William Steffey Radio

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I realized I’ve been doing Spotify wrong. Instead of listening to the weekly generated playlists and up/down voting things, I’ve been copying them into another playlist to listen to later. Yes, I procrastinate so much that I can procrastinate listening to music! I ended up with a massive playlist that I’d never get around to, but it also lacked the feedback options. Without any feedback, my suggestions are all the mopiest of mopey indie rock.

As of this week, I’ve deleted that playlist and I’ve been sticking to Discover Weekly and Release Radar, voting down any song that seems in danger of putting me into a coma. It still feels a little bit like homework though so, because it’s Friday, I’m going to take advantage of another feature: artist radio.

(Sorry if this post sounds like I’m promoting them. I’m not. I’m not even a paid subscriber.)

Anyway, artist radio. I’ve got to start with William Steffey, right? He’s arguably my favorite artist. I married him. But also, he has such a limited following, I’m very curious how the algorithm will deal with it.

(Look at me embedding things in my page, all fancy.)

Clothes of the Devil is a good song. It’s pretty low energy, considering what I was just complaining about. I’d cal it more somber than mopey though.

Silent Stranger – Battle Axe: Is this a new song? It has an eighties power ballad-ish feel. Not my cup of tea, but I’m keeping an open mind. Bill certainly was influenced by songs like this, so I guess it’s not completely out of place.

Advertisement: 1. Ooh, a scaremongering PSA. That’s a fun change of pace. 2. Safe Auto likening excessive insurance coverage to Autotune. It’s clever. I can’t be that mad at it. 3. Xfinity Home Security? Oh yeah. Exactly what I’d want to have break unexpectedly and have to deal with terrible customer service.

Gush is one of my WS favorites. He shared Romance of the Spaceways with me when we were first dating. “If I gushed and told you everything, would you stand up, run like hell, and hide from me?” Funny how we think musicians are cool when they’re literally telling us all of their insecurities in four minute chunks.

Tony Anderson Orchestra – Dolannes Melodie. Oh, this is delightful. Instrumental, Latinish(?), with that one breathy flute-like instrument I can’t place.

Ok. I’m getting very little work done well I do this. (And my boss just stopped by while I typed that. So, um yeah.) No more blogging today.


Focusing on the Basics

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I haven’t forgotten that I had a plan to blog about the music I was listening to, but I’ve put that on hold. By which, I mean I completely flaked on it.

The truth is, I started looking into getting hired at the company I’m temping at. Suddenly, I didn’t want the VP walking past my cube and seeing Spotify or WordPress up on my screen. Also, the level of phone calls picked up and that’s not compatible with listening to music.

I’m back now because I heard an Asian Efficiency podcast the other day about planning in 90 day cycles. The timing was good, so I’m going to give that a shot.

The focus of these 90 days will be just getting the very basics under control. Eating vegetables. Brushing my teeth. Cleaning the cat box.

And keeping up with my prescription and doctor’s appointments. Last month, I ran out of SSRI refills and Wags had to call one in. This month, it happened again. Busy at work, I forgot to take a pill Wednesday. When I took one Thursday, I realized it was the last one. I put in for another refill, and the doctor said no! I didn’t find that out until Saturday.

It’s Monday now, and I still don’t have a refill. The withdrawal was really rough. When I started to feel better, I thought I might go the week until my appointment. I was already past the worst part and, to be honest, it makes me uneasy for a chemical to have that much power over me.

Well, this morning gave me a pretty good reminder of why I still need the medicine. One very small thing went wrong and my emotional reaction was disproportionate to the situation.

Maybe tapering off the drugs properly can be a goal for July/August/September. But, for now, I’ll take all the help I can get.

I don’t think I’ll get much done in the way of habits this week though. I’m working at a giant trade show out of town. I’m trying to go through all of my notes and to-do lists and sift out the important things though. Here’s what I have so far:

* Pay overdue doctor bill

* Take a long walk once a week. Would it be weird to pick up trash?

* Stop at the gym on the way home from work (plan for this)

* Eat a variety of vegetables

* One load of laundry every five days

* Scoop one cat box every night; top up with heaping cup of new litter. (Transfer measure to something plastic.)

* Clear email pins – they’re there for a reason

* Breast exam

* Trim nails and other basic maintenance

* Listen to more music, less spoken content?

* Work standing up?

Media Reviews

Beware of Playlist Pranks: MTiM-5

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No blog yesterday. The internet at work seemed dodgy, so I didn’t want to put Spotify on. Also, I was in a bummer of a mood so I probably wouldn’t have liked whatever I listened to. It happens.

I’m feeling better today and I don’t want to miss two in a row, so let’s get started with Paste’s #37 album of 2018.

Preoccupations: New Material

The album cover promised 80’s synth, and 80’s synth is what I’m hearing. It’s hard to judge objectively when it sounds so retro. Maybe if I already knew the band, I’d have more context for what they’re doing. From the Paste review:

“Examinations of creation, destruction and the ways that we often practice the two in vain have regularly been tethered to the Canadian post-punk band’s work—even going back to their days as Viet Cong.”

