Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Thursday, June 30, 2011

B Side Presents, "Freeway Delights - Follow Up"

I know, I know. It's Thursday. Why, oh why am I not doing music reviews? Well B Siders, I'll be candid - I'm just crushed today with busy stuff all day long. So why not move a Friday commentary piece to Thursday right? I thought so too! Glad we're on the same page.

Last week I talked about my top 5 favorite road trip songs. Well, when I took a sweet road trip with three friends last weekend, I put together a playlist. And I'm probably the only person who does this, but I spend quite a bit of time developing a solid arrangement for everyone in the car to enjoy. This is more tasking than people may think, as it means you have to know everyone else's music tastes. Sure, I could play 2 hours worth of music only I love - but what's the fun in that? I think I've said this before, but being a real DJ or a car DJ - there is nothing better than everyone looking at you and telling you that you couldn't have made a better song choice in that moment. Great feeling.

So here is a Grooveshark playlist of what I played for my friends last week. And we had a mix of one guy who loves classic rock and 90's alt rock, one guy who really loves rap and then one who pretty much enjoys anything. So I geared my playlist toward the three of them, so all of them can sing a bit and enjoy the ride. Note that the playlist is simply in alphabetical order. I tossed the iPod on shuffle and let it ride. There are a couple tracks I couldn't add, since Grooveshark didn't have them. Those were:

Clipse - Intro (off Lord Willin')
Smashing Pumpkins - Eye (Soundtrack)
Smashing Pumpknis - End Is The Beginning Is The End (Soundtrack)

Hopefully you guys like the list too! Maybe there are a couple tracks in there I can turn ya'll on to!

Shoot me your list sometime!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Curren$y - Weekend At Burnies

Some time ago, I profiled this new up-and-comer rapper called Curren$y. His album 'Pilot Talk' came out, and I was convinced that he had "it". Whatever that it is. I'll reiterate a little bit. His name is Shante Franklin, and he was born in 1981 in New Orleans. He was signed as part of a group to Master P's No Limit label way back in 2002. He signed as a solo artist to Weezy's 'Cash Money' label back in 2004. While there, he established a fairly successful clothing line. That not being enough, he left in 2007 to to his own thing. He dropped a metric ton of mix tapes to generate some buzz. That finally paid off in 2010 when 'Pilot Talk' dropped. And that album was quite awesome. Since then, he's been nothing but incredibly busy. He dropped another album in 2010, and one in early 2011, this one came out yesterday and he has ANOTHER record due out later this year. Phew, that was a mouthful. I'll be honest and tell you guys I hadn't gotten to anything since the debut drop - but having 5 albums out in just under a year seems to be too much. The quality must be suffering right? Well, getting to this one today - I'm not sure it does. The beats are really solid. The flow and lyrics are what is going to make this guy a hit. (I'd call him a kid, but he's older than me) Arrangement wise, it's almost something that isn't out there. And I don't even know how to describe what he's doing. It sounds like 80's music meets rap meets 90's hip hop beats. That probably makes no sense, but give it a listen. I think you'll like it. I'm not sure I identify with any specific tracks, but the whole album is a fun listen.

1. #Jestgo
2. Still
3. She Don't Want a Man
4. One Life
5. You See It
6. Televised
7. This is the Life
8. On G's
9. Money Machine
10. What's What
11. JLC
12. Get Paid

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. She Don't Want A Man
2. #Jestgo
3. Still

4 out of 5 stars

Relient K - Mmhmm

It continues to baffle me how I've done so many reviews in each genre and there are bands that at some point were really popular and cool, but I've never even gave a thought to review them. Goes to show you what was cool in 2004 may not be so amazing in 2011. Enter stage right Reliant K. I was flipping through iTunes today and they had some profile on them, so I figured why not? I've heard of these guys before - can't say I could have given you a single track, but that's neither here nor there. I see they have three gold selling records (including this one) so they at least had some selling power. The band formed in 1998 in Canton, Ohio while the members were juniors in high school. The name came over one of the guys Plymouth Reliant K car, with their name spelled intentionally wrong to eliminate any copyright infringement. What I didn't know, these guys consider themselves Christian punk or rock. When this record dropped in 2004, it seems it put them on the map since they really changed their sound. Apparently they were known more for pop culture referencing, silly tracks versus serious sound. This one was sort of an experiment for the band, but they wanted to solidify their status in the business. This was their first release under a major label and their last release with a founding member. I cannot comment on the befores and afters of this band - but this one is just okay. It's definitely slowed down and some tracks seem to be talking about deeper life occurrences. It could be miles better from their older stuff, but it's still mediocre in my world.

