MusicWatch Weekly: Year end album guide

Get your healthy 78 minutes of listening with albums of modern classical, vintage pop, nouveau prog, Australian psych, and Portland Gothic

We recently came across a study showing that 78 minutes of music a day can have a positive impact on mental health. Now, this particular study wants to break it down into percentages and so on: yet another instance of the commercialized slicing and dicing that gave us the one-minute bible and endless “classical adagios” compilations. I say cancel all that noise and damn it to hell. Listen to what pleases you. Don’t make a goddamn recipe of it, reducing Glorious Music to a set of instructions. If you’re going to do that, you might as well buy one of Philip K. Dick’s Penfield Mood Organs and relax into navel-gazing oblivion.

Anyways, the main takeaway here is that curiously specific 78-minute block of time, which just happens to be pretty close to the exact length of a CD (remember CDs?)–and that’s probably no coincidence. Various other studies (start here) have shown that our brains prefer twenty-minute chunks of mental processing, and if you string four of those chunks together you get your basic symphony. Vinyl LPs (remember LPs?) followed the same flow format, their 20-minute sides strung together into 40-minute single albums and 80-minute double albums. Scale that back down and you get mini-albums and EPs. These usually these clock in at a brain-friendly 20-30 minutes, shorter than a full-length album but also distinctly more substantial and coherent than a mere collection of songs.



Devon Wade Granmo, Noah Dunham, Tara Coen and Noelle Eaton bravely face the great unknown in their most trend- and weather-proof clothes.

Intimate black-box theater tends to traffic in “micro,” each flicker of gesture and nuance of phrase expressing something that is so true for one character in one moment in one place and time, that it draws the watcher into empathy for a distinct other. Meanwhile, the “macro” realm is more readily addressed by spectacular Broadway shows or even films, where sweeping scenic panoramas, massive catastrophes, and epic battles can fit in the frame. How else to encompass the world, the universe, or even the malleable constraints of space and time?

“Tomorrow!”, the brainchild of Working Theater Collective founder and RACC Grant recipient Ashley Hollingshead, attempts the near-impossible: fitting a macro theme into the constraints of a micro-show. Tackling “the future” in the same way her last title, “Something Epic/Everyday” addressed “the present,” she condenses the heady exploration of humanity’s trajectory into a four-person, 70-minute play wherein a quartet of young Everymen in timeless business-casual clothes* perform a series of parlor charades. It’s a tempest in a black-box, and in case you can’t picture it, here’s the trailer:

Tomorrow! from Noah Dunham on Vimeo.

Cute, vulnerable, ambitious and brave, Action/Adventure Theatre’s thesps employ a variety of techniques over a medley of found and original sound (Zagar & Evans “In the Year 2525”, songs by Kyle Acheson, a global-warming-themed redux of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”, and much more). Like a Greek Chorus orating a film-lit textbook, they recite retro-futuristic clichés: “A Vision of the Future From [A Given Year]!” they periodically announce. 1963: robot maids. 1979: peak oil, Mad Max. 1989: hoverboards. And—as far forward as the play’s “retro” goes—1991: artificial intelligence and nuclear apocalypse.