Archive for April, 2010

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Arturo Sandoval – Best of Arturo Sandoval

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I couldn’t find the album art for the compilation I have.

Arturo Sandoval is a beast of a trumpet player. Consider him the Latin version of Maynard Ferguson. If you want jazz, salsa, and latin music that screams, with interesting and complex rhythms, than look no further than Arturo Sandoval and a greatest hits compilation.

Like a lot of classical and jazz music, I discovered Arturo Sandoval while playing in jazz band. We played “A Mis Abuelos,” which remains my favorite Sandoval tune.

If you’re looking for something a little out of the way that you wouldn’t normally listen to, then these songs are fast and fun. Just listening to Sandoval’s range is mind-blowing. This album is a must for any trumpet player, and jazz enthusiasts would do well to listen to this beast of a trumpet player.

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Rush – 2112

Sunday, April 4, 2010

2112 (1976)

A friend burned me a mix CD with the first two movements of “2112” when I was a senior in high school. And I was blown away.

2112 wasn’t like any rock music I had heard. It was different, and spacey. And it rocked hard.

And it had a concept that only nerds like me can appreciate. The story runs something like this, at least to me:

In the year 2112, a dystopia known as the Solar Federation has taken over humanity. This dystopia keeps the masses subjected through a religious system that outlaws music.

But one day a young man discovers a guitar, and learns how to play. His mind is opened, and music makes him see the world differently. He goes to the priests to share his discovery, but they scorn and outlaw him.

The outlaw then visits an oracle, and there gets inspiration. He tries to get the world to understand – but inevitably they can’t. He can’t shake the dream from his mind. Grieved, he kills himself.

But the young man has unwittingly made a martyr of himself. A rebel army gathers under his name. They attempt to usurp the Solar Federation, but in this last movement, it’s left ambiguous who has won.

Nerdy, to be sure – but awesome for guys like me who love sci-fi. I’m not that into prog music, and this is the only thing by Rush I own. The music and lyrics compliment one another perfectly. The instrumentals are out of this world (terrible pun intended).

But the thing is, any fan of rock music should own this. 2112 is an important, unique, and enjoyable album, great to nerd/rock out to.

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Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone (2007)

Three years ago, on April 1, I waited in line to see Explosions in the Sky play in Norman, Oklahoma. Anticipation was high. I was a freshman, and the whole world was before me. Finally, after all this time, I would at last see one of my favorite bands live.

Yet disaster struck, because they sold out. I was told by a friend they would have plenty of tickets, so I didn’t go Ticketmaster. I guess you could say I was fooled on this worst of days. April truly is the cruelest month…

Anyway, I couldn’t decide what album to review, so I decided on this. Today, I’m not as into Explosions in the Sky as I once was. Which might seem kind of weird, because the album art is my profile picture thing. I really like the album art for this one.

But for a while there, I listened to Explosions way too much. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone I would often listen to while falling asleep. The music is peaceful and transcendent, the kind of stuff one would expect to hear in the post-rock genre. But while it is nice to listen to, and is very pretty, it really doesn’t try anything new. It’s musically similar to their previous album, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.

But other than that, All of a Sudden… is solid, depending on the mood I’m in. Sometimes, I find Explosions in the Sky hopelessly boring. But other times, when the mood strikes, I’ll put them on and it’s very relaxing and helps me concentrate on working – whether it’s homework, writing, whatever. They’re great background music, and when they’re at their best, can be very emotionally moving.

The only song on the album that moves me is probably “The Birth and Death of the Day.” It begins soft, and then explodes in melody, like the sun creeping above the horizon, banishing night for another day. The post-rock genre thrives on creating mood – and nowhere else on this album does Explosions do it more successfully than on this song.

The rest of the tracks are good – but merely good. Nice to listen to, but nothing too special.

Today, I’m not the adorer of this band I once was. But still, I respect their talent, and I’ll remember the nostalgia. Their best songs are breathtaking – but more often than not on All of a Sudden, Explosions doesn’t live up to their potential.