Beck soars above mundane pop with “Colors”

Beck "Colors" album coverSometimes it seems that any music I like is destined to be dismissed by critics. Take Colors, for example, the latest album by Beck. A terrific album, infused with the feeling of the 80s and 90s. (A time, it must be said, when music was consistently much better than it is nowadays. Beck’s statement, perhaps, on the current state of music? But that’s another topic.) Reading reviews in different publications, you might imagine the critics had heard a different album. Continue reading →

“The Music Shop” pays homage to vinyl and the magic of music

The Music Shop, an homage to vinylIt’s 1988, and CDs are elbowing aside vinyl records. But in Frank’s music shop, vinyl retains an almost mystical presence, and he refuses to sell the new interlopers. He has a knack for providing people not with the music they think they want, but the music that their souls need. Then one day, a mysterious young woman appears at the shop window. Someone who never listens to music. (Who never listens to music?!?) She asks Frank to teach her about music. Their budding friendship upends both of their lives, launching a story about heartache and redemption. I picked up Rachel Joyce’s exceptional novel, The Music Shop, because music is so fundamental to the nature of the story. Joyce conveys a profound sense of humanity in the story—something all too missing in the current political climate. Continue reading →

Paisley Park: lonely palace or insightful museum?

Paisley ParkPaisley Park stands beside a highway in a quiet suburb some distance from Minneapolis. If you’ve been living under a rock or are too young to know much, you might not know that this is where legendary musician Prince lived and made music, and where he died in April 2016. Prince was arguably the most gifted and accomplished musician in popular music of the 20th and early 21st century. Without doubt he can claim the title of most prolific. In 1987 he constructed the 65,000 square foot complex, named after one of his songs that described a place of “profound inner peace.” Reporter Amanda Petrusich visited Paisley Park and described her experience for The New Yorker (June 25, 2018). Seeking to better understand the enigmatic genius, she came away disappointed by the experience, which evoked the sensation “of being near Prince, but never quite with him.” Continue reading →

Is it true that rock is dead?

Led Zeppelin IV rock albumDan Ozzi writes in a June 14 article in “Noisey” that rock is dead. A provocative declaration. Eclipsed in popularity by EDM, rap, and pop, the genre hangs on for nostalgic elders and young aficionados who follow niche styles like heavy metal. At least so claims Ozzi. I have no doubt this contains some truth. Well-known rockers may still be able to sell out shows, but who is the audience? The charts and tastes of younger audiences favor anything but rock, which has fallen away much as has R&B/soul. Continue reading →