Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Have A Safe, Happy New Year!

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days, it's been a busy week with the holidays!

I will be back Monday and reviewing regular music again. Finally getting out of the holiday stuff. Should be fun!

Hopefully all you guys have a safe and Happy New Year. Don't get too crazy with the drinks - but have yourself a great weekend!

B Side

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Amy Grant - Home For Christmas



Let me start by saying all I know about Amy Grant is her success in the early 90's. Baby, baby - I'm something something something..... yeah, that was also sung out loud in my Amy Grant impersonation voice. It was quite amazing, if only you could have heard it. So this is almost like listening to her for the first time. Since I don't really know her style or anything like that. I've gathered from references in pop culture that she's religious. Maybe even has some sort of tv show or something? I have no idea. Just spouting off at this point. So I'm going to judge this one based on Jewel and Mariah Carey. Jewel, because I figure Grant is a vocalist. It would seem to me that both of them should be on a similar plain in terms of vocal quality. Carey - well I gather that she's trying to make an upbeat adaptation album for the holidays. Carey seemed to have that market cornered with my previous review (from last week) but I want to see how this stacks up. My second time through this morning, it isn't quite stacking up to either. First and foremost, I think Jewel has a much better feel to it. And it could be for no other reason than I just don't know most of the songs on this album. Or they're done in such a way I don't recognize them. One of the two. Plus, her vocal doesn't show my ear the love that Jewel's did. On the Mariah front, well her album seems to be on of the best ever. (You know, in terms of Christmas albums) So that's a hard act to follow. I guess this one isn't for me, but I'm sure other love it. So sound off!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
2. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
3. Joy To The World
4. Breath Of Heaven
5. O Come All Ye Faithful
6. Grown Up Christmas List
7. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
8. Winter Wonderland
9. I'll Be Home For Christmas
10. The Night Before Christmas
11. Emmanuel, God With Us
12. Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
2. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree
3. Joy To The World

FINAL RATING:
2 out of 5 stars

Charlie Brown Christmas - Soundtrack



Week two of Holiday anthems rolls forward today with Charlie Brown Christmas. How hasn't seen the cartoon a million times? The only one I think I'd consider more iconic is Frosty The Snowman. Something about watching these cartoons when you were little makes you still want to watch them as an adult too. Maybe not for everyone - but I think I know a few people who still enjoy them. Regardless, this is another JenInTosa holiday specialty. She's got another two-fer coming up today! Hooray for Jen! Anyhow, this is a fun one. This is something you could put on as background music for your holiday party. Any kind of party. Put this on over dinner, having drinks with friends, opening up gifts. Very versatile. It has tracks that everyone can enjoy and would recognize. I think even if you never saw the cartoon, you'd recognize the Peanuts theme song. And for some reason, I think I've heard the 'Christmastime Is Here' version a billion times too. I think it was played in a couple episodes of Arrested Development. But I'm a sucker for the piano, which I think I've stated about a million times before. And most of this album is just jamming Christmas songs on the piano. Very classy. I feel like this could be playing at the Ritz Carlton lobby in any hotel across the world. Yeah, that classy. Very worth listening to today if you're still in that holiday spirit. Don't let in early, still a few days to New Years!

TRACK LISTING:
1. O Tennenbaum
2. What Child Is This
3. My Little Drum
4. Linus & Lucy
5. Christmas Time Is Here (Inst)
6. Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal)
7. Skating
8. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
9. Christmas Is Coming
10. Fur Elise
11. Christmas Song
12. Greensleeves

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Christmastime Is Here (Inst)
2. Linus & Lucy
3. Fur Elise

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, December 27, 2010

Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass - Christmas Album



I know I mentioned it last week, but I'm going to continue this holiday theme review for this week as well. You guys did a GREAT job in getting me some Suggestions, and I want to make sure I get to all of them by the end of this Thursday. This one comes from follower janis! and leave it to her to give me probably the oddest one in the group. So, I'd have heard of Herb Alpert before, but I'm not sure I'd actually heard anything by him and the band before. This is very new and different for me. It sounds a lot like a cheesy 70's game show theme or maybe movies. The old Newlywed Show theme comes to mind right away. Which obviously really just means they use a trumpet as the primary instrument. They relied on that heavily back in the day, and I'm not totally sure why. It's not like the guitar or piano weren't invented yet. Regardless, this is a Christmas album I think you'd have to be in the mood for. For the most part it's instrumental, so if you like to sing along with your favorite holiday tunes, this might not be for you. If you prefer to sing yourself over a funky holiday beat, this is REALLY for you! I think it's neat. I think I'd listen to a few tracks here and there over the holidays. Listening to it start to finish over and over again wouldn't by for me personally - but I get why some would like it. It's different. And listening to the same old Christmas songs over and over can drive a person mad. So flipmode here, switch it up a little to the Tijuana Brass!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Winter Wonderland
2. Jingle Bells
3. My Favorite Things
4. The Christmas Song
5. Las Mananitas
6. Sleigh Ride
7. The Bell That Couldn't Jingle
8. Let It Snow
9. Jingle Bell Rock
10. Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. My Favorite Things
2. Jingle Bell Rock
3. Winter Wonderland

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Frank Sinatra - Christmas Collection



Welcome Back B Siders!! Hopefully you guys are all rested and ready for your return to work, schoolwork, or whatever else you took a break from during the holidays. I'm on week 2 of vacation from work, so again I'll apologize for my postings being at odd times this week. I plan on getting them all in by 10am, but you know how that goes. Anyway, Sinatra. I had an anonymous request for this in the Suggestion Box. A person who just stumbled upon my blog via Blogspots 'Next Blog' option. It's a neat feature, and would recommend giving it a shot if you're bored one day. Anyway, I don't know anything about this person - other than he or she enjoys this record. And they also would like to become more acquainted with The B Side once the holidays are over. So here's to hoping we have another loyal reader! Sinatra and I have sort of a love/hate thing. I've listened to his music a lot over the years, and there are moments where I really enjoy it, and times when I can't stand to hear another note. I'm in a more forgiving mood today, so my review will probably be a bit nicer. This Christmas album is pretty unique as well. From all of them I did last week - most of them were just reincarnations of old tracks. Sinatra is semi backward here. He's got a bunch of original stuff, and then a few rehashes. It's certainly got that 'classic' feel to it. If you enjoy Christmas music as it was intending to reach your ear, no remix or new twist on it - you'll LOVE this. It's very traditional and very classic. I think this will be my go to album if I'm looking for those type of Christmas tunes.

TRACK LISTING:
1. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
2. Christmas Waltz
3. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
4. The Little Drummer Boy
5. We Wish You The Merriest
6. Have Your Self A Merry Christmas
7. Go Tell It On The Mountain
8. The Christmas Song
9. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
10. I Wouldn't Trade Christmas
11. Christmas Memories
12. The Twelve Days Of Christmas
13. Bells Of Christmas
14. An Old Fashioned Christmas
15. A Baby Just Like You
16. Whatever Happened to Christmas
17. White Christmas
18. Silent Night

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. White Christmas
2. The Twelve Days Of Christmas
3. Go Tell It On The Mountain

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's the best of times; It's the worst of times

Okay, so I seriously don't think there is anyone on this earth who knows more about Christmas music than me. I usually don't like to say such bold, broad and self-aggrandizing remarks, but in this case it's true. My mother is a musician, and I'm certain that I have been to more Christmas concerts than you.

Since I'm such an expert, I am pleased to share with you the ultimate list of the best and worst of Christmas music. Here goes, and as per usual, I dare you to tell me that I'm wrong.

The WORST

1. Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time
In the always heated McCartney vs. Lennon throw down debate, the point for best Christmas song goes to John Lennon. Actually, we might actually have to dock Sir Paul 20 points for his terrible holiday romp. The lyrics are fine; it's the wonky synthesizer that drives me crazy. To me, this song always sounded like someone is rhythmically throwing shoes at an electrical wire. What is that noise? I don't know, but it's unpleasant.

2. NewSong - The Christmas Shoes
Okay, the spirit of the season is about charity and giving. But, this song is less about charity than it is an awful study in middle class guilt inducement. An annoyed shopper's heart grows three sizes too big when he remembers what Christmas is all about from a little boy buying shoes for his dying mother. Worst part of it, if you've seen the made for TV movie based on the song, which you know I have, the shoes are the ugliest shoes ever! The song might have worked if it didn't include creepy kid singing and over earnest vocals, but instead it's grating and just makes me really uncomfortable.

