Strong

U2 was at the peak of their career when they released Achtung Baby (1991). More relaxed than when they started their musical career, U2 produced with Achtung Baby an album rather than anything resonating beyond the four walls perhaps, but I could be wrong. See the end of this review for more.

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Popular

The Lockdown Sessions (2021), by Elton John. Released October 22, 2021. Others contribute to Elton John’s latest album, such as Miley Cyrus, Charlie Puth and Dua Lipa. This has popular appeal, but the commercial tropes begin to wear it down with a beat and bass too many.

Upbeat

Blessings and Miracles (2021), by Santana. Released October 15, 2021. The title indicates a positive feeling, perhaps in contrast to so much negativity around recently, that an upbeat album was the order of the day. Santana delivers the upbeat vibes, just more of the same from Santana.

Dreamy

Ookii Gekkou (2021), by Vanishing Twin. Released October 15, 2021. The mind boggles with the title. The music quality, which is dreamily jazzy, feels disjointed from the spacey vocals. Perhaps they are trying for something overall dream-like, but the elements don’t come together.

Pattern

Pattern Recognition (2021), by Glok. Released October 15, 2021. Andy Bell’s performance name is Glok and his dance/electronica album Pattern Recognition thrives of pattern – as dance music does – but this one is also repetitious.

Reviewer’s lot

In terms of art, you will see my pure and simple likes and dislikes in the category “like or don’t like”. The other ones that don’t fall into that category are pretty much, ‘I may not have liked it, but I see good points and negatives’. This I think pretty much sums up the reviewer’s lot. They judge and assess a lot, but don’t like a lot. They like a few. Doesn’t that reflect us all?

Nice turn of phrase

Burton Cummings (1976), by Burton Cummings. Released October, 1976. I’ve discovered Burton Cummings! Not that he needs to be discovered, having put out solo albums since 1976, and before then leading The Guess Who. I discovered Burton by his self-titled solo debut, the one on review. This is not a religious album, as one may tell by the suggestive “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, which by the way is a nice jazzed up cover of the original, but there is a song about religion done in a heartfelt, meaningful way, on “I’m Scared”. Throughout, the lyrics throughout have an interesting turn of phrase, the subjects are palatable and if not always palatable the music always is. This is a soft pop rock 1970’s album that may be called easy listening today.

Dreamy

The Cymbal Crashing Clouds (2011), by Ben Shive. Released September 26, 2011. Ben Shive hits the right notes on this alternative album where you should not expect a big statement on life, God, and everything. Rather, the human experience is expressed perhaps explored here and is without an expression of cynicism. On “She’s Invincible” a boy is attracted to a girl and the frustration that goes with that, done with a slight literary bent to the lyrics. On another, with a turn of phrase, Shive brings a smile — “A Last Time For Everything” reverses the ‘first time for everything’ saying. And on that track is more revealing of his Christian roots. “Sorry, but I’m Yours” is an unusual declaration of faith from a human and trusting in God base. The vocalist does not come on strong instead lets the lyrics speak on their own terms. The Christian content, while not overt, is thematic and buried, and the appealing texture on the tracks is dreamy, soft, light jazz, and slightly cool. I was into this album.

Banter

Friendly Fire (the album; 2006), by Sean Ono Lennon. Released October 2, 2006. Sounds like friendly banter, a friendly conversation, with a point to get across as well, but firing not with all cylinders and palatable on the ear. Otherwise too middling for my taste and perhaps the title track sums this up best: “Dead Meat”.

Soulish

I Love You (the album; 2006), by Diana Ross. Released October 2, 2006. The feel is modernish soul, with a touch of class. Not a very evenly arranged album with too many slower tracks in-between. The cover of Queen’s Crazy Thing Called Love is only respectable because of Diana’s convincing vocals it’s for real. Perhaps better titled “I Love You, (signed) Diana” to inject some warmth.

Riddle

Body Riddle (2006) by Clark. Released October 2, 2006. This has the signs of an experimental album: what one may feel as an inconsistent sense of musical flow. In other words unpredictable and not straightforward, as it composes sound upon sound, even on the one song, and a steady, subtle ‘beat’ goes through. The effect is too jarring for me and sometimes just plain dull and off-putting.

Real?

Straight Outta Lynwood (2006), by Weird Al Yankovic. Released September 26, 2006. Weird Al has parodied songs by Michael Jackson (“Eat It”) and Madonna (“Like a Surgeon”) and this one is obviously a take on the title of the film Straight Outta Compton. On Straight Outta Lynwood, the lyrics are obviously doing parody, but the music sounds like the real thing. This is not a seamless parody album.

Get real

The question I ask myself is why don’t I do just one version of a review and leave it at that. The thing is that I may dislike a film but see its worth in themes. The traditional way of dealing with this from a Christian perspective is to praise the themes and forget that you disliked the thing. But I don’t forget. I didn’t like the thing! I wouldn’t buy it. Really! But, since I am conscious of the God thing as well, I want to bring something of that out, too, such as in a theme.

The solution was simple: Don’t downplay the so-called God thing in some work I dislike, turn the ‘God-thing’ over in another format of writing.

Therefore: spirit of life category should provide the thematic stuff in movies and music only and related themes. Although some of my earlier film and music writings that are now posted in the spirit of life category do contain some reviewy elements. This reviewy stuff might have been a critique of a theme. My entertainment review category on this blog should provide straight reviews only.

Update: This information in regards to the structure of the blog is no longer relevant. But in terms of reviews I am keeping to subjective reviews in the music category and more or less in the film category.

Cool

Duets An American Classic (2006), by Tony Bennett with others. Released September 26, 2006. An album of swing, brass and jazz, wrapped in cool, should be embraced, should it not? If you are not into this, why harp? Aren’t albums like these a-okay, whatever the case? For me, sometimes.

