Brian Feeney
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#music

The Pudding takes a look at the differences between two Rolling Stone's lists of the best records of all time from twenty years apart. Obviously, it's a subjective process, but it's interesting to see what drops off after white boomers begin to lose their voting majority.

March 11, 2024

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March 01, 2024

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Cory Dransfeldt writes a reminder that "renting your music means accepting that it will disappear." This is the main driver behind my interest in vinyl. I don't listen to much music on the turntable, but I do intend to buy all of my favorite records as LPs. As many as I can. One day, my 25,000 track collection on Apple Music will disappear. Either because Apple closes it down or a random bug wipes it all. I'm resigned to that happening. Everything digital is temporary.

February 10, 2024

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NYC Phil

Lincoln Center

Rob invited me out to the NYC Philharmoic on Saturday. We started the night with dinner at Jeju in the West Village, an excellent Korean place I'd return to. I had the gochu ramyun, Rob the donkatsu, and we split the fried chicken app. We had extra time, so we grabbed some scotch at the old Art Bar; place was still packed and going strong.

The performance was really nice. I don't have the words to appropriately describe the pieces, but I did learn plenty from Rob, not only about the music, but how orchestras and players work as an industry and career. 

The program:

  • Mozart: K.505 aria
  • Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 4

February 05, 2024

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The Music of 2023

I listened to 1,869 tracks released in 2023. I liked 837 of those. 237 were rated best of the year. Only 47 of them made it into my Favorites list. In the last few years, fewer and fewer new tracks seem to resonate with me. I'm becoming more discerning, and I'm aging out of the music made by the young, as naturally happens. I try really hard to keep up with The Youths, yet music made by those in their early twenties continues to reflect the lives of people in their early twenties. I'm almost 43. So it goes.

In 2023, I ended up connected mostly with the records from artists who were already among my favorites. I really dug a lot of jazz and blues from the last year, but those rarely land in my Favorites list. I'm still a pop and rock guy, at heart, I guess. It's kind of bananas how many records were released this year by my favorite musicians: Gorillaz, Blur, Animal Collective, Yo La Tengo, Wilco, Margo Price, The New Pornographers, Youth Lagoon, Belle & Sebastian, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Deerhoof, Feist, The Go! Team, two from The National, four (4!) from Robert Pollard. Not all of them ended up favorites for the year, but that's still quite a list.

My listening habits have evolved in one way, I've noticed. I've been listening a little more to songwriting, specifically. That's taken me back to country music and the catalog of older songs I had once ignored. Spent more time with records from the 60s and 70s. Payed more attention to lyrics than I traditionally had before. Lots of singles from lots of artists, but plenty of The Band, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, George Jones, and the Staple Singers. I can see myself growing further down this route as time passes.

2023 was also a year I listened to a lot of Robert Pollard. I finished my trek through the full 2,500 songs of his I have access to. I have been a fan of him and Guided By Voices for 25 years now, but his music has really been hitting the spot for me, lately. Straightforward rock. Unpretentious. Made with love and playfulness. Famously prolific, he put out four records this year. His music simply speaks to me, and this year I fully embraced that. He's so good.

I made a few wonderful music discoveries this year: Sparks (which I'll probably write more about at some point), Mandy Indiana, Zach Bryan, Charley Crockett. And a few rediscoveries after closer listens: Fruit Bats, The Staple Singers, The Band. Maybe it's safe to say that my music listening habits deepened this year, rather than expanded. I'm continuing to appreciate stuff in new ways. Fewer surprises as I get older. But that doesn't mean there isn't more to learn.

That's where I am as we go into 2024. I plan to focus less on new music by new artists, and instead spend more quality time with the music I know I love.

Here are my favorite albums of 2023:

  • Blur - The Ballad of Darren
  • Gorillaz - Cracker Island
  • The National - First Two Pages of Frankenstein
  • Fatoumata Diawara - London Ko
  • Guided By Voices - Nowhere To Go But Up
  • Zach Bryan - Zach Bryan

And the Honorable Mentions:

  • New Pornographers - Continue as a Guest
  • The Arcs - Electrophonic Chronic
  • Youth Lagoon - Heaven Is A Junkyard
  • The National - Laugh Track
  • Yo La Tengo - This Stupid World
  • Sparks - The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
  • Feeble Little Horse - Girl With Fish
  • Fruit Bats - A River Running To Your Heart
  • Lonnie Holley - Oh Me Oh My

Here are a couple playlists on Apple Music, if you're interested.

Favorite Tracks for 2023. Changed the rules for this year's playlist. It's all 47 of my faves, not just one track per artist.

Music I discovered/rediscovered in 2023

January 19, 2024

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The End of Pitchfork?

Pitchfork magazine is being folded into GQ. I've been a reader for over twenty years now, and so this is a bummer. I read maybe one out of every 300 reviews, but it was still a good place to catch wind of new artists, or which older artists are putting out new material.

Kornhaber does a pretty good job of capturing my attitude towards it:

The irony of Pitchfork is that although it has long been thought of as a keeper of cool, the site itself has never been particularly cool; one admits sheepishly to reading it. This is not just because of its reputation for snobbery and its sometimes exasperating prose. It's also because to absorb the logic of Pitchfork is to believe in the authority of each individual's ears and brain. Saying you're a Pitchfork person can be mistaken for saying you take its opinions as your own, when ideally it just means that you want a discerning companion for making your own discoveries and judgments.

I never really cared what Pitchfork said about anyone. I'm able to have my own studied opinions. But if they cared to write about someone, I figured they were worth the attention, for good or bad.

This is probably the end of the site, but the real Pitchfork killer would be the sunsetting of its RSS feed. If I can't follow the music news without also getting posts about what watches movie stars wore on red carpets, then I'm out out.

Time to start looking for more places for independent music news.

January 18, 2024

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January 17, 2024

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Silver Jews Tribute Show

Went out last night to the 4th annual tribute show to David Berman. It was a ramshackle show, but still really nice to hear a bunch of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains songs played live again. A few of the participants were friends of Berman's or had written songs with him, so the event had a warm feeling about it. Proceeds went to a suicide prevention nonprofit. 

January 05, 2024

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This list of Bowie’s top 100 books has been posted around the internet for years, but it's always worth revisiting when you're in need of inspiration for your next read.

December 28, 2023

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The Smile

Smile crowd

Music night at Forest Hills. First time there and it was to see the Smile. Nice outdoor venue; great show! I wasn’t sure what to expect, which was a nice way to go in. I knew the record, of course, and so was prepared for it to be jazzy and loose. Was pleasantly surprised that it sounded great loud, too. 
The band was too far away for a great shot, but the crowd looked really cool flooded in red. 

July 08, 2023

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