The Orchestra at Epcot

Epcot

Epcot (Photo credit: halseike)

My wife and I went to Epcot last night to see The Orchestra featuring former members of ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). This is perhaps the third time we’ve seen them live at Epcot. They were great as usual. ELO’s songs were playing a lot on the radio when I was a kid and when I was in college, and they’re still played with regularity on some radio stations today.

When the concert was over and we were filing out of the stadium, a man said to me that he’d seen me singing along.

“As long as you couldn’t hear me,” I said with a smile. But yeah, I knew every song they played. These guys helped define my generation.

Some bands that play at Epcot have a repertoire so limited they have to cover songs by other bands if they are to play songs for half an hour that the audience will recognize. Not so with The Orchestra. They play three sets a night for three nights, and while they might repeat some of their most popular songs because everyone wants to hear them, they’ll never have to cover songs from other bands to provide variety in their sets. There were so many ELO songs they didn’t play, sitting through one of their half-hour Epcot performances only whetted my appetite to hear more.

Here’s a YouTube video of ELO back in the day, playing the same song as the one with which The Orchestra ended their first set at Epcot this year. If you don’t recognize this song, you’re not a fan of classic rock in either the US or the UK.

I always thought they were singing “Bruce” in this song. They aren’t. You could tell during the live performance that what they sang did not start with a B. Maybe it was a G. According to Wikipedia, the liner notes for the album stated that the word was a made up word, “Grroosss.” Artists, eh.

 

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My Favorite Albums of 2013 – So Far

I’ve not been too impressed with music released in 2013 so far. Last year at this time, I had no problem coming up with several albums for my list of favorites released in the first half of 2012.

This year, I’m not taken with certain albums that I had really been looking forward to hearing. New music from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Paramore leave me less than thrilled. The 2012 album from Tegan and Sara is okay, but not great. Otep gave us Hydra, which is too heavy with the amount of talking on the album. Jennifer Love Hewitt, whose voice I absolutely adore, released a new single from her show, The Client List, but I’ve not seen an album. I would have absolutely loved a new Jennifer Love Hewitt album.

As I’ve admitted on this blog before, while I’ve plenty of favorite music by male vocalists from last century, I’ve found that in this century my tastes are partial to female vocalists. So the list below is biased, leaning entirely to albums with female vocalists. Don’t get all bent because I didn’t include David Bowie’s latest release, for which he couldn’t be bothered to use some decent cover art. Maybe some day I’ll bother to listen to the album. I do love Space Oddity and other classic David Bowie tracks. But I don’t get the statement he was trying to make with the cover for this latest release. I don’t need anyone’s explanation about it either. Art should stand on its own.

I don’t have enough favorite albums from the year so far to create a top 10 list. So here are my top 5 favorite albums for the first half of 2013. Continue reading

The xx – Coexist

newimage17 I feel like such a hypocrite.

Last time, I reviewed My Bloody Valentine. I went on about how they might be boring to some, but there was a certain something that kept it from being as such.

Enter The xx. I find them to be pretty boring, even though they share a few similarities to My Bloody Valentine. OK, so that might be a stretch, but bear with me.

This band is boring. Fact. Why? Continue reading

My Bloody Valentine – M B V

My-Bloody-Valentine-mbv Ever wondered what it meant when some music guy threw around the word shoegaze and you had no idea what it meant? Perhaps you asked what it meant, and got a really vague answer?

To be fair, it is kind of difficult to describe. Imagine 80s British style rock or 90s rock with tons of effect pedals. So much so, it makes it a little difficult to distinguish from other sounds. Even this is not the cold hard truth. Music shouldn’t be pinned down like that, regardless.

Anyway, the point is that My Bloody Valentine is the correct answer. If somebody asks you what shoegaze is, point them to My Blood Valentine and tell them to turn the speakers on full blast.

It’s an experience. Not in a Phil Spector way, but it feels like a ‘wall of sound.’ No, that’s not right. Perhaps a fortress. You’re encapsulated by guitars and in the center is a quiet voice comforting you to sleep. This isn’t an aggressive sort of music. Continue reading

Paramore – Paramore

Paramore-2013-600x600 I’ve always been a passive fan of Paramore. Their radio hits always got me going, but I never had any emotional implication over the band’s music. Never bought a record, and I never really cared to.

First of all, let me say this:

What is going on here!?

