Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Monday, February 28, 2011

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury



It's been such a long time since I've done a really good, under the radar rap album for you guys. I know there aren't a ton of you who are big rap fans like me, but for those couple that are - I know you'll really appreciate this one. I always talk about artists that are the "best you're not listening to". Here is another one. Clipse is one of the best rap acts you're not listening to. I reviewed 'Lord Willin' a while back, and gave it positive feedback. I think more people are getting semi used to Pusha T - since he's been really hitting the callabo circuit hard. (see Kanye's single 'Runaway') Even though Lord Willin' was not as good of an album, that nearly sold a million copies - where this album has only sold around 300k. In terms of radioplay singles, this album only had two. 'Wamp Wamp' and 'Mr. Me Too'. Both of those are solid tracks - but just scratch the surface of what else is on this record. They talked about the release of this album, and a bit of the controversy that surrounded it. I'm just going to paste the long quote in, not edit it for content. So in case I have any PG readers out there, be warned. "We were ready to get into the thick of things with the success of the first album … the songs we had done were really hot, but at that point in time we were in a different place, we were happier. Time passed, and we saw it was a big hold up, and the momentum, the people that waited for us, we took too long. We couldn't dare come out in the same mind frame as we did in Lord Willin' - so, now we mad, we angry, we pissed the fuck off." This just happens to coincide with what I talked about on the last review. Sometimes the anger/strife/badness can create a really good album. As is the case here. This album is darn near perfect. Rap perfection anyway. This is really a MUST listen if you're a rap fan. I put it on fairly often, and everytime walk away with a smile on my face.

TRACK LISTING:
1. We Got It For Cheap
2. Momma I'm So Sorry
3. Mr. Me Too
4. Wamp Wamp (What It Do)
5. Ride Around Shining
6. Dirty Money
7. Hello New World
8. Keys Open Doors
9. Ain't Cha
10. Trill
11. Chinese New Year
12. Nightmares

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Mr. Me Too
2. Momma I'm Sorry
3. Hello New World

FINAL RATING:
4.25 out of 5 stars

Sara Evans - Born To Fly



Back to being Monday. I had a long weekend celebrating my year of music reviewing and blogging. Okay, so I didn't really celebrate at all - but still. Fun to say. It's country day again on the B Side - and another artist suggestion from JenInTosa. I decided to go with this Sara Evans album since it was her best selling - but this is yet another country artist that I had not heard of before. Evans was born in 1971 in New Franklin, Missouri. As a child, she grew up on a farm with seven brothers and sisters. When she was five, she started to sing in her family's band. At eight years old, she was struck by a car and suffered multiple fractures to her legs. She was stuck in a wheelchair for quite a while, and used singing at different gigs to help her family pay for the medical bills. She got a gig at a local nightclub that lasted two full years. She moved to country mecca Nashville at 20 where she met her husband. They decided to move to Oregon for some reason, only to return back to Nashville where she'd be signed by RCA Nashville. She was divorced in 2006 and it was VERY messy. The husband claimed she literally slept with half of the music business. I mean, actually claimed this. 4/5 members of 3 Doors Down, Kenny Chesney, Richard Marx - it's crazy. She ended up having to pay him 500k over two years in alimony and got sued by her ex-nanny for 3 million over defamation. Had to pay her 500k also in the end. Just nasty. Anyway, she's remarried now - and seems to be on a different path. It's fairly ironic that I just happened to choose her today, as she's got an album due out next week. This one came out in 2000 and is 2x platinum in the US. I think this is a really solid album. It's contemporary country, but not in the same Taylor Swift sense. I want to listen to another album by her, especially one after the divorce. Sounds nasty, but artists seem to be most "real" when they've gone through tragedy like that - and that usually makes for great music. Anyway, check this out. I think it's a nice country record.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Born to Fly
2. Saints & Angels
3. I Could Not Ask for More
4. I Keep Looking
5. I Learned That from You
6. Let's Dance
7. Why Should I Care
8. Four-Thirty
9. Show Me the Way to Your Heart
10. You Don't
11. Every Little Kiss

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Why Should I Care
2. I Learned That From You
3. Saints And Angels

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Friday, February 25, 2011

Heidi Presents, "Happy Birthday B Side"

Writing at random for the B side for the past year has been an awesome experience. When I started contributing, the plan was to create a head to head He Said/She Said style debate. I don't know if we really got there on the blog. Most of our debating is done off-line so that we can appear civil, reasonable and adult to the public. (Isn't that the best thing about the Internet? The free ability to define who you are with words and not actions? Delight!)

So, on the one year anniversary of the B Side, I decided to bring public the nearly friendship-dissolving argument that I had with the B Side. The subject of that debate? Kanye West, obvs. I might have made one small joke in a post about how much I hate him, and I might have done it just to bait the Kanye West loving B Side. These actions went against my entire philosophy of how culture fits into our lives, and I'm not proud.

Here's an abridged version of the argument, please note, I swear like a sailor, so this version is edited for content:

B Side: I love Kanye. I'm going to buy his album first thing tomorrow.

Heidi: I respect him as an artist, but I can't get over how much of an a** he is.

B Side: Blah, blah, blah, the backlash has been misplaced. Blah, blah, blah, Michael Jackson. Blah, blah, blah tour cancellation?

Heidi: PLEASE! Gaga was right to cancel oh him - her message is about acceptance for everyone! He showed he is the total opposite. If she kept him, it would have been hypocritical! He f**king blew it!

B Side: Blew it why? Because he spoke his mind about a Beyonce video? Who cares!

Heidi: Exactly. He overreacted to an MTV award loss?! Since when do they give those to actual artists?

B Side: Well, at least we agree about that.

Heidi: I think if it was one isolated incident with Taylor Swift, it wouldn't have been such a big deal, but he's DONE THIS BEFORE! That's the thing. It's like the world is done putting up with his douchebaggery. And all of the mea culpa songs he writes feel false, because it seems like being an a**hole is such a huge part of who he is. He's a talented guy who thinks he's the best thing to happen to music, and I'm not so sure if we should be thanking him for autotune.

B Side: Blah, blah, blah he IS the best thing to ever happen to music.

Heidi: Well, i have a hard time listening to it, because I hate him so much and am so cynical.

B side: You're narrow minded is what you're telling me.

This goes on for another thirty minutes until it ends with:

Heidi: I'm not angry, btw . . .


B Side: It's just a discussion; of course you're not.

I think a big part of why this site was started was to try to give like-minded music fans a friendly place to debate and share their opinions. I read a lot of other sites and see comments from readers who are passionate about music and pop culture, and the discussion so frequently turns angry and judgmental about the other readers' tastes. I can't stand it. I write a lot about how music means something different to each person, and that we should appreciate the memories and associations that our friends have with a particular artist, even if that artist is Kanye West. I like that we try to accept everyone and everything here at the B Side.

I mean, even our fearless creator has learned something this year - not all country music is bad!

So readers, thanks for reading. And a big thanks to the B Side for starting this up. I look forward to this next year!

Now, it's time for you join in the conversation! The real question in our debate is whether an artist should be appreciated beyond their public persona. (I'm looking at you, John Mayer.) So, please respectfully sound off with your opinion . . . because that's what we do here.

Happy Birthday B Siders!

B Side Presents, "A Year In Review"



Today marks a really big day for all of us at the B Side. It's been ONE YEAR since I started blogging. I'm not sure about you, but that absolutely blows my mind. We've amassed around 500 posts, about 25,000 unique visitor hits and somewhere around 1,000 comments. I've personally reviewed 435 albums - which has been nothing but fun the whole time. Here's to another year of fun, and hopefully all you guys keep reading, and tell your friends too. I'd like to keep getting more readers, more comments and maybe even more writing. I don't want to overload you guys at all - but I think getting multiple perspectives could be exciting. Thanks for reading and continuing to read. Please keep the comments coming and the suggestions plentiful. I couldn't do it without you guys.

Now for a little fun. I want to reflect on some stuff from the year. Hopefully you guys join me and do the same!

Favorite Artist I'd Never Listened To Before: The Black Keys. Around April of last year I decided to pick up the entire Black Keys catalog on a whim. I'd heard a song played on a new TV show I enjoyed, so I decided to look up who it was by. The first album I listened to was 'Magic Potion' and I fell in love. These guys are coming to Summerfest, and I really want to go. Their style is so unique with what else is out there today. Very refreshing.

