A Magical Christmas of Magic

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Yo, drop the needle, it’s Christmas. That’s Albus Dumbledore’s message. And it’s pretty much a great idea. Second only to putting A Magical Christmas of Magic by Harry and the Potters in your CD player, turning up the volume, and dancing around in your Christmas pajamas while you wrap presents. (For the non-wrappers, non-dancers there’s always head-bobbing and hot cocoa sipping.) This CD is such a fun treat. Draco, Neville, Harry, and the gang lend their voice for all original Christmas songs, including; Money for Christmas by The Gringotts Goblin Choir, Seasonal Depression by The Whomping Willows, and All I want for Christmas by Draco and the Malfoys. If you’re into Harry and the Potters but not Christmas, the AADL also has a few other discs to suit your fancy: their fabulous self-titled album, Harry and the Potters and the power of love, and Voldemort can't stop the rock! Put the needle on the record!

Guns N' Roses Unleashes Chinese Democracy After 14 Years in Production

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The facts surrounding the sixth Guns N' Roses studio record, Chinese Democracy, are straight out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary or a Brian Wilson breakdown. Consider the following: over $13 million spent on production, 14 years of recording and mixing, 3 different record labels, 4 new band members (Axl Rose, sole original member), 4 producers, 17 contributing musicans, a ban on the record in China, not to mention Rose's myriad scandals while in self-imposed exile in the Hollywood hills. The only thing this record is missing is the obligatory Stonehenge track to make it a 'true' rock epic. Whether this overblown release is worth the wait is for the listener to decide; either way, Axl Rose's personal golem has earned its place in the expansive halls of rock egotism.

Remembering Freddie Mercury

freddie mercuryfreddie mercury

It was on this date, back in 1991, that the world lost one of music's most distinctive voices. Farrokh Bulsara, better known as Freddie Mercury, died November 24th of AIDS-related pneumonia at the young age of 45. Best known as the lead singer of the rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury had a fabulous, powerful, four-octave vocal range, along with an over-the-top persona, that entertained fans around the globe. Head to the AADL and check out Classic Queen, Queen's Greatest Hits and Jazz for hits like Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Under Pressure, Fat Bottomed Girls, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, We Will Rock You, and (my personal favorite) I'm In Love With My Car.

Nonesuch Releases Philip Glass Box Set

In 1978, classical composer Philip Glass denounced Minimalism -- the term often applied to his work -- saying, "that word should be stamped out!" Thirty years later, as Nonesuch releases the ten disc set Glass Box: A Nonesuch Retrospective the composer may not have razed the word, but he has expanded his work in order to shed such trappings.

That said, Glass' most famous pieces are built around repetitive chord structures and stripped down instrumentation, where the most subtle changes become fault lines that resound in tonal shifts. The first four discs best exemplify this style, the standouts being his ambitious cycle Music in Twelve Parts and the solo piano elegy Glassworks. Also included are selections from Hydrogen Jukebox, his collaboration with poet-turned-librettist Allen Ginsberg, as well as the film scores for Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, and the indelible opera, Einstein on the Beach. Although each disc contains pieces previously available as stand alone recordings, hearing the spectrum of Glass' work from the early 1960s to today clearly demonstrates the depth and breadth of his singular compositional vision.

What are you listening to?

WAYR: Patrick Pine: Patrick Pine, at Encore Recordings of Ann Arbor. He's listening to a Bo Hansson cut on the turntable.WAYR: Patrick Pine: Patrick Pine, at Encore Recordings of Ann Arbor. He's listening to a Bo Hansson cut on the turntable.

Bo Hansson's 1972 album "Lord of the Rings" is like "a Renaissance fair with MOOG synthesizers," in the words of one staff person at Encore Recordings of Ann Arbor.

Patrick Pyne said he took the 36-year-old LP off the shelf and put it on the turntable one afternoon last week, because he likes the psychedelic vibe of the MOOG synthesizer. He has also enjoyed a Hansson album entitled "Magicians hat," which he described as "silly, but a good record."

Hansson also used drums, guitars, standard organs, and a saxophone to produce the album. But the MOOG is what lends the music its ethereal sound.

Pyne, a musician himself, said he likes the artistic innocence he perceives in Hanssons work, which he summed up as unpretentious. He said he's also been listening to Bruce Haack, another musician who used synthesizers to compose, but who built his own.

Beach Boys Songwriter Brian Wilson at Michigan Theater

The mastermind who created such legendary recordings as Pet Sounds, Surfin' USA, Friends, and other Beach Boys hits is coming to the Michigan Theater on Wednesday, November 12 at 7:30pm. Brian Wilson is best known for his groundbreaking use of lush harmonies and nostalgic, emotive lyrics which contemporary artists such as Panda Bear, Apples in Stereo, and The New Pornographers continue to ape today. Promoting his 2008 release, That Lucky Old Sun, the concert will feature songs from this recording and, of course, some Beach Boys hits as well.

She's no "Newcomer"

carrie newcomercarrie newcomer

Carrie Newcomer, acclaimed singer-songwriter, will be performing at St. Clare's Episcopal Church this Saturday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. Newcomer hails from Northern Indiana and is known for her bluesy style and lyrics that explore the spiritual essence of modern life through "gritty realism." Her latest CD, The Geography of Light reflects Appalachian and classical influences. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to St. Clare's Food Pantry and other hunger outreach programs.

1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die

List makers and debaters you have met your match! Music journalist Tom Moon has compiled a list of recordings so exhaustive it could only be captured in a book with an equally superfluous title: 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Fortunately, there is also a searchable website where you can peruse the complete list of recordings or browse the fourteen music genres enumerated in the big list. No surprise about the inclusion of six Beatles albums or copious selections from Miles Davis' catalog, but perhaps suspect are the individual record selections of Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left over the stellar Pink Moon, and Elvis Costello's Armed Forces rather than This Year's Model. Let the debates begin!

Latest album from the Cold War Kids

Californian indie-rock band the Cold War Kids have just released their latest album, Loyalty to Loyalty. They're currently in the midst of a Continental tour, so unless you happen to find yourself in Brussels next week, you'll have to settle for the CD. Listen to a clip, and check out the video for Track 4, Something Is Not Right With Me.

Sample:

Track 10: Dreams Old Men Dream

The Ark presents Joan Baez at the Michigan Theater

Joan BaezJoan Baez

Legendary folk musician Joan Baez brings her talents to the Michigan Theater for a night of entertainment on November 10 at 7:30pm. The current tour is to promote her new album, Day After Tomorrow. Baez played her first folk festival fifty years ago and she is perhaps best known for her work during the countercultural 1960s with her songs of freedom and civil rights. Visit The Ark’s website for details and ticket info. And be sure to grab a CD or two from AADL to get you in the mood beforehand!

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