An observation

I’ve been reading a lot of album reviews lately. Some reviewers nee critics concentrate on accurately their impressions of the music and it’s affect upon them. But man, are there a lot of reviewers who write in a way as to show how many names they can compare someone to.

Now, I’ll grant that that might be useful for a particular kind of reader.  But, it’s tiresome to read, if you aren’t  that kind of reader. And I think, kind of lazy. It’s also less informative than if they had just described their own reaction to the music.

Grammy Winners (compared to my predictions)

Record of the Year: (ugh. This category has some really weak nominees this year)
* Really Love – D’Angelo And The Vanguard
* Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
* Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
* Blank Space – Taylor Swift
* Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd

Should win: Really Love
Will win: Uptown Funk
Did win: Uptown Funk
Too bad. Uptown Funk was at the top of my worst list.

Album of the Year: (on the other hand, Album only has one lame nominee)
* Sound and Color – Alabama Shakes
* To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
* Traveller – Chris Stapleton
* 1989 – Taylor Swift
* Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd

Should win: Sound and Color
Will Win: To Pimp a Butterfly
Did Win: 1989

Song of the Year:
* Alright – Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
* Blank Space – Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
*Girl Crush – Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)
* See You Again –  Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth)
* Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)

Should Win: Girl Crush
Will Win: Thinking Out Loud
Did Win: Thinking Out Loud

Best New Artist:
* Courtney Barnett
* James Bay
* Sam Hunt
* Tori Kelly
* Meghan Trainor

Should Win: James Bay
Will Win: Courtney Barnett
Did Win: Meghan Trainor
Meh. Sam Hunt would have been less deserving, and so would Tori Kelly. But Title is not a great album overall and not as strong as either of the ones I pointed out.

Best Pop Solo Performance:
* Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson
* Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
* Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
* Blank Space – Taylor Swift
* Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd

Should Win: Thinking Out Loud
Will Win: Blank Space
Did Win: Thinking Out Loud

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
* Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine
* Sugar – Maroon 5
* Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
* Bad Blood – Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar
* See You Again – Wiz Khalifa Ft. Charlie Puth

Should Win: Ship To Wreck
Will Win: Uptown Funk
Did Win: Uptown Funk

 

Best Pop Vocal Album:
* Piece by Piece – Kelly Clarkson
* How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence + The Machine
* Uptown Special – Mark Ronson
* 1989 – Taylor Swift
* Before This World – James Taylor

Should Win: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Will Win: 1989
Did Win: 1989

Best Rock Performance:
* Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes
* What Kind of Man – Florence + The Machine
* Something from Nothing – Foo Fighters
* Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
* Moaning Lisa Smile – Wolf Alice

Should Win: Don’t Wanna Fight
Will Win: Something From Nothing
Did Win: Don’t Wanna Fight

Best Rock Song:
* Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes, songwriters (Alabama Shakes)
* Ex’s & Oh’s – Dave Bassett & Elle King, songwriters (Elle King
* Hold Back the River – Iain Archer & James Bay, songwriters (James Bay)
* Lydia – Richard Meyer, Ryan Meyer & Johnny Stevens, songwriters (Highly Suspect)
* What Kind of Man – John Hill, Tom Hull & Florence Welch, songwriters (Florence + The Machine)

Should Win: Don’t Wanna Fight
Will Win: Don’t Wanna Fight
Did Win: Don’t Wanna Fight

Best Rock Album:
* Chaos and The Calm – James Bay
* Kintsugi – Death Cab for Cutie
* Mister Asylum – Highly Suspect
* Drones – Muse
* 5: The Gray Chapter – Slipknot

Should Win: Drones
Will Win: Drones
Did Win: Drones

Best Alternative Music Album:
* Sound and Color – Alabama Shakes
* Vulnicura – Bjork
* The Waterfall – My Morning Jacket
* Currents – Tame Impala
* Star Wars – Wilco

Should Win: Currents
Will Win: Currents
Did Win: Sound and Color
I’m glad Alabama Shakes is being recognized. But they aren’t an alternative band.

Best Country Solo Performance:
* Burning House – Cam
* Traveller – Chris Stapleton
* Little Toy Guns – Carrie Underwood
* John Cougar, John Deere, and John 3:16- Keith Urban
* Chances Are – Lee Ann Womack

Should Win: Traveller
Will Win: Traveller
Did Win: Traveller

Best Country Album:
* Montevallo – Sam Hunt
* Pain Killer – Little Big Town
* The Blade – Ashley Monroe
* Pageant Material – Kasey Musgraves
* Traveller – Chris Stapleton

Should Win: Traveller
Will Win: Traveller
Did Win: Traveller

Best American Roots Performance:
* And Am I Born To Die – Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
* Born To Play Guitar – Buddy Guy
* City of Our Lady – The Milk Carton Kids
* Julep – Punch Brothers
* See That My Grave is Kept Clean – Mavis Staples

Should Win: Any of them are worthy. This is the category so far that has been strongest top to bottom. But I’m leaning And Am I Born To Die
Will Win: See That My Grave is Kept Clean
Did Win: See That My Grave is Kept Clean
Mavis is always a favorite.

