Ambient 1: Music For Airports by Brian Eno

There's a man named Keyth who lives and works in my neighborhood.  He isn't a friend, relative or even an acquaintance.  I know Keyth because he set up a security system in my parent's house.  You see, Keyth is a locksmith and I find that mildly funny because his name is practically made for his occupation.  It's like, if my name was Joe and I made coffee for a living.  

What does this have to do with anything? 

Brian Eno's 1978 album Ambient 1: Music For Airports is the musical equivalent of my Keyth story.  There has probably never been an album whose title indicates exactly what the music is meant for.  But Music For Airports is literally that.  There's nothing ambiguous about it, because it is played 24/7 at the Marine Air Terminal at Laguardia airport in New York.  I think that might mean that Music For Airports is the most played album in all of New York City—or certainly all of Queens! 

Rumor has it Brian Eno came up with this concept while—get this!—sitting at the terminal of an airport.  He wanted to create an album that could alleviate the anxiety commonly associated with flying.  It certainly helps.  The music, which is made up of mostly pianos and synthesizers is so deceptively simple that you'd think there'd be millions upon millions of albums like this.  There could be, but I don't know of any.  Even when you're not in the airport, the album makes you see calming images of planes and clouds, bringing you into a heavenly sort of apathy.  It's fantastic music to sleep to and I put it on often.

P.S. You can often hear pieces from Music For Airports on NPR's This American Life.

Ambient 1: Music For Airports by Brian Eno:



It's Christmas Time by Chris Trapper

Christmas albums are fairly common because they're often A+ investments.  "Jingle Bells," "Joy To The World" and "Deck The Halls" are among several songs, which have slipped into the public domain and can be recorded without loads of red tape getting in the way.  If the artist's arrangement of a christmas standard becomes a hit in December 2012, it will likely receive a fair amount of airplay in December 2013, 2014, etc.  It shouldn't surprise anyone that In the last two years, some of the biggest selling albums have been holiday albums (see albums by Justin Bieber and Michael Buble).  

What makes Chris Trapper's It's Christmas Time so special is that it's not a lazy-sounding collection of christmas standards.  Rather, it's 10 original—and amazingly charming—Christmas songs.  Trapper is the perfect artist to take on such a task.  He possesses a smooth, professional singing voice, a gift for melody and an even greater gift for writing hilariously endearing lyrics.  You may be able to wipe the egg nog mustache off your upper lip, but you won't be able to wipe the smile off your face when you listen to It's Christmas Time.  It's as much of a treat as a Christmas cookie.  

It's Christmas Time is an impressively varied album.  The title track is a ukulele-infused, romantic ballad that pretty much says "kiss me under the mistletoe" without actually saying it.  It captures the familial Christmas spirt perfectly.  In contrast, "Black and Blue Christmas" is almost like a sing-song version of the movie Jingle All The Way.  There are busy banjos, sleigh bells and a brass section that swings around like a shopping cart zooming through the aisles.  This, combined, with frustrated lyrics like "Old lady, get out of my way" and "it won't be Christmas this year if we don't turn black and blue," makes it the funniest Christmas song since "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."  No joke, it's laugh out loud funny.  Trapper occasionally loses focus on tracks like "California Holiday," a song, which he should have saved for an every-day pop rock record.  However, most of the time, he's right-on.  Trapper ends the album with the understated, impressionistic "Mystified."  It's a simple, atmospheric piano piece, which could have appeared on Brian Eno's  Music For Airports .  In a way, it says "joking aside, have a Merry Christmas."  This is a lovely record and Trapper deserves a stocking full of thumbs up for this effort.  

It's Christmas Time by Chris Trapper