Archive | December, 2019

Worst Moments of 2019

31 Dec

So from bad to worst here are the least pleasant times of 2019:

 

10. new mck program ridiculousness

At work my supervisor (more on her later) told us our jobs weren’t in danger, nothing was changing, she doesn’t want to see us taking our stuff home out of fear.  I took my stuff home.  Because as a temp, you have zero job security.  You can always get the phone call that says you are no longer needed, don’t report to work…  And sure enough that very evening I got a phone call from my temp agency–don’t report…  I thought my assignment was over.  Temp to hire is a carrot so they can use you when they need you.  But then the lady continued–report to Scottdale (the palace).  So unceremoniously, McKesson switched my program, switched my job duties, and switched my work location from one city to another–as of tomorrow (the day back in March? this occured).

 

And the new program was a relief–new people, better building, better seat where I could see out a window, good cube-neighbors.  Easier tasks.  But less tasks.  So many less.  I went from averaging 110 calls to doing 6 in a day.  And calls were the only thing we did.  Dramatically less work.  And I found out even if you do the job properly, it’s not McKesson leadership’s job to be fair to employees under them–they must cater to these clients that hire McKesson as their middle-man.  However stupid, disorganized, and redundant those clients are–and believe me this client was all those things.  So between just uprooting me with no notice (DISLIKE) and then not supporting me even though I was doing everything outlined in the rules (you should see this email chain, it’s fucking ridiculous), I just didn’t want to do that anymore.

 

9. being cold in the new house

We got out of that mother-fucking horrible, tiny apartment-yay!  Our new house is adorable and (nearly) perfect, but has no insulation to speak of.  And AZ, which is supposed to be warm all the time, has been unseasonably cold now for 2 winters in a row.  I was icy cold and uncomfortable last Jan-March, and now I’m freezing in Dec.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want to pay even more utilities since AZ had 96 days over 100 degrees in the summer and you have no choice but to pay 24/7 AC.  And I can’t find a B-pair of cuddle-duds so these just keep getting bigger and bigger.

 

8. social problems at new job

So I get a new, better job where I did actually go permanent (eventually and finally!) but it’s all weird.  Training is set up for extroverts so I was completely anxious, stressed, and as a result I shut-down.  And my particular class had really super-fast learners, so I also felt like I didn’t want to slow anyone down with confusions or questions.  And I just didn’t really interact, because I never really got to know anybody, and I was really uncomfortable the whole time.  Nervous, stressed out, awkward…

Then my dink supervisor didn’t even introduce me to my new team.  What?!  And when I’m at my cube, I am legit trying and concentrating on the work (and still shy, awkward, uncomfortable) so I never got brave enough to introduce myself to anyone on my team.  So now, it’s been a weirdly long time and it’s too late to introduce myself to my team–so I just literally don’t know most of them.  Like their names or anything.  And that is weird and terrible.  And even though I never got to know anyone from my training class, some of them acted like we go way back, and were mad when I didn’t really engage with them (because I don’t know them either!  We had never talked in training) so they seem disgruntled.

So that’s weird and unpleasant.  And even at McKesson, I had some friends and some acquaintances, because they warmed up and initiated real conversations with me, then I didn’t feel uncomfortable so I felt like I could chat with them and stuff.  Cause eventually I do open up to people, but only when it doesn’t feel forced or strained or superficial.  But so far, no one has made any effort to really talk to me at all here, so it just keeps getting worse and worse socially…  I hate it, but don’t know how to change it at this point either-I’ve been pigeonholed.

 

7. being fat

I lost my metabolic gift when I turned 34.  And now I have to pay attention to eating and exercise in a way I never even had to think about before.  So that’s a bummer.  And all my size 2s are dead to me.  And I put my suits in the give-away bag, and that sucked.  And my Lucky jeans, which were my #1 staple jeans are a 4, and I’m out of that zone now too.  And putting those in the bag, really hurt my feelings.  So I don’t like anything about that.

 

6. parents visit fighting

My dad was shaving his face with an electric razor on my living room couch-what the fuck?!  And I said, “Are you getting whiskers everywhere????”  And he said, “Yeah, so.”  And I went ballistic (of course!  nobody wants stubble all over their living room couch and floor) and told him not to do that-go in the bathroom over the sink–probably with some curse words peppered in.  And then my mom said his shaver collects the hair, it doesn’t make a mess.  So why didn’t he proactively tell me that or answer no when I asked about hair?  Who knows (turns out he hadn’t actually heard what I asked, but bluffed and pretended he had).

Then we went about our business.  I had painstakingly created an itinerary so everyone would have fun and be comfortable and that day was casino and buffet (my dad’s favorites).  And after eating, Dad went to gamble.  And Cool of course had sick belly.  Leaving my mom and I alone at the table.  And that’s always a risk because fights can touch off pretty quickly.  Cool is supposed to be my buffer…  And in 1 min my mom wanted to tell me something.  And I was like, “Don’t whatever it is, you’re going to make me mad.”  But she just has to go there-like always.  And she said whatever it was–I actually can’t remember, but I ended up storming out of the buffet, pissed off.  And there was some loud family arguing on the casino floor (ghetto) and anger all around.  Threats on the way home they would fly out early, and I had had enough so I was actually for it.  And it generally just escalated into an ugly thing that let resentments, grudges, animosities, tiredness, control-issues, and everything negative out from just under the surface, into the open.  Not optimal.

Come to find out, the shaver incident had hurt my dad’s feelings and made him mad.  But instead of telling me, he whined to my mom.  And she has to get in the middle of everything so she confronted me.  But that’s kind of been her thing ever since I was a kid:  Telling me that both of them felt this or thought that as a way to give legitimacy and weight to whatever was her gripe.  Because she always felt I liked my dad more, and listened to him over her–neither of which is true.  Anyway, since she had used this tactic a lot, I just made an assumption she was doing that and blew up at her.  Turns out it was actually my dad this time.  So the whole incident was bad.  I felt bad.  I was upset that my dad would do that knowing my mom and my history, and I’d say it put a major damper on their whole trip.  They’ll never come back.

 

5. worrying about no stability as a temp

Really the worry and insecurity with this is an understatement.  It really impacts your whole life and finances.  Knowing you could be told not to come back at any time is terrible.  Having your work location change cities with hours of notice is awful.  Having to try to be perfect in performance and quality for fear of being let go is stressful.  Not having any sick days, vacation, or time off is exhausting.  No/bad benefits adds insult to injury.  I hope I never have to live this way again.

 

4. my supervisor (secretly) hating on me

I thought I was having another situation with the big boss.  Things kept happening at work to make me uncomfortable, and undermine my progress and upward mobility.  Pointed comments were made to groups that I was certain were directed at me.  But my supervisor was kind of a dink-bimbo.  So I didn’t think it was her.  And I had been sent home early by the big boss when I made it known I thought he was sexist toward my work.  I just assumed some sort of retaliation was happening.  I was producing numbers DOUBLE of what they were asking of us.  And I got FIVE 100% quality scores in a row.  The quality guy loved me, because I took pride in my work and made an effort to hit every expectation on all of my calls.  But I was passed up for a promotion.  They picked the top 30 (I don’t remember the exact number now, I think 30) out of like 200 of us in the program for a special project/recognition.  I was not chosen.  But I know I belonged in that group.  And I know for a fact that my work was better than at least 2 people chosen over me.  Not to sound arrogant (and the quantitative data backs this up), but I was absolutely safely in the top 5 of my whole team, and probably if not THE top performer definitely the 2nd best.  But I wasn’t included in this top 30 group.

So I asked my supervisor why.  And she said it wasn’t the ‘top’ people.  But the big boss had said in front of all of us that it was, and I reminded her that.  She said it was productivity.  And I pointed to my numbers that she had just provided me of my performance–and said these are over expectation by a lot.  And she mentions quality.  So I reminded her mine was great.  I really pressed her as to why I wasn’t in the group, because I thought I had been blacklisted by the big-boss, because I accused him of sexism (I was sure this was the reason).  And she told me the people were chosen for their critical thinking skills.  I asked why leadership was doubtful about my critical thinking skills–after all just that week, she had put 4 different people with me as a side-by-side to teach them the job.  If they didn’t believe in me, why the fuck would they have me training people???

