The Workshop #24 – Real cream, real sugar

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COFFEE! DO YOU LIKE COFFEE? WE LIKE COFFEE. We talk *a lot* about coffee in this episode. We also premiere a new segment which may or may not become semi-regular called “Coffee Drank” in which we review various bottled and canned coffee substances that are probably not that good to begin with.

The Workshop #17 – Trailing off…

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We leave sentences unsatisfyingly unfinished on this episode. Eric asks if and how much should music artists change their style over time. I recap my thoughts about a couple movies I saw: one good (Wonder Woman) and one so-bad-it’s-good (you’ll just have to listen to find out).

The Workshop #11 – Matt & Eric’s Morning Zoo

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On this episode of the Workshop Podcast, Eric and I discuss things we are currently enjoying. And by “currently” we mean about a month ago. There’s sometimes quite a bit of delay between when we record and when we release episodes and that makes it a bit strange especially if we want to talk current events or something.

So listen and find out things were were enjoying about 5 or 6 weeks ago. Hopefully it’s a refreshingly positive episode. But don’t worry. It still gets wacky.

Yes, Eric really did receive a call from his wife during the recording. And yes, he did order Taco Bell. That wasn’t staged.

I both botched and misattributed a semi-well known quote about writing during the episode. The actual quotation is “Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten.” That’s from author Michael Crichton who most famously wrote Jurassic Park.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. Until next time, kids!

The Workshop #7 – It Began with a Burp…

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It’s a new month and time for a new episode of the Workshop!!! Get excited!!!

On today’s episode we spend a lot of time discussing the Superbowl and award show season even though neither of us are particularly interested. I’m sure that’s sold you on listening to the discussion. Then we pivot hard and fast to the topic of whether sad music is appropriate for church. We also daintily avoid the subject of politics kinda sorta except for the Ent lobby. We’ve got to do something about that. Get angry, I guess.

It was hard to pick a name for this episode. There were too many good ones to choose from! In fact, 56% of the reason I do a podcast at all is because I like to come up with goofy names for the episodes.

Alternate titles for this show were:

  • Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
  • The one with the burp
  • Drones, but no pants
  • Eric: the Epitome of America
  • China, please block us
  • Kanye is watching
  • Beyonce controls the universe

 

The Workshop #2 – Hot & Phresh Christmas Self-Help Book

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Look! We made more than one episode! This is a real podcast now.

On this episode of The Workshop, Eric and I discuss the art of witty banter, and find a safe space to talk about Christmas music we love and hate.

Favorite Music of 2013

A new year is upon us and that means it’s time to hand out meaningless accolades to various media properties because making lists is fun! I am quite intentionally calling these “favorite” lists rather than “best of” lists because there’s a lot of games, movies, and music I didn’t experience in 2013 which no doubt deserve attention and praise, but I can’t consume everything in a year.


Can I make a confession? I’m terrible at writing about music. I lack the vocabulary, I guess. It seems to me that music is the most subjective of all the popular media and therefore is the most difficult to analyze, critique, and discuss meaningfully with others. Music reviews are a strange thing to me for that reason. All it boils down to is “I like this” or “I don’t like this” without a lot of concrete or consistent reasoning about why that is. But I’m probably wrong about that. As I said, I lack the vocabulary.

Nevertheless, here’s some music I liked. Maybe you’ll like some of it too.

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Continue reading “Favorite Music of 2013”

Reflektor

Greek Facepalm

Actually, I quite like this album.

Reflektor is one of the best albums of Arcade Fire’s career. Then again, the same could be said for any of the band’s releases. Exactly how the new double-album stacks up against the rest of the band’s discography is up to the listener to determine. I’m still not sure, but I’m willing to say Reflektor is in the running as their best album. And that’s saying a whole lot.

I was a bit befuddled back in September when the title track was released as a single. Clocking in at 7:30 minutes, the neo-disco tune “Reflektor” is a nice illustration for my experience with the album as a whole.

My first impression was incredulous – even skeptical.

Disco. Really? I don’t hate or even dislike disco, but I really questioned the direction AF was taking with this new single and I worried that it was indicative of the whole album.

Also disconcerting was the news that Reflektor would be a double album. The Suburbs, much as I like it, is pretty long. It’s a bit too long at times and it deters me from listening as often as I might otherwise. How could they have made an even longer album?

Then about a week after the single dropped I gave it another chance. After all, this is Arcade Fire. They’d always been great before. Maybe I just needed to let it sink in.

Yep. I guess that was it.

After that I was hooked. I played the song again. And again. And again. Seven and a half minutes and I listened over and over.

And that was pretty much my experience with the album too. My first listen left me kind of cold and unimpressed. But Reflektor (the album) came alive to me on my second listen. And my third. And forth. Et cetera.

Yes, the album is long, but like the title track, it justifies its length… mostly. Reflektor is the most obviously disco-influenced song, but that vibe permeates a lot of the album most notably “Afterlife.” There are quite a few songs that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on AF’s other releases. “You Already Know” would have been quite at home on The Suburbs and “Here Comes the Night Time” doesn’t sound too far removed from the sounds of Funeral.

But there’s plenty of new ground broken here. For some long time fans that might be a turn off. “Flashbulb Eyes” and “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” sound like nothing the band’s ever done before. It’s all really good stuff and amazingly produced. There are a lot more synths and electronic instruments at work here. Really, the overall sound is sort of an extrapolation of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” from their last record which is great since that was the best song.

The one unfortunate miss for me is the final track “Supersymmetry.” It’s not a bad track, but it’s fairly minimalistic and never comes alive for me like the others. Since it’s the last song on the record it hurts the overall experience more than it might have were it placed elsewhere. Arcade Fire has a history of great finishes. “My Body is a Cage,” “In the Backseat,” “Sprawl II,” and even “Vampire Forest Fire” are among their best songs. It’s a shame they couldn’t stick the landing on this album quite as well.

On the lyrical side of things there’s a lot going on. The Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a major influence especially in the album’s second half. The first disc, on the other hand, seems more dedicated to exploring the affect technology has on people in our “reflective age.”

I can’t pretend to “get” all the songs yet, but I love the fact that there’s more going on under the surface. Certainly one could accuse the band of pretension and I won’t argue against that. If I were not so enraptured by the music, my inner cynic might have dismissed all this Greek myth and modern age commentary as Arcade Fire trying to sound smarter than they really are.

But I like the music. At the end of the day, that’s what matters for me. The album is sonically and thematically cohesive. And the music good. Really good.

Reflektor left me asking myself why I ever doubted Arcade Fire. They’re pretty good at this music thing.

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