Saturday, January 30, 2016

Undercover Pope?

Old habits die hard! Even though he's now pope of the New catholic Church (NcC), former assassin BC, Bernard Campion wants to travel undercover to Mars. His people don't want him to go, but BC feels the need to visit the head of the Universal Islamic Nation (UIN), Al-Salid, in person – he hasn't been communicating, and BC needs his help against The Eldred. Can the pope travel incognito?
Free audio Science Fiction every week on Glow-in-the-Dark Radio - subscribe for free on iTunes. Host, writer, and reader Mike Luoma shares some news, sets the scene, and then reads you Chapters Twenty and Twenty-One of Vatican Ambassador!  




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Saturday, January 23, 2016

What Scares The Eldred?

The Eldest of the Eldred, alien leader of the race killing off humanity with a plague, previously met with BC, Bernard Campion, former assassin and current Pope of the New catholic Church (NcC) and head CEO on the Universal Trade Zone (UTZ) ruling council. The Eldest has now called for an emergency follow-up meeting far ahead of when they'd agreed – and BC swears he heard fear in the alien's message!

Listen in as host, writer, and reader Mike Luoma sets the scene, and then reads you Chapter Nineteen of Vatican Ambassador! Free audio Science Fiction every week on Glow-in-the-Dark Radio - subscribe for free on iTunes.



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Saturday, January 09, 2016

Meeting the Alien Plague Dealers

An alien leader whose race is likely killing off humankind with a plague wants to meet BC, Bernard Campion, former assassin and current Pope of the New catholic Church (NcC) and head CEO on the Universal Trade Zone (UTZ) ruling council. The Eldest of the Eldred invited BC to an audience. After a long trip out to one of their homeworlds, he's about to meet the leader of the Eldred (who, by the way, look like large, light-blue koala bears...). Mike Luoma - your host, writer, and reader - sets the scene with a "story-so-far" beforehand – makes it easy to enjoy even for first time listeners. Check out Part Two of Chapter Eighteen of Vatican Ambassador - free audio Science Fiction on Glow-in-the-Dark Radio! Also free to subscribe on iTunes.  



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Sunday, January 03, 2016

To The Stars, To Meet The Plague-Dealers...

Happy New Year! Off to meet with the leader of the aliens whose plague now decimates humankind, former assassin BC, Bernard Campion, is Pope of the New catholic Church (NcC) and head CEO on the Universal Trade Zone (UTZ) ruling council. But will The Eldest of the Eldred take BC seriously? BC thinks he might take the alien threat more seriously if the Eldred didn't look so much like large light-blue koala bears... Part One of Chapter Eighteen of Vatican Ambassador - free audio Science Fiction every week on Glow-in-the-Dark Radio!  

The recorded Chapter Eighteen is over an hour-and-a-half in length. It's been broken into two parts for the podcast, which are each still pretty long. Hear the first forty-two minutes or so as part one this week. Host, writer and narrator Mike Luoma sets the scene before the chapter, so you can enjoy the adventure, even if it's your first time listening in! Free to subscribe on iTunes, too.




* Get Alibi Jones FREE when you join the mailing list: http://eepurl.com/0_Z7z

* Get your copy of Vatican Ambassador, details on the blog:  http://glowinthedarkradio.blogspot.com/2015/08/get-your-copy-of-vatican-ambassador.html

* Listen to Mike's "2015's Best Music" Mix @ (A Staff Pick & Gold) 8Tracks.com: http://8tracks.com/brotherzag/2015-s-best-music

* Read about Mike's Top Ten Albums for 2015 on the blog. Albums 10 – 6: http://glowinthedarkradio.blogspot.com/2015/12/my-ten-best-albums-of-2015-5-through-1.html
Albums 5 – 1: http://glowinthedarkradio.blogspot.com/2015/12/my-ten-best-albums-of-2015-10-through-6.html

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Ten Best Albums of 2015 - 5 through 1

As we approach the year’s end, I’m offering you my picks for the Top Ten albums of the last twelve months. As I stated at the outset, this list is as subjective as they come; I've abandoned any pretense at critical “objectivity”! You can read Part One Here. Covered albums ten through six in the first half. Now, Part Two - my totally subjective list of the five best albums for 2015!

Commuting 45 minutes each way to work and back, I listen to a lot of music in the car. As the perfect album length is about 45 minutes,* that usually works out to an album each way. Album number five got into heavy car rotation this late summer and fall.

It is known.

