More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Songs I Love: Ramblin’ Man by The Allman Brothers May 27, 2017

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 4:26 pm

In honor of Gregg Allman’s passing I present you with a story about the song “Ramblin’ Man”. When I was in 7th grade my family moved from Georgia to Massachusetts. During that summer between my 7th and 8th grade years my sister and I took tennis lessons at a local tennis club along with our neighbor, a boy a few years younger than us who had also just moved there but from England.

Our tennis instructor was a college kid who to my young 12 year old self seemed infinitely older. To reconcile my memory of this guy with the college guys I interact with on a daily basis takes some work because he will forever seem so much older in my mind. At any rate for some reason he made it his goal to teach us all the lyrics to the song “Ramblin’ Man”. I don’t know why he decided that should happen. I suppose some high minded idea that this music he himself was probably just coming to learn of in college was far superior to whatever pop music we were wont to go on about at the time. I still have vivid memories of singing the lyrics to that song while playing tennis long before I could have reliably told you I had ever even heard the actual song.

Every time I have heard that song in my life since then though I have thought back to that summer and that tennis instructor who in his own mind was deciding to elevate my musical tastes. I don’t remember your name, but thanks for the memories. And thanks to The Allman Brothers who did indeed create some wonderful music that this guys was not wrong about the fact that I should know it.

 

 

Songs I Love: Hope the High Road by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit April 17, 2017

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 10:12 am

I’ve been meaning to write about this song since it dropped almost a month ago, but I almost never have the mental energy to write blog posts these days. I’m off work today though, so I have no excuse. Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit have a new album, The Nashville Sound, coming out in June so probably expect this to the best the first of several posts about it. I know no one reading this really cares because despite my repeated attempts over the years to turn everyone I know onto Jason Isbell’s music I have failed. But I can’t stop, won’t stop writing about how much I love his music.

Prior to hearing this song I wondered how much I might actually like the music from his new album as all the interviews with him I had seen about indicated that it was not going to be full of sad sack songs like the previous two albums that I loved so much. He said it was going to be much more of a rock and roll album with the full backing of the 400 Unit hence it’s a Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album and not just a Jason Isbell album. “Super 8 Motel” is the most rock and roll of the songs off Southeastern and decidedly my least favorite, so I wondered if I would still feel the same love for the songs on The Nashville Sound.

If “Hope the High Road” is any indication I have nothing to worry about. I am once again going to love this album. It definitely has much more of a rock and roll vibe to it than most of the music off of Southeastern and Something More than Free, but at its heart it still very much sounds like a Jason Isbell song. The lyrics that cut straight to my heart, the great guitar, Amanda Shires voice echoing in the background. I love everything about it.

The full album is released 2 days before my birthday, and then I get to see him in concert 2 weeks after that so needless to say I’m looking forward to June.

 

My Most Memorable Pop Culture of 2016 January 2, 2017

Filed under: Books,Concerts,Podcasts,Pop Culture,Songs I Love,Television,Theatre — dwhren @ 10:55 am

Once again it’s time for my post on what was the most memorable pop culture of the year to me. It’s pop culture I consumed in 2016, not necessarily things that were exclusively released in 2016. And once again I point out that this is the stuff that made the greatest impact on me. It’s not a list of the top anything. Even I acknowledge that there are things on this list that I would not put in a top 10 or even top 20 list. They’re not necessarily the best of anything, just the stuff that I enjoyed the most or which had some special meaning to me.

Movie I Saw in a Theatre

I’m pretty sure I saw more movies in the theatre in 2016 than I have in a long time. I’ve seen 4 movies since Thanksgiving alone, which is very unusual for my life these days. I enjoyed most of the movies I saw, but I’m giving this category to La La Land. It was the one movie I saw this year that I almost immediately wanted to see again. It wasn’t a perfect movie. It didn’t quite live up to its promise as a movie musical. It started out with a bunch of musical numbers and then almost completely dropped them until the end. It was a little uneven, but I still loved it. It’s a beautiful to look at, and I really could just watch Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling interact forever. Their relationship seemed so real. At the time I saw it I was a little disappointed that they didn’t end up together even though realistically that’s what should have happened. Usually I would have enjoyed that ending, but wasn’t in the mood for at the time. In retrospect though I can appreciate it, and whatever my feelings about it were they did not detract from my love of the movie as a whole.

