The Sunday Magazine: Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga

I dislike the word graphic novel. There is an inherent dishonesty in its use as I believe it is a semantical way to get people to give respect for an art form. I’ve read comic books from the time I could read. They have been, and continue to be, some of my favorite reading material. A lot of time when I see the phrase graphic novel used it usually is a way to allow someone who has disdain for comic books to be able to give respect to the form. I’m on this soapbox because one of the best comic books being published is also being described as a graphic novel. What that means is it is one of the rare comic books with enough imagination for non-comic book readers to be seen with. The series is Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga.


Art by Fiona Staples

Mr. Vaughan is one of those creative minds that come around rarely in any artistic endeavor. He started his career at Marvel in 1996. In just six years he had already decided he wanted to create and own his own material. He would spend 2002 to 2008 publishing the sixty issues which make up Y: The Last Man. When he ended the run he took a break from comic writing and because of the success of Y: The Last Man he was hired to be executive story editor on the television show Lost for seasons three through five. After his long break from comic books he would return in 2012 with Saga.

Me. Vaughan knows how to plot and to write dialogue that does not sound ridiculous being said in ridiculous situations. Saga is the story of Alanna and Marko who are each from different civilizations which are battling for domination. They also have a child named Hazel who often is the narrator throughout the series. Her narration is one of the more interesting narrative choices made by Mr. Vaughan. In the comic book itself she has only just begun to walk so the narration comes from a future Hazel who knows how things will play out. The couple and Hazel are on the run from both factions in the war. Mr. Vaughan has created a fabulous rogues’ gallery of bounty hunters who are after our heroes.


Brian K. Vaughan

The plot here is the actual successful pregnancy of Alanna giving birth to a child with Marko will have a profound societal effect and so they must be hunted down and eliminated before they can tell their truth.

What is very interesting about the storytelling in Saga is Mr. Vaughan has chosen to release this in distinct arcs of six monthly issues and then there is a little break of three months before the next set of six ramps up. Currently the fifth season of Saga, issues 25 through 30, has just finished. This makes it feel like a comic book version of a pay cable series like Game of Thrones. Each of the five seasons works almost to the same rhythm as those kind of shows with the big events taking place in the fifth issue followed by the fallout in issue six. It is a very different way of telling a story in comic book form. It also allows for easy binge reading in bites of six issues at a time.

Saga has garnered accolades from all over the literary spectrum and deservedly so. It has won the Eisner Award for Best Ongoing Series every year it has been published winning the award from 2013 through 2015. It is a massively impressive achievement.

There now should be no surprise why the graphic novel readers have tuned in. I wish they would just get down off their high horse and join me on the sofa with my comic books.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Mr. Holmes


In hindsight it is very easy for me to pin down the moments which started me on my affection for many of the things I enjoy. My love of mysteries began with a Christmas present of a complete volume of all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I never became so much of a fan as to become a Baker Street Irregular. My admiration of Sherlock’s logical way of breaking down a mystery obviously would appeal to the budding scientist. Unfortunately Sir Conan Doyle only gifted us with a finite amount of stories. What is amazing about that is so many other creative people have put forward their interpretation of Sherlock that it has the effect of making those stories feel brand-new.

When it comes to the visual interpretations of Sherlock you could say we are living in a golden age. Benedict Cumberbatch is assaying a controlled misanthrope on BBC’s “Sherlock”. Jonny Lee Miller is interpreting the great detective as a man on the ragged edge as his demons nip at this heels in CBS’ “Elementary”. The writers and actors on these shows are clearly having a great time taking the established mythos and finding interesting places to change it up.


Both of these series are about a Sherlock transposed to the modern day. The new movie Mr. Holmes starring Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock takes place in the originally portrayed time period on the page. This story is about Sherlock at the age of 93. Age is starting to fray the magnificent instrument that is his mind. He has returned to an English countryside cottage after a trip to Hiroshima to acquire a tree called prickly ash which is supposedly able to stave off senility. The young son of the housekeeper, Roger, asks Sherlock questions about an unfinished story Sherlock is writing. Roger is told it is the true story of his final case not that over sensationalized nonsense Dr. Watson wrote. The movie proceeds to follow Sherlock as he tries to remember the facts and circumstances of that final case while his mind is failing him.