5.  FOALS - What Went Down

FOALS make great driving tunes. I wasn’t familiar with the UK’s Foals, though they’ve been around for a few years. First I heard from them was “Mountain At My Gates” from their latest What Went Down. While that single got my attention, when I listened to the rest of the album I was drawn in. Deeper. Repeated listens as I drove along. “Night Swimmers” is my favorite, with its big, thick meaty, bouncing guitar riffs. “A Knife in the Ocean” is kind of epic. There's a lot here to sink your teeth into.



4. Ryley Walker - Primrose Green

Ryley Walker is a force of nature, finger-picking his way through improvised arrangements and jazz flavored progressions that somehow coalesce into songs on his latest, Primrose Green. Listened to this one repeatedly for at least a month before it’s release at the end of March. The title cut made it into rotation on The Point.


Some tunes veer into true folk territory, like “On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee” or “The High Road”. Others dabble in the jazz world like “Summer Dress” and “Sweet Satisfaction”. Love discovering a new artist, finding a brand new source for music. Although live... Walker is an undisciplined jammer, and a bit overly self-indulgent.



All the albums in my Top Ten have been solid entertainment for me this year – but my Top Three are somehow more than that. These next three albums are new all-time favorites – I’ll be listening to these three for years to come!

3. Darlingside - Birds Say

Darlingside are a revelation! Had heard the band’s name, as they’ve been playing around New England for a few years, but this is a sort of newer incarnation of the band. With Birds Say, Darlingside became a solid four-piece folk rock band, with solid harmonies stronger than any heard in the genre since the heyday of CSN. “Go Back” was promoted to us at radio, and we’re playing it in rotation at The Point.



The band stopped by the studio and played live back in September. To prepare for the interview I took the album home for a listen. WOW! It blew me away! I was astounded by the tight harmonies, the clever lyrics, the interesting arrangements. It’s hard not to go a little overboard – it really broke through and won over my soul. Live in the studio, the harmonies were jaw-dropping. Give a listen as they perform “God of Loss” and “Go Back



Great albums weave their way into your life. I was listening to and getting to know the album as my girlfriend and I got to know each other. The songs on Birds Say wove themselves into our shared experience in beautiful ways – I sang “Good For You” to her, she loved “Volcano Sky”, “Do you Ever Live” sounded like my heart singing to my head… for many reasons, Birds Say rose into my Top Three.



2. Blur - The Magic Whip

I've gone into great detail elsewhere on this blog about how - personally - this has been quite a year for Blur. The Magic Whip is a big part of why. In true Blur fashion, the album has been bigger in the UK and the rest of the world than it was here in the USA, though it has scored well on some end-of-year lists. Even besides this one. The album's first track "There Are Too Many Of Us" arrived in late March. Had me on the first listen - had no idea Blur sounded like that!



"Lonesome Street" was Whip's actual first single. The song grew on me, though it wasn't an immediate favorite. I'm still not the biggest fan of the second "teaser" track, either, "Go Out". But I'm not complaining. Sandwiched between those two on the album is "New World Towers", a moody piece that sets the other two livelier tunes off nicely.

As you get deeper in, the album truly soars. "Thought I Was A Spaceman" throws off a post-apocalyptic chill vibe that kicks up and intensifies as the song stretches out. Sounded great when they band performed it live at Madison Square Garden in October! See that other article for more on that. "I Broadcast" - the next tune - had an instant appeal for some reason. Might be that, well... I broadcast (http://pointfm.com).

The next five songs make this album incredible and awesome. "My Terracotta Heart" sounds like it could be a song about the band, the Albarn/Coxon songwriting partnership/friendship - or it may be a love song. Maybe both - it sort of shifts in subject. Coxon's guitar licks are very tasty, the individual notes picked out in a lilting, almost classical fashion.

"There Are Too Many Of Us" - praised above - comes next, another change in gears. Find myself singing along with "Ghost Ship", which follows. "I'm on a ghost ship driving my heart... to Hong Kong" - think that's what he's singing. "Pyongyang" is next, based on a visit of Albarn's to North Korea. It has the sort of mini-epic feel "This Is A Low" radiates. Coxon's guitar leads the way with a vaguely menacing, eastern-sounding riff that also manages to smack of spaghetti western soundtracks.

And then we hit "Ong Ong" - pure, beautiful, universal pop rock! "La la la la la la la la la la... I wanna be with you... " The video is charming.



"Mirrorball" closes the album. The last five high-impact tunes set this one up to fail, but instead it rises to the occasion, a perfect album closer, synth strings toward the end lending again a sort of eastern sound to the music. The "surprise" album came together in Hong Kong and the city throws a broad shadow across the work, from the cover art to the many musical echoes from beginning to end.

Blur's Parklife has been called a survey of English pop rock*. The Magic Whip is sort of a survey of Blur. A now mature, reunited band rekindles earlier magics - earlier than Think Tank, certainly. And yet, while looking backwards, they update those sounds, moving forward, simultaneously.

