Recent comments

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2016)   1 week 4 days ago

    Za! I love that band. Shame almost nobody has heard of them. If you liked them enough to explore more of their stuff my favorite album my them is probably Megaflow--reminiscent of Battles at their best. Their music is nuts.

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   1 week 4 days ago

    Even more than the tradition and nostalgia The Band evocates what strikes me is the musicianship and the highly inventive and conspicuous song constructions of some of songs of this album. Songs like Jawbone (my favorite) and Up on Cripple Creek exemplify this kind very creative assembly of musical ideas as well as an impressive display of technical ability. When one of the guys on Pere Ubu (Allen Ravenstine?) said this was one of his favorite albums it made sense to me - there is some kind of aesthetical detachment here. Its traditional american sounds are not done in a obvious way at all, some songs are almost Randy Newman-esque in their handling and avoidance of cliches and calculated playfulness within the musical language they adopted.
    But, of course, despite everything I said there are also many genuinely moving moments like Whispering Pines and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. It's certainly a fantastic album.

  • Favorite Rock Albums (Eclectic)   1 week 4 days ago

    Cool, I'm looking forward to where every album on here ends up. Even in cases where I dont totally agree with you (it would be boring otherwise...) I can still see why you would choose album "X' over album "Y" and the results are always intriguing.

  • Favorite Rock Albums (Eclectic)   1 week 4 days ago

    Yes! Always a favorite since I first heard it, and now I've evaluated it in the context of this list. I'm hoping to rate everything that I can from the "Other Favorites" section, and maybe move some albums from the lower list up. That essentially means listening to those albums more.

  • Favorite Rock Albums (Eclectic)   1 week 4 days ago

    Faust! :-)

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   1 week 4 days ago

    You definitely should listen to it again. And I have heard all of Kanye West's albums, which I'm revisiting chronologically now. With Graduation done, I'm onto my favourite portion of the discography now (808s+Fantasy+Yeezus)

    The Band is kind of like The Kinks' Village Preservation Society in that it's fondly nostalgic and traditional but it's also remarkably fresh while being a throwback: evocative and immersive instead of cringeworthy.

    I haven't but I need to obviously. Lots of hip-hop to check out.

  • Things to do around Fredericksburg, VA   1 week 5 days ago

    Work in progress

  • Music Rankings & Notes   1 week 5 days ago

    Re: Nation of Millions ... You've got that right. ... Aquemini is awesome. I revisited it a couple weeks ago, but still want to give it another go or two before a decisive rating. Currently it seems like a 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 or 7.4 on my scale. Hard to beat the life-threatening vocal and freakish instrumental assault, and at times downright clownish/satirical "public demonstrations", of Nation of Millions, but if any artist has a shot for me, Outkast, in their own way, could be it.

  • Music Rankings & Notes   1 week 5 days ago

    Maybe the GOAT, maybe not, but it deserves all the high praise coming its way and there's still no other album like it.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2016)   1 week 6 days ago

    Thank you! Ive heard of her in connection to Anna Von Hausswolff but haven't listened to her yet.

    Re: Still having an effect ... Yes, her albums seem to be establishing themselves more clearly now that Im revisiting them again: Id probably been overrating Singing from the Grave somewhat. The Miraculous currently seems like a clear second place to her amazing Ceremony album, which I'd recommend delving into some more if you haven't already.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2016)   1 week 6 days ago

    I see Anna Von Hausswolff is still having an impact on you. I think you'd probably appreciate Chelsea Wolfe's brilliant album from last year, Abyss. It was definitely one of the highlights of the year, IMO.

  • Music Rankings & Notes   2 weeks 2 hours ago

    Hell yes. Nation of Millions. The GOAT of hip hop :-)

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   2 weeks 10 hours ago

    Thanks, I'm mixed on Yeezus though I should listen to it again. Late Registration is a great transition between College Dropout and MBDTF (if you haven't heard it yet).

    Yeah, The Band is one of the most evocative albums within relatively standard song structures. Really captures the emotions, community, blue collar, old time spirit of the Civil War period. It varies for me between around 7.5/7.6 and 7.8/7.9. 7.7 might be just right :)

    Have you checked out To Pimp a Butterfly yet. Possibly better than any Kanye West, though completely different (more raw emotional reality, more serious and honest, less bright and colorful, less influenced by R and B)

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    Not really. I've always liked them this much. College Dropout is among my top 3 Kanye West albums: MBTDF and Yeezus being the other two; they're just about equal I suppose. Meanwhile, The Band is always a fun album to listen to.

