Pulp Rock

Once upon a time various musical genres – blues, country, honkytonk, western swing and others – amalgamated into an exciting new sound called rock and roll. The music was edgy, full of vim and vigor, and never boring. As time moved on, corporate lackeys watered down the rock and roll to appeal to a wider fan base and generate taller stacks of money. Later still, rock evolved into a highly orchestrated, squeaky clean entity, in the process losing its edge and becoming, dare I say, boring. Until roughly 1975 when bands such as The Ramones re-introduced the idea of some mates getting together, picking up instruments, throwing together a few chords, and creating exciting sonic art.

However, today’s blog is about pulp fiction. So place your seats in a reclined position as we journey from music, through a metaphorical slipstream, and ultimately land in the works of John D. MacDonald.

Rocket to RussiaThe Ramones, Richard Hell, Dead Boys and others emerged, in great contrast to the highly-produced sounds of Yes and ELP. Gone was the boredom of album-oriented-rock. A new frenzy of emotion leapt from these bands’ ineptitudes, and it became apparent that a satisfying thrill could be obtained listening to music filled with uncertainty; uncertainty if the band would land together on beat one, if the bass player would actually make it through a run, if the blazing guitarist would manage to finish his solo before the vocalist came back in. This was excitement! Disaster might rear its head at any moment, and this created a riveting listening experience.

Exit music, enter literature. There was a time when pulp authors would pump out prose at an alarming rate. The result was similar to my beloved rock and roll: a disaster lay lurking behind every corner. Due to the speed with which they worked, quality within a single book could vary significantly. When prose was bad it was quite bad, but when it was good it was amazing.

And this takes us to John D. MacDonald. He wrote thrillers, what one might loosely think of as private detective stories, often set in Florida, often featuring Travis McGee, a salvage consultant who finds missing things for money. McGee’s character is quite different from the typical private eye, although the morose life-view which permeates the PI genre is an integral part of his persona. What sets MacDonald’s stories apart are, mixed among the mundane and sometimes poorly-written prose, stunning observations presented in vivid wordsmithery.

So rather than reviewing titles or describing plots, I leave you with excerpts that reveal the essence of MacDonald’s writing style.

  • “We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge.” – from Darker Than Amber
  • “Good old Meyer. He can put a fly into any kind of ointment, a mouse in every birthday cake, a cloud over every picnic. Not out of spite. Not out of contrition or messianic zeal. But out of a happy, single-minded pursuit of truth. He is not to blame that the truth seems to have the smell of decay and an acrid taste these days. He points out that forty thousand particles per cubic centimeter of air over Miami is now called a clear day. He is not complaining about particulate matter. He is merely bemused by the change in standards.” – from The Scarlet Ruse
  • “It is strange how a man, totally naked, feels a little more vulnerable. It seems to be a distraction, an extra area to guard. Cloth is not armor, yet that symbolic protection makes one feel at once a little more logical and competent. Doubtless the hermit crab is filled the strange anxieties during those few moments when, having outgrown one borrowed shell, he locates another and, having sized it carefully with his claws, extracts himself from the old home and inserts himself into the new. The very first evidence of clothing in prehistory is the breechcloth for the male.” – from The Scarlet Ruse
  • “The only thing that prisons demonstrably cure is heterosexuality.” – from The Long Lavender Look
  • “He had detected a certain sensitivity, a capacity for imagination, in the girl in New York. But the years and the roads, the bars and the cars and the beds and the bottles—they all have flinty edges, and they are the cruel upholstery in the dark tunnel down which the soul rolls and tumbles until no more abrasion is possible, until the ultimate hardness is achieved. So here she sat, having achieved the bland defensive heartiness of a ten–dollar whore.” – from Slam the Big Door

coversSo climb aboard the non-stop express to MacDonald’s melancholic, intoxicating world. And while you’re there, give Rocket to Russia a spin.

Family Albums

Image of blogger's mother, Judy, as a little girl in cowgirl attireJanuary 25th marks one year since we unexpectedly lost Mom to a heart attack. The news of her death brought on a series of trips back to Chicago to help my family go through her things and tie up loose ends. In the quiet hours of the night, generally my time because I’m a bit of an insomniac, I went through her CD collection. I added nearly everything to my iTunes because I’d never be able to lug it all back on the plane. Nevertheless, I’d decided I wanted to get to know a side of Mom I never really knew.

