A music review, in brief:

Why on earth would I care about your opinion on music?
I can hear you saying it already; and really, you shouldn't.  Music is an extremely subjective art form, and one person's brilliance is another person's noise.  I am writing this for me, and so that I can have some content to semi-regularly post when I am not writing about design or other things.  I also hope that this will provide an impetus for me to listen to some of the recordings that I have back-logged.

I like music.  I have not made it my life's work to study the intricacies of its structure, but I know my way around a song.  I'll rate the albums that I review both on their merit as music, and on their potential usefulness in theatre shows.
Paul and Storm -- Opening Band
  • Novelty/Comedy
  • Released in 2005
  • Some topics/language not appropriate for all audiences.
  • Album enjoyment: High
  • Show potential:  Low
So, this is a bit of a soft ball to get things rolling around here.  Paul and Storm were two members of the very popular comedy vocal group, Davinci's Notebook.  They created, among others, one of my all-time favorite comedy vocal pieces:  Title of the Song.  After Davinci's Notebook disbanded, Paul Sabourin and Greg DiCostanzo went on to form Paul and Storm together.

With that auspicious pedigree, it is not surprising that Paul and Storm's music carries the same smart wit that made Davinci's Notebook so popular.  Their debut album features fun and witty songs from a variety of musical styles, held together with a wink and a nod, and a tight harmonic structure that points back to their days as close-harmony vocalists.

The album is all over the place: a schoolhouse rock style song about swear words, an Irish-style ballad about the life and death of a urinal cake (with obligatory terrible pennywhistle solo), and a sweet tender rendition of the Miranda warning.  Also included are several rejected commercial jingles, and Randy Newman-style treatments of other movie theme songs.

This album is a novelty record, sure.  But it shines out in a genre that is full of mediocrity.  The musical chops of Paul and Storm are not to be belittled, simply because they choose to write funny songs.  It is a well-constructed album, and I found the commentary tracks an interesting idea.  

This album would not be very useful in a production environment, unless you are looking to populate a scene or interstitial segment with some very silly Doctor Demento-style songs.  I'll rate the show potential low, but the enjoyment level quite high.  This is an album to enjoy when you can spare the attention to focus on the lyrics, and want a good laugh.

I was all set to give this book a glowing review.  However, as I was pulling up the Amazon page for Jonah Lehrer's new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, I was surprised to find both that the book was no longer available to purchase direct from Amazon, and that it had a relatively low two-star rating.

After reading a few comments, I found the reason for the commenters' ire.  It appears that Mr. Lehrer, by his own eventual admission, fabricated some Bob Dylan quotes used early in the book.  This admission cost Mr. Lehrer his job at the New Yorker, and prompted his publisher to pull his book.

Despite all of the above, I intend to review this book favorably nonetheless.  Even discounting the Bob Dylan segment, the book is an interesting exploration on the nature of creativity.  As a designer, I experience the emotional ups and downs common to the creative enterprise.  I also find at times my production schedule at odds with my needs as an artist, and often question the seed of my own creativity.

The book seeks to explore the nature of creativity from both a philosophical and psychological / neurological perspective.  It offers a view of insight as a process that requires stimulation of both cranial hemispheres, and describes both a period of struggle, analysis, and a moment of synthesis as necessary to the birth of a new creative idea.

As one who struggles with my own creativity, I find the ideas and suggestions in this book helpful, and the content inspirational as a whole.  I plan to implement some of the suggestions outlined in the book, and will see if my creative output is better stimulated by it.  And as the book is no longer being published, I will be happy to lend it to anyone who might want to read it.