Work, Life, Relationships, Reviews, etc

I know. I know. I know.

I know.

Where’s the reviews? Where’s the Beach Boys review? It’s the 50th anniversary! How can you not do the review this year? What’s wrong with you? It’s been a year since you said you were taking a break. That’s a long enough break already.

Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to write all of those reviews and still do everything else in my life. Each review took a large amount of time and effort every week. On top of that, I sacrificed the possibility of listening to so much new (or at least new to me) music because I listened to a single album for over 40 hours any given week. I’m honestly liking the fact that if I want to listen to a new album every day of the week, I can. Or I can go to the other extreme of listening to the Hamilton soundtrack over and over again for 4 weeks straight. It’s so wonderful to have that kind of freedom.

I want to go back to writing reviews. I really do. But I don’t want it to be that huge time investment. Whenever I do come back, it’s probably going to be an even more streamlined format that focuses more on what I think about the music and less on providing additional information about an artist or album. We all know how to search Wikipedia. And seriously, you try summarizing the Beach Boys’ incredibly complex career that spanned decades and was filled with numerous ups and downs in a paragraph or two. Not that easy. I’d much rather tell you how freaking amazing Pet Sounds is and why you absolutely need to listen to the album before you die.

So how does that sound to you?

 

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Announcing a New Logo!

I decided that since I’ve been writing reviews for over an year, the site needed a new logo. I put out a request on Facebook for a new one. I really didn’t expect anyone to actually respond. But not only was Mike Duff so gracious as to make a new logo for me, he made really freaking sweet logo. I absolutely love the minimalist design with a typographic focus. It was like the guy read my mind for exactly what I wanted in a new logo. Thank again, Mike! I love it!

New Project Lt. Morning Logo

My History with Hip Hop + Big Announcement

The Beginning: Every great love affair has an equally great beginning. Unfortunately, my affair starts with a lot of hate. During the early 1990’s, I straight up hated that crap. I hated the very albums I adore and praise today when they were first released. My siblings and their friends would play it obsessively on the large speakers we had in the front room. Bass was everything. I don’t remember if they ever actually blew out any speakers while doing this, but I know it drove my mom crazy. I know she didn’t want her speakers broken. So I wanted nothing to do with hip hop. It was the genre that broke stuff and caused pain. Nothing that was worth my time.

The Walls Come Down: By the late 1990’s, I had gotten over my initial hate. I had too many friends that liked it and it’s such a silly reason to discount an entire genre. DMX, Master P, 2Pac, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Dr. Dre, Eminem, etc. were now in my life to an extent. I didn’t really seek out hip hop music in high school, but I was okay if it found me. It was a genre on equal footing with the others out there like jazz, pop and rock. By the time college started, hip hop was a regular in my music rotation. My freshman year, I very much enjoyed playing Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001 as loud as I could while living in the dorms. Regardless, I still wasn’t anywhere close to where I am now. So where does the story really begin? When did everything change?

The Real Beginning: The end of college is when it all happened. Nothing was ever the same after that night. It the night that Randy K (not his real name) handed me a silver CD-R with the name Oliver Hart, scribbled in black Sharpie, across the top of it. He had been playing it in the car that night, though it was kind of hard to hear since it wasn’t that loud. The point of that winter night was hanging out and talking and not listening to music. So I knew it sounded different and it had potential to be an album that I could like. I was actually much more taken with The Faint album I heard that night, which I also received a copy of. If you haven’t heard their song, Glass Danse, you are seriously missing out. My editor and I played that song a freaking bunch. It’s so infectious. So Oliver Hart kind of fell to the wayside until summer.

How Eye One the Write Too Think: So it turns out that Oliver Hart is actually a Minnesota-based rapper named Eyedea. Hart was just a pseudonym. Eyedea was my baptism into Underground Hip Hop. It lasted a little longer than your average one: three months. While slaving away at my co-op job in a cold research lab, I spent the entire summer listening to The Many Faces of Oliver Hart or How Eye One the Write Too Think on repeat with two other albums. While the two other albums were good, they really ended up serving as filler so I wouldn’t burn myself out on Eyedea’s album. When I wasn’t listening to it, I was waiting for it to come back up on my CD MP3 player.