Mr. Holmes is not an exquisite mystery. Instead it is a study of a man considered a genius facing the loss of the facility to still be considered that. Mr. McKellen is an extraordinary actor who portrays Sherlock over a 35-year span. As a younger man there is feline grace to his pursuit of the truth. As an old man the same doggedness of pursuit remains but it is more graceless. Mr. McKellen communicates so much in this movie with facial expressions without a word being spoken. It is a bravura performance by an actor with a resume full of them.

If you are looking for a break from the superheroes, dinosaurs, and cartoons give Mr. Holmes the chance to show you acting that is more special than any effect in those bigger movies.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: A.A. Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc

My first steps to becoming the wine snob I am today took place in the late 1970’s. In what is a common theme to the genesis of my many obsessions; I did it to impress women. Since I was a college man at this time myself and a couple of other classmates decided we should educate ourselves on wine. There was no organized wine courses back then. Instead we learned one glass at a time from the bartender at the new wine bar in the very upscale mall which had just opened near campus. It was called “The Vines” and it served wine by the glass. This was an oddity at that time. Paul who was manager/bartender/sommelier and anything else which needed doing took pity on the three uninformed waifs who landed on his bar stools. Over the next two years on a near-weekly basis class was in session as we would sit down and drink wine for the next couple of hours. There were so many things I learned but the one lesson which stays with me very strongly nearly forty years later was this one. Great wine does not only come from France and Italy. Back then California wines were still looked down upon. Paul would have none of that. He told us to follow your palate don’t let the country on the label sway your opinion. Let the what is in the bottle do the talking. This has been valuable advice which has served me well in fragrance as well as wine.


One of the things Paul delighted in doing was giving us two glasses of the same grape varietal. One would be French or Italian. The other would not. He would ask us to tell him which one we liked better. I was always surprised to find that wines from Spain, Australia, California, and South Africa were as good, or better. They all cost significantly less. With the exception of California which has now joined France and Italy as the third premier wine producing region the other countries still produce fantastic wines you can buy for less than $20.

adi badenhorst

Adi Badenhorst (Photo: Natural Light Photography)

It has taken nearly twenty years for the post-apartheid South Africa to start significantly exporting wine again. It makes South African wines relative newcomers to American wine shops but these are wineries with more history than many of the California ones. Many of the current crop of South African winemakers remind me of the brash young mavericks who would eventually put California wines on the map. The one who most reminds me of this is Adi Badenhorst.

Adi grew up on a farm in South Africa called Groot Constantia where his grandfather was farm manager. Adi would steal grapes from the vineyard as a child. When he wanted to start his own winery he knew where he wanted it to be. Since 2006 he has been producing wine from the Swartland of South Africa.

The most planted grape varietal in South Africa is Chenin Blanc, also called Steen. Chenin Blanc is the grape behind the great French Vouvray wines. As part of Adi’s second label called Secateurs he is producing one of the great chenin blancs in the entire world. The AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc has had one of the greatest runs of quality from the 2012 through the 2014 vintage. All of these bottles can be found for less than $20, usually around $14-16, a bottle. Considering Vouvray is often four or five times that price you see the value here.

These Chenin Blancs are the perfect accompaniment to the chilled seafood which often makes up the summer menus on the beach. Shrimp, oysters, cracked crab, poached salmon, or a tuna steak; it goes with all of them. The reason is the acidity that Chenin Blanc carries naturally. What makes the Secateurs so brilliant is Adi ages his wine in huge concrete vats called kuipe. This adds even more mineral oomph to these wines than comes from aging in wood or steel.

I just had the 2014 vintage and it is the perfect break from Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. The crisp pear flavors and melon sweetness round off to a slightly sweeter buttery finish all with that mineral foundation adding strength and depth.

