Category Archives: pop

Everything but the Girl – Walking Wounded, New York City, 1996

Album cover for Everything but the Girl "Walking Wounded"

When I hear music that confuses me, I commit to listening to it. Electronic dance music was the exception, though. Dance music confused the hell out of me, but I fought it. I fought it hard. For years, I refused to dig in and try to understand it. I ranted about turntables not being instruments and DJs not being musicians…. Read more »

Zhu – Dreamland 2021

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Album cover for Zhu "Dreamland 2021"

My taste in electronic dance music runs a bit below the radar. I’ve got nothing against artists like Skrillex or David Guetta, they just don’t speak to me. That’s why I’ve never bothered with Zhu. However, there was a compelling LA Times article about him and anti-AAPI racism, so I decided to check out Dreamland 2021. The album’s fine. It… Read more »

Beach Boys – “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”

There are two kinds of outsiders: those who reject society and those who find themselves rejected. In pop music, the former can be found in Johnny Cash’s altruistic “Man in Black” or the Clash’s good-hearted “Bankrobber.” The latter produces the betrayed rage of Black Flag’s “My War,” but also the almost sheepish awkwardness of the Beach Boys “I Just Wasn’t… Read more »

How I came to appreciate the Beach Boys

Some bands I just like from the moment I first hear them. Others grow on me over time. Sometimes, returning to a band I hated sheds some new light. But I can only think of one band that I came to appreciate by actively arguing against them: the Beach Boys. While the Beatles versus the Beach Boys is not quite… Read more »

Beach Boys – Today!

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As a songwriter, Brian Wilson falls in the shadow of 60’s peers Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards. As a producer and arranger, he falls in the shadow of Phil Spector. When you look at the longer history of popular music, this makes sense as Wilson just didn’t have the longevity, but in March of 1965, it didn’t. The Beach Boys released Today!… Read more »

Taylor Swift – “‘Tis the Damn Season”

About 25 years ago, the company I was working for turned me into a COBOL programmer. It involved about four months of full time training with a training contractor the company brought on site. The principal trainer owned the contracting company and was significantly more well off than any of us in the class, but he had middle class Baltimore… Read more »

Taylor Swift – “Illicit Affairs”

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Album cover for Folklore by Taylor Swift

Romantic relationships are rarely balanced. Inevitably, one person is more in love and has more to lose than the other. Affairs amplify this imbalance. One person is married and one isn’t, or one recommits to their spouse, or one has no intention of leaving their partner. While unrequited love songs are a dime a dozen, I don’t know many affair… Read more »

Michigander – Everything Will Be Okay Eventually

The thing about sadness is that it is not all the same, but too often artistic representations of sadness treat it is as a one-size-fits-all emotion. Sometimes, sadness can even be coupled with optimism. Not to beat the Covid theme to death, but with some hope on the horizon, mixing optimism into our sadness seems apropos right now and, at… Read more »

Review: Rachel Taylor Brown – Susan Storm’s Ugly Sister and Other Saints and Superheroes

Label: Cutthroat Pop Records Released: April 29, 2009 On the surface, Susan Storm’s Ugly Sister and Other Saints and Superheroes is an album of bold piano pop that at times dabbles in showtune pomp, proggy complexity and Beatlesque near perfection. The songs have the nature of a musical soliloquy as they meander between upbeat and melancholy, never being fully one… Read more »