Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

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