Song Spotlight: Shelter Me – Bob Mould

 

I never listened to Husker Du. They didn’t even play them on the radio where I grew up. Hell, I didn’t even know there was a band named Husker Du until I discovered this track, and wondered who Bob Mould was.

This probably explains why I like this song better than anything I have followed up by listening to from Husker Du.

Album Review: Wide Awake – Parachute

I know. I know. Radio friendly commercial pop music, you say. Well, I like radio friendly commercial pop music (if you hadn’t noticed). Wide Awake is the fourth album by Parachute. It appears that they have been pared down to a trio from their previous quintet. Will Anderson still rolls out his trademark smooth radio vocals. Kit French is still around as the main keyboardist. Johnny Stubblefield drums.

Okay, this is Parachute we are talking about. There are no surprises. If you know Parachute, you know exactly what you are getting. Girl pleasing love ballads, with just enough uptempo to work for a beach party. In fact, I kind of imagine Parachute albums as the perfect backdrop to the beach parties I remember from my teens and college years, where we gathered around the bonfire in as the sun set, and some people roamed off to start necking while the rest of us sat around drinking whatever we were drinking and sang badly to whatever was on the radio or tape deck. It is perfect for that.

Wide Awake is perfectly competent, very radio friendly, commercial pop music. It is a decent, if not great album, that pretty much every Parachute fan will enjoy. And if you don’t like Parachute, well, you still won’t like Parachute.

Recommendation: Stream It (Unless you are a Parachute fan. Then you should go ahead and Buy It)

Songs I have a Playlist For: What Side of Love, When You Move, What Breaks My Heart

Clunkers I will Thumbs Down: Getaway

 

Album Review – All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend – AURORA

All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend is the first full album from 19 year-old Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes. The first thing I noticed is that she has a pleasant, sometimes child-like voice with a range and sound that reminds me a lot of Kate Bush, except that she has a clarity of sound that I never really got from Kate Bush.

The first thing I noticed is that she has a pleasant, sometimes child-like voice with a range and sound that reminds me a lot of Kate Bush, except that she has a clarity of sound that I never really got from Kate Bush.

I listened to the Deluxe version of the album, which clocks in with a hefty 17 tracks. And I enjoyed it the whole time. She really does have a nice voice and a sure sense of song. From her sweet and touching cover of Half The World Away to the tom tom driven Conquerer, to even the mostly too simple Through The Eyes of a Child, Aurora really showcases her voice and range.

While this album is clearly a pop album, it dabbles all over the place – there are folk strains here, electronica there; nothing jars but there is plenty of varied approaches throughout the album.

Recommendation: Buy It

Songs I have a Playlist for: Runaway, Conqueror, Winter Bird, Half The World 

Clunkers  I will Thumbs Down: I got tired of Through The Eyes of a Child really fast.

Song Spotlight – Shorty Don’t Wait – Great Big World ft Julia Nunes (from before they were known as Great Big World)

So, Great Big World had a really big hit a couple of years ago. So big that Christina Aguilera wanted to do a completely superfluous version with her in it. And, of course, they did because, why the hell not?

Well, this was when they were a couple of dudes touring tiny clubs in a volkswagon, with Julia Nunes being the headline act (yeah, it was a while ago). But it’s the perfect kind of vibe that shows why they could come up with something that would later become a giant hit.

And, yes, they are another group that I know about because of YouTube.

Song Spotlight: Boys in the Street – Greg Holden

Continuing with the musicians that I would not know if it weren’t for YouTube, here’s Greg Holden. He has a lot of songs about father/son relationships, and this one is one of those. But he’s a good songwriter. And his songs are worth listening to.

Song Spotlight: Forever Blue – Kina Grannis

Another YouTube made music star, Kina Grannis has a couple self-released albums out. She won a contest that would have gotten her a record contract, but she found the constraints of  being with a record company didn’t fit with her musical vision and chose to go it alone. She’s been relatively successful since.

This is her first song after a several months break, so, I thought I would just continue the YouTube inspired Song Spotlights.

Movie Review: Zootopia

Zootopia is funny, kind of cute, and is being completely misinterpreted. I’ve seen half a dozen articles about how it will be a good tool to teach your kids about police brutality, which I don’t really think is true. It will be a tool to teach your kids about prejudice, and if you are clear and involved in the way you do it, it might even be a good tool. But, ultimately, I think Zootopia is really about systemic bias. And how even people trying to make a difference for good can botch the whole thing up with ill-considered words. Now, because it’s a Disney movie, it all gets wrapped up neatly in a happy ending.

One of the other lessons in Zootopia seems to me to be that the only one who can make a difference is the person who tries. And it’s perfectly possible for that person to botch the whole thing up, but if they keep trying, they might just do what they are trying. Yeah, it’s a little trite, but all Disney movies are just a touch trite. That’s what happens with kids movies.

My last observation is that Zootopia relies a lot on stereotypes. But where Zootopia really shines is when it breaks through the stereotypes. The funniest bits all happen at those times. And the best bits too.