Idol

The debut self-titled album by Mario Vazquez (2006). Released September 26, 2006. Maybe I have a heart for musicians who feature on reality show American Idol. Having been on American Idol they are liable to critique and when one is being measured in the public eye the effect can be bruising. Yet, Idol’s albums are not that good. Either cringing and embarrassing or something in-between. Former Idol Mario Vazquez came out with something really nice, and appealing is the gentleness of opening track “Gallery”. But the album is kind of weak, kind of produced, kind of sexy, and it all shows.

Trying too hard?

20 Y.O. (2006), by Janet Jackson. Released September 26, 2006. For Janet Jackson to celebrate twenty years of her music with a dance album seemed a good thing for us listeners. Her 2006 dance album celebrated twenty years of her music and presence since 1986’s Control but feels like trying too hard (to impress?) and is too sexualized. And after all Janet’s done in music?

At the office, he says…

I thought to explain some modifications on this blog, so here it goes. Longer reviews I have posted the last couple of months have been shifted to the ‘spirited’ category rather then keeping in the pop life category. These longer reviews are more in line with the ‘spirited’ category, anyhow. These reviews explore ideas and themes more than straight reviews and explore how the ‘spirit’ or ‘life’ of the movie or music got to me. I have more of these kind to post. But the entertainment reviews, which are shorter, are more about if I like something or not. Like I was in process of deciding to buy it or not. These reviews are more straightforward. So, these entertainment reviews are ones like I posted yesterday–the capsule reviews in other words. More coming up. Note: Spirited category has been transferred to the spirit of life category since this post. Update: The structuring as described here is no longer relevant.

Lower-key

Songs from the West Coast (2001), by Elton John. Released October 1, 2001. I am always open to an Elton John, but Songs from the West Coast is not vintage Elton so I had second thoughts. The album has the authenticity of the West Coast, the lyrics are quite interesting with musical accompaniment, and the high point is “I Want Love”, the album is even resonant musically, but not really into this lower-key Elton. A question was, does it have lasting effect? Probably not.

Fever?

Fever (2001), by Kylie Minogue. Released October 1, 2001. I was open to hearing this Kylie Minogue album because I have heard snippets of Kylie’s dance music and quite liked it on television. I would certainly give this album a chance, but I am afraid Fever echoes desperation at a club discotheque.

Active, where?

In a post before I wrote about God being actively present and I am wondering where someone would find God’s presence and activity. After that post, I thought about how God could be present actively in music somehow, but whether God is present there is another matter, perhaps of human origin, or even Satanic origin. But God can be there in his activity, perhaps even using the unusual, the unknown, the rejected.

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Listen

Reviewers tend to gush at certain things and scold, but I wonder if they are truly being objective as they offer their verdict with sweeping words of praise or hatred. Reviewers are objective are they not as they quality their criticism with passages of writing that explore the work and then are sounding fair and unbiased. Most of them know something about their art, do they not, but after all is said, are they still coming down without the objective eye? Would coming down objectively be a denial of their person?

Well, I realize in my approaches to listening to music that I have three ways: I can reject it, I can be open to it without being into it, and I can be just into it. Hence I introduce a new theme on this blog, which tells you briefly, in a few words or more where necessary, where I stand on an album or piece of music. Rejected, open to, or into.

Easy listening inspiration

As your grandmother said, what’s inside comes out on the face, and it can be good, this despite the bad things that happen in real life.

The album by Sheila Walsh, For a Time Like This, released thirty years ago this month into the Christian and inspirational market, says life can be difficult but there is still good food for the soul, unequivocally, whatever Grandma says.

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More

I’ve been thinking…and there should be more writing and literature on this blog, in the future, than general writing and life talk although I will probably still include that. I would like to see more poetry and reflections and reviews of books, movies and music.

Soul

I listened to this bubbly Canadian upbeat folksy pop with more than enough highs her simple compositions of conversation bubbled over with one or two lapses in continuity self-titled album she gave me for free I would have liked to have liked more, but I could not hear her soul the time when we talked, which made me feel very sad

Fan

Another interesting conjunction of prose into poetry?

The rebel reviewer petrified by rock’s raw beat and easy listening whips out dreamy pop, the sounds of cotton wool and sheepskin a cushy pillow to lay his head on. He drifts into soft-pop dreaming, as the disturbing subtleties of quiet angst pass through idealized and romanticized in pleasing lyrical covers, he thinks he is not a fan.

Drive

This is supposed to be a poem. I do not think it is. It does not look like a poem to me. More like an interesting conjunction of prose turned into poetry. From a review which sort of captures how I felt about a product.

Sad, melancholy, nothing that distinguishes itself, imagine listening to this driving, makes me feel dreamy and laid-back, but do lyrics ever resonant?  

Plastic

I was real in the last post, this post is being eloquent, even experimental.

Plastic means to me as far as I can tell, it is not poignancy, does not sound well. Artificiality false image. Not a sense of irony in kind of dynamo-echo, does not raise a smile and what comes through is not very much a synth-pop ambiance or art pop. Punk roots are obvious, though, clean pop art chorus synth bridge. Tends to tail off into a slow descent, but The Plastic Island merges with synth-pop exotica, a bit of reggae as well, not quite soulish enough, but ambiance indicates something more translucent. Represents 1980’s focus on surface images but is hollow and not transparent not being the most soulful. Something I did not see coming. It is plastic.-

Notes on an album transformed into freestyle poetical form or transformed into Plastic.

Shouldn’t

I hate it when I get an infectious albums of songs but I don’t really, really like it much at all. That just flies in the face of all notions to actually buy the album and call it part of my collection. But one comes down on the side of common sense. My mind was wandering as I heard it, so I am adamant I shouldn’t buy this.