Movie I Watched at Home

Last year I said I should probably retire this category because I don’t watch that many movies at home, and I had a hard time thinking of any. I’m still singing that tune this year, but I’m apparently not quite yet ready to let it go because it’s still here. In doing a review I discovered I actually watched a lot more movies at home than I thought, but I literally had to go back and look because I couldn’t remember any of them. Once I did though the obvious choice was Sing Street. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a sweet little film that takes place in 1980’s Dublin about a teenage boy who starts a band to impress a girl. The songs in it were all written for the movie, but definitely evoke the sounds of 80s music. It’s a delightful little film.

 

Fiction Book

Alas my great streak with books I loved last year did not continue into this year. I did manage to meet my reading goal of 100 books for the year, but there were very few I rated above 3 stars on Goodreads. This category like several other ones exemplified how out of sync I was with pop culture this year. Almost every best of book list I saw had Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad as it’s top pick. I did not care for that book. The fiction book I most enjoyed did show up on most lists as well, so I guess I wasn’t completely off. It was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Essentially its a series of connected short stories, which makes it unusual that I would like it that much since I generally don’t care for short stories. The thread that connects them though is following two lines of a family through two sisters on the Gold Coast of Africa, one who is sold into slavery and the other who becomes a slave traders wife from their lives in the 1600s up through present day. Each story is essentially a new generation. It was a wonderful and heartbreaking book that really demonstrates how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present even hundreds of years later.

Non-Fiction Book

I had much better luck with non-fiction books this year than fiction ones. Most of the books I rated over 3 stars on Goodreads were non-fiction. My favorite non-fiction book of the year was another book that was not very uplifting, but was extremely interesting. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond explores poverty and housing through the lens of the city of Milwaukee. Desmond explores the intricacies of housing and the tenant/landlord relationship especially when dealing with people living in poverty. Many books like this seem to take sides, but Desmond does a really good job in following a couple of landlords and their tenants at showing how complicated the relationship and that there are failings on both sides.

TV Show

With as much good scripted television as there is these days I feel like I’m going a little off book in declaring my favorite tv show of the year as Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. It was the biggest surprise to me because I was never the hugest fan of Samantha Bee when she was a Daily Show correspondent, especially towards the end of Jon Stewart’s run when she really seemed to be going off the rails a little bit. I didn’t even plan on watching Full Frontal because I figured it was just going to be more of the same stuff I wasn’t enjoying on The Daily Show, but my husband insisted that we at least try it out and I’m very glad he did. Full Frontal is really smart, and I appreciate having a woman’s voice in the late night world, especially one who will focus on woman’s issues in a way that no one else is. I’m definitely going to need Sam Bee’s outrage to help keep me sane as we move into the horrors of whatever this Trump presidency is about to bring us.

 

TV Episode

I stopped watching Halt and Catch Fire a few episodes into its first season, but decided to get caught up this summer after hearing so many people talk about how much better the second season was. So in a way it’s a little surprising to me that my favorite episode of the year was from the third season of this show. Season 3, Episode 7 – The Threshold is a great hour of television. Donna and Cameron’s relationship and their building of Mutiny together was the heart of season 2 and what turned this show into something worth watching. Watching it fall apart in this episode was sad but wonderfully acted and excellent to watch.

Album

Music is where my tastes really did not converge with critics or other music listeners as my favorite songs and albums really didn’t show up on any best of 2016 lists. My favorite album of the year was Joseph’s I’m Alone, No You’re Not. Joseph is a group of three sisters who have wonderful harmonies but some of their songs also have a great pop sensibility. I love this whole album, and I hope to be able to see them play more of the album live in 2017.

 

 

Song

I suspect the song I’m putting in this category has a bit of recency bias. I suspect that if I first fell in love with this song say back in March instead of November that I’d probably be sick of it and wouldn’t be including it here, but Wrabel’s 11 Blocks was the song that I loved to sing along to in the car more than any other song this year and the one I always hoped I would hear on the radio when I was driving which is what it earns it this spot. Realistically my choice here should have been Joseph’s SOS (Overboard), which I love and is probably the song I listened to most this year.

 

Concert

Every year my real favorite concert experience is going to the Newport Folk Festival. This year that was no exception. I was already beat down my 2016 at the end of July and that weekend was such a balm for my soul, but I always like to pick another show from the year for this category since Newport being a festival isn’t really a single concert. This year my favorite concert was Garth Brooks. I never got to see him back in the 90s, so I’m glad I finally got the chance. He is an amazing performer and manages to make an arena show feel intimate and so fun. It was so fun to sing along to all those songs of his I loved and also to see Trisha Yearwood perform some of her songs. They are some of the first country artists I ever fell in love with and it was great to finally get a chance to see them live.