3. Gayla Peevey - I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
OMG! This song is terrible. I'm sorry to ten year old girls who record terrible novelty Christmas songs, but what is wrong with this child's voice? Is she ill? Does she have some sort of speech impediment? The vocals are so nasal, I can't handle it. I think this song single-handedly is the reason why people hate Christmas radio.

4. All versions - My Favorite Things
This is not a Christmas song, and I don't understand when it became one. It's about the scared Von Trapp children waiting out a storm with Fraulein Maria. End of story.

5. All versions - Last Christmas
I like a lot of modern Christmas music, I promise (modern meaning made after 1960). But I'd rather hear George Michael's Father Figure over and over at Christmas time than this terrible breathy lover's lament. Why are there so many versions of this terrible, terrible song? Ish.


THE BEST!

1. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton - Once Upon a Christmas album
Epic. A great mix of classic Christmas songs and fun originals, this album is Christmas to me. Sorry, I couldn't pick just one representative song. Originally released as a soundtrack to an incredibly cheesy early '80s Christmas special, this album's sweetness and optimism is the perfect holiday kick off. The music is unpretentious and warm, and delivers every time.

2. Bing Crosby - White Christmas
For a lot of us, Bing Crosby is Mr. Christmas. This song debuted in Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire's kinda racist classic movie, Holiday Inn. It originally spoke to WWII soldiers away from home, but has lived on for every person who has been away from home at Christmas. I get chills every time I hear that music box opening, which creates the perfect introduction to the rich caramel tone of Bing's voice.

3. Harry Connick Jr. - This Christmas
There have been many versions of this super sexy and smooth Christmas song, but no artist gives it that extra oopmh quite like Harry. Harry Connick Jr. has three Christmas albums, and they're all fantastic. His albums never insult the intelligence of the listener, which is just enough to make us believe that he didn't make the album for the money. He makes them for us.

4. Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas is You
This year, Mariah re-released an extra festive version of our generation's Christmas anthem. Trust me, stick to the original. This pure and simple song captures pre-Honey/pre-breakdown Mariah in all of her glory. For the past 20 years, every artist who puts out a Christmas album writes their own throw away original song. It's so satisfying that Mariah acutally tried and nailed it. This brilliant mix of pop with festive jingling and jangling is just perfect and always puts me in the Christmas mood.

5. Judy Garland - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
No other version of this song delivers as much longing and sadness as the original. Christmas is supposed to be merry and bright, but it can't always be. If you are cheeseball like me, Christmas is a promise, and I don't mean this in a religious sense. It's a promise that people can come together and we can all be our best. This song, better than any other represents the hope that we all put on the Christmas season. Also, Judy's version uses the lyric about muddling through - and that's awesome.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In Defense of Christmas Music

When I was little, my sister and I used to act out the birth of little baby Jesus. There were two roles to play that we relentlessly fought over, Mary - the worst, and the Angel of the Lord - the best. Mary sat next to stuffed animals and a doll's crib wearing a blue pillow case over her head and basically did nothing (unfortunately, as the little sister, I usually played Mary). The Angel had all of the fun, and got to run halfway up the stairs in my parents' basement and complete a move that could only be described as a semi-gymnastical half-leap. The best part of this little scene that we created and recreated over and over again was the soundtrack. It was all set to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's Christmas classic, Once Upon a Christmas. The song features an amazing crescendo of hosannas that end with a timpani roll and cymbal crash. At this climactic moment in the song, the Angel ran up the stairs, and took all of the glory.

In my family, Christmas is about music. We carol around the piano, and not just to be ironic. Sorry Mary and baby Jesus, you play second banana to Christmas tunes. I love all Christmas music. Religious, instrumental, secular, sell-out, cheesy, classic, humorous. It all works for me. I'm one of those jerky people who is happy when the radio stations I don't normally listen to go Christmas mid-November. What I don't understand is the number of people who don't agree with me.

Now, it's no secret that I love music I have history with and music that transports me to another time. Christmas music is the ultimate vehicle for tours of nostalgia. Allan Sherman's 12 Gifts of Christmas reminds me of a time when I appreciated seriously silly humor. Mary's Little Boy Child reminds me of the one Christmas pageant where I wasn't dressed as cattle. The Oakridge Boys' It's Christmas Time Once Again reminds me of eating Cream of Wheat for breakfast on snowy Saturday mornings. Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You reminds me of good times spent dancing with my dorm mates. And John Lennon's Happy Christmas reminds me that I'm a mushy idealist, and that's okay.

There is a fair amount of awful Christmas music, don't get me wrong (check out tomorrow's post). But, when you think about what Christmas music can mean to people, it's understandable why it seems to be absolutely everywhere earlier and earlier every year. We all have silly and stupid stories from our childhood (and probably some just as stupid stories from more recent happy times) that we associate with the songs of the season. The holiday season is such a universal experience of hope, love and innocence. Who wouldn't be anxious to remember the time of year that for most of us, represents . . . good?

Tomorrow, I'll be dropping the best and worst of Christmas. Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Merry Christmas B Siders!



A big thank you to all the folks that dropped suggestions into the box for holiday music. I didn't get a chance to get through all of them, so next week - I'll be reviewing the rest. Since it's just after Christmas and still before New Years - it feels right to keep the train rolling. Stay tuned!

Heidi will be giving you guys her holiday input coming today yet. She's a Christmas music FIEND, so I really look forward to her post. (You should too!)

So I wish everyone the best Christmas they can imagine. I'll be back writing again on Monday - so let your eyes take a break from reading tomorrow too. Feel free to run through some old posts, and remember some music you may have forgotten about. I'll be driving around approximately 6 hours in the next couple of days, and music will be by my side the whole time. Hopefully it will be for you guys too!

Thanks again for reading and see you Monday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BNL - Barenaked For The Holidays



Another wonderful JenInTosa suggestion comes in the form of BNL. To show you how not with the times I am on holiday albums, I had no idea this existed. If there is one band I feel I'd enjoy this type of novelty from, it'd be these guys. They seem to have the right frame of mind for it. And don't ask what I mean by that - because I have no follow up. It's just something that I typed out and makes sense to me. Anyhow, I'm going through this for the second time now. Starting with the first track, it's not totally what I expected. Jingle Bells starts off very methodical, and slow. A very different adaptation from anything I've heard before. I guess I was kind of expecting a 'If I Had 1,000,000 Dollars' comical rendition of most of the classics. It really isn't that at all. It's still a BNL jam band style rendition - but not totally what I was thinking I'd vibe on. Which is 100% fine - because this is really good too. I was certainly not expecting a cameo by Michael Buble. Those two acts couldn't be much more different....other than the fact they're both Canadian. Maybe that was it. Again, I don't want to judge any of these albums by looking up facts - but it seems they created their own collection of holiday songs too. 'Snowman' was the first I really noticed and thought, "Huh, this has to be original!" And I like it. Seems they have a few tracks that are new on this album. Kinda neat by comparison. I believe if you're a holiday nut (and this one is truly holiday, they have a couple Hanukkah tracks) you'll enjoy it. Maybe not amazing, but it's fun. And that's what Christmas is about.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Jingle Bells
2. Green Christmas
3. I Saw Three Ships
4. Hanukkah Blessings
5. O Holy Night
6. Elf's Lament
7. Snowman
8. Do They Know It's Christmas?
9. Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah
10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings
11. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
12. Carol of the Bells
13. Footprints
14. Deck the Stills
15. Christmastime (Oh Yeah)
16. Sleigh Ride
17. Christmas Pics
18. I Have a Little Dreidel
19. Wonderful Christmastime
20. Auld Lang Syne

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (it reminds me of a rendition I'd hear at the ballpark)
2. Snowman
3. Deck The Stills (funny the first time I heard it)

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Jewel - Joy, A Holiday Collection



It's time for a little Jewel today. Again at request of JenInTosa - I'm looking at nothing but Christmas or Holiday type albums this week. Reflecting on the last couple of days, listening to these albums has not made me crave this music any further. Listening to a couple albums and reviewing them is really all I can take. One other thing I've come to realize, there are a lot of songs on albums I've heard for the holidays, and never put together that huge singles were holiday singles. This is a prime example of that. I must have heard 'Hands' a million times on the radio - never knew it was a holiday type song. It could be that it really wasn't - but got added to this album by being semi seasonal. No idea. Sure, I could look it up, but I'm feeling lazy this week. So ha! But with Jewel - I've been known to make fun of her snaggletooth in the past. Shallow and lame I know. But it's usually good for a laugh at a party. Try it sometime. Not only did I hear she got that fixed - but she's also very talented. No denying that. I'm not one for pop music often, but there are a few Jewel songs that I cranked up in the car. She's just got that kind of vocal. Very passionate typically, and very smooth. Enjoyable all around. This album has a similar feel to it - except I think this was more "fun" for her. If I had a guess, she really enjoys the Christmas music. And it shows in her performance. She's still awesome, but also having fun while doing it. That's not always the case on albums. This is worth checking out. Regardless of your Christmas fancy.

