Sunday, January 27, 2013


Round and round we go...

1. Master of the House from Les Miserables

Funny one to start off with, as Kim and I just saw this film, finally, last night.  Would be natural for me to write my review of that film here, but I'm not going to do that.  I'm going to write about how I think Les Mis may be the only musical I have on my iTunes.  I own a lot of cast recording CD's, trust me.  And most of them were on my iTunes on the old computer.  (I say most because people would give me cast recordings of shows I never heard of, and I rarely liked them.  To be fair, maybe I didn't give The Baker's Wife enough of a chance, but if I didn't know the show it would have to be a really great recording to get me into it.  Hello, Urinetown)  However, a couple of years ago, when the old compy went kaput for good, it took everything with it, and I've been slowly rebuilding my music collection on the lappy over the past few years.  Part of the reason is that I ripped pretty much ALL my music to the last machine, and as I've been going back through my CDs to restock my collection, I've realized that I don't really care for quite a bit of the music I own.  I think that, for the most part, there's at least one song I like on every CD I own.  But some CDs I bought (hello high school!) just for one song.  Also, some CDs I bought (hello majority of my Christian punk collection!) that I just don't think is very good anymore.

Though at the time I really, really, really felt that guy's pain, when he sang about that one girl who didn't know he was alive, even though he really truly loved him.  All six thousand times someone wrote that song...(Note: this is not to make fun of unrequited love, because yes, that sucks.  I do know that, too.  This is making fun of the lack of originality in Christian punk music, and likely punk music in general)

Anyway, I started this to reminisce about how I used to be HUGE into musicals, and for a while cast recordings were the only things I listened to. And now I don't think I've listened to one for a long time.

I should do a Top 7 to commemorate my favorite cast recordings.  Or at least the ones I'm still most likely to sing along with if I should happen to put them on.  (I should also do my Top 7 Least Favorite Songs in Musical Theatre.  That would be fun)

As long as I'm in the car alone.  Or with my wife.  I don't think I'd sing musicals to anybody else anymore.

Also, I still do love musicals.  I just don't listen to them too often anymore.

Okay, gotta move on.

2. Watusi by Silage

Speaking of music that's not nearly as good as it was when I was in high school... 

These guys were just weird.  And random.  And I mistook that for brilliance.  Ah well.  Some of the bass lines and the rhythms are pretty catchy.

I was also pretty weird and random at this stage in my life.  Seriously, all you people who didn't know me in middle school/early high school years.  You think I'm strange/random now?  You know nothing about Option C: Chicken Nuggets.

(Do you even read this blog anymore?)

Anyway, my favorite band of this time period (and, I suppose, to this day) was Five Iron Frenzy.  They were in turns bizarre/crazy/goofy, wild/energetic, and poignant/profound/challenging.  Which kind of describes the man I've become since I was just weird/random.  And I often wonder if I liked FIF because I was developing into a balance of goofy and profound, or if I developed into this combination because I listened to so much FIF.  (I know, you don't really get the profound on this blog, mostly the goofy, but trust me, it's in there, as my closest friends will almost unanimously attest)

Sort of a spin on the nature vs. nurture argument, I guess.

And yeah, I just used the spot on my shuffleblog inspired by a Silage song to talk about Five Iron instead.

Moving on...

3.  All The Way Alive by The O. C. Supertones

And speaking of Christian ska bands from the 1990's....

All three of the big Christian ska bands of the era have now mounted comebacks within the past year and a half.  The Insyderz album has been out since the fall, the Supertones came out with theirs shortly after, and Five Iron is supposedly done recording theirs.  It's got to be tough for a band to come back after taking six, seven years off. Amazingly, both the offerings from the rudeboys of my youth have actually been the best records those groups have ever produced.

I've started playing this Supertones album in the car more often so that Isaac will start to enjoy it.  See, Isaac loves music, and when he hears a song he tries to learn it so that he can sing along.  He now knows a TON of Beatles songs, most of The Megas' catalog, and a few songs by Steam Powered Giraffe.  Oh, and a decent amount of House of Heroes as well. Now, he doesn't really know a lot of the words yet, but he can come pretty close to singing them.  So maybe I ought to be filling his mouth with words he ought to be singing instead of, say, a rock musical told from the perspective of Mega Man's mortal enemies.