In our house, Mom’s music was always dominated by my music, my brother’s or Dad’s; he’d never been able to handle yodeling folk singers or wailing female vocalists, so she mostly listened to them in private. My brother and I, being teens, always hijacked the car radio, so that venue was out-of-bounds too. Needless to say, it was an eye-opener when I started ‘letting’ Mom control the radio when I became an adult, and got to know a bit more about what she liked. Here’s a selection of what I found in her collection – new-found loves from an old one.

Cover image for Joan Baez Bowery SongsJoan Baez
Enter Public Enemy Number One from my childhood. There were always Joan Baez jokes in the house, yet I never got to hear her and what the fuss was all about. Despite all that, she was one of Mom’s favorite singers. One of the best memories I have of the last couple years with Mom was taking her to a Joan Baez concert and seeing her sing along with every single song – a whole catalog I’d never heard before. It must be genetic, because now I love her too.

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Public Enemy Number Two. I’ve made up for lost time with Buffy. I’m completely drawn in by her raw emotion and powerful subject matter.

Cover image from Carole King TapestryCarole King
Bluesy, uplifting, and such an incredible voice. King is the kind of vocalist I’m a little surprised I didn’t come to all on my own.

Aaliyah
Mom discovered Aaliyah through her fervent love for Jackie Chan. After seeing the 2000 film Romeo Must Die, in which Chan co-starred with Aaliyah, Mom went out and bought all the Aaliyah she could find. Other than liking my Fugees and Lauryn Hill albums, this was about as far as Mom got into hip hop and RNB.

Cover image from The Wailers Burnin'Bob Marley
Aside from owning a copy of Legend, which seemed to be standard issue for college students, I never paid much attention to Bob Marley. Mom, on the other hand, loved him. It was a running joke that I had stolen one or more of Mom’s Marley albums because she’d always misplace them. My copies of Bjork, Beastie Boys, Beck, and Fugazi albums tended to mysteriously wind up in her CD booklets, but that’s neither here nor there. I still maintain my innocence in the matter of wandering Bob Marley, though I’ve been enjoying the albums I added to my iTunes.

Cover image from Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl BalladsWoody Guthrie
Twangy hobo ballads and stirring protest songs: they fit right into my new life out West. It’s nice to see how these songs follow the narrative of the region I chose to move to, and make me think of Mom’s past as a student activist.

These are just a sample of the wealth of new music I inherited from Mom. It’s been reassuring to quickly feel a connection with the artists that Mom listened to in her free time. Even if these artists weren’t a presence in my childhood, there is something there that is deeper than familiarity – somehow these artists are family.

The Best Music of 2013

Looking for the best music of 2013? Look no further than these staff recommendations!

Ron’s picks
What do we know about Elvis Costello, one of my favorite performers for nearly 35 years?

  • He is not a famous ice skater (that would be Elvis Stojko) nor the King of Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley).
  • He has recorded more than 20 albums in a wide range of styles.
  • While primarily known as a songwriter, he is also an amazing vocalist and a pretty fair guitarist.

Wise up GhostOver the years EC has recorded albums with The Attractions, The Impostors, and as a solo artist. His latest album, Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs, teams Elvis with well-known hip-hop band The Roots in a potentially radical genre- bending mixture. The resulting songs have a definite Costello flavor, but with a hint of funk that is absent from his catalog. It’s a unique blend, shored up by career-best vocals. Check this out, along with a few of my other faves of 2013:

Album covers Ron

Zac’s picks
The words “classical music” make me cringe. The term comes off as stuffy, and it reeks of dead male composers’ works that have been sewn into the background of all the films and television programs I’ve seen since I was a kid. However, under the right circumstances, I have enjoyed traditional classical music, but only to a point. Let’s just say it would be disingenuous for me to claim I’ve ever fired up Beethoven or Copland on my smartphone or home stereo. Despite my general “meh” attitude to the classical genre, Sarah Neufeld’s Hero Brother somehow crept its way into my earbuds this year.