As I was sipping this a couple weeks ago my mind wandered back to Paul and his kindness in taking us under his wing. I think he would have loved sharing A.A. Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc with us.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

As I have been following the coverage from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and the wall-to-wall coverage it is receiving I have been thinking of an earlier time. I’ve been thinking about a time when comic books weren’t graphic novels and you were likely to take the dustcover off your fantasy book while reading it in public. I have recently gone back to look at some of the fantasy series from the 1980’s that blazed the trail which stories like “Game of Thrones” and Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series built upon. One of the first rule breaker series was written by author Tad Williams in three volumes. The overall story was called Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. The three books are titled The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower.

memory sorrow thorn

Many of the familiar tropes of epic fantasy are here. Our hero is Simon; seen as a kitchen boy in the beginning of The Dragonbone Chair. Events catch the young man up and he sees too much and must flee his mundane life. He picks up a wise caretaker by the name of Binnabik who teaches him survival skills. Eventually it is revealed that Simon must retrieve three legendary swords named Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Each book details the recovery of one sword.


Tad Williams

What set Mr. Williams storytelling apart was he asked an interesting question as an epic fantasy writer, ‘Why do we trust the mystical agent that sends our hero on their quest?” Certainly Bilbo nor Frodo ever questioned the need to destroy the One Ring in Lord of the Rings; or anything Gandalf told them. Most of the epic fantasy that was released after that certainly followed that path. Mr. Williams decided to take that concept and twist it one hundred and eighty degrees. For the first time as I was reading a series I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted our plucky hero to succeed.

Nowadays we take it for granted that there are unreliable narrators shot through any current day series. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn was the first series to take this concept out for a spin. When the final book came out in 1993 this wasn’t well-received. A lot of my fellow geeks did not like this plot twist. They felt Mr. Williams had “cheated”. I was one of the few defenders of this because I saw the potential it had for the future of the genre. If you are a fan of the current state of the art epic fantasy stories you should go back and read Mr. Williams’ books. In them you will see some of the components, on display for the first time, of where the genre is today.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Le Tour de France

Every July since 1986 I look forward to the yearly running of the bicycle race known as Le Tour de France. Every year some of the greatest athletes in the world race for a little over three weeks riding throughout France. In even numbered years the riders travel the country in a clockwise fashion and in odd numbered years they go counterclockwise. The race is composed of twenty-one daily challenges called stages. The rider who arrives in Paris in the fastest time is the winner. Throughout the race the riders will ride by themselves in an individual race against the clock called a time trial. They ride up the side of impossible mountains in the Pyrenees and Alps with names like the Col de Tourmalet or L’Alpe D’Huez. They spend days riding over one hundred miles. No matter what today’s challenge is tomorrow presents a new one.


What sounds like it is an individual sport is actually an incredibly orchestrated team sport. Every rider who is in contention to win Le Tour is supported by eight other riders. Throughout the race these teammates bear the burden of chasing down riders from other teams if it seems like they are getting too far ahead. They pace their leader up the most severe climbs. At the end of a stage where there is a mad dash for the finish the best teams will co-ordinate to spring their leader free to sprint to the finish line. I have attended a few professional cycling events and I remember seeing this happen over the last half a kilometer as three teams had formed at the head of the pack, also called the peloton, and like the gates opening at a horse race three riders sprung from the crowd to battle for the finish line.


Greg LeMond receiving the Le Tour de France Winner's Trophy

Like most Americans my interest in Le Tour coincided with the rise of the first great American cyclist Greg LeMond. He had gone where no American rider had gone before joining the powerhouse, think Yankees, team Le Vie Claire where he was being groomed to succeed French legendary rider Bernard Hinault, nicknamed The Cannibal, for his ferocious competitiveness. In 1984 LeMond was supposed to support Hinault’s attempt to win a fifth Tour de France. It was clear throughout that race LeMond was the better rider but he buried his ambition with the tacit agreement next year Hinault would return the favor. The 1985 race was a soap opera of Lemond and Hinault vying for leadership of the strongest cycling team in the world. It wouldn’t be until two-thirds of the way through the race that LeMond would finally put Hinault behind him in terms of team leadership and the standings. That day he became the first American to wear the yellow jersey signifying the leader of the race. He would wear yellow all the way to the final finish line.