TRACK LISTING:
1. O Holy Night
2. Silent Night
3. Winter Wonderland
4. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
5. Ave Maria
6. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
7. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
8. Face Of Love
9. Medley
10. I Wonder As I Wander
11. Gloria
12. Hands

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Hands
2. Ave Maria
3. Silent Night

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas With The Chipmunks



The Chipmunks. Props to JenInTosa for the last Suggestion of 'Elf' and now props to Mithrandr for the Chipmunk suggestion. I'm not sure if he really likes this cd, or if he hates and wanted to make me listen to it. Can't say for sure. What's odd, is I actually know a few people who really do love this album. It's a bit of a novelty, with some classic tracks sung to the tune of the chipmunks. If high pitched, out of tune vocals are not your thing, you may want to avoid this one. Or if you are easily irritated by things like that. It does get a little old listening to it over and over. I think if you mixed a track in here or there, it's very tolerable. If you listen to this cd start to finish, they all start to sound the same. The big hitter however, is track one, 'The Chipmunk Song'. It certainly is easily identified - and it seems around here, you get to hear that song quite a bit on the radio. Maybe it's my generation? I'm not 100% sure when this came out - but it had to have been in the 80's at some point. I think that's when the chipmunks were at their all time high in popularity. If so, I think a lot of late 20 somethings identify with this from childhood. If that's the case, you totally get a free pass. I mean, everyone has something from their childhood they have an irrational love for. Mine is either Ninja Turtles cartoons or Punky Brewster. Oh, or maybe Ghostwriter. Yeah! Anyway, if you're in the festive and cartoonish mood, this is for you. Otherwise, maybe don't listen to this one all the way through!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Chipmunk Song, The (Christmas Don't Be Late)
2. Is My Two Front Teeth, (All I Want For Christmas)
3. Jingle Bells
4. Frosty the Snowman
5. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
7. Night Before Christmas, The
8. Silver Bells
9. White Christmas
10. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Chipmunk Song
2. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
3. Frosty The Snowman

FINAL RATING:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Elf: Music From The Motion Picture



Day two of Christmas album reviews. Day one I feel went well, so I was a bit more excited than I was yesterday. I also got all my Christmas shopping done yesterday (yes, I procrastinate) but it was a successful day. On to Elf. In case you haven't seen it, it's a pretty solid film. Will Ferrell plays 'Buddy' the Elf that comes down to New York from the North Pole. Why you ask? Because he's a large elf that doesn't blend in with the others. Turns out, his father is a real human, while his mom was an elf. So he wanted to come find his real dad. The long and short of it, the film explores the lack of holiday spirit in today's society. And there are a bunch of shenanigans and whatnot along the way. The whole film is set to the tone of a variety of Christmas carols. Pretty neat. There are goods and bads to this soundtrack. The reason I think it's good or great, is because the songs are as they intended. I focused yesterday on remakes and new tracks. This is nothing but classics. You can't go wrong with that. The bad part, Zooey Deschanel gave a GREAT rendition of 'Baby It's Cold Outside' during the film. I was hoping to hear her version on this album too. Alas, not there. Regardless, I think this is a very easy way to buy a fantastic selection of Christmas classics. You can even remind yourself what scene was what when each song comes on the cd player. Fun little way to enjoy it a bit more if you loved the movie. ENJOY!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Pennies From Heaven
2. Sleigh Ride
3. Let It Snow!
4. Sleigh Ride/Santa Claus Party
5. Baby, It's Cold Outside
6. Jingle Bells
7. The Nutcracker Suite
8. Christmas Island
9. Santa Baby
10. Winter Wonderland
11. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
12. Nothing From Nothing

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Winter Wonderland
2. Pennies From Heaven
3. Baby, It's Cold Outside

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mariah Carey - Merry Christmas



Maybe I'm wrong here - but it seems like this might be one of the most popular Christmas albums of all time. Show of hands, who has listened to this before? Who has bought this? I have no concrete evidence to backup my statement, I just feel like I've heard this a million times before. And I don't actively listen to holiday tunes. Mariah does have a nice voice, and I can understand why this is popular if indeed I'm right. This also came out in 1994 - which seems FOREVER ago - when she wasn't such a weirdo. She's having babies at like 50 with Nick Cannon who's like 25? It's a strange world we live in. Regardless of her personal prowess, it's the holidays, and I should be kind. This to me, is an Christmas standard. The songs aren't totally overdone, but very "to the times" when this came out. It's not overdone, not too gaudy in the musical sense, just right. Still maintains the Christmas spirit - but with a little twist. So for me, this is probably the oldest "modernized" Christmas album I'll do - so I'm going to set the bar with this. And she made a follow up, Merry Christmas II, that came out years later. Maybe I'll look into that one too. Who knows. Depends on what you guys send me, and how many I do before the day actually arrives. For Monday, this is a good start. And an early Merry Christmas to the B Siders!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas
2. Silent Night
3. All I Want for Christmas Is You
4. O Holy Night
5. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
6. Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)
7. Joy to the World
8. Jesus Born on This Day
9. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)
11. Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Christmas
2. All I Want For Christmas Is You
3. Joy To The World

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Glee: The Christmas Album



First and foremost, let me start with a couple quips. 1) This is going to be an odd week. I'm off of work and have some things to get done - so my posts might not be as early as you're all used to. I do apologize in advance for that. 2) Heidi is a Christmas music NUT. Hopefully she'll review a couple albums too, since she has more valuable input. 3) I don't really care for xmas music. Just not my bag. 4) I got ZERO suggestions from you guys! I know many of the readers like Christmas tuneage, so give me your favorites! I think that's it. So I start with the new Glee Christmas music album. Glee is literally everywhere right now. Pop music taking over the world at it's finest. For those who might not be aware or care, Glee is a TV show. They sings songs during the show and then quickly capitalize on the popularity about dropping the tracks in iTunes and then selling the cd's later. It's been a big business too. I think all of their releases have gone platinum. Crazy. Anyway, the holiday record here. It's interesting. Obviously a lot of classics remade to be a little more - uhh, current? Festive? Popping up holiday music? I'm not totally sure what they're aiming for here. If you're a holiday music nut, I have to think you'll enjoy this version. It's got most of your faves, with a more toe tapping arrangement than you're used to. If you're a sucker for the originals, you may want to sit this one out. But there are a couple nice remakes here. Worth your while.

TRACK LISTING:
1. We Need a Little Christmas
2. Deck the Rooftop
3. Merry Christmas Darling
4. Baby, It's Cold Outside
5. Most Wonderful Day of the Year, The
6. Last Christmas
7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
8. O Christmas Tree
9. Jingle Bells
10. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
11. Angels We Have Heard on High
12. O Holy Night

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Baby, It's Cold Outside
2. O Holy Night
3. You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rant #12 - "Oh The Weather Outside Is....Weather"



A virtual high-five to anyone who knows what movie my title is from...

Anyways, depending on where you're reading this from - it's the mean streets of winter. That means bitter cold, snow and a lot of depressing times for people. With the exception of the holidays, some people don't have a whole lot to be excited about during the dog days of winter. When the sun doesn't shine for a week straight, and it's nothing but different shades of gray outside, I can fall into the same funk.

Today for example, I woke up - exhausted. In the shower I thought about how today is going to take forever. I got up, put my jacket on and headed into the car. Then BAM! Satellite radio kicked in and it was the very beginning of the song 'The Distance' by Cake. Instantly, how tired I was seemed irrelevant. How cold and dark it was at 6:30am didn't effect me in the slightest. It could have been 75 and sunny out there for all I knew.

