Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yello - Part 2

So, I just wrote about Yello, and how odd the band and the music is. Well, just in case you couldn't get the strangeness conveyed over the audio, here is some video to go along with it.

Oh Yeah Video

I mean, if the vocal isn't odd enough on it's own, the lyrics? The sun...beautiful. The moon...even more beautiful. Such a good time. I get these guys are Swiss, and this feels like a super strange German video or something. But jeez, this takes out there to a new level. And while I'm sure many people consider this a solid art form, I think it's nonsense. I mean, to the point I find it absolutely hilarious. If that's what they intended, then I give them a huge "spot on" and a giant high five. I have a feeling though, it was more meant as the aforementioned art form.

And I'm not sure who else is a fan out there, but I enjoy the show 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia'. And here is a clip of them making fun of the song:

Always Sunny Clip

Simply Awesome.

B Side

Yello - Stella

Strange music? Yeah, there is a ton out there. Have a done some "odd" reviews that weren't super out there? Sure. But this one my friends, is about as odd as it gets. I think I'm going to break this out into two pieces, just because there are different elements to this band that make them so strange. Anyways, Yello. Two men make up a Swiss electronica band - Dieter Meier and Boris Blank. The reason I'm reviewing this album, is due to the smash hit 'Oh Yeah' which may not ring any immediate bells, but will as soon as you hear the sample. Dieter is the vocal of the gang, and what can you say about them? When they do the manipulation technique such as 'Oh Yeah' - it's so dark and twisted. Anything that he says basically sounds like he's a psychopath. The name came when Dieter talking about "a yelled hello" which turned into the pun "Yello". Oddly enough, that word is fairly commonplace nowadays for a phone greeting or any other initial contact setting. Anyway, I digress. These guys have been sampled in music, TV and video games forever - but 9 times out of 10 you'd have no idea it was them. Heck, even in their most well known feature - "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" - you probably had no clue who the band was. You just knew it was the 'Oh Yeah' song, or the 'Chick, chicka chicka' song. Any of those things. Turns out there is a real band behind that nonsense, and they've been making music since 1979. They have twelve studio albums out, with this one dropping in 1985. The arrangements on this album are so random, and some of the lyrics are just so strange, it's hard not to at least be intrigued and want to listen to more. You know what's wacky? It's so strange, that it works! Sure, 'Oh Yeah' is the centerpiece, and you'll want to surround your listening experience behind that, but there are some other tracks that make you think these guys are for real. But there are great percussion strings on this album, and the composition is really tight. It's a very well produced album. I won't jump off the deep end and tell you it's phenomenal or anything, but very worth checking into.

1. Desire
2. Vicious Games
3. Oh Yeah
4. Desert Inn
5. Stalakdrama
6. Koladi-Ola
7. Domingo
8. Sometimes
9. Let Me Cry
10. Ciel Ouvert
11. Angel No
12. Blue Nabou
13. Oh Yeah
14. Desire (12" Mix)
15. Vicious Games (12" Mix)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Oh Yeah
2. Vicious Games
3. Desire

3 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nickelback - Dark Horse

So it goes that I'm not a big fan of the Nickelback, and some people think I'm a genius, and some others think I'm a poor, misguided soul. I was talking to the latter not long ago, and she was discussing how I should give 'Dark Horse' a shot. It appears this album came out three years ago to the day - talk about timing! The album is a shocking 3x platinum, but I shouldn't be so shocked, because they've always been a pretty solid selling band. I have no idea why, but their pop/rock hybrid has been a huge hit in terms of fans. But like Creed, no one admits to actually spending their money on the albums. The album is 11 tracks deep, and somehow 8 of the singles were released for radio. That's an astounding feat in and of itself. Getting through this whole album, that surprises me a little bit only because the sound of a lot of the tracks doesn't seem to be catchy enough to warrant radioplay. I know there was one big get for this album, the WWE uses 'Burn It To The Ground' as their lead intro song on their Monday Night Raw program. Millions of people still watch pro wrestling to this day, and that isn't going to hurt band exposure. I know 'Something In Your Mouth' really won over the sexist crowds all over the US too. What douchebag of a guy didn't say that line to every girl they met for a year or so? (by the way, prime example of why I hate Nickelback) In a single word, this album is terrible. It's this blend of pop/rock/mood - and it just doesn't work. Kroger's vocal is one nearly saving grace, as he can still rock the heck out of a ballad. But the lyrics are awful, the idea that you can cram this "heavy" sound down my throat and try to sing about nonsense, but make it seem like it has a message? Ugh. It isn't even good mindless music. It doesn't get my toe tapping or anything, it just makes me angry with how I listen to it, and I think - "what is this? Why would anyone make this music?" You've got no class and no taste? Those are your lyrics? Well done Nickelback, that's one thing we finally agree on.

1. Something in Your Mouth
2. Burn It to the Ground
3. Gotta Be Somebody
4. I'd Come for You
5. Next Go Round
6. Just To Get High
7. Never Gonna Be Alone
8. Shakin' Hands
9. S.E.X.
10. If Today Was Your Last Day
11. This Afternoon

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Burn It To The Ground
2. If Today Was Your Last Day
3. None

1 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Drake - Take Care

After finally recovering from Lambeau, I'm ready to get back to work with a little New Music Tuesday entry done on Thursday. Drake's 'Take Care' came out this week, surprisingly to not a whole ton of publicity. Even though his last album came out just a year ago pretty much, he was slamming the studio time and banging out another recording. The danger of dropping albums once a year is quality - which we've seen with countless acts, but most notably - Ludacris. If the quality slips for Drake's albums, he'll alienate the already jaded fans that feel he's more pop than hip hop. Right from the bat, this album feels substantially more low-key than any other rap album that dropped this year. It's got this atmospheric sound, that uses really subtle beats, really slow tempos and just really laid back grooves. The focus would appear to be on the lyrics and subject matter, and not the really over-the-top productions. Isn't that funny? You actually spend MORE time producing an album to make it feel under-produced. I've heard this album compared to some TLC's tracks, where you have this really smooth feel with a blues overtone, which is pretty much what this is. It's very blues meets R&B meets a little rap, which is about what TLC was in their day. This might have a little more synth and electronic elements to it, but not all that unique. Lyrically this seems to be about the strained romances in his life, the relationship with other family and friends and then the overall difficulties of gaining all this new found fame. His stance about life is very different because he's a biracial kid from some means, and he never had to sell drugs or get into gang life. So that take is almost refreshing to hear, and to listen to him talk about his own self doubts and no belief that he's as talented as some of the critics would lead on, is almost nice to hear. Even though he's more "relateable" to the common listener, I don't think his music appeals to everyone. This album doesn't contain a single "go hard" track to satisfy the rap moguls and it's probably too pop to make the R&B nuts do a double take. While Drake has been a master of giving a little bit to everyone, I'm not sure where I stand with this one. While I personally really like the laidback groovy stylings, I could see it not being for everyone. His flow isn't Pac-ian, but whose is? If you take this for what it is, a soul rap album that is all about his emotions and not his cars/girls/drugs, I think you'll enjoy it.

1. Over My Dead Body
2. Shot for Me
3. Headlines
4. Crew Love
5. Take Care
6. Marvins Room/Buried Alive Interlude
7. Under Ground Kings
8. We'll Be Fine
9. Make Me Proud
10. Lord Knows
11. Cameras/Good Ones Go Interlude
12. Doing It Wrong
13. Real Her, The
14. Look What You've Done
15. HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)
16. Practice
17. Ride, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Take Care
3. Headlines

3.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 14, 2011

B Side Presents, "Are You Ready For Some Football?"

As a lot of you already know, sports is pretty much just as big for me as music is. And it so happens tonight, I have tickets to go watch my Green Bay Packers take on the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football! I'm pretty pumped.

It dawned on me that they haven't lost in forever - as they won 6 straight to end the year last year - and now eight straight to start this season. Hopefully the streak goes up to 15 tonight!

Anyways, it reminded me about some music related to the team. Last year when the Super Bowl was about to hit, Lil Wayne dropped the epic Wiz Khalifa remix of his Steelers 'Black and Yellow' and named it 'Green and Yellow'. Made even more epic by the fact those two teams happened to be playing each other in the most watched tv event every year. The Packers obviously came out victorious, which made both me and Weezy incredibly happy.