Back in 1984 it was difficult to follow the happenings in France. In 2015 there are so many ways for me to keep up it is facile to find out what is going on. There is now live coverage on American television. The official Le Tour website gives real-time updates throughout the race day. For the next month perfume gets shunted to being my second favorite French thing as Le Tour moves to the top for July.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Late Late Show with James Corden

If you haven’t figured it out previously it is obvious that I stay up way too late with the television on. The subject of late-night television might be the thing I’ve written most about for this particular column. As one who has enjoyed the form and the energy different hosts bring to their specific efforts we are currently in the midst of a seismic shift in the late-night landscape. By September 2015 only one of the major late-night shows, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, will have the same host they had on September 2010. I have really been enjoying the way the shifting of the shows has changed the energy.

As I’ve written before the kind of hosts like David Letterman and Craig Ferguson who actively made fun of the genre have been my favorites. With both gone I was wondering if there would be one who replaced that style. I think the answer is the man who replaced Mr. Ferguson with The Late Late Show with James Corden.


Mariah Carey and James Corden

James Corden took over the slot in late March of 2015 that Mr. Ferguson had made popular. Mr. Corden has a very different personality as he radiates puckish charm. That charm carries him far as his taped bits have started to become next-day watches on YouTube. The most successful of these bits is one called Carpool Karaoke. It is where he gets a well-known musical star to carpool with him to work while they do karaoke to the passenger’s hits. In between singing Mr. Corden interviews them. The stars open up in unusual ways and the whole idea has come off incredibly well.

I sort of knew I was going to like the show when at the beginning of his second week he ventured outside of the studio onto a surrounding residential street and found someone to allow them to film the show in their living room. Guests Jeff Goldblum and musician Beck sat on a real couch and performed. The episode ended with a visit by zookeeper Rick Schwartz as he brought the typical zoo animals into the house for a visit.

talking hawaii fiveo

Since then he became a human piñata for Cinco de Mayo. He has visited a juice bar and a kosher market to give a regular employee a break while he takes over. But my very favorite bit is his send-up of the shows that talk about other television shows like Talking Dead. Ever since David Letterman went off the air in May the network has filled that slot with repeats of the crime procedurals that network shows. The Mentalist was that show for the first week of June and the cold open for the show that week was a bit called Talking Mentalist. They would send up all fo the conventions of these shows talking about shows you’ve just seen. They would have one of the bit part actors who only had one scene as part of the panel. The very best of all of this came on the night they had the man who hosts Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick, as a guest and they included him in that night’s Talking Hawaii Five-O.

I have always looked to the late-night shows to provide a pleasant funny companion for the wee hours of the morning. I am very happy to invite Mr. Corden to share that time with me on a regular basis.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Firefly

I don’t think you can be a card-carrying geek if you don’t have something you are very passionate about that the rest of the world is not quite as passionate about. Coupled with this is an often Quixotic need to tilt at the vox populi windmills trying to find people to join you. For many geeks my age our first quest to resurrect Star Trek saw success beyond our imagination. Once Star Trek took off we mostly found a world where things geekly were more accepted. Even so there were still pockets of resistance. I decided that there was a little show called Firefly which I wanted to champion.


Firefly is a story of how a broadcast network sometimes just doesn’t understand what they bought. Fresh off of producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Fox network picked up Joss Whedon’s next series. The series was pitched as a western in space. Following a band of space cowboys who worked on the fringe of the known universe and the legal system. Mr. Whedon created a rich universe and nine well-drawn characters. With Mr. Whedon’s television series there is a build up throughout the run of episodes which leads to a crescendo. It is slow building at first. That slow build was not appreciated by the overseers from Fox. They insisted on showing episodes out of order. Getting viewers to watch a serialized science-fiction show is tough asking them to fill in missing pieces that they hadn’t had the opportunity to see was not a recipe for success. Firefly could not be rearranged as if it was a police procedural with a crime of the week. Mr. Whedon’s universe was more intricate than that. To show you how bad it was the pilot episode the one which introduced the relationships between our nine characters was shown as the eleventh (!) episode. It wasn’t until it was released to DVD that we were able to watch the episodes in the correct order.