1. One I'm Waiting For, The
2. Be My Escape
3. High of '75
4. I So Hate Consequences
5. Only Thing Worse Than Beating a Dead Horse Is Betting on One, The
6. My Girl's Ex-Boyfriend
7. More Than Useless
8. Which to Bury, Us or the Hatchet
9. Let It All Out
10. Who I Am Hates Who I've Been
11. Maintain Consciousness
12. This Week the Trend
13. Life After Death & Taxes
14. When I Go Down

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Life After Death & Taxes
2. When I Go Down
3. Who I Am Hates Who I've Been

2.25 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beyonce - 4

New Music Tuesday is in full swing today. There were actually quite a few solid records to choose from, but I figured I'd run with the queen of pop - Beyonce. I don't think at this point I need to introduce anyone to her. She's been around forever, forever ever, forever ever. (shameless Outkast plug). Anyways, from DC to solo stuff to acting and everything else, she's considered one of the most multi talented females in the industry today. And while I've personally never been a huge fan of her music, I could see why others would. Interesting tidbit about this release, in February 2011 it was made known that the project was near completion. Knowles recorded seventy-two tracks for 4, which overwhelmed Columbia Records staff who had to sort through the content and choose what was included on the album. That's a sick amount of music recorded for one record. She states this album was made based on the influence of several other artists, including: Fela Kuti, The Stylistics, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. The lead single, 'Run The World' peaked nicely on the Billboard charts. I'm really up in the air on this record so far. As I'm typing this very line, I'm on track 3 the second time around. And the album top to bottom is so different. There are some nice ballad tracks, and then a few really uptempo and powerful almost soul type tracks. There isn't a ton of pop here - which is a surprise. 'Run The World' might be the only "pop" track, and it's very danc-y. Seems pop artists are taking note, and hitting the dance circuit really hard. Anyways, I'm going to off initial impression say this is good - not great. Above average. I won't question her work ethic, vocal and her drive to succeed and put out new, quality records for fans. I'm just not 100% sure if this is the best of the 72 songs yet. Depends on how the album was set to be shaped, and it's pretty different from Beyonce's typical work.

1. 1 + 1
2. I Care
3. I Miss You
4. Best Thing I Never Had
5. Party
6. Rather Die Young
7. Start Over
8. Love on Top
9. Countdown
10. End of Time
11. I Was Here
12. Run the World (Girls)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Start Over
2. I Care
3. I Was Here

3.25 out of 5 stars

Rusko - O.M.G.!

It's been a while since I've ran a Techno Tuesday entry - so here comes the hotstepper! When I was listening to some dance over the weekend, it made me realize how much this music can pump you up. Running through some DJ's this morning, I stumbled upon Rusko here. Real name Christopher Mercer, he hails from Leeds, England. He was born in 1985 and studied music production at the Leeds College of Music. He got his real production start in 2006 when he dropped something called SNES Dub. Rusko has worked with a ton of different artists, including a recent album reviewed here. He worked with M.I.A on her latest 'Maya' drop. He's stated in interviews he's also worked with Rihanna, TI and on the latest Brittney Spears record. Not too shabby. Recently his Porsche caught on fire at his estate in England. While the fire destroyed pretty much the entire home, he was able to save all of his music backed up on hard drives. This album came out in May of last year in the US. It hasn't made a particularly big splash or anything and critics have thusfar been pretty tough on it. I don't think I'll be that hard on it though. It's a little all over the place, and quite a few cameos on it. Gucci Mane makes an appearance, there is a reggae track and some other funky stuff. All in all, it's a pretty solid dance album. I mean, I wouldn't expect to hear all the tracks at the club or anything - but if this is your genre, it's a more than enjoyable record.

