Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tommy's Top Six

My musical palette has been exploratory in the most recent months. Though I will always love the old standbys such as Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Ross, and Coldplay, I’ve found myself yearning for a new kind of music. As I enter the green waters of careerdom, I yearn for a fresh music to be the backdrop for this vernal stage in my life. Something inside of me is calling for a soundtrack to settle down and build a career on, a kind of rice base. The following albums are the chosen few who I’ve made acquantinces with so far. Some of them are foriegn and will likely be deported, but still, put a gun to my head and ask me my top six albums, these are them.  

Bonnie Tyler is the one in the picture.

“Late at night I toss and I turn...” If that line from “Holding Out For A Hero,” ever fits you, I don’t recommend this album as a sedative. Bonnie Tyler Super Hits is a refreshingly audacious endeavor to mix raw human emotion and music, and Bonnie Tyler. The angelic skuzz-buzard vocals of Bonnie accompanied by the distorted hell-bending guitar are perfectly accented by the three second reverb snare sets. Where some albums suck, this one doesn’t. This album seamlessly blends the evocative emotion and philosophical meandering that’s come to typify Bonnie Tyler’s music. For example, the song “If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man)” has a saxophone and an affected choral chorus that Jon Bon Jovi later mimicked. And don’t even get me started on the courageous lyrical imagery that is effortfully strewn throughout: “Total Eclipse of the Heart” ...

The performance isn't miserable. 

In this album, The Miserable Ones deliver a surprisingly edible concoction of uncompromisingly good things. The seductively commanding voice of Jean Val Jean capture attention in “Prologue” with one harrowingly delivered line, “I stole a loaf of bread!” That same voice returns to take us on a journey of decision, ultimately ending in a contentedly responsible hope, that captures the essence of Jean Val Jean’s plight in, “Who Am I?” This song is the brooding question of every young professional. I’ve often found myself in my office shamelessly resonating that question out the door and down the hall, as I, withJean Val Jean, come to the final realization that I too, am in fact, “TWO-FOUR-SIX-O-ONE!!!” 

The hands might be Johnny Cash. 

Johnny Cash reminds me of my Grandpa Vern, mostly in resemblance, but also in time. I always admired my Grandpa Vern’s faith in Jesus. When I listen to Johnny Cash in My Mother’s Hymn Book sing “I Shall Not Be Moved,” I’m immediately transported to my Grandparent’s basement, on their little self-made stage called “The Rocking Horse Review.” There my Grandpa and I are singing together, and his faith, the faith I need, is shared with me––something like a Seventh-day Adventist smokey-saloon foretaste of heaven. 

Songs of the Aztecs, older and newer.

Mexihkateokwikameh is an unkempt journey into the imagined chants of ancient Mexico. Tzotzollin give a pleasantly compromised blend of pre and post-Columbian America music, with what seems to be some tribal African-like harmonies as well. This album gets at the humble hummer in all of us. The Spanish/Aztecan fuse of "Temetzkaltzin Kwikatl" is driven by a calm but persevering percussion rhythm, and in the drivers seat the vocals optimistically chant about something in foreign chords, joyfully permitting us to be okay at life. And near the end of the album, "Tlanezi Kwikatl," rocks us to sleep with its new but familiar lullaby-like progession. Oh, and who can’t help but sing along with, “Ome Tlazokamati Kwikatl?” ... “Ome Tayayo! Ome Tayayo! Ome Tayayo!” 

This is Album 2, but same cover as Album 1. 

Jean Val Jean is back and older than before, but he can still sing. He takes the audience beyond the barricade in his falsetto prayer, “Bring Him Home.” But the Miserable Ones really do it right when the dead join the living in “Epilogue [Finale],” for the most lavishly beautiful zombie-chant ever accompanied by a pit orchestra. This album garishly, yet amazingly unpretentiously, filters the human condition inspiringly into the hearts of the audience. Who can contend, after such a performance, that “To love another person is to see the face of God”? And when the questions are asked of me, “Won’t you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me”? May my answer be a resolutely intrepid, “Yes, I will. Bring it on tomorrow. I’m ready.”   

Bloop: The Underwater World Nature Sounds,
New Age Music Relaxing Sounds for Deep Meditation, Enlightenment,
Relaxation, Message, Yoda, New Age Healing Under Water Enigma,
 Nature Music, Sound Therapy and Spa.

This album is a sixty minute recording of someone playing in the tub, laced with white noise.

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