Best American Roots Song:
* All Night Long – Raul Malo, songwriter (The Mavericks)
* The Cost of Living –  Don Henley & Stan Lynch, songwriters (Don Henley & Merle Haggard)
* Julep -Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny, Chris Thile & Gabe Witcher, songwriters (Punch Brothers)
* The Travelling Kind – Cory Chisel, Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris, songwriters (Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell)
* 24 Frames – Jason Isbell, songwriter (Jason Isbell)

Should Win: The Travelling Kind
Will Win: The Cost of Living
Did Win: 24 Frames
Didn’t love the song. But the voters did, evidently. z

Best Americana Album:
* The Firewatcher’s Daughter – Brandi Carlisle
* The Travelling Kind – Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
* Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell
* Mono – The Mavericks
* The Phosphorescent Blues – Punch Brothers

Should Win: The Travelling Kind
Will Win: Mono
Did Win: Something More Than Free
Not my choice, but doesn’t surprise me either.

Best Folk Album:
* Wood, Wire, & Words – Norman Blake
* Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn – Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn
* Tomorrow is My Turn – Rhiannon Giddens
* Servant of Love – Patty Griffin
* Didn’t He Ramble – Glen Hansard

Should Win: Servant of Love
Will Win: Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn
Did Win: Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn

Grammy Nominees (with occasional commentary)

I’m going to pick winners – who I think should win and who I think will win for the Grammys (they are on February 15th this year). I’m not going to pick every category (Hey, I don’t like everything). And I’m only going to list what I pick – It’s long enough as it is without listing all the music I didn’t listen to this year.

Record of the Year: (ugh. This category has some really weak nominees this year)
* Really Love – D’Angelo And The Vanguard
* Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
* Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
* Blank Space – Taylor Swift
* Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd

Should win: Really Love
Will win: Uptown Funk
Uptown Funk was my worst song of the year, but people all over the place seem to like it. Blank Space isn’t even the best single off 1989. Can’t Feel My Face was a pointless mess. So, even though I’m not a huge R&B fan, I think Really Love was probably a better song than Thinking Out Loud (which I liked better for a while but I’m sick of now).

Album of the Year: (on the other hand, Album only has one lame nominee)
* Sound and Color – Alabama Shakes
* To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
* Traveller – Chris Stapleton
* 1989 – Taylor Swift
* Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd

Should win: Sound and Color
Will Win: To Pimp a Butterfly
Really, as long as that crap from The Weeknd doesn’t win, I will be happy. But Sound and Color was energetic and personal. I liked Traveller and 1989, too. Rap isn’t my thing, but I recognize that Kendrick Lamar put out a really well-made album.

Song of the Year:
* Alright – Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
* Blank Space – Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
*Girl Crush – Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)
* See You Again –  Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth)
* Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)

Should Win: Girl Crush
Will Win: Thinking Out Loud
Girl Crush is the only song on the list I don’t change the radio station when it comes on. It’s the only song I didn’t get sick of.  So that’s why I think it should win. There’s something to be said for a song that, even when it’s overplayed, doesn’t drive you away.

Best New Artist:
* Courtney Barnett
* James Bay
* Sam Hunt
* Tori Kelly
* Meghan Trainor

Should Win: James Bay
Will Win: Courtney Barnett
I can’t say that I think this a particularly strong group for New Artist. Courtney Barnett doesn’t impress me at all. Sam Hunt’s bro country double down is the last thing country music needed. Nobody had a strong album first track to last track, IMO. James Bay had the strongest for me.

Best Pop Solo Performance:
* Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson
* Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
* Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
* Blank Space – Taylor Swift
* Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd

Should Win: Thinking Out Loud
Will Win: Blank Space
For me, this is down to Thinking Out Loud and Heartbeat Song. Yes, I liked Kelly Clarkson’s poppy anthem. But I think it’s overproduced.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
* Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine
* Sugar – Maroon 5
* Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
* Bad Blood – Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar
* See You Again – Wiz Khalifa Ft. Charlie Puth

Should Win: Ship To Wreck
Will Win: Uptown Funk
This category is emblematic of the crossover power of major artists now adays.  But Uptown Funk is crap. Sugar is plablum. Bad Blood is a radio cut that sounds nothing like the album cut (yes, I hold that against it). And it’s not a very good song. Ship To Wreck is fabulous and See You Again is pretty good.