1. Woo Boost
2. Hold On
3. Rubadub Shakedown
4. Dial My Number
5. I Love You
6. Kumon Kumon
7. Scareware
8. Raver’s Special
9. Feels So Real
10. You’re On My Mind Baby
11. Got Da Groove
12. Oy
13. My Mouth
14. District Line

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Hold On
2. Kumon Kumon
3. Raver's Splash

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 27, 2011

OneRepublic - Dreaming Out Loud

I was doing the country review last week when the artist covered 'Apologize'. I mentioned that it was one of my favorite guilty pleasures of all time. For some reason, it can be any time of day and I can be in any mood - and I adore that song. I figured I'd go back to where it all began, plus do a band that I've been encouraged by in the past but never really gave a fair shake to. These guys are a poppy rock band from Colorado Springs out west. They started doing music in 2002 or so, and at one point in 2005 were the most viewed unsigned act on Myspace. When they collaborated with Timbaland for 'Apologize', they made history by achieving over 10 thousand plays in one week. That mark was short lived as they broke their own mark with the Leona Lewis collaboration 'Bleeding Love'. Not too shabby. This album dropped in 2007 and is certified gold by the RIAA. Back then they were labeled in Rolling Stone's Top 10 artists to watch list. They dropped another record which hasn't charted yet, but produced a fairly big single. They have another album due out this year yet, TBD though. This album is one of those that dabbles in different genres. You've got some super upbeat poppy tracks, but then the bigger ballads that would attract a guy like me. Whatever genre they're playing here, it's good. The album sounds very polished, like a band that's been doing it for a decade. Crisp sound, nice lyrics and an overall sound that a fan could actually identify with. I really recommend this today.

1. Say (All I Need)
2. Mercy
3. Stop and Stare
4. Apologize - (remix)
5. Goodbye, Apathy
6. All Fall Down
7. Tyrant
8. Prodigal
9. Won't Stop
10. All We Are
11. Someone to Save You
12. Come Home

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Apologize
2. Come Home
3. Mercy

3.5 out of 5 stars

Black Tide - Light From Above

I didn't get to too much metal over the weekend - just a previous reviewed band Killswitch Engage and a small bit of Pantera. With my lack of hard rock over the weekend, I figured it'd be a good time to run with a band this morning. And per follower janis!'s list, we've got Black Tide. Never heard of these guys before, so we'll see how this one goes down. They're from Miami, Florida and have been making tunes since 2006. You wanna know something crazy? When these guys formed in 2004 or so, the two founding members of the band were 13 and 11 years old. 11 years old? What 11 year old kid is forming metal bands? I'd like to have seen Bieber go hard core instead of pop. Oh well. They went to tour Ozzfest, but had a slight hiccup there. The stage was sponsored by Jägermeister and none of the members were of legal drinking age. They were slated to be removed from the tour, but they got a shot to open the main stage for a couple of acts. The tour went well, and got picked up by a couple other good metal acts. This is really an interesting album. While it's hard and heavy and all of that, I wouldn't have popped this in and immediately thought "metal". While it's got that feel to it overall, it's pretty light. They added some flair by covering 'Hit The Lights' by Metallica, which is pretty cool. I don't think there are any sick anthems on this record, top to bottom it's simply solid. It's something I could listen to on a semi regular basis.

1. Shockwave
2. Shout
3. Warriors of Time
4. Give Me a Chance
5. Let Me
6. Show Me the Way
7. Enterprise
8. Live Fast Die Young
9. Hit the Lights
10. Black Abyss
11. Light from Above

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Shockwave
2. Hit The Lights
3. Shout

3.25 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 24, 2011

B Side Presents, "Friday Gut Check - Freeway Delights"

It's been forever, literally - since I did a Gut Check for you guys. So since I'm taking a trip this weekend with my buddies to my cottage on the lake, I figured - why not?

I enjoy driving, and I enjoy listening to music (duh) while driving. Before I got a car equipped with Microsoft Sync (where it allows me to just push a button and request a song, artist, album or playlist), I used to queue up on On-The-Go playlist on my iPod and just let it run. There were always a few solid stand-by's. Songs that no matter what mood I was in, could really rock the heck out of my road trip. I typically enjoy upbeat songs, and songs I can sing along to. My favorite thing while driving with others is surprising them with the playlist, and then seeing their reaction to the songs. I promise you, there is no better feeling then the next track coming on and everyone in the car praising you for the awesome selection. Try it sometime.