Then a funny thing happened once people had the chance to watch this quirky little series of fourteen episodes in one sitting it started to thrive. In what was a forerunner of binge watching a series Firefly was just short enough to reward a few nights of watching. All of a sudden our little corner of the universe was getting more populated. It got so populated that Universal the studio that produced the series took a chance on a movie version just two years after it was canceled. That movie called Serenity was unable to make enough money to break even at the box office. It showed that even though there were more fans there weren’t enough to sustain a movie franchise.

Since Firefly many of the creative people involved have gone on to greater success. Nathan Fillion who played Captain Mal has found his niche playing detective fiction author on Castle. Joss Whedon of course is the director and writer of the two Marvel’s The Avengers movies. Morena Baccarin who played Inara was in three seasons of Homeland. Adam Baldwin would take much of his Jane personality to his five season stint on Chuck. That’s just a few credits. The cast regularly talks about how much fun and camaraderie was present on the set. They have also embraced the fans called Browncoats. There are none of them who shy away from the fan community and that makes all of us band together more tightly.

If you’ve run out of things to watch in your streaming queue give Firefly a try and if you want to come be a Browncoat, you know where to find me.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Matisse Cut-Outs

When an artist can seemingly create art from nothing it is seen as a supreme compliment. In perfume circles the creation of the iconic Rochas Femme under World War 2 conditions by Edmond Roudnitska is an olfactory example of this tenet. Ella Fitzgerald could take nonsense syllables and turn them into a special version of jazz known as scat singing. Great artists have an innate need to create. My favorite example of this comes from artist Henri Matisse and the final works of his career.

In 1941 M. Matisse was diagnosed with cancer and following successful surgery was left confined to a wheelchair. For most that would have been enough of a hurdle to their output that it would be understood of there was no more. M. Matisse instead turned back to the tools of childhood, scissors and paper. This work produced during this time are referred to as The Matisse Cut-Outs.

matisse-nice 1952

Henri Matisse in his studio in Nice, France in 1952 (Photo:

M. Matisse had learned about the techniques of paper patterns, pinning, and scissors from his childhood among weavers in his hometown of Bohain-en-Vermendois. To allow himself a palette of colors to work with he had his assistants color white paper with various gouaches. Then he would begin the process he himself referred to as “painting with scissors”. As he would cut things out he would lay them out with pins. Constantly moving them around on the wall of his studio until the desired effect was achieved. Then his assistant would affix them with glue to a surface.


Blue Nude II by Henri Matisse (1952)

My first experience with them was at the very end of the massive Matisse retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1993. The final gallery contained these soaring blue silhouettes of a nude woman. I was immediately drawn to them but I also could feel there was something different. They weren’t painted. When I read the legends surrounding these I found out these were massive collages. When I got close you can see the lines of the sheets of paper overlapping. You can see the tiny pinholes as the paper was re-positioned on the wall before being finally glued down. The one pictured above Blue Nude II from 1952 is the one which clued me in to this phase of M. Matisse’s career.

Until his death in 1954 M. Matisse would create primarily with scissors and paper. He would design stained glass windows for churches. In one case he also designed the priestly vestments. The first set of works were collected in a book called “Jazz”. The original sets of colors M. Matisse chose to work with were the ones which would look good when translated to the printed page.

M. Matisse is quoted as saying, “Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.” I think that is why I am so enchanted by them because that sense of personal liberation seems so patently on display. M. Matisse found that freedom while in a wheelchair with paper and a pair of scissors.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

As I am now firmly in my mid-50’s it is surprising what things make me feel my age. I find more and more often it is pop culture things which really remind me how much time I’ve been kicking around. The one that has me looking way back is the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Mainly because through the industrious detective work of baseball writer Larry Granillo and a Chicago Cubs baseball game shown during the movie he was able to pinpoint the infamous skip day as June 5, 1985. Thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, how can that be? I used to give my parents grief for watching movies thirty years old and now that I am their age I’m doing the same thing. Yeah I’m feeling my age. The movie which is making me feel my age; that seems ageless.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was the fourth movie directed by John Hughes. In his first four directorial efforts he was focused on the high school experience. Starting with Sixteen Candles, followed by The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science; he had delved into that world completely. In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off he was now placing his characters at the end of high school facing the uncertain future. The lead characters decide to take a “day off” because in Ferris’ words “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Over the next hour and a half Ferris, his best friend Cameron and his girlfriend Sloan have every student’s version of a skip day ever imagined.