Hero BrotherI was previously familiar with Neufeld via her affiliation with Arcade Fire, a band you can find on my “recently played” list. While the Arcade Fire connection compelled me to give Hero Brother a try, it’s the album’s unique sound engineering that makes the title stand out and kept me coming back. Recorded in parking lots, caves, and other unique locations, the album has a self-contradicting, haunting sound. The recording comes off with the lo-fi feel of older Black Keys albums while retaining clarity present in the production of Arcade Fire’s newer works. The end result is a well-polished rough-cut album worthy of a listen by classical music buffs and naysayers alike.

Other Bests of 2013:

Album covers Zac


Lisa’s picks
Sing to the moon
My appreciation for this album probably has as much to do with timing as it does with overall sound. A couple days ago I came across the NPR staff’s 50 favorite albums of 2013 and I decided to do some listening (you’ll see more of their picks on my list). My attention was immediately grabbed by the featured track from Laura Mvula’s debut album, Sing to the Moon, “Green Garden”. Strong vocals, toe-tapping beat, and massive amounts of sound; what more could I ask for? Thankfully the album was on the shelves at the EPL, so I wasted no time in discovering that the rest of the album had more of the same to offer.

If my brain was Pandora, and I clicked the ‘Why this track?’ feature for the track listing for Sing to the Moon, I think it would tell me the following:

“We chose this entire album because you love alternative music with orchestral accompaniment (see Bjork – Homogenic, and Portishead – Roseland NYC Live albums); really enjoy vocalists with a unique sound and deeper register such as Lauryn Hill, Bebel Gilberto, and Carmen McRae; and on a subliminal level you’ve been craving music that sounds vaguely-Christmassy that isn’t Christmas music.”

OK, that last reason sounds odd, but it’s undeniably something that I find amusing about this album. In a way the chimes, bells, and ethereal backup singing in Mvula’s tracks evoke the same feeling of wonder and joy that Christmas music can evoke, yet they don’t share the same baggage that overplayed seasonal music can carry. All that being said, this album fills a niche left open by my annual boycott of Christmas music stations, and will continue to sound good to me throughout the year.

Other 2013 favorites:

Album covers Lisa


Carol’s picks
Daft Punk
I’ve been in love with Daft Punk for almost 20 years. In that time they have created a number of songs that to this day still float through my mind on a random basis. Right at this moment, for instance, I’m tapping my toes to “Around the World.” This year the electronic duo created a new album, Random Access Memories, which has more of an R&B/pop feel to it. Dedicated Daft Punk fans: do not despair! This actually works out pretty well. They went a little more mainstream and as a result it’s more likely you will hear them on the radio, on TV, or out in public. Don’t be a music snob. Embrace your new musical brothers and sisters as they get on board the Daft Punk bandwagon. And if their popularity eventually wanes, it’ll leave more for you and me.

Because one good thing deserves another, I thought I should mention another great album that “dropped” this year, as the kids say. Capital Cities released In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. The biggest hit so far has definitely been “Safe and Sound,” whose lyrics contain the album title. But look past the pop charts and feast your ears on guitar that harkens back to the previously mentioned R&B-style Daft Punk. “Kangaroo Court” is catchy enough to make anyone an instant fan, and keep you moving through a workout or just cooking dinner. My favorite, though, has got to be “Farrah Fawcett Hair” for this lyric alone:

I like it when it rains at night and I’m curled up in bed with a good book.

Other CDs I’ve loved so much I’ve purchased them (and listened to them nonstop) in 2013:

Album covers Carol

Stay tuned (get it, tuned?) for the best music of 2014, coming to your bandwidth soon!

A Northwest Look at Decibel Festival

THEESatisfaction awE naturalE coverIt’s hard for me to think of many positive things to say about summer coming to a close. Our daylight hours are shrinking, and soon temperatures will be dropping alongside them. I might completely write September off as the unwelcome and unloved messenger of Fall if its reputation wasn’t saved for me by Decibel Festival. For the uninitiated, Decibel is a 5-day (9/25-29) international multimedia event in Seattle that attracts some of the top names in electronic music. While there are film, art, and educational events during the festival, my focus is generally on the music. During the course of the festival, 130+ artists will flock to Seattle from 20 different countries to play a full roster of shows. I’m happy to say that the EPL has a good selection of albums produced by the artists who will be participating: from those who have traveled thousands of miles, to those who call the Pacific Northwest home.