Favorite Album I'd Never Listened To Before: Passion Pit - Manners. It took me a year to hear about this and listen to it - but once I did, I knew I loved it. Like the Keys, it's just different from what else is out there. Shoutout to Shaqwanda for tuning me into this one. It's been nothing but regular play ever since.

Favorite New Album: There was some really good stuff that came out over the last year. REALLY good stuff. To list some off, Eminem - Recover; Eels - End Times; Deadmau5 - 4x4=12; Arcade Fire - Suburbs; Black Keys - Brothers; STP - Self Titled. Those all saw and do see regular play for me. But based on sheer number of plays thufar - the winner is Kanye West - My Beautiful, Dark Twisted Fantasy. I think I skip one track on the album and that's it. Top to bottom, it's a great album to listen to.

Favorite New (To Me) Artist: I didn't pick up on a lot of new artists in the last year. I don't have a great outlet to pick up on bands that are just forming. If you have any suggestions, let me know. But the most recent band that I can think of that I really enjoy is Cage The Elephant. Their debut album rocked my world for a while and I've been digging the new one quite a bit too. Very much worth checking out if you haven't already.

Favorite Album I Blew The Dust Off Of: Tie. This is a tie between Nirvana - In Utero and Fugees - The Score. In either case, how could I forget about it? In Utero was flat out amazing. And if you think you know it because you know the "hits", you're way off base. The best songs are the ones you don't know about. And Fugees? Wow. Maybe I shouldn't have stopped listening to this as a teenager. As an adult, I love this way more than I did back in the day.

Favorite Artist I Blew The Dust Off: Without question, Radiohead. I backed out of my big Radiohead phase in college. I remember thinking that I was going to drop into deep depression if I kept it going. Now, it doesn't have that effect on me. And the stuff that came out since then is simply brilliant. Kid A is flat out amazing. But so is OK Computer, The Bends and EVERY other album they've done.

Thing I've Learned Most: There is a lot. I don't hate country music. I actually like quite a bit of it. Pop music today fails to meet the gold standards it's set in the past. Gaga is good, but nothing is quite like Jacko and Madonna back in the day. I adore new music. Putting on an album I've never heard of before is very exciting to me. Even if i hated it, I still come away smiling for some reason. Techno music makes running on a treadmill or doing an hour on the elliptical WAY easier.

I STILL WANT TO LEARN MORE: I appreciate and really take to heart all the feedback you guys give me. Please keep it coming. Anything I can do to make this thing better and get more and more people interested, I'm all for doing. It seems silly for just a blog, but I'd love for this to turn into something bigger someday....someday.


Thanks for a great year one! Here's to an ever greater year two!

Cheers!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pink - Funhouse



Shoutout to all my pop fan followers and readers today. Frankly, I'm shocked that no one has dropped a Pink album in the Suggestion Box. I know a bunch of you enjoy her music - so it's a bit odd. Regardless, her new single 'F***in' Perfect' has been all over the radio as of late, and it made me think of doing an album by her. "Pink's" real name is Alecia Beth Moore and she was born in 1979 in Philadelphia, PA. She was born a healthy baby, but was diagnosed with asthma shortly after birth. That really plagued her childhood. She starting writing at a very young age as an outlet for her frustrations. She began performing at local clubs at age 14, and eventually formed a three girl group called 'Choice' at 16. They even got a small deal with LA Reid and worked with different people trying to get a record out there. It never happened, but it was probably great experience for her solo stuff. She took the name Pink oddly enough from the film Reservoir Dogs and the Mr. Pink character. Her debut album dropped in 2000 and saw solid success. Her sophomore album is a nice 5x platinum - her best selling to date. I decided to run with this album for no other reason that it has my personal fave Pink track on it (which will be number one in the Top 3) Although this record is only 1x platinum in the states, it's an odd 11x in Australia. I have no idea why. She's had some ups and downs with her husband Carey Hart, but they are expecting their first child soon. Her music career is up and down too. She has her fair share of critics and fans alike. I'm a bit on the fence. I wouldn't actively listen to this - but it's not the worst pop music ever. It's certainly worth checking out today if you've never heard the whole thing. I'm pretty certain if you're a popper, you'll enjoy this.

TRACK LISTING:
1. So What
2. Sober
3. I Don't Believe You
4. Catch-22
5. Please Don't Leave Me
6. Bad Influence
7. Funhouse
8. Crystal Ball
9. Mean
10. It's All Your Fault
11. Ave Mary A
12. Glitter In the Air

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Please Don't Leave Me
2. I Don't Believe You
3. Mean

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Fang Island - Self Titled



A very long time ago, in a land very far away - I went to an STP concert. I reviewed said concert here on the B Side, and made a promise to in the near future review the first opening act. Well my friends, that day has finally come. Fang Island opened for STP round 2 back in August of last year. Follower Shaqwanda and I were both at the show, and we were both impressed by their performance. I wanted to see if that translated to their album - so here it goes. Oddly enough these gents also hail from Providence, Rhode Island - second band in a week. Although they all reside nowadays in Brooklyn. They started jamming in 2005 and got their name from an article in The Onion. Their guitarist states, "I think it was just a funny blip about Donald Rumsfeld having a secret hideaway, and it was on Fang Island. We like how it was sort of this, like, fictional space that we imagined our music was played on". Kind of neat story. They say their music is best described as "everyone high-fiving each other" and they want to "make music for people who like music". Well Fangers, I like music. I like it a-lot...(in my best Jim Carrey voice) This album dropped in February of 2010 and is their only studio release to date. Nothing on the docket it appears coming soon either. The album does have that very solid jam band quality - which is why it translated to well into a live show. However, the album doesn't seem to convey the same awesome energy as they did live. I still like this, but I'm not sure if I'm being swayed because of what I saw in person. Let me know what you think...I'm not convinced of anything other than if they were opening for someone again, I'd be excited.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Dreams of Dreams
2. Careful Crossers
3. Daisy
4. Life Coach
5. Sideswiper
6. Illinois
7. Treeton
8. Davy Crockett
9. Welcome Wagon
10. Dorian

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Davey Crockett
2. Daisy
3. Sideswiper

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Filter - Short Bus



All the pretty chicks with the crimson lips go Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks! Oh, sorry. That's what entered in my mind as I'm reading Filter here is from Cleveland, Ohio. Sometimes when something shiny crosses my path I tend to....well - regardless. Since Filter started making music in 1993, they get lumped into the alternative revolution. And for the most part, they're right but look how they all got strong. Ha, see what I did there? If you don't, let me know. I think this album is a pretty good example of how they fit into the alt rock category, mainly just because of what else was out there. They probably would be considered more metal by today's standards - but if you sit back and listen to this, it's not all that different from a heavy Soundgarden or Alice in Chains album. And those two bands are for sure alt rock. And since we're talking alternative, Nirvana could have inspired this album. I think we all know 'Hey Man, Nice Shot' was the moneymaker from this record - and it's thought that Cobain's death may have been the inspiration for writing the track. The band refutes this, but then again - how can you say yes, and basically admit you capitalized on the death of something. Others have done it, but it's still semi bad form. This album dropped in 1995 and is certified platinum. Not too bad since it really only saw one major single. Since the lead used to tour with NIN, it's got a little bit of that feel to it - but maybe less dark? Not sure that's the word I'm looking for. It's certainly more 'pop' than NIN, but still good in that same sort of way. This album as a whole won't blow your mind, but nothing by Filter really will. They keep making music, and I'll keep listening. They've been grandfathered into my iPod from my youth. Consider yourself lucky Filter. Check it out, if nothing else flip back to 'Nice Shot' and get a taste of 1995 again.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Hey Man, Nice Shot
2. Dose
3. Under
4. Spent
5. Take Another
6. Stuck in Here
7. It's Over
8. Gerbil
9. White Like That
10. Consider This
11. So Cool

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Hey Man Nice Shot
2. Gerbil
3. Stuck In Here

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Killswitch Engage - As Daylight Dies