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   2 weeks 12 hours ago

    Were The Band and College Dropout better than you'd considered them before? (Dont know what your ratings were before for them)

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   2 weeks 12 hours ago

    Thank you :)

  • Listening+Viewing Log 2016 (Started: 11 July)   2 weeks 13 hours ago

    Great to see this log again :-)

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   2 weeks 1 day ago

    To Amirkhroso: I made some updates to "My Criteria" page which might clarify for you whatever the misunderstanding was. I polished up several parts but perhaps the most relevant section is as follows. The most changed paragraphs are the second one (where I defined depth) and the second to last one (which goes into a bit more detail than before):

    One will find that, fundamentally, all art is an attempt by the artist to express an emotional state(s) and/or evoke a concept(s), real or imagined. And, one would be hard pressed to find a serious artist that wouldn't wish to express these in a singular, extraordinary way.

    Combined, what do "Expressed Emotional Conviction/Evocative Conceptual Content" and "Ingenuity" equal? In a word: depth. By "depth" I basically mean: exhibiting thorough insight; expressing extensive experience or imagination. To create an extraordinary work of art of great depth, producing such by a singular creative intelligence (ingenuity) is essential for it to be the kind of experience that stands out and truly withstands the test of time, no matter what came before, no matter what comes after. Therefore, the greatest degree of depth would be an ultimate realization of these factors. In this wise, depth could be further defined here, in a more ideal state, as: exhibiting emotional or conceptual content with extraordinary conviction, extensive expressiveness, insight or imagination and with a singular creative intelligence so as to permanently distinguish itself.

    When I assimilate a work of art with a lot of expressed emotional conviction (and/or evocative conceptual content), but not too much ingenuity, I may give it an excellent rating but I am not likely to give it one of my highest ratings. The same goes with a work of art that has a lot of ingenuity but is a bit limited in expressed emotional conviction/evocative conceptual content.

    Each factor seems to be dependent upon one another to reach its highest states. For me, a work of art can only be so emotionally/conceptually significant without a certain degree of ingenuity involved. Similarly, a work of art can only have so much ingenuity before an extraordinary emotional investment and conviction starts becoming evident from the artist. How much awe and wonder and other strong emotional reactions do the most singular works of art across history still inspire?

    All the choices on my lists are a representation of is my opinion of #1 (Expressed Emotional Conviction/Evocative Conceptual Content) and #2 (Ingenuity) in greater and greater collaboration. The higher the rating/ranking, the greater the collaboration of these two factors. The greater the collaboration of these factors, the greater the depth.

    Some additional key indications to look for that a work possesses such depth will be: (a) it is extraordinarily immersive emotionally and/or conceptually; (b) it is extraordinarily transcendent (surpassing the usual genre tropes or limits) emotionally, conceptually and in its ingenuity.

    A reliable formula for my ratings and rankings is as follows:

    Accumulation of the degree and consistency of expressed emotional content and/or evocative conceptual content, plus ingenuity, within the time frame or space of the work of art.

    With "time frame" I am referring to arts such as film and music that play out and are assimilated within certain running times. With "space" I am referring to arts such as painting or other visual arts that are viewed and assimilated within certain spatial parameters such as a canvas.

    The differences in rating and ranking are determined by a precise attempt at measuring the emotional/conceptual content and ingenuity from the whole work while it is being assimilated. I carefully observe and evaluate its strength of expression in each of these areas. In working out a rating, I score based on the overall impression it made on me, comparing its degree of impact as a whole to other works I've rated. Its degree of impact will be commensurate to how extraordinary the work is (emotionally, conceptually, ingenuity), provided I've assimilated its content thoroughly. It will be evident in how much its emotional content has consumed my attention and interest, how much its conceptual content has consumed my attention and interest, how much its ingenuity has consumed my attention and interest. Its not just: are these factors present? But, how present, how expressive, how extraordinary, how amazing? How much am I consumed by, how much am I amazed by this work? There are ascending degrees of this. The greatest works have a transcendent power that can produce sustained states of awe and wonder that far surpass lesser rated works. So I pay very close attention to the degree of affect the work has had upon me, and that is, fundamentally, what the rating is based off of. Its qualitative peaks, its qualitative consistency and any qualitative lapses, are carefully considered into the overall rating. I pay close attention to these in real-time as I am progressing through the work, mentally tracking the rating's increase, decrease or standstill, until I have finished. The higher the rating, the more necessary it is to maintain higher peaks of quality, with fewer lapses, for a greater percentage of the whole work. Two consistent albums are not necessarily equal. For instance, if one of them is consistently extraordinary while the other is consistently good, the consistently extraordinary one will be the more impacting experience (this is where many reviewers mis-assess and have far less differentiation than I do, in my opinion). As an example, most of the albums I rate 7/10 or above have all good (or better) songs, and this is especially true as the ratings rise to 7.8/10+, 8.3/10+, and so on (there may still be some albums with some qualitative lapses on certain songs/tracks even in the very highest ratings, but these are made up for by extra high peaks in quality. See White Light/White Heat, for example). Therefore, it is very easy to rate most or all of the 7/10+ albums "5 stars" with no differentiation between them, even though, say, Beethoven's 9th Symphony is infinitely more extraordinary and powerful than, say, Arcade Fire's Funeral. Yet, both are "equally consistent" (every song/movement is at least "good" or better), so many reviewers will give them the same rating (I love Funeral as much as anyone, but it's clearly not on the same level [emotionally, conceptually, ingenuity] as an all time masterpiece if one is comparing to the highest standards). For visual arts, which are assimilated within a finite space, I evaluate similarly. The only difference being I am gradually observing and assimilating the content across a space instead of throughout a running time. In other words, I am evaluating the strength of its content per unit of space, instead of per unit of time.