* ("...a summation of British pop music up to that point in all its occasionally contradictory, throwaway glory." http://time.com/75615/parklife-blur-britpop-20th-anniversary/)

They are the ice cream men, dishing out some new favorites with familiar flavors from the Blur freezer: "Magic Whip?"

Try some for yourself...

   
And then there's #1...

1. Blitzen Trapper “All Across This Land”

I've always loved rock; grew up on rock music. Before I "got my MTV" I used to stay up late on Saturday nights watching Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. Though the sixties and more than half of the seventies were gone before I clued in, still got to wait for the record store to open to get the new Led Zeppelin album when In Through the Out Door arrived. Later still, working in radio, got to meet some amazing talents, like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Even got to watch as a local band I supported and got to know blew up huge, as Phish went from the stage at Nectar's here in Burlington on to worldwide fame and fortune. Pretty damn cool. Yet Phish aren't known primarily for their albums, but rather for their live performances. Though they've conquered the live world several times over, they have yet to record a Great Rock Album. They have some good ones (Hoist and Farmhouse are my favorites. Your results may vary), but not a singular Great one.

Not bringing this up to dis Phish but instead to praise Blitzen Trapper, because All Across This Land IS a Great Rock Album!

Can't stop listening to it. I've been rather effusive with my praise for the work on social media... and on this blog: "...a real trick to release an album that's timeless enough to sound like it could have come out in the 1970's yet doesn't sound dated today. Blitzen Trapper have managed that with All Across This Land..."



This is quality stuff, "Solid Rock," as Mark Knopfler once sang on that Great Rock Album Making Movies by Dire Straits. Its timelessness allows it to sit comfortably in the Great Rock Album pantheon alongside other American Rock Greats like Tom Petty's Damn The Torpedoes, Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run or John Mellencamp's Scarecrow.

Eric Earley's songwriting here evokes the American experience the way those albums and music from The Band or Neil Young do (yeah, even though those two acts are mostly Canadian). Music that comes from here. That American experience now includes growing up listening to those albums. They're part of the fabric woven anew by Earley's rock and roll songcraft into tunes like "Rock and Roll (Was Made For You)" with its universality and timelessness.



There are, perhaps, echoes of those musicians mentioned above throughout All Across This Land, but they do not dominate. This is not slavish imitation but new creation along the same continuum. A new Great Rock Album! Did a detailed review when it was released here on the blog, and I'll refer you to that for a multi-track run-through. But it's simple, really. If you love rock like I do, you should pick up All Across This Land by Blitzen Trapper. My number one for 2015!

Here they are again:

1. Blitzen Trapper - All Across This Land
2. Blur - The Magic Whip
3. Darlingside - Birds Say
4. Ryley Walker - Primrose Green
5. FOALS - What Went Down
6. The Amazing - Picture You
7. Madaila - The Dance
8. My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall
9. JEFF The Brotherhood - Wasted On the Dream
10. The Mountain Says No - JV

Read About 6 to 10 here.

Check out a couple of free playlists I've made of the year's best music over at 8Tracks.com:




Monday, December 21, 2015

My Ten Best Albums of 2015 - 10 through 6

As we approach the end of 2015, I give you my “Ten Best” albums of the year - ta da! I'm a music director at a "Triple-A" - Adult Album Alternative - radio network, The Point (http://pointfm.com), in Vermont, but this list isn't a professional sort of list - it's as subjective as they come. Music is a subjective experience, after all – the ultimate critique is simply “I Like This” – so I'm abandoning any pretense at critical “objectivity” and just going for it!

I hear a LOT of music over the course of the year. These ten had an impact on me personally, had songs I loved and played repeatedly, driving in my car, at home – not necessarily things you would have heard me play on the radio, though some I did. Here they come in reverse order. And who knows? Maybe I can turn you on to something you haven’t yet heard – introduce you to one of your new favorite albums.

10. The Mountain Says No - JV



One of two Vermont bands whose albums make the list. Ben Madox and Jedd Kettler, veteran Vermont musicians whose former bands include  farm, power The Mountain Says No. The tunes move from plaintive folk delicacy to hammering hard rock, sometimes in the same song. They're also amazing live, incredibly tight and powerful.

Both Madox and Kettler are good vocalists, but together shine even brighter, their two voices combining into a harmonious third, put to use to great effect on "The Mountain" among other tunes. "The Bomb" is another stand-out, with a wry sense of fun and whip-smart lyrics. Available at bandcamphttps://themountainsaysno.bandcamp.com/


9.  Jeff the Brotherhood - Wasted On the Dream

Back in the spring my friend Matt asked if I'd heard Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull on the new JEFF The Brotherhood song. What? He played me "Black Cherry Pie". Hot damn, there was a little blustery flute from Ian on the tune! The rest of the album rocks, great Friday afternoon driving home music with loud, aggressive guitar and propulsive drums. There's a Weezer influence here, but they make the sound their own. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall bring the goods. And Ian Anderson.