And then I was moved to a different program without warning.  No word.  But when I got to the new program a gal from my former program, that had been on my exact team was there too.  But the supervisor had discussed the move with her the week before.  My supervisor told 1 gal–“in a week you will go to a new program.”  And that same supervisor had a team meeting and said–“I don’t wanna see you guys taking your stuff home, nothing is changing nobody is moving or getting fired.”  And that day my recruiter told me–tomorrow you move to a new program/city.  Bitch, please!

It had been my supervisor working against me the entire time, but because she seemed like a damn flake, I had underestimated her and didn’t even realize everything was because of her.

 

3. commuting from scottsdale to here

Having new people around was great, as was working in a palace of a building.  But I had specifically signed a one year lease to be close to work (the former building).  It was within walking distance.  And now I had to drive diagonally through one entire city, and from the very south to the very north end of a 2nd city to get to and from work.  I hate commuting and I know that about me.  Driving through a college town with bad drivers and crazy pedestrians OR taking the freeway that gets bogged down right when I get off work = 2 bad choices.  The drive was eating up a lot of my day.  I was tired all the time.  I started getting road rage from dealing with constant shit-driving shenanigans.  Meanwhile, my new house was right next to a work building that I no longer worked at.

 

2nd.  awkwardness at cmm

I made a pretty awesome training power point.  I gave it to every leader in my program.  Nothing came of it.  Despite people liking it and the fact it was a useful tool, the thing went nowhere.  Fine.  But then a co-worker boy saw the power point.  He loved it.  He said it would have been super helpful if he’s had it when he was starting out.  He asked why it wasn’t in use.  I said I’d given it to leadership but nothing came of it.  He asked if he could show it to them again.  After he showed it to them, my power point was used to help train people THAT day.

I felt like it was discrimination.  It was the exact same power point.  Only difference was that a boy presented it.  I made it known that I was unhappy about it.  And the big boss called me in a private meeting.  He was not happy with my accusation.  He even sent me home from work midway through the day.  I was convinced I wouldn’t be invited back (temp, remember).  It didn’t happen that day.  I became paranoid it was only a matter of time.  Nobody talked to me about it, but it was the holidays so people were on vacation, and things were not running as usual.  I was waiting for a meeting…  No meeting occurred.  But I knew the big boss was unhappy with me, so I figured he was just waiting for me to mess up, so he could site that as the reason for letting me go.  So I became hyper-paranoid about not making any mistake on anything.  And that’s a lot of pressure, paranoia, and fear.  And it lasted for two-ish months.  Every day.  Miserable.

 

1. worst ever:  thinking Goose (my beloved maine coon buddy) might die

Last winter, we moved.  It was also cold.  Goose lost weight, and I know that’s bad.  I’ve seen it over and over, they start losing weight and that’s the beginning of the end.  He was lethargic.  Stopped playing.  Didn’t groom C.L. like he always had.  But when he stopped grooming himself I knew he was about to die.  He has always taken great pride in his coat.  It was so greasy, it became matted, and I had to give him a scraggle lion cut so he had less to maintain.  I was so scared and sad.  We went to the feline exclusive vet.  They suggested a $500+ diagnostic.  I love Goose, but when both you and your mate could get a call any time saying you don’t have a job tomorrow–well, you have to save every penny.  $500 is a lot any time, but when it might be your cushion in unemployment–I just couldn’t spend that much.  Not on anything.  Also, the vet didn’t call with the in-house lab results for 6 days.  Deal breaker.  We went to a 2nd vet for a 2nd opinion.  Except he pretty much reiterated what the first vet said.  And even though we had mentioned the slow communication on lab results as the primary reason for changing vets–the 2nd vet didn’t tell us lab results for 6 days!  I didn’t wanna be that client, but I know better.  So we went to a 3rd vet.  Which seems ridiculous.  And we didn’t tell her about the other 2 vets.  And she put him on blood pressure medication and arthritis injections.  No expensive diagnostics–and he’s doing awesome, I’m happy to report!  So false alarm, but I still felt horrible.

worst of 2019

31 Dec

So from bad to worst here are the least pleasant times of 2019:

 

10. new mck program ridiculousness

At work my supervisor (more on her later) told us our jobs weren’t in danger, nothing was changing, she doesn’t want to see us taking our stuff home out of fear.  I took my stuff home.  Because as a temp, you have zero job security.  You can always get the phone call that says you are no longer needed, don’t report to work…  And sure enough that very evening I got a phone call from my temp agency–don’t report…  I thought my assignment was over.  Temp to hire is a carrot so they can use you when they need you.  But then the lady continued–report to Scottdale (the palace).  So unceremoniously, McKesson switched my program, switched my job duties, and switched my work location from one city to another–as of tomorrow (the day back in March? this occured).

 

And the new program was a relief–new people, better building, better seat where I could see out a window, good cube-neighbors.  Easier tasks.  But less tasks.  So many less.  I went from averaging 110 calls to doing 6 in a day.  And calls were the only thing we did.  Dramatically less work.  And I found out even if you do the job properly, it’s not McKesson leadership’s job to be fair to employees under them–they must cater to these clients that hire McKesson as their middle-man.  However stupid, disorganized, and redundant those clients are–and believe me this client was all those things.  So between just uprooting me with no notice (DISLIKE) and then not supporting me even though I was doing everything outlined in the rules (you should see this email chain, it’s fucking ridiculous), I just didn’t want to do that anymore.

 

9. being cold in the new house

We got out of that mother-fucking horrible, tiny apartment-yay!  Our new house is adorable and (nearly) perfect, but has no insulation to speak of.  And AZ, which is supposed to be warm all the time, has been unseasonably cold now for 2 winters in a row.  I was icy cold and uncomfortable last Jan-March, and now I’m freezing in Dec.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want to pay even more utilities since AZ had 96 days over 100 degrees in the summer and you have no choice but to pay 24/7 AC.  And I can’t find a B-pair of cuddle-duds so these just keep getting bigger and bigger.

 

8. social problems at new job

So I get a new, better job where I did actually go permanent (eventually and finally!) but it’s all weird.  Training is set up for extroverts so I was completely anxious, stressed, and as a result I shut-down.  And my particular class had really super-fast learners, so I also felt like I didn’t want to slow anyone down with confusions or questions.  And I just didn’t really interact, because I never really got to know anybody, and I was really uncomfortable the whole time.  Nervous, stressed out, awkward…

Then my dink supervisor didn’t even introduce me to my new team.  What?!  And when I’m at my cube, I am legit trying and concentrating on the work (and still shy, awkward, uncomfortable) so I never got brave enough to introduce myself to anyone on my team.  So now, it’s been a weirdly long time and it’s too late to introduce myself to my team–so I just literally don’t know most of them.  Like their names or anything.  And that is weird and terrible.  And even though I never got to know anyone from my training class, some of them acted like we go way back, and were mad when I didn’t really engage with them (because I don’t know them either!  We had never talked in training) so they seem disgruntled.

So that’s weird and unpleasant.  And even at McKesson, I had some friends and some acquaintances, because they warmed up and initiated real conversations with me, then I didn’t feel uncomfortable so I felt like I could chat with them and stuff.  Cause eventually I do open up to people, but only when it doesn’t feel forced or strained or superficial.  But so far, no one has made any effort to really talk to me at all here, so it just keeps getting worse and worse socially…  I hate it, but don’t know how to change it at this point either-I’ve been pigeonholed.

 

7. being fat

I lost my metabolic gift when I turned 34.  And now I have to pay attention to eating and exercise in a way I never even had to think about before.  So that’s a bummer.  And all my size 2s are dead to me.  And I put my suits in the give-away bag, and that sucked.  And my Lucky jeans, which were my #1 staple jeans are a 4, and I’m out of that zone now too.  And putting those in the bag, really hurt my feelings.  So I don’t like anything about that.

 

6. parents visit fighting

My dad was shaving his face with an electric razor on my living room couch-what the fuck?!  And I said, “Are you getting whiskers everywhere????”  And he said, “Yeah, so.”  And I went ballistic (of course!  nobody wants stubble all over their living room couch and floor) and told him not to do that-go in the bathroom over the sink–probably with some curse words peppered in.  And then my mom said his shaver collects the hair, it doesn’t make a mess.  So why didn’t he proactively tell me that or answer no when I asked about hair?  Who knows (turns out he hadn’t actually heard what I asked, but bluffed and pretended he had).