The point is, music transformed my mood from irritation and anger, into joy. Even if it was just for that brief 3 minute track. When it hits winter like it has this month - music is more important than ever! Find your favorite tunes and toss them on. For many people, all they play in December is Christmas music. Personally, I've never been a big fan - but I understand why people are. It gets them in the spirit. And if listening to your favorite boy band cover 'Jingle Bell Rock' is how you break the winter blues, break on! Next week, I will be reviewing NOTHING BUT XMAS MUSIC! That's right. The B Side is breaking out of the comfort zone and doing something new. So toss in those suggestions of what your favorites are, and I'll be listening.

The whole point is, I know a few people who are a bit down on their luck right now. Without jobs, no friends or family around, love life down the tubes - any of those reasons. Well put on your favorite album and let the pain go away. The easiest thing to do is wallow and stay under the warm covers all day - but let music be your inspiration. Listen to 'Pump Up The Jam' and do something with your day that will make you feel good. It's a beautiful world out there and no matter how bad you have it - living life is a great thing. Let music be your guide to conquering everything you want to do.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pearl Jam - Vs



Ahh Pearl Jam. My arch nemesis. Those who have been reading since the beginning - they know that I respect Pearl Jam, and what they've done both musically themselves and for the industry as a whole. But they also know that I'm simply not that big a fan of them. I can't really explain why - their music just doesn't click with me like other bands. And I know what you're thinking, "but B Side - you LOVE 90's alt rock!" And you'd be right, in general. I own this album. I bought it when I was younger. I listen to it from time to time. To me, it's a really solid time waster album. And by that I mean, it's pretty good all the way through. I wouldn't skip any tracks because they're so intolerable. But here is where I get my 'overrated' mentality. None of the tracks are SO AMAZING, that I want to listen to this over and over. I've seen them live, I've listened to every album they've put out (except the newest ones) and I just don't get it. Regardless, for those who are unbiased or haven't heard this. It's pretty solid. It's got that very grunge-ish sound, signature of the era. This was their second studio release (after the 13x platinum selling 'Ten') and was a pretty sick follow up. This was dropped in 1993 and is a very respectable 7x platinum. I'm not sure there are many bands in all of history that can say they sold 20 million albums in their first two drops - let alone in all their catalog. I'm clearly in the minority of PJ haters - but hey, sometimes it's good to be alone. There is NO question you need to listen to this if you haven't. The band itself is going to go down as one of the best ever when it's all said and done, and this album will probably be looked upon as their second best ever. Check it out. Let me know why I'm so dumb.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Go
2. Animal
3. Daughter
4. Glorified G
5. Dissident
6. W.M.A.
7. Blood
8. Rearviewmirror
9. Rats
10. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
11. Leash
12. Indifference

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
2. Dissident
3. Animal

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

James Otto - Sunset Man



Good old Thursday. One more day until the last day of the week. And for me, no "real" work until the new year! Saving vacation until year end can have its advantages. I think I've said about a million times now that I didn't have any more strong Country suggestions. So JenInTosa (who I haven't heard from in a while, hopefully she's still reading!) sent me a bunch of artists. Jimmy Otto here being one of them. I certainly have never heard of him before. I'm finding out that he's from Washington state - which again seems to be another state I don't hear from too often. This is without total certainty, the first artist I remember looking at from that lovely west coast state. He's also one of the first members of the country MuzikMafia. What is that you might ask? Good question! It's a group of country artists who believe in music without prejudice. Some of the country I've been tuned into has been a little on the racist side - especially older stuff. Good to hear that artists are trying to take that whole aspect out of the genre. Good for them. Anyways, as I was listening to this - a few songs in particular have a very Big & Rich sound to them. And after looking into it a little more - turns out this album was produced by (you guessed it) John Rich. This guy has also joined the army, moved to Tennessee - all that stuff. Kind of boring. This was his second studio album, but the highest in terms of popularity. It certainly isn't offensive to any of my senses. It's pretty easy going country. If you're a country nut, take a solid listen. I think you'll enjoy it. It has a little mood/country aspect in some spots, and it's kinda nice.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ain't Gonna Stop
2. Just Got Started Lovin' You
3. For You
4. These Are the Good Ole Days
5. Where Angels Hand Around
6. Sunset Man
7. You Don't Act Like My Woman
8. When a Woman's Not Watching
9. Drink & Dial
10. Damn Right
11. Man That I Am, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ain't Gonna Stop
2. Damn Right
3. For You

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cat Stevens - Tea For Tillerman



Ahh, Cat Stevens. Quick story about him. When I was a kid, I remember my parents playing this record fairly often. I loved 'Wild World'. It was one of few "old" songs that I loved as a really little kid. Then I got to college. My roommate picked up a greatest hits album by gool old Cat. He must have played that damn cd on loop for a month. Everytime I walked into the room it was on. I wanted to throw that disc out the window. He finally gave in on it, and it was the happiest day of my life. Anyways, Mr. Stevens was actually born Steven Demetre Georgiou and then changed his name to Yusuf Islam. Steven grew up in London, right above the Moulin Rouge restaurant that his parents ran. It was in 1969 that his life changed forever. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent many months in the hospital. Doctors thought he was going to die, and in fact gave him days to live at one point. He then spent a year in recovery, and that's when his perspective on life changed. He is quoted to say, "to go from the show business environment and find you are in hospital, getting injections day in and day out, and people around you are dying, it certainly changes your perspective. I got down to thinking about myself. It seemed almost as if I had my eyes shut". He converted to Islam in the height of his popularity in the 70s. Kind of crazy. If an artist did that now, especially in the US, I think there would be substantially more scrutiny surrounding it. This album has all the hoopla around it. 500 Greatest Albums of all Time, 1001 Albums to Listen To Before You Die, 5 star AM rating. All of it. I'll add to my list, I love it too. It's a really chill record, that's just fun to listen to. A classic at its finest here. HIGHLY encourage ya'll to listen to it today. Hopefully Cat is new to a few of you, and you can be tuned in to something great.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Where Do the Children Play?
2. Hard Headed Woman
3. Wild World
4. Sad Lisa
5. Miles from Nowhere
6. But I Might Die Tonight
7. Longer Boats
8. Into White
9. On the Road to Find Out
10. Father and Son
11. Tea for the Tillerman

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Wild World
2. Where Do The Children Play?
3. Miles From Nowhere

FINAL RATING:
4.5 out of 5 stars

P.O.D - Satellite



When I have my very broad definitions of genres while writing this blog, sometimes bands get a little caught in the middle. I think I'd consider POD as one of those bands. While I'm going to classify this as my metal/hard rock for the week, I'm not sure they totally fit into that category. If you listen to what they have, even just on this album, I go back and forth. Regardless, POD is an acronym for Payable On Death. These guys are labeled as a Christian Metal band from San Diego, California. They started making music in 1992 or so, but didn't really see a ton of success. They dropped a couple of lesser known albums on small labels. Then they hit the mainstream in 1999 with their first Atlantic Records drop. That contained the single 'Rock The Party' which was TRL's first ever number one video. That show was HUGE in the late 90's and early 2000's. I actually had no idea that it was over with, but I guess it is. I can certainly remember watching the show daily (with Carson Daly) and also recall that song being huge. Then 2 years later this album dropped. It certainly saw their success continue. Satellite had a TON of big singles off of it. This was actually released on September 11th of 2001. That infamous day in US history. I think part of the reason this album is 3x platinum, is the single 'Alive'. That song was kind of a "fight back" song against the terrorists responsible for 9/11. They won a grammy in 2002 - and that kind of cemented them in music lore. Anyway, this is worth checking out today. It is a little metal, a little pop and a little fun. Not a 5 star album, but solid.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Set It Off
2. Alive
3. Boom
4. Youth of the Nation
5. Celestial
6. Satellite
7. Ridiculous
8. Messenjah, The
9. Guitarras de Amor
10. Anything Right
11. Ghetto
12. Masterpiece Conspiracy
13. Without Jah, Nothin'
14. Thinking About Forever
15. Portrait

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Youth Of A Nation
2. Alive
3. Boom

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crystal Bowersox - Farmer's Daughter