 

Best Pop Vocal Album:
* Piece by Piece – Kelly Clarkson
* How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence + The Machine
* Uptown Special – Mark Ronson
* 1989 – Taylor Swift
* Before This World – James Taylor

Should Win: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Will Win: 1989
The Taylor Swift juggernaut will show up here.

 

Best Rock Performance:
* Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes
* What Kind of Man – Florence + The Machine
* Something from Nothing – Foo Fighters
* Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
* Moaning Lisa Smile – Wolf Alice

Should Win: Don’t Wanna Fight
Will Win: Something From Nothing
I don’t actually dislike Something From Nothing. It’s just that nothing distinguishes it in my mind from any other Foo Fighter song. The hazards of a large catalog, I guess. The only song that I really don’t think should win is Ex’s & Oh’s for the fatigue factor.

Best Rock Song:
* Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes, songwriters (Alabama Shakes)
* Ex’s & Oh’s – Dave Bassett & Elle King, songwriters (Elle King
* Hold Back the River – Iain Archer & James Bay, songwriters (James Bay)
* Lydia – Richard Meyer, Ryan Meyer & Johnny Stevens, songwriters (Highly Suspect)
* What Kind of Man – John Hill, Tom Hull & Florence Welch, songwriters (Florence + The Machine)

Should Win: Don’t Wanna Fight
Will Win: Don’t Wanna Fight
This category is the sort of thing that always trips me up.  To me, there are only 2 rock songs in this list – Don’t Wanna Fight and Lydia. And I think Don’t Wanna Fight is a better song. But the people involved think that 2 pop songs and roots song also belong here. And straight up, I still think Don’t Wanna Fight will win, but Ex’s & Oh’s and Lydia both seem to be spoilers here. I love Hold Back the River and What Kind of Man, but they just don’t fit the category at all to me.

Best Rock Album:
* Chaos and The Calm – James Bay
* Kintsugi – Death Cab for Cutie
* Mister Asylum – Highly Suspect
* Drones – Muse
* 5: The Gray Chapter – Slipknot

Should Win: Drones
Will Win: Drones
Once again, the people doing the nominating are going to trip me up. Chaos and the Calm is a roots/folk album. Kitsungi  is alternative. So I don’t think they will win. Mister Asylum was kind of uneven for me, but I only listened to it all the way through once. I’m not a Slipknot fan. So Muse seems like the obivous choice. But the only album I really don’t see winning some what is Chaos and The Calm.

Best Alternative Music Album:
* Sound and Color – Alabama Shakes
* Vulnicura – Bjork
* The Waterfall – My Morning Jacket
* Currents – Tame Impala
* Star Wars – Wilco

Should Win: Currents
Will Win: Currents
Sound and Color belonged in best Rock Album. Kintsugi belonged here. Now, discounting that I liked Sound and Color better, it doesn’t fit the category, and I can’t pick it here. I probably wouldn’t pick Kintsugi over Currents, which is what I think is the best in category.  I’m guessing Currents will win, because I didn’t see The Waterfall on nearly as many best of lists this year. And neither Star Wars or Vulnicura were as high as Currents on most lists.

Best Country Solo Performance:
* Burning House – Cam
* Traveller – Chris Stapleton
* Little Toy Guns – Carrie Underwood
* John Cougar, John Deere, and John 3:16- Keith Urban
* Chances Are – Lee Ann Womack

Should Win: Traveller
Will Win: Traveller

Best Country Album:
* Montevallo – Sam Hunt
* Pain Killer – Little Big Town
* The Blade – Ashley Monroe
* Pageant Material – Kasey Musgraves
* Traveller – Chris Stapleton

Should Win: Traveller
Will Win: Traveller

Best American Roots Performance:
* And Am I Born To Die – Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
* Born To Play Guitar – Buddy Guy
* City of Our Lady – The Milk Carton Kids
* Julep – Punch Brothers
* See That My Grave is Kept Clean – Mavis Staples

Should Win: Any of them are worthy. This is the category so far that has been strongest top to bottom. But I’m leaning And Am I Born To Die
Will Win: See That My Grave is Kept Clean

Best American Roots Song:
* All Night Long – Raul Malo, songwriter (The Mavericks)
* The Cost of Living –  Don Henley & Stan Lynch, songwriters (Don Henley & Merle Haggard)
* Julep -Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny, Chris Thile & Gabe Witcher, songwriters (Punch Brothers)
* The Travelling Kind – Cory Chisel, Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris, songwriters (Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell)
* 24 Frames – Jason Isbell, songwriter (Jason Isbell)