Then we went about our business.  I had painstakingly created an itinerary so everyone would have fun and be comfortable and that day was casino and buffet (my dad’s favorites).  And after eating, Dad went to gamble.  And Cool of course had sick belly.  Leaving my mom and I alone at the table.  And that’s always a risk because fights can touch off pretty quickly.  Cool is supposed to be my buffer…  And in 1 min my mom wanted to tell me something.  And I was like, “Don’t whatever it is, you’re going to make me mad.”  But she just has to go there-like always.  And she said whatever it was–I actually can’t remember, but I ended up storming out of the buffet, pissed off.  And there was some loud family arguing on the casino floor (ghetto) and anger all around.  Threats on the way home they would fly out early, and I had had enough so I was actually for it.  And it generally just escalated into an ugly thing that let resentments, grudges, animosities, tiredness, control-issues, and everything negative out from just under the surface, into the open.  Not optimal.

Come to find out, the shaver incident had hurt my dad’s feelings and made him mad.  But instead of telling me, he whined to my mom.  And she has to get in the middle of everything so she confronted me.  But that’s kind of been her thing ever since I was a kid:  Telling me that both of them felt this or thought that as a way to give legitimacy and weight to whatever was her gripe.  Because she always felt I liked my dad more, and listened to him over her–neither of which is true.  Anyway, since she had used this tactic a lot, I just made an assumption she was doing that and blew up at her.  Turns out it was actually my dad this time.  So the whole incident was bad.  I felt bad.  I was upset that my dad would do that knowing my mom and my history, and I’d say it put a major damper on their whole trip.  They’ll never come back.

 

5. worrying about no stability as a temp

Really the worry and insecurity with this is an understatement.  It really impacts your whole life and finances.  Knowing you could be told not to come back at any time is terrible.  Having your work location change cities with hours of notice is awful.  Having to try to be perfect in performance and quality for fear of being let go is stressful.  Not having any sick days, vacation, or time off is exhausting.  No/bad benefits adds insult to injury.  I hope I never have to live this way again.

 

4. felissa hating on me

I thought I was having another situation with the big boss.  Things kept happening at work to make me uncomfortable, and undermine my progress and upward mobility.  Pointed comments were made to groups that I was certain were directed at me.  But my supervisor was kind of a dink-bimbo.  So I didn’t think it was her.  And I had been sent home early by the big boss when I made it known I thought he was sexist toward my work.  I just assumed some sort of retaliation was happening.  I was producing numbers DOUBLE of what they were asking of us.  And I got FIVE 100% quality scores in a row.  The quality guy loved me, because I took pride in my work and made an effort to hit every expectation on all of my calls.  But I was passed up for a promotion.  They picked the top 30 (I don’t remember the exact number now, I think 30) out of like 200 of us in the program for a special project/recognition.  I was not chosen.  But I know I belonged in that group.  And I know for a fact that my work was better than at least 2 people chosen over me.  Not to sound arrogant (and the quantitative data backs this up), but I was absolutely safely in the top 5 of my whole team, and probably if not THE top performer definitely the 2nd best.  But I wasn’t included in this top 30 group.

So I asked my supervisor why.  And she said it wasn’t the ‘top’ people.  But the big boss had said in front of all of us that it was, and I reminded her that.  She said it was productivity.  And I pointed to my numbers that she had just provided me of my performance–and said these are over expectation by a lot.  And she mentions quality.  So I reminded her mine was great.  I really pressed her as to why I wasn’t in the group, because I thought I had been blacklisted by the big-boss, because I accused him of sexism (I was sure this was the reason).  And she told me the people were chosen for their critical thinking skills.  I asked why leadership was doubtful about my critical thinking skills–after all just that week, she had put 4 different people with me as a side-by-side to teach them the job.  If they didn’t believe in me, why the fuck would they have me training people???

And then I was moved to a different program without warning.  No word.  But when I got to the new program a gal from my former program, that had been on my exact team was there too.  But the supervisor had discussed the move with her the week before.  My supervisor told 1 gal–“in a week you will go to a new program.”  And that same supervisor had a team meeting and said–“I don’t wanna see you guys taking your stuff home, nothing is changing nobody is moving or getting fired.”  And that day my recruiter told me–tomorrow you move to a new program/city.  Bitch, please!

It had been my supervisor working against me the entire time, but because she seemed like a damn flake, I had underestimated her and didn’t even realize everything was because of her.

 

3. commuting from scottsdale to here

Having new people around was great, as was working in a palace of a building.  But I had specifically signed a one year lease to be close to work (the former building).  It was within walking distance.  And now I had to drive diagonally through one entire city, and from the very south to the very north end of a 2nd city to get to and from work.  I hate commuting and I know that about me.  Driving through a college town with bad drivers and crazy pedestrians OR taking the freeway that gets bogged down right when I get off work = 2 bad choices.  The drive was eating up a lot of my day.  I was tired all the time.  I started getting road rage from dealing with constant shit-driving shenanigans.  Meanwhile, my new house was right next to a work building that I no longer worked at.

 

2nd.  awkwardness at cmm

I made a pretty awesome training power point.  I gave it to every leader in my program.  Nothing came of it.  Despite people liking it and the fact it was a useful tool, the thing went nowhere.  Fine.  But then a co-worker boy saw the power point.  He loved it.  He said it would have been super helpful if he’s had it when he was starting out.  He asked why it wasn’t in use.  I said I’d given it to leadership but nothing came of it.  He asked if he could show it to them again.  After he showed it to them, my power point was used to help train people THAT day.

I felt like it was discrimination.  It was the exact same power point.  Only difference was that a boy presented it.  I made it known that I was unhappy about it.  And the big boss called me in a private meeting.  He was not happy with my accusation.  He even sent me home from work midway through the day.  I was convinced I wouldn’t be invited back (temp, remember).  It didn’t happen that day.  I became paranoid it was only a matter of time.  Nobody talked to me about it, but it was the holidays so people were on vacation, and things were not running as usual.  I was waiting for a meeting…  No meeting occurred.  But I knew the big boss was unhappy with me, so I figured he was just waiting for me to mess up, so he could site that as the reason for letting me go.  So I became hyper-paranoid about not making any mistake on anything.  And that’s a lot of pressure, paranoia, and fear.  And it lasted for two-ish months.  Every day.  Miserable.

 

1. worst ever:  thinking Goose (my beloved maine coon buddy) might die

Last winter, we moved.  It was also cold.  Goose lost weight, and I know that’s bad.  I’ve seen it over and over, they start losing weight and that’s the beginning of the end.  He was lethargic.  Stopped playing.  Didn’t groom C.L. like he always had.  But when he stopped grooming himself I knew he was about to die.  He has always taken great pride in his coat.  It was so greasy, it became matted, and I had to give him a scraggle lion cut so he had less to maintain.  I was so scared and sad.  We went to the feline exclusive vet.  They suggested a $500+ diagnostic.  I love Goose, but when both you and your mate could get a call any time saying you don’t have a job tomorrow–well, you have to save every penny.  $500 is a lot any time, but when it might be your cushion in unemployment–I just couldn’t spend that much.  Not on anything.  Also, the vet didn’t call with the in-house lab results for 6 days.  Deal breaker.  We went to a 2nd vet for a 2nd opinion.  Except he pretty much reiterated what the first vet said.  And even though we had mentioned the slow communication on lab results as the primary reason for changing vets–the 2nd vet didn’t tell us lab results for 6 days!  I didn’t wanna be that client, but I know better.  So we went to a 3rd vet.  Which seems ridiculous.  And we didn’t tell her about the other 2 vets.  And she put him on blood pressure medication and arthritis injections.  No expensive diagnostics–and he’s doing awesome, I’m happy to report!  So false alarm, but I still felt horrible.

2019 Album Countdown: Increasing Enthusiasm (Top 3)

31 Dec

3 Lizzo:  

I didn’t want to like Lizzo, because it seemed like she came out of nowhere and took Grammys from people I really like.  I hadn’t even heard her name out there, and knew nothing of any of her songs (I guess the one pitfall of losing radio who crams hyped things down your throat).  Suddenly, she was a name I heard everywhere.