Recently I asked follower janis! to drop some good old fashioned metal into the Suggestion Box. The other day she responded by putting in about a dozen albums/artists. That was huge! Thanks a ton janis! All of you keep the Suggestions coming - I'm doing my best to keep getting to them and making sure it's semi-timely. Anyway, Hump Day and Killswitch Engage. These guys are hardcore metal and have been making music since 1999 out of Massachusetts. They formed after two other bands (Overcast and Aftershock) disbanded. They have dropped seven studio albums to date - this one coming out in November of 2006. It peaked at number 32 on the Billboard charts and sold 60,000 copies in the first week. The word is, this proved to be KE's biggest album to date - and many people credit that success again, to pop culture. This version captured the track 'This Fire Burns' which was used as a WWE pay-per-view event theme song. It originally was going to be the entrance music for Randy Orton, but that was scrapped. However, the fans responded so well to the track, it's now the entrance music for CM Punk, and was shortened to 'This Fire'. There was a couple other singles off this album that charted - which also made the rise more monumental for the band. The cover of 'Holy Diver' received generally positive feedback from both critics and fans. I'm kind of 50/50 on this. While a lot of it is too heavy for my tastes, a lot of it is right in my metal wheelhouse. I think I want to listen to this more. There are a few tracks I really enjoyed. Maybe it's a mash-up album where I just buy the singles, I don't know. TBD I guess. Give it a go though, see how it marinates.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Daylight Dies
2. This Is Absolution
3. Arms of Sorrow, The
4. Unbroken
5. My Curse
6. For You
7. Still Beats Your Name
8. Eye of the Storm
9. Break the Silence
10. Desperate Times
11. Reject Yourself
12. Be One (Bonus Song)
13. Let the Bridges Burn (Bonus Song)
14. This Fire (Bonus Song)
15. Holy Diver (Bonus Song)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. This Fire
2. Holy Diver
3. The Arms Of Sorrow

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh



The super slow trend of New Music Tuesday continues. What happened to artists putting out new stuff? It's like everyone just stopped making music except small independents. Don't get me wrong, that's not always a bad thing - as it's allowed me to hop on the wagon of some really cool smaller artists. Still - a big time drop would be nice one of these days. Anyways, on to Low Anthem. How many bands do you know that hail from Providence, Rhode Island? Well, I can now say I know of one for sure. These guys have been making music since 2006 where they met at the prestigious Brown University. Two of the members met while DJing for a local radio station there, and then became friends and played for a wood bat baseball team in Providence. This album happens to be their third studio release - not having heard either of the first two. The second one is cleverly titled, "Oh My God, Charles Darwin." If you don't get why that's ironic, let me know. This album also has some irony for me - as it was mixed by the lead of Bright Eyes - who was my new music Tuesday entry last week. While those guys didn't get my greatest review ever - this band is going to be a bit of a 180. I really like what I'm hearing. It's a very indie rock feel - with great lyrics. I mean, sitting back and listening to what they're saying, some tracks are really engaging. The male lead's voice is also very captivating. You listen to a track like 'Burn' and that low-fi sound is just - well, I don't have a word. It's just nice. It's got an American Mumford and Sons feel to it - but slowed down and with some banjo in spots. I'm going to HIGHLY recommend this today. I'm going to run through it at least 5 or 6 more times today. It's 7 bucks at Best Buy - and I might spend my hard earned money on it today. We shall see.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ghost Woman Blues
2. Apothecary Love
3. Boeing 737
4. Love and Altar
5. Matter of Time
6. Wire
7. Burn
8. Hey, All You Hippies!
9. I'll Take Out Your Ashes
10. Golden Cattle
11. Smart Flesh

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ghost Woman Blues
2. Burn
3. Golden Cattle

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Above And Beyond - Anjunabeats Volume 8



It's Tuesday which can only mean two things, Techno Tuesday or New Music Tuesday is on the horizon. Wait, or both! That's living the dream right there. Scanning through my dance music catalog, I stumbled back upon Above and Beyond. These guys are a British/Finnish trance group that formed in 2000 or so. Early in their careers, they focused on production remixes. If you didn't know, that's a pretty easy/good way to get some recognition in the industry. Do some sick remixes of songs that were already huge - get them played in the clubs and spread the word. These guys have a list of remixes that is about 10 miles long. None are super huge tracks that you've probably heard of - but an impressive list nonetheless. If you didn't notice, this is volume eight of Anjunabeats. I have no clue what that word means, but I can tell you that there are ten volumes in total. They started in 2003 and dropped basically one a year until today. These I guess are considered 'compilation' albums as I assume they are working with other artists to put out some sick product. They do have a few solo studio releases, with one set to drop sometime in the first half of 2011. This album is DEEP. 24 tracks of dance the night away goodness. You can go pick it up from Best Buy for around 13 bucks. Not bad given the sheer volume of music. It's pretty cool to drop albums that you work with other DJ's, and help them get noticed too. So 1/2 a point higher because I like the concept. It's really good regardless of that though, and you beatnuts should give it a go.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Alquimia
2. Stranded in NYC
3. Let Go
4. Chordplay
5. Keyboard Cowboys
6. Anphonic
7. Rush
8. Chasing Love
9. Black Is the New Yellow
10. From the Earth
11. 90 Nights of Summer
12. On a Good Day (Metropolis)
13. Seven Years
14. Piece of Me
15. Farewell, A (Intro Edit)
16. Taxi Driver, The
17. Wonder, The
18. Sushi
19. Live Forever
20. We Are
21. Thing Called Love
22. Larry Mountains 54
23. Altara
24. Forgive Me
25. Mercy
26. Alt+F4
27. Dreamcatcher
28. Sky Falls Away

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. A Farewell
2. Anaphonic
3. Live Forever

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 21, 2011

Soulja Boy - The DeAndre Way



How many of my active readers enjoy hip hop music? It doesn't seem like a ton of you guys are big into the new stuff in the genre. I only know of a couple people who actively listen - but maybe it's more. If there are, I apologize for the back to back Soulja Boy reviews, but follower Ashley asked that I get to this one after I did his debut drop a couple weeks back. She asked what I thought of this album in general, and the latest single 'Speakers Going Hammer'. First and foremost, I don't like to really rag on an artist or a genre in general. I try to maintain perspective and an open mind on any review I do. But this music - I simply don't get it. I love rap. Love it. I don't know who this album appeals to. Now, in terms of flow and lyrics, this record is a big step up from previous Soulja Boy works, but it's not quite at a level where you'd expect die hards to love it, and it lost that 'dance' appeal that his big drops had. And perhaps what's most telling, the album where he flows his hardest is called 'Grammy' which come on...is that really a direct appeal to the committee? And I don't mean to sound like this old curmudgeon who always thinks the old stuff was better. That isn't always the case. But when your first track is called, 'First Day Of School' - I think that shows who this album is targeting. It certainly isn't me, as the closest I've been to any sort of school is inching closer and closer to a decade ago. In terms of the 'hits', they're not great either. 'Pretty Boy Swag' is just a slowed down speaking track, in which he sounds like he's out of breath or has severe asthma or something. 'Speakers Going Hammer' is another basically spoken word rap, which I guess a decent beat. But the siren sound annoys me, and the lyrics are fairly awful. Although this is an upgrade from the others, this isn't there. DeAndre proclaimed this would be "the biggest album of his career'. Well, let's hope not.

TRACK LISTING:
1. First Day of School
2. Touchdown
3. Hey Cutie
4. Speakers Going Hammer
5. Pretty Boy Swag
6. 30 Thousand 100 Million
7. Mean Mug
8. Blowing Me Kisses
9. Fly
10. Grammy
11. Steez
12. Boom
13. Do It Big
14. Xtra

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Grammy
2. Pretty Boy Swag
3. Speakers Going Hammer

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of 5 stars

Charlie Daniels Band - Million Mile Reflections



Time for a little Country music to diversify the B Side again this Monday morning. Follower Digger dropped a Charlie Daniels album in the Suggestion Box not too long ago - but this isn't the album he requested. He's semi new to reading so maybe it's time to reiterate one point. I don't like to do 'Greatest Hits' albums. I like to hear everything as they originally intended it - and then come up with my own compilation albums to call my own. Normally, you get the biggest "hits" on those type of pre-packaged records, which aren't always the best songs, just the most popular. Anyhow, everyone knows Charlie Daniels Band. Frankly, I'm surprised I hadn't reviewed them yet. Charlie himself was born in 1936 in North Carolina. He started as just a song writer in the 50's doing stuff for a guy by the name of Elvis Presley. Maybe you've heard of him? He dropped his first solo album in 1971 but didn't see any real success until his third record in 1973. He's an EXTREMELY accomplished fiddler - which is probably what he's known best for. He played some fiddle for the Marshall Tucker Band in the mid 70's as well. He went on to record a full album with them, that was recorded in good old Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This album came out in 1979 and is a solid 3x platinum. Why you ask? One simple single - 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia'. This album is named after the fact the band hit the million mile mark in terms of concert travels. This album is also dedicated to Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd who died in a plane crash while recording. I enjoy this, especially the big track. I enjoy fiddles, which is probably why I like this. It's nothing something I'd pop on all the time, but it's a nice country change of pace. Give it a go!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Passing Lane
2. Blue Star
3. Jitterbug
4. Behind Your Eyes
5. Reflections
6. Devil Went Down to Georgia, The
7. Mississippi
8. Blind Man
9. Rainbow Ride