Green And Yellow!!

I think it's great to see fans of sports teams make music related to their love. When Weezy dropped this track, I didn't think it was the most amazing raps I'd ever heard or anything - but I think it's fantastic to hear a guy like Lil Wayne talk about his love for the Pack in a song. Music and sports really do go hand and hand, and it's fairly surprising more artists don't make music as it relates to their favorite teams. Even it's just as simple as the little music riff followed by the "GO PACK GO" at the stadium, there is always room for music as sports venues. I remember when Will Blackmon was returning kicks, he had the stadium blast 'Crank Dat' by Soulja Boy and that really got him all fired up. I did a post about this before, but athletes use music to motivate themselves ALL THE TIME. So why not have artist do the same for fans? I know a variety of people that were all fired up when this song came out, and made them that much more hyped for the game itself.

I applaud Weezy for making this and showing his fanship. He bleeds green and yellow just like me - and it's fun to hear a rapper I like, rap about a team I love. Always goes down smooth.


B Side

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jealousy Curve - Life As An Addict

It's Friday - and I'm going back in the archives to find a suggestion from follower Digger in Jealousy Curve. Now, what I find odd this morning is I know I've heard of this band before - but finding them on the internet is like finding Carmen Sandiego. They don't even have a Wikipedia page? Are you kidding? It sounds like these guys grew up together and started playing music in high school. They were friends, yet they seemed to have reported issues with each other even before the band started playing. They thought getting everyone together and laying down some tasty tracks could squash and beefs between members. They were getting a great local following in the Philadelphia area, and were beginning to play some of the best regional venues around - without having dropped an album. It wasn't until January of 2005 that this album came out - completely on the bands own dime. They self recorded, produced, marketing and distributed this album. It was the bands total "do-it-yourself" attitude that made them such a hit with the fans. Two of the tracks on this album were picked up by 'Cruel Intentions 3' and the band started to really take off on a national level. There is no doubt this album is full of questions about life and what it all means. It's a very reflective record which I think the writers is intending some sort of contemplation about it all. Not just life, but just a sit back and think about what everything means. Because of that, it's got this very melodic feel to it, and the very smooth vocals are really great to listen to. It's like a hard rock/alt rock type band meets this angelic type male voice - and it really works. Combine that with the message I took away from it - and you've got a nice little diddy. I don't have anything really to comment in the negative of this record. It really struck me as a well done album today. I hope they keep making music, I'd love to hear more.

1. Bruise
2. Selfish Thing
3. Useless
4. The World Is You
5. Misery/Love
6. Appreciated
7. Lazy Days
8. Gravity (I've Waited Long Enough)
9. Day in the Sun
10. Letter to the Lonely

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Bruise
2. Appreciated
3. The World Is You

3.75 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Washed Out - Within & Without

We're going to go forward and assume Techno Tuesday has lived a long enough, yet too short a life - and just start posting dance music when I get around to it. So it's Thursday, and we've got this electronic artist Washed Out. It's really a guy named Earnest Greene from Perry, Georgia - who considers himself one of the pioneers of the "chillwave" movement. What is that you ask? Let me tell you. Basically, it is a genre of music whose artists are often characterized by their heavy use of effects: processing, synthesizers, looping, sampling, and heavily filtered vocals with simple melodic lines. You'll hear a lot of retro type 80's stuff in these kinds of music, just because people seem to think the styles of today and the 80's blend really well together. Not sure I agree, but hey - what do I know? Turns out Greene is a librarian. He got a masters degree from South Carolina in Library and Information Science. Had no clue that existed. After he couldn't find library work, he turned to music. This album was his first, and it came out in July of this year. Track 5, 'Far Away' is a perfect way to describe the vocals on this album. They have that muffled sound to make it feel like the vocal is at a distance, but the beat and arrangement is in the forefront. The only criticism I have of this album is the lack of tempo change from start to finish. While a couple tracks still somehow manage to be slightly "dancy" - it plays through like a really somber record, which I'm not sure was the intention. I know the chillwave idea is to be well, chill - but some of this stuff you could play at a funeral, and that's not chill - it's just sad. Anyway, I like the style, and a few tracks are super cool. So I'm hoping Washed Out keeps making music, so I can keep listening to how he'll grow as an artist.

1. Eyes Be Closed
2. Echoes
3. Amor Fati
4. Soft
5. Far Away
6. Before
7. You and I
8. Within and Without
9. Dedication, A

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Eyes Be Closed
2. Amor Fati
3. Before

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chris Cornell - Carry On

It doesn't really matter what you're talking about. Could be solo, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave or any of the other random things he's done, Chris Cornell's vocal is always one of the best in the business. It's just fact. Cornell is yet another Seattle kid - proud to be in the middle of the grunge movement back in the early 90's. Cornell was born in 1964 and started making music at 20 years old. He was always part of one of the aforementioned groups though, and didn't really go solo until the late 90's after Soundgarden took a hiatus. This album however, didn't come out until 2007 - after the Audioslave disband. I've already talked about his vocal - it's solid and unmistakable. But this album isn't the heavy, guitar riffy Soundgarden type stuff you're used to from Cornell. Sure, there is some of that, and it doesn't stray too far from his alternative grunge roots from time to time - but as a whole, not at all that sort of feel. Some really well done acoustic, drum ballads and an overall feel of just a smooth rock n' roll album without the teenage angst or guitar smashing. This album got a pretty bad rap from critics unanimously. I'm not totally sure why either. Most of them seemed to dwell on the Michael Jackson cover of 'Billie Jean'. To me, it's not even that bad. Certainly not bad enough to base your entire review off of. A track like 'You Know My Name' has that shifty melody and the great vocal that can single handedly save an album. But there are a couple really nice tracks here. Not to say it's mastery in rock or anything, but it's a stable, pallatable rock record. The kind you like to drift off to on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

1. No Such Thing
2. Poison Eye
3. Arms Around Your Love
4. Safe and Sound
5. She'll Never Be Your Man
6. Ghosts
7. Killing Birds
8. Billie Jean
9. Scar on the Sky
10. Your Soul Today
11. Finally Forever
12. Silence the Voices
13. Disappearing Act
14. You Know My Name

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. You Know My Name
2. No Such Thing
3. Arms Around Your Love

3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Disturbed - Lost Children

Tuesday springs forth some new music - and this week it's a little Disturbed. Now, I'm no expert on this band - but I did fall in love with 'The Sickness' - their debut drop back in 2000. That album saw this raw emotion style with a great lead vocal. Dave Draiman's voice is something of magic when you're composing a metal type record. Great "screaming" voice - that doesn't get too over the top. Although this is their sixth studio recording, I don't think I've heard anything start to finish except that first one. And it turns out, this isn't a "new" studio album, but a b-side (YAY that's my name!) record full of compilations of tracks that didn't make other records. The name is in direct classification of the album. Disturbed refers to their songs as their "children" because they can't discern a favorite of the bunch. So the "lost" meaning the ones that got left behind in the fold, but they still liked enough to show to their fans. There are a number of stories behind the songs - which isn't always the way metal type bands work. But 'Hell' is referring to when a person comes in and out of your life - and typically comes back for the worse. 'Mine' is about religion and how it acts as a catalyst for war. Deep stuff here. What I think I really enjoy about this album is - the good old hard, emotional arrangements topped with that same, familiar vocal. While there may be deep meanings to the songs, I don't find myself singing along enough to really follow the lyrics to lead me to any sort of message. But that's okay - I don't look for that in my metal. This album is in no way risky - it's continuing the legacy of what made the band great. And when it comes to certain bands in certain genres - that couldn't be any more perfect. Since it's just a random mix of b-side tracks, there really isn't any sort of amazing flow to the album, it's just 60 minutes of pure metal. And that's just alright by me.