But her tunes won me over. Like, big time. For awhile I actually thought she was going to be my #1 album for 2019.  I like the female empowerment, the cool-factor within the songs, and the production value.  But my biggest reason was that this album makes you excited to listen to it.  And the feminism and body positivity sneaks in while you’re dancing.  It’s good.

–>P.S. Here’s an unpopular (honest) opinion:  I Judged on the songs, not the red carpet. I acknowledge, like most white, cis women in America (the 1st world?) I have been socialized with certain beauty standards.  I simultaneously hate these standards and sometimes feel pressured to abide by them. I think it’s important to love your body. But also strive for a healthy, toned body.  And I strongly believe you should wear what makes you happy and comfortable. I know I usually do. But I do think the formality of an event should be considered, as should what flatters.  I find her immodest outfits a travesty and train-wreck (not in a prude-way). I think she could dress dramatically and show who she is in a more tasteful way. And I always think everyone’s clothes should fit them properly. 

Saying that, her ‘fuck-your opinions’ attitude is what shines through her music and is exactly why I ranked her album so high. 

-”Soulmate” has a good message, but that percussion is straight out of 2016.  Also, I will never think trilling is edgy or gagsta-cool.

-”Jerome” using ‘juicy pots’ in a lyric is yuck!  I do like the sound of ‘your style and that beard ooh.’  What I love is, ‘Take ur ass home come back when ur grown.’  Yes! Strong woman speaking her mind. 

-”Like a Girl” is my favorite.  Super-empowering. It has a very Karmin vibe with sassy-smart-pop-rap.  “Heaven Help Me” has that sound too.

-”Truth Hurts” hooks you!

-”Better in Color” so that’s where big dick energy came from?!  Also, I normally do not care for screaming in a song, but it’s cute and goes perfectly with the tone (see what I did there?) of the story she’s telling in the song.

-”Cuz I Love You” has an epic background with good singing that hits all the right notes.

-”Tempo” is too repetitive.  I do like Missy’s breakdown.

-”Good as Hell” is catchy and uplifting.

 

2 Set It Off”

I had this tied with Mika for a minute, and this album went above his, because the whole album was strong, with no throw away songs.  This is filed under ‘Alternative Rock’ which I feel isn’t really a thing anymore.  And I wish it was because that used to be my favorite genre-what a relief to hear it (I guess I’ll accept any iteration of it as this point) in 2019!  It sounds like pop with gruff singing to me, but I did like it. They just might be a manufactured band, and you can hear a lot of influences, samples, and possible straight up copying of other bands.  And that sounds like a criticism on my part, but it isn’t. I like that they’ve incorporated a lot of the sounds I like, while keeping things energetic and fresh. The track list is diverse as a result of this, with each song featuring a different artist’s vibe:  Fall Out Boy, Epic (video game), boy band, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Jonus Brothers. . .

Courtesy of Jon Weiner Rock band Set It Off is touring in support of its 2016 album, Upside Down. agomez@abqjournal.com Sun Jan 07 16:55:59 -0700 2018 1515369347 FILENAME: 927584.jpg

-”Go the Bed Angry” Nice pop duet!

-””Hourglass” sounds reminiscent of Fall Out Boy, with slightly more rock.

-”Stitch Me Up” is a boy band song.

-”Unopened Windows” I can tell this song was included to showcase some singing ability.  And it works moderately. I’d say the singing is slightly better than mediocre.

-”Criminal Minds” I like the fast speed

-”Kill the Lights” sounds like Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy.  And you know how I’ve been known to like those bitter lyrics!

 

1 Taylor Swift:

I hate how the first thing I have to do is a disclaimer justifying my choice.  Taylor is as successful and rich as she is because she is talented.  And hardworking, and smart, and good at marketing and business and promotion.  And fuck society for hating on that.  And the disclaimer:  Now, now now before you judge me for being too white, too mainstream, too pop–a sellout of a reviewer, let me justify this choice.  Just like the other artists on this list, it’s solely based on this year’s album only.  Fashion, likeability, my personal staple-favoritism, does not factor into the decision of my album countdown.  The art alone is judged. Yes, I’m obsessed with Kaylor in a very real way.  And I love the Easter eggs and videos and marketing genius that is Taylor Swift the brand.  But I chose Lover as top album, because it is the perfect embodiment of 2019.  It’s so many songs.  There is a story of each one, which pretty much sums up the goings on of the year–it’s always something these days…  

-”Lover” and it’s many iterations is beautiful and self-written with introspection and pure romance.  I get heart eyes everytime I hear it.

-”The Man” The political message and feminism is at the forefront of this jam, and it’s refreshing to hear it.  I love how cheeky, yet unapologetic Taylor Swift is as she wonders what her career, finances, and life would be like without the patriarchal chains every woman wears knowingly or unknowingly.  Calling it out is good for her and awesome for gals everywhere to hear.  

-”Paper Rings” All the symbolism, all the romance!  Taylor is really at her best when she’s telling a detailed story using metaphors.  

-”Soon You’ll Get Better” It’s the ‘eat your veggies’ track, that we might not like as much as sugar,but that we need to hear.  It’s very serious and somber subject-matter, but she’s really showing vulnerability and sharing a personal struggle that’s universal.  Also, cool is that the Dixie Chicks were brought back from political purgatory to feature on the song and their country vibe sounds amazing.

-”You Need to Calm Down” political AND fun.  Sing-aloud anthem with a message. It’s fun and important.  It’s the statement we’re hungry for, the inclusion we demand.

-Cornelia Street” Features one of the most emotive moods on the album.  The singing, volume, and production emphasize feelings.

-”Afterglow’ This song is written from the opposite perspective that Taylor usually  takes. I like that it shows introspection, maturity, and accountability. It shows she’s not only grown as an artist, but as a person.

-”False God” I think we can all agree we need to hear Swift singing about oral sex.  And good for her for doing it obviously and unashamedly. And the brass in this song is a different vibe than we usually hear from Swift’s work, and really adds something.

-”Daylight” I’m glad this is a more practical love song.  We do not have the dreamy syrup-love of the early days. It’s an acknowledgment that sometimes (even true) love is messy and imperfect.  Not everything is a fairytale and sometimes strife comes about. It’s a great last track that closes the album beautifully.

-”Archer”  Tay (um we’re on a nickname basis, because her music makes me feel like she and I are best friends!) gets a really bad wrap for talking shit in her songs.  Let’s give her credit where credit is due for showing maturity in showing she sometimes is the archer and sometimes the pray.  

-”Death by a Thousand Cuts” This song tells of a turning point and evokes much sadness.  The bridge (always a Taylor strong point) is A+ here.

-”Cruel Summer”.  So it was a major mistake not to make this the first single and maybe even release it late May/early June–you know as the summer jam.  Also to showcase the album content a little better. And I think “Me!” could still have been released in June as the 2nd single because summer is a time for light content.  And gay pride is accepting of a little campiness that is “Me!” But nobody called and asked me(!). *Read* Taylor please call me or write me anytime, for advice (ha ha) or just to chat.  I’m obviously joking, but for real, contact me.

-”It’s Nice to Have a Friend” It’s a little disjointed, possibly containing more than 1 subject, but what a nice take on love.  Childhood and friendship evolving. It’s a little talked about love that everyone experiences and not that many people sing about.

-”I Forgot that You Existed” I’m ranking these tracks based on what I feel are the strongest song elements, messaging, and critically/technically (judged by people, overall).  This particular track is probably in my top 4 on the album, but I think since it speaks to the haters (yet again, which mind you I love, but critics and the public at large are tired of, and find immature) it’s down here.  I do find it super-catchy, and personally love a bitter song.

-”Miss Americana” A symbolic gesture of a song that shows Taylor is finished with all the high school-type drama.  She’s grown up now and the stupid games aren’t worth the stupid prizes.

-”Me” is the light and fun side.  We don’t always have to take everything so serious.  It’s the shameless spelling and let-loose dancing song.  Also, marketing to the kids?  Smart.

-“London Boy” You have to be clever to write satire.  And Swift’s humor shines through on this gem.

-”I Think He Knows” for me personally, this song has a pronoun problem that I can’t get on board with…  Kaylors know what I’m saying.