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Devil Went Down To Georgia
2. Mississippi
3. Passing Lane

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of 5 stars

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lacuna Coil - Karmacode



I've always considered follower janis! my resident metal expert. Lately though, she hasn't been dropping any sick metal tracks into my box. It's been more 90's stuff ie, Immature. Get back on the metal horse janny! Anyways, a super long time ago, I reviewed Lacuna Coil and their Shallow Life album. I mentioned back then that I liked the sound, but wasn't entirely sold on the band and needed to hear more. Well janis! was kind enough to tell me to listen to Shallow Life, then Karmacode then Comalies in that order. So here I am, on to number two. I mentioned last time how they have that gothic rock sound, very similar to a band like Evanescence. And let me tell you, I enjoy some Evanescence. Enjoy them quite a bit. So this should be a near home run for me. And it's getting close. I do like the feel of this album just a hair better than Shallow Life. I really don't know why either - just the way it sits with my start to finish. And I want to emphasize that I really love this lead singer. These guys are in the studios again to produce their sixth studio album. They say the next one will be "heavier, stronger and darker" than their previous releases. I'm not certain how that'll be received by the die hard Coilers, but we shall see. Their albums don't appear to chart, so they must have a solid live following or something. And I could see how they'd be solid in person. I like this, and I think you will too. It's 'metal' but a tolerable metal for the non-lover. High five!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Fragile
2. To the Edge
3. Our Truth
4. Within Me
5. Devoted
6. You Create
7. What I See
8. Fragments of Faith
9. Closer
10. In Visible Light
11. Game, The
12. Without Fear
13. Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode Cover)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Our Truth
2. Enjoy The Silence
3. To The Edge

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

John Zorn - Naked City



Oh Friday. I'm happy to see you! For a couple reasons - 1) The weekend if nearly here, which is phenomenal. 2) I'm no longer feeling sick, which is tremendous. 3) I only have a half day today! Hooray! Sorry again about no posts yesterday - I could barely drag myself out of bed to even let you guys know I was in rough shape. So today, I get back to album reviews and follower mithrandr's suggestion of John Zorn. I'm not 100% sure where he comes up with some of this kooky stuff, but alas - here it is. Zorn runs the gambit of music. This album shows pretty much every genre you can think of, except for maybe hip hop or something. It's mostly jazzy - but jazz on speed or something. There are a couple tracks where heavy metal seems to be fused in with jazz, which is super crazy. Zorn was born in 1953 in good old New York City. He started making music at the ripe age of 20. He played flute, piano and guitar as a child, and then learned pretty much every other instrument known to man. He started doing composer work early in his career, ended up getting into the punk rock scene and doing some film scores. Wikipedia has a super long section just on this record if you look up Mr. Zorn. I won't rehash it here, but just encourage you to check it out. They've got a lot of things to say about this album and it's concept. I will just share that this is VERY different. I kind of enjoy it, mainly because of how it's arranged. You go from 'Speedball' to 'Chinatown' which is like going from Pantera to Kenny G back to back. That's right up my alley. Anyway, give this a go today. Like I always say, if nothing else, just to expand your musical horizons.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Batman
2. The Sicilian Clan
3. You Will Be Shot
4. Latin Quarter
5. A Shot in the Dark
6. Reanimator
7. Snagglepuss
8. I Want to Live
9. Lonely Woman
10. Igneous Ejaculation
11. Blood Duster
12. Hammerhead
13. Demon Sanctuary
14. Obeah Man
15. Ujaku
16. Fuck the Facts
17. Speedball
18. Chinatown
19. Punk China Doll
20. N.Y. Flat Top Box
21. Saigon Pickup
22. The James Bond Theme
23. Den of Sins
24. Contempt
25. Graveyard Shift
26. Inside Straight

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Saigon Pickup
2. Chinatown
3. James Bond Theme

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Out Sick



Sorry guys...the B Side is battling a touch of the flu today. I'll be back tomorrow either with a couple album reviews or a Friday commentary.

Cheers!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sade - Promise



It's going to be a Suggestion Box day today. I feel like I haven't been getting to some of those as much as I should be - so I need to get back on it. This one is from follower janis! in response to the Grammy awards. I made a remark about how I didn't really know much by Sade - and that I didn't know she was still making music. janis! set me straight and asked that I review this one. Here it goes. Sade is both a person and a band - as it turns out. The whole band is named Sade, but it's named after lead singer Sade Adu. Go ahead and guess in your mind when Sade started making music. Go ahead - I'll give you a couple minutes. So yeah, how about that whether? Gettin' warm out there....ready? Okay! WRONG! 1983! Holy cats! This album came out way back in 1985. Her first album was out in '83 and saw some pretty positive feedback. This has a very soul/jazz/r&b feel to it. I can't say for sure, but it seems this would have been a LOT different than anything else out there in the early/mid 80's. That's not always a good thing, as people can be skeptical of hearing new sounds. In retrospect, it was probably a great thing. Hair metal was ruining music for years to come. The album is called 'Promise' because it comes from a letter from Sade's father that promised her he was going to find a way to beat cancer. Heavy stuff there. It's hard to find anything bad to say about this. I mean, it's not something I'm going to jam on for the next month, but it's a nice change of pace for me. And I think I was in the mood for that today. Give this a whirl. janis! was right---very fun to listen to.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Is It a Crime
2. Sweetest Taboo, The
3. War of the Hearts
4. You're Not the Man
5. Jezebel
6. Mr. Wrong
7. Punch Drunk
8. Never as Good as the First Time
9. Fear
10. Tar Baby
11. Maureen

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. The Sweetest Taboo
2. Never As Good As The First Time
3. Is It A Crime

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out



Hump Day strikes with Shaqwanda's request that I look into the Kooks via the Suggestion Box. Hopefully Shaqwanda's still reading, I haven't heard from her in a while. Bring back your comments and Suggestions! I've heard of the Kooks before, just in pop culture - but I can't say I'd ever heard their music. Maybe a song in passing, but nothing sounds super familiar to me. They are classified as indie pop and they come from Brighton - you know, over the big body of water there. They started making music only in 2004. The only reason I say that's odd - is they were signed to a record deal just 3 months after forming. That's VERY unusual. Typically you make garage recordings for years before someone notices you. I think some jealousy may have spewed from that, as the Kooks have been marred by some controversy. Other bands claim the Kooks just steal sounds from others and they only exist in order to sell albums. Apparently the feud is still live in going, after the lead singer of the Kooks kicked the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys in the face. Even after attempts to patch it up, the discontent still exists. Shaqwanda didn't specify an album, so I went with this one as it was their first, and best selling. This dropped in 2006 and is 4x platinum in the UK. Doesn't looks like it's charted in the states though. I agree with the indie pop status. Seems to fit. The copying claims make me a little weary, and I want to listen to the other bands now. Just curious to see how close they indeed are. This album produced a TON of singles - so check it out. A lot of England-ers really enjoy it, so I'm guessing we might too.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Seaside
2. See the World
3. Sofa Song
4. Eddie's Gun
5. Ooh La
6. You Don't Love Me
7. She Moves In Her Own Way
8. Matchbox
9. Naive
10. I Want You
11. If Only
12. Jackie Big Tits
13. Time Awaits
14. Got No Love

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Naive
2. She Moves Her Own Way
3. Got No Love

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bright Eyes - The People's Key



