Monica Schroeder

I’ve been listening to Monica Schroeder’s Orbit album more or less non-stop since I got it a couple of days ago, primarily because I think she’s got just about the most fabulous voice I’ve heard in a year or two — rich, warm, velvety; like hot chocolate in musical form. Also, she’s a fine songwriter, in the Natalie Merchant – Sarah McLachlan vein of things. Don’t take my word for it, of course: This CD Baby page has sound sample (I suggest “Poison”), and you can order the album there, too. That’s a hint. Basically, it’s a good enough package that I wonder why Monica Schroeder isn’t already with a major label. Other women are putting out music in the same genre that simply isn’t as good.

Specifically, I wonder how much of Schroeder’s indie status is due to the fact that, as you can see by the picture, she’s not Britney Spears, or even Sarah McLachlan. Given the fact that outside one or two female rappers, I can’t think of a single solo woman artist with a major record deal that could be described as more than a few ounces from a Maxim-defined definition of appropriate weight, I have to wonder if Schroeder sent in the demos only to have them chucked out unheard because some A&R person got a look at her picture and couldn’t figure out how to sell a voice in the music business.

I’m not immune to a pretty girl with a pretty voice (for proof of this, see my most recent IndieCrit review, in which I make a stone cold ass of myself), but I’m also someone who is at point in his life where what I expect out of my female musicians is that they play and sing interesting music, period, end of sentence. When you can write and sing like Monica Schroeder, my basic feeling about it is, someone tell Jewel to get the hell off the stage.

Mind you, I could be way off base here — Schroeder, who releases her own albums, might simply have decided to go the Ani DiFranco route of releasing her own albums in order to keep the money she makes and to determine the course of her own musical career. If that’s the case, then obviously more power to her. But if she’s an indie artist because no major music label wants to make an effort sell music before an image, well, that’s just a shame. And, quite clearly, more reason to support indie music, which if nothing else, has the virture of putting music first.

Now stop reading and go buy this album. Do it. Don’t make me come over there.


Fred in Hell

The “Reverend” Fred Phelps sent some of his minions to protest at a memorial service for Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) apparently because Mr. Rogers’ never interrupted his daily lessons of love, inclusion and acceptance to note parenthetically to a nation full of preschoolers that men who lay with men will be slowly masticated in the slavering, bacteria-ridden jaws of Satan for all of eternity. Phelps’ minions even hauled out signs that read “Fred is in Hell,” for which the only thing to note is that the tense is premature for the Fred for which I suspect this statement will ultimately apply.

The fact that Fred Phelps would claim Mr. Rogers is broiling in Hell is so extreme that I assumed it had to be hoax. But no; go to Phelps’ site (the glowingly friendly domain and there’s a link to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story mentioning Phelps’ minions’ presence (in the 25th paragraph). So it’s true enough.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so obsessed with the sexual acts of other people that you’re ready to condemn arguably the nicest single man in the history of the United States to the pit of Hell because he didn’t teach a bunch of four-year-olds to hate, except to note that there’s clinical evidence to suggest that many homophobes are actually aroused by homosexuality, and Phelps is the biggest homophobe of them all. Do the math here. Some member of the Queer Nation needs to (you should excuse the expression here) swallow hard and give ol’ Fred Phelps what he really wants. A grateful nation would honor such a person forever.

And it’s not like Fred would have to worry about his immortal soul. He was going to Hell anyway. I mean, seriously. You’re God: Which Fred are You going to clasp to Your bosom? Hint: Not the one that’s going to suspect You’re a fag for doing so.


You’ve Probably Missed It

Mercury is passing in front of the sun in a phenomenon known as a “transit”. And you say, big deal, it passes in front of the Sun all the time. That’s what Mercury does, from our perspective. Well, the thing is, right now you can actually see the tiny planet cast its shadow on the Sun, which is not something you can see all the time — only once every few years, on average. NASA has some photos up right now. Please look at these instead of going out and staring, slack-jawed, directly at the sun.

The bad news here is that if it’s past about 8am on the East Coast of the US, you’ve already missed it (and quite obviously if you’re on the West Coast, you won’t see it live at all). Be that as it may, you should at least be aware it happened. And, look, NASA put together a movie of it for you. Now, go on with the rest of your day.

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