 

So there you have my choices for the top (and bottom) albums of 2019.  And if you’re wondering where (my former in my imagination girlfriend) Brandi Carlile is on this list…  Because after all she took on a side-project, The Highway Women.  I like the idea of a female country/Americana group.  But honestly, I would have had to put it in the changed their sound category, and I just don’t have the heart to but Brandi on the bottom of any list.  Mostly, because I have hope she will return to her earlier sound and all will be well again in my fandom.  But for now–it’s omitted.  But the rest is accurate.  At this moment in time.  Hope you enjoyed my list–it’s a year of picking out albums, listening to the songs, comparing elements, and writing–not a small undertaking.  But I love it so I hope you do too.

2019 Album Countdown: Tight Race (11-4)

30 Dec

This is the section I agonized over.  I think each of these albums was number 1 on my list at one point or another, and I really had to listen for fine details to organize them in the best way.

 

11 Tegan and Sara

I have heard so, so, so much hype that these gals are the indie fave.  They are supposed to be like the hipster, ‘too-cool-for-school’ low-key awesome band.  I’ve listened to them many times, trying to understand what it’s all about, and I never caught on to it.  I wasn’t feeling the 80’s vibes and thought it was too light, too poetic. Too hipster, not me.

This record changed my mind.  And at one point I had it ranked 2nd, because despite the 1980’s sound that really describes the band, the sound was varied and diverse.  The stacking of elements, the lyrics, every song sounding different. They play their own instruments, of which many are represented in these tunes.  I had to give some respect for talent. But packaged in a lite-sounding way that belied the depth.

 

11 Goo Goo Dolls:

The entire album had very short songs.  They were catchy and easy to listen to though.  It was a throw-back to their 1990s sound, but updated.  It would have ranked higher if there was longer tracks or if there had been at least one huge stand out single.

-”Lights” low key; good beat.

-”Autumn Leaves” Strong singing with feeling.

-”Money, Fame…” different sounding.  Had a slight Fleetwood Mac vibe. 

-”Come to Me” nice romantic song, I could see played at weddings.

-“Miracle Pill” darker song that’s very catchy and has good piano.

-”Lost” has a gospel touch.  Maybe too much though?

 

10 Rob Thomas:

What I liked most of all on this album was the genuine nature of it.  I felt Thomas was especially earnest in each song.  But it does have a tendency to fall into the ‘trying too hard’ category too frequently.  The clap track and that sweater lyric as two examples. Also, it was just not as catchy or technically good as either Jack or Josh.

-”I Love It” Amped up song!  Totally 1980s breakdown.

-”One Less Day” Good beat that reminds me of a like train chugging combined with a common Cher song.  Good uplifting lyrics. Kind of an anti Peter-Pan thing.

-”Early in the Morning” A stripped down song with thoughtful lyrics and occasional piano popping through.

-”Hold On Forever” It’s nice and chipper.  There’s something I don’t like about it: The ‘sweater’ lyric for one to the skippy tune, which sounds familiar and is taken from something else I think.

-”The Man to Hold…” I slow and forgettable.

-”Can’t Help Me Now” is catchy with deep lyrics that I felt.

-”Pieces “ is my favorite track on the album.  It is orchestral and dramatic with sweeping vocals.  The piano featured at the end is beautiful.

 

9 Jack Savoretti:

This album is probably more technically good then some that I placed higher on my list.  It has deep lyrics and instrumentals that at times made me think of: piano, funk, guitar, disco, accordion, and orchestra-whew!  I like this album a lot because it’s low-key. Also it’s very diverse, sounding like a few different musical influences throughout.  But it’s further down in my top 10 because it just didn’t have the catchiness some of the other albums had. And sometimes the singing is (intentionally?) rough which I don’t really care for in music.

“Dying for…’ Americana style music, but not strong on the singing.

-”Beginning of Us” nice little lyrics (about child-birth?) with sweet piano chords.

-”Going Home” is my favorite song on the album!  It reminds me of that Beatles ‘Wonder Years’ theme song.  Jazzy.

-”Youth and Love” has a disco flair.  I like the fast lyrics and the Queen moments.  It features Mika (who is on my list elsewhere) and a French breakdown.  The instrumentals are key.

-”Love is On” has a disco feel and good string accompaniment.  Extra froggy singing though.

-”Singing to…” The John denver feel must come from the slow pace of the song.

-”What more” A Chris Issac influenced tune with heavy strings.

 

8 Josh Ritter:

First let me get this off my chest;  Oh my goodness, Brandi Carlile would sound so good in a duet!  I like this nice strumming, cowboy poetry kind of lyrical feel.  It’s soft rock with a faster, more energetic beat that made this album slightly more catchy than Jack’s.

-”Ground Don’t Want…” This song has a roots beet somewhat like the chugging of a train or something.  

-”Losing Battles” I like the guitar and I like that the song tells a story.

-”On the Water” It’s a good strum.

-”A New Man” Features heavy guitar (and some violine?) and is more upbeat than typical country.  It starts like Brandi’s song.

-”The Torch Committee” This one also tells a story and makes me think of a Medieval march to storm the castle.  There are smoldering strings and percussion that are quiet enough to give the attention to the lyrics. It increases in intensity throughout the song until the instrumentals become the total focal point at the end of the song.

-”where the Night…” Sure it has rough Spring stein-esque sining.  The upbeat tinkling of the piano makes it good though.

 

7 Mika

First of all, can I just say how happy I am that albums are so track-heavy in 2019?!  And unlike cassette-culture when there were 2 singles, most of the songs are not throw-aways.  Keep this going, music industry! Except Mika started out near the top of my list, but dropped down, down, down because the first half of the album is super-strong with each song making an impact.  But I did feel like the first half of the album was a bit stronger and more diverse of a sound, and the 2nd half kind of faded into the background. I do like the dancy, fun vibe.  And I enjoy deciphering Mika’s musical influences on each song.

-”Tiny Love” had a good beat, spoke of gay love, and was interesting to listen to even after several repeats.  I could hear the Queen influence strongly, and it turned out to be a good thing. And then the stripped down ending, made me listen closely, and I thought it was a good technique.

“Ice Cream” reminds me of George Michael with the almost spoken lyrics and high vocal pa

-”Paloma” I can tell Mika really paid homage to his musical influences throughout the entire album.  This song is piano-driven Billy Joel. It’s a little, quiet song as Dave would say, and I like the singing on the chorus.  The gospel backing is a nice touch.

-”Sanremo” has a very 1980’s Calypso vibe.  There is soft singing, claps, and very subtle Calypso notes.

-”Cry” the repeated ‘cry’ was actually a good sound.  But the rest of the song was forgettable.

-”Platform Ballerinas” Is it an upbeat song about gay culture?

-”Blue” sounds like Bon Iver, but I found it slow and a little boring.

 

6 Melissa Etheridge

This may be the most introspective Etheridge has ever been.  And it’s refreshing to hear.  Sure, there is still plenty of swagger in her rock also.  And some touches even reminded me of her ‘Yes I Am’ album (I’m pretty sure she used the exact same chords on a couple songs) but it was in a good way.  I think the best musical parts of the album was the Native American sounds she included.  It was an unexpected but good addition to her regular rock sounds.  The reason Melissa is 5th when I thought this was her best album since ‘Lucky’ (one of my all time overall favorites) is because she is a little bit sexist in some of the bitter songs.  I like a bitter song, but misogyny isn’t a selling point to me (from females or males) and it won’t age well.

-”Faded…” has almost a powow/native sound to it

-”Here comes the pain” I like that it’s earnest and introspective.  A nice break from all the swagger and pride.

-”Good Lookin” kinda sexist/bitter, about someone who lives in the bubble.

-”The Med Show” Native, but with her hard-rock strong singing.  Best song, maybe.

-”The Human Chain” lyrically weak attempt at political neutrality.  And come on, people with money, power, and fame with nothing to lose–please make a statement.  A real statement!

-”Miss you” catchy, is it about politics or love?

 

5 James Morrison:

It was a really tight race between spots 3-11 this year, with me having to listen over and over for details and subtle differences between albums.  This top 10 has not been thrown together, it was crafted very carefully with many justifications for each spot. This album got 5th place for 2 reasons:  All the influences of music genres make it very eclectic and uplifting of a track list.  I hear: Roots, soft rock, soul, gospel, jazz. Secondly, because of the intricate instrumental layering of each song.  You can tell a lot is going on and there had to be good planning and execution to get to the final product.  There seems to be two versions of each song. One that features stronger singing, then one that is stripped down and almost acoustic.  It’s interesting to hear both versions, even back to back. I didn’t feel like it was double songs, more like–oh I can hear distinct differences.  My complaint is that I did keep having to check if I’d reviewed songs, because the whole album sounds so homogenous.  