Seems like New Music Tuesday has been pretty slow lately. Not to say some of the new stuff I've been doing hasn't been good or anything, but there hasn't been any really big artists that have dropped recently. I think that's fairly typical with this time of year, but it just strikes me as an extra long dry spell. Anyhow, Bright Eyes. I don't know much about this band, so I'm learning as I go. They are based out of Omaha, Nebraska (home of the best breakfast I've ever had) and have been making music since 1995 or so. They've got a very indie style sound to them - which is super generic, I know. But it's got that indie rock/folk/lo-fi kind of sound to it. Pretty laid back and mellow - but not mood music. You know? They've got a ton of records out there - none of which seemed to have charted. That's probably not super strange since they're signed to 'Saddle Creek' records - whom I've never heard of before. Turns out it's the lead singers birthday today, and that's why they dropped this week. Well Happy Birthday to Conor Oberst. What do I have to say about this one? Hmm. Well, it's different. The sound isn't bad or intolerable, but there isn't anything about it that would make me want to put it on again. I enjoy the sound, there is a lot of piano and acoustics, but those couple songs don't make up for the mediocre whole. It's worth checking out if you want to pick up some new and different music - just don't expect great things.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Firewall
2. Shell Games
3. Jejune Stars
4. Approximate Sunlight
5. Haile Selassie
6. A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)
7. Triple Spiral
8. Beginner's Mind
9. Ladder Song
10. One For You, One For Me

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ladder Song
2. Approximate Sunlight
3. A Machine Spiritual

FINAL RATING:
2.5 out of 5 stars

BT - These Hopeful Machines



Techno Tuesday is SO much fun. I think I've mentioned that I've been seriously rekindling my love of dance/techno lately, and it's been great. Work goes by so much faster when I can toss on this fast paced style of tuneage. I guess this is kind of blending in with my grammy noms from yesterday - since BT was nominated under the 'Best Electronic/Dance Album' category. A while back Ashley had asked how I learn about new DJ's and these type of artists, and this is really it. Just looking into grammy awards, word of mouth, random stumbling. There isn't a science to it. I think unless you're a DJ or you really hit the club scene hard, it's not easy to follow this genre. Regardless, this cat is named Brian Transeau and he's from Rockville, Maryland. BT started making music in the early 90's. And he thought it was all just for funsies. He was stunned to find out guys like Paul Oakenfold were spinning his albums across the pond and the crowds were really responding. He eventually flew over to see for himself, and was quite pleased. What's a little different about him - is he isn't a DJ and wouldn't claim to be one. He played in punk bands before this and didn't really have any idea what this path was all about. And yet you've got a guy who's grammy nominated, has produced for some of the hottest acts in the biz, has a Guinness World Record for most edits in one song and has his own patented style called 'stutter editing'. Not bad for a punk rock guy. Check out his MANY works in film and video games too. They're plentiful. No shock here, but I like this. Got a great feel to it and something I want to get more familiar with. Happy Tuesday!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Suddenly
2. Emergency, The
3. Every Other Way
4. Light in Things, The
5. Rose of Jericho
6. Forget Me
7. Million Stars, A
8. Love Can Kill You
9. Always
10. Nocturne de Lumi¿re, Le
11. Unbreakable, The
12. Ghost in You, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Suddenly
2. Rose Of Jericho
3. The Emergency

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer



Continuing with my Grammy theme here, of course I've heard of Cee-Lo before. I love his music for the most part. I remember this cat going all the way back to Goodie Mob - but most of you probably remember him vividly from Gnarls Barkley. I absolutely LOVED that record. Well, I guess they had two - so I'll emphasize I love the St. Elsewhere record. I'm semi surprised I didn't review this one earlier - as I was on the 'F**k You' train pretty early in the single's release. I didn't think it had the merits to be nominated for a Grammy award - but the great people at Glee seemed to really drive up the interest. I wanted to talk about him because of his performance last night. If you didn't see it, check it out on YouTube or something. He was dressed Elton John-esque strumming the piano. Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow did a cameo on Glee where she sang the song or something? I don't watch the show - but I'm sure someone out there does. Anyhow, she sang along with Cee-Lo and a bunch of muppets doing background vocals. It was a very entertaining performance. Cee-Lo seemed to forget the words in the opening, and him and Paltrow seemed to be on different pages a couple other times. But hey - that's what makes live performances so interesting! I kind of wished they'd have just busted out the real lyrics, but it was on 5 second delay - so lot of good that'd have done. Anyway, this album. If you didn't follow my opening, I love his style. He's very unique and the ranges of his works are always second to none. This album has a little bit of everything. Rock n Roll, hip hop, pop, anything. Other than the track everyone knows, this is chalk full of really good toe-tapping tunes. Check 'em on out today. I think you'll be a Cee-Lo fan too.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Lady Killer Theme, The (Intro)
2. Bright Lights Bigger City
3. F**k You
4. Wildflower
5. Bodies
6. Love Gun
7. Satisfied
8. I Want You
9. Cry Baby
10. Fool for You
11. It's OK
12. Old Fashioned
13. No One's Gonne Love You
14. Lady Killer Theme, The (Outro)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. F**k You
2. It's OK
3. I Want You

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Esperanza Spalding - Esperanza



I'm happy to report a couple of my Grammy predictions came true. A couple that I didn't even pick surprised me - one of them being Best New Artist to Esperanza Spalding. Now - I didn't give my analysis on this category because it had two words in it, Justin and Bieber. I figured he'd walk away with a ton of awards. But thankfully, the academy selected someone else...anyone else. I thought about how happy I was, and then how I have no clue who this lady is. Enter Monday morning, and my desire to see what I've been missing. She talked about how she's from Portland in her acceptance speech - but I didn't know that she grew up in a very tough neighborhood that Spalding herself refers to as a "ghetto" and "pretty scary". She has a very diverse background - with influences from African, Welsh, Native American and Brazilian cultures. She started playing instruments at five years old - and never stopped learning new ones to this day. She discovered the bass around 14 years old when she was slated to look into the cello. She dropped out of high school and got her GED to attend Portland State University at 16. She is a very interesting lady. She wants to continue this 'jazz fusion' trend that has been all the rage over the past decade or so. This album really shows off the diversity - as I'm picking up three languages. Some songs are English - where others are both in Spanish or Portuguese. It's hard not to at the very least get through this, let alone like it. It's pretty upbeat, and you feel drawn to it. Big time recommendation from me today. If you're like me and never heard this before, I think you'll be impressed.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ponta de Areia
2. I Know You Know
3. Fall In
4. I Adore You
5. Cuerpo y Alma
6. She Got to You
7. Precious
8. Mela
9. Love in Time
10. Espera
11. If That's True
12. Samba Em Preludio

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ponta De Areia
2. Mela
3. I Adore You

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Friday, February 11, 2011

B Side Presents, "Say Cheese! It's VD!"

I really enjoyed reading Heidi's post today. Finding songs that symbolize what you think love is? Come on. Do you guys really think that's something I'm going to write about? Not a chance. While I love Heidi's enthusiasm for the subject, I just don't share it. I never hated Valentine's Day or anything. I'm cheap, so I don't like to spend money, but that's about as deep as my dislike goes.

I'd like to take my post in a different direction. And then you guys can comment on both - since they'll kind of be separate categories. I want to talk about the love songs that when you hear them, you just want to vomit or punch someone in the face. The LAST thing these tracks make me think of is any sort of love related feeling. Thankfully, none of my cheesy love songs are the same as Heidi's future "Say Anything" moment. Phew...no need for another woman's scorn.

Here we go!

5. Everything I Do - Bryan Adams: Really Bryan Adams? Don't tell me it's not worth dyin' for? This is one of those go super out of your way to get a woman to like you type songs, then she ends up thinking you're a total nerd. AND, not to mention you're taking things WAY too seriously. Calm down Bryan...there is a fish out there for everyone.

4. You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone: Ugh. I had to slow dance to this song over, and over and over again in middle school and high school. Don't get me wrong, if you had the right partner, it wasn't always a bad thing. But after hearing this song seven thousand times in a row - you want to find Debbie Boone, and potentially shake the light right out of her. Too far? Of course. But dramatics make my point come across better.

3. I Got You Babe - Sonny and Cher: Every last little piece about this song is cheesy. That might even offend the word cheesy - it's that over the top. Have you seen the video for this? It's like, they look at each other longingly, and make you believe they are going to have some romantic dinner after that and maybe a night of passion. They probably couldn't stand the sight of each other afterward. At least that's how I felt.

2. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder: Just look at the title! Can you even imagine? There is maybe a couple week window in a relationship where either a guy or a girl would find that cute. If a girl called me after years of dating or marriage or whatever to tell me she loved me - I'd probably think she was cheating on me and had some remorse. Real people don't do that! They "just call" to say you didn't take the trash out, and now the recycles will sit another two weeks. Thanks a lot jerk.

1. Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler: I'm 99.9% positive I don't even need to give my reasoning behind choosing this song as number one. I mean, really. It's so incredibly lame. The arrangement is cheesy, the lyrics are cheesy and I picture in my head people listening to this and singing along in an over the top mocking tone. And then skeet shooting the cd's in the back yard. Okay, maybe that's just my fantasy.

What are your favorite/least favorite V-Day songs B Siders? We wanna hear ya!

Heidi Presents, "Friday Gut Check - My Unfunny Valentine"

I think the B Side's punishment for my LONG absence is to assign me a Valentine's Day post. I actually really love songs about love. But, as a single girl, I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to write this without showing any shades of bitterness, so here goes . . .

When I think of Valentine's Day and love songs, I immediately think of the 80s and 90s power ballads that dominated my middle school dances. If I hear Power of Love, which to be honest I hear a lot, I'm back to the steps of my middle school cafetorium with my gaggle of girlfriends trying to sing my heart out like Celine while watching the boys who were in sports - dance with the girls who knew how to do their hair (the ability to make my hair look anything but straight and triangular has evaded me to this day).

Now, I don't mean to disrespect the song selections made by my school's custodian/deejay/Elvis impersonator, but in a very adult and cynical way, I can't listen to More Than Words, Amazed and Because You Loved Me without rolling my eyes. Don't get me wrong, when given the chance, I sing them at the top of my lungs with as much melodramatic fervor as I can muster. But now, they just seem ridiculous. I mean, I'm your lady/and you are my man/whenever you reach for me/I'll do all that I can -- well, I would certainly hope so, but I don't understand what all of the wailing is for.

While I believe that love is extremely powerful, I don't really believe that love is as grandiose as 90% of those silly pop songs lead us to believe. And God knows, there are enough of those silly love songs. My favorite love songs are simple and easy to take. They're sweet, quirky and interesting, and I'm pretty sure that those are the same qualities that I'm looking for in my own non-existent valentine. Hmmm.

So, as a Valentine's Day treat, here are the love songs that embody the idealized picture of love that I have created in my mind. I hope you enjoy it more than a stale box of conversation hearts. Happy Valentine's Day!

1. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys

I enjoy realism, so any song that includes an admission that love doesn't always last is an easy sell. What's so great about this song is that its wicked awesome composition is complemented with a simple theme. Life is better with you. Nothing is more romantic than that.

2. It Had To Be You - Harry Connick, Jr.

My favorite version of this song is not surprisingly from a soundtrack - Harry Connick, Jr. for When Harry Met Sally. This sometimes over-labored song is performed uptempo, and turns into a breezy shoulder shrugging realization about surrendering to love. There is a reason why this song is a standard - it sets the bar high.

3. Anyone Else But You - Moldy Peaches

You're so rad! I love you!
NO! YOU'RE so rad. I love YOU!
Sigh. Like every song on the Juno soundtrack, I completely ate it up. So much quirky sweetness!

4. Green Eyes - Coldplay

I love how simple and direct the lyrics of this song are. I came here with a load/and it feels so much lighter now I've met you. It's equal parts adoration and elation. When the song opens up midway through; it turns into a study of the joys of love.

5. Kathy's Song - Simon and Garfunkel

This is my all-time favorite song. Number one. No question. Every time I listen to it, I get something different out of it. Supported by a simple, but driving acoustic guitar, the lyrics are just a stream of thoughts from a lost soul. He doesn't know what to believe in, he doesn't think his songs are any good, but the only certainty he has in his life is his love. And, that's more than enough to get him through.

Gut Check Is Coming!

Hey Dedicated Readers!

Heidi said she's got something cooking, and we'll post it later this morning! Check back soon for the Friday Gut Check!

B Side

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction



Almost a full year, and I haven't reviewed any GNR. And it's not because I've been avoiding it or anything. Historically, I enjoy them quite a bit. This album in fact, came out in 1987. I recall my parents buying this cd sometime around 1990. It was a big listen in my household when I was very young. I recall singing along with many of the tracks. Something about the opening to 'Paradise City' as a small child really stuck with me over the years. Obviously most people would point to the opening of 'Jungle' as the big hitter on this record - but it wasn't for me. Plus I probably haven't listened to this whole thing since I was a small child. Putting it on again today, wow. I mean, this whole thing is rock solid. I typically don't enjoy the 80's brand of hair metal/rock music, but this is pretty on point. They started up by merging a bunch of different bands to form GNR. They put out a small EP in 1986 to generate some buzz. That small EP has become a huge collectors item now if you still have one. I don't think they needed to, as AFD is a SICK 18x platinum in the states. There are a TON of HUGE singles from this album. I mean, think about even the 'small' ones like Mr. Brownstone, Sweet Child O' Mine etc. Those were pretty big by most standards. There is lots of information about this album out there. If you want to go overboard, you could spend a day reading about it. I'm just going to tell you it's rock solid, and you should listen to to it today. Happy Thursaday!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Welcome to the Jungle
2. It's So Easy
3. Nightrain
4. Out Ta Get Me
5. Mr. Brownstone
6. Paradise City
7. My Michelle
8. Think About You
9. Sweet Child O' Mine
10. You're Crazy
11. Anything Goes
12. Rocket Queen

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Welcome To The Jungle
2. Sweet Child O' Mine
3. Paradise City

FINAL RATING:
4.75 out of 5 stars

Nickel Creek - Self Titled



Remember Heidi? The one that used to write for the B Side? (well, she still will write - it's just been a while and I want to give her a hard time) But Heidi almost never gives me any suggestions of bands to review. About the only one she did was Nickel Creek. And she dropped this suggestion in the box about 6 months ago. So yeah. Finally getting to it now. This is a California based trio that has been making music since 1989. Their first gig was at a pizza place in '89 when most of the band members were around 10 years old. They had to drop out of school and be home schooled because the band wanted to play some festivals on the east coast and the school didn't like the idea of them missing so much time. Mainly the first two weeks and the last week. Crazy and cool at the same time that their family was willing to do that. This album was released in 2000 and was their first big label drop. It's certified gold status - so not a huge success at this point. They call this style 'progressive bluegrass' - and I suppose I can see that. It's very fiddle, mandolin heavy, which seems to paint that portrait fairly well. The acoustic sound and vocal is pretty neat. But it's not old school. It's still very polished sounding. I think if you were an old school bluegrass fan, you may not like this. It's very different. It's like 50's bluegrass meets Savage Garden or something. I like it. It's entertaining and good country music. This gets a big endorsement from the B Side today!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ode to a Butterfly
2. Lighthouse's Tale, The
3. Out of the Woods
4. House of Tom Bombadil
5. Reasons Why
6. When You Come Back Down
7. Sweet Afton
8. Cuckoo's Nest
9. Hand Song, The
10. Robin and Marian
11. Fox, The
12. Pastures New

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Reasons Why
2. Ode To A Butterfly
3. The Fox

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stabbing Westward - Wither Blister Burn & Peel



Some days I go way back into the catalog and remember some really oldies but goodies. Remember Stabbing Westward? I'm actually surprised I haven't reviewed these guys sooner. It was probably around a year ago that I randomly heard a song on the radio - and it took me straight back to 1996. I eerily recall having a small Stabbing Westward sticker on my middle school agenda (aka a planner, just a fancier name). I thought, jeez, I should pick up an album. I moseyed over to Best Buy and picked up their 'Essentials' album for like 6 bucks or something. These guys are a Chicago based band that formed in 1985, but didn't start actually recording music until the 90's. I just talked about Lemmy and his distinct voice, well, how about a shoutout for Chris Hall for SW here. Sit back and listen to this today. And his vocal is always that same grizzled, and deep sound - no matter how loud or soft he sings. It's really quite amazing. And lyrically, most of their songs that I know seem to be dealing with loss in a relationship. And some of the arrangements (like on What Do I Have To Do?) are so eery and entrancing. It's like the whole thing is mounting to some amazing apex that never really happens. Which is fitting for this super dark, haunting style. I don't think I've ever listened to this album start to finish - and I have to say, I'm impressed. It's almost NIN quality - but I won't go quite that far. Very worth looking at today. Let me know what you think.

