Happy (not actually) Bastille Day!

Happy Monday, fellow misadventurers! It’s another godforsaken Monday, and boy did I feel like death. I was the sickliest sick that ever drank Pepto Bismol earlier, but now I feel so much better. Fortunately for everyone who reads this, I’m not going to talk about that any further.

I picked Bastille today because it’s the first artist I’m not giving five out of five arbitrary scoring point-things. I love Bastille, and we’ll get to the reason for this choice soonish.

Somehow, through some stroke of luck, I happened upon “Pompeii” on YouTube. It had me hooked instantly. iTunes was opened, I searched for Bastille, and then cursed everything because the full album wasn’t available. There was, however, a four-song EP titled Haunt. If this were any indication to me, based on “Haunt” and “Pompeii”, as to how good their upcoming CD would be, I knew I would be hooked.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t entirely correct there. I did, of course, buy the Deluxe Preorder Whatever-The-Hell version, which featured a few extra tracks (one of the albums redeeming qualities). Haunt set the bar very high in terms of what I should expect, and a few of the tracks let me down a bit by comparison.

“Pompeii”, while one of my favorite songs by Bastille, is also enough of an earworm that having it stuck in my head for weeks at a time negates some of its greatness. Having to skip tracks after giving the whole CD a chance makes it a bit more disappointing, as I’m usually able to take a liking to entire CDs over time (usually being the operative word here).

Overall, Bastille’s vocals and catchy tunes still defeat any doubts I have about Haunt and Bad Blood and more. Overall arbitrary rating of four out of five golden wossname-thingums.

And now for Music Mondays

Better known as day one of me deliberately finding ways to create horrible, cheesy alliterative titles for each day’s over-arching theme. That was the compromise I made with myself to help justify any sort of set organizational system. The more you know?

This is the first of many Mondays in One Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0, and the first of many Music Mondays. This was actually one of the first idea-bits that inspired me to revisit this horrible, painful experience.

Right. Moving along.

Jonathan Coulton is to thank or blame for the inspiration that gradually evolved into this first post. I found myself in need of a new CD in my car. I threw together an assortment of songs from my iTunes library, popped a CD in my laptop, and almost forgot to retrieve it before I left for work.

It turned out to be the antithesis of what I was hoping to end up with, so that’s unfortunate. At least that’s how I felt about it until I got to one track in particular. “Nobody Loves You Like Me” from Jonathan Coulton’s CD Artificial Heart. I’m one of many people who were introduced to Coulton’s music thanks to “Still Alive” at the ending of Portal. I could probably go on about why I think his music, overall, is spectacular, but I really want to focus on Artificial Heart. First: if you’ve not listened to Artificial Heart before, I’d suggest taking a moment to buy it, listen to it, and probably fall in love with it. Continue reading

A little soul music to get you through the (extremely) cold weather

It’s the dead of winter.  It’s really freaking cold out.  The North Pole is apparently outsourcing all of its bitter, frigid misery-inducing air to the United States.  I can honestly say even thinking about it just made me feel down in the dumps, and I know thinking about it isn’t doing much for anyone else.

The perfect way to warm your body is, of course, a cup of hot chocolate (or tea) while settled down by a roaring fireplace, but what about warming the soul?  Hot chocolate’s good, but it can only go so far (unless you found a hot chocolate for your soul, in which case I’d like some details e-mailed to me ASAP).  What you need is some high-quality music to warm you through these arctic blasts.  What you need to fend off those herds of homicidal polar bears, who I’m told want to turn you all into people-suits for no real reason, is a copy of Meu Coração Brasileiro.  Naturally, you don’t have to take my word for it.  Let the album notes speak for themselves (which I copied verbatim from CDBaby).

These orignal compositions by veteran jazz educator, composer, and pianist Jeff Kunkel were recorded in Rio de Janeiro in 2011 and 2012. The music demonstrates the composer’s affinity and admiration for the unique musical culture of Brasil, and reflects his love of Bossa Nova, Samba, and MPB. Many were written while Jeff was traveling in Brasil, and are strongly influenced by the places, people, and music encountered there. Featured on the recording along with Jeff are some of the finest musicians on the Rio scene, including the legendary Mauro Senise (flute, saxophone), Vika Barcellos (vocals), Alex Rocha (bass), co-producer Haroldo Mauro Jr. (drums), José Arimatéa (trumpet), Mariana Bernardes (vocals), and Fernando Corona (background vocals). Two of the songs feature the Portuguese lyrics of Ms. Barcellos and Mr. Corona, and two others feature the English lyrics of Jeff’s American colleague Holli Ross.

Jeff Kunkel is an entirely remarkable person, and an extremely talented musician.  Not only is his CD, Meu Coração Brasileiro, loaded with fantastic, reasonably-priced music, but it can also lend to the illusion you have some culture.  No one believes you’ve read that dusty copy of War and Peace sitting on your desk.

Meu Coração Brasileiro is available through CDBaby, Amazon, and iTunes, and by buying a copy you are supporting independent artists doing what they love.  When you support independent artists in doing what they love, they can keep producing art which can make you happier, reduce your stress, and generally do good things for your day (reduced stress is probably connected to a lower likelihood of murdering someone).  Warm your soul through this awful weather with some good music.  You won’t regret it.