Shabazz Palaces album coverBecause much of the hype tends to surround the out-of-town artists, I’d like to highlight some of the local talent that is being showcased at this month’s event. To make life easier, the library created a SoundCloud account that follows local bands, producers and DJs that may not have CD releases available to be added into our collections. You can check out what’s new on our stream here. The most recent posts in our stream are local Decibel artists. (Plug: if you’re a local band or producer who would like to be followed by us, let us know in the comments section or add us on SoundCloud).

Back to the matter at hand! My Northwest quick picks for the Decibel are all over the place stylistically:

Hailing from Seattle, THEESatisfaction defies any single genre classification. In their own words, this duo creates “funk-psychedelic feminista sci-fi epics with the warmth and depth of Black Jazz and Sunday morning soul, frosted with icy raps that evoke equal parts Elaine Brown, Ursula Rucker and Q-Tip.” This description basically nails it; once you hear their tracks you’ll understand. You can listen to some of their refreshingly-creative jams on their 2012 release awE naturalE. To get a feel for what you might hear at their Decibel showcase, you can check out this short Badu-inspired set on SoundCloud:

Ghost Feet, an “electro-acoustic” duo from Olympia, has been producing catchy, dancy atmospheric tracks (yes, that’s possible) since 2010. For those who shy away from electronic music because they feel it lacks ‘real’ instruments, this may be a good act to catch. Audiences at Ghost Feet shows quickly become immersed in the creative process of the duo, as ethereal guitar melodies are done live on stage and drum patterns evolve. Each track takes the audience along for a ride as different elements come together to create something new to keep bodies moving.

Shabazz Palaces are a Seattle-based hip-hop collective on Sub-Pop. Layered over beats that range from gritty, to smooth, to melodic, to glitchy (and sometimes all the above at the same time), Shabazz Palaces’ lyrics and hooks are engaging and entertaining.Their most recent release, Black Up, did well both locally and nationally, taking the top slot on the Seattle Time’s Local Top 10 of 2011. These tracks are a good fusion for hip-hop fans who are interested in getting into EDM, or EDM fans who want to dip a toe into hip-hop. Genre-blending is a beautiful thing.

My last PNW pick is The Helio Sequence, a band hailing from Portland. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about their music; their bright, bold sound reminds me at times of Air or Stereolab. Aside from their original material, their remix work for Shabazz Palaces is well worth a listen (contains adult language). This is another great pick for anyone looking to check out Decibel who might not be up for seeing a DJ set or Live PA. I hope I have the chance to check out their showcase, because I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Boat PartyAs for my own plans for Decibel, we’ll be hitting the RA (Resident Advisor) and High & Tight boat parties for starters. Hopefully we have the same fair weather, smooth sailing, and endless beats that we had last year. After that? It’s anyone’s guess. I hope you all take the time to explore Decibel for yourselves, either in person, or through our CD and SoundCloud selections.

When Is an Umbrella Not an Umbrella?

Bum-ber-shoot. Noun.
(1)    Another name for an umbrella.
(2)    An incredible music & arts festival held every Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center.

I have lived in Washington for nearly a decade. In that time, I have attended exactly one day of one Bumbershoot. It was back in 2009, but the memories still live in my soul. I had friends visiting from the Midwest. I left the tickets at home and had to ride the Monorail and two buses home & back, cringing the whole way. We saw Katy Perry, All-American Rejects, Iglu & Hartly, and the Old 97’s. We left when Sheryl Crow came on, partly because she’s from where we’re from and we were inundated with her music ever since she hit it big in 1993. But mostly we left because we were utterly exhausted and didn’t want to miss the late bus back to Snohomish County.

BumberGroup

The author and her fellow concertgoers.

The amount of crazy energy that charges everyone at a music festival is different, to me, than that of just a regular concert. It takes your breath away, keeps fatigue at bay, and gets you excited about almost anything. C’mon! We saw Katy Perry for crying out loud. If we could get excited about her, we knew no one that day could disappoint us.

When Bumbershoot recently announced this year’s music lineup, I knew it was time to hang up my Old Fart Cardigan and put on my Young Punk Tee. I know it’s impossible to see all the acts you want to see at a festival. I know that the comedy tickets (lineup will be announced later this summer) are nearly impossible to score. And I know that before the weekend is over I will be worn out and feeling older than my age suggests I should feel. But it’s so worth it to see, sometimes in very intimate venues, bands that I love and/or respect.