New Music Tuesday jives back into the fold this week with Crystal Bowersox. Yeah, another American Idol contestant. Another one that also, didn't win. Seems like there is no real prize for winning the show anymore. You can take 17th place and still get that record deal. The only value in that show nowadays is watching the people at the beginning who suck. It's still funny to me that these people really think they're good, but have no clue. It is always sad when there are contestants that have you know, disabilities that still try out - but aren't good singers. I've become a big time softy over the years. Those things are actually sad to me now - versus 10 years ago I'd have probably laughed. Terrible, I know. Anywho, Bowersox. Great last name, TERRIBLE music. Let me justify my criticism. Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth' is one of the best classic songs of all time. Listen to track two. You all know how much I LOVE covers. I mean, adore them. But this is sheer murder! I mean, no value whatsoever. And then the rest of the album is this confusing, country/indie rock/pop piece of trash. "I want to be your mason baby. I want to build a life with you.." Are you serious? That's a real lyric? Someone wrote that down and though, "YES! We've got a hit!" Wow. I'm embarrassed. At least she did write all these herself, which gives it a half a point kicker to me. Except 'Hold On' which was written by Kara Dioguardi and Chad Kroger from Nickelback. Wait, Nickelback is making a cameo? You've just lost that half point kicker Bowersox. I would say enjoy - but I don't think that's actually possible with this one.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ridin With the Radio
2. For What It's Worth
3. Farmer's Daughter
4. Holy Toledo
5. Lonely
6. Hold On
7. On the Run
8. Kiss Ya
9. Speak Now
10. Mine All Mine
11. Mason
12. Arlene

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Hold On
2. Uhh, Farmer's Daughter?
3. Uhh-uhh, Mason, because it's so awful

FINAL RATING:
.75 out of 5 stars

Deadmau5 - 4x4=12



Techno Tuesday everybody! Give it up one more time! Deadmau5 is sick. I've reviewed all his albums to date, and each one of them makes me crave more and more dance tracks. He has a TON of other stuff out there; underground dance stuff, digital stuff, remixes - too much for me to keep on top of. The studio stuff is all really, really good, so I have to imagine the other music is just as good if not better. I don't even know what to say about his style on this one. Hard hitting, catchy beats. A little more lyric on this album than usual, but it fits in really well. The track, 'Raise Your Weapon' combines everything that can be good about different styles and makes it work out well. 'Some Chords' has been out for a while. I think he dropped that track on a digital release a while back. That's going to be the most recognized song on this album. Track number five saw him collaborate with Wolfgang Gartner - which is pretty unusual. I can't recall the last time I saw two high profile DJ's work together on something. Some Chords was also used on an episode of CSI, in which Mr. Deadmau5 played himself as well. This dropped last week, and they didn't have samples, so I didn't review it. Samples in, review positive, recommendation given. Check it out. I know a lot of you don't like dance, but he should be the exception to your rule.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Some Chords
2. Sofi Needs a Ladder
3. City in Florida, A
4. Bad Selection
5. Animal Rights
6. I Said
7. Cthulhu Sleeps
8. Right This Second
9. Raise Your Weapon
10. One Trick Pony
11. Everything Before

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Some Chords
2. Raise Your Weapon
3. Animal Rights

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, December 13, 2010

T.I. - No Mercy



I'm going to let you in on a couple of secrets. Feel very excited that I'm letting you further into my world today. 1) I love rap (okay, that's probably not really much of a secret) 2) I can't stand T.I. anymore. Seriously. This guy dropped 'King' back in 2006 and everything since, has been total trash. This dropped last Tuesday - and I was going to review it for New Music Tuesday, but it didn't have samples, and I'm tired of him. I mean, he keeps making songs about redemption and living life more to the fullest. And it's all lies. It's all record selling jibberish. Be real on your tracks. He's been caught for drugs, guns, and anything else that has a police code attached to it. It's one thing to understand what you're doing is dumb, and that you need to stop - but it's another to keep singing about how you've changed and WON'T do it again, and KEEP DOING IT! I simply don't respect that. And I'm also not on my high horse or something, and refuse to listen to artists who have shady backgrounds, that's not really on my radar. I just don't want to hear him rap about it anymore. This album is about the same. A few more of those type of songs, and then a bunch of crap. This album is just bad. Even if I wasn't already biased, I would listen to half these tracks and want to listen to Ke$ha to cleanse my pallette. Maybe not that bad, but you get the point. I'll keep giving his music chances - because I liked King so much, and to a certain degree, Paper Trail too. But until it shapes up, I'm maintaining my hater status.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Welcome to the World
2. How Life Changed
3. Get Back Up
4. I Can't Help It
5. That's All She Wrote
6. No Mercy
7. Big Picture
8. Strip
9. Salute
10. Amazing
11. Everything on Me
12. Poppin Bottles
13. Lay Me Down
14. Castle Walls

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Welcome To The World
2. That's All She Wrote
3. Castle Walls

FINAL RATING:
2 out of 5 stars

My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade



A snow filled Monday morning. If you're in the Madison area and reading this blog - three cheers to you for getting to your computer safely today. It was a mess yesterday and today. Yikes. I guess I'm also giving myself three cheers for getting in and writing for you guys too. Nothing like a good old pat on the back. Anyhow, looking into the crystal ball that is my Suggestion Box, follower Ashley mentioned that she's been listening to some My Chemical Romance as of late. Specifically this album. I reviewed their big time debut when I first started writing. I enjoy the band as a whole. I think their sound is pretty solid, and they are lyrically better than most other punk bands out there. 'Helena' is one of my favorite punk tracks of all time. Ashley stated this isn't completely out of her comfort zone, but it's also not in her sweet spot either. Well for me, nothing is generally out of my comfort zone anymore - solely because of the blog. This certainly isn't my 'go to' genre though either. I've listened to this album a few times before - just because it was the follow up to 'Three Cheers'. I can tell you this dropped in 2006 and has charted platinum. 1x only, which I guess isn't too much of a shocker. They don't seem to have the huge following other bands do. I'd love to see them live someday, seems they'd put on a cool show. I like this. It gets very mixed reviews on different sites, so I don't expect everyone to enjoy it. But give it a shot, you may be surprised.

TRACK LISTING:
1. End., The
2. Dead!
3. This Is How I Disappear
4. Sharpest Lives, The
5. Welcome to the Black Parade
6. I Don't Love You
7. House of Wolves
8. Cancer
9. Mama
10. Sleep
11. Teenagers
12. Disenchanted
13. Famous Last Words

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Welcome To The Black Parade
2. Teenagers
3. This Is How I Disappear

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 10, 2010

B Side Presents, "Friday Gut Check - I Ain't Sayin' She A Gold Digger.."



With Kanye's new one dropping a couple weeks back - it's caused some stir in the industry surrounding his career and where he stands. As most of you probably know, I love new Kanye. He's got 5 studio albums - and there they are:

College Dropout - 2004 - 2x platinum
Late Registration - 2005 - 3x platinum
Graduation - 2007 - 2x platinum
808's And Heartbreak - 1x platinum
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - 2010 - TBD

In terms of where he stacks up all time, as an artist - he'll stick out in my mind as a guy that's been through a lot of ups and downs. Both in music and in life. His music started out fairly poppy (with the exception of Jesus Walks) and got more poppy as the records went on. His mom died, saw some other tragedy and then 808's dropped. 'Fantasy' is also pretty dark, and not much pop to it. He's evolved as an artist and producer, and for me, if he called it quits tomorrow, that's how I'd remember. Others might choose to only remember telling Taylor Swift to get off the stage - but I hope those people are fewer and far between. You're missing out on a talented guy. Maybe a conceded, self righteous guy - but talented all the same. Regardless, here is my Kanye West Top 5. Check out the tracks if you haven't heard them before!

5. Diamonds From Sierra Leone - Trumpets, piano, sick beats, sick flow...The Roc is still alive every time I rhyme. Yes! This track is flat out sick. Not only does it talk about a fairly controversial subject matter and bring awareness, it's also just fun to crank up and listen to loudly. Jay's callabo it in puts it in the top 5. Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week. LOVE IT!

4. Can't Tell Me Nothing - La, La, La-La, wait 'till I get my money right. Great track. Jeezy's signature ad libbed 'Yeeea' in the backdrop. Very laid back hip hop track that makes you feel a little perspective. I think we've all had moments where people in our lives try to influence our decisions (good or bad) and we just didn't listen. It's almost an anthem of sorts if you look at it that way. Just wait until I'm successful, then you have NO right telling me what to do.

