It's been nearly a month since I last posted here - my biggest break since Blog On The Tracks started five and a half years ago.
It was time for a break. It was a big year for me last year. A big year for the blog too - it turned five, we reached over 1400 posts, we kept up the blatant negativity...all day, every day of course!
Summer brought with it a bit of a break from music.
I say that but I reviewed Jimmy Barnes (which was not fun at all) and I reviewed Unknown Mortal Orchestra (which I would have liked to have liked more than I did but the sound was terrible. A great shame). I kept things rolling - a wee bit, at least - over at Off The Tracks. There were a few new book and album reviews, plenty of Five Albums I'm Loving guest posts.
And I chatted to Noelle McCarthy every week day from Boxing Day on until last Friday as part of her Summer Noelle show; we chatted about the tunes/chapters from my book, On Song. That was a great treat for me - I really enjoyed it and was grateful for the interest and support from Noelle and her crew. She was the best interviewer I've worked with too; thoughtful, well prepared, interested and she let me go at each topic, holding back herself but always there to prompt and steer when needed. I was in such safe hands.
But mostly it was a break for me.
I went to Hawke's Bay for Christmas with the family.
Back to Wellington for a bit of work between Christmas and New Year and then off to Australia for another dose of family.
There is always something to get on with music-wise - books to read, albums to rediscover, new things to dig out. And now we're near the end of the first month of 2013 already and I'm just catching up.
David Bowie returned with this song. What did you think about that? I love the song. I can imagine Morrissey singing it. I don't hold a lot of hope for the album though - I think we'll have another Black Tie, White Noise or worse, Hours, on our hands. But hey, I'm keen enough to hear it. That's just a guess that it won't be much chop. Of course I'm interested in it. And that's something.
The new Yo La Tengo album and the forthcoming Unknown Mortal Orchestra album are my picks - so far - for super-early best of 2013 albums.
I got kind of hooked - again - on James Taylor too. More so than I ever have been before actually. This book was nothing special but picking up a nice vinyl copy of Sweet Baby James was one of the musical highlights of the summer break for me. I've only ever been a casual fan really, a Greatest Hits kind of guy when it comes to JT, but I'm newly sold on the magic. Great guitar player, super sweet voice, great writing, great covers - and then there's the darkness that informs it all, the years spent wrestling with demons, battling (with) drugs and (against) depression. There's a back-story there. And I guess that has helped in getting me newly interested/reacquainted with his music.
I read about Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell and other artists I probably don't need to read any more about. I listened to a lot of Michael Houstoun's music (because he's amazing). But for the most part I stepped away from music.
I became a fan of James Ellroy's writing. I'd never read him before but that guy can write! I'd see some of the film adaptations, but the writing...
I enjoyed the new Bond film.
I went to bed early. Often. A revelation. Every time.
I left music on the backburner - just a bit. And it felt good. And right. And it was needed...
But I'm excited to be back. Both here at Blog On The Tracks and over at Off The Tracks. I can't tell you that every album you love is one that I love too. I can't explain some of my fascinations (though I'll always try) and I can't begin to understand why people take criticism so seriously.
These of course are reasons why I am pleased to be back - serving up some more of myself and my time and my opinions for you.
Here's a free album you should check out.
Here's a mixtape too, free download.
And if you have ideas for where you want Blog On The Tracks to go in 2013 - including the obvious catcall for it to go jump in a lake - please leave your suggestions below.
I'm not taking a roll but I believe we should be missing a Dr Zoidberg...although is missing the right word?
Today I want to hear about your summer holiday? Did you get a break? Did you go to festivals and gigs? Did you buy new albums or rediscover old ones? Did you wear out the library card or sit in front of the TV? Did you like the new Bowie song right up until you heard it? Did you hate this coverage of a Six60 gig? Did you smile when you read about Richard Marx and the journo? Did you obsess over this amazing Sheila E. clip?
And what gigs are you looking forward to in 2013? Dirty Projectors and Lawrence Arabia this week - a good start I reckon. (I'm not counting the triple bill that was Jimmy Barnes/Gin Wigmore/Thomas Oliver Band; I'm trying to forget it).
I'm pleased to be back here. And I'll think of some new things to say. Promise. I'll do my best to pass your coffee or lunch break and then to provide another new something the day after when you log back in.
Welcome (belatedly) to 2013 here at Blog On The Tracks. How have you been? Where have you been? And what are your big music tips and picks for 2013 so far?
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Does GoT have a problem with women? (spoiler)