Monday, August 14, 2017

'Twas the Night Before Harbsmas

A good friend of mine in New Jersey (he's also the president of their local University of Michigan alumni club) has been writing up a parody of The Night Before Christmas for each of Harbaugh's seasons at U of M.  Here is this year's version - I can't wait for the season!  Go Blue!

'Twas the Night Before Harbsmas
Nick Kahn

‘Twas the night before Harbsmas and all through the Big House
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The trucks they were packing for Texas with glee
As they readied for the start of Harbaugh’s year three.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two Old Two New - #4

Two Old

Twenty One Pilots - Vessels, and Self-Titled.  This band finally hit it big with their 2015 album "Blurryface", but they've been rocking since the early 2000s.  "Vessels" pushed them into the limelight in 2013, it has most of their modern feel; go back a bit further to their self-titled first album in 2009, and you'll get a feel for their roots.  Going album to album, you can feel them discovering and polishing their style.  Try this for a progression: "Fall Away", "A Car, A Torch, A Death", "Isle of Flightless Birds", "Migraine", "Car Radio", and "The Run and Go".

John Mayer - Continuum.  Yeah, I put John Mayer on this list, deal with it.  For all his poppy foolishness back in the day, he's an incredible musician, and Continuum is a work of art.  His two newest mini-Albums (The Search for Everything - Wave One and The Search For Everything - Wave Two) still don't rattle me like Continuum does, though there are a few tracks that have underlying strength, notably "Helpless".  For Continuum, check out "Belief", "Gravity", "Bold as Love", and "I'm Gonna Find Another You".

Two New

Jon Bellion - The Human Condition.  The movie John Wick carefully plays with action movie cliches, never quite overdoing it, but running right along that line to create maximum enjoyment.  Jon Bellion does the same thing for Hip Hop Alt Rock (or however you want to classify his style).  Easily my most played album of late 2016 / early 2017.

Portugal. The Man. - "Feel It Still".   A new track off their recent album Woodstock, "Feel It Still" drives forward with an itchy, consistent energy, but you feel like they're holding back a little the entire time, toying with you - I love it!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Two Old Two New - #3

Two Old

Freelance Whales - Weathervanes.  This was the first studio album by Freelance Whales, back in 2009, and I doubt I've listened to any other album straight-through more times than this one.  The calmly energetic feel and cutely poetic lyrics are woven together into a modern romantic's giddy lullaby - I giggle every time I hear lines such as "Shut me up with your long tube socks; they don't scream 'hey let's just be friends'" and "Please don't put your face into your hands, we could be friends".  If you don't want the full journey, check out "Hannah", "Starring", and "We Could Be Friends".

Destroyer - "Bay of Pigs".  Shout-out to Josh G. for introducing me to this in Chicago back in 2009; when he got the vinyl for it, he was adamant that the first listen be done laying on the apartment floor with eyes closed.  It was a beautiful way to experience this wandering, thoughtful 13+ minute song.  I've also used it on repeat when I need to focus or block out noise.

Two New

Coleman Hell.  A new obsession!  Thanks to Google Play for the recommendation. Coleman Hell seems to combine my love for energetic indie pop and vocally-driven dance music; iTunes describes him as a "genre-mingling dance popster", which feels appropriate.  "2 Heads" brought him to fame, but also check out "After Hours" and "Devotion".

Lo-Fang - "You're the One That I Want". A haunting rendition of the song written for the film version of Grease in 1978 - this version couldn't be further from the original! I heard it on the HBO series The Leftovers (highly recommended), and its tone fits that show perfectly. "#88" and "Boris" are two other solid tracks from his debut album Blue Film.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Favorite Reads of 2016

I pushed myself to make more time for reading this year and succeeded, reading almost 20 books (and I have 3 weeks left!).  Here is a list of my favorites from 2016, just in time for holiday shopping.

[side note: while adding links to each book, I realized that not a single one is over $20, and most are closer to $10!]

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Two Old Two New (2O2N) #2

Two Old

Paul Simon - Graceland. Summer travel has given me time to revisit a lot of classic albums, and there aren't many better suited for Summer driving than Graceland. Pure fun.

Jeff Buckley - "Hallelujah". There's no way you've missed this song (originally a Leonard Cohen song), and you've likely heard Jeff Buckley's rendition, generally considered the best version. It's back on my mind after listening to a podcast in Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History series, titled simply "Hallelujah".

Two New

B├śRNS - Dopamine. This has been one of my favorite albums of 2016. From top to bottom, track to track, the songs are confident, emotional, and generally uplifting. And, Garrett Borns hails from my home state of Michigan! You'll probably recognize "Electric Love" and "10,000 Emerald Pools", but I also love "American Money" and the haunting intro to "Past Lives".

Grace - You Don't Own Me (feat. G-Eazy). I've got mixed feelings on old songs being revamped into hip-hop songs, but this one does a decent job.  G-Eazy's raps are clean, easy, and don't overwhelm the song's natural feel, while Grace has the sultry voice needed to do the song justice.

Friday, September 9, 2016

12 Influential Albums

There's a post going around Facebook encouraging people to post "12 albums that left a lasting impression on you". I started jotting down a list, and then quickly became obsessed with the exercise. I've now spent the last week digging back through albums, burnt CDs, and playlists, and my normally quiet mornings prepping veggies at my restaurant have turned into nostalgic album explorations. I'm not sure "left a lasting impression" is a good enough description for this list, but I'm struggling for a better one. Some of these albums were formative for me; some occupy my "all-time best" list; and some spent time with me during important periods of my life.

Queen - Greatest Hits (1981)
311 - Transistor (1997)
Beach Boys - 20 Good Vibrations, The Greatest Hits (1999)
Incubus - Make Yourself (1999)
Dr. Dre - Chronic 2001 (1999)
Stroke 9 - Nasty Little Thoughts (1999)
Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane (2002)
Muse - Absolution (2003)
Tally Hall - Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum (2005)
My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (2006)
Twenty One Pilots - Vessel (2013)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Old Two New (2O2N) - #1

I listen to a lot of music and I've got a great group of friends that are always sharing and recommending new tunes. Especially with my recent travels, I've had time to explore new stuff, and rekindle old loves. I thought it might be fun to post a couple new finds and a couple rediscoveries every so often. Notes: some of the "new" finds may be older bands or songs; and some of the selections will be albums, while others will be simply a track or two.  Enjoy!

Two Old
  • Moby - Play. One of the tracks off this album was playing outside near a ski lift in Big Sky, and I had instant flashbacks to High School.
  • Ratatat. After discovering Gramatik (see below), which is generally instrumental and highly beat driven, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to Ratatat. I don't dig their new stuff as much, but their self-titled from 2004 and Classics from 2006 are incredible. "Seventeen Years", "Lex", and "Loud Pipes" are essential tracks.

Two New
  • Gramatik - Just Jammin', Hit That Jive, and Tearin' It Up. I heard the first one at a restaurant in Montana and had to know what it was! I tried a few of his other albums, but the one that contains these three tracks (SB2) struck a chord with me.
  • Incubus - Trust Fall (Side A). A friend posted about an upcoming Incubus album this year, which made me realize I had completely missed this 4-song album in 2015! It's not their best or their worst, but a fun side dish to tide us over until the main course this year.