Didn't really know the band before this, and it kind of blew my mind to discover they were the sons of Robert Ellis Orrall. Evidently, he's kind of a big shot songwriter and producer these days, and was a country star for a bit, but I used to be a fan back in the early 80s when he was an up-and-coming local rock musician in Massachusetts. He had a hit back then with Carlene Carter - "I Couldn't Say No". Cue bad video:


But I digress...

8. My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall

Was not sure I liked this album at first. Evil Urges is still an all-time favorite album, but Circuital felt uneven to me. I wasn't sure what to make of this newest My Morning Jacket effort, either, at the start. Gave it a few listens, at home, in the car. Heard it out socially. Liked "Compound Fracture" and first single "Big Decisions" but the rest of it wasn't connecting with me for some reason.


And then, one day? It just kind of clicked. The opening track "Believe (Nobody Knows)" wedged itself into my consciousness and wouldn't let go, opening me up to the rest of the album as a whole. And that's it, too - The Waterfall is best experienced in it's entirety - the rush of the waterfall, perhaps. It's not a concept album, unless the concept is life in general, which would make most albums concept albums, so no... but it does feel like a unified whole.

7. Madaila - The Dance

Out of the ashes of a band called Chamberlin rose Madaila! Well, Plato Ears, DALY, then Madaila. Saw them live first as DALY and they were tight, fun and funky with occasional flashes of Prince, EDM and other stuff. It's essentially the creation of Mark Daly, the lead singer and songwriter, with an assist from Eric Maier, also a former member of Chamberlin, and Jer Coons. Live these days they're joined by Willoughby Morse and Dan Ryan.


The Dance was preceded by the video and single "Give Me All Your Love" late last year, which we gave a lot of love to at The Point. Sounded great on the air! And they came in and played it live in the studio in March just before their album release party at Burlington's City Hall:


Pretty amazing performance given this was one of the first times they had recreated the track in a live acoustic setting!

The Dance is a strong piece of work. Closing track "Trying to Be Heard" also went into rotation at the radio station. Nationally known acts don't always get a second track, but Madaila did... and my boss, Zeb Norris, the program director, doesn't play favorites, not with local bands or any band, for that matter. It made it in on its own merits. The entire album went into rotation in my car - great summer driving music!

6.The Amazing - Picture You

The final entry in these lower five albums of my Ten Best comes from a Swedish band I came across for the first time with the release of their newest album near the start of the year. Their atmospheric, breathy vocal washes and slight early-Pink Floyd influence made this album the perfect soundtrack to the early winter months in Vermont. The two parts of title track "Picture You" show off the two sides of the band. the plaintive opening pop tune not only echoing with reverbed vocals and strummed guitars but also the influence of the Church or the Cure, while the second part's hypnotic repeated guitar progressions surge with and release tension in slow, rhythmic waves.

The video is striking for its simplicity and effectiveness.


The Point played the first section as a radio tune, provided to us by the record company as the "Picture You" "Radio Edit". We instead called it "Picture You - Part One" because that's kind of how we are. Of course, I still much prefer the longer version with the second half jam! Other tracks here jam out as well - there's a beautiful, sprawling expansiveness to many of the tunes on Picture You.

This album got me through many miles of driving over the early months of the year. This one, and the album which comes in as my number four. I received pre-release promo copies of both Picture You and number four early. I'd almost listened to both too much before they were even released to the general public!

Come Back for Part Two - with the Top Five of my Ten Best - in my next post.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"The Best Lack All Conviction, While The Worst..."

The more he resists seems the more authority is handed our former assassin BC, Bernard Campion. He's now Pope of the New catholic Church (NcC) and a CEO on the Universal Trade Zone's ruling council! But is anyone powerful enough to stop the plague now decimating humankind? Find out in Chapter Seventeen of Vatican Ambassador! Join host, writer and narrator Mike Luoma for free audio Science Fiction every week on Glow-in-the-Dark Radio!  New or need to catch up? No worries! Mike sets the scene before the chapter rolls, so you can enjoy the adventure! Free to subscribe on iTunes, too.

Special Thanks to Andrew p. Weston for the great Review of Vatican Ambassador! Check out Andy's work, most recently Hell Bound and The IXhttp://andrewpweston.com 



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* Listen to the "Best of 2015" Mix @ 8Tracks.com: http://8tracks.com/brotherzag/best-of-2015

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