3. See You In My Nightmare - Yeezy and Weezy getting together on what might be the highlight of Kanye's either best album or second best album. This album in total was very dark and very 'makes-you-think' heavy. Nightmare is another one of those tracks. More hard beats and more synthed out backdrops. How did you get there? Cuz we were once a fairytale - but this is farewell... Who hasn't had a relationship that they thought would be great forever and then turned sour? It speaks to about everyone, and can seriously be mood affecting. The passion that they both speak with is outstanding.

2. Runaway - There are a few tracks I could have gone off the new one with. Runaway speaks to me the most. Just starting out with the haunting piano note - over and over. Then it goes down a key. It yanks your attention from whatever you're doing and then the beat kicks in with the 'we gotcha, we gotcha' edited in. What other artist would make a song talking about he's so disappointed with himself, and frustrated by his own shortcomings? I'm a douchebag, asshole, scumbag, and jerkoff. And I don't want to be all the time, but it's who I am. You're the best for putting up with it - but you shouldn't have to. Runaway from me - as fast as you can.

1. Jesus Walks - I really didn't want to go with this as number one. I REALLY didn't. But it was the total precursor to the passionate music he's putting together today. If this takes away from my spins, which will probably take away from my 'ends - well I hope it takes away from my sins, and brings the day that I'm dreamin' bout. A guy making a song he knows won't get play because of his faith. Most acts won't make a song saying they're passionate about board games, let alone his bond with the man above. For a debut record, that takes guts. The beat is sick, the flow is nice and the message is the best. Speak what you're passionate on - even if you don't get the dollars, you get the respect.

What are you Top 5 songs? I want to hear 'em!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blur - Self Titled



It's no secret that alternative rock is probably my favorite genre. When I look back on the 'good old days' and hear all these great tracks, it makes me wonder what has happened to music today. Take a band like Blur for example - you may only know one song from these guys, but that song was pretty awesome. When you heard 'Song 2' anytime in the mid 90's, if you were pumped up about it - you needed to check your pulse. Blur started in 1989 or so under the band name of Seymour. They were focused heavily on more of a BritPop sound back then, which doesn't really jive with the sound this album created. They were pretty huge in the UK though before the rock style turn. In fact, Brits kind of turned their backs on Blur because of the transition. Oh yeah, they also moved to the United States when they reinvented their sound. To demonstrate that point, they released an album called, 'Parklife' in 1994 that is 4x platinum in the UK. This album - in spite of having a rockin' single like 'Song 2', is only platinum over there. They enjoy a different sound across the pond than we do here. Anyway, the front man of this group is Damon Albarn. You might recognize that name, from the million times of talked about how much I love his side projects. (Both Gorillaz and Good, Bad, and The Queen) I think this album is cool. If you'd force my feet to the fire and ask me if I'd buy it, I probably wouldn't - but it's a fun listen. It's very different than what else was out there in the '97 era. For that reason, it's very worth a listen. Blur is back to making music and might be dropping something soon. They've released a few fun singles - but nothing serious yet. Hopefully soon!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Beetlebum
2. Song 2
3. Country Sad Ballad Man
4. M.O.R.
5. On Your Own
6. Theme from Retro
7. You're So Great
8. Death of a Party
9. Chinese Bombs
10. I'm Just a Killer for Your Love
11. Look Inside America
12. Strange News from Another Star
13. Movin' On
14. Essex Dogs

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Song 2
2. Beetlebum
3. On Your Own

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Kellie Pickler - Small Town Girl



Thursday means knee slappin', spoon strumming, washboard rakin' Country music. I think I mentioned before, I was out of "good" country suggestions - so JenInTosa gave me a big list of anything. Just bands, no albums. So on to Miss Pickler. Of course I've heard of her before, but certainly never heard anything by her. This album and all of her music and style is brand new to my ear. She made big headlines being a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol. Although she finished sixth - she still managed to get a record deal. I seem to recall her being a more emotional piece, since she had a rough childhood. My memory did end up serving me correctly, as she's got quite a story. Was born in North Carolina, mother left home when she was two. Father was in and out of jail, drug rehab etc etc. Her grandparents had custody for a while, mom came back for a couple years and left again - just bad news all around. A story like this makes you want to root for her. You know, if you're a softy - which I suppose I am. She worked at a Sonic Drive In, used the media circuit to try to get a reporter job or something of that nature - nothing really worked. Her Grandma passed of lung cancer in 2002 and she stayed to take care of her grandfather with her little brother. Her mom ended up being a criminal too, for writing bad checks. Crazy. She's persevered through all of that to become successful in her own right, and now being engaged to one of her songwriters. Good for her. Unfortunately for her, this is a music blog. Not a who I root for blog. And her music is bad. I've tried to come up with something positive to say about her - and I really can't. Other than I'll continue to root for her, as she's been through a ton. Just keep your head up, and start putting more heart into your music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Red High Heels
2. Gotta Keep Moving
3. Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind
4. Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You
5. I Wonder
6. Small Town Girl
7. Wild Ponies
8. Girls Like Me
9. I'm on My Way
10. One of the Guys
11. My Angel

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. I Wonder
2. Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You
3. Small Town Girl

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bone Crusher - AttenCHUN!



Have I mentioned in the past how odd it can be running across new music sometimes? For example, one very late night - I was watching Conan O'Brien. (yeah, remember when Conan was on network television? remember when he was on really late - after Leno? yeah, those days) He used to have the most new, fresh acts on no matter what genre they were in. And one night, this seemingly gigantic, powerful stage presence came on the stage and starting spitting these hard, sick lyrics. That song was 'Never Scared'. Needless to say, I was immediately hooked. I jumped on to Napster, Scour, or whatever service I was using at the time and downloaded it. This was a time where Lil Jon's, 'Bia Bia' was the hardest hitting rap anthem the world has ever heard. Which in fairness, is really good too. But this song was just sicker. If you're looking for a song to just thug out to, that is the one. Bone Crusher is really named Wayne Hardnett, and is from of course, Atlanta, GA. What's fairly crazy, is that song is so rough, yet it got used in so many regular things. It was the theme for the entire 2003 Atlanta Braves organization, and was used as the intro track in the Madden '04 video game. Extremely edited I'm sure, but used nonetheless. This album came out in 2003, and hasn't sold particularly well. Jermaine Dupri found him, and tried to work him into the spotlight, he just never really caught on. This album is by no means "good" - but the one song is amazing. There wasn't much coming out of the Dirty, Dirty back in 2003 - so this got a fair share of play back in the day. I listen to it now, and nothing but 'Never Scared' would be in the rotation. But it'll stay there, forever.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Lock & Load
2. Never Scared (Intro)
3. Never Scared
4. Back Up
5. Grippin' the Grain
6. Transaction (Interlude)
7. Puttin' in Work
8. Break 'Em Off for Life (Interlude)
9. Gettin' It (Get Dat Money)
10. It's Me (Lane to Lane)
11. For the Streets
12. Sound the Horn
13. Hate Ourselves
14. Vainglorious (Interlude)
15. Ghetto Song
16. Peaches & Cream
17. The Wall

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Never Scared
2. Never Scared
3. Puttin' In Work

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of stars

Bowling For Soup - Great Burrito Extortion Case



It's Hump Day. Sorry I'm a bit late on posting, but I had something pressing come up this morning. Looking into the book of Suggestion Box - Shaqwanda had been jamming on some comedy style albums recently. Now, I reviewed Lonely Island quite a while ago, and I love the 'Incredibad' record. I've grooved to Tenacious D for years as well. She recommended Flight Of The Conchords too, and I'll get to them one day. She also mentioned Bowling For Soup, and that this is her favorite record by them. I do know BFS, and have listened to the mainstream stuff by them in the past. For those who don't know, they blend a punk rock style with wacky, off the wall lyrics. These guys formed in Denton, Texas way back in 1994. They did drop an album in 1995 - that didn't chart. As none of their albums have with the exception of 2. This is not one of them. Remember way back in the day when I reviewed Richard Cheese? Recall then that I called him more of a novelty, but no real music value? I think these guys are similar. I mean, I've never listened to every album they made - heck, this is probably the first time I listened to any of them start to finish. But I just don't think they're a band to take seriously. Which again, is fine if that's what you're expecting. If I'm in that Tenacious/Lonely Island style mood, these guys might serve a purpose on my iPod. Just for a perspective on me, I don't find myself in that mood very often. Regardless, I can see why people would enjoy this as a change of pace from time to time...it just simply isn't for me. It wouldn't make me laugh like those other bands mentioned, and if I just wanted "fun" music I'd flip on BNL. Just my two cents.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Epiphany
2. High School Never Ends
3. Val Kilmer
4. I'm Gay
5. Why Don't I Miss You?
6. Friendly Goodbye, A
7. Luckiest Loser
8. Love Sick Stomach Ache (Sugar Coated Accident)
9. Much More Beautiful Person
10. Friends Like You
11. When We Die
12. 99 Biker Friends
13. Don't Let It Be Love
14. If You Come Back to Me Outro

