Bryan Ferry’s Avonmore

Bryan Ferry has a new album out called Avonmore.   The album sounds like somewhere in between Roxy Music’s Avalon and his 80′s output, however it does feature enough modern touches to no be stuck in the past.  I have always liked Bryan Ferry, from his early Roxy Music days until now.  Although I don’t think anyone thinks Bryan Ferry sings as well as Bryan Ferry does, which is actually part of his charm, his voice has always been distinctive enough to be interesting to me as a listener. 

I know that there are some of you who probably view his music as too slick, but if you think of music as being visual it has the ability to create it’s own world.  I can’t help but think of some kind of futuristic film noir when I put one of his records on. His music would fit perfectly in the Alan Rudolph film Trouble in Mind.  Even his lesser songs have interesting textures and atmosphere.   He has consistently done his own thing outside of the trends of the day.  Even during the glam era, Roxy Music were much stranger than most of the competition.  Their album For Your Pleasure is a beautifully unique oddity. 

If you are someone that likes latter period Roxy Music, or his early solo career, then this album will please you.  He is still out there painting his own universe, for which I am grateful. 

Fun at the Airport

In LAX waiting to fly to Australia.   I realized today that there was no way I could blow up a plane, aside from any moral misgivings I might have.  Under no circumstances could I ever choose to have an airport be the last place I see.  How depressing is that shit?!!!  Not only do you have to blow yourself up, but you have to agree to an airport being the last place your feet touch the ground. 

Kevin Russell once said that an airport was, “a mall, a jail, and a bus stop”, all added together.  But like one of those great bands where the sum is infinitely bigger than the sound of the members, an airport might be worse.  I’ve spent a night in jail.  It made me want to kill someone, but not myself. 

At what point did Americans become such a pussified fear ridden country?   One dude has explosives in his shoes that don’t even go off, and we take our shoes off when entering an airport for the rest of eternity.  

And when did we start having stores in airports which have items that cost more than the GDP of some third world countries?  Why do they hate us?  Because when Muhammed is the first from his village to study abroad, the first thing he sees is a purse that costs more than every hut in his village combined. 

And does fear of flying turn everyone on a plane into rambling idiots?  I have never heard one conversation on a plane that didn’t sound like the adults in Charlie Brown.  Do you know what the sound of crushed souls combined with the failure of the test driven American education system is like?  And let’s not even talk about the babies.

Oh, don’t go getting your panties in a bunch, I am just having fun. 

The Civil War and Movies

As any of you that have been reading along know, the last two weeks I have been interested in the Civil War.  Last night I watched Lincoln.  It was the second time I have seen it and it is really an extraordinary film.  Although there are a few scenes that seem a little too symbolic, and because of this aren’t believable as reality, overall it is really well done.  Maybe its best attribute is it really makes one think about the nature of politics.

Anyway, I wanted to watch another movie on that time period tonight.  I was doing an internet search and the truth is there are very few excellent movies that deal in that historical period.  I find that very strange.  Is that because we are afraid of really exploring a war in which half of the country was on the wrong side of justice?  Is it just that it is too long ago and, unlike World War II and Vietnam, we are too far removed from it?

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that in order to understand modern America, one must be able to have some understanding of what happened during that time period.  Works of drama are more accessible than most history.  Good dramatizations can also often bring out certain truths, even if they contains slight elements of fiction, in ways that documentaries or even history books cannot.  They can connect people emotionally to something they might not otherwise understand or be interested in.

Lewis Black On Fox News and Black Friday

Lewis Black On Fox News and Black Friday

The above clip of Lewis Black on Black Friday exposes the absurdity of Fox News.  Apparently Fox News is coming down hard on workers that want off on Thanksgiving, but not on corporate stores that are forced to be open…

One day I hope that those that support the Republican Party, who aren’t rich, will wake up and see how it in no way, shape, or form represents the average American.

The Importance of Panning

The Importance of Panning

The above article is about how bands are mixed on record.  I think it is simple enough to follow that even someone that doesn’t understand recording could get something out of it.

I have mentioned that I am obsessed with AC/DC lately.  One of the things that I love about their records is the simplicity.  I especially love the sound of their guitars and the way that they are mixed.  All of AC/DC’s records feature the brothers Malcolm and Angus Young.  (Malcolm Young just retired, but he is on all of the band’s records except their soon to be released new record.)  On AC/DC records there are very few recorded tracks that the band can’t play live.  When you listen to their records you hear a band mixed like you were seeing them live.  When you see AC/DC live Malcolm’s amps are on stage left and Angus Young’s amps are on stage right.  When you listen to their music on a stereo or headphones you therefor hear Malcolm’s guitar on the left ear or speaker, and Angus’s guitar on the right.  Angus later adds his solos and they are mixed mostly in the middle or only slightly off to one side.

When something is only on one side or the other, or more on one side than the other, this is called panning.  When things were recorded in mono everything was equal in both speakers.  Stereo allows you split what instrument is on what speaker or side of your headphones.  This helps with clarity as everything is not fighting for the same space.

However, like with AC/DC, it can actually make a record more interesting as well.  You can listen to one of their records and tell what each brother is playing and how their guitars compliment each other.  I used AC/DC as an example not only because they are featured in the above article, nor because I am really enjoying them right now, but their mixes are really a simple and clear way to understand panning.  Listen to one of their songs sometime on headphones, and notice how each headphone features a different guitar that is complimenting the other one.  You will realize how well constructed the guitar parts.

If you have even the slightest interest in how a group of musicians can create something that is more than the sum of its parts, these kinds of records are a great place to start.

Fact Vs. Opinion

I watched the above Ted Talk the other day featuring journalist Michael Specter.  The talk focuses on people that refuse to listen to scientific facts, an example being those that are anti-vaccine.  The best part was when he talks about how people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

We have had a cold spell in Texas recently and the usual people talk about how this disproves climate change.  Anyone that actually reads about this subject knows that weather and climate are two different things.  If someone doesn’t want to do anything about climate change, it may be foolish at best, but that is their opinion.  However, if they deny that it is taking place, they are completely ignorant of the facts.  It is either that or they are knowingly telling a lie.

Here is a link to NASA and other scientific bodies that agree that climate change is happening and that man is causing it:

NASA and Other Scientific Groups Agree Man-made Climate Change is Happening