Black Lives Matter – Listen to Diverse Voices

Highway Queens will observe tomorrow’s music industry blackout in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We must stand together against institutional racism and systematic discrimination. Marginalised voices must be heard.

For those who are looking to spend tomorrow supporting and listening to diverse voices I offer a list of suggested albums below. Click the links to read the original album reviews and find out more about these artists:

Continue reading “Black Lives Matter – Listen to Diverse Voices”

Music Blogging and the Paradox of Choice

My mother once told me a story about visiting a library when she was a young girl. She walked in and immediately felt overwhelmed. Where did she even begin? Which of the thousands of books should she choose? Shelf after shelf, stack after stack the place was suffocating. She wandered around in a daze, left empty handed and didn’t return.

What she was suffering from is what philosopher Barry Schwartz calls the ‘paradox of choice’. Humans crave choices and the right to freedom but too much choice and the magnitude of the decision becomes paralysing and detrimental to our social and emotional wellbeing. The result is that we often fail to choose at all or go for the safe option and deeply regret our choices, adding more stress to the next time we have to decide.

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Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)

Released in 1979 Great Balls of Fire is right in the middle of Dolly’s mainstream pop phase. She aims for the charts but ironically it is one of the few albums from this era without any real classic career-defining songs. It’s a continuation of her previous run of big budget albums but with ever diminishing returns you feel she’s stretching this seventies pop style to its limits. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)

After the platinum crossover smash success of ‘Here You Come Again’, Dolly decided to stick closely to that pop formula for her follow up album ‘Heartbreaker’, released July 1978. She was now being managed by Sandy Gallin, introduced to her by Mac Davis, and he again teamed her up with pop producers Charles Koppleman and Gary Klein. Dolly also received a production credit, showing how she was taking back control of her own career in the wake of her split with Porter. Another fact worth noting is that 1978 was the first year since 1967 where Dolly only released one album. The insane songwriting productivity and release schedule of the Porter Wagoner years was well and truly over. In the end Dolly didn’t need more than one album since Heartbreaker dominated the country charts, staying at number one for nine consecutive weeks. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)”

Albums of the Year 2018

In 2018 I have reviewed nearly seventy albums and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me for different reasons, so picking a favourites list feels strange and almost cruel to those I have left out. And yet such a list is also a satisfying way to reflect on the year in music, as a writer and a fan.

In the end I have chosen thirty favourite albums of the year for this list. I have based my choices on a combination of gut instinct and how often I listened to an album. Be aware that my mood changes so much that anything beyond the top four albums might have changed order if I wrote this tomorrow.

This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Please let me know your favourites in the comments.

Continue reading “Albums of the Year 2018”

Album Review: Neko Case – Hell-On

On the startling front cover of her new album, Neko Case’s head is covered in cigarettes and she starting to catch fire. It is somewhat alarming on first inspection, especially considering her house actually burnt down recently, but maybe using the violent imagery is her way of accepting such an unlucky fate. Hellion is a word for a rowdy or mischievous person and you feel that spirit and don’t give a fuck energy radiating out of her very core. Hell-On was mostly recorded before the fire so don’t except songs to directly reference that incident but Case has always made art out of life’s disasters and these songs continue in that vein. Produced by Neko herself, with Bjorn Yttling, this album offers no simple narrative and makes no concessions to genre or trends. Because of this sense of originality, Hell-On feels like a vital addition to her already impressive discography.  Continue reading “Album Review: Neko Case – Hell-On”

Books About Music Written By Women

‘Book Week Scotland’ might not mean a lot to many people beyond bonnie Caledonia but this campaign to promote reading gives me a nice excuse to write about the myriad connections between my two favourite things: books and music. My first post was about songs inspired by female writers and today I’m going to recommend some of my favourite books about music written by women.  Continue reading “Books About Music Written By Women”

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