Discovering an overlooked musical gem

Roots to Branches--an overlooked musical gemSometimes we come across music and are surprised to discover a previously overlooked musical gem. That’s what happened to me with the 1995 Jethro Tull album Roots to Branches. Why is it that we can react so differently to certain music that didn’t impress it before? Maybe it’s the mood we’re in when we first encounter something. It resonates. Or it fails to resonate. Maybe our tastes have changed, or broadened. In this case, the reason may have more to do with the former than with a change in taste. Continue reading →

Ten unlikely hit songs that broke the rules

Few songs that break the rules of pop songwriting ever achieve mainstream success. Deviate from the predictable verse/chorus structure in 4/4 time arranged for a basic grouping of guitar/keyboards, bass and drums, and you can pretty much guarantee being marginalized. During a 20-year period from roughly 1965-1985, however – a period that witnessed a flowering of musical creativity and widespread openness to experimentation – it was possible to break the rules and have a hit record. Here are ten unlikely hits from that period. Continue reading →

Internet music subsumes record stores: blessing or curse?

Download music subsumes record storesI just learned that April 19, 2008 was Record Store Day, an opportunity to celebrate independent record stores. As record stores slowly vanish across the country, it is revealing that April 19 came and went with little fanfare. Perhaps, like me, the event was invisible to you, too. And I’m sorry I missed it, because I value the place of music stores in our culture. But it got me thinking about how music is accessed and sold these days. Continue reading →

The 10 best albums ever

Palm treeIf you had only ten albums to take with you to a desert island, what would offer you the greatest pleasure for the rest of your days? These would need to be albums that hold up to repeated listens, obviously—something that doesn’t easily bore you. My own choices are listed below in alphabetical order. Each of these albums is musically rich, covering a variety of styles from pop to jazz to neo-soul to rock to alternative. Continue reading →