Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Music (Page 1 of 9)

To The Moderately Well-Known Man

Vangelis passed away earlier this week.

He was in his late 70s and the heyday of his widespread musical relevance is long past, so you’d be forgiven for asking, “Who?” If you did already know of him, it might probably be as “The Chariots Of Fire song guy” or maybe as “the Blade Runner soundtrack guy.” PBS viewers of a certain age might think of him as “the Cosmos theme song guy.” (Someone might possibly file him in their mental databank as “that wine commercial song guy” but I figure by the time someone knows that “Hymne” was used for a series of Gallo Wines commercials in the mid-1980s, that someone is probably moderately aware of Vangelis in general anyway.)

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Music In A Minute: Get To Know Me

I’ve done little mixes before, some of which may even still be playable in the old blog archives. (I resist calling this thing a “blog” but let’s be honest here for a moment.) My music tastes are well known if you know me at all: Old pop, older prog rock, random J-pop, some heavy metal and EDM and so on.

My library grows nonetheless, and in some odd directions on occasion. I’m glad that even at the half-century mark I’m still getting into new stuff. To give you a clearer picture, perhaps, here’s a brief sampling of what I’m listening to nowadays:

I should run these down so you can explore further if you’re so inclined…

  • Public Service Broadcasting, “People, Come Dance” (from Bright Magic, 2021)
  • Battle Tapes, “Valkyrie” (from Polygon, 2015)
  • toconoma, “N°9” (from Newtown, 2017)
  • Midnight Oil, “Gadigal Land” (from The Makarrata Project, 2020)
  • The HU, “Sugaan Essena” (from the soundtrack to the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, 2020)
  • Sparks, “Music That You Can Dance To” (title track of album, 1986)
  • Assemblage 23, “Welcome, Apocalypse (Alpha Quadrant remix)” (from Mourn, 2020)
  • Pet Shop Boys, “What are we gonna do about the rich?” (from Agenda EP, 2019)
  • Garbage, “No Horses” (bonus track from No Gods No Masters special edition, 2021)
  • KONGOS, “Keep Your Head” (from 1929, Pt. 1, 2019)

Of course, here I am the morning after assembling this mix and realizing I didn’t get any of the Sawano Hiroyuki “[nZk]” stuff in here, and that’s a grave oversight. There’s a stunning lack of Mono Inc and VNV Nation as well.

Decisions had to be made, couldn’t fit in everything, etc. Maybe next time.

In That Quiet Ordinary World

Let’s be clear: The following is of extremely limited amusement value. Laser-targeted, you might say, to a small handful of individuals on the planet.

And yet here we are.

With apologies to current and past members and fans of both Genesis and Duran Duran.

Thank you for your time and please enjoy the rest of your day.

A Year Or So In Music – 2020/2021 Capsule Reviews

It’s been a while since I last posted a full proper album review, not since the last Pet Shop Boys and Mono Inc records landed in my library… and it may be a while longer yet, because what you’re going to get here is a mess of bullet points with brief summaries. Sorry about that. I’ve been buying music all along, mind you. The dearth of writing about those purchases stems from the same malaise that prevents me from writing about much of anything else.

So, since I just picked up the new Jethro Tull record, let’s try to catch up a bit with the last year or so of new material in my library. (I’m going to leave out some singles and compilations and what-not for various reasons.)

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Gagarin!

Nothing pithy today, I just wanted to share this ridiculous, fun little video from a band I adore. Public Service Broadcasting, “Gagarin”

Have a great weekend, y’all.

Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot

And someone said, “It’s fabulous you’re still around today / you’ve both made such a little go a very long way” — “Yesterday, When I Was Mad”, Pet Shop Boys, Very

With Hotspot hitting stores earlier this year, the Pet Shop Boys have now released fourteen entire full studio records, on top of the never-mind-how-many compilations, EPs, remix albums, singles and so on that comprise their full discography. (Discography is in fact the name of one of their compilation releases. Because of course it is.) This record is billed as completing a trilogy of albums, with 2013’s Electric and 2016’s Super preceding it. So, how does this one fare?

PSB songs tend to fall into one or more standard categories: Dance tracks, sappy downtempo pieces, biting satire, and weird experiments. All of the biting satire was siphoned off for last year’s delightful Agenda EP which is worth the price of admission for “On social media” alone, with an honorary mention for “What are we going to do about the rich?”. What remains for this album are several solid dance numbers, one weird experimental bit (“Wedding In Berlin”) at the tail end, and a mixed bag of downtempo pieces. The boys are in solid form here, make no mistake. It’s just that their sappier numbers tend not to work for me, so what I’m really getting out of this are the dance songs.

Which isn’t a bad thing, because the three best ones here are “Will-o-the-wisp” right at the start, “Dreamland” (with guest vocals) a few tracks on, and “Monkey business” just past the halfway mark. I can’t decide which of the three I like best, and believe me I’ve listened to them frequently enough this past week-or-so that I should’ve been able to by now. They’re all really, really good, let’s just leave it at that.

Is Hotspot worth your money? That depends on if you like other Pet Shop Boys music and want more of it. There’s no mistaking this for anything but a PSB record, with just enough new twists and variations to assure the listener that Tennant and Lowe haven’t entirely submitted to the ravages of time. As a fan since almost the beginning, I give it a solid stamp of approval.

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