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Val Kilmer
2. When We Die
3. High School Never Ends

FINAL RATING:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hinder - All American Nightmare



Let it be noted that this is my first ever review of the band Hinder. Even though I've been criticized in the past for rocking to a couple of their songs. Oh well, what are you gonna do? New Music Tuesday gets a two-fer today, with Tron and now Hinder. I'm not really expecting anything from this. Hinder seems to be similar to Nickelback - in the sense they might have a couple catchy songs, but no real talent. What's fairly crazy is these guys formed in Oklahoma way back in 2001. Their first studio release 'Extreme Behavior' was pretty popular for a couple tracks. Their first taste of mainstream success led them to be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame. (wow, that must be the slowest state in terms of producing music) They dropped another album last year - but I had no idea. I don't think I heard anything off anything but EB. This is classified as 'glam metal' which is a term I kind of understand. Basically saying they want to be hard, but also want to appeal to a more popular audience. Makes sense I suppose. But this album has a very interesting feel to it. There are a few tracks that are quite solid. They have the typical crap - which doesn't make the album buyable in total - but a couple tracks are certainly worth .99 cent download. I know I'm going to pick a few up anyway. Sounds like the only track to see any airplay right now is the title track, 'All American Nightmare'. Yeah, that song is not good. Bet there are around a handful worth checking out. I'll list three in my top 3 piece. Check those out. If you like a couple of those, check out the whole album. It might be for you.

TRACK LISTING:
1. 2 Sides of Me
2. All American Nightmare
3. What Ya Gonna Do
4. Hey Ho
5. Life, The
6. Waking Up the Devil
7. Red Tail Lights
8. Striptease
9. Everybody's Wrong
10. Put That Record On

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Everybody's Wrong
2. Waking Up The Devil
3. Hey Ho

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Daft Punk - Tron Legacy Soundtrack



It's Tuesday - that can only mean a handful of things. 1) Techno Tuesday has arrived 2) New Music Tuesday has arrived and 3) I'm a heap of happiness. As most of you probably know, I'm not the resident expert when it comes to soundtracks...that's why we keep Heidi employed at the B Side. But this one was too good to pass up. First and foremost, I love Daft Punk. When I saw this was dropping today, I had to jot it down to remember. Follower janis! also loves some Punk, and reminded me about this in the Suggestion Box. Basically what's going on here is, Disney was looking for someone to write the score for the Tron Legacy film. Daft Punk stepped up to the plate and took this large task on. From what I've only seen via trailers of the film, they couldn't be a better fit. It's a very virtual, sci-fi type film, and whatever Punk decided to put forward will be a great match. Having listened to the 24 tracks in full now, they make me want to see a movie I otherwise would have zero interest in checking out. Devotees will recall my love for the Dark Knight soundtrack. I loved that the soundtrack made an amazing movie - just a little bit better. Well, this seems to have that feel to me. I have no idea what the movie is about or the storyline, but if it coincides with the soundtrack listing, you have a feel for the tones and the way the audience it supposed to feel in each segment. It's great when the music has that kind of feel. And I certainly prefer listening to these "score" type soundtracks versus ones with real songs. The biggest reason why, is these tend to have so much passion and emotion behind them. Sure, it's cool listening to songs and remembering how they fit into films - but even without the film background I feel connections with the soundtrack. Yeah, it's that neat. So definitely check this out today.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Overture
2. Grid, The
3. Son of Flynn, The
4. Recognizer
5. Armory
6. Arena
7. Rinzler
8. Game Has Changed, The
9. Outlands
10. Adagio For Tron
11. Nocturne
12. End of Line
13. Derezzed
14. Fall
15. Solar Sailer
16. Rectifier
17. Disc Wars
18. C.L.U.
19. Arrival
20. Flynn Lives
21. Tron Legacy (End Titles)
22. Finale
23. Tron: Legacy Enhancement

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Derezzed
2. C.L.U.
3. The Son Of Flynn

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet



Do you remember what you were doing in August of 1986? I certainly don't. But if you do, you probably recall the excitement that was Bon Jovi and his release of Slippery When Wet. So, I'm not even kidding when I say this, but I know people that think Jon Bon is the BEST act ever. Best singer, songwriter, performer - everything. So yeah, I completely disagree - but that's neither here nor there. I decided to review him today, and what better than to go with his biggest album. This album is a groin grabbingly sick 12x platinum in the states. Worldwide - 28 MILLION copies sold! This must be a phenomenon right? This must be 10 tracks of amazing right? Well, not really. It's got some rock anthems - some that if you've ever been to any college campus in America, you've heard them thousands of times. Maybe even some nights on loop, over and over again. This is his third studio album, and probably his most talked about. It spent 8 straight weeks at number one on the Billboard charts. This has seen it's share of changes over the years too. The original album title was set to be 'Wanted Dead Or Alive'. The band was dressed as cowboys for the cover art. That was scratched, and all that promo material was used for the single. The next name was set to be 'Guns N' Roses'. I'll give you 10 guesses why that didn't work out. Next was 'Slippery When Wet', which was coined after visiting a variety of strip clubs one night. The original cover had a lady with 34DD's in a wet, yellow t shirt. That got banned by censors, so we got the garbage bag cover of today. I will never be able to hear the track 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' and not think of Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. I also will loathe the tracks that I was kept awake with in the dorms, because the guys thought blasting 'Livin' On A Prayer' at 2am on a Thursday night would bring the ladies over. Never happened. Regardless, this album is known for 3 hits. I'm sure he has better albums start to finish - but if you love singles, this is the album for you.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Let It Rock
2. You Give Love a Bad Name
3. Livin' on a Prayer
4. Social Disease
5. Wanted Dead or Alive
6. Raise Your Hands
7. Without Love
8. I'd Die for You
9. Never Say Goodbye
10. Wild in the Streets

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Wanted Dead Or Alive
2. Livin' On A Prayer
3. You Give Love A Bad Name

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black



Happy Monday B Siders! If you're near my neck of the woods - it's cold. What better way to warm up than with some good, old fashioned music? I decided to roll with Amy Winehouse today, as my mood style review for the week. Everyone is probably acquainted with her story - but I'll tell it again anyway. Amy was born just a few weeks after me, in England. (That's 1983 for those in the know) From a young age she was pretty rebellious. Her father was a cab drive and often sung jazz around the house. Winehouse enjoyed the jazz her father played, and would sing as well. Her grandmother felt Amy had some talent - and brought up the idea of her enrolling in a music school. Well, she did. Met a friend and started a "rap" group called Sweet'n'Sour. That didn't last long, and either did Amy in that school. She was expelled for "not applying herself" (whatever that means) and piercing her nose. That didn't really stop her though. She started seeing major label success in 2003 or so. She didn't hit international success until her 2006 release of this record. She's went 2x platinum in the states and then 12x platinum in the UK when you combine the two editions of this released over the pond. She's really struggled with substance abuse, eating disorders and general health problems the past few years. This probably leads to her not putting out more music yet. She was supposed to drop something this year in November, but that didn't work out. She then stated it would drop no later than January of 2011. We shall see. As far as this one, it's fine. I really thought I'd love this when I heard her sound and her style. I don't love it, just like it. I'd recommend giving it a shot though, as many people do love it. Worth a Monday morning listen for sure.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Rehab
2. You Know I'm No Good
3. Me & Mr. Jones
4. Just Friends
5. Back to Black
6. Love Is a Losing Game
7. Tears Dry on Their Own
8. Wake up Alone
9. Some Unholy War
10. He Can Only Hold Her
11. No Good Remix

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. You Know I'm No Good
2. Wake Up Alone
3. Rehab

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 3, 2010

B Side Presents, "Stop...Grammy Time!"



