David Byrne Makes Buildings Sing

Many of you will remember David Byrne as the lead singer of Talking Heads.  The Heads wrote a good part of the soundtrack to my youth, along with Oingo Boingo, The Cure, U2, Pink Floyd, and a smattering of others.  I never saw the Heads live (that I remember) but did see Byrne years later at the State Theater in Portland, Maine (where I’ve also seen Tori Amos, Paula Cole, and George Carlin; no, silly, not together!).  I found it powerful and interesting, but his solo music never touched me quite the way his Heads stuff did.

But these days, he’s making buildings sing.

U2’s Technophobic Manager

I love U2. But their manager, Paul McGuinness, is demonstrating that he not only has very little understanding about technology, but also that he’s quite ignorant about the forces actually responsible for killing the music industry – such as the industry’s own unwillingness to adapt to digital music and its obstructionist tactics over the past five years. If this is how the industry wants to behave, then good fucking riddance.

[h/t Lauren Weinstein]

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Canon Rock

I thought this kicked some serious holiday ass. I had never heard of TSO until I caught this song on the radio today. This is TSO’s stirring Christmas re-interpretation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D major – with great electric guitar that somehow doesn’t “unwarm” the emotion of the song.

The angelic blondes with incredible voices wearing leather collars don’t hurt, either. [I believe the siren attempting to steal my heart from stage left* is Jennifer Cella.]

Merry Christmas.

*- for you non-theater types, that means the one on your right.

Earth Angel

Yesterday, I listened to an NPR Science Friday podcast featuring an interview with author, artist and neurologist Oliver Sacks. Many years ago, I read his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and found it fascinating – although he is probably better known for Awakenings. In this interview, he was talking about his new book, Musicophilia. He discussed his belief that humans are “wired” for music, despite no apparent evolutionary suitability (although he has a couple hunches – among them, social bonding – as to why this would be a preferred trait). Young children seem to dance and keep time, non-musicians tend to anticipate musical patterns in songs they have never heard, many people experience music visually, etc. etc.

Sacks spoke briefly about what he calls “earworms”, which is that strange yet common situation when you have a song stuck in your head and it won’t go away. This happens to me sometimes, usually when I awaken. Some random song comes along in the night and doesn’t recede when the dreams do.

So, let’s go meta. Find the chicken and the egg in my last 24 hours:

  • I heard Sacks’ “earworm” interview;
  • I went home and (among other things) watched television, including an episode of Boston Legal, which I’ve never seen before. I noticed a number of location errors, but more important, recognized guest star Thomas Wilson, who played Biff in Back to the Future;
  • I woke up this morning with the song “Earth Angel” circulating relentlessly in my head. It’s still there.

Damn.. we are weird creatures. But in this instance, I’m sorta wondering who did what to whom.

PopTech and Olbermann

Cheers from the PopTech conference. It’s off to a great start, with music legend Brian Eno sharing the stage with game genius Will Wright. Hearing the father of ambient music discuss the philosophy and practicality of emergence alongside the driving force behind simulation gaming – and the forthcoming game Spore – is an example of what PopTech is all about. To see all the speakers, check out the speaker list here and get the live stream and such here.

On another note, now that I’m on the road, I’m missing Keith Olbermann’s “special comment.” As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Olbermann is one of the few in the mainstream media who is really stepping up and saying what needs to be said. On that, see the latest one courtesy of the good folks at Crooks and Liars.

Great “Old” Songs

Tonight I’m scouring some old songs from the collection. I’ve encountered Boingo, REM, XTC, The Cure, The The… and just enjoyed the twelve-minute “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (who are much better known for their ‘seminal’ 1980s ballad, “Relax”.)

Also, I’d forgotten what a very strong song “New Generation” is by Oingo Boingo, circa 1987. Good music, damn prophetic lyrics…
Continue reading Great “Old” Songs

Astronaut Revisited… and Evanescence

Ok, after listening to the DD album another time I am beginning to think it sucks. A bit too manufactured and unoriginal. Happy-go-lucky, etc. I don’t always like sad albums – and I can take more ear candy than many. Lots of the stuff I loved growing up – from Cure to Boingo to U2 and REM – all shared some roots in the post-punk new-wavey stuff that came to life in the early 80s. Duran Duran never had that same talent or power but I was thinking that after 15 years they might have been able to put something fairly decent together… oh well.

Anyway, moving on to the Evanescence album I grabbed – I like Evanescence. They were the first new band in a long while that I really enjoyed. Too bad the co-founder of the group started shagging Avril Lavigne and basically split the band up after their first album so he could go play with her (literally and figuratively.) This was packaged as a new album but is essentially a music CD of a live performance in Europe (Paris, maybe?) perhaps 18-24 months old and a DVD that I haven’t watched yet. This may be the label’s attempt at getting their money out of a band that went poof too soon, but a bummer nonetheless.