Results tagged ‘ Music ’

Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Greetings, all. Wanted to wish you all a happy New Year and I hope it’s going well for all of you. We are, as of right now, 10 days from the Winter Warm-Up and a little more than five weeks from Spring Training. 

Activity here at the blog has admittedly been quiet recently, but that’s the nature of the offseason. There’s still plenty of stuff at Cardinals.com, but I do apologize for a relatively quiet winter of blogging. Some of that has appeared at the MLB.com Hot Stove blog, and some of the lighter stuff has moved over to Twitter
One thing, though, isn’t dead just yet: the top-10 in music. If you’re not interested, just stop reading now. Won’t hurt my feelings. Head over to Cardinals.com for today’s update on players in winter ball, or yesterday’s stories on the Hall of Fame and on the P-D report of Pujols negotiations.
Here, though, it’s the annual top-10. My wife and I have, in some past years, done this as a joint entry, but this year, you can simply follow this link to see her top-10. It was an amazing music year, though, so actually mine is a top-11. 
A note before I get started — I know this is a baseball blog, but as I’ve made clear over the years, I also always intended it to be a little more than that. So thank you for indulging me. And most of all, thanks for reading all of it — blog, stories, everything — and for taking the time to comment and keep me on my toes. 
This is an amazing job I have, and I wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for all of you. So thank you. On with the albums.
11. The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang — I didn’t really feel it with these guys on their previous album, but this one worked a lot better for me. Felt less like a tribute to past styles and more like their own album.
10. Palmdale, Get Wasted/How to be Mean — Two EPs from a band you may not have heard of. It’s the newest project from Kay Hanley, formerly of Letters to Cleo, and if you’re into catchy, loud, shiny guitar pop, you just need to get these records. 
9. Sleigh Bells, Treats — Hard to describe until you hear it. So loud as to be an assault, so catchy it gets stuck in your head for days. This was one of my two favorite first-listen experiences of the year. Just grabs you right away.
8. Drive-By Truckers, The Big To-Do — The Truckers are about my favorite band going these days, and I loved this record… and it’s still eighth. That’s how much good music there was this year. Great songs, played by terrific musicians. Typically superb Truckers.
7. The Hold Steady, Heaven is Whenever — I didn’t like this as much as The Big To-Do at first, but it grew on me more as the year went on. Especially after catching them live in Columbia in November. It’s not quite up to their previous two albums, but that’s an impossibly unfair standard.
6. Big Boy, Sir Lucious Left Foot — There was so. Much. Good. Hip-hop. This year. I’m not a huge hip-hop head, but holy cow there was some great stuff. This was the only album I loved more than Sleigh Bells on a very first listen. It just didn’t quite grow on me as the year went on.
5. Gorillaz, Plastic Beach — All over the place, in a wonderful way. Some catchy and bouncy, some melancholy. At times silly, at times beautiful. Always with great pop sensibility. Wonderful album, and for a good while it was my No. 1 of the year.
4. The National, High Violet — The latest entry to my list. I didn’t get this record until pretty late in the year. Then I couldn’t stop listening to it. As somebody who listened to the Cure and New Order in high school and college, this pushes those same buttons — without ever feeling retro.
3. The Roots, How I Got Over — Sort of the opposite of the Big Boi album. First listen, I liked it but didn’t love it. But I kept getting it back out, and getting it back out, and getting it back out, all year long. And by the end of the year I realized I loved it as much as nearly anything that came out this year.
2. Black Keys, Brothers — How I never listened to these guys before 2010, I couldn’t tell you. Fantastic songs from start to finish. Years ago they were compared to the White Stripes, and if you squint you can still KIND of see it, but to my ear, they’re unique. A different sound, but at the same time very familiar.
1. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — For much of the second half of the year, when people would ask my favorite albums of the year, I’d tick off some of the previous, but always say, “But I’m holding out a spot for Kanye’s album.” And, yeah. Wow.
I had been leaning, strongly, toward making this record my No. 1 since about mid-December. It was cemented, however, a couple of days ago. “How I Got Over,” a fantastic album, played on my iPod. After the last track ended, “My Beautiful…” started. And it froze me, from the first note. Even in comparison to what was my favorite record for part of the year, it just grabbed me. “How I Got Over” is a great album. So is “Brothers.” So is “Plastic Beach.” But “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” that’s a transcendent record. It’s an album by which I’ll remember the year. It’s just dazzling. 
This year’s honorable mentions would have been top-10 in lots of years: 
Editors, “In This Light And On This Evening”
Neon Trees, “Habits”
Arcade Fire, “The Suburbs”
Against Me, “White Crosses”
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, “Dark Night of the Soul”
Broken Bells, “Broken Bells”
Anyway. Thanks for reading. The blog will return to its regular active self at the Winter Warm-Up.
-M.