1. Hell
2. A Welcome Burden
3. This Moment
4. Old Friend
5. Monster
6. Run
7. Leave It Alone
8. Two Worlds
9. God of the Mind
10. Sickened
11. Mine
12. Parasite
13. Dehumanized
14. 3
15. Midlife Crisis
16. Living After Midnight

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Mine
2. Hell
3. A Welcome Burden

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 7, 2011

DMX - Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood

In the "best rapper to go crazy and not be recognized for his talent" department, DMX would win any sort of gold medal you could offer. Everyone knows about the crime and all the early legal issues. Yes, he was a real life criminal. He stabbed people, had guns, committed identity fraud - pretty much anything you can think of. Aside to that, he still found a way to be a rapper, and drop three really solid albums in two years, 1998 and 1999. After those highlights of years, that's when it all started to go south. I don't want to focus too much on recent DMX - but I saw he tried to put on a show in Vegas a couple years back, and was so intoxicated and under the influence of drugs he couldn't perform and was removed from stage. Terrible and unfortunate. Anyways, the golden years - he was one of the best in the industry. And I know that people will remark about his awful lyrics and very - VERY vivid portraits of crime that he'd paint in his raps. And sure, it's brutal and terrible and makes you sick in some spots - but DMX was speaking real. A track on this album - 'Ain't No Way', you hear him rap, "You ain’t been there or done that, fuck is y’all n***** tellin me. I’m the only n****, walkin the streets with four felonies." Exactly. If anyone is going to rap about crime, DMX should have been that guy. And because of that sick, twisted past and present - you believed him. You thought this guy could be rapping at a show, and literally stab a concert goer for looking at him funny. And nothing makes me love rap more when guys tell their real, true life story. And this album is for the most part 16 tracks of that. There are a couple stinkers, but for the most part, this album is sick beats, sick lyrics and just a well arranged album. I'll probably drop in at least 3 tracks below, and I highly recommend you listen to at least those. But any rap fan will adore this album. It's really that good.

1. My Niggas (Skit)
2. Bring Your Whole Crew
3. Pac Man (Skit)
4. Ain't No Way
5. We Don't Give a Fuck
6. Keep Your Shit the Hardest
7. Coming From
8. It's All Good
9. Omen, The
10. Slippin'
11. No Love 4 Me
12. Dogs for Life
13. Blackout
14. Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
15. Heat
16. Ready to Meet Him

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ain't No Way
2. Slippin'
3. Ready To Meet Him (The prayer and the song are sick)

4. Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood
5. Bring Your Whole Crew

4.25 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 4, 2011

Eli Young Band - Life At Best

It's been a while since I dipped into the Suggestion Box for a review, and so we'll bounce over to JenInTosa for a little Eli Young Band. These guys have been together since 2000 and are based out of Denton, Texas. The name comes from the founders Mike Eli and James Young and when they first met each other while attending the University of North Texas. They dropped their first album in 2002 - it didn't see much play, and their second in 2005, which opened a few doors for them. They opened a few shows for Miranda Lambert, which started to really get the word out. After getting some exposure on the country music cable stations, their shows started catching fire and tickets started flying out the sales window. One incredibly interesting story is, Mike Eli was selected to sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' for an NFL game between the Broncos and Chiefs back in 2010. While singing the track, he was booed by most of the fans in attendance. He was going to try to sing it again, but he forgot most of the words. Not sure if it was nerves or what, but I also can't seem to find any information about how great these guys are live or anything either. Who knows. 'Life At Best' is their fourth studio recording, and it dropped just a couple months ago. It's spawned one Top 10 country charts single in 'Crazy Girl' - but not much fanfare otherwise. This album feels very contemporary country to me. And not only that, the whole thing sounds very flat. Eli's vocal seems to have very little range, and almost comes across as monotone to me after I get to about track 10. The 14 tracks blend into seemingly one big track that's very similarly paced and pitched. I know the strain on country music is to now appeal to the pop crowd, but I don't see any of the songs on here making top rotation in pop stations. It's not anything to write home about lyrically either - which kind of just makes for a long, drawn out hybrid album.

1. Even If It Breaks Your Heart
2. Crazy Girl
3. Every Other Memory
4. On My Way
5. Skeletons
6. I Love You
7. The Fight
8. My Old Man's Son
9. Recover
10. The Falling
11. War on a Desperate Man
12. Say Goodnight
13. How Quickly You Forget
14. Life at Best

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Even If It Breaks Your Heart
2. Every Other Memory
3. Crazy Girl

1.75 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Maroon 5 - Hands All Over

Thursday brings a little Maroon 5 to my headphones - and really because of one reason. I can't go anywhere right now without hearing 'Moves Like Jagger'. And I must say, dang it's a catchy song. Even though the single dropped back in late June of this year, and then the album came out in September of last year - the album's radio play is still going strong. Now, some of you may recall my 'Songs About Jane' review a long while back, where I talked about my closeted enjoyment of the band. Something about the combination of Levine's vocals and the solid production values on the album do something that makes me want to listen. Some of their stuff is very pop and some is really a sad, mood type track. I tend to gravitate toward their slower ballads more, but the pop stuff is more than tolerable. 'Hands All Over' is certainly more pop than it is ballady sadness. But that's okay. There are a couple ballads that are still pretty poppy, but overall, the album really works well top to bottom. Then you get to the rereleased album that does contain 'Jagger' and all of the sudden you've got this sick dance track. Not really what I'd expect to hear from a Maroon 5 album. There are plenty of uptempo beaty tracks, like the opener in 'Misery' - but something about 'Jagger' rings a totally different sound than usual. I like it. I think if you're looking for a well produced pop album with great beats, this is definitely the album for you. While some of the ballads don't seem to fit in, there is no denying the band and the producer did a nice job setting a standard. Maybe not the most lyrically gifted effort either, but if you want a new Maroon album to just jive to and drift away with your toes tappin', this is the one.

1. Misery
2. Give a Little More
3. Stutter
4. Don't Know Nothing
5. Never Gonna Leave This Bed
6. I Can't Lie
7. Hands All Over
8. How
9. Get Back in My Life
10. Just a Feeling
11. Runaway
12. Out of Goodbyes
13. Moves Like Jagger

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Never Gonna Leave This Bed
2. Moves Like Jagger
3. Misery

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Duran Duran - Rio

We go all 80's today with a little Duran Duran. Not a band I'm overly familiar with, but willing to give a shot to this morning. These guys formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England. They got their start by working at the Rum Runner nightclub - at first just working the door and then deejaying for side cash. The caveat was if the club wasn't booked, they'd perform and hone in on their craft. There was also a prominent club just down the road called Barbarella's where larger acts performed, such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash. They in fact named the band based on the French film Barbarella, in which the main villain is named Mr. Durand Durand. This album was their second effort, and it dropped in 1982. It is their highest selling album in the US, at a nice 2x platinum. The lead single off the album was the ever-so-popular 'Hungry Like The Wolf'. While this contains the signature eighties snythed out style sound, somehow they've also managed to make that sound feel romantic in a way. I'm not really sure how to describe that, but maybe it's the way the ballads form over the album and the overall tone, it sounds like this was intended to be a love album. Part of the other reason this album might have done well, is it's a record you could dance to, in a very 80's way. Not that I'd call this a dance record by any means, but it's beaty enough in spots that you could easily get your toes tapping and hips swaying. Now, I'll fully admit this isn't my cup of tea. From time to time I enjoy the synth music from back in the day, but this tends to all blend together for me. It lacks any great substance lyrically and even musically to make me believe it's a classic of any sorts. When you think of older records that have similar music properties, the great ones have a 'Come Sail Away' or power track of that nature, and personally, I don't think 'Hungry' fits that same bill. 80's nuts will probably enjoy it, but it's just not for me.