-”Feels Like…” This sounds so much like Ray Lamontange with the roots/fold feel and catchiness.

-’So Beautiful” I do like the repeat three times and obviously the high note.

-”Slowly” It’s impactful the way the verse is whispered, but the chorus is loud. Also impactful is the way ‘let it fall’ is repeated.  Nice piano also.

-”Brighter Kind…” I like the ascending words and notes.  

-”My Love Goes…” sweeping gospel flavor.  The last seconds are haunting in a beautiful way.

-”Broken Strings” This song features Nelly Furtado, but she doesn’t really bring her personality to the part.  Honestly, Kelly Clarkson would have been a better match (and has better singing ability).  

-”I Won’t Let…” The orchestral background adds a lot to this song.

-”too Late for…” I like the sentiment that true love isn’t perfect.  Mistakes are made, and you move forward. I think it’s a good message when so many songs insinuate that mistakes and disagreements aren’t part of true or real love.  Interesting instrumentals top it off.

 

  1. Bruce Springsteen

I think this is a theme album or soundtrack.  And those usually don’t factor very high on a countdown list of mine.  But this one in particular feels so right and comes together in a cohesive way that sticks with the theme.  And Bruce never has a good singing voice (in my opinion).  But the scratchiness is actually well-suited for the Western feel of this album.  This album has a very ‘Reno’ casino quality to it-I’m not sure if that was intentional.

-“Rhinestone Cowboy” is catchy.

-“Sleepy Joe’s Cafe” features an accordion and truck stop lyrics, which match the tone of the song somehow.  Also, the jazzy interlude spices it up.

-“Drive Fast” was long, boring, and droning–I needed to get where we were going already.  He mumble-sings and the born to run section sounds very classic ‘Springsteen’ ie, not my fave.

-“Western Stars” tells a lyrical story with a lot of detail that sounds like a good camping vibe.

-“Hitch Hikin’” is a little quiet song with very nice backing instrumentals.

-“Hungry Heart” is older sounding.

-“Thunder Road” has harmonica and in a good way, but the singing is more shout-singing = grating.

-“The River” is another song featuring a lot of nice details and a storyline invoking loneliness and travel.  But the singing is again particularly grating.

 

Tomorrow, on the last day of 2019, I will share my choices for the top 3 albums of the year!

2019 Album Countdown: Middle of the Pack 18-12

29 Dec
  1. Sara Berelles:

She’s usually one of my favorites, but this album is kind of out of touch with the general population.  It’s very high-level (example: Orpheus) stretching to intellectual. And musically, it’s slow, which doesn’t help the accessibility of the product.  The songs aren’t catchy at all.

-”Poetry by dead men” is too much, should have been a book of poems, not an album.

-”Armor” is best (Eve)

-”Wicked Love” is good.

-cage where you live, history of silence, drum line beat (sounds like it references Taylor Swift)

 

  1. Hootie and the Blowfish:

It was nice to see them back on the scene!

“Not Tonight” catch chorus.  Low key night. I like the chords at the end of the song.

-”Hold On” Mentions the news  It mentions love, but it’s not a strong enough political message for me.  A lil’ love is not going to cut it when children and being separated from their families and put into cages, the environment is being un-protected for oil profits, and our democracy is under attack.

-”Lonely on a Saturday” I call it the, ‘I’m about to hit on you’ song.

-”Wildfire Love” The gal dueting on this sounds too Bonnie Rait (who is great) and it doesn’t match his voice.  She is too folk/old country while he is more modern and smooth. I do like the lyrics though.

-Everybody but You”..” I like the beat and I especially like when the lyric “stop” comes up and the music goes silent.  I also like the instrumental break.

-”Half a Day…” Is this a little sharp?  Its discordant in a good, interesting way.

 

  1. Lil Nas X:

Don’t we have enough “lil” yet?  Of course I like “Old Town Road” that crossover hit that just dominated the charts.  I like the hook, the unexpected pausing within the song, the country duet, and obviously whistling in a rap song.  I especially like that it’s unique and different. So I tried the rest of the album, and while not in one hit wonder territory, it still doesn’t really move me.  

-”Kick It” The brassy background instrumentals make the song more alieve and less dark and harsh.  

-”Rodeo” Good song and it has melody.  Which I miss in rap as a genre.

-”Space Coupe” unfortunately has no melody and too much repetition.

 

  1. Lana Del Ray

This is an artist I have heard a lot of good things about.  She was seriously hyped when her music came on to the scene.  Taylor Swift, who I respect as one of the best songwriters of ever, said Del Ray is her favorite writer.  I tried so many times to get into Del Ray’s music, but it’s just too sleepy. I’m just not into it, and I can’t make myself get into it.  

-”Happiness is a Butterfly” is good.

-”Mariners Apt…” just sounds flaky and dreamy (like most her stuff) and I just do not like that whisper-singing she does. 

-”Hope is Dangerous’ is catchy, but repetitive.

-”Fuck it I Love You” she speeds up the verse in this one and it’s a nice touch.  

-”Cinnamon Girl” I love at aging lyrics, and this one has nice backing instrumentals.

 

  1. Marvin Gaye

-“X-mas…” sounds dreamy and experimental

-”Give My  Life…”

Pronounces, “rhap-so-dee” which bothers me, and the horns seem a little forced.

-*”Try it…” was easily the best song, very motown, catchy, with a subtle political message.

-”We can make it” A pop love song

 

  1. Beth Hart

I really enjoy listening to Hart when she goes really jazzy with it.  Her voice is well-suited for it with that vibrato stuff she can pull off.  I liked this album, but it was a lot more piano than a Mississippi soul sound I prefer.  Not as jazzy but extra-soulful. I guess without the element I love most, the piano is the best thing about the album (and feminism).

-nice piano “war”, skat

-”I need a Hero” = good, introspective lyrics, pretty piano.  ‘She-ro’ is going too far lyrically.

-”Bad Woman…” catchy

-”Woman Down” is nice, dramatic piano

12. Billie Eilish:

Review based on album alone, because I do not care for her weird bag-lady aesthetic.  And I think the industry and gonna take someone with her low maturity-level and chew her up, spit her out.  I see her as a drug addict pretty quickly. Already pedophiles are circling (Drake, I said it). Harsh, yet concerned–I would hire really really smart people if I were her.

I found the album to be like a more experimental Fiona Apple.  I liked most of the songs, with their jazzy flair and low-key, yet very produced vibe.  The ones I don’t care for are those that auto-tuned her voice the whole time. There was too much of the skippy vocals!  I like to hear some singing talent, not obscured for effect theatrics. I see a lot of potential, but the hype is a pitfall, and in interviews from what I see–she’s not equipped to handle a meteoric rise.

Album Countdown 2019: My Disappointments (19-28, rather 28-19)

28 Dec

I usually rank all of these artists higher, so I was particularly disappointed in them in 2019.  And can we just talk about how country music is totally off the rails right now?  Like, what the fuck happened to it?  Where has it gone?  It’s really superficial, lacking most of the elements I look for in a good country song.  The closest thing to it is this folksy Americana/roots stuff that Brandi Carlile ran off into.  Roots in fine in small doses.  But I want country, country!  And I’d like Brandi to go back to a more folk-rock sound.  Please and thank you.

 

28. David Gray:
He used to be one of my staples. And I was very excited to see his new album had ‘jazz’ right in the title! I really expected something. But alas, the tunes were quited and meh. And I aborted (which I never take lightly) the song by song review because of boredom.

 

27. Marren Morris
Her breakthrough albums made me an instant fan! I really liked it and had it on heavy rotation for 2 years. So I was excited to see her next effort since she has more fame, clout, money to go in a direction she wants musically. I’d have liked to see more personality on the 2nd album–it was kinda forgettable despite the duets. What a disappointment.