Alive and kicking

Your faithful correspondent has been shamed into getting back on the blogging train after a week of laziness. I’m actually off this weekend, so I prolly won’t be blogging again until Monday from Milwaukee, but I didn’t want to have a total oh-fer.

Thoughts/notes/etc from today…

* I was surprised, a bit, that Ludwick wasn’t in the lineup today over Chris Duncan. So of course Duncan homers and doubles against Matt Cain. Shows you what I know.

* TLR said some things today about how it’s not guaranteed that Brendan Ryan won’t be optioned once he’s healthy, but honestly… there’s pretty much no way he’s not on the roster once his rehab finishes.

* When Russ Springer is activated on Monday, my guess is that Thompson will be optioned, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

* From the Minors… Pete Kozma hit his first home run tonight, but he also started at 3B. Not sure what to make of that; I’ll try to find out what’s up. Hugo Castellanos started for Memphis tonight, evidently because Joe Rogers is on the DL.

* Highly, highly, highly recommend the new Stones live album. It’s the best live thing they’ve put out since I don’t know what — maybe Still Life, way back in 82. It sounds like the band I heard do some truly killer shows in 1998-99 and 2002, not the band I heard that sounded tired and bored in 2006. If you like the Stones, pick it up. I’m dying to see the movie.

-M.

Oh happy day!

The band that produced my favorite album of the last at least 2-3 years has a new one out. Huzzah, Drive-By Truckers!

Thoughts on it will appear in this space in the coming days.

Oh, and some baseball talk too.

-M.

Requisition me a beat!

So, the Mrs. and I are teaming up this year for our Year in Music. We saw some things the same way, some differently, and some things, one of us convinced the other of. All comments after my ratings are mine, and comments after E’s ratings are written by her.

M.’s No. 1 of the year: White Stripes, Icky Thump. Is it perfect? No. But it’s loud, and has Jack White’s killer tone, and a bunch of fantastic songs, and months after it came out, it sounds just as good to me as ever.

E.’s No. 1: Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Equal partscatchy, quirky, rocking, and earnest. This was the most accessible of
Modest Mouse’s albums — and I mean that in the best way possible.


M2: Against Me!, New Wave. Somebody here at OYNAG recommended these guys way back, and I went out and bought the record. FANtastic. Big, loud songs. Punk? Not really, but who cares? Really a killer record that I listened to again and again and again.

E2: same as M2. This album made the band a sellout, but I loved every minute of it. It was intense and well written.

M3: Kanye West, Graduation. His songs get better and better. Musically a terrific record, and he’s managed to stay compelling lyrically.

E3: same as M3. A little bit over-produced for my taste, but even that couldn’t diminish the awesomeness of West’s rhymes.

M4: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver. Wow, wow, wow. Another band I was exposed to for the first time this year. Everything from funny/fun/danceable to heartbreaking and beautiful. "All My Friends" and "Someone Great" are probably two of my five favorite songs of the year.

E4: Tegan and Sara, The Con. The songs on this album are hypnotic and intensely personal. It held my attention from start to finish.

M5: Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace. Only listened a few times, because I didn’t get it till the end of the year. But I love it, from the loud stuff to the quiet stuff.

E5: Erin McKeown, Lafayette. Though it’s a live album, Lafyette showcases both McKeown’s original
songs and her interesting take on some old standards. McKeown’s voice
soars on each and every track.

M6: Modest Mouse, We Were Dead… I didn’t love it quite as much as E, but I did finally come to GET it after a bunch of listenings. Two months ago, it wouldn’t have cracked my top-10.

E6: Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist. Lush and rich-sounding, this album is heavy and murky sometimes. Lyrical complexity keeps this album from feeling stale.

M7: Cinematics, A Strange Education. Not really anything new, but it sounded great.

E7: White Stripes, Icky Thump. Meg and Jack prove they can make music that is fresh and that crosses genres.

M8: Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero. It wasn’t as earth-shattering or mind-bending or whatever as I think Trent wanted it to be. But I dug it anyway.

E8: Blaqk Audio, CexCells. The kids from AFI prove that they’re the heirs to Depeche Mode’s fortune.

M9: Jay-Z, American Gangster. Jay still isn’t back to his lyrical form from The Black Album, but musically this was a killer disc. And Jay at 80 percent is still as good as pretty much any other MC on the planet.

M10: Kings of Leon, Because of the Times. Just love the sound these guys create.

