Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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4Play: Gomez, Dave Alvin, Bon Iver, Matt Nathanson

Kristi Kates - June 13th, 2011
Gomez - Whatever’s On Your Mind - ATO/Red
Although they’re probably best known as a British band, Gomez’ bandmates are actually scattered across a couple of countries, with its members now living in the UK, L.A., and NY. Fortunately for them, they had a common production ground in producer Sam Farrar, who helped them bring together this, their latest album. Recorded primarily in a remote studio locale in Virginia, this is both a smoother and more experimental set than previous efforts, with new in-band approaches taken to horns and guitars (“Options”), synth/strings (“Our Goodbye”), and electronica (“Song in my Heart.”) It’s fresh, eclectic, and interesting.



Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven - Yep Roc
After Alvin departed his long-time work with The Blasters in the late ‘70s, he found folk music to be his newest calling, and it ended up being one that snagged him several Grammy nods and a secondary round of new respect for his earthy and emotional songwriting. There are several surprises here for fans of Alvin’s music, including the more subtle, thoughtful approaches on such songs as “No Worries Mija” and the catchy “Harlan County Line”; Alvin also duets for the first time on a recording with his fellow Blaster and brother Phil. It’s another solid step in Alvin’s ongoing - and artistically growing - roots rock career.




Bon Iver - Bon Iver - Jagjaguwar
With songs named after towns, reverb courtesy of an old swimming pool’s acoustics, and Auto-Tune used not to actually tune, but to add quirky, fragile vocal effects, Bon Iver’s latest showcases a willingness to push his songs through new challenges as well as a strength in the unusual songwriting itself. More traditional-sounding pianos and strings appear on “Wash,” while the Americana-seasoned “Towers” is both emotive and simply pretty; “Minnesota, WI” somehow fuses banjos and horns into an effective musical base, and “Hinnom, TX” throws in scratchy, amped-up FX like the most seasoned guitarist-slash-DJ.



Matt Nathanson - Modern Love - Vanguard
Matt Nathanson may be one of the busiest performers that hardly anyone knows about. You may have heard his songs on VH1, American Idol, 90210, Good Morning America, and Vampire Diaries - but you may not know that the Bay Area singer-songwriter is already on his 8th album. Modern Love, which will hit stores on June 21st, offers more of the hearty pop that makes Nathanson’s music so palatable to the average TV-watching American - unfortunately, he’s going down a road similar to that of Diane Warren: carefully-crafted tunes that end up being too sterile to transcend anything past commercial impact.
 
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