1. Rio
2. My Own Way
3. Lonely In Your Nightmare
4. Hungry Like the Wolf
5. Hold Back the Rain
6. New Religion
7. Last Chance on the Stairway
8. Save a Prayer
9. The Chauffeur

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Hungry Like The Wolf
2. My Own Way
3. Rio

2.25 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials

What's this? Two New Music Tuesday entries?!?! Hooray music! About a year ago now, I was just some dummy off the street who had no idea who Florence + The Machine was. And you say, "But B Side, the first album came out in July of 2009!" And I say - I know dear reader. I really dropped the ball on this band. But once I listened to them, I was hooked. My loyal readers will recall I went to a show to see her perform this summer, and she was outstanding. Even as much as I loved her before, the show gave me a whole new respect of what she's capable of doing. The backstory for this record was Florence Welch was approached to do this "American pop music" record out in Los Angeles. At first, she was ecstatic, as she's a self described "sucker" for American pop. But when she read through the initial plan for the album, she couldn't do it. She couldn't just give up on all the principles that made 'Lungs' so amazing and true to her style. So back to London she went, working in the studio. This album was set out to be a better version of 'Lungs' with a "more dark, more heavy, bigger drum sounds, bigger bass, but with more of a whole sound". Pretty big shoes to fill. Listening to this for the first time this morning - wow. I'm honestly shocked. It feels so much like 'Lungs' but the songs have this quality, this depth that is almost like 'Lungs' on steroids. I refuse to say this album is "better" or even "worse" because it's too early for me to judge. But I can say this, her vocals and the heavy, dark drums - wow. It's just simply a style that I personally can't ever get sick of. I adore this. And no, it's not the most manly of albums out there, but so what? It's flat out great music. I'm going to have an initial hard time picking out my three tracks, but maybe I'll revisit this one in a few weeks. It's good enough that I'm gonna run out to buy it. So at the very least, you should check this one out.

1. Only If For a Night
2. Shake It Out
3. What the Water Gave Me
4. Never Let Me Go
5. Breaking Down
6. Lover To Lover
7. No Light, No Light
8. Seven Devils
9. Heartlines
10. Spectrum
11. All This and Heaven Too
12. Leave My Body
13. Remain Nameless
14. Strangeness and Charm
15. Bedroom Hymns
16. What the Water Gave Me (Demo)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Seven Devils
2. Never Let Me Go
3. What The Water Gave Me

4 out of 5 stars

Megadeth - TH1RT3EN

New Music Tuesday is in full effect today with a little Halloween style album that dropped today. Megadeth is one of my favorite metal bands of all time, and they put out the 'Thirteen' release today. For the future discussion of the album, I'm not going to spell it out with the clever numbers for letters scheme, because it takes too long and it kind of loses its fun. Anyhow, my first thought this morning was the film 'Thirteen Ghosts' could have played into this somehow, or that the movie will be upset that it sucked, and that this album wasn't out to promote the movie back in 2001 or whatever it was. Perhaps what's more obvious than that convoluted nonsense is that it very well might be their thirteenth album. Guess which one is the case? I'll let you decide. This album has been talked about for a couple years now. I recall reading about Mustaine talking new music in early 2010. This album is supposed to be amazing. I mean, every artist says their next album is going to be phenomenal, but they were hyping this one up pretty good. I think the plan was to somehow go back to the old school Megadeth 'Countdown to Extinction' feel, but also make that modern. I'm not sure this feels a whole lot different from the older Megadeth records, but hey - that's a good thing. There are some crazy stories about odd events that happened during production, and how it could relate to the old unlucky '13', but I don't really care enough to talk about it. I think this album rocks pretty gosh darn hard. It's 13 tracks of pure metal in the way that only Dave Mustaine can spit it. It's hard to imagine a metal fan not falling in love with this, and it's not like Megadeth is dropping albums every year to feed the fans fix. So for me, this one is a home run. If I'm in the mood for metal these next few months, this one is going straight in the player.

1. Sudden Death
2. Public Enemy No. 1
3. Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)
4. We the People
5. Guns, Drugs & Money
6. Never Dead
7. New World Order
8. Fast Lane
9. Black Swan
10. Wrecker
11. Millennium of the Blind
12. Deadly Nightshade
13. 13

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Sudden Death
2. 13
3. Public Enemy No. 1

3.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 31, 2011

Coldplay - Mylo Xyoto

We're back! I was out the last couple of days last week, so I didn't get to posting. And I dropped the ball on New Music Tuesday - so here is the first and probably last "Sorta New Music Monday"! Woohoo! Anyways, Coldplay dropped this album last Tuesday. Apparently this album is in the genre of industrial rock. I don't really see Coldplay as that type of band, so this may prove interesting. Lead singer Chris Martin stated this about the lyrics and writing on the album, "It's about love, addiction, OCD, escape and working for someone you don't like." The album itself is actually a concept record, in which Mylo and Xyoto are two protagonists. They live in this oppressive, urban environment, that I've heard referred to as a dystopia. One day the two meet each other and fall in love, and the story kind of goes all sappy from there. I know they've made comments in the past how they wanted to make an album more acoustic and passionate than the more recent records, but I'm not sure if this accomplished those goals. It's kind of been an up and down road for Coldplay. While I think they feel proud and comfortable with the way this album turned out, the critics are very mixed. Many of them seemingly leading to the negative end. And I guess while I get the theme, I'm not sure they did a great job at portraying the whole sequence in album form. I would expect the first few tracks to be fairly somber and darker, then the album to lighten up to the point where the love and happiness theme is cemented toward the end. And instead, you get this overall up and down record that seems to not be flowing very well. I prefer my Coldplay old school, slow songs that make you think and want to cry. This doesn't have any of those. I guess I'm leaning toward very average at best as well. It just doesn't scream Coldplay and that's just sad.

1. Mylo Xyloto
2. Hurts Like Heaven
3. Paradise
4. Charlie Brown
5. Us Against the World
6. M.M.I.X.
7. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
8. Major Minus
9. U.F.O.
10. Princess of China
11. Up in Flames
12. Hopeful Transmission, A
13. Don't Let It Break Your Heart
14. Up with the Birds

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Paradise
2. UFO
3. Princess of China

2.25 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Aerosmith - Get A Grip

My indifference on Aerosmith has been documented on the B Side before. It's really nothing new. But this album came out in the height of my music listening start. In April of 1993, I was certainly a young, impressionable listener. And I do recall my parents buying this cd very shortly after it came out. The album is 7x platinum in the states, so obviously a few other people rushed out and picked it up as well. This ended up being the last album dropped by the band on Geffen, as they moved to Columbia after this release. This album has a couple of crazy cameos in it, which I'm guessing most people didn't have any clue were on here. Don Henley sings backup vocals on 'Amazing' and Lenny Kravitz offers backup on 'Line Up'. Those aren't some small time names there. And for a band that had already seemingly reached legendary status - that's pretty cool. While this is tied for their best selling album in the states, it's the best selling album worldwide - over 20 million copies. So gosh, even my homer-ish opinions have to be wrong on this one. I mean, that's literally a metric ton worth of albums. And it's not like you only heard a song or two off this either. Even if you didn't own the record, there were SEVEN singles dropped from it. That's exactly half the album. Crazy. I guess my question to people who love this, is why? I mean, there is no question it sounds good. No question that you can put it on, drift away for an hour and find your toes tapping. Maybe even singing along with a track or two. But does it have any substance? I don't hear any. It's like bubblegum pop music meets rock n' roll. Lyrical content is zero, production values are none, arrangements are sloppy at best - it's merely a "get me over" fastball when you're already down 3-0 in the count. Aerosmith knew they were leaving Geffen. I don't think they even put a ton into this album. It just so happens to turn out, not trying lead to a ton of poppy guitar anthems that people loved to listen to in the car. Hey, that's never a bad thing.

1. Intro
2. Eat the Rich
3. Get a Grip
4. Fever
5. Livin' on the Edge
6. Flesh
7. Walk on Down
8. Shut Up and Dance
9. Cryin'
10. Gotta Love It
11. Crazy
12. Line Up
13. Amazing
14. Boogie Man

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Crazy
2. Cryin'
3. Amazing

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 24, 2011

M83 - Hurry Up We're Dreaming

I know it's not Tuesday - but I'm going to do a dance album anyway. I just feel in that sort of mood this morning. So we touch on M83 - which is an act by a French musician Anthony Gonzalez. It's name is derived from the spiral galaxy, Messier 83. The band has been around since 2001 - the same year he dropped the debut album. The album however, didn't release outside of Europe until 2005. The album simply didn't take off, and it wasn't until the 2nd studio release in 2003 that a label took notice, and released the original worldwide. Gonzalez employs an array of other people to help him with the music. He has a composer and then some folks that play instruments at live events and recordings. The feel of the music is very transcendent. I think there is a term called "shoegazing" that M83 uses. What is that exactly? I'll try to paraphrase it. Shoegazing is typically the artistry of using heavy distortions, riffs that keep reverberating and using sounds that sort of create this wall of sound. While they use guitar to keep the distortion, it's not the main focus of the sound. Everything is supposed to sort of blend together and create this very subdued, dreaming effect. Does it work? You be the judge. This album is supposed to be all about dreams. The sort of dreams you have as a kid, a teenager and then an adult. Tough subject to concur. But the goal would be to have this album feel like the dream state, and summarize the change in patterns throughout life. I don't know much about the other drops, but most people hail this as the best M83 has done yet. Even Gonzalez himself called this "epic". I'm kind of up in the air. I really like the sound and I like the feel - but reading through the intention, I don't feel it. This doesn't invoke emotion like the artist intended for me. That's always a bummer. But the music is still really solid. If you like Passion Pit, you'll like this too.