Should Win: The Travelling Kind
Will Win: The Cost of Living

Best Americana Album:
* The Firewatcher’s Daughter – Brandi Carlisle
* The Travelling Kind – Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
* Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell
* Mono – The Mavericks
* The Phosphorescent Blues – Punch Brothers

Should Win: The Travelling Kind
Will Win: Mono

Best Folk Album:
* Wood, Wire, & Words – Norman Blake
* Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn – Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn
* Tomorrow is My Turn – Rhiannon Giddens
* Servant of Love – Patty Griffin
* Didn’t He Ramble – Glen Hansard

Should Win: Servant of Love
Will Win: Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn

The complete list is here.

Releases: Starting February 5

All the new music I can account for starting with

February 5:
Is the Is Are – DIIV
Big Black Coat – Junior Boys
All I Need – Foxes
commontime – Field Music
Human Ceremony – Sunflower Bean
The Ghosts of Highway 20 – Lucinda Williams
The Phsychedelic Swamp – Dr. Dog
Majid Jordan – Majid Jordan
Akróasis – Obscura
Cascades – High Highs
Escapements- Beacon
Though Rock Fish Scale – Nap Eyes
Pool – PORCHES.
Hellelujah – Drowning Pool
Mass Gothic – Mass Gothic
Begin – Lion Babe
the gamble – nonkeen
Khalifa – Wiz Khalifa
Timeslip Roadmender – Clouds
Wonderful Crazy Night – Elton John
Zvi II: Death Stops Us All – Zvi
Opus – Eric Prydz
Avocet (Reissue) – Bert Jansch
Phenotype – Textures
X (No Absolutes) – Prong
Slime Season 3 – Young Thug
Personal Life – Two Inch Astronaut
We Are King – King
Ace – Scooter
Language Barrier – Shirlett Ammons
The Heart Contortionists – Pleasant Grove
Tha Truth, Pt. 2 – Trae tha Truth
Porta Bohemica – Trixie Whiteley
Hillbilly Rockstar – Moccasin Creek
Holding Patterns – Laurence Fox
Dømkirke (Reissue) – Sunn O)))
Marathon – Francis
Here as in Heaven – Elevation Worship
The Driver – Charles Kelley
Ezekiel’s Has – Seven Sisters of Sleep
Janus – Matt Kivel
Ladies & Gentlemen – The Infamous Stringdusters
White Light Fever – Rancho Relaxo
No More Lamps in the Morning – Josephine Foster
Above the Prarie – The Pines
Lolita Nation (Reissue) – Game Theory
Heaven Adores You – Elliot Smith
The Anti-Circle – World Be Free
The Album Paranoia – Ulrika Spacek
Different Sun – Electric Eye
Tan – Lafawndah
Idealist – Mind Enterprises
Song and Dance Man – Jason Collett
Hidden City – The Cult
An Arabesque – Cloudland Canyon
Long Time Traveller – Jeb Loy Nichols
Scheherazade – Freakwater
What Do People Do All Day? – Working for a Nucldear Free City
Fun’s Cool – The Prettiots
KINGSIZED – Dressy Bessy
Back On My Wall – Burnt Palms
King – Fleshgod Apocalypse
Victory Motel Sessions – King Mud

February 6:
EVOL – Future

February 8:
Masala – Jibóia
Incognito  Mode – Heights Beats

February 11:
Waves – Kanye West

On My Prolonged absence

Everyone has trouble getting into habits that they want to acheive. The habit of writing regularly was something I was aiming for, I’ll admit.

However, there was a time shortly after my last post in 2014 that my world suffered some severe upsets and I lost my equilibrium. I certainly lost the impetus to write or even think about things. I’ve been in the mindless state of reacting to need, doing work, and going home to sit restless but uninterested.

I think that time is now coming to an end. At least, I have interests again. I will once again try to aim to make writing a habit, which is the reason I maintain this space.

Here’s to a world with fewer upsets for a while.

Gallstones change everything

I’ll admit, I’m from a meat and meat and potatoes tradition of eating. After a wild last couple of months, I have found that I have developed gallstones. So my normal way of eating right now induces incredible pain, that can require multiple doses of potent narcotics to get under control.
Summarily, this has changed the way I eat quite a bit…no more marbled steaks and greasy casseroles and deep fried delights. At least not of I want to avoid an intense, and unpleasant pain.
So, I will be experimenting with what I can eat until the surgery to remove my gallbladder. Which isn’t scheduled yet and will wind up having to be sometime later this summer.
One thing I do know, I will have to lean much more on fish and seafood, given that I have had no serious attacks from eating those so far.