Welcome to the 4th edition of this totally re-occurring feature of the blog. Y'know, the one where I ask an internet acquaintance to give us all some recommendations off their top shelf in 5 important categories: Music. TV/Film. Books. Internet-ing. And the last one: ANYTHING (to make sure all bases are completely covered).
This time around we are joined by Adam Sharp (aka @asongfortheday) a fellow mix tape obsessive who helps remove some of the blues from Garfield's least favourite day with his always good 'Monday Links', and he even pops up randomly on other days of the week with handfuls of ear candy for you over on his site songsfortheday. He's a good internet dude.
But enough messing about with introductions, let's get to the recommendations…
#1 - WHAT IS THE ONE ALBUM (OR EP OR SONG) THAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE THE VERY NEXT MUSICAL THING THAT EVERYONE PRESSES PLAY ON THE NEXT TIME THEY FIND THEMSELVES THINKING “WHAT SHOULD I LISTEN TO NOW”?
Sometimes you really believe in a songwriter and think he's one of the very best at his craft and then he takes a sharp left turn and makes a sweeping, Smile-style concept record about a big fake earthquake in a little fake town...and it works and it just makes you realize he's somehow even more-skilled than you already thought he was.
Not a whole lot of folks could write something this ambitious and out there, and even fewer could do so after writing a couple albums deeply rooted in the sad bastard side of folk. It's a very different, very special record and I think it's got a little something for everyone.
#2 - WHAT IS THE ONE MOVIE OR TV SHOW THAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE NEXT IN EVERYBODY’S NETFLIX QUEUE (OK, DOESN’T HAVE TO BE NETFLIX, WE’RE ALL INTERNET ADULTS HERE AND KNOW HOW TO FIND ANYTHING ONLINE, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER)?
Catastrophe. It's on Amazon Prime and it's a dry comedy about a guy and a girl who have a one night stand together while the guy is on an international business trip and she ends up pregnant.
It's real and hilarious and painful and perfect at every turn. Season 2 is coming shortly, I believe, so you've still got time to set aside an entire Saturday or Sunday to binge through Season 1.
#3 - I (AND BY “I” I MEAN “THE PERSON THAT IS READING THIS”) AM GOING TO THE BOOK STORE (OK, PROBABLY AMAZON) TO FIND THE VERY NEXT BOOK THAT I WILL BE PUTTING SOME EXTREMELY VALUABLE ‘ME-TIME' ASIDE FOR. WHICH BOOK WOULD YOU GET, IF YOU WERE ME (AND, I SUPPOSE, YOU HADN’T ALREADY READ WHAT YOU’RE ABOUT TO SUGGEST)?
I am the wrong damn person to ask about this, as my fiance is well aware. You could count the number of books I've read in the 10 years (JESUS YOU'RE OLD, ADAM) since college on one hand, I'm guessing. BUT. But. My now-fiance and I started our relationship reading Rob Sheffield's Love Is a Mix Tape and Turn Around, Bright Eyes (yes, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran was the middle portion of Sheffield's trilogy, no I don't think you need to read it unless you really love Duran Duran or 80's pop rock, which I was too young for).
Those books talk about love and brokenness and recovering from brokenness and finding new love and how all of that ties to music better than most anything I know.
#4 - WHAT IS THE ONE WEBSITE (OR JUST ANY OLD INTERNET THING: APP, GIF, SERVICE, WHATEVER) THAT YOU WOULD GET REALLY DOWN IN THE DUMPS ABOUT IF IT WERE TO SUDDENLY GO AWAY?
The answer here for so long would have been Grantland, and then it died and it made me so sad and it continues to make me sad on a daily basis. I've yet to really replace it in my daily life, which both tells you how great it was and how sad my life really is when you force me to explain it in detail.
Anyhow, my favorite thing I've found recently online (it's new to me, not to the internet) is Albums That Never Were, a site about iconic/classic albums and what they might have sounded like if they existed in their original form, untouched by record execs or band issues or nervous breakdowns.
Fascinating to read the backstories of these great albums, and even more interesting to hear alternate mixes and such of said albums. Anyhow, it's a site that's very much worth your time.
#5 - AND FINALLY… PLEASE GIVE ONE COMPLETELY UNAIDED RECOMMENDATION THAT YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD START DOING / USING / WATCHING / EATING / THINKING / QUITING / ETC-ING TO MAKE THEIR LIVES A LITTLE BIT MORE BETTER AND/OR BEARABLE.
Alright, let's talk about podcasts, specifically let's talk about 'Switched on Pop'.
Pop Music as a genre gets a bad rap, and yes, some of it is godawful, but there's a whole bunch of it that's really interesting and well-written and worth caring about, even stuff that's being made today. This is a podcast that breaks down the hits, focusing on the interesting songwriting tricks being used and showing you that there's a lot in pop music to be impressed by.
All in all one of my very favorite podcasts currently. Give it a listen. (I recommend the ones that focus on Taylor Swift, who you can make jokes about, sure, but who is an actual songwriter who knows precisely what she's doing, as they show.)
OK folks, there you have it. 5 things that Adam thinks you should consider incorporating into your day/life. Since asking these questions was as much for my benefit as yours, here are my initial thoughts on his recommendations…
- Agreed. This is a great album. If you haven't yet, I also recommend you go listen to some BJA.
- Once again, another TV / Movie recommendation that I have not seen. I can't wait until the day that you no longer have to have subscriptions to 10 different sites / services in order to legally watch all the TV / Movies you want to watch (and it's starting to look like the same thing is happening with music).
- For the second week in a row, I have been reminded of how I have yet to read a Rob Sheffield book, even though they seem to have been written for a guy like me. Will need to remedy this once I am back in Canada and can back on that sweet free Amazon shipping. Maybe I'll even sign up for an Amazon Prime trial and then I can watch Catastrophe. It's all coming together!
- I miss Grantland too. Very much. Good news maybe is that Bill Simmons is starting a post-Grantland site called The Ringer. Have not read Albums That Never Were, but the idea of it fits in nicely with my recent habit of listening to albums that came out awhile ago (aka MWE).
- I think I might be more of a Notpimist than Poptimist, but I do like listening to people talk about music, so maybe there's a compromise to be made here.
Well, those are my first thoughts on Adam's recommendations, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments section below. Or on Twitter, Or facebook. Or don't. It's your call. But at the very least, you should go follow Adam on Twitter and Facebook because doing so will improve your time on either.
And finally, how about we all agree to meet back here in 2 weeks time for some more things of high recommend from someone else, yeah? Ya.