ferris cast

(from l. to r.) Ferris (Matthew Broderick) Sloan (Mia Sara) Cameron (Alan Ruck)

The actor chosen to play Ferris is much of why this movie is still talked about so many years after its release. Matthew Broderick so inhabited the role I imagine many people would think Mr. Broderick was Ferris and want to participate in his charmed life. Mr. Hughes asked Ferris to break the fourth wall and throughout the movie he speaks directly to the audience. It is this one-sided conversation that provides the necessary insight into Ferris’ choices. This is about having fun but this is also the last time for him to get the attention of his two closest friends. This is Mr. Broderick’s breakout role on the movie screen. He was able to give some depth to what looks like something so shallow. That also has a lot to do with the words Mr. Hughes put into his mouth as he was also the writer for the film as well as the director.

Outside of the obvious 1980’s things like no cell phones Ferris Bueller’s Day Off still works today. I think it speaks to the timelessness of many of the themes explored in the film. I will admit that I have made sure to keep an eye on the life going on around me so that I don’t “miss it.” I believe it is that curiosity which has brought me to the place where I am in my life right now. Despite it being thirty years on there is still more than a little of Ferris in my heart and my head. While thirty years is a long time there has been a lot to see and I treasure all of it.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Early Summer 2015 Playlist


I’m not sure what it is about the summer but I want both my books and my music to be less challenging. I want books which are plot-driven page turners not necessarily full of intricate prose. Although those two aims are not mutually exclusive. For music I want things I can sing along to, pump my fist, play air guitar, and tickle the pretend keyboard. These are usually trifles but they find themselves on repeat on my playlist because they are full of infectious hooks and lyrics which are repetitive. There is also one thing I’ve noticed about my summer playlists is that there is an older song, or two, which re-surfaces in my consciousness and I want to hear it as much as I used to.

Top of the Colognoisseur pops is Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”. It has been out for over a year but like the best summer songs it has caught fire just at the right time. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca was inspired by the 80’s acts The Cars and Pat Benatar. There is a very tangible first wave vibe to it that obviously appeals to one like me who lived through it. I suspect this is going to be the dance floor anthem this summer.

Another lyrical hook that I’ve been mumbling under my breath for the last month is from “Hold Back the River” by James Bay.

I am a sucker for a spectacular video which accompanies a great pop song. The new “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift is all of that in spades. The video is a cross between Kill Bill and Fifth Element featuring an array of some of the most recognizable women in entertainment playing badass assassins. This has only been out for a couple of weeks and I’m all over this.

The two older songs on my current summer playlist are “Sometime Around Midnight” by The Airborne Toxic Event and “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. Sometime Around Midnight is one of the rawest break-up songs ever performed but despite the unhappy material I am compulsively playing the guitar riff on my fake Fender. I don’t think Semi-Charmed Life is ever far from being included on any summer playlist I’ve ever compiled because it might be my single favorite chorus to sing in the car at the top of my lungs.

The new single by Pitbull, “Time of Our Lives” is another one that gets me moving my feet to the beat.

“Hold My Hand” by Jess Glynne is exactly what I want from Pop-inclined R&B. With a killer keyboard riff perfect for playing on the steering wheel of the car.

Giorgio Moroder has been behind so much of my favorite music and his recent renaissance shows he hasn’t stopped being relevant. His new album Déjà Vu sees him working with a roster of today’s stars. The title single featuring Sia was just released. It is full of synthesizers which dig into my head matched with Sia’s distinctive voice.

Shawn Mendes is the latest You Tube music star. He has crafted a four part story of a break-up. The third part is called “Stitches” and it is the one which has found the repeat button on my playlist.

Imagine Dragons have been a playlist fixture from their inception and the newest release “Shots” is more of the same fantastic style of music they have been producing.

Mark Behnke