All American RejectsOld 97s

If you’d like to try some bands before the big day(s), here’s a set of tunes from Bumbershoot 2013 artists that you can listen to, for FREE, courtesy of your library.

Are you going? Who are you most excited to see? And the most important question: are we there yet?

Carol

My Love of Pandora

Pandora. Most may recognize this name from Greek mythology:

Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora’s creation in Hesiod’s Works and Days. The “box” was actually a large jar (pithos) given to Pandora (“all-gifted”, “all-giving”), which contained all the evils of the world. Today, the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocuous, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences.

Thanks Wikipedia!

Today, dear reader, I’m going to refer a lot to Pandora, but I’ll actually be talking about the streaming Internet radio service. Just like its mythological roots, this Pandora can open a whole new world of listening possibilities. Over time, as you indicate which songs you love (and hate) you can actually cultivate a personalized radio station tailored just to you.

Walk the MoonMy favorite method for discovering new music is to build a station around my current musical obsession. Recently I discovered Walk the Moon. This Cincinnati group has taken my world by storm. I love everything about their music: the energy, the lyrics, and just the way the songs make me feel when I listen to them. The music is upbeat and cheers me up, and the lyrics are so catchy I can’t stop singing. Songs like “Jenny” and “I Can Lift a Car” can be heard at any given moment in my home. But “Shiver, Shiver” has risen to epic status in my mind. Play it any time and I’m guaranteed to dance. Although I’m not nearly as good as the friend-of-the-band who gets his groove on in the music video, I can’t possibly give him a run for his money.

So I created a Walk the Moon station on Pandora and came up with some great new favorites, as well as re-discovering some old ones. Pandora has some sort of mystical algorithm (aka magic) that selects music based on the similar characteristics of the group or style you started out with. Without further ado, here are some of the best artists I’ve discovered (or re-discovered) as a result of my Pandoric adventures.

EmpireDiscoveryTemperTrap

Empire of the Sun: These guys from Australia have exactly one album we can get our hands on here in the States. From 2008, Walking on a Dream feels like a total throwback to 80s era new wave synth. And it is. But it’s also highly addicting. The album title is appropriately named: if I had to choose a soundtrack for my dreams, it would be this. If you get a chance to listen to this album, take a moment (not while driving, please) to close your eyes and see where your imagination takes you–you won’t be disappointed. Unless you were driving, in which case I wash my hands of you.

Discovery: This is another group I’d never heard of before Pandora. Granted, I cataloged their album LP back in 2009, but I didn’t need to listen to it. Finding out that your library owns the entire album of the incredible song you just heard on Pandora is comparable to how Charlie felt when he found the golden ticket that would open the door to Willy Wonka’s factory. The two guys who make up Discovery, Rostam from Vampire Weekend and Wes from Ra Ra Riot, had already captured my heart through their more well-known bands. This little side project of theirs has me humming throughout the day.

Temper Trap: I kinda sorta had heard a song of theirs on AltNation (SirusXM satellite radio channel 36 for those not in-the-know). I also kinda-sorta took advantage of the fact that I work for the library to beg and plead for the music selector to purchase their older stuff, which I actually think is more fun than the newer songs. It worked, and I have been spreading the word about Temper Trap ever since. Temper Trap is another Australian group that is informing the whole sound of indie rock worldwide. While their eponymous 2012 album features an emotionally satisfying “Trembling Hands,” 2009′s Conditions sizzles with hits like “Sweet Disposition,” “Love Lost,” and my personal favorite, “Fader.” In fact, I say if you give “Fader” a listen you’ll become a fan.

FosterThePeopleFoster the People: Like most people, I first heard about this LA group a couple of years back when they started receiving big name music award nominations from the likes of Billboard, Grammy, and MTV. “Pumped Up Kicks” has got to be their most well-known song. Me being me, however, I am hooked on the lesser-known “Call It What You Want” and “Houdini.” It’s super-difficult to classify these guys as just one style of music. “Call It What You Want,” for instance, has many elements found in disco, of all things. But Foster the People know what they’re doing and so I am content to sit back and let them take me on a musical journey.

