New Music Friday: Just Go by Arlo Parks

Arlo Parks full-length debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams was released today. If you pay even the list bit of attention to music news then this is not a fact that would have escaped you. Articles about Arlo Parks have been everywhere leading up to this release. The 20 year old British R&B singer is having quite the moment. Amazon is even doing a Variety Hour show to promote the release of her album tonight on their Twitch channel, which will be available later through Amazon Prime.

I don’t know that I have much to say about the particular song I chose to include here, “Just Go”. It’s just one that I find musically pleasing. There are plenty of people talking about Arlo Parks right now, so if you want to read more you can just put her name into Google and be inundated. I’m just going to tell you to go listen.

New Music Friday: Empire Builder by Typhoon

I had a hard time deciding what song I wanted to write about today. Until a million other things dropped today I was thinking about writing about Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License”, which is apparently all the rage among the youngs and which I too really like. Among other things that were released today that I considered was something off of Rhye’s new album Home. Rhye creates some of the sexist music out there and this album continues that while adding a Danish orchestra. I heard one of the songs that is orchestra heavy while watching a spectacular sunrise this morning and it was a glorious moment. I also thought about “American Dream” by Willie Jones because in this song he is a Black country artist singing about things that the Nashville country machine wants nothing to do with. The rest of his album is your typical country fare about women and drinking, so while this song is one that country radio won’t touch with a ten foot pole I like to think that at a least a few people out there will like his other songs and listen to the whole album and be exposed to that song.

After that long preamble I finally present to you the song I actually chose. Ultimately I decided to go with Typhoon’s “Empire Builder” because its lyrics perfectly capture my mood right now particularly the ending lines to the song

Everybody’s angry
And everybody’s lonely
Maybe it’s hopeless and maybe
Love is not enough
But let’s not rule out
The possibility

The song is off their surprise album that came out today Sympathetic Magic. The 11 piece band recorded the record through remote and individually socially distant sessions, but it still retains the swelling sound of a large band playing together. Take a listen.

TV Diary

In and Of Itself

I usually don’t write about movies in these posts. This is more of a special than a movie as it’s a recording of the off-Broadway production In and Of Itself. I wanted it as part of the DocNYC Film Festival a couple months ago, but it drops on Hulu this week, and I highly encourage everyone to watch it. It’s hard to describe what it’s about. It’s a one man show featuring Derek DelGaudio. It’s sort of a magic show, but not really. There is some magic involved, but it’s so much more than that. It really gets very deep in ways you would not expect and it left me thinking about a lot of things. I’m also still entirely flummoxed about how he could have done the part with the letters. Even though I don’t know the exact mechanics of how he did the other magic things I have a good enough of an idea of how they could be done that I just accepted them, but I still have no idea how in the world he could pull of the part with the letters. The whole thing is extremely moving and I think the fact that you get to see compilations of some parts with the audience over a number of shows makes it even more profound. This is well worth your time.

The Cost of Winning

The Cost of Winning is an HBO documentary show following football players at St. Francis Academy, a private high school in Baltimore. It’s in an extremely poor part of town and many of the students who attend come from very difficult backgrounds, but their goal is to get all of them into college. However, because they recruit kids to the football team from all over the country and have have an excellent team none of the other local high schools will play against them. Thus they have no conference and play a national schedule sending these kids all over the country to play high school football. Being from Baltimore I had an extra interest in this show, but I think anyone would like it especially if you like shows like Cheer or Last Chance U.

The Flight Attendant

I read the book by Chris Bohjalian that this show is based on and it was one of my least favorite of his books, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this show. I think they did a really good job of adapting it and perhaps even making me more interested in the tv show than I was the book. I’m always leery of shows that extend beyond their source material as a lot of them don’t do it well, but I think the way they set things up for a second season may be okay. I guess we will see.


Although I love Grey’s Anatomy I have never thought any other Shonda Rhimes property was as good. Private Practice was okay. I quit Scandal after two seasons. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of Station 19 but couldn’t get into it. I’ve never tried How to Get Away with Murder but suspected it might run into the same issues I had with Scandal. So I was willing to give Bridgerton a chance, but wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. Basically it turns out that it’s Gossip Girl set in Regency England. I never read any of the romance novels it is based on so I don’t know how it compares to those, but it was fine. It was entertaining enough that I finished it in one weekend, but I also can’t say that I’m over the moon about it and dying to watch more episodes. I’ll continue with it when it comes back for another season, but I can’t say I’m super in love with it.

City So Real

A five part documentary series on Hulu about the most recent mayoral race in Chicago. I suspect it was only meant to be 4 parts originally following the race to it’s conclusion but then COVID-19 and all the Black Lives Matter marches happened and I suspect they tacked on an additional episode to look at how Lori Lightfoot, who won the race, was handling these issues. It all felt very familiar. In many cases if they had replaced the word Chicago with Baltimore it could have been about Baltimore instead. There’s also some really insane things that are part of the Chicago mayoral race that seem like a huge waste of everyone’s time and money. It’s a really great processy documentary that also highlights the issues that facing all big cities.

I May Destroy You

This show written by and starring Michaela Coel that is somewhat based on her own experiences after being drugged and raped was pretty much at the top of every best of tv list in 2020. That was not my experience with it. I struggled with the main character. I of course don’t think she should have been raped, but she seemed pretty terrible both before and after it happened. Also, there were multiple episodes that were pretty much nothing but watching people be drunk and high, which I find extremely boring. I’m not sure exactly what everyone else saw in this show, but I can definitely say it was not one of my top shows of 2020.

We Are Who We Are

Another show that got some critical acclaim that did nothing for me. It was created and directed by Luca Guadagnino who also directed Call Me By Your Name, which I liked. This show follows American teenagers living on an Army base in Italy. Fraser, the lead character, is possibly the worst teenager that has ever been in a tv show. This is also another show that spends longs stretches of time just watching teenagers get drunk and high. As mentioned above this is not something I find the least bit interesting. I don’t think there’s meant to be another season of this show, but if there is I won’t be watching it.

New Music Friday: Sanctuary by Hiss Golden Messenger

I have probably listened to more Hiss Golden Messenger since the pandemic started than I have any other artist. His music is like a balm for my weary soul. No matter what he’s singing about, even the tough things, his musical stylings always make me feel like I’m laying in a warm, sunny field. It’s fitting then that the video for the new single he just released this week called “Sanctuary” is in fact set in a field although not a warm, sunny one given it was filmed in winter. With lyrics like

Jubilee, find me
Steady with your hope now
That little light’s gotta last a while
Like an arrow to the marrow
I know it feels like hell now
Till we make it to the other side

it feels like the perfect song for right now. I’m pretty sure we could all use a little sanctuary right now and for the moment this song is mine.

New Music Friday: That’s All by Amanda Shires

I didn’t intend to be back with a New Music Friday post today. I figured I would take New Year’s Day off, especially since I didn’t think I would have anything to write about. But then Amanda Shires dropped a cover of the Genesis song “That’s All”. It’s always been one of my favorite Genesis songs, and it’s something she’s been covering live for awhile. So I’m happy to have an officially recorded version of it. It’s accompanied by a great animated video saying goodbye to 2020. That’s all.