Should it matter?  I guess nothing exists in a vacuum. I mean, a review of a Michael Bay movie wouldn’t point out that there are a lot of gratuitous explosions. It’s assumed that you have a certain level of familiarity going in. Should there be one review targeted at people familiar with the band and another for people who aren’t? One just for super-fans? One for Republicans and another for Democrats? Point taken, self. I’m going by a review in Paste and that’s a magazine for hip, rock savvy readers, right? And for posers like me who want a shortcut.

I should expand these posts into a full media review site called, “No, I’ve Never Heard of Them.”

I was planning to do a second listen, but it’s just going to confirm that this sounds a lot like the music I wasn’t cool enough to listen to in high school.

Lonnie Holley: MITH

This, on the other hand is not derivative at all. The first track was like beat poetry meets Music From the Hearts of Space. But not quite.

Oh my goodness. This album is two and a half hours long!

No. No, it’s not. I accidentally clicked on a playlist consisting of MITH followed by Norweigan metal. There are apparently pranks on Spotify. Stay safe out there kids!

No second play today; it is a bit much for at work, but I could see listening to it on a rainy Sunday while reading a book.

I’m With Her: See You Around

Um… it’s a little Country. Sorry, Bluegrass. “Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins, Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan and folk songstress Sarah Jarosz began collaborating as I’m With Her back in 2015.” Nice enough, but not for me.

DJ Koze: Knock Knock

So far, it’s okay but a bit backgroundish. Even Paste is calling it a “canvas.” Okay, Track 4 has lyrics. This is better.

This album is all over the place. It will require a second listen. The current track is “Lord Knows,” and I can’t decide if it reminds me of Moby because of that, or if it’s a deliberate Moby nod.

I don’t have time to listen again at work today, so I’ll start with this one tomorrow. My blog, my rules.

Media Reviews

Listening to albums on a Monday: Part 3 of My Taste in Music (MTiM)

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It’s quiet here today. The person I report to and her boss and her boss are all out of the office. That’s not to say I don’t have plenty of work to do. Just that it’s nice to not have to feel sneaky.

Paul Kelly: Nature

So, this is kinda old and folky? Ok. Wasn’t expecting that. Okay. I’m five songs in and it’s not folk, but the singer definitely makes me think of Bob Dylan. The tracks are on the slow side and there’s a lot of repeating the same line twice. That’s one of those things that works great when it works, but gets really old when you’re not digging the song. This is probably a good album, and I’ll read the review r/n to see if I’m missing anything, but I don’t think I’ll give it a second listen.

He’s Australian. And now I’m hearing a similarity to Colin Hay. But, with Colin Hay, you get an occasional clever punchline. This is just too earnest for me.

Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour

Oh, boy. The second track is so poppy that I thought it was the start of a Spotify ad. I’m getting a Sheryl-Crow’s-little-sister vibe. I’m going to read the paragraph. Yes, this is a country to pop crossover. No surprise that it’s leaving me cold. The track “Butterflies” sounds like a catchy pop song from the seventies. Pleasant, but forgettable. And now what’s this Daft-Punky Autotune opening all of a sudden? Ten tracks to go.

Space Cowboy is a play on words. He’s a cowboy who wants his space. Points for that. It has me wondering though? How many actual cowboys are there anymore? Apart from as a nickname or metaphor. I guess they’d fall under this group:

45-2093 Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals
Attend to live farm, ranch, open range or aquacultural animals that may include cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses and other equines, poultry, rabbits, finfish, shellfish, and bees. Attend to animals produced for animal products, such as meat, fur, skins, feathers, eggs, milk, and honey. Duties may include feeding, watering, herding, grazing, milking, castrating, branding, de-beaking, weighing, catching, and loading animals. May maintain records on animals; examine animals to detect diseases and injuries; assist in birth deliveries; and administer medications, vaccinations, or insecticides as appropriate. May clean and maintain animal housing areas. Includes workers who shear wool from sheep and collect eggs in hatcheries.

238,000 in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I guess that’s enough cowboys to sing about.

Three tracks to go. I’m looking forward to this album being over. This song, “High Horse” sounds really familiar. I bet they use it in the Spotify ads. It’s not terrible. It just feels like a Spotify ad. I’m adding it to the 2019 playlist on the grounds that I recognized it. That, and I’m feeling curmudgeonly about disliking two albums in a row.

Caroline Rose: LONER

Ok, finally. I feel like I’m listening to something new and interesting.

First time through, I liked it. I didn’t really take any notes. It veered 80’s for a bit, but recovered. “Soul No. 5” was very catchy, then “Smile…” was weird and trippy and then “Bikini” was super catchy in a way that I could see really loving or getting really sick of. (edit: I realize after the fact that it reminds me of “The Keys to Her Ferrari” by Thomas Dolby.) Let’s give the whole album another listen.

Oh, interesting. According to Paste, her previous album, I Am Not Afraid, was roots-rock. I think what I’m liking about this is the speed-pop of it. I’ll have to give that a listen and see if I like it as well.

Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed

So, wait. These are all Bob Dylan covers? That’s crazy. It doesn’t sound at all like Bob Dylan. It’s very good. Not for me though. Everything sounds too much like a feel-good song off the Thelma and Louise soundtrack. I loved that soundtrack, but I don’t think I can make room for something new that sounds like it.

Adrianne Lenker: abysskiss

I’m four songs in. I’m only kind of paying attention. It sounds a bit like someone singing out loud while wearing headphones.

Yeah. I gave this two listens and, just no. Too breathy and insubstantial for me.