TRACK LISTING:
1. I Don't Believe
2. Shame
3. What Do I Have to Do?
4. Why
5. Inside You
6. Falls Apart
7. So Wrong
8. Crushing Me
9. Sleep
10. Slipping Away

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. What Do I Have To Do?
2. Shame
3. So Wrong

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Motorhead - Ace Of Spades



They dropped a new album yesterday, but they didn't put it out on MP3 for sale yesterday, so there are no samples for it. Which is fine - because I only know one album by Motorhead - and this is it. Heck, I can't even say I know this full album. I'm just a HUGE fan of the title track. I'd been meaning to do a Motorhead review for sometime - and then it came up again when I did the guitar riff Gut Check. These guys are a British heavy metal band that formed in 1975. Ian Fraser Kilmister is the lead singer, who's got one of the most distinct voices in all of music. He's also the only member of the band who's been there since day one. From a style standpoint - they're just rock and roll. Sick, hard, fast, in your face rock n roll. Lemmy (what Ian goes by) doesn't like to label his band into any one genre, so I won't. The music is fun to listen to. And this album is a big part of that. It came out in 1980 and is certified Bronze only, so it's not like I can know for sure how many people know this one. Seems like only few even know the title track, which means a lot of you are going to be happy when you hear it for the first time. I did want to talk about one other thing - and that's their status in pop culture. Not to say WWE or WWF or whatever they're called nowadays is super mainstream - but Motorhead does quite a bit of work with entrance music. Now, this is a GREAT way for bands to reach out to a very diverse demographic. You've got the old people that watched "rasslin'" and you've got middle of the road people like me who grew up in the Hulkamania/Stone Cold eras, and then you've got the young people that tune in to see John Cena every week. Motorhead seems to be very respected by all walks of life. I think more bands should look into this market, as it's semi untapped. Anyway, enjoy Motorhead!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ace of Spades
2. Love Me Like a Reptile
3. Shoot You in the Back
4. Live to Win
5. Fast and Loose
6. We Are the Roadcrew
7. Fire, Fire
8. Jailbait
9. Dance
10. Bite the Bullet
11. Chase Is Better Than the Catch, The
12. Hammer, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ace Of Spades
2. We Are The Roadcrew
3. Chase Is Better Than The Catch

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hawk Nelson - Crazy Love



New Music Tuesday can be a cruel mistress. I don't ever look in advance what is coming out...so when I look at everything to come out in a week - I can get excited about listening to a new album. Then BAM! I can't. No site carries the album yet. That happened today with Motorhead's new release. So I randomly picked this Hawk Nelson guy. Which it turns out isn't a guy - it's a Christian rock band from Ontario, Canada. Who knew? These guys have been around since 2003 or so - can't say that I'd ever heard of them before. They've seen some success in pop culture. They portrayed 'The Who' on and episode of the NBC program - 'American Dreams'. They also had a song that was used by NBC's Sunday Night Football. They haven't seen any big time sales to this point. The highest any album of theirs has peaked is 34th on the US charts. They apparently have a US Christian category too - which was oddly just called 'US Christ'. Seems strange. But they had an album go number 1 on that chart. These fellas have a very punk rock feel. I mean, without the dirty lyrics - but if you shut your eyes and just listened, they have a very Blink 182 type of sound. Kind of that pop-punk record like Enema of the State was. I can't say I payed super close attention to the lyrics, but there is a lot of religious endorsements. So if that's your style, this is right in your wheel house. Even if you like punk, you might enjoy this. Enjoy!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Tally-Ho
2. Your Love is a Mystery
3. Crazy Love
4. My Next Breath
5. We're Alright
6. Skeleton
7. We Can Change the World
8. One Shot
9. Fraud
10. Joanna
11. Lax
12. Done Holding On
13. Thanks For the Beautiful Memories

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Your Love Is A Mystery
2. Crazy Love
3. Skeleton

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Basshunter - Now You're Gone



Ever since I reviewed the latest Deadmau5 album a long while back, I've been really grooving to techno lately. This has made Techno Tuesday even more exciting lately. Buying that album has inspired me to get back into the genre and check out new DJ's. Well, here is another one. Basshunter. AKA Jonas Altberg. He is from Sweden and is a pretty sick producer/singer/songwriter. Apparently he was on some show called Celebrity Big Brother over in the UK. I mean, I've heard of the show before - but never watched it, and never heard of a celebrity edition. Sounds like chaos. Anyhow, it might have been there that people noticed it, and it came out that he'd be diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. Pretty cool that he's so successful given that little setback. This album dropped in July of 2008. He hasn't made a big splash in the US to this point, but I think it's just a matter of time. This album is platinum in New Zealand...for whatever reason. I didn't realize they had such a big dance market down undah. See what I did there? I typed with an Australian accent. I'm hilarious. Anyway, I'm seeing some critics are super harsh on this album. While it may not be the most diverse of dance records, it does what you want it to do. Which is make you want to move around and shake your money maker. Solid beats, some pretty fun lyrics too. Give this a whirl today. It's a fun listen.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Now You're Gone
2. All I Ever Wanted
3. Please Don't Go
4. I Miss You
5. Angel In The Night
6. In Her Eyes
7. Love You More
8. Camilla
9. Dream Girl
10. I Can Walk On Water
11. Bass Creator
12. Russia Privjet
13. Boten Anna
14. Dota
15. Now You're Gone
16. All I Ever Wanted

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Now You're Gone
2. Please Don't Go
3. Russia Privet

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 7, 2011

Soulja Boy - souljaboytellem.com



Review number two of albums that have had impact on the Super Bowl CHAMPION Green Bay Packers is Soulja Boy. It's not at all uncommon for Top 40 hip hop to be played in any sports venue around the world. It happens every day that sports take place. I guess what's semi different, is the sheer plays that Soulja Boy's 'Crank That' has been played. Why you ask? Well, I'm about to tell you! I believe it started with Will Blackmon returning the opening kick off. The music guy pumped 'Crank That' over the system and he started to do a little dance to get himself pumped up before the game. He and everyone else noticed that he'd been returning better doing the dance. With the superstitious nature of sports, it was a done deal. It's passed on to Tramon Williams too returning punts and kicks to this day. Soulja Boy's real name is DeAndre Way. That's obvious when his third album is called The DeAndre Way. He wanted to get into music after moving to Atlanta at age 6 and becoming big into rap. He didn't have a label so his father moved him to Mississippi and built a studio for him to experiment in. Way started putting his music out there for free on SoundClick. Well, one of those tracks was 'Crank That' which turned into a number one single. He's taken a lot of flack from guys like Ice-T who thinks this is just exploitation rap. A way to sell ringtones and singles to make money. Kanye defended him and said that younger folks enjoy this brand of hip hop. Well, I don't. I enjoy the party tracks every now and again, but as a whole - this album is pretty unlistenable. You can give it a go today, but you'll probably turn it off after track 4. And that's more than okay - you're not missing much.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Let Me Go
2. Crank That (Soulja Boy)
3. Sidekick
4. Snap And Roll
5. Bapes
6. Let Me Get Em
7. Donk
8. Yahhh!
9. Pass It To Arab
10. Soulja Girl
11. Booty Meat
12. Report Card
13. She Thirsty
14. Don't Get Mad

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Crank That
2. Soulja Girl
3. Yahhh!

FINAL RATING:
2.25 out of 5 stars

Todd Rundgren - Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect



In case you guys didn't know by now - I love sports. Almost as much as I love music. (okay, sometimes maybe more...sorry) But being from Wisconsin, yesterday was a very exciting day for sports fans around here. If you hadn't heard, the Green Bay Packers are the 2011 Super Bowl Champions. I got excited just typing that out. So today, I've decided to review some albums of songs that are big at Lambeau Field and related to the Packers. Enter in Mr. Todd Rundgren. Who? Exactly. But there is a certain song called 'Bang The Drum All Day', which gets played at Lambeau everytime the Packers score a touchdown. It's become extremely iconic around all of Wisconsin. And it's not like the song isn't huge on its own - as I've seen it in other pop culture as well. Ironically, Todd is probably not a happy camper today, as he's a Philadelphia native. Wonder if he now hates the fact the Pack uses his song? Food for thought. Anyhow, he's got a very odd story. He was in bands, made music. Was very anti drugs in the 60's and 70's - which was a rarity. Then he decided to go solo, and start using. Well, that developed into some very drastic changes in his musical style. He's gone from doing really sick hard rock tracks to an album like this - which is frankly very strange. Listen to track six. Yeah, it doesn't really conform to rock standards. He did a lot of production and stage work also. Then he became the new guitarist of the Cars when they wanted to tour again after their regular guitar man died. So he's done just about it all. Give this a whirl today. If nothing else, because it's so different. And musical education is one of the things I preach. Happy Monday!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Hideaway
2. Influenza
3. Don't Hurt Yourself
4. There Goes Your Baybay
5. Tin Soldier
6. Emperor of the Highway
7. Bang the Drum All Day
8. Drive
9. Chant

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Band The Drum All Day
2. Hideaway
3. Drive

FINAL RATING:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, February 4, 2011

B Side Presents, "Friday Gut Check - Wake Up Little Suzy"



All the time I talk about music setting a tone for your life. How your life can be impacted and how it can change the very fiber of your being - because it's so mood impacting. Well - what better way to dictate your pace than to set it up based on how you wake up? Follower Digger asked that I create a Top 5 songs to wake up to. What a brilliant idea!! I've thought about this exactly zero times in the past - so this list is fairly off the top of my head. For that I apologize, but it's still gonna be fun!