1. Intro
2. Midnight City
3. Reunion
4. Where the Boats Go
5. Wait
6. Raconte-Moi Une Histoire
7. Train to Pluton
8. Claudia Lewis
9. This Bright Flash
10. When Will You Come Home?
11. Soon, My Friend
12. My Tears Are Becoming a Sea
13. New Map
14. OK Pal
15. Another Wave From You
16. Splendor
17. Year One, One UFO
18. Fountains
19. Steve McQueen
20. Echoes of Mine
21. Klaus I Love You
22. Outro

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Midnight City
2. Fountains
3. This Bright Flash

3.25 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 21, 2011

Feist - The Reminder

Going back and listening to my Top 100 of the 2000's recently, I was reminded about 'The Reminder' upon hearing '1234' off of this record. Leslie Feist was born in 1976 in Nova Scotia. She was born into a family of the arts. I know some people say that figuratively - meaning they're part of any sort of culture. But this is literal, her parents were artists. Dad dabbled in abstracts and mom was in ceramics. Her parents divorced soon after she was born, and mom and brother moved away. Since her father was American, she has dual citizenship to this day. She started singing for a band called Placebo in 1991, but had to take some time off of music when she suffered some vocal cord damage. She didn't take to doing solo stuff until 1999. She dropped a couple studio albums before this one, and none of them saw any major publicity or success. Even with as big as '1234' became, this album is only listed as gold in the USA. Now, digging into this today - she's got a tremendous vocal. It's a little unique, in a way I cannot really describe. There are times when her voice is almost a little opera and times when it sounds so polished, yet rough. Not sure if that makes any sense - but her uniqueness isn't easy to describe to a reader. I'd encourage you to simply listen. What I forgot about and love, is James Blake covered the song 'The Limit To Your Love' and it's a really good track here too. Blake basically just redid the beats a little, but kept some of the lyrics. I do like his version better, but this one is nice in the ballad direction. This album as a whole has a really nice summer afternoon feel to it. I know it's getting colder out there, but I think this will transport you to a nice summer day drinking lemonade on the porch overlooking the lake, and just relaxing.

1. So Sorry
2. I Feel It All
3. My Moon My Man
4. Park, The
5. Water, The
6. Sea Lion Woman
7. Past in Present
8. Limit to Your Love, The
9. 1234
10. Brandy Alexander
11. Intuition
12. Honey Honey
13. How My Heart Behaves

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. 1234
2. The Limit To Your Love
3. The Water

3.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaelic Storm - What's The Rumpus?

Every so often someone drops something in the Suggestion Box - but doesn't leave their name attached to it. Which is fine, but I don't have any idea who to thank or who to give credit for if I love something. So here we go, with an anonymous suggestion for some good ol' Irish music. Gaelic Storm here is a band that formed in 1996 in Santa Monica, California. I know, slightly disappointing that they're not from Ireland directly - but it's okay. These guys got their big break in 1997 by being quasi-extras in a movie. Now, you must be asking, if they were just background extras in a film, it must have been a pretty big film if their careers took off. And I'd answer to you, yes - you are correct. The name of the film was this low budget flick called 'Titanic'. These guys are crazy dedicated to their craft. They do over 125 shows every year around the world. Those are crazy numbers. You know how many Jay-Z did last year? One. Yeah. This particular record came out in June of 2008. It made a small splash on the billboard charts, but nothing to write home about. I'm guessing these are the types of guys that if you see a show, you're so impressed you buy a cd or two. If you haven't seen them live, you either have not heard of them, or you wouldn't rush out to spend cash. Now, I will say - I do enjoy a good Irish/Scottish band every now and again. And what's cool about these guys, is this album has the signature Irish type drinking jams on it, but it also blends styles a bit and have a couple tracks that could pass as regular Top 40 style jams. Don't you worry though, there are plenty of bagpipin' good times over the 14 tracks. I'm not walking away blown out of my seat or anything, but I'm leaving happy - and that's what counts.

1. What's the Rumpus?
2. Lover's Wreck
3. Darcy's Donkey
4. Mechanical Bull, The
5. Human to a God
6. Slim Jim and the Seven Eleven Girl
7. Don't Let the Truth Get in the Way (Of a Good Story)
8. Samurai Set, The
9. Beidh Aonach Am rach
10. Death Ride to Durango
11. Faithful Land
12. If Good Times Were Dollars
13. Floating the Flambeau
14. Night I Punched Russell Crowe, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. The Night I Punched Russell Crowe
2. What's The Rumpus?
3. Darcy's Donkey

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Do you know know who Thom Yorke is? He's an English musician born in 1968. He's the frontman of a band too, but that's not important today. This is all about a solo album. A little history, when Thom was born, one of his eyes was fixed shut. Doctors said the eye was paralyzed, and the condition was permanent. Upon going to a specialist, he determined a muscle graft could work, and Thom underwent five eye operations before the age of six. While I believe he has vision, the surgery left him with a drooping eye. He attended Oxford after moving around a ton as a kid, but quickly figured school wasn't really for him. He was involved in a fairly serious car accident as a young adult, that to this day has left him very weary of any mechanized transportation. He started fronting his band in 1991, and they've been extremely successful. This solo record, his first, came out in 2006. The media wanted to blow that out of proportion, stating the band was breaking up - when that couldn't have been further from the truth as time has shown. The solo thing was done with their blessing, and even play a couple of his solo works at band shows. The style of this album is very alternative, true to form. It features some electronics, and very 808 type beats. Mind you, in 2006. Lyrically, this album is on point with just about any of the bands records, no dip in quality. That was recognized by him winning a grammy for best alt record. I'm not sure if I love this album or not, but it's really, really good. I think a couple times through, it's taking me a little while to catch the total vibe - but I'm getting there. Like some albums, they take a while to realize how amazing it actually is. If nothing else, this is one heck of a solo effort. It reminds of Beck a lot - except more of a lust for the style, and not as much arrangement change like a Beck record. Anyway, this is a good one to listen to today. And keep it in the player for a week or so. I think it'll grow on you.

1. The Eraser
2. Analyse
3. The Clock
4. Black Swan
5. Skip Divided
6. Atoms for Peace
7. And It Rained All Night
8. Harrowdown Hill
9. Cymbal Rush

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. The Eraser
2. Analyse
3. Cymbal Rush

3.75 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shelby Lynne - Revelation Road

New Music Tuesday kicks in with a little Shelby Lynne. Now, I suspect most of you have no idea who this lady is. Completely fine - you probably wouldn't have had any reason to know who she is. I only know her from an early 2000's soundtrack contribution 'Wall In Your Heart' that was oddly on the 'Orange County' soundtrack with Jack Black. I'm not sure I ever actually saw that movie, but I recall that song being on the trailer. Regardless, Shelby was actually born in Quantico, Virginia. There is nothing in Quantico, other than a lot of military and federal agency headquarters. She moved to Alabama shortly after being born, in which she lived in an increasingly abusive household. Her father ended up shooting and killing her mother, and himself when Shelby was 17 years old. Just one year after her parents death, she appeared on the TV program, "Nashville Now". Soon after making that appearance, she was signed to Epic Records. She continued to toil in the mediocrity for a decade plus, until she hit it big with a 1999 album release and subsequent contribution to the 'Bridget Jones' soundtrack. She was named "Best New Artist" in 1999, even though she'd been working in the business for years. This is Shelby's twelfth studio recording, and none of her albums have done particularly well commercially. This is her second drop on her own label, Everso Records. In terms of style, she's a vocalist. Very small arrangements typically, just an acoustic guitar and then maybe a slight drum beat. Very faint though. I like her voice - it's not super unique or amazing, but it's nice. Something comforting about the way she sings. But in terms of this album - it simply lacks anything that would make you think twice. Certainly not bad, but I'd really have to be in that slow music mood for it, and even then I'd probably rather listen to about 10 other records. It's worth checking out, just don't expect the world.

