Friday, June 28, 2013

Floored by Nick Flora - "The Reintroduction of Nick Flora" review

Nick Flora's new album comes out on July 2nd. - The Reintroduction of Nick Flora

I supported the Kickstarter effort because enough was of interest to me, and he runs in a few circles of musicians I enjoy; namely the Square Peg Alliance folks.

As part of the supported level I received an advance digital copy of his newest album, "The Reintroduction of Nick Flora". It took me a few weeks to roll around to giving it a proper listen. I'm sorry that I waited.

I'm not very familiar with Nick's music.  I downloaded his trio of cover albums and they were able to produce a smile.  Not long ago I downloaded "Great Escape" off of Noisetrade and it was enjoyable but got lost in my sea of background music selection.

It is difficult to describe this album but I can say that I like it.  A LOT.  It doesn't squeeze nicely into a single genre.  There is a great mix of some pop, rock, ballads, Vegas lounge style and blues.  What blows my mind is that each is done well and so enjoyable.  Generally an experiment in styles can sound overproduced and the song gets lost behind horns that just sound out of place and hurt my ears.

For me it comes off as a soundtrack for a movie that I want to see.  Each song captures a moment well and doesn't get caught overstretching or saying too much.  I find myself humming these songs throughout the day.

Some specific song thoughts:
"Hard Man to Love" is an edgy declaration of "take it or leave it". 

"Luckiest Man of All" - probably the catchiest song to me.  I love the changes between verses.

"Everybody Asked About You" - this is probably my favorite song on the album.  It builds so well and the closing borders on remorse/realization and rebirth.  Some good stuff here:
Heartbeat finally we've broke through
You'll find in this life it's all on you
Everybody asked about you
So hold strong to your heart and listen close
for so long the hard part has run its course
Now everybody asks about you
Everybody asks about you
They're telling lies, so don't believe it
You've got greatness in you, boy and I have seen it
So just hold on

"Good Enough" - I love this ending song too.  The intro, the lonely vocal bridge and the powerful backup vocals are well placed.  Of course they aren't in this clip. 

I say if you get a chance get this album and give it a listen.  It's great for a roadtrip or a movie.

My brain soon started filling in the movie that holds this soundtrack.  The review pretty much ends here and any further reading is just me writing down some crazy idea for a dream movie that loosely ties together a handful of songs.

The youngest in the Jackson family of 4 brothers is getting married.  The big "last night of freedom party" is his brothers taking him from small town Missouri to the big city for a night of celebration.

The Jackson family house caught on fire one night.  One of the boys, Simon, managed to wake the family up and the boys were saved; the parents were trapped in a room behind the fire and died.  Rube feels like as the oldest he should've done more and saved the entire family.

Rube Jackson- oldest brother, once the bigwig but is now bitter and plugging away in a dead end job.  He seems to choose staying in a rut of self hatred.  He's separated from his wife but his pride seems to be the only obstacle to reconciliation.
Jud - brother #2 who is a party animal somehow engaged to a sweet lady, everyone wonders how long he'll stick around and why he pretends that he'd get married.  Wherever he goes a train wreck of empty bottles, loud music and craziness follows.
Simon - very upstanding guy and everyone knows he's dependable; after all he was the hero.
Joe - youngest and about to be married. 

Soundtrack panels:
"The Reintroduction" plays as Joe is packing his bags 3 days before his wedding.  The brothers make an odd lot but they're family.  3 out of 4 of them are packing - Rube can't bring himself to go.

"Hard Man to Love" plays as Jud shows that he is leading this celebration for his brother.  Leaves home with a bag full of beverages.

"Hometown Kids" - Rube is moping around thinking of all the things he should be doing but can't seem to take that step away from self pity.  Doesn't step toward his brother or his estranged wife.

"Lost at Sea" - Simon is the stable family guy.  He had to step in as their parents died in a house fire.  He's packing his stuff and anxious to step out of the burden of being Mr. Reliable. 

"Nobody Gets out Clean" plays as the road trip goes along without Rube.  He couldn't be drawn out of his personal pit.  Occasional flashes to a Rube realizing he's lonely.  It carries into the night of revelry. Flashy lights and shady clubs. It turns out Jud is controlled and knows when to quit and pulls the brothers away and back to the suite at the hotel.  He sends Simon and Joe back in a cab while he settles up the bill.  Simon is like a puppy chasing dandelions in a field and doesn't want to stop. He hires some ladies for more entertainment back at the hotel suite.  Jud arrives 10 minutes later and clears everyone out - loudly and forcefully

"Young Man's Game" - As the next day begins Jud calls home and realizes he's been missing out but he was never that far away, he just made it look that way.  Family life maybe pretty good.  Simon realizes he's been a well landscaped exterior to a house that's rotting.  Inside he's the guy that he resented Jud for being.

"Happy You're Happy" - Later in the day Joe is cornered by the bosses of the ladies who were booted out.  These gents aren't too happy about the treatment of their employees and want money or blood.

Kick & Scream - As the fighting starts and people are scrambling the Police show up, the trio are arrested and in jail.  They place a call to Rube to come pick them up.

"Make it Out Alive" - A long quiet roadtrip home. 

