Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Keith Kenniff - Master Musician

I am a pretty particular person, preferring ballads to instrumentals. That said, I love it when instrumental works make me question my biases. The musical creations of Keith Kenniff is a prime example. Trained the Berklee College of Music after having grown up in a musically rich and ecletic houseful of musicians, these influences appears in his albums.

Debut album, “Unomia,” appears decidedly trance but also infused with extremely organic sounds such as what sounds like sticky paper getting separated (or a dead TV) as heard in “Samsara”. “West Orange” is a sweet lulling piece mainly with the piano.

His album, “The Malady Of Elegance,” has a classical refinement to it by showcasing the piano with ambient crackling sounds. It evokes images of a music genius recording herself on a cassette tape. “Threnody” feels to me like steps taken during one’s lifetime—slow, deliberate, wondrous and frightening. “The Winter Of 1539-1540” chills me to the bone leaving me feeling quite uneasy, nice. In “Evelyn,” which happens to be my mother’s name, the quick and slow beats evoke the mood of hope.

The Album “Helios” goes back to a trance sound but much more upbeat in tone than his previous albums. “Hope Valley Hill” indeed exudes a feeling of hope that is grounded. “Mountain of Ice” though heavy in nature, still moves in a dynamic pace.

In the album, “Goldmund,” Kenniff turns to classical music again. Not nearly as intense as “The Malady Of Elegance,” it is no less rich in sound and feeling. Kenniff is a musical master in the making. And boy is he prolific.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Voice and Good Looks

With all the reality talent shows out there, seems sensational breakouts stars have been "interesting" looking people with phenomenal voices. Something about voices not quite matching with the physical that seems to tug at audience heart strings. Maybe it's just us thinking, gosh, I look like shit too, maybe I can also be an international star by conquering audiences worldwide. Susan Boyle, runner up of 2009's Britains Got Talent, is case in point.

Well, X-Factor, another British reality talent show just debuted American college student, Ethan Boroian. He's hot with a fabulous voice. Check out the video below. Sure there was editing to make it look like the women judges were hardcore swooning, but honestly, I think they probably were hard core swooning off camera as well. Maybe Ethan will break the "interesting" looking singer monopoly. American invasion, baby.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

White and Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic

Remember "Weird Al" Yankovic with classic parodies like "Fat" (Michael Jackson's "I'm Bad") and "Smells Like Nirvana" (Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit")? Well, seems like the dude continues to make music. His highest ranking single, "White and Nerdy" ("Ridin" by Chamillionaire and Krayze Bone) reached #9 on Billboard Hot 100 in 2006! Check it out below and the original it parodied. Oh, and I got every "nerdy" reference Yankovic sang. What does that make me?

White and Nerdy

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Friend of Kanye

It's official, I'm the only person left in the U.S. that supports Kanye West's outburst during MTV's Video Music Awards (VMA) 2009. If you don't already know, he's in all over the news because he rushed the stage during the award ceremony and took the microphone from the winner of the Best Female Video, Taylor Swift. He vocalized his preference for Beyonce's video and returned the microphone to a stunned and speechless Swift.

For this he's had media reign down on him and even the president has called him a "jackass." After numerous public apologies, he also phoned Swift directly to apologize and she reportedly accepted. But, public dissatisfaction of his outburst continues.

Here's my thought, MTV is pretty much gone down the tubes since introducing more programming than music videos. They debuted the first reality TV show, Real World, that effectively has influenced TV programming since then. Not good. As for the VMAs, it's a joke, showcasing "talent" that's agreed upon by corporations versus recognizing true artists.

Kayne has spoken his mind about this before. Last year's VMAs celebrated the train wreck Britney Spears instead of bowing to a Kanye's amazing Album, Graduation.

In general Kayne says what's on his mind and he believes he's offering justice when no one else is willing to cross the line. Who can forget his classic statement, "Bush hates black people," during a fundraiser for Katrina victims.

What's notable is he exposed the blatant racism that appears in media and the so-called aid for the victims, most are black. This is bold behavior and earns my respect for sure. So, when he spoke for Beyonce at the risk of hurting Taylor, he was acting on his sense of justice. The truth is, any of the other ladies nominated deserved the award much more than Taylor. It was obvious to me so I guess it was glaringly obvious to Kayne.

In short, in a time where so few stand up for what's right, we should not demonize the few brave souls but rather allow them to do what they need to do. They speak a truth for many and this truth is rarely if ever heard in mainstream media. I hope the lynch mobs will subside and Kayne will recoup to keep his strength and admirable sense of social outrage. He may not always pick the best battles to fight, but he's clear of the war on justice.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wine Snobs - Ignore the Hype

I love wine but cannot stand wine snobs. They are the kind that will only drink wines over $50 a bottle and have been given the seal of approval from the Wine Spectator. These snobs will have wine tasting parties for the sole purpose of humiliating their "less than sophisticated guests." Often times these snobs are the "nouveau expert de vin" or newly self-minted wine experts.

Poo poo to all that snobbery. If you like wine or want to try wine, you should not be intimidated by perceptions of what should taste good or even how to properly discuss wines. All you need to know is trust your taste. You like what you like and you shouldn't have to defend it. Just enjoy.

Personally, I find it an exciting challenge to discover tasty wines for under $10. Blasphemy you say? Not at all. If you are open to diverse grapes grown in all parts of the world, you too will save money while enjoying the vino! Though living a stone's throw from Napa Valley, I'm partial to the black grapes, tempranillo, native to Spain. Oh, and the Shiraz from Australia are divine.

There is no such thing as superiority of types, or even ideal wines for certain types of food. Whites are just as good as reds. Have you tried a syrah sparkling, delicious. Some chardonnays are equally bountiful as pinot noirs. Sweet reislings can go as well with hardy meats as a cabernet.

Let's not forget the rice wines either that go great with my Asian dishes. Sake (Japanese rice wine) and particularly soju (Korean rice wine) can be smooth or have quite a nice kick to them. Rượu nép (Vietnamese rice wine) can also work well as an aperitif (a small drink of alcoholic liquor taken to stimulate the appetite before a meal) or even as a dessert wine.

You are only limited by your imagination and sense of adventure. So, be bold and explore wines today. To help you along, please check out this humorous and informative documentary on wines, "Wine for the Confused," hosted by John Cleese of Monty Python fame. You'll be inspired!