Notes, November 2019 Edition

Here’s some very cool music for you to enjoy. As always, no rhyme or reason (well, I guess some rhymes), but remember that listening to music that you don’t already know is one of our true exposures to the sublime.

Tragic Kingdom, by No Doubt. Gwen was, and still is, cool as hell. My long-standing love of that certain whiskey-and-cigarettes female vocal style very likely started here, but this album is so much more than that. It ranges all over and plays with so many different stylistic influences, and remains an absolute classic, so defining of its era. This is road trip music, heartbreak music, and party music – and few albums represent that kind of diversity while still being a cohesive whole.

The Grand Wazoo, by Frank Zappa. I’m certain Frank Zappa is not human. There’s no way the same process that evolved the rest of us could possibly have created that mind. Whatever unique combination of genetics and environment produced that genius, I’m thankful for it. This is a “jazz”(?) album by Zappa, and it’s so thoroughly deep it just takes over your thoughts while you’re listening. This isn’t background music. Put this on when you need your body to do one thing and let your mind take a trip, like working out or taking a 40-minute shower or something.

The Next Hundred Years, by Ted Hawkins. You can’t feel pain the way Hawkins can, but if you want to come close to the divine experience, listen to him sing about it. In the same way that working out damages your muscles in order to let them heal stronger, this will do that for your soul; damage it and then let it come back more robust than it was.

Plum, by Wand. If the Smashing Pumpkins were a Beatles tribute band, you’d get close to what this is all about. I’ve only just started living with this album in my rotation (and thank you for the recommendation!), but I’m enjoying the vibe so far. I definitely think they’re both talented and not afraid to mess around with structure a little, and that’s a good recipe.

The Black Parade, by My Chemical Romance. I’m a sucker for a good concept album; storytelling in this medium fascinates me. A lot of the songs on this album don’t stand well on their own, but the whole thing comes together so well as a complete tale. When I first listened to this album, it was definitely not cool for my demographic to like MCR, but that taught me a lesson as well – (not/)liking music because of your social demographic is so unbelievably dumb I can’t believe there was ever a part of me that entertained the idea. Great music is great no matter who listens to it.

Enjoy all that music has to offer, my friend. And if you offer me some suggestions in return, I won’t complain!

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