nash at the Nashville Public Library event details.

“You know, every year has been fantastic for me, I’m still here, I’m still alive and it’s been fantastic” Graham Nash

-laurie

Music review: GIRL

By , March 11, 2014

GIRL
By Pharrell Williams

Ok. It’s been out for a week. How many times have you listened to this album? Wait…what!?! You haven’t downloaded it from freegal yet? And you don’t even know if you want to? (I’m shaking my head in shock and amazement.)

Well, just in case there’s any doubt, let me present the five best reasons you need to download this album ASAP:

5) Your friends, neighbors, children, children’s friends, & random strangers off the street will think you are almost as cool as Pharrell if you have your car windows down (once the weather finally gets warm) and his tunes cranked up.

4) You can stream the whole album right now, just by logging into freegal. Plus it’s only 10 tracks long, so it will only take you two weeks to get the whole thing once you realize how much you have to have it.

3) Cameos by Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Miley, and Daft Punk.

2) Pharrell always brings the best grooves for practicing those embarrassing schnazy dance moves. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth…

And the number one reason for downloading what could potentially be the best album of the year:

1) It’s free. Hello? What are you waiting for?

If I haven’t sold you on the genius that is Pharrell, I’m sure we can find some Barry Manilow to download instead. *shrug*

Happy listening…

:) Amanda

 

10 Women that Rock on Hoopla

By , March 7, 2014
Since it’s women’s history month, I’m featuring 10 of my favorite female musicians on Hoopla, the library’s newest site for digital content.  I realize that women can rock in any number of ways, but it just so happens I’m talking about Rock n’ Roll. Top 10 lists are inherently subjective, and if you caught my post of 10 African American artists last month, then you know mine are no exception.  10 is the number of albums the library gives you on Hoopla per month. While I naturally recommend you download all of 10 of my picks, I encourage you to sign up and take a look : hoopladigital.com.

 

Pure Heroine (Extended) 10) Lorde: People come in to the library all the time trying to get their hands on this one.  I show them the CD hold list and watch their face drop. Then I tell them it’s available instantly on Hoopla, and now I tell you…
Album : Pure Heroine

 

 

St. Vincent 9) St. Vincent : Her new album dropped just 2 weeks ago and was available on Hoopla that day. Using her guitar more as a noise-maker, Annie Clark forms infectious pop from chaos. For now, check out her back catalog from the library’s CD collection.
Album : St. Vincent

 

Medulla 8) Bjork : Always on the cutting edge of pop and electronic music, she also proved capable of shedding the machines with 2004′s Medulla, one of her most brilliantly layered albums; done almost entirely with vocals.
Album : Medulla

 

 

This Island 7) Le Tigre : Everybody gives Seattle credit for grunge, but mostly leaves out the other half of the story, dubbed Riot Grrrl.  Kathleen Hanna was it’s leader (she coined the phrase “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).  Check out her recent bio pic, the Punk Singer, from the library.
Album : This Island

 

The Woods 6) Sleater-Kinney : Carrie Brownstein as a highly underestimated rock guitarist in my humble opinion. But you may know her better as half of the comedy duo in IFC’s hipster parody, Portlandia.
Album : The Woods

 

 

Living In Clip 5) Ani Difranco : Folky yet righteous.  What’s always impressed me is her guitar playing, with inventive open tunings and notes so fiercely plucked it becomes like a percussive instrument.  Her label, Righeous Babe Records consistently puts out new quality artists (See : Anais Mitchell)

 

A Tori Amos Collection: Tales Of A Librarian 4) Tori Amos : A piano player with chops and vision, who writes songs that feel like journeys into fairy tale realms. She’ll be at the Ryman this summer. The title of her recent retrospective is too good to pass up.

 

 

Shadows And Light 3) Joni Mitchell : One of the best songwriters of her generation, and often lost in the shadow of her male counterparts.  She managed to assemble one of the best jazz bands of the 70′s on her Shadows and Light tour.  This double disk finds legendary bassist Jaco Pastorious at his finest.

 

I Put A Spell On You 2) Nina Simone : If the record starts in her low register, you might assume she were a man, but her range is more than vocal in nature.  Runs the gambit from peppy jazz to some of the deepest, most mournful cries put to acetate.

 

 

Gospel Train 1) Sister Rosetta Tharpe : An unsung pioneer of the electric guitar. Download an album then watch her go to town on YouTube.
Album : Gospel Train

 

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Like a Librarian…

By , February 14, 2014

Do you know how I can contact Sherlock Holmes?

Because I need to solve the mystery of  how to win

your heart…

It’s Valentine’s Day…   But let’s keep that Valentine’s vibe going all year long – treat your special sweeties (and all your fellow human beings) with respect and love every day!   Ever wondered how librarians celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Check out the popular materials department staff picks for favorite romantic movies and songs.

 

Amanda’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Something’s Gotta Give
love songs:   I Choose You by Sara Bareilles (download
on freegal), You’ve Made Me So Very Happy by Blood  Sweat and Tears (freegal) 
 
 
 
 

Bryan’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Silver Linings Playbook
love song:  Dirty Old Town by The Pogues
 
 
 
 
 

Cheryl’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Jane Austen’s Persuasion
love song:  At Last as sung by Etta James,What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong 
 
 
 
 

Karen’s Picks:
romantic movie:  The Time Traveler’s Wife, Pride and Prejudice
love songs:  Love is the Drug by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
 
 
 
 
And finally, as for me, Crystal:
romantic movie:  Something New
love songs:  Unravel by Bjork, Bed of Nails by Wild Beasts

 
 
 
 

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