Stuff E liked but don’t know well enough to include on the list:
The Bravery–The Sun and the Moon

The Cinematics–A Strange Education
LCD Soundsystem–Sound of Silver
Mandy Moore–Wild Hope
Kaiser Chiefs–Yours Truly, Angry Mob

M’s honorable mentions:
Blaqk Audio, CexCells
Dinosaur Jr., Beyond
Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Cold War Kids, Robbers and Cowards
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
Buffalo Tom, Three Easy Pieces
Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist
Maps, We Can Create

Stuff E hasn’t listened to enough to make an informed decision about:

Kings of Leon–Because of the Times
NIN–Year Zero
Wilco–Sky Blue Sky
Foo Fighters–Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace
Spoon–Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Jay-Z–American Gangster

-M, currently going WAY back with the all-time favorite album of a particular Post-Dispatch staffer — the Black Crowes Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.

New Music Tuesday

Tuesday is new music day on iTunes and in the music stores, so why not at OYNAG also?

Grabbed a couple things today — R.E.M. Live and The Very Best of Mick Jagger. Not a lot of surprises on the Jagger, obviously, but it’s a reminder of how good SOME of his solo stuff is. Some unusual treats, too.

As for the R.E.M., well, no secrets with them, but it’s still fantastic. If you’ve seen them live, you know they bring it every night (I know some people here aren’t crazy about latter-years R.E.M., but I never caught ‘em before 95, sadly). But the real treat, by far, is Mike Mills on lead vocals on "(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville." Really, really, really cool. Would love to hear them do it that way live someday.

The Radiohead disc hasn’t really grabbed me, but sometimes these things take time. Anybody really fallen in love with it yet? … Mrs. Dude is crazy about Tegan and Sara’s new one, and I dig it too — though it sounds eerily like Missing Persons or some such ’80s act. … Finally picked
up the new Spoon, and, well, everybody’s right. They’re great. (Hi, Derrick!) … Digging Kanye’s new one but not obsessed with it.

Y’all? What’s spinning on your CD players or iPods?

-M.

I mean, hasn't that ever occurred to you?

OK, so you’re the Milwaukee Brewers. You have a very nice ballclub, lotta power on offense, some good starting pitching, but bullpen problems all year. Sixteen times blowing a lead of at least three runs. Some might say your bullpen has poured gas on the fire all year long. Right? Right.

OK.

So reliever Seth McClung enters the game in the 8th inning tonight. And what’s his entrance music? The Prodigy, "Firestarter."

Yes. "I’m a firestarter! Twisted firestarter!"

Then the next pitcher, Derrick Turnbow enters the game. And what’s his entrance music? Metallica, "Fuel."

"Give me fuel! Give me fire!"

Look. Good songs. But in the words of Alanis Morrissette, "Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? A little toooo ironic?"

-M.

Attaboy, Caleb

Pittsburgh is normally my town for odd amusements, but Milwaukee has delivered some fun over these couple of days.

This morning, around 11 or so, I heard what sounded like somebody practicing guitar in the next room over at the hotel. It wasn’t too loud or anything, so it wasn’t a big deal. Then, a few minutes later, I realized that it was actually a band warming up — and they ended up playing apparently right outside my window. Fortunately, they were excellent. So if you’re in Milwaukee and you get the chance to go hear Reilly, I’d definitely recommend you do so. Raucous Irish rock. The kind of thing you want to hear as you’re downing half-and-half pints in an Irish pub.

But really, the highlight of the day came just a few moments ago, on the big video board in center field at Miller Park. The following text message was displayed:

"CONGRATS ON ADOPTING A PIG CALEB"

Congratulations indeed. Be good to that pig. Can he swing from a web? No, he can’t. He’s a pig.

-M.

Nothing At All To Do With Baseball

Warning — those of you who don’t care what I have to say about subjects other than baseball, go ahead and skip this post. You won’t be interested. Which is fine; different people have different tastes. Anyway…

This irritates me.

(It’s the New York Times, so it requires subscription, but if you don’t feel like giving them all your data, there are ways to get around free "required" subscriptions. Not that I endorse such things.)

I have a lengthy rant on the music industry which I’ll save for another day, because ultimately it’s tangential even to this issue, which is not even tangential to baseball or the Cardinals. But seriously — the thought process here is staggering. "Customers are happy because of this business model. Let’s kill it!"

I only sort of have a dog in this fight. I’ve had an iPod for about 6-7 weeks now (thanks, Erin!!!) and I can scarcely imagine doing without it. But I don’t even have iTunes on my work computer, so it’s not like I spend a lot of time browsing the service. It’s just the whole idea.

For the first time in goodness knows how long, something has happened in the music industry that is bringing people in. People are happy, they get this setup. It’s good.

So, of course, two of the four major corporations want to make it more complicated and, ultimately, more expensive. I understand the desire to make more money. After all, these are businesses we’re dealing with. But this just seems to be further indication of the music industry’s disconnect with its consumers. You know, the people who spend that money that they bring in.

Apple’s not a saint here. There are some valid questions about their motivations and their approach within the article. But Apple is smart enough to understand that when you’ve got a raging success like this, you might want to wait a little while before you gut it.

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