1. Revelation Road
2. I'll Hold Your Hand
3. Even Angels
4. Lead Me Love
5. The Thief
6. Woebegone
7. I Want To Go Back
8. I Don't Need A Reason To Cry
9. Toss It All Aside
10. Heaven's Only Days Down The Road
11. I Won't Leave You

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Even Angels
2. Lead Me Love
3. The Thief

2.25 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 17, 2011

Das Racist - Relax

Apologies for late last week. I ended up getting sick and I didn't post. But we're back today with follower Ashley's Suggestion Box drop of Das Racist. Now I won't claim to have been a big Das Racist supporter before today, but I'd heard of them before at least. And listening to them more this morning, it's certainly not hip hop in the conventional sense. There is this new genre out there called 'alternative rap'. What exactly does that mean? Nothing really. Basically it isn't standard hip hop or rap, so they drop that single meaningless word in front of it. I guess they call LMFAO something similar, although they could also fit the "party rap" standard. So dumb. Anyways, these guys are from Brooklyn. They all met in Connecticut at Wesleyan University. The name came up from a tv show that would have a little kid exclaiming that things were racist. So it became a game for friends of the band to yell that things were racist and call people out. (in a joking way) So they ended up calling their band Das Racist, with the potential influence from Das EFX. That isn't confirmed, just a thought. With all of them being minorities at a liberal arts type college in Connecticut, I can imagine that they faced a fair amount of obstacles getting through school. As someone who went to basically and all white school myself, I know it was hard on the couple of black guys I was friends with. Anyways, that's kind of the debate with this group. Are they just another joke? Do they have a solid take on hip hop today and taking down some sort of cultural barrier? I'm not here to debate any of that, so I'll just form my opinion on the merits of the music. And for me, this isn't worth my while. It reminds me a lot of Soulja Boy meets LMFAO or something. Maybe slightly better lyrics, but not all tracks. I mean, 'Rest In Peace Selena'. Is that being real, or some sort of sick joke? I can't tell, and it just doesn't have the feel of some sort of tribute. I don't know. I'm sure these guys have talent, but this album isn't legit.

1. Relax
2. Michael Jackson
3. Brand New Dance
4. Middle of the Cake
5. Girl
6. Shut Up, Man
7. Happy Rappy
8. Booty in the Air
9. Power
10. Punjabi Song
11. Selena
12. Rainbow in the Dark
13. Trick, The
14. Celebration

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Rainbow In The Dark
2. Relax
3. Brand New Dance

2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clem Snide - Ghost Of Fashion

Oh Hump Day. We roll into Wednesday with a little Clem Snide. Who is that? Great question. I have no idea either! My buddy Heidi dropped Clem into the Suggestion Box a while back. No album or anything, just the name. Looking him up today - it's not a him, but a full band! Who'd have guessed? But apparently they've been doing this country thing for quite some time. Except country with a caveat. They have this alternative/indie feel to them too. They started making music WAY back in 1991 - and they dropped a variety of independent type albums. They didn't drop their first record until 1998, which is quite the delay from inception to release. They from the New York area though, so some bands end up being quite content playing music on such a big stage. Being from New York, the 9/11 attacks took quite the toll on the band. At first they banded together and wanted to tour around and hope their music was a brief distraction for those people that were in need of support. But that tour was quite ill-fated, and didn't go well. Between all those emotions from the tour, the actual event emotions coming together - they decided to break apart for a while. The breakup didn't last too long though, and Clem Snide is back making music again today. If I've ever reviewed them, or if you've heard them on your own, the lead singer sounds like he's the front man of the Decemberists. I'm not sure what exactly makes this country, but that's the label they want. It's got this great mood feel, and it's extremely laid back. Being a decade old now, I think this really holds up against the test of time. I'm listening to this right now for the first time and it could have easily come out last week. Needless to say, I really enjoy this. I love the vocals, they make me want to listen to more. The soft guitar arrangements are nice, and they make the album flow very well. A couple tracks have that banjo-y country feel, so I think it has something for everyone.

1. Let's Explode
2. Long Lost Twin"
3. Ice Cube
4. Chinese Baby
5. Don't Be Afraid of Your Anger
6. Evil vs. Good
7. Moment in the Sun
8. The Curse of Great Beauty
9. Joan Jett of Arc
10. The Junky Jews
11. Ancient Chinese Secret Blues
12. The Ballad of Unzer Charlie
13. No One's More Happy Than You

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Moment In The Sun
2. The Curse Of Great Beauty
3. Ancient Chinese Secret Blues

4.25 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Evanescence - Self Titled

New Music Tuesday is in full swing today with one of my closeted favorite bands, Evanescence. I'm not sure why I don't proclaim from the heavens that I love these guys - but I do. I enjoy their hard rock - yet somehow ballady style. It's a really great contrast. This album drops today - but is a couple years in the making. They started writing lyrics for this album all the way back in 2009. They started recording this in 2010 - but after getting halfway through it, they determined they had hired the wrong producer for the job. Sometimes that happens. You feel a certain guy will give you the edge you're looking for, but when you hear everything on playback, it just isn't what the band thought it'd be. Which is hard, since you end up so far in the process before you make that determination. Some people think calling your album the same name as your band is just lazy. (Yep, me too) but for this particular album, they claim to have a reason. Amy Lee talked about how everyone in the band was getting tired, and maybe losing the love for music they once had. Suddenly they had this revelation. They all realized the band is a huge part of them and makes them really happy making music for not only themselves, but their fans. So this album is called Evanescence because it's all about their revitalization in themselves, and this album is for the band. In terms of style, this album doesn't stray too much from the secret Evanescence formula. It still has that heavy overtone with great Amy Lee vocals and solid arrangements. There seems to be a little more electronics on this album, which surprised me pleasantly. I do feel this album is more in your face than previous albums. Like, if I could put myself in Lee's shoes, and think about how she felt while writing these tracks, I feel this might be her most passionate album to date. And I'm coming away impressed. I'm going to recommend this one today. I think you'll enjoy it.

1. What You Want
2. Made of Stone
3. The Change
4. My Heart Is Broken
5. The Other Side
6. Erase This
7. Lost in Paradise
8. Sick
9. End of the Dream
10. Oceans
11. Never Go Back
12. Swimming Home
13. New Way to Bleed
14. Say You Will
15. Disappear
16. Secret Door

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Secret Door
2. My Heart Is Broken
3. Erase This

3.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kansas - Point Of Know Return

Checking the old Suggestion Box, a while back follower janis! asked that I take a peek at some Kansas. Now, I know my way around a Kansas record - but I can't really say that I've ever taken the time out to listen to a full length recording. Not sure why - but maybe they've never been my wheelhouse groove since I was a kid. Now, it what I would call the shocking revelation of 2011 - Kansas formed in, yes - Kansas. I'm sure you're stunned, I know I am too. They got their start in the early 70's, and they were kind of a hodgepodge of band members that just liked jamming out. They have a very unique style - mixing their love to boogie with very complex symphonic arrangements. It makes for the opera type album from start to finish. You certainly have the climaxes and falls that you'd expect to hear in a very well told story. They didn't really hit it big until 1977 with their release of 'Leftoverture' which produced the single 'Carry On Wayward Son'. That album sits at 5x platinum, their highest selling record to date. It was one year later that this album dropped, and it has reached a very respectable 4x platinum. The reason I chose this record instead, is the signature track 'Dust In The Wind'. Even if you never heard Kansas before, you probably have seen 'Old School' and can picture Will Ferrell belting out that track while serenading his deceased buddy - Blue. It's pretty much in the middle of the album - and it creates this really nice ballad break for the listener. You can't ignore the opener track as well, 'Point Of Know Return'. Very uptempo style that doesn't really carry that unique classical Kansas feel. But the rest of this album falls right in line to that symphonic effort, and they basically mastered that craft. It's not going to fit everyone's tastes, but it's a pretty solid album. And if nothing else, you can never go wrong listening to 'Dust' over and over.

