Give Me Puberty Or Give Me Death

Mitski – Puberty 2

Not to get too heavy or anything (he said as he got heavy…), but if there’s been one recurring theme I’ve found in 2016 music just on a personal level, it’s been having to face my own mortality as a music fan.  Firstly, because one of 2016’s most notable releases has been David Bowie’s Blackstar, which I’ve been finally catching up with after plopping down the money to buy it on slightly overpriced vinyl.  While 2016 also saw the self-proclaimed possible last album by Bowie’s buddy, Iggy Pop, in the form of Post Pop Depression.  Also, I suppose just in general I’ve had to deal with the fact that being a classic rock guy has forced me to reckon with the fact that most of my musical heroes are not only going to die within my lifetime, but probably within the next 10 years.

Then on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been reminded that I’m not necessarily that young anymore by some of my favorite bands to emerge in 2016, like Car Seat Headrest or Frankie Cosmos, who are several years my junior.  Which brings me to Mitski Miyawaki, who is really only about a year-and-a-half younger than me, and yet I still can’t help but equate her with these younger artists, and how I’ve been learning to embrace the fact that I’m starting to be comfortable with my adoration for musicians who still aren’t old enough to rent a car.  I mean, Bowie recorded Hunky Dory when he was 24, and Iggy was 22 when The Stooges recorded their first album.  So it’s not like this shit is new.  As we all know, rock and roll is a young man (and woman)’s game.

Anyways, getting back to Mitski, if there’s an easy comparison to make, I’d say her guitar-based freak-outs coupled with her strong vocals and electronic flourishes bring St. Vincent to mind.  Much like Annie Clark, Mitski seems to have been brought up on ’90s alt-rock, but I think also has a kind of curiosity about more modern and unconventional sounds that leads to different sonic treasures that can be found on this album with each listen.  Though if I’m being honest, my favorite track on the album, the blisteringly catchy “A Loving Feeling”, happens to be pretty straight-forward while also having the distinction of being the shortest track on the album at 1 minute and 32 seconds.  In short, it’s the kind of song you can find yourself hitting play on over and over again.

I would say another big part of Mitski’s appeal would be in her ability to come off as an open wound, unafraid to let her most insecure feelings bleed all over her music.  On “My Body’s Made Of Crushed Little Stars”, she shouts “I wanna see the whole world!/I wanna see the world!/I don’t know how I’m gonna pay rent!/I wanna see the whole world!”, which are words I can’t help but gravitate towards, since I recognize that a big part of being a young adult is wanting to experience everything the world has to offer, while also having to grapple with the fact that the world doesn’t give a shit about your stupid indulgent experiences.  But, at least you can always write a song about it…

Favorite Tracks: “Your Best American Girl”, “I Bet On Losing Dogs”, “Loving Feeling”

C.A.T.: Sketches of Spain

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain (1960)

This might be a crock of shit, but Miles Davis has to be the most versatile jazz musician of his time. I say this because I have only heard three albums by Davis aka the “Prince of Darkness.” “How the hell did he get that nickname?” And those albums are; Birth of the Cool, which had kind of an uptempo bebop feel, Some Kind of Blue, which is the laid back lounge lizard jazz, and this one, which is on a whole other planet… A planet called Spain.

Initially, I imagined an album with a few salsa numbers, merengue, bossa nova, maybe a little cha-cha. Only to find out later none of those genres come from Spain. What is Spanish music? A wiki search will tell you Spanish music is commonly associated with flamenco, traditional folk and European classical musical. This definitely helps me color in the numbers of Sketches of Spain, a symphonic jazz odyssey that must be heard to be understood.

“Concerto de Aranjuez” is the album’s most memorable piece. Clocking in at almost twenty minutes, the song is an arrangement of Joaquín Rodrigo’s 1939 piece written for classical guitar. Though because Davis is a horns man, he plays the arrangement on flugelhorn. The result is moody and atmospheric, even scary at times. It’s hard to believe such a complex jazz arrangement existed at the same Andy Griffith was winning over the hearts of America with his small town ways.

The origin of this album (if true) is another fascinating story. Apparently, Davis was given the only album in existence with “Concerto de Aranjuez” and Davis and his arranger Gil Evans had to copy the music from what they heard on the record. The rest of the album developed from Spanish folk music the two heard in clubs. The end result is a collection of music that is both intricate and engaging.

Sketches of Spain feels like a soundtrack to an unmade film. I could imagine this album being at home in a European-produced western or something involving an exotic land or overseas adventure. This album takes the mind for a ride and that ain’t no crock of shit.

Favorite Tracks: “Concerto de Aranjuez,” “The Pan Piper,” “Will o’ the Wisp “

Good Movie/Bad Movie: To Good Eyesight and a Head Full of Hair

Fifty years of trekking across the stars and we’ve received five televisions shows, thirteen movies, and still more to come. What a long strange trip it’s been. This week, Capt. Sean Lemme, Mr. John and Dr. Nancy review Star Trek: Beyond and search for life in the black hole that is 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Will they complete their mission? Listen and find out.