"Luckiest Man of All" - another quirky song, it plays as the wedding ceremony happens.  Ends with Rube picking up a phone and placing a call.

"Everybody Asked About You" - during the wedding feast there's an empty chair where Rube should be.

Good Enough - As the general dancing at the reception starts, in walks Rube to join the celebration.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Allegiance from "Gods of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs

I'm about 2/3 done listening to the second book by E.R. Burroughs in his Barsoom series.  I'm finding it to be a space western.  I'm greatly enjoying these books.  The reading is good from the librivox volunteers, which helps.

This passage struck me and made me wonder about how temperamental my allegiance has been-

"Ah, my Prince," he continued, as though no thought had interrupted his greeting, "that you are back is sufficient, and let Hor Vastus' sword have the high honour of being first at thy feet." With these words the noble fellow unbuckled his scabbard and flung his sword upon the ground before me.

Could you know the customs and the character of red Martians you would appreciate the depth of meaning that that simple act conveyed to me and to all about us who witnessed it. The thing was equivalent to saying, "My sword, my body, my life, my soul are yours to do with as you wish. Until death and after death I look to you alone for authority for my every act. Be you right or wrong, your word shall be my only truth. Whoso raises his hand against you must answer to my sword."

It is the oath of fealty that men occasionally pay to a Jeddak whose high character and chivalrous acts have inspired the enthusiastic love of his followers. Never had I known this high tribute paid to a lesser mortal. There was but one response possible. I stooped and lifted the sword from the ground, raised the hilt to my lips, and then, stepping to Hor Vastus, I buckled the weapon upon him with my own hands.

"Hor Vastus," I said, placing my hand upon his shoulder, "you know best the promptings of your own heart. That I shall need your sword I have little doubt, but accept from John Carter upon his sacred honour the assurance that he will never call upon you to draw this sword other than in the cause of truth, justice, and righteousness."

"That I knew, my Prince," he replied, "ere ever I threw my beloved blade at thy feet."

Of course I need to tie in some GKC (Orthodoxy):
Before any cosmic act of reform we must have a cosmic oath of allegiance. A man must be interested in life, then he could be disinterested in his views of it.  "My son give me thy heart"; the heart must be fixed on the right thing: the moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Beer with Jesus

A friend posted this. I found it worth a listen and I'll openly admit that I have never heard of Brett Lott; google confirms that he is indeed a writer.

Bret Lott On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian from Crossway on Vimeo.

He makes mention of "Beer with Jesus" by Rhett Walker.  So I dug up the song and I greatly enjoy.  It has had much play this week.  And if I get smoother with a Bm chord it'll ring out on my uke.  It might be a little too much as a offertory song though, I'm still pondering that.

I know where Men can still be found,
Anger and clamorous accord,
And virtues growing from the ground,
And fellowship of beer and board,
And song, that is sturdy cord,
And hope, that is a hardy shrub,
And goodness, that is God's last word --
Will someone take me to a pub.
-GK Chesterton

Friday, June 7, 2013

An Epic review

The family went and watched "Epic" yesterday.  So here's my quick review.

All in all - pretty good.  I think it rises to being above average for what it isn't more than what it is.  Good action and threads of danger but not too dark; although my 4 y/o was slightly spooked by the bad guys.

The title is far reaching as it will not stand the test of time as an epic movie; but it does relate an epic event in the fairy world that we get to watch.

Teen-ish MK (Mary-Kate) is sent to live with her father after the death of her mother.  The mother and father split  due to the dad's obsession with chasing a fairy world.

So it turns out the fairyworld is real and there's an ongoing battle between the fairies who bring life to the forest and some forces that are seeking to bring decay.

Every 100 years the fairies anoint a new queen.  The selection ceremony is important and cannot take a shortcut for safety.  The leafmen guard forces try to be prepared but get overwhelmed by the decaybringers and MK is drawn into delivery the seedpod to complete the ceremony when it blooms under the full moon.

The story works well enough.  There are some well worn story elements - dead/missing parents, rebellious teen, etc; but they play okay.  There is some humor for various ages (physical and word humor).  I found the voice work to be good and fitting.

I think what lets this movie rise out of the sea of mediocrity is what it isn't.  It isn't a tree-hugger movie - Ferngully, Avatar.  This provided some good discussion on what a "tree hugger" movie is.  The decay of the world isn't the fault of humans.  Humans are not ignorantly wrecking everything or willfully wrecking everything.  It isn't a tale of children needing to teach their parents/elders - How to Train Your Dragon, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  It isn't moralizing. 

Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticised elfland, but elfland that criticised the earth. I knew the magic beanstalk before I had tasted beans; I was sure of the Man in the Moon before I was certain of the moon. This was at one with all popular tradition. Modern minor poets are naturalists, and talk about the bush or the brook; but the singers of the old epics and fables were supernaturalists, and talked about the gods of brook and bush. That is what the moderns mean when they say that the ancients did not "appreciate Nature," because they said that Nature was divine. Old nurses do not tell children about the grass, but about the fairies that dance on the grass; and the old Greeks could not see the trees for the dryads. - GK Chesterton