 

26. Madonna
File this one under: Expert Trying Too Hard. Yes, Madonna will always have it. But I could tell she was really trying to get in touch with a moment to better fit the aesthetic of 2019. Like that mom that borrows her 16 year old’s clothes to try to fit it with the kids.
“Extreme Occident” right/left/lost is not strong enough, and I found it to be a political cop-out. Madonna has never shied away from telling us who she is and what she thinks. Also, she has a large following and big audience that she influences. Finally, she’s a bit removed from the chasing fame and certainly financially stable. So what does she have to lose by making a big statement?
“Bitch I’m Loca” speaking part at the end was funny.
“I Don’t Search” very electronic (house?) with kinda dreamy lyrics. I, of course, like the “Vogue”-eske snaps.
“Faz Gastoso” is foreign language (Spanish?) and has an R&B tough-gal sound and a lot of tongue-rolling. It also has that sound given to a lot of 3rd world scenes with the instrumental breakdown and all. As a matter of fact, I felt a sense of dejavu listening to it, and was trying to figure out if it was copied from something…

 

23. Lady Antebellum:
I found the album a little ‘too.” You know overly sentimental and trying too hard.
-”The Thing That…” Nice harmony and nice like echo effect of the singing.
-”What If I Never” I liked how they alternate male vs female vocals on the verse then came together on the chorus. It’s a good concept-the thought that time might not always heal broken hearts caused from breaking up.
-”Pictures” Short and meh.
-”Downtown” Tells a story, with a lot of description.
-”On a Night Like” Is a nice love song.

 

22. Avett Brothers
-ugh! Too much talking! Every song is ruined with talk.
-”New Woman…” good political points/feminism, but I think it must have been written before Trump? It’s pretty optimistic, and the current political landscape and state of feminism is (I would say) bleak.

 

21. Jonas Brothers
The album seems quite generic and boring.
“Used to be” poppy. Just Ok.
“Love Her” is nice with the snaps and la-las.
“Hesitate” I like the sentiment of the lyrics.

 

20. Luke Combs
I was actually pretty disappointed this album was such a let down compared to the prior one that was well written. This one felt more forced and came off as phony to me–not nearly as authentic as the last album. I also thought that deep, resonant singing got lost on this one.
-“Angels Workin…” Has a good beat, is a good tailgate song, and was probably the strongest offering on this album.
-“Every Little Bit..” I like that it’s sad and cheeky. I always enjoy a good break up song, and this one is relatable.
-“Beer Never Broke” is a good tailgate song.
-“Even though…” Daddy? Um no, you’re too old for that, Luke. The song is folksy.
-“Frigerator Door’ is trying too hard to force sentimentality.
-“Mexico” is kinda short and meh-not that notable.
-“Better Together” is just OK. The singing is kinda rough.
-“Lovin on You” sounds like a jukebox song, with a good beat, and love lyrics.
-’Even Though” is too much for me. I put in in the ‘Army Wives’ category.

 

19. Thomas Rhett:
It isn’t the autobiographical catchy tunes of the other album I liked. I found most of the songs felt too short. He did more shorter songs and I wish he had added to each one even if the album turned out shorter.
-”Don’t Threaten me w/a Good Time” party song, fun, jam-band instrumentals
-”blessed” nice love song, only complaint is that it’s too short
-”VHS” is mildly catchy like the other album, but not in a strong way. Watered down summer jam.
-”Notice” is a nice, catchy love song. I like the detail in it, and I like how singable it would be at concerts.
-”Sand” is a summer party song and also a love song. I think the singing is good here-some higher notes
-”Beer Can’t Fix” is the Jimmy Buffet island song of the album. Calypso sound and duet sounds nice for the beach.
-”Don’t Stop Drivin’’ has a nice beat, more poppy.
-”Barefoot” gives a nice mental image. Has some background vocals reminiscent of the other album.

Albums of 2019: Changed their Sound–in a bad way

28 Dec

 

These albums are towards the bottom of my 2019 countdown, because the artists went and changed their sound.  Obviously, to last over time, bands and solo singers need to grow and adjust with the times.  But changing your whole vibe so it’s unrecognizable makes it sound unfamiliar and alienates fans (exception:  Taylor Swift).  I switched it up and wrote this list from best to least favorite of the ‘changed their sound’ category of my countdown list.

Avril Lavigne:

OK, she probably had the 2nd best singing of the year (after Brandi Carlile inside the Highway Women and feat on the Zach Brown Band track), but it wasn’t HER.  I mean, she’s lost any punk edge she ever had.  And I usually don’t like when artists completely change their sound.  Melissa, is this you? But this is still good–in a totally different way.

-”Dumb Blonde” I especially liked how the notes get higher at the end of each phrase.  Skill is happening. It’s cheeky and included a nice rap breakdown.

-Crush” It doesn’t remotely sound like Avril and I kept thinking Spotify was up to its old tricks including a suggested song in the middle of my mission.  I thought Alanis Morissette was singing. But it’s good singing.

-”Tell Me it’s Over” It’s short.  It’s repetitive, but it’s still good.

-”Bigger…”  Wow mostly pop, with no edge.  Melissa strikes again.

-”I Fell in Love…” This haunting delivery was the whole thing.  Good lyrics and better high notes. The singing is really excellent on this album.

 

Black Keys:

They lost their hipster-vibe, cool factor that they used to have going for them.  Something about it just feels a little lighter than before. Maybe less percussion or base?  I can’t put my finger on what changed.  That depth and heavier sound is missing and the album lacks because of that.  Now they sound like anybody else–not a stand out.

-”Shine a Little…” Like the claps, but their sound is just a little lighter and not as cool as it used to be.

-“Get Yourself Together” It’s catchy, yet repetitive rock.

-Sit Around…” This one sounds a little bit like a throw back to CCR.

 

X-Ambassadors

Normally one of my favorites, but it’s like they lost themselves.  I couldn’t even tell it was them, The whole thing sounded like a boring version of Tracy Chapman-meh. 

 

Of Monsters and Men

This album went the way of Mumford and Sons.  Which exploded in much the same time frame.  Yes, yes folksy stuff is not really the sound in 2019, but there are ways to update and mutate your vibe without losing it.   I can see evolving and growing and adapting to changing times.  But they changed their sound so much it is unrecognizable. Instead of the folksy stripped down they had before, this was slick, heavily produced, polished, and computerized.  Nothing they were known for. They didn’t keep anything! It’s an entirely different band, as far as I’m concerned. And not for the better. We don’t need to conform to one genre.  There needs to be different genres, different unique sounds. I can’t understand why you would bow to pressure and stray from your roots, your influences, and former sound.

-The most substantial track was the first, “Alligator” which sounded epic and had an 80’s rocker chick vibe.  

-“Wars” has an ABBA sound, with (what’s that?) tambourine?  The ONLY folksy element I heard on the entire album.

-”Waiting for the Snow” sounds like Bon Iver (very experimental and almost electronic) with Sara Bareilles singing.  

-”Sleepwalker” was low key, with some chorus backing sounds that sound like Taylor Swift’s pop.

 

 

 

Let the Countdown Begin! 2019 Albums that didn’t make it

22 Dec

There wasn’t bunches of albums I really liked in 2019–especially before the 4th quarter.  It was a little sparse for my tastes.  I miss true alternative rock, and I want more folk.  Despite not loving most of the music put out in this reorganizing music industry, I didn’t hate many this year either.  They all kind of fell into meh to mmmm range.  Here are the bottom of my barrel.

 

Beyonce’

Yep, I said it.  And please don’t make it a race thing or a Taylor Swift loyalty thing (which isn’t even a thing for fuck’s sake).  I loved Destiny’s Child a lot in high school, and they were one of my staple bands.  But this album, I just didn’t get.  I don’t know if this was even meant to be a 2019 album or just a live reiteration of her Cochella performance.  But my reviews are judged as albums, not on any information behind it, performance, or personality, and as such–this album as a stand-alone didn’t resonate with me.  That said, there was Good marching band music throughout.

Jay-Z is featured too much.  His voice sucks, and the only reason he’s any kind of current rap is his association with her.  He should just leave it all to the past and be an icon and stop performing.

This album is really ridin’ on Coechella and is doing all the trash-talk, but it’s overplayed.  I didn’t like the talk or the vibe of this at all.  For starters, it’s too conceited.  Especially in “Flawless” which is over the top for an album-maybe it goes over differently in a festival environment.  Also, there is too much “growl-singing” I don’t think it adds much to the songs.  And too much growling (more than once) is simply too much.