1. Point of Know Return
2. Paradox
3. Spider, The
4. Portrait (He Knew)
5. Closet Chronicles
6. Lightning's Hand
7. Dust in the Wind
8. Sparks of the Tempest
9. Nobody's Home
10. Hopelessly Human

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Dust In The Wind
2. Point Of Know Return
3. Nobody's Home

3.75 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 7, 2011

LL Cool J - Mr. Smith

So recently I was talking with someone about music, and upon asking what music this person was big into - one of the first responses was LL Cool J. After I stopped laughing, I returned a glance to notice this person was dead serious. So clearly I missed out on something and need to go back to his stuff. I went with this album as it's his best selling, at 2x platinum. He had a couple other 2x records as well, but I didn't feel like listening to 'Mama Said Knock You Out' today. Some people refer to LL as a visionary, and one of the pioneers of hip hop. Why you might ask? Great question! He was one of the first rappers to really arrange his songs in a pop style - and basically blend the two together. Before LL, believe it or not, pop fans and rap fans were two very separate groups. He took a big hit in terms of street cred for that, in which he has responded over the years. He's done a number of more hardcore rap records, in which pretty much all of them are terrible. It's hard to listen to a guy talk about all the things he likes in the bedroom as his "style" and then talk about blowin' holes in gangsta's. It just doesn't jive. He tried though, and that's half the battle. So here's why I don't like his music. This album is 15 tracks deep. The bigger singles on this album were 'Hey Lover' and 'Doin' It'. Now, if you listen to those songs, you'd get the feeling this is a guy who is going to do collabo ballads and that's his sweet spot. But then you have the 'I Shot Ya' tracks here, where he seems to be trying to be hardcore. You can't have it both ways! And then you go and do this NBC show 'In The House'? That's supposed to clean up your soft image? Get serious. I heard he's pretty good in the NCIS series and I actually liked the movie 'Any Given Sunday', in which he did a fine job. Personally, I think he should stick to acting and call it a day. Thankfully, he hasn't dropped an album since 2008 - and I don't see a plan for another.

1. Intro, The (Skit)
2. Make It Hot
3. Hip Hop
4. Hey Lover
5. Doin It
6. Life as...
7. I Shot Ya
8. Mr. Smith
9. No Airplay
10. Loungin
11. Hollis to Hollywood
12. God Bless
13. Get da Drop on 'Em
14. Prelude (Skit)
15. I Shot Ya (Remix)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. I Shot Ya (Remix)
2. Doin' It
3. Loungin'

1.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks

Sorry for the delay today. Somehow I was locked out of my computer for two hours. The mysteries of these crazy machines that will someday take over the world. Anyways, when I think about punk rock - these guys typically enter my mind first. I'm not really sure why, but when I play word association with myself, punk rock = Sex Pistols. Now for some of you, you may think that's perfectly normal. But the strange thing is, I've never really been a fan of theirs. I know some of their stuff, but I don't own any albums or have a poster on my wall or anything. It's fairly random. And even in pop culture, these guys formed in 1975 or so, and they only lasted for about two and a half years. Only dropping one studio album. Yet somehow, they are known as one of the most influential acts in music history. The band had really just started rolling when bassist Sid Vicious passed away. Interesting story. His girlfriend was murdered and found dead in his apartment via a knife that belonged to Sid. He was in a drunken and drug based stupor - and claims he had nothing to do with it. He was charged with murder, and thusly tried to kill himself. When he failed, he was in Bellvue Mental Hospital for a while. Upon his release, they had a party to celebrate where his mother had heroin delivered to the party - against the wishes of his girlfriend he'd met his first day out. Sid ended up OD-ing, but the folks at the party were able to revive him. He died in his bed that night. Shortly thereafter a note was found that said this: "We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye." Crazy stuff. There is so much more about that story I'd like to tell, because it's fascinating, but I digressed too much already. This is mid 70's punk rock at its finest. If you enjoy punk rock today, this is where it all got started. I won't suggest that I'm their biggest fan, because I still won't be after listening to this. But I respect it. I think had they been able to continue with the original line up, they'd have been one of the best selling bands ever. Instead, this album is platinum in the states, and they never reached that mark again. Take a listen to this and remember what was, and what could have been.

1. Holidays in the Sun
2. Bodies
3. No Feelings
4. Liar
5. God Save the Queen
6. Problems
7. Seventeen
8. Anarchy in the U.K.
9. Submission
10. Pretty Vacant
11. New York
12. E.M.I.

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Anarchy In The UK
2. Bodies
3. God Save The Queen

4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nirvana - Nevermind

Recently, Nirvana would have celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of 'Nevermind'. Since this occurred during my quasi-hiatus, I didn't get a chance to tell you guys about it. This album was expected to pretty much do nothing. It was this small Seattle based band that drew inspiration from a band like the Pixies - just making music that identified with the grunge era. Then, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' hit the MTV circuit and the song hit the radio. It went from something that would sell maybe a million to something that sold well over 10. To display how big it was, by 1992 it topped Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' in the billboard charts. That's no small feat. People have made a big deal about the lyrical quality over the years. But in my opinion, it's just nit-picking a really tight, solid album. Sure, you can't fully understand what Cobain is saying all the time, and sure, if you do make it out, it doesn't always make sense. But so what? Whatever he was singing about, he was obviously very passionate about it. And attempting to decipher any rock band and their lyrics is mostly an exercise in futility. It's frankly amazing how sites like Rolling Stone initially gave this a 3 out of 5 the day it dropped, but now consider it one of the best albums of all time. Why is that? At first glance would you think, "oh - it's just another rock band doing the grunge thing?" But then we got to know Cobain through his death, and all of the sudden all the works we did have became legendary. I wasn't on board with that. I always felt Nirvana's music was glorified because of the way it ended, versus the quality. Well, I was a fool. Listening to this again and again, it's just flat out awesome. 'Teen Spirit' is one of my least favorite tracks on the record. The rest of them are powerful, well done tracks that make you want more. There is a reason this album sold over 30 million copies worldwide - and it isn't just because the frontman died tragically. Do yourself a favor and pick this up again. I think even casual rock fans will come to remember and respect what Nirvana was all about.

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come as You Are
4. Breed
5. Lithium
6. Polly
7. Territorial Pissings
8. Drain You
9. Lounge Act
10. Stay Away
11. On a Plain
12. Something in the Way

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. In Bloom
2. Lithium
3. Something In The Way

4. Come As You Are
5. Breed

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daft Punk - Discovery

I'm no fool. I know 'Techno Tuesday' isn't the reason most of you log on to read on Tuesday's - or any other day of the week. But heck, I like dance music. And I know a couple others that do too. So if nothing else, this makes me remember to listen to some beaty goodness each week. And why shouldn't anyone want to listen to Daft Punk? The only person I know that doesn't like the song 'One More Time' is follower Mithrandr. Craziness. Anyways, I believe I've documented my enjoyment of this band before. I reviewed their 'Homework' album a while back, to a fairly high praise. Discovery here is a bit of a curveball to their earlier works. This one is a little more synthed out than previous albums, and has a little different feel overall. It's called Discovery as it's supposed to mimic the stages of being a child, and really figured out what everything is in this crazy world. Other than the big hit I already mentioned, a lot of this album feels like late 70's funk music and then early 80's synth rock music. It's like if George Clinton and Styx got together and made a funky fresh dance album - this would be the offspring. When this came out in 2001, the dance revolution was starting to calm down quite a bit from what it was in the late 90's. They lost a little steam from their prior record, and this never got to be quite a big as they all thought it could have been. Maybe because a song like 'Short Circuit' sounds like a really bad 'Top Gun' song - but still. There are a couple good tracks here, and if you like dance music, you'll like this.