Going Underground: Eyedea opened up a whole new world for me that, up until that point, I didn’t know was possible in music. His album is more of a philosophical discussion than music. In Step By Step, Eyedea explores the afterlife with two angels: one of them always lies and one of them always tells the truth. He could choose to go with only one of them. Choosing the right one would lead him to heaven and the other would drag him to hell. I’m sure, at this point, everyone is thinking of a certain scene from Labyrinth. Both the movie and the song cover the classic Knights and Knaves logic problem. But Eyedea’s solution to the problem was meant to make you think about it from yet another perspective. The fact that someone could rap a story about a logic problem blew my mind into a million tiny pieces. Bottle Dreams had an equally forceful impact on my views of what could be done with music. The song discusses the story of a young female violin prodigy who spent her life being molested by her father. It’s an incredibly sad song and there was no happy ending for her. Again, I couldn’t believe somebody could rap about such a topic. As unbelievable as the album was, I knew I couldn’t stop there. I needed more.

The Neverending Story: Flash forward over twelve years later and my love of hip hop has only grown stronger. I’ve revisited what was happening in the early 1990’s and I am absolutely grateful that I was alive to witness (even if I wasn’t paying attention as much as I should have been) what was going on in hip hop and the dramatic changes that were happening. Even today, I am astounded by what is going on in hip hop. If you’re still musically stuck in your teenage years and say there is no good music anymore, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re just being a lazy f**k. If you want the good s**t, you’re going to have to put some effort into seeking it out. If you do, you end up with hip hop music like dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip‘s first single, Thou Shalt Always Kill in your life. It’s such a fantastic song. Dan le Sac’s beats are mesmerizing, and Pip’s lyrics are thought-provoking on so many levels. The video itself is incredibly playful visually. Why am I mentioning and focusing on this song? Because it is the reason for what’s going to be happening with Project Lt. Morning for the next 4 months.

The Big Announcement: One of the early decisions about this blog is that nobody would know what album was being reviewed until I published the review. The blog is more about the experience of going through my MP3 player and listening to all of the music than the music itself. This is why posts are titled things like Week 15 instead of the name of the album and why sometimes I end up reviewing horrible albums. However, for the next 15 reviews, I will be listening to some of the greatest albums ever recorded and each one makes an appearance in Thou Shalt Always Kill. In fact, I’m reviewing the albums in order of appearance so everyone can know what I’m reviewing long before I publish it. This is a pretty significant change for me, but like everything with this blog: let’s give it a try and see how it goes.

So without further ado may I present my next experiment for Project Lt. Morning: Just a Band.

PS I’m considering doing a tournament of the 15 albums plus Angles (the album the song, Thou Shalt Always Kill, is from) once all the review are done. Just a simple playoff bracket to figure out which album is the best. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of 5 star reviews so I wanted to do something to differentiate them. There can be only one.

Next Review Update and Anime Expo!

First, I spent last week at Anime Expo 2014 with my editor. We had so much fun but it also cut into my listening time dramatically. Most of my quality listening time was on the plane although I was heavily reading mangas at the time so maybe it wasn’t as quality as I think.

AX was amazing! Over 60,000 80,000 people attended. I got to sit in on a panel featuring none other than Keiji Inafune! He received a standing ovation when he entered the room and rightfully so. He helped define my childhood and probably the childhood of many of my readers. It was so awesome to be in the same room as him. On the music side of things, I attended a concert by Eir Aoi. The energy she brought to the stage and kept throughout the whole concert was unbelievable. So many times I thought she was going to quit but she would take a quick drink of water and just keep going. It was unreal. I figured since this was my third time going that it would start to get old but this year has left me with more positive energy than ever. The people there truly are amazing in so many ways.

Here are some of the pictures I took of the cosplayers:

AX 2014

(Top Left to Right: Squid Girl, Mr. and Mrs. Mario with Little Toad, Chrono and Megaman, Dr. Headcrab Zombie, Hoka Inumuta, Sinon, Uzu Sanageyama and Nonon Jakuzure
Bottom Left to Right: My Neighbor New California Republic (my editor!), Black and White Mage, Mami Tomoe with Kyubey, Madoka Kaname)

My original plan was to write the review on Monday but we had airplane issues on the way home which set us back an entire day. Rather than trying to rush through a review so I can start on another album, I decided to wait until this weekend so I can write a proper one. And this album definitely deserves 100% of my attention.

The album I’m working on is a two disc set. It’s two hours long so even a work day is just 4 listens. It’s a really complicated album too so I’m hoping the extra time of another week will be worth it. I chose this album specifically in honor of our trip to Anime Expo. For those of you wishing I would review classical music on here, this is probably is as classical as it’s going to get.

Thanks for reading!