Quick hits on some of my favorite 2018 movies, music, television, books, theater, and experiences. Happy 2019!
Archive for Music
“Clean it up, Johnny.”
At the 2:32 mark of Stadium Arcadium‘s heavy, bass driven jam “Readymade,” Anthony Kiedis fortunately wasn’t asking lead guitarist John Frusciante to kick another drug habit. While getting clean has certainly played a significant role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ improbable evolution, longevity, and success, collective sobriety gave this 2006 request new meaning. Kiedis was instead directing the esoteric axeman to sweep in with the kind of beautifully filthy solo that defines the California quartet’s landmark double album, which celebrates its tenth birthday on May 9th.
Although Frusciante left the band for weirder pastures in 2009, this twenty-eight-song collection is undoubtedly one of his (and the group’s) masterpieces. 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1999’s Californication may be more widely renowned (2002’s By The Way will always be my personal favorite), but the eclectic Stadium Arcadium comprehensively illuminates the musical and metaphysical extremes the Chili Peppers (in all of their various reincarnations) have experienced and shared for over three decades.
For me (and several of my best/oldest friends), Stadium Arcadium is a unique time capsule. No other record transports me back to such a specific era, place, and feeling. The record always evokes the ambiguity, innocence, and fun that defined my most formative high school summers.
“Charlie” and “Tell Me Baby” remind me of sucking at beer pong. Frusciante’s “Wet Sand” solo returns me to a frenetic Hawaiian pool party that now feels like a Project X prequel. “Death of a Martian” weirdly puts me back in the driver’s seat of “Clive Owen” (my 1994 325 coupe named after the star of BMW’s The Hire) during a crazy Long Island storm. These moments weren’t exactly adolescent checkpoints, like prom or graduation, but they are far more representative of what makes youthful mundanities quite extraordinary.
While this epic work may be impossible for the Chili Peppers to replicate (2011’s Frusciante-less I’m With You is solid, but forgettable), the band’s recent album announcement and single release filled my ears and heart with joy and hope.
Stadium Arcadium may be ten-years-old, but revisiting it is one of the few things makes me feel like I haven’t aged a day.
On May 21st, my favorite Nineties album turns twenty years old.
Much like Jakob Dylan’s wearily melodic lyrics and vocals, revisiting Bringing Down The Horse makes me feel nostalgically weathered and youthfully empowered.
While The Wallflowers critically and commercially successful sophomore effort isn’t as highly regarded or widely remembered as some of its Grammy nominee company (including Crash, OK Computer, Yourself Or Someone Like You, Tragic Kingdom, or its closest genetic competition – Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind), the 11-track T Bone Burnett production is a musical time capsule and one of my formative decade’s greatest records.
With logical composition and palpable tonal chemistry, Bringing Down The Horse flows like the beautifully devastating Golden State Warriors offense. “One Headlight” is the flashy, yet fundamentally flawless standout opener with a once-in-a-generation chorus. Like Stephen Curry, it embodies an era that it helped mirror and shape. “6th Avenue Heartache” isn’t as recognizable, but it’s the glue that elevates everything (including former tourmate Adam Duritz’s haunting harmonies) that follows its emotional lead. It’s Young Dylan’s “Draymond Green.”
“The Difference,” “Laughing Out Loud,” and “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls” couldn’t sound more different than “Invisible City,” “Josephine,” and “I Wish I Felt Nothing,” but they somehow complement and enrich each other. It’s a collection better suited for vinyl than Spotify.
After releasing three solid, underappreciated follow-ups (Breach, Red Letter Days, and Rebel, Sweetheart) The Wallflowers took a 7-year hiatus before returning with 2012’s underwhelming Glad All Over. With only two shows planned in 2016, it doesn’t seem like Dylan, keyboardist/Foo Fighter Rami Jaffee, current drummer/founding Red Hot Chili Pepper Jack Irons, and their fellow touring members will formally commemorate Bringing Down The Horse‘s anniversary by bringing it back on the road.
Their lack of sentimentality feels somewhat fitting. Nothing is forever.
It’s been a soul-crushing week.
After weirdly eulogizing David Bowie on ★’s release date (just three days prior to his passing), Ziggy Stardust’s *first* No. 1 US album now feels Warren Zevon’s “The Wind”-esque. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is Bowie’s “Keep Me in Your Heart.”
Visiting an appropriately vibrant tribute outside The Thin White Duke’s New York apartment was a touching affirmation of the unprecedented mark he’s left personally, locally, globally, and intergalactically.
Don Henley’s vocals are more conventionally beautiful, but Glenn Frey may have possessed the most purely American voice I’ve ever heard. And he was good in JERRY MAGUIRE!
I last saw The Eagles back in 2014 and thought they’d soar forever. I was right.
While he wasn’t a rock star (he could certainly sing, though), losing Alan Rickman also struck a chord. Many will remember Rickman as Hans Gruber and/or Severus Snape, but I’ll always think most fondly of him as Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest.
This role really encompasses what made Rickman special. In this (ahead of its time) source material for a future Amazon original series, he radiates accessible and lighthearted humanity within a curmudgeonly thespian shell.
Rickman never wanted you to take him any more seriously than he didn’t take himself. By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, he shall be remembered.
Bowie, Frey, and Rickman each seemed conscious and proud of their respective show business legacies and longevity.
Their mortality reminds us of our own, but their lives illuminate the beautiful ways shared creativity can connect strangers via shared pop cultural experience.
A soul-crushing week can really make the heart expand.
“Bono’s ego may be the only thing bigger than Kim Kardashian’s booty, but the world is certainly a more conscious and forward-thinking place with him in the picture.”
My latest Elite Daily column.