    Experiences do tend to differentiate -- even if slightly -- from one to the next, so a resulting evaluation marks an attempt to determine as precisely as possible the highest rating that it consistently sustains. Therefore, I will tend to assimilate a work several times (particularly in the higher ratings) before I really settle in to a more "permanent" rating and ranking for it. Of course, even then, these are subject to change, but usually I can sooner or later come to terms with a very close estimation of its sustained value within my criteria and in relation to other works of art. After that, there are still variances with that work, from one experience to the next, but in most cases they are so minute that the rating usually doesn't change much, if at all.

  • Favorite albums of 2016 (so far)   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Kanye: I thought it was pretty weak and a bit rushed, although I did end up listening to it several times. I heard there was a new version with different mixing?? Honestly i can't be arsed to listen to it if Kanye can't just release the proper version to begin with.

    As for Radiohead, I thought it was good, but more similar to their recent output than anything they released in their Kid A-era. Not bad, but pretty over hyped IMO.

  • Favorite albums of 2016 (so far)   2 weeks 2 days ago

    What did you think of the new Kanye and Radiohead albums?

  • Greatest Pop, Hip-Hop and R & B/Soul Albums (Additionally includes critically acclaimed classic albums rated 7/10)   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Yeah, you hit it on the head. With Amnesiac one will notice that there is a more distinct separation of sounds/instruments to where each one is more distinctly allowed its role to emote/evoke more so than on Kid A, where the instruments are so processed that they sort of merge together into a somewhat muffled lack of definition/individual recognition. Again, this tactic isn't without interest in itself; I just think it inhibits the emotional strength of the album and was taken too far in this case. The most amazing example of an album successfully engineering many different instruments in odd ways and altered timbres into a unified "mass" and wholly unique universe of sound, without inhibiting or losing any of the instruments' tone, definition, or emotional impact, would be Rock Bottom.

    Re: Sound processing ...absolutely agree. Not inherently a bad way to go, but was a detriment in Kid A's case.

    Kid A is still a superb work though.

  • Greatest Pop, Hip-Hop and R & B/Soul Albums (Additionally includes critically acclaimed classic albums rated 7/10)   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I guess one way to phrase what you said was: The timbres resulting from the heavy use of the studio on Kid A don't SIGNIFY in and of themselves (and are just meant as/come across as an odd curio) and happen to either inhibit more expressive stuff underneath or HIDE a relative LACK of expression underneath....whereas the production on Amnesiac is more valuable because the claustrophobia it creates IS what is being expressed.

    I basically agree with this (it was more an issue of Amnesiac seeming dis-unified, but I changed my mind on that after another listen). I should say though that I don't think sound processing inherently limits evocation, it just does in this case (I'm sure you'd agree).

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I think you're right. "Born Under Punches" depicts the sweaty struggle for 3rd world survival amidst geopolitical meddling. "Cross Eyed And Painless" is a faux-celebration/dance to the post-modern condition (tenuous nature of "facts"). "Houses In Motion" is (almost) a faux-celebration of the angst in Born Under Punches, related more personally. "Listening Wind" depicts urban terrorism. "The Overload" seems to evoke a sci-fi dystopia. "Seen And Unseen" has mildly unsettling music, not quite representing the lyrics, but note that the lyrics concern identity crisis. It's really only "The Great Curve" and "Once In a Lifetime" that are optimistic, but in a bittersweet way: they seem to project a giddy willing participation in communal life despite reservations/confusion (TGC) and existential crisis (OIAL). On the whole, the album shows a clash of civilizations (even if the initial purpose behind combining tribal music and high-tech studio-isms was to contribute to Jon Hassell's "4th world" genre, where the "worlds" are instead harmonious).

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Really? IMO Remain In Light is incredibly dark.

  • Greatest Pop, Hip-Hop and R & B/Soul Albums (Additionally includes critically acclaimed classic albums rated 7/10)   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I generally think that, to maximize the "cumulative" effect, there should just be one overall concept to an album and that the diversity, if any, should come from varying the ways of expressing it. But sometimes when I hear Amnesiac it sounds like two altogether separate works, with similarities (which you nailed) being a stretch and/or coincidental.