Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book of the Future

My thoughts exactly.

If you can't read it clearly on your computer screen (oh, the irony), click on the image or head here for a larger version.

(Credit is due to Sherri Israels of Watermark Books of Salt Spring Island, BC, for bringing this to my attention. She's old school, too.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All I Can

It's been a long, long time since a collection of songs has moved me as deeply as Sharon Van Etten's extraordinary new offering, Tramp (Jagjaguwar). There will hopefully be plenty more very good albums released in 2012, but they will have to steam some to compete with this, a strong early contender for my album of the year. Such is its raw honesty and emotional clout that I can barely get through Tramp without tears forming at one point or another. I really enjoyed Van Etten's previous releases but, man, this one really is on another planet.

My favourite song on Tramp is its centrepiece, All I Can. It just destroys me every time. A slow-burning, heartbreaking epic, it puts me in mind of Roy Orbison classics like It's Over and In Dreams. Yeah, that good. Follow the link to see what I mean. Turn it up loud. The gorgeous acoustic rendition of All I Can in the video above sees Van Etten accompanied only by Heather Woods-Broderick (Horse Feathers, Efterklang, Laura Gibson) for the French music video blog site, Soul Kitchen. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You Can Play

I have to say I am very impressed with this initiative. I like its directness and unsentimental, unpatronizing, no-nonsense approach. It is really good to see it coming from a sport I love, but one generally perceived as about as macho and tough as it gets. It is a travesty in this day and age that such a campaign or organization is needed at all, but where there are humans, there are prejudices, and that's the way it will always be. Anyway, I hope You Can Play is a success on every level it is aiming for, but it cannot be so without our support. Straight or gay, male or female, human or alien, please visit the You Can Play website to educate yourself and add your weight to the good work going on here. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Missed My Vocation

Who is this guy, do you know?

On Monday I happened upon an article on the BBC website listing pop music's top earners of 2011. There were a couple of surprises in the Top 10 - like the violent hip-hop midget Lil Wayne, and Sade, who I thought had retired a la Dietrich years ago - plus a few entirely predictable names, like U2, Adele and Lady AaghAagh. But imagine my bewilderment when I saw a name at # 9 that meant absolutely nothing to me. As in not a thing. I had never, ever encountered the name JASON ALDEAN before. (It appears the BBC hadn't either, misspelling his name as ADLEAN; I only discovered the correct spelling when looking up who the hell he is, to be asked by Google: Do you mean Jason Aldean? My answer: I've no idea, do I?)

So, it appears that this bloke is a "country singer." (I guess the hat was a clue.) I put that job description in inverted commas having now experienced the great misfortune of hearing his "music." (Ditto.) It's just horrible, from that Keith Urban/Kenny Chesney (# 3 earner) school of squeaky New Country ghastliness, a billion miles from the raw, heartbreaking genius of such as George Jones, Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash et al. You know what I mean. (It's pertinent to note here, incidentally, that the top pop earner of 2011 is Taylor Swift. A lovely girl with a heart of gold, by all accounts, but Jesus Christ almighty what is that revolting racket that comes out of her cakehole?)

Nonetheless, I do find it incredible that despite the fact that the 35-year old Aldean has released four evidently mega-unit shifting albums in the last seven years - much of which I have spent, like the rest of my working life, toiling in music stores - that I have never encountered this simpering git's name before. I'm not sure how this has happened as, regardless of taste, even in passing at work you would imagine a star of such evident magnitude could not escape my radar... but happen it has. I guess this is further evidence of my increasing detachment from "modern culture" and "popular taste," but if this is a sample of what's on offer, as one of the last year's top pop earners on earth, then I couldn't be happier about that situation.

Aldean scooped US $13.4 million in 2011. That's akin to what I could net if I worked 24 hours a day, non-stop, with no vacation or days off, for the next 728 years. (Actually, a quick recalculation reveals it to be 734 years, not 728. Apologies for the error.) A quick poke about online in support of this post revealed that the range of ticket prices for a forthcoming Aldean gig in Houston ran from $15 to $305. That in itself is bizarre, but it's easy to see how the bucks would pile up when considering the Houston venue in question holds about 12,000,000 good ol' boys 'n' gals. I'm guessing the cheap seats are located in the parking lot (of another venue in a neighbouring county), while the top-whack ones are actually on the stage. Oh, whatever; I don't really care.

This has been a Captain Curmudgeon presentation.