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Ear Whacks. Vol 3 Issue 1

By my estimation, I’ve enjoyed Dwight Yoakam my entire life. I suspect he may be the only country singer I like. I probably need to dig into that question a bit more but maybe some other time. Yoakam’s new release is titled, “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars.” It’s a retelling of tracks he has recorded previously but performed in a bluegrass style. If you like Dwight Yoakam, like bluegrass, both, neither, or you want to listen to something different, you should probably give it a spin.

Behemoth, “Something ‘Satan,’ it’s rad.” So is the album title according to my friend Daniel. The actual title is “The Satanists” but it is indeed “rad.” Metal and the sub-genres of metal are hard to describe. It’s hard for someone like me – who don’t write good and talk not good too – to explain in words what works and doesn’t work when it comes to metal. What I know is Behemoth, and specifically “The Satanist,” works for my ears. For example, Track 3, Messe Noire; there are great riffs on that track and a couple of guitar solos I really dig.

La Femme. So I’m sitting in my office minding my own business and a text from a friend comes in with a link to Spotify. “Another recommendation from another friend of mine,” I say to myself. “What’s with these people? Leave me alone!” So I checked out La Femme as recommended and I liked it a lot. I’ve dug into Mystère (2016) and Psycho Tropical Berlin (2013) mostly. La Femme is, what I’d describe as, Electronic / Synth Punk and Pop. They’re French with tracks including both French and English.

Moonface (Spencer Krug). There’s this point in your life when you take stock of what you’ve accomplished and what’s left to do. And then you look at what Spencer Krug has done and you curl up in the fetal position in your bed and lock the door. “Go away,” you scream. But your wife and kid are pounding on the door, “Daddy, we love you. It’s ok. Please come out. Please. You’re special and you mean so much to us. Please come out. Let’s take a walk together and get some fresh air.” “No,” you holler. “What’s the point of any of this!? I’m a failure. I’ve done nothing.” “You’ve done a lot for us; you do So much! Please, come out. We love you!” says your wife. “Daddy, are we ever going skating again? ” asks your son. “I love you, “ he says. Then, slowly and reluctantly, you unlock the door and slink back into your bed. Your family comes to comfort you. You sob like a child.

If you want to ignore his work with Wolf Parade – which would be an absurd joke – Spencer Krug is an incredibly talented and prolific artist. He’s worked with no less than five notable bands. I’ve been digging into his “other” project, Moonface, and really enjoying it. Go listen to "Ugly Flower Pretty Vase" from his latest for starters.

Yo-Yo Ma, “Songs from the Arc of Life.” Yo-Yo Ma is a household name in the United States. Yet I wonder how many people actually know what it is he does (if you’re not sure, he’s a world-renowned cellist and Harvard graduate; Class of 1976). While I appreciate his work as much as a philistine like me can, I’ve always seen him as a gateway. He’s a gateway to popular works but most interesting, he’s a gateway to works by lesser-known artists and composers. Along with Kathryn Stott, Yo-Yo Ma taps into classic works by popular composers and less popular arrangments by those same composers (think the likes of Debussy, Bach, Elgar, and Brahms) but exposes us to incredible works by Giovanni Sollima and Fredrick Delius.

And that brings me to the aforementioned Giovanni Sollima. As I noted above, before I listened to “Songs From the Arc of Life,” I hadn’t heard of Giovanni Sollima. This would make sense, as the world of progressive cellists isn’t something I’m immersed in…I mean, you know…on a day-to-day basis.

Mr. Sollima’s works are original, very progressive, and something akin to metal or punk through the cello. It’s worth a listen.

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