The Postal Service / Death Cab for Cutie / Ben Gibbard: Ben Gibbard is a musical genius. If you listen to any of his projects, including his solo effort, you’ll probably not notice anything too outstanding or obviously revolutionary. But that’s why he’s so good. He and his various band mates create songs that are a bit subliminal in their genius. The melodies and lyrics enter through your ears and into the ear canal. Before you know what’s hit you they’ve entered your soul and you’re forever changed. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but sometimes the most incredible artists of all just keep it on the down-low. And that’s fine by me.

PostalServiceDeathCabGibbard

So there you have it. Yet another reason why you should definitely pay attention when the world changes around you. Had Pandora passed me by, I would never have gotten such a wealth of new music infused into my life.

Thanks, Pandora!

Carol

Don’t Panic!

Tick, tick, tick. That’s the sound of the holiday shopping clock running out. If you are among the millions of people who still have some holiday gifts to purchase, panic may be setting in at this point. You probably have the major players (spouse, parents, children) covered by now but those hard to gift folks (friends, co-workers, distant relations) may still be on your list. If you are still scrambling for gift ideas, let us show you a little library secret that might be of assistance.

The New Titles feature of our library catalog can be a great source for gift ideas. This menu allows you to browse the latest books, movies, and music recordings that are currently available. From the Everett Library webpage simply click on the library catalog and then check out the New Titles section on the right sidebar. In addition, several new title lists are displayed on the front page of the catalog itself.

Here are just a few of the new books listed:

Science of LoveTimeless MakeupUnfair TradeBruceKings and Queens of BritianBest Dog Ever

How about some new movies:

Dr. Who Series SevenDark Knight RisesOdd Life of Timothy GreenHope SpringsThunderstruckTed

And don’t forget the new CDs:

Tender TrapSwing to MagellanGreen Day

We hope this helps with your last-minute shopping. And remember to cut yourself some slack. It is the thought that counts after all.

Freddie For a Day

I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up in a time when Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, was alive and popular. I didn’t start listening to music until the 90s and sadly by then he was gone. That didn’t stop me, in adulthood, from chasing down everything he and Queen did, both musically and visually. I couldn’t get enough of their writing, his singing, and all that amazing music. And I still can’t get enough to this day.

Imagine my glee when I discovered that there is a worldwide remembrance on Freddie’s birthday. Every September 5th is Freddie For a Day. People all over the world dress up like Freddie Mercury to celebrate his life and to help promote awareness of AIDS. In many cases, people actually acquire sponsors whose donations go to AIDS charities.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Freddie For a Day, and I’m psyched to participate. I’ll be wearing some Freddie-esque attire to work, possibly including a moustache. I’ll also be hosting a Freddie bash for my friends. And, of course, any holiday wouldn’t be complete without the appropriate reading material to get me in the spirit of it all.

40 Years of Queen by Harry Doherty is designed to look like the ultimate roadie’s scrapbook. Band members Brian May and Roger Taylor introduce this authorized history of the band, complete with reproductions of memorabilia and over 200 photos. If you don’t have a lot of time but really want to learn more about Queen, you’ll definitely want to check out this book.

Is This the Real Life? The Untold Story of Queen by Mark Blake and Mercury: an Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones are still on my to-be-read shelf. Both are written by former music journalists who have not only done their research but also conducted new interviews with everyone central to Queen and Freddie Mercury. Each book is about 400 pages long–but don’t worry. There are many pages of photos in each to keep you going.

Proper holidays also demand some great music for an appropriately festive celebration. For Freddie For a Day, we have at our disposal the majestic music from both Queen:

A Night at the Opera (Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon and Seaside Rendezvous, while not the obvious hits, are still my favorites from this album)

Jazz  (Dreamers Ball and Don’t Stop Me Now are my all-time favorite Queen songs)

Sheer Heart Attack (Killer Queen and Now I’m Here get me moving–and singing–every time)

News of the World (mega hits like We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions dominate, but Spread Your Wings will warm your heart)

Platinum Collection: Greatest Hits I, II, III (Under Pressure, Seven Seas of Rhye, and Princes of the Universe hold their own against Hammer to Fall and Crazy Little Thing Called Love)

…and Freddie on his own:
Lover of Life, Singer of Songs: the Very Best of Freddie Mercury Solo (The Great Pretender and I Was Born to Love You will always break my heart)

    

There’s also an emotional and in-depth documentary, Queen: Days of Our Lives, that’s worth screening for the more devout Queen follower. Recent candid interviews with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor are interwoven with footage of past interviews with Freddie, Top of the Pops performances, and clips from music videos, both from Queen and Freddie’s solo works.

