Archive of January 2021

The two hundred and fifty-eighth album: #258 T-Rex - The Slider

I'm not sure where to stand with The Slider. The first track, Metal Guru. fits the bill as a hard rock track that hits that feeling of being slightly inaccessible and taking a bit of work to get. Then there are tracks that just don't make an impression, including title track the Slider, while Spaceball Ricochet, which is more like a ballad, feels like it doesn't quite fit in with everything else. The album has some glam rock elements and plays with hard rock, but it feels like a mixed bag with some tracks hitting - like Metal Guru and Ballrooms of Mars respectively showing the hard rock and glam rock of the album - and others feeling a bit too toothless to fit the feel they were going for.

The ninety-third comic: #630 The K Chronicles

The K Chronicles take the form of a weekly, Sunday-style comic - not unlike Life In Hell. Written by an African-American artist, it covers a number of racial themes, current affairs and political humour included, which gives it quite a different viewpoint from what you'd often get in these, and it's a welcome one. It's obviously not one I've experienced, but there are bits that seem familiar and it manages to hit the right button, while maintaining the humour. Add to that the cases where the cartoon covers slice of life stuff, recognisable but coming out quite unique, and this became an accessible, as well as entertaining read that still has a large chunk of its archives online to read - even covering recent events when it feels it needs to be covered.

The one hundred and second classical recording: #124 Giuseppe Tartini - Violin Sonata in G Minor, "The Devil's Trill"

Said to have come to him in a dream, The Devil's Trill was apparently a bad copy of a song he had the devil play to him in a dream. While probably just as much a good story as it is him talking about his dreams, the work has a certain charm that I don't entirely associate with work from the 1700s, it being a speedy and seemingly technically difficult piece in places that relies as much on tension and haste as it does on the slower movements that fill the room. There is something especially impressive about the piece when it starts to dance like that, taking you more on a journey to a conclusion that's still as amazing to listen to.

The one hundred and fifty-fifth TV Show: #681 Lost

I'm sorry Lost, you never really found me.

There was a lot of hype around Lost and it's been on our backlog for over a decade to watch it. Watching it now, though, we never really got into it. In part it's because we knew the conclusion - spoiled by its comparison to a different TV show ending - making a lot of what happens meaningless, but I often feel it's about the journey more than it's about the outcome. The journey, however, never really appealed.

The show's split between flashbacks, focusing on a character per episode, and life on the island, often focusing more on what happens to that character and how they fit into what happens on the island. The flashbacks are mixed - not all of the characters are as interesting and as much as it's a delight to see Charlie do his thing, main lead Jack is a bland American hero type that didn't gain much over the first season.

The island loses out further. It feels like a lot of what they can and can't do and do or don't have available is plot based rather than survival based, which would have made for an interesting angle they never really get into. The interplay doesn't work well, the antagonism feels a bit forced, and the whole thing seems set up to drive the group into two camps rather than something more natural. I mean, the fact that the 'leaders' are the characters I care the least about put a damper on that anyway, with Jack and Kate not really working as interesting protagonists.

And the mysteries? Barely there, and when they are there's not enough to look at. You want to get answers to some of the small mysteries, so they can lead to bigger ones, but instead it doesn't give you anything. Knowing where it all ends up, and how because of that it's all meaningless, means that it just doesn't get that interesting.

That's not to say there aren't good bits - there are a bunch of good characters and an episode like Numbers works incredibly well, but there are so many scenes and episodes in between that feel perfunctory, spinning its wheels for some time, that the series doesn't connect. Ten years ago, I might have liked it. It might have been a good watch at the time. These days, however, it doesn't offer enough.

The two hundred and fifty-seventh album: #257 Stephen Stills - Manassas

Usually I try to find a hook when listening to these albums - a song or two that draw me in and define the album, or something special that stands out. The problem with Manassas is that I struggle to find anything like that. It's competent country/blues rock, the bluegrass is fine, it has some feeling put into it, but there's nothing that stands out. I couldn't tell you a song that I really enjoyed or something that made me sit up and pay attention. It's not that I can't tell the difference, we're certainly moving between several different songs, but it's hard to mention anything that actually makes an impact. The one that's closest is probably the final, fourth side, Rock and Roll is Here To Stay, which swings a lot more... but even then this doesn't have the impact other rock albums have for me.

The two hundred and fifty-sixth album: #256 Stevie Wonder - Talking Book

Talking Book is mostly a poppy soul album, flirting with rock in places and shifting a bit, but mostly sounding like a soul album that's polished itself to reduce the repetition that tends to get to me and feeling like a normal pop album, with the familiar topics of love and life without going that deep. Stevie Wonder brings several influences to the album, some funk, some rock and drifts between upbeat pop numbers, ballads and funk in an album that cheers you up and makes you feel better.

The one hundred and first classical recording: #971 Olivier Messiaen - Livre du Saint Sacrement

Sometimes music just hits you the wrong way. We were admittedly at a low energy moment when we started listening to Livre du Saint Sacrement, but there was something anxiety-inducing about it. Part of it might be the discordant sound of the first few tracks, a messy sound that we felt we couldn't keep listening to. On a later listen the later tracks move back from that a bit, although the nature of Messiaen's work still leaves you off balance, never letting you settle into a listening experience.

The question is whether you can get something more out of it even if it leaves you feeling off and get you in the right head space. Here, the work's disjointed nature means that there's not much I find in it and that anything that works is so fleeting that it's soon followed by something I don't enjoy. Without that through line, this doesn't give me much I enjoy.