I don’t know. I listened to this album twice through, and I can’t decide if it’s my album of the year or if it’s my most hated album of the year. Continue reading

Counterpoint: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs-Mosquito-608x607 Sometimes the editor and I have wildly different tastes when it comes to music. What would be the point of a music blog where everyone simply agreed? I want to challenge readers to always listen and make up their own minds.

However, this is not a point for point disagreement. Yes, I feel wildly different about the album than he did, I don’t have any problem with his points. I just want to put my opinion out there. Truth be told, I didn’t even realize he had written his review until after I had planned on also writing one.

So, there’s that!

From what I’m familiar with of Yeah Yeah Yeahs they had always been this kinda art punk band from New York City. They had that peculiar sort of aggression mixed with the experimentation you’d see from bands like Sonic Youth.

With Mosquito, you tend to see the ‘hit single’ vibe fade away and Yeah Yeah Yeahs veer more into that experimental territory. Some of it is tolerable, and other songs may make you raise an eyebrow.

I don’t hate any one song on the album, but it doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve listened to the whole thing and I forgot that I even did.

I feel like much of the album is fairly boring. “Mosquito” is missing something I can’t put my finger on. Yeah, it has those 80s and 90s references the other article talked about, but it doesn’t really go anywhere with them. As such, I feel a little let down. Continue reading

Major Lazer – Free The Universe

music-major-lazer-free-the-universe-artwork Some may be familiar with a DJ by the name of Diplo who is famous for not only having collaborations with famous artists, but also for his reggae/dancehall/electro side-project Major Lazer.

I was a huge fan of “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” and really enjoyed the odd mixture of daggering, house, and dancehall. The strange concept of a white guy from Florida trying his best to make a Jamaican-themed sort of album was intriguing at first. The video for Pon De Floor got me hooked.

I loved the first album, but how does “Free The Universe” fair against it?

First of all, the pseudo-mascot Skerrit Bwoy is no longer associated with them. Also, Switch is no longer associated. That being said, the new album is pretty good. It’s pretty good though. Imagine the difference between the first Gorillaz album and the second. Less ‘hits’ and more experimentation. There’s more focus on the music instead of trying to be ‘fun’ or impress anyone. There’s no need for that on a sophomore record, is there? Continue reading

Tyler the Creator – Wolf

TylerTheCreatorWolf Back in Summer 2011 when I reviewed Tyler the Creator‘s previous album “Goblin” I was on a bit of a rap kick.

I reviewed “Goblin” positively for its cerebral tone while interjecting humorous quips every now and then. It was a bit of adolescence mixed with rather intelligent rhymes. The beats were nothing to shake a stick at, as well.

“Wolf” is a polar opposite of “Goblin.” Continue reading

Wavves – Afraid of Heights

wavves-afraid-of-heights Tonight we ride the waves towards the new album from Wavves, “Afraid of Heights.”

Still unsure of what words to use to explain Surf Rock, let’s say that Wavves sound like Weezer or perhaps the Pixies. It wants to be punk, it wants to be garage rock, but it’s too chill to be either. Continue reading

The Strokes – Comedown Machine

the-strokes_comedown-machine I’ve noticed some patterns over the last few weeks. We’ve had two albums with rather effortless artwork (See: David Bowie) and an album about a machine (See: Depeche Mode.)

Not sure if this is some sort of Illuminati mind control scheme by Mystic Sounds to convince everyone that they are robots or what. That’s not the point anyway, the point is that everyone’s favorite rock band The Strokes have a new album out.

Granted, these songs sound completely different than their hit Last Night I was so familiar with back in high school. They’ve toned it down a bit and got a little weirder. They sound far less like those sorts of bands from the early 2000s such as The Hives or The Vines. You know, all those louder clean punk rock “The” bands.

Once in a while on the album you’ll hear some shreds, but it’s mostly a little bit of this and that. Reminds me of the band !!! but with less funk. This is a good thing.

I keep getting this 90s alt-rock vibe as well.

Perhaps calling it an identity crisis would be too drastic.

Tell me that doesn’t sound 90s. “Yeah guys, The Strokes, Collective Soul, and Live are my favorite bands!”

It all seems to come together perfectly, doesn’t it?

I’m still scratching my head as to what happened. They lost that tenacity that drew me to them in the first place. They sound watered down and a bit washed up. Maybe they are just giant sea creatures who love water. Who knows?

I know that I still found the record to be moderately pleasing. It’s not going to be a mainstay in my MP3 player, but it is a fairly solid album.

It’s less angry! That’s what it is. It’s chirpy/happy rock music.

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