Just a thought.

The Tones have always had a lot of "Whoa-oh-oh"s and "Oy! Oy! Oy!"s, so I figured Isaac would latch on pretty quickly.

Man, I wish I was in a band.  We'd occasionally open our shows with That Thing You Do and our first album would be called "Greatest Hits."  The second album would be "The Early Years."  Those aren't actually funny and probably wouldn't happen.  Though I'm not in a band, and I never will be, so it's irrelevant.

But it would be really funny to open a rock show with That Thing You Do, even if the kids in the crowd would have no idea where it came from.


4. Super Mario Bros. Theme by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Can I say I'm actually sort of disappointed by this entire album?  It was on super-sale on one day, a collection of 21 video game themes played by the London Philharmonic, and yet very few of the arrangements really have any of the imagination that made some of these tunes so great in the first place.  I mean, I'm listening to this take on the most popular Nintendo tune of all time, and it really sounds just like you'd expect an orchestral version of the Mario song to sound.  There's no surprise, no magic, just pretty music.  Which isn't bad, of course.  But there are some really creative mixes and compositions of video game music out there done by people who really loved the source material.  This sounds like someone just cashing in on the popularity of video game nostalgia.

Though I guess not cashing in too much, since it was on sale super-cheap.

Also, a lot of the tracks on this collection are from contemporary games. What's the point of hearing an orchestral version of, say, Halo 4?  Halo 4 already has a full-orchestra soundtrack.  In fact, I think modern video game music is kind of boring (for the most part) because they've got so much most sophisticated technology.  Back before they had the capability for games to have movie scores, voice actors, and breathtaking animation, they had pixelated sprites and two-toned tunes to communicate everything you needed to know about the characters, world, and story.  And the tunes had to be good enough that you'd be willing to sit and listen to them on loop for hours at a time day after day after day.  Now, much of the original function of video game music has been taken by better graphics and animation and a full-fledged symphony orchestra.  Music is used more as it is in film--to set the mood.

Which, again, is fine.  But IMO, it makes older themes more interesting to listen to, especially when the genius of old-school NES and SNES composers is reinterpreted by artists with access to musicians and technologies that wasn't available to games at the time.

Or it may just be the nostalgia factor.

But no, the music was cooler back then.

Okay, one last spin of the wheel....

5. Silent Night by the 101 Strings Orchestra

When Kim and I first moved to Houston, we didn't have a lot of stuff.  (Now, we have a ton of stuff.  But that's for another day)  We didn't have a couch until Dave told us of a friend trying to get rid of a futon.  We didn't have a bed until a coworker of mine skipped town and had to get rid of her old bed.  We actually slept on a an air mattress for the first month or so of our marriage.  The entirety of our first apartment would probably fit into the living and dining area of our current apartment.

Ah, good times.

Anyway, we bought our first Christmas tree that year, and it was pretty small.  And we bought one Christmas CD.  Actually, it was a collection of three, and it was all instrumental.  It was five dollars at Wal-Mart.  If it had been much more than five bucks, we probably wouldn't have bought it because, oh yeah, we were also living on $900 a month for most of that first year.

Good times.

Anyway.  One of the best $5 purchases I have EVER made.  We basically had that CD and all the rock-and-roll Christmas albums I accumulated over my high school and college years.  So we listened to this one a LOT, because the others, well, they didn't all age well.  And each year, I try to add one new Christmas album to our collection.  Still, this is probably the one we listen to most often.  It's also the only one on my iTunes except for my buddy Blake's Christmas CD. And I imagine we'll still be putting it on for background music while we decorate for Christmas even after the boys have gone away to college.

Though I'm sure by that point, nobody will listen to CD's any more.

SLOW DOWN, TECHNOLOGY!  I'm an artist! I can't afford to keep up with you!!