I do have one caveat for myself - I want my songs to cheesily either have titles that relate to 'getting up', 'waking up', 'the morning' or 'things you do in the morning'. I could hit up my mood list and come up with 1,000 different relaxing, wakes you up gently type tracks. This will be more corny - which is right up my alley.

So I'm basically only listening to the first 20 seconds or so. I'm not a sleep-past-the-initial-beep kind of guy. So getting one minute in wouldn't do me much good. Here are my top 5 - as always - in reverse order. Enjoy!

5. Wake Up - Arcade Fire: Pretty groovy, funky guitar riff to open it up. That's probably all I'd get to upon my awakening. But if you do make it about 20 seconds in - you get the nice chorus of "oh's" which is nice. Then the lyrics are very soothing, not jarring. This would be a nice way to start the day.

Listen

4. Alive - Pearl Jam: Twice in a month? I know, I know - for someone that doesn't like Pearl Jam, I sure point out their tracks a lot. But come on! The song is not only called Alive, it's got that great opening riff! And like I said before, what a great message to get going - "I'm still alive". Be thankful everyday you are...even when things are bad, they can always turn around.

Listen

3. Wake Up And Live - Bob Marley: YES! Starts out with the countdown - which is pretty cool - then you get BLASTED by the sweet horns - THEN - you get the WAKE UP - WAKE UP AND LIVE commands from Mr. Marley! How awesome is that? I'm pretty sure I could listen to this song everyday, and finally I had the right forum to share it with you guys. I'm proud of myself.

Listen - I can't find the real version - only live ones. Check this one on your own!

2. The National Anthem - Radiohead: Every morning you should wake up, and say the national anthem. Just like we did in grade school. Except, play along and sing along to Radiohead's version. What a SICK opening riff. Another bass guitar style riff that just explodes in your face. Takes a while to get into the lyrics - but that's fine. Just this riff alone would be a great, uplifting way to start your day.

Listen

1. Good Morning - Kanye West: Okay, so I'll admit, I've actually waken myself up to this a few times in my life. You get the great base line, a little Kanye ad lib and then you get the "GOOD MORNIN'". Then the similar chorus of "oh's". Just overall, a nice gentle wake up and then once you realize you're up, you're going to want to rap along with the lyrics. So it's a win-win.

Listen

What would you choose to wake up to? Even if they didn't have cheesy titles like mine. Give me your 5!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness



I've been doing this blog for nearly a year now. And I simply cannot believe some of the albums I haven't reviewed. This is certainly one of them. I LOVE, adore this record. I bought it immediately when it dropped in 1995. I had already bought Siamese Dream and loved that one - so this was a natural progression. This is the Pumpkins best selling album at a delightful 9x platinum. For good reason too. Not only were there a TON of hits off this double album, but they're mind blowing. And the span of hits is hard rock, alt rock, piano ballads. I mean, this runs the gambit of EVERYTHING. When I reviewed 'Dream' a while back, it got very high praise. I think I gave it a 4 and conveyed how much you should listen to it. Well, this is going to be a very similar review. There is no reason not to listen to this today, and listen hard. It'll take you a while, as it's nearly 30 tracks, but it's all worth it. It's very unusual for a double album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200. But this did it. It's also rare that one album has 7 grammy nominations. But yeah, this did it. It's again rare that any album would be compared to 'The Wall' in terms of greatest albums in history. And yeah, this album has been widely compared to that in terms of identification of a band and in impact to the music business. I can't say enough good things about this. It's a piece of true music art. Hearing it again today is just making me happy. Happy to own it and happy to remember to play these older alt rock albums every now and again. I'll give you a top 5 since it's a doubler, and at least check out those tracks. When you have time, listen to the whole thing. Well worth your two hours.

TRACK LISTING:
Disc One - From Dawn To Dusk
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Tonight, Tonight
Jellybelly
Zero
Here Is No Why
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
To Forgive
An Ode to No One
Love
Cupid de Locke
Galapogos
Muzzle
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
Take Me Down (Iha)

Disc Two - Twilight To Starlight
Where Boys Fear to Tread
Bodies
Thirty-Three
In the Arms of Sleep
1979
Tales of a Scorched Earth
Thru the Eyes of Ruby
Stumbleine
X.Y.U.
We Only Come Out at Night
Beautiful
Lily (My One and Only)
By Starlight
Farewell and Goodnight

Listen To Samples

Top 5 Tracks:
1. Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
2. Thirty-Three
3. 1979
4. Muzzle
5. Tonight, Tonight

FINAL RATING:
4.75 out of 5 stars

Ari Hest - Break-In



After digging out of the disgusting amounts of snow yesterday, 'mood' music seems more than appropriate for this melancholy return to the office. It's kind of nice not to be snowbound anymore, but going back to work isn't exactly what I'd like to be doing. Regardless, Ari Hest. I tuned myself into him around 2004 or so. I really like his style. He started making music in 1999 or so, after spending his childhood growing up in the Bronx. Turns out his life goal was to be a professional baseball player, and played all throughout high school. But at a young age, he also was big into music. He played piano and guitar before hitting the teenage years. This particular album came out in 2007. There isn't a lot of info about his stuff out there, as he's pretty indie. But it doesn't look like any of his records ever charted. That's not too surprising, since I don't know too many people that would even recognize his name. He's got a very acoustic quality to his music. He can sit back, strum a guitar and do a nice vocal over the top, and it's simply grabbing. Like you can't possibly turn it off. It's just too pleasing to the ears. Looks like he's got another album coming out next month - which is over 10 albums for him in a career. Nuts. I only know this one and one other. I need to get better versed. But today, I'd like you guys to be singularly versed in one album. Check it out!

TRACK LISTING:
1. When and If
2. Bird Never Flies
3. Leaving Her Alone
4. So Slow
5. When to Quit
6. Right of Way
7. Break-In, The
8. Big Ben
9. Just as Well
10. I've Got You

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. When And If
2. The Break-In
3. I've Got You

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Candlebox - Self Titled



Ahh yes, 1993. I was still in the single digits and just really starting to listen to music. You know, not in the literal sense of it hitting my ears - but really listening and letting music make impressions on me. Candlebox was a band that you couldn't seemingly get enough of back then. You had the hardcore rocking style, then a nice ballad that made you think shortly thereafter. But I'm getting ahead of myself bit - let's toss some history in here. These gents formed in Seattle, Washington in the very early 90's. Now everyone knows what was happening in Seattle at that time...yeah, grunge music. There is no doubt looking at the album cover that Candlebox wasn't trying to be a part of that movement. They were part of Maverick Records which was owned by Madonna. Yep - the Madonna. It was her first major hit on the label - which ended up also signing Alanis Morissette, Deftones and Prodigy. Candlebox really helped that label to shoot up the charts. But the label ended up going south. Candlebox was released from their contract with the label in 2000 or so, and they decided to call it quits. They did get back together in 2006, and still do shows around the US today. I'm not sure if any of their more current stuff is worth while, but it very well could be. There isn't anything about this record you shouldn't like. Alt rock, grunge, contemporary rock - it has everything. And it's stood the test of time. I really enjoyed listening to it again this morning. Don't be left far behind, take a listen today.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Don't You
2. Change
3. You
4. No Sense
5. Far Behind
6. Blossom
7. Arrow
8. Rain
9. Mother's Dream
10. Cover Me
11. He Calls Home

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Far Behind
2. You
3. Cover Me

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars