Bah! Humbug? Grab Some New Music, Books, and Films!

Seems like the major labels will continue to mine the nostalgia angle with the hope that they can squeeze a few more ducats from aging music fans everywhere. Fine by me, if the music merits the "super-deluxe-never-before-heard-or-seen" treatment. And since I've been sucked into that black hole with the Dead, Stones, Rush, Hendrix, Jesus & Mary Chain, et al., I've missed some amazing music and culture this past year. No excuses now as I cram a full year's worth of culture down my gullet before Christmas. You can check out more of my favorite culture from 2011 in these Spring, Summer, and Fall articles.

Mia Doi Todd: Cosmic Ocean Ship (City Zen) - I was struck by her otherworldly vocals after copping her major label debut in 2002. Her ninth effort picks up where her critically acclaimed 2008 self-released effort Gea left off. And it's quite apparent that her time on the road opening for Jose Gonzalez informed the vibe on these worldbeat-infused folk-rock tunes. Perhaps we can expect a full-on collaboration sometime soon?

New Autumn Classics

All the leaves are nearly brown, skies sometimes gray, there's a slight chill in the air, and my ears and eyes have been quite busy. A touch of melancholia and a satchel full of dreams yet to be realized. Winter is just around the corner. A hint of summer still lingers in the late afternoon sun. Walks in the park with the dog, shared playlists on Spotify providing the soundtrack. I remain an ever faithful servant to smart culture's demands.

"Cicadas and Gulls" Feist Metals (Cherrytree) - Canadian singer/songwriter Leslie Feist displays her chops in full maturity on her third CD. So much to enjoy, yet I'm continually drawn to this evocative, simple double-tracked voice and acoustic guitar folk song. I suspect it fully captures my current mood.

Rock Star!

One of the coolest things about Macworlds past was always Steve Jobs' Apple keynote address at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. In 2007, I had the grand fortune of running the podcasting symposium for Macworld. That opportunity afforded me a "golden" ticket to witness Mr. Jobs in person was certainly something I will always cherish.

Being in the hall was exciting as any rock concert I've ever attended, and that includes seeing Led Zeppelin in '74 and The Clash in '79. Jobs was magnetic and dynamic in such a low key cool geek dude kinda way. The crowd was drinking the Koolaid by the buckets. (They had in the past, they would in the future.) After wowing us with the iPhone, a device that changed the mobile handheld device for eternity, he rolled out John Mayer to play! Kudos to the marketing crew at Apple for targeting the geeks that would wave Apple's products and aps flags long and wide. Hell, I was a brand barker proud and true before. After that monumental keynote? Forever.

"Old Friend" - Caveman - Free MP3

A fab new track from Brooklyn's own Caveman; a pastoral folk-rock blend melding the best elements of Band of Horses meets R.E.M.'s rock-pop majesty. Their 10-track CD and vinyl debut drops on Novemeber 15th, and digitally on September 13th. With opening slots for White Rabbits, Ed Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The War on Drugs, et al., it won't be long until they start headlining shows in a town near you.

In the interim, download "Old Friend" by clicking on this link.

Catchin' Late Summer Culture, Chicago & Akron Style

Back from my two-week culture tour of the Midwest and I'm bursting with things to share. My impressions of Chicago have changed dramatically. Perhaps it's my age, or my desire to live in a city where the staggering architecture is cleanly and lovingly displayed, devoid of tacky neon, obtrusive signage, and ugly facades that would block their unencumbered vantage, thus allowing them to be witnessed in all of their man-made glory. But beyond the clean sidewalks and way friendly pedestrians and workers is a modern city that beckons to culture-savvy travelers far and wide.

Hey, Kids Rock 'n' Roll...

I'd not been to the I.M. Pei-designed seven-story pyramid that houses the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for at least six years. With my family traveling to Akron for a long summer visit, it was inevitable that I'd make the short journery north to take in the history of rock. Well, the caveat being, not the entire history of rock as it continues to be wriiten, but the inductees into this American-based Hall of Fame since the first class of 1986. Hard to believe the museum itself opened on September 2nd, 1995. (The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was born on April 20, 1983.). It's easy to spend a full day in the museum taking in the exhibits, artifacts, and movies. 

Waiting for Salvation

Rango(Paramount Pictures DVD)

The hyper-realism of animation has afforded moviegoers such a rich tapestry of narrative possibilities that we should not be surprised that we are moved by sentimental toys, slick talking foxes, or existential lizards.

Don Quixote, Chinatown, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and Clint Eastwood's High Plain Drifter all factor into Johnny Depp's character in the animated modern-day Western Rango. A world worth absorbing on the big silver screen and/or DVD.

Kissed By the Sun: Favorite Summer Singles 2011

Ah,  sing the summer electric. Let it lift your spirits. Music spills out of speakers large and small; in cars, at cook-outs, on headphones. Getting my annual summer playlist together always puts a smile on my face. Here are some mostly sunny selections for you to imbibe.

"Headlong into ihe Abyss" We Are Augustines Rise Ye Sunken Ships (Oxcart)

Majestic driving rock anthem from a Brooklyn trio featuring two ex-members of Pela has all the ingredients of your favorite summer stadium fare. Think a more muscular Modest Mouse; big guitars, thunderous drums, and impassioned vocals.

Blackness at the Edge of Night

Daniel Lanois's Black Dub
Webster Hall, NYC

Brian Blade is God! (Nod to Mr. Clapton's graffitti homage.) If there is a better drummer on the planet playing with a better touring band, I want to know about it right now. Last night at Webster Hall, Black Dub killed it. They wiped the floor of any and all bands playing any borough of New York City on this particular evening. And believe me, there was plenty of competition. But as we all know, competition for an audience's attention tends to bring out the best in musicians. And Lanois's insanely tight quartet was more than up to that task and at the peak of its collective prowess.