 

Broadway Theatre Production

In last year’s post I named Hamilton my favorite theatre production of the year and said I’m going again in April of 2016 so maybe it will be my favorite show of 2016 too. Let’s be realistic. It was. But I also saw other great Broadway shows this year. So even though the best show I saw was Hamilton again, I’m going to put She Loves Me in this category. The production starred Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi and it was delightful. I even paid to re-watch it online when they broadcast a recording of it later in the year.

Baltimore Theatre Production

My favorite theatre production that I saw in Baltimore snuck in at the last moment. It was the touring production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The Broadway production won the Tony for Best New Musical in 2014 and I’ve wanted to see it for years. It was never something that I felt that I needed to see on Broadway though given the limited number of shows I get to see there each year. I always knew I was going to wait until it toured to see it, so I was happy that it finally came around as part of our season tickets to the Hippodrome this year. It was a great show and well worth the wait. It was extremely smart and clever and a show the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time.

Podcast

I already gave away in a post a few weeks ago that my favorite pocast this year was Out of the Blocks, a local Baltimore podcast from Aaron Henkin and Wendel Patrick. Their tag line One City Block, One Hour of Radio, Everybody’s Story pretty much describes what the podcast is about. It’s a fascinating look at the city and in the human condition. I highly recommend it to everyone not just people from Baltimore.

Podcast Episode

If Out of the Blocks didn’t exist Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs would have gotten my vote in the previous category. Instead they’ll get the mention in favorite podcast episode. I of course had to pick the episode where they discuss the song I requested, Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”.

 

Songs I Love: 11 Blocks by Wrabel November 16, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 8:27 am

Music is always healing for the soul, so it’s time to get back to writing about songs that I love around these parts. I’m sure it’s going to get way overplayed on the radio and I’ll wind up hating it in a few months, but right now I am Ob-sessed with the song 11 Blocks by Wrabel. Let’s not talk about how many times I’ve listened to in a row.

The music is super catchy and it’s easy to sing-a-long to because the lyrics are fairly simple and they repeat a lot. I like the image the lyrics paint of someone who is in a new relationship but can’t stop thinking about his ex, what they’re doing, and how easy it would be to drop back into their life. Now excuse me while I go listen to it a dozen more times on repeat.

 

Songs I Love: Red Earth & Pouring Rain by Bear’s Den September 20, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 8:42 am

I am currently obsessed with the song “Red Earth & Pouring Rain” by the band Bear’s Den. They’re a London based band and this song is the title song off their sophomore album. I don’t remember hearing anything off their first album, so I’m not sure if it really got any play in the US or if it just flew under my radar. At any rate I’m in love with this song and the whole album really. It sort of reminds me of slower 80s guitar rock. I feel like rock of all kinds has fallen out of fashion, so I’m always happy for it to show up in my life.

 

Songs I Love: SOS (Overboard) by Joseph August 23, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 8:03 am

Joseph is a band made up of three sisters Natalie, Allison, and Meegan Closner. The band is named after their grandfather Jo who hailed from a town called Joseph. They are set to release their second album, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, this Friday. Their first album was self-released and I don’t think I ever heard anything from it. They are now signed with ATO Records.

I’ve been enjoying “White Flag”, which is the first single off the album and a song that has gotten quite a bit of air play on non-commercial radio over the past few months. NPR Music has the full album up this week as part of their First Listen series, and while I still love “White Flag”, I fell completely in love with SOS (Overboard). The whole album is fantastic, and I can’t wait to make it mine but this song is the one that I’m over the moon about.

 

Songs I Love: Go Back by Darlingside May 27, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 1:56 pm

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about music here that isn’t related to a concert I’ve been at. I’ve been meaning to write about “Go Back” by Darlingside for awhile but for whatever reason hadn’t gotten around to it. I’m finally remedying that today. I’m going to say that “Go Back” is the first single off their 2015 album Birds Say because it’s the only song I’ve heard played on radio from it, but I could also be very wrong about that.

Anyway it is a wonderful bluegrassy song with beautiful harmonies. I don’t really have much else to say about it other than I love it. It is wonderful.

Also in things that have nothing to do with why I like the song, I can’t listen to it without thinking of this scene from Lost. So there’s that.