I do not EVER want to hear kinds in songs, not at any time.  They’re in 2?  Pet peeve.  Leave your fucking kids at home.  I don’t want them on my track.  If you must involve your kids in the music business, make a kids’ record.  That people with kids want to hear specifically for that purpose.

 

Jason Aldean:

This is a name I hear a lot, so I was excited to try the album.  And then promptly disappointed.  I found this album superficial and lyrically simple.  Also not super-authentic.  I want to hear the real you in your lyrics.  Tell your story and don’t pander.  and this album had neither of those elements.  By song:

-”We Back” Catchy, but not much else is here.

-”Champagne Town” Down to Earth, but does it ring true?

-”Some Things You Don’t Forget”  Nice background accompaniment only.

-”Talk About Georgia” It bothers me that he says, “Georgia” in a weird way, especially since the word comes up numerous times.  Is that a thing?  Where is he from?  I feel like he should be able to say the name of this state properly.

-” Cowboy Killer” It’s one of the more lyrically complex, which is good, because I thought this album as a whole was derivative.  

 

Kanye

Ugh-he is the worst.  I didn’t even want to listen and support anything about him.  But I was curious. And I found out the new album is definitely out of the mainstream and into the Religious music category (despite the rap, it’s not enough to be a cross-over or genre-bender).

-”God is…” very churchy with gospel chipmunk singing.  He sounds hoarse in a bad way.

-”Jesus is Lord” sounds like Kenye ripped off Beyonce’s marching band brass sound.

-”Use this Gospel” Is auto-tuned to all-hell (per the usual) but has a nice hook and verse.  Though of course he’s still talking shit in this song, and I get really tired of that, and isn’t the whole religious thing supposed to be the golden rule and tolerance and being nice?

-”Closed on Sun” Umm, the Chick-fe-la lyric, which is repeated ad-nauseum, is ridiculous.  Also, he thought he would combine story lines of raising girls with talking about Jezabel later.  It’s all over the place. Like his thought-process.

-”On God” I liked that it was introspective but let’s get real when he talks about his family starving, it’s completely, obnoxiously privileged.  He is missing the point, and still playing the victim.  P.S. a pet peeve of mine is anyone in America saying they are so poor they are starving.  If that’s the case it’s only because you didn’t submit your EBT (food stamps) application or you don’t have a proper social security number (ie illegally here).  America doesn’t let people starve-especially kids.  Is it organic, vegan, specialty gourmet food?  No.  But it’s food, and food stamps go far if you shop smart (from someone who’s been on them 3 times in my adult life).  Poverty is real.  Poverty is detrimental.  People in poverty may not be able to afford gas (or even a car), they may not be able to pay their phone bill (though there’s even a government program to help with utilities, including phone), or sneakers.  But between WIC, EBT, Commodities (my childhood staples), food pantries, churches, and donations = nobody is missing meals.  Knock it off with the staving stuff!  Especially when you have the tax bracket of Kanye.

“Everything We Need” was horrible, and misogynistic with all that Eve, apple stuff.  Barf.

“I Love It” I don’t know if this was actually on the album, or a Spotify suggestion, but it was relevant that it came up.  It had lyrics like ‘you’re such a fuckin hoe’ which just show how this Christian stuff of his has a long way to go. If anything, I think what Kanye does comes from an authentic (if not chaotic, mentally ill, narcissistic) place.  And if this religious music is just phoniness in order to break into a different market and clean up his Trump-loving image, he has a lot of self evaluation to do (getting real with himself) and he needs to do a lot more work. 

I hope I never have to judge a Kenye record again, I don’t wanna give his problematic views credence by devoting air time to him.  Next installment will be the middle of the pack albums.

My Perspective on Cats: The 2019 Movie

21 Dec

Yay!  I got tickets to see Cats on a Caturday!

#1:  Before you go in, do a little homework so you understand what is happening (though this iteration does a much better job of making things clear and spelling it out then the prior version).  I listened to a podcast I found on Spotify:  Storyhole 43 Cats (The Musical).  Also, a video on YouTube was informational and humorous:  Let’s Talk About Cats.  It’s the one by Caitlin Koi. You’ll be happy you did.

#2:  Get into the spirit of the thing!  This movie is intentionally campy.  It’s supposed to be fun and silly, so watch it in that mindset.  I personally, did my best cat eyemakeup, put on some eyeliner whiskers, wore old Halloween tiger ears, and got into the spirit of the thing.  I also had a whiskey milkshake at the theater, which didn’t hurt.

So my opinions about the new movie:

I liked what they did with the scaling of the set.  It’s especially noticeable during the ornery siblings (Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer) song when they’re messing up the house.

Obviously, my very favorite cat was Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina.  She was cheeky and cute and naughty and great-per the usual.  Her part is too short and very late in the movie, but don’t worry, there’s more to enjoy.

They added (lengthened?) “Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat” a song for the railroad cat, Skimbleshanks, and it was in my top songs for the movie.  Also,Steven McRae,  who played Skimbleshanks was by far the best dancer in the entire cast, having both difficult ballet pirouettes AND a lengthy tap number.

Speaking of ballet, Victoria the curious, new cat does some pretty spectacular dancing throughout the movie (I would have liked to see more in the 2nd half) and was fun to watch.  The part was played by Francesca Hayward, an English ballerina and a principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London.  Hayward is a triple threat!  She does a wonderful job embodying her role through dance and song and just–enthusiasm and a say yes attitude conveyed during the whole thing.  I liked how the character isn’t reluctant or standoffish to join any cat during their introduction, even to the point of helping steal and ruining furniture.  It’s nice to see someone so non-judgemental on the screen.  I did not find her white face racist, but I do think the innocent portrayed in white and sinister villain in black is sorta racist, but those are also known symbolic colors (even taking race or humans out of the mix) since forever…

The villain, Idris Elba as Macavity, has one of the most beautiful costumes, but I would have loved to hate him.  He did a good job as the threat to the Gelical ball, but I wasn’t screaming at the screen or anything.  He could have gone meaner…

I got used to the costumes.  Yes, the proportions are weird.  They have fingers and noses of the human variety.  I could have forgiven that more if the makeup had made any effort at all.  Like, Jennifer Hudson had white smeared under her eyes and brown on her lower face.  That’s it.  It’s one of the laziest makeup jobs I’ve seen.  Like, my Halloween costume for work had more facepainting effort.  They really could have (and should have) stepped it up if the fur didn’t cover most of the face.  Like, do some fancy makeup/face-painting for fucks sake.  Though, I will say any man with stubble or a beard looked better than the rest because the fur technology blended a little better and wasn’t so stark of a contrast.

And to back track just a beat (pun), Jennifer Hudson’s Grizabella spent the whole movie with snot under her nose-yuck!  Her character isn’t very fleshed out and the poor gal barely even stood up throughout the film.  I guess she did the best she could with the material she was given, but I have to compare her performance to Taylor Swift’s.  The Bombalurina character was probably equally small of a role with  minor character development, but Swift really made something of her small moment–where Jennifer’s was kind of a dud.  Even the singing was somewhat meh  except for my 2 notes (intentional):  How can she sing so well from a crouched position?  I was wondering that during the movie.  And she does show she CAN belt it on the re-chorus of Memory.  But that was fleeting.

Also fleeting was the comic relief at the beginning of the film.  Both fat cats added humor that wasn’t really focused on in the original VHS.  And I liked it.  Rebel Wilson was funny and Jennyanydots’ mice and roaches and clumsiness were welcome in my view.  Having watched the original film adaption, I appreciated Jennyanydots being fleshed out (ha) more.  And when Wilson does that footwork after Rum Tum Tugger’s song, well, color me impressed.  And James Cordon was funny also.

My 3rd favorite dancing was Rum Tum Tuggers 2 background cats, with all the footwork.  I think it’s Plato and Socrates but if they said their names at all, I missed it.  So I took my best guess from the Cats Wiki page.  Anyway, I need to get a YouTube and learn how to do those moves.

Let’s see I liked the dancing, I liked the songs (obviously Beautiful Ghosts that Taylor wrote) and recognized/re-remembered that several of those songs were in some childhood music boxes I had.

Overall, I really liked the movie, got jazzed up watching it, and want it to be the new Rocky Horror Picture Show-to indulge campiness and have special, fun screenings where people dress up.