Friday, December 21, 2018

Primal Alt Rock Favorites

I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s alt rock and 1st Wave alt rock lately and I decided to create a list of my favorite early alt rock bands or songs. Some of these bands were basically one hit wonders and some of them turned into superstars, and some are still actively making new music and touring. I’ve seen other similar lists with other bands, but those other bands simply never struck a chord with me. There might even be a few on here you haven’t heard.

I ended up with 67. Why 67? Well, this is how many I found that met my criteria, of being considered alt rock by someone or on a band comparison to someone else on this list, was before 1995 and wasn’t obviously conventional pop. Some of these songs border on pop or more conventional rock. It was hard to differentiate where to draw the line. Many of these bands have multiple songs that I dig, but I just picked one that I really love by that band. The first on this list is a perfect example. This is also not representative of all of the music I listened to back then. I love metal and straight up rock as well as some bluegrass and some country music, but it is very representative of great alternative rock music from that era. There is some incredible alternative music being made today, but these bands set the stage of what would follow, and it is a pretty diverse set. All of these songs are awesome! Links provided for a YouTube song. There are lots of versions for most of these songs.

U2 – Stories for Boys - I found a really old version of this maybe their first video
The Smiths – How Soon is Now?
The Cure – In Between Days
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Cities in Dust
Pet Shop Boys – Two divided by Zero
The Clash – Rock the Casbah
Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter
Violent Femmes -Blister in the Sun
The English Beat – Mirror in the Bathroom
Eurythmics – Missionary Man
Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
Still makes me want to get up and dance!
Modern English – I Melt with You
Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party
Psychodelic Furs - Love My Way
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
The Police – Don’t Stand So Close to Me
Talk Talk – It’s My Life
The Call – The Walls Came Down
The B-52s – Private Idaho
Naked Eyes – Always Something There to Remind Me

Monday, December 17, 2018

Riding the 1st Wave

 Birth School Work Death
     I was in the car the other day, listening to Siruis/XM radio, channel 33, 1st Wave, which I adore. The song that come on the radio was Birth, School, Work, Death by The Godfathers. It brought back some good memories. I used to own that album on cassette. Here is the YouTube video: Birth School Work Death
     I was really into music in the mid 80s, I even DJed for a brief time in the spring and summer of 1987. It was the end of the first wave of alternative rock, but there was still great music coming out. This album was just one example.
     Sherman, set the wayback machine for 1988. It was early summer and I had just bought the tape maybe a week before, after seeing The Godfathers on an MTV video; they actually played videos back then. My roommate was from Chicago and we were driving up for the weekend to see what we could get into, two young and single dudes. He was in the driver’s seat as I read a paper which he had acquired earlier that detailed all the entertainment that week in Chicago, and we had just gotten into range to listen to his favorite radio station. Birth, School, Work, Death came on the radio and I mused that it would be cool if we could see somebody like The Godfathers that weekend. I turned the page and voilĂ , like magic they were playing at the Metro that very night. It was an awesome show and a really cool venue.
     We made a lot of trips to Chicago that summer, but nothing topped the serendipity of that concert. St. Elmo’s Fire had been released a few years before that, and were felt like we were living a little bit like those twenty-something’s in the big city. Within a little more than a year, though, we would both be married and our lives would settle into a different trajectory, but the summer of 1988 was my introduction into adulthood in many ways.
     Thanks Sirius/XM 1st Wave for the trip down memory lane and well done!.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Richard K. Morgan’s new novel, Thin Air, is Hugo Worthy

     I just finished Richard K. Morgan’s latest release, Thin Air. It is gritty SciFi at its finest. Morgan seems to have leveled up in his writing, over already highly regarded and award-winning previous work. Every sentence is crafted with care. It is a Master Class of immersive third person point of view writing.

     I listened to the audiobook version, which was read by Colin Mace, and for me, it was a perfect fit. Mace hit the ball out of the park and became the embodiment of Hakan Veil, the hi-tech ninja of the future and protagonist of what I hope is not a standalone novel. It is a new character and setting of sorts for Morgan. He alludes to his concept of the Mars colony and COLIN (Colony Initiative) in Thirteen, which I have started today. I just downloaded the audiobook.

     This story had me riveted from the word go, and didn’t let go. It is the best science fiction I’ve read since Ancillary Justice, which won the Hugo. This work is certainly good enough to be in consideration, but it has very adult themes (read graphic sex.) Morgan has included this with intention and I hope it doesn’t take him out of the running.

     There is so much to love about this novel. The characters are real and multifaceted. The description is immersive, but not overdone and the word choices are evocative and graphic, and fit perfectly with the landscape of Mars he has painted. Mars itself is a character all its own. It has a well-developed history and a depth that makes it feel authentic, albeit a true frontier and all that comes with that, 300ish years into a colony development that never quite materialized the way the original planners had envisioned. His simile and metaphor are based on these artifices of an old Martian colony and struck the perfect chord to bring the setting to life. The science parts of the fiction are the essence of cool and seemingly plausible, including the pseudoatmosphere of the lamina, a membrane of sorts that covers the dug out Gash, allowing for a localized breathable atmosphere. The prose is wonderful, especially considering that this is a hard-boiled genre fiction piece, great writing implanted within a ruthless noir fiction story.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Review of Altered Carbon on Netflix

I just finished the new series on Netflix, Altered Carbon. Let me say right up front that I loved it!

It is 10 episodes packed full of action, intrigue and awesomeness. Think Blade Runner meets Kill Bill meets Star Trek The Next Generation. But you would have to cross that with something graphic, for both violence and sexual content. It is very R rated, and filled with violence of every sort, including torture, as well as a fair amount of nudity. The series is based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, and the main plot follows the original story relatively closely for those that have read it. The book is really in a genre all its own as an adult SF thriller.

This show looks incredible and really feels like a possible dystopian future. The sets are just amazing. The tech is cool in the extreme. It is set several hundred years in the future, where humans can store their personality in a cortical stack, which basically sits on top of your spinal chord at the base of the brain, and people can have their selves sent all over the colonized worlds at light speed, or have backup stacks and bodies (sleeves), if you can afford it. The good stuff is only available to the very rich, and society has evolved into a caricature of our own in the have and have-nots.

The plot is a noir mystery at its heart, with the main character being the last remaining bad-ass ninja special ops operative from a time in the past that was much more violent. He has been in virtual prison for 250 years for being a rebel terrorist to the Protectorate. He is the last of the legendary Envoys, which were an underground splinter group of operatives specially trained by Quellcrist Falconer. They are a cross between Navy Seals and ninja warriors, that were also hardened in the virtual world, with an unmatched skillset.

I've Moved

The Wordpress blog has been alive about the same length of time as this one, but my impression as I move forward is Wordpress will be a...