The Reverberation Appreciation Society Presents A Tribute To Pet Sounds

The label is not kidding when they call themselves the Reverberation Appreciation Society. Most tracks on the album are the Nigel Tufnel amp versions of reverb (“These go to 11.”). You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a mid-sixties pop song that didn’t work with a little more echo, so the results are mostly listenable. It’s when the bands go beyond… Read more »

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona, 1989

Album cover for Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um

I lose sight of the two-lane mountain road on every westbound curve. The fire of the Arizona sunset is broken by trees but still blinding, relentless in its beauty and power. I drive too fast, taking corners like I was in my old Nissan Z instead of an overloaded Toyota pickup. I flirt with the gravel on the shoulder then… 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 »

The Dictators – “Let’s Get the Band Back Together”

The Dictators are notoriously ill-timed. Their debut came out a year before the Ramones. The year they were finishing up Manifest Destiny, their follow-up, the Ramones were working on album #3. The Dictators just missed that wave. They broke up too soon to remain in the popular mind as the music they helped spawn gained in popularity. Now, in the… Read more »

Marty Friedman – Tokyo Jukebox 3

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Full disclaimer: I was only able to get through about 2/3 of the 51 minutes of this album. Marty Friedman is the kind of guitar player I really hate. He can put his chops up against anyone, but it’s all wasted on flash rather than performances with substance. Tokyo Jukebox 3 is even more frustrating, because there are hints of… 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 »

Jessica Moss – “Opened Ending”

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Album cover for Opened Endings by Jessica Moss

I’ve been revisiting Entanglement by Jessica Moss. The opening song, “Particles,” is gorgeous, and is what I wanted to hear back in the ‘90s when I was buying and quickly abandoning albums by Rachel’s and the Ordinaires and Tortoise. Unfortunately, the four-song suite, “Fractals,” feels almost academic, an impartial study of interesting ideas. In researching Moss’ work, I stumbled upon… Read more »

Van Halen – Fair Warning, Albuquerque NM, 1981

Album cover for Van Halen's Fair Warning

I’m hypnotized by the wall of used cassettes when the in-store sound system yanks me out of my reverie. The song is dark and aggressive and exciting. It makes me feel an urgency unlike anything I’ve felt before. I’m a shy kid. I’m chubby and have a lot of pimples and I don’t understand what to do with the mop… Read more »

Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Armed Forces (Super Deluxe Edition)

There’s not usually a lot to say about “super deluxe” re-issues. Listener interest usually depends on how much the particular listener likes the artist and these releases where no stone is left unturned are full of what the super-fan might call essential and everyone else would call filler. And so it is with this “deluxe” version of my favorite Elvis… Read more »

J. Geils Band – Nightmares…and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle

There are more than a few instances of what is arguably a band’s best work being overshadowed by lesser later work that was hugely popular. ZZ Top is more associated with a ’33 Ford and long-legged women than they are with the fat guitar tones and loose Texas boogie of their 1970’s output. When most people think of Genesis, 80’s… Read more »