It’s time once again to write a year-end round up for my own
amusement. Pardon me if I’m not scoring
high on the excitement meter because I’m finding it difficult to be excited
about anything lately. The old They
Might Be Giants lyric keeps going through my head: “Now it’s over, I’m dead and
I haven’t done anything that I want / Or I’m still alive and there’s nothing I
want to do.” Them TMBG boys used to make
some great albums… Speaking of “used to”,
two highly-cherished bands released albums in 2022 after (in one case) decades
of silence and both were just kind of “meh”.
If my temperament was better then I might have found these albums as
enjoyable as many others seem to have found them.
One surprising new band that blew my socks of is Frost… in
2006. Their Milliontown album was
phenomenal, and their follow-up was almost as good. Eight years later they released a
disappointing collection of songs and in 2022, five years later, they released Day
And Age. I didn’t have high hopes
and I wasn’t disappointed in my lack of enthusiasm. It was a decent album but I haven’t found
myself wanting to listen to it since it was released, meaning my score of 7 is
probably spot on.
But five years between album releases ain’t nuthin! How about fourteen? Can it really have been fourteen years since
King’s X released XV? While this
band’s first five albums rank them as one of my favorite bands of all time,
everything after 1994’s Dogman have been inconsistent. Some I liked, some grew on me, some don’t get
much play. It was not with much
anticipation that I listened to Three Sides of One and it’s…
decent. Right now I have it at an 8 and it’s
still in my vehicle, hoping that it will grow on me.
But fourteen years between album releases ain’t nuthin! How about THIRTY ONE?!?!? Yes, the original Chagall Guevara album came
out in 1991 and I still listen to it now and then. I tempered my hopes and backed their Kickstarted
and waited. And waited. And so on.
Eventually the album came out and… well?
Two songs had been released before during the previous decades (and one
of these was a cover), leaving a mere seven original songs. Some of these are quite strong, but I can’t
help feeling like I got the short end of the stick. It gets a 7, being docked one point for being
a glorified EP.
What else is there to complain about? Hmmm… the much hyped Troika is pretty
good (7) but not deserving of all the gushing people heaped on it. I very much enjoyed stumbling upon Prehensile
Tales by Pattern Seeking Animals (8), which is a variation of late-era Spock’s
Beard with solid songwriting. I’m looking
forward to investigating their other two albums. I finally listened to the first Knifeworld
album (8) and found it unusual and interesting.
Shades by Ty Tabor (7.5) was nice, a bit better than his last
album, to my ears at least.
I also caught up on some older albums. I tried Frosting on the Beater by The
Posies a few years back and nothing happened.
Fortunately I tried again and found most of the songs thoroughly
enjoyable, a solid 9! Sometimes it’s not
the music but where you are in life. All
Right Here by Sara Groves was also highly enjoyable, but the other two early
albums of hers I listened to in 2022 were not nearly as satisfying.
And then there’s Matt Bisonette. He’s currently a touring bass player for some
big, big names (in the 70s) but in his past he’s played in Jughead and Mustard
Seeds, two Christian-leaning bands I’ve dearly loved. So I was very glad to find that Spot (7)
and Raising Lazarus (9) fall very much in their style of upbeat,
positive, carefree, distorti-power pop and that he is, in fact, a practicing Christian…
practicing more than in just empty words.
He has quite a few more solo albums which I’ll explore over the next
year or two.
In my reading life 2023 was the year of Clifford Simak. I read 14 novels and 9 non-fiction books (for
a whopping total of 23, the same number that I read in 2022, but far less than
my peak of 50 in 2007). Half of the novels
were my Simak.
Lemma tell ya… when this guy is at his A game he comes up
with some imaginative stuff! His book City
is considered a sci-fi classic, and for good reason. It is a bittersweet, timeless story of a
world that’s gone to the dogs.
Literally. Mankind bred dogs to
be able to talk and created self-replicating robotic arms for them before
slipping off to Saturn and other dimensions, leaving dogs to argue if this
ancient myth of “mankind” is actually based on reality.
Goblin Station was a wacky comic book, with a well-read
cave man, the ghost of William Shakespeare, maybe a wolfman? It was pretty madcap, but not zany. But even better was another classic, the
lonely The Way Station (I’ll be reading that one again) and Ring
Around The Sun, which was an early novel based on Simak’s themes of
alternate dimensions and the economy. Yes,
the economy. I should also add that most
of his writings have rural settings.
Based on a few pages in Ring Around the Sun I’m pretty sure Simak
was a fellow INFJ. So wonderfully unique…
so uniquely unable to ever fit in with 99.99% of the worlds population.
In the early summer I enjoyed Amish Zombies from Space
by Kerry Nietz, the sequel to Amish Vampires in Space. He kept it PG, even with the violence, like a
good Christian author. I’ve been waiting
for 2023 to read the final book in the series: Amish Werewolves of Space
(what? You were expecting Amish garden gnomes?)
I received the Mike Lindell autobiography What Are The
Odds as a gag gift from my kids but I like reading autobiographies so the jokes
on them. It was a great read… about as
fun as it gets these days. I re-read
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis after a three+ decade break. Some people love this book but not me. The first 2/3 of the book is fairly decent
but the last third has no action of any kid and is pretty much a long allegory
with few guideposts to help the reader along.
The Jewish Gospel of John by Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg was an
excellent interpretation of this meaty gospel, postulation that its original audience
was the Samaritans, which would explain many of the “problems” people have had
with it over the centuries.
I guess my 2022 reading time was pretty enjoyable… another
thing to be thankful for!