1. One More Time
2. Aerodynamic
3. Digital Love
4. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
5. Crescendolls
6. Nightvision
7. Superheroes
8. High Life
9. Something About Us
10. Voyager
11. Veridis Quo
12. Short Circuit
13. Face to Face
14. Too Long

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. One More Time
2. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
3. Voyager

3 out of 5 stars

Scotty McCreery - Clear As Day

Ahh yes. The HIGHLY anticipated debut release of Season 10 American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery. Seriously, did anyone even remember about this kid? I understand the show is huge and that people vote in droves for this contest. But is anyone really going to rush out today and pick this up? Please let me know if you are. Anyways, New Music Tuesday swings into place with Scotty here. He's 17 years old, and hails from Garner, North Carolina. What he has going for him, is he has the vocal of a guy 55 years old who has been smoking and drinking whiskey his whole life. Perfect if you want to get into the country music business. Even though he was from NC, he ended up auditioning in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The judges of course were impressed and shocked by his voice. He won the show pretty easily, among seemingly no real competition. This is all my opinion of course, and I don't find his style to be all that appealing. When I do listen to country music, I enjoy listening to guys sing about their issues and stuff I can relate to. This "kid" is a kid! He's 17! What's been his biggest problem so far? I wanted to kiss a girl, but I didn't have the courage? My mom didn't make pancakes this morning and I had to settle for two Eggo's WITHOUT any syrup? These aren't problems I can relate to. And that's pretty much what this album is. Sure, he's got the voice. Sure, he's got some pretty nice arrangements on this album. But it's pure nonsense. 'The Trouble With Girls'? Come on. If you're over 16 this song shouldn't be relate-able to you. I'm all fired up now. It isn't so much as this is bad, it's just not worth listening to. I'd rather listen to Taylor Swift's problems - at least she has a great Kanye story.

1. Out of Summertime
2. I Love You This Big
3. Clear As Day
4. Trouble with Girls, The
5. Water Tower Town
6. Walk in the Country
7. Better Than That
8. Write My Number On Your Hand
9. Dirty Dishes
10. You Make That Look Good
11. Back on the Ground
12. That Old King James

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Better Than That
2. Clear As Day
3. Back On The Ground

1.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 3, 2011

Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon

We're back on what is shaking out to be a normal week for me, and thusly, regular reviews! Hooray! Iced Earth here is a Florida based heavy metal band. The lead man of the group is Jon Scaffer - who has been around since day one. He started the band while in Columbus, Indiana - and called them Purgatory. The name was forced to change when he moved down to Florida, and there was already a fairly popular band with the same name lingering around. Iced Earth is became, and the rest is history. Their first studio album came out in 1990, and they are still out there making tunes today. This particular record came out in 2007 as part of a two piece concept recording. They were going for this metal opera type theme which tends to be pretty common. For some reason, metal makers seem to have this deep down desire to be thespians and make albums showing such. But this concept was two albums depicting the fictional creation and destruction of mankind. Heavy stuff. I'm not really sure what I think about this. While on one hand, the deep down metal lover in me says it's pretty solid. I like the Mustaine type vocal and the really fast paced guitar in places. The other side of me that's logical, hates when bands create these alternate worlds and sing about them as if we're supposed to know what's in their crazy dreams or nightmares. If I can weave my way past that though, there is some good music here. And it opens with track one being this, brooding melody that sets the tone. The only down side is how a couple of the tracks are a little cheesy, and sound like something The Lonely Island would parody. But all in all, it's worth listening to. And it's probably only a metal fan type of record - but give it a shot anyway. Maybe if you're into fictional novels like LOTR or that ilk, this will be your thing too.

1. Overture
2. Something Wicked, Pt. 1
3. Invasion
4. Motivation of Man, The
5. Setian Massacre
6. Charge to Keep, A
7. Reflections
8. Ten Thousand Strong
9. Execution
10. Order of the Rose
11. Cataclysm
12. Clouding, The
13. Infiltrate and Assimilate
14. Retribution Through the Ages
15. Something Wicked, Pt. 2
16. Domino Decree, The
17. Framing Armageddon
18. When Stars Collide (Born Is He)
19. Awakening, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Framing Armageddon
2. A Charge To Keep
3. Reflections

3 out of 5 stars

Friday, September 30, 2011

Moving Forward.

So a little explanation of where I am for you guys.

Next week and going forward should be back to "normal" for me for a while. I think I'm going to cut down to one post per day, maybe two still if I'm feeling ambitious.

Please do keep your suggestions coming, as well as the comments.

I'd also like to look into other forums for you guys to share more and all that. If you have any ideas, let me know. I'm looking into some layout options too - just to make things more fun.

Hope all is well in your worlds, and Go Badgers, Brewers and Packers!

B Side

J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story

Finally back to normal after being out of the office for the last few days. A long while back, follower Ashley dropped some J. Cole into the suggestion box. Sometimes though, stuff is in the box before it drops, which was the case with Mr. Cole here. This is his first studio record, and it dropped on Tuesday this week. Jermaine Cole was born in 1985 in Frankfurt, Germany. Yes, you read that correctly. Born in Germany. That didn't last long though, as he moved to North Carolina at eight months. Turns out he was a pretty smart kid too. He ended up attending St. John's University on an academic scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. Cole got into rap at a young age, citing 2Pac, Eminem, Nas and Andre 3000 as his major influences. He started rhyming words at age 15, and he thought he might have a shot at a career someday. A story goes that he made this great track over a sampled beat, stood outside of Jay-Z's office for over 3 hours waiting to show it to him. When Jay came out of his office, he shunned J and things looked grim. Cole was working at a collection agency at that time, and a couple months after that incident, an associate of Jay-Z left a message for Cole saying they needed to meet as soon as possible. Immediately, Cole left his job and got ready for the meeting. He was signed shortly thereafter. In terms of style, this album is a little different. It's a little lighter like in the the Drake realm of hip hop. It's more than that though. It seems to have more substance than most Drake records. While I don't think he knocked this record out of the park, it's a solid first effort. It reminds of of like a cross of Drake, Bruno Mars and maybe Lil Wayne. Some rapping, some piano laced beats and a lighter flow - yet solid flow. Even if you're a pop fan, this is worth checking out. It's got a semi-pop feel to it.

1. Intro
2. Dollar and a Dream III
3. Can't Get Enough
4. Lights Please
5. Interlude
6. Sideline Story
7. Mr. Nice Watch
8. Cole World
9. In the Morning
10. Lost Ones
11. Nobody's Perfect
12. Never Told
13. Rise and Shine
14. God's Gift
15. Breakdown
16. Work Out

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Lost Ones
2. Work Out
3. Can't Get Enough

3.25 out of 5 stars

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

There has been a lot of hoopla surrounding Pink Floyd as of late. Maybe only in my inner-circle (which solely includes myself) - but still. They put out all their albums and a bunch of new artwork in this huge, super expensive box set that I totally want. I won't buy it because I'm cheap, but it looks pretty amazing. They also have this Australian based experience show that's touring the states soon. I think it's coming to Milwaukee in December, so that'll be super fun. I probably will go, because I'm such a Floyd nut. But it made me think of how many reviews I've done for the band, and the answer was a shocking one. ONE??!?! Come on. And that one review was way back when the blog first started. That's just crazy. So here I am, reviewing one of my favorite albums of all time. And you might look at me and think, what makes this go good? It's only 5 tracks deep? And normally, I'd kick my feet up and whole heartedly agree with you. Five tracks is typically way too short of an album for my tastes. But my friends, there is a reason this 1975 gem is 6x platinum in the USA. It's freakin' amazing. And even though it's only 5 songs, it's still about 50 minutes long. Not too shabby. But all the songs are incredible, and make you want to listen to more and more Floyd. There is a really great story about one of their band mates, Syd Barrett and this album - and I highly encourage you all to read about that someday. It's part of the reason this album is so great, the inspiration the band drew from his mental decline. Regardless, I can't emphasize enough how great this record is. 'Shine On' is broken into two separate tracks and nine parts. If you put all 20+ minutes together, you have a symphonic masterpiece. The other three songs are just ho-hum Top billboard type materials. With 'Have a Cigar' being one of the most recognized Floyd songs of all time. I have no way of deciding what my Top 3 are, because all 5 songs (4 if you don't break out the sections of 'Shine') are amazing. Please, check it out. Make me happy today by telling me how much you love this as well.

1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5)
2. Welcome To The Machine
3. Have A Cigar
4. Wish You Were Here
5. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:

5+ out of 5 stars