As you all probably know, it's Grammy Award time. The nominees were announced the other day - so I wanted to take a day to contemplate who I want to win. Now, I'm not going to run through every single category - just the ones I feel most passionate about. Having listened to most of the music out there this year - I feel confident I can remain unbiased, and fair. Let's see how it goes. Also, give me your picks! We could have a bragging rights contest or something.

Song of the Year
'Beg, Steal or Borrow' -- Ray LaMontagne
'Forget You' -- Cee-Lo
'The House That Built Me' -- Miranda Lambert
'Love the Way You Lie' -- Eminem Feat. Rihanna
'Need You Now' -- Lady Antebellum

B Side Prediction: I think Eminem walks away with this one. The only big challenge would be Lady Antebellum. Both songs were huge - but the lyrical value and the video for 'Love The Way You Lie' will give it the edge.

Album of the Year
'The Suburbs' -- Arcade Fire
'Recovery' -- Eminem
'Need You Now' -- Lady Antebellum
'The Fame Monster' -- Lady Gaga
'Teenage Dream' -- Katy Perry

B Side Prediction: I really enjoyed 'Suburbs' and 'Recovery'. 'Need You Now' also got favorable reviews by me. However, I think this one goes to Gaga. I think she proved she's here to stay with her sophomore drop, and she'll be rewarded by the committee.

Best New Artist
Justin Bieber
Drake
Florence and the Machine
Mumford and Sons
Esperanza Spalding

B Side Prediction: Why isn't B.o.B nominated for this? Drake has been around forever, and has no chance. I hope it goes to Mumford and Sons - but I have no doubt it'll be Bieber. Disgusting.

Record of the Year
'Nothing on You' -- B.o.B. Feat. Bruno Mars
'Love the Way You Lie' -- Eminem Feat. Rihanna
'Forget You' -- Cee-Lo
'Empire State of Mind -- Jay-Z Feat. Alicia Keys
'Need You Now' -- Lady Antebellum

B Side Prediction: This is a tough one. I'm not even 100% sure why this is called 'Record Of The Year' - but whatever. I think Jay-Z takes this one home though. I like all of these songs - and the fact they censored Cee-Lo's track makes me want him to win. But alas, Jay walks away victorious.

Best Pop Vocal Album
'My World 2.0' -- Justin Bieber
'I Dreamed a Dream' -- Susan Boyle
'The Fame Monster' -- Lady Gaga
'Battle Studies' -- John Mayer
'Teenage Dream' -- Katy Perry

B Side Prediction: Can I claim apathy and not vote? Oh wait, I'm deciding that and I wrote this down. While I gave the edge to Gaga up top, I think this one will go to Boyle. Just a gut feeling. I don't think it merits the win - but people really like her and her story. I'm calling the upset.

Best Country Album
'Up on the Ridge' -- Dierks Bentley
'You Get What You Give' -- Zac Brown Band
'The Guitar Song' -- Jamey Johnson
'Need You Now' -- Lady Antebellum
'Revolution' -- Miranda Lambert

B Side Prediction: I don't have a ton of educated stuff to say here. I think Lady Antebellum crushes the opposition here.

Best Rock Song
'Angry World' -- Neil Young
'Little Lion Man' -- Mumford & Sons
'Radioactive' -- Kings Of Leon
'Resistance' -- Muse
'Tighten Up' -- The Black Keys

B Side Prediction: Please - for the love of Pete, please reward the Black Keys. They are still one of the best bands you're not listening to.

Best Rock Album
'Emotion & Commotion' -- Jeff Beck
'The Resistance' -- Muse
'Backspacer' -- Pearl Jam
'Mojo' -- Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
'Le Noise' -- Neil Young

B Side Prediction: What a lackluster listing this year. Muse probably walks away with this - but pretty much by default. The PJ album was really mediocre and so was Young and Petty. I like Jeff Beck, but he's too unknown to win it.

Best Rap Song
'Empire State Of Mind -- Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
'Love the Way You Lie' -- Eminem & Rihanna
'Not Afraid -- Eminem
'Nothin' On You' -- B.o.B & Bruno Mars
'On To The Next One' --Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz

B Side Prediction: Well, given the nominees, Em has a really good shot at this one. Unfortunately, they didn't put a track like 'No Love' or something on that I think would cause him an immediate win. If you want me to go with straight up quality - it'll probably go to Jay and probably for Empire. 'On To The Next One' is probably the best song though.

Best Rap Album
'The Adventures of Bobby Ray' -- B.o.B
'Thank Me Later' -- Drake
'Recovery' -- Eminem
'The Blueprint 3' -- Jay-Z
'How I Got Over' -- The Roots

B Side Prediction: Seriously, if Em doesn't win this one - I'm quitting paying attention to the Grammys. It's the best Rap album by far. Jay could steal it, but Roots, Drake and BoB don't even sniff those two albums. Em gets 2 awards I think.


Let me know what ya'll think! What did I get right or wrong? What other categories to you have opinions on? Let me know!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

White Zombie - Astro Creep: 2000



Nothing like cleaning my BEP palette with a little metal. Follower janis! was commenting the other day how Mr. Rob Zombie can put together a good soundtrack. Since I really don't know any of his soundtrack work - I can go back to what put him on the map for good. When this dropped in 1995, 'More Human Than Human' was all the rage. Even the white bread suburban kids LOVED it. It was hard not to hear this on the radio and do a little head-banging. These guys are named after a 1932 film with the same name - bet you didn't know that! The B Side always drops a little knowledge in addition to being the best music review site out there. White Zombie was making music even in the mid 80's, but never really caught on anywhere. It wasn't until signing with Geffen in 1992 that they hit the charts. 'Le Sexocristo' is a really good album too, but 'Astro Creep' really put them in the headlines. Most of the members have moved on to other acts - which is cool. Obviously Rob made a bunch of solo stuff and have gone on to movie directing. I still don't think I've seen any of his films, but I've always wanted to. It's hard finding people big into the horror genre. But this album, really good. Even if you're not big into metal, it's solid. Something about it is simply entrancing. Like a lesser awesome version of any NIN album. This is very industrial metal, but if you listen hard enough, there are spots where it's almost poppy. Like More Human - very hard, very in your face - but also tolerable to the non metal ear. This is only 2x platinum, but I can't imagine it'd be even sniffing that sort of sales if it wasn't for that track. If you're a metal fan, the whole album is great. Totally worth checking out. Rock your way into Friday with a little Zombie.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Electric Head Pt. 1 (The Agony)
2. Super-Charger Heaven
3. Real Solution #9
4. Creature of the Wheel
5. Electric Head Pt. 2 (The Ecstasy)
6. Grease Paint and Monkey Brains
7. I, Zombie
8. More Human Than Human
9. El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama
10. Blur the Technicolor
11. Blood, Milk and Sky

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. More Human Than Human
2. Super Charger Heaven
3. Electric Head, Part 2

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning



Ahh yes, the Black Eyed Peas. This just dropped on Tuesday, but no samples were linked, so I waited. I decided for no real good reason to check on it again today - not sure why. I have a very deep love/hate relationship with the Peas. While their music is certainly catchy and DEFINES the word pop - lyrically it's just garbage. I mean, I'm so 3008, you so two thousand and late. Get serious. I still have a huge crush on Fergie though, so that saves them for me a bit. Hey, don't judge. This album is a follow up to The E.N.D (duh) which stood for the Energy Never Dies. This is named the beginning because it supposedly symbolizes growth, new beginnings and starts a fresh new perspective. I highly doubt that. I just don't see them really messing with the recipe for success they've built. Take track one for example - they remix and cover the Dirty Dancing anthem "The Time". This song is honestly terrible. This album in total might be a little more dance-ish than normal, but it's not earth shatteringly different. I'm still waiting for them to drop something awesome. Monkey Business was pretty solid, but after that - mostly garbage. I actually like this MORE than END - only because I love dance music. This fits more into that genre. I don't know what else will be radio worthy off this - but I'm guessing it won't be as big as The End. It's worth checking out I guess - but not more than a few tracks. If you don't like track 2, you won't like track 14.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Time, The (Dirty Bit)
2. Light Up the Night
3. Love You Long Time
4. XOXOXO
5. Someday
6. Whenever
7. Fashion Beats
8. Don't Stop the Party
9. Do It Like This
10. Best One Yet, The (The Boy)
11. Just Can't Get Enough
12. Play It Loud

Listen To Samples

1. Play It Loud
2. Love You Long Time
3. Own It

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars