I have a bunch of recent music recommends, depending on your tastes.
SKA/REGGAE: Specials - Today's Specials
Old pros deliver a satisfying combination of danceable
and mellowing out next-generation reggae.
SKA/PUNK: Sublime - Sublime
One of the best albums of the year: the lyrics are often
ironic, and the music is too sophisticated to be considered
punk. I'm sure the currently touring Sex Pistols and Ramones
PUNK MELODIC: Goldfinger - Goldfinger
The best punk album to come out this year. These guys
really know how to write a fast, loud, crunchy 2-minute melody.
POP MELODIC: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - She's the One
Tom Petty still hasn't lost it, and he makes hummable pop
tunes so effortlessly that you wonder if you could do it yourself.
POP ANGRY-YOUNG-FEMALE: Ani Difranco - Dilate
Forget Alanis Morrissette; she may CLAIM to be angry, but her
music is mostly upbeat and happy. You get no such mixed messages
here. When she's mad, she doesn't sugar coat it.
POP REDEMPTIVE-YOUNG-FEMALE: Tracey Chapman - New Beginning
Her folk-blues songs here are full of lots of passionate
feeling, and her themes of redemption are first class.
POP COUNTRY: Mary Chapin Carpenter - Come on, Come on
Okay, this came out a few years ago, but it's such a great
album that you should buy it if you don't have it.
ROCK COUNTRY: Steve Earle - I Feel Alright
He tells all kinds of interesting stories in his songs,
and unlike most rock music today, you can actually hear the
words he sings. Like Lyle Lovett, his songs aren't all about
losing his job, his dog, and his wife; he actually has something
cool to say in talking about the plight of people stuck in
ALTERNATIVE COUNTRY: Lyle Lovett - The Road to Ensenada
A very cool album, definitely his best. I now see what
Julia Roberts saw in the guy. He's brilliant.
ALTERNATIVE SAMPLE ROCK: Primitive Radio Gods - Rocket
This album was recorded 6 years ago, and none of the
record companies would release it. Big mistake; you may
have heard the first single with the sample of the BB King
song, and the other songs on the album are harsher in sound
but just as interesting lyrically.
ALTERNATIVE HIP HOP ROCK: Odelay - Beck
I thought hip hop had reached its limits of creativity,
but between this and the Nas rap album, I'm convinced there's
still a lot of cool sounds to be explored.
ALTERNATIVE MODERN ROCK: Soul Coughing - Irresistible Bliss
This music is just plain impossible to describe. Folk rap
singing album rock, I guess. It's the kind of album you have
to listen to, because it's so hard to describe. I like it though.
ALTERNATIVE POSTMODERN ROCK: Eels - Beautiful Freak
Even harder to describe than Soul Coughing, this album
bounces all over the genre map. It's inconsistent, but I
keep hearing new things every time I listen.
ALTERNATIVE IRONIC ROCK: Refreshments - Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy
I love their lyrics, and though the music is your standard
3-guitars-and-drums, I find myself singing along with it.
I wonder what my cubicle mate thinks of me.
ALTERNATIVE SQUEEZE ROCK: Imperial Drag - Imperial Drag
So this is what happened to Jellyfish. They take a step
in the right direction, with this playful beatle-esque album.
Squeeze has a new album out, too, and Joe says it's good but
I haven't heard it yet.
ALTERNATIVE QUEEN ROCK: Hunk - Hunk
I think these guys sound like what Queen might sound like if
they were still in their 70s mode, but I'll have to play it for
Joe and see what he thinks.
ALTERNATIVE BRITPOP: Sleeper - The It Girl
These guys are smart, and I can never figure out what their
lead singer is singing about, but her inflections are so nice,
I don't really even mind.
ETHEREAL BRITPOP: Booth and the Bad Angel - Booth and the Bad Angel
Weird combination: the lead singer of supercool group James
collaborates with the guy who composed the Twin Peaks soundtrack,
Angelo Badalementi. The songs are like mini-symphonies. I like.
ETHEREAL FUTURE OSCAR WINNING SOUNDTRACK: Hunchback of Notre Dame
Definitely one of Disney's most mature soundtracks; the lyrics
are decent, and it's always fun to hear Jason Alexander's voice.
<I>American Spectator's Enemies List</I>, P.J. O'Rourke.
Bill Maher's book on the best lines from his Comedy Central show
_Politically Incorrect_ has quite a few decent slams on California,
OJ, and the ironies of living in the 90s.
> New York:
Candace Bushnell's _Sex and the City_ is a nice little read about how
much NY is like LA's reputation: all the guys want to date models, and
all the gals want to land a multibillionnaire. She's really frank with
her sex talk, so if you don't like that sort of thing, stay away.
> History of Technology:
I recommend the book _Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century_ by
Stephen Fenichell. Admittedly, I read it in the bookstore and didn't
buy it, but I'm not nearly the bitmonger that Rohit is. Light
textbookish reading that continually refers to pop culture as to why
plastic became so ubiquitous.
I'm gonna put Tom Clancy's new novel _Executive Honor_ in here even
though I've only read about 50 pages of it. It shows how even though he
has a simple formula for books -- carry on multiple action-packed
threads, and describe technology to the very last detail -- he can still
make them compelling reads. Would that I had a day to chew on the 875
Trainspotting is cool, but not for everyone. There's a lot of drug use,
almost to the point of glorification, and there's good doses of sex
and violence, too, But the story is interesting and the characters are
compelling, so I really enjoyed this movie.
Lone Star feels like it's twice as long as Trainspotting, and it's got
an intricate plotline whereas Trainspotting is all character lines, but
it's easily one of the best movies to come out this year. It reminds me
of the TV show Twin Peaks, except the actors and actresses aren't as
good looking, and the answer to the murder mystery is more satisfying.
Multiplicity is better than its poor grosses indicate, and there are
some really good technical achievements - after a while it seems
entirely plausible that four Michael Keatons are all talking with each
Bordello of Blood is short and sweet: hookers, naked people, vampires,
gorey violence, bikers, body piercings, and Dennis Miller. Man, the
world really needs more Dennis Miller flicks. The world needs more
Dennis Miller everything. In fact, go out and buy his book _Rants_ if
you haven't yet. Dennis Miller rules.
Escape from LA is a total ripoff of Escape from NY. I liked the
basketball scene, and Peter Fonda was cool, but the part of the
president's daughter was totally miscast, and Snake doesn't get nearly
enough interesting things to do.
Do not see Jack (not funny, too sentimental), Chain Reaction (too
stupid), Phenomenon (trite tripe), Kingpin (like a boring Dumb and
Dumber). A Time to Kill and Courage Under Fire have their interesting
moments, but can be hackneyed and dull aat times. I found Tin Cup
disappointing, I guess in contast to Bull Durham and White Men Can't
Oh, and I should have sold my shares of Bob Dole while I had the chance.
He's down to 27 cents on the dollar. Doh!