Anyhow, here are my personal five favorite roadie songs. And mind you, I'm doing this off the top of my head, so I'm sure I'll miss one or two. So post yours!

5. Crackerman - STP: Roamin' Roamin' Roam! Get away, I gotta get away. YES! I enjoy a lot of STP's songs, but for road trips? I think Crackerman takes the cake. It's fast paced, singable and just all around awesome. If it was good enough for STP to open with at their concert, it's good enough for me to open with on a road trip.

4. N 2 Gether Now - Limp Bizkit: Seriously, is there a better crossover collaboration that this? I mean, come on. Durst does a nice job adapting to Method Man's environment, and Method Man just blows this song up. Everyone and the car can sing along. What's that I didn't hear you? Come on a little louder...every body N2 gether now...huh? what? Awesome.

3. Sofi Needs A Ladder - Deadmau5: I guess I normally wouldn't have thought this to be an awesome road trip song, but on my way out to CO a few months back, the guy that shared driving duties with me never heard this one before, and kept playing it over and over. Crazy part? I never got sick of it! It's fairly long, but the pace of the track is always up tempo and the beat mixes up every so often. Great song to exercise to as well.

2. Intergalactic - Beastie Boys: For some reason, I know every single word to this song, and I sing along every time I hear it. It's not even a choice - something in the song subliminally must make me do it. I'll literally stop a conversation in the car and start busting out this track. By no means an amazing song, but it's upbeat and just overall fun. Well worth the 3 minutes of car time.

1. Rock The House - Gorillaz: Yeah, the G-Men. This is one of those applaud out loud from the car tracks. This comes on and the funky horns kick on and the rap parts kick up and everyone just wants to groove and sing along. Funny, probably not my favorite song off the album, but driving? A-mazing. Highly recommend you shoot this one on the playlist next time you're driving any sort of distance.

That's what I got! I think next week I'll post a Grooveshark playlist of exactly what I played on the trip. Then you guys get a little taste of how I roll when I'm rockin' down the highway.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Radiohead - Amnesiac

B Siders, it's time for me to come clean. I have an obsession that has been driving me out of my head lately. And if I don't get any of it, I get crabby and upset and I'm just not me. So I've been having to take it in every single day, or I just don't feel right. And if you don't know what I'm referring to, it's Radiohead. If you thought I was going to say drugs, you were close. I think Radiohead is kind of like a drug. I've done three other albums by them so far, and I can't bring myself to stop reviewing more of their stuff. This is probably a deeper cut than most casual fans would have listened to so far. Everyone knows 'The Bends' and 'OK Computer' since those records had huge hits on them. But Amnesiac? I don't know. I adore 'Kid A' and this album is slightly more on the electronic side like that one was. That makes a ton of sense, as this was the follow up and came out just a year after in 2001. While this record isn't as synthed out and shows a LOT and I mean a lot more guitar work. Most of these songs were adopted in the same 'Kid A' phase, but weren't released on that record. Which is awesome, since it's a second album that has a whole separate identity. The only track that wasn't on the same plain is 'Life In A Glasshouse' which was recorded later with a jazz trumpeter. Thom Yorke goes into great detail how he thinks the two works are separate, and how he came about with the album artworks and how they explain the differences. It's honestly fascinating. This album is in short, awesome. It's 11 tracks of enticing, engaging, never know what's coming next, genre-bending music. I could honestly listen to this everyday, and for the most part, I have been. Please check this out today. And I know it's not for everyone, but if you don't like it - I'd love an honest, thought out rationale as to why.

1. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box
2. Pyramid Song
3. Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors: Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors
4. You and Whose Army?
5. I Might Be Wrong
6. Knives Out
7. Morning Bell/Amnesiac: Morning Bell / Amnesiac
8. Dollars & Cents
9. Hunting Bears
10. Like Spinning Plates
11. Life in a Glasshouse

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Packt Like Sardines
2. You And Whose Army?
3. Hunting Bears

4.75 out of 5 stars