Freddie For a Day has the potential to spread awareness about a disease that has not been cured, contrary to what many people believe. It also has the potential to be the most fun holiday of them all. So grab your caterpillar moustache and glam-rock attire and join me on September 5th as I remember a great man and become a part of his legacy.

Carol

New-To-Me Music

Growing up in the Midwest, trends in fashion, music, and even slang often took a while to enter my life. And those really of-the-moment trends? Well, let’s just say they were already out of style everywhere else by the time Southern Illinois got a hold of them.

  

Thankfully today we live in an era where social media and Perez Hilton alike keep us freshly updated with all things trendy. We even have Internet radio stations and satellite radio in many cars so the whole country can hear the same music at the same time.

So really there’s no excuse not to already know and love the songs and bands I’m going to list below. No excuse, unless you’re like me and are still experiencing a little Southern Illinois slowdown in your life. Some trends filter through quickly and others take some warm-up time. It’s a relief, then, knowing that great music never goes out of style.

  

Beekeeper’s Daughter by All-American Rejects
Shuffle by Bombay Bicycle Club
Some Nights by Fun
Tongue Tied by Grouplove
Junk of the Heart by The Kooks
Midnight City by M83
Punching in a Dream by Naked and Famous
Everybody Talks by Neon Trees
Simple Song by The Shins
Silence by The Ting Tings
Float On by Modest Mouse
Rack City by Tyga
Run by Vampire Weekend
Burn It Down by Linkin Park
Loca by Shakira
Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap
Houdini by Foster the People
North American Scum by LCD Soundsystem
Little Shocks by Kaiser Chiefs
Blood Pressure by Mutemath

  

So that’s what I’ve been listening to lately. You could call this a summer playlist because it would be a proper companion to doing a lot of summer-type things: island-hopping, washing the car, and hitting the farmers’ market. But not all of these songs are brand new. Still, I encourage you to give them a try. The library has copies of everything listed above. Who knows? Much like a random road trip, you may discover something great.

Carol

Music, Music, Music!

It’s the time of year when savvy hipsters start planning to attend summer concerts. From Arlington to Everett, Woodinville to Seattle, outdoor music will soon abound, with ticket prices ranging from free to less than the cost of a college education.

If I could choose only one of the many fine offerings coming to our fair region, I would be hard pressed to decide between the sultry voices and hypnotic stylings of Madeleine Peyroux and Diana Krall. Then again, I do have a morbid curiosity to witness a not-so-youthful Blondie singing songs of teenage romance and lust. Or even better yet, it’s been 30 years since I’ve seen Devo perform and it might be fun to see if any of the members are still climbing speaker stacks and jumping off of them whilst soloing.

Decisions, decisions.

To fully prepare yourself for a concert (and the quiz that’s sure to follow), check out some CDs from Everett Public Library.  Many of these visiting artists can be found in our hallowed halls, or at least on our hallowed CD racks.

Here are a few of the performers coming to our neck of the world this summer:

BLUEGRASS
Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

 

BLUES
Ray Wylie Hubbard


COUNTRY

Rosanne Cash     Steve Earle and the Dukes     Asleep at the Wheel     Lee Brice
Alison Krauss     Emmylou Harris     Lyle Lovett

  

FOLK
Leo Kottke     Buffy Sainte Marie


JAZZ

Madeleine Peyroux     Dr. John     Diana Krall

 
KIDS
The Brian Waite Band

 

NEW AGE
Tingstad & Rumbel
 


POPULAR
Pink Martini     k.d. lang     Jake Shimabukuro     Shawn Colvin


REGGAE

Ziggy Marley
 


RHYTHM
Mavis Staples     Earth, Wind & Fire
 


ROCK
Melissa Etheridge     Los Lobos     Grace Potter     Los Lonely Boys   
Alejandro Escovedo
Chicago     Crosby, Stills & Nash     Bonnie Raitt     Blondie
Devo     Chris Isaak      Steve Miller Band     The Beach Boys
Ringo Starr     Boz Scaggs     Michael McDonald     Donald Fagen
 



 

WORLD
Ladysmith Black Mambazo     The Johnny Clegg Band     Mickey Hart

Ron