fitteR happieR – How Depressing are Radiohead Songs?

Via Freecodecamp’s weekly email, I came across this R-based analysis that estimates and charts how depressing and sad Radiohead songs are, grouped by album. The level of sadness is determined using a function that accounts for both melodic factors (i.e., is the music sad) as well as the lyrical content. An interesting read from a coding standpoint, and after listening to a bunch of songs and comparing with the results, I think it’s about right. A lower score is a “more depressing” song.

Music I Discovered in 2016, and Some Thoughts on Subscription Streaming

I spent some time organizing my music over the long weekend, and thought I’d share a playlist I kept throughout the year of songs and artists I discovered. Most of it was released in 2016, but there are plenty of exceptions that were simply new to me. For those who know my taste in music, it’s about what you’d expect – half americana/country/folk with lots of pedal steel guitar, and the rest a mix of indie, alternative, hip hop, and electronic. For full albums from the artists above, I’d recommend just a handful: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett Paradise – The Wood Brothers The Education

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World Away

Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer, who plays the drums, recently released a 20 song album, Sukierae. I just gave it a full listen last week. First reaction: much of it is awesome. I didn’t expect to enjoy it for the drumming, but I found myself extremely impressed with Spencer. Particularly World Away and Diamond Light Pt. 1: Some of that is reminiscent of Bonham. Great rhythms. By about two thirds of the way through though, it seemed as though a handful of songs didn’t need to make the cut. They’re all good, but they simply reminded me of older Wilco or solo Tweedy, or even Mermaid Avenue without the Guthrie lyrics. And while I welcome new material, I’d enjoy the “whole

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Andrew Combs’ Rainy Day Song

I discovered Andrew Combs about a year and a half ago when he opened for Shovels and Rope at the Sinclair in Cambridge. He’s got a really nice country/folk/americana thing going on, and if you like that sort of sound, I recommend checking out his album Worried Man on Spotify, and his earlier EP Tennessee Time. I recently saw him a second time at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge, and he opened the set with a folk song off his upcoming second album which brought the noisy bar room to silence. I just found a recording of it, and thought I’d share. Doesn’t quite compare to how it sounded live, but beautiful nonetheless:

Some Nice Americana: Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis

I just discovered and really enjoyed Our Year by Austin-based Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis. The album came out late last month, and has a nice mix of Texas country and folk. The pace varies a good amount as well, with some upbeat tunes and plenty of mellow ones. And there’s some great harmonica and pedal steel work. The whole album’s on Spotify. Here’s a blurb from All Music: “On their sophomore duet outing, this husband and wife deliver a soulful take on traditional (not retro) country music” And here are a few tracks:

1969 Reviews of Led Zeppelin

Magazine writers in the 1960’s probably didn’t think their content would be easily accessible, searchable in fact,  more than 40 years later. The internet is an amazing thing. My good friend Ed recently sent along a fairly negative 1969 review of Led Zeppelin I that was written by John Mendelsohn and published in Rolling Stone magazine: “The latest of the British blues groups so conceived offers little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn’t say as well or better three months ago, and the excesses of the Beck group’s Truth album (most notably its self-indulgence and restrictedness), are fully in evidence on Led Zeppelin’s debut album. Jimmy Page, around whom the Zeppelin revolves, is, admittedly, an extraordinarily proficient blues guitarist and

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The Broken Spoke

I spent the Thanksgiving break with my girlfriend’s family in Austin, and finally made it out to The Broken Spoke, a country venue known for some of the best honky tonk in the area. We had tried to go almost a year ago, after it was recommended to me by a friend who lived in Austin for a number of years, only to find out it was closed the day after Christmas. We went back this time and made it in. It’s a pretty interesting place, that from my limited experience, at least appears to capture the Austin country scene well. Inside there are a number of tables surrounding a large dance floor, with a stage in the far back.

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Andrew Combs

Last weekend I went to see Shovels & Rope at the Sinclair in Cambridge. A few things to quickly note. 1. I can’t really describe Shovels & Rope well, but if you haven’t heard of them, check them out. A recent NYT article actually gets it pretty close: “They like to say they are “making as much noise as they can” with two old guitars, a kick drum, snare, harmonica, tambourine and occasional keyboard. I dare to match them with the couple that set the standard for country duets, Johnny Cash and June Carter. Both couples share Southern roots and that music-from-the-back porch country sound.” They were great live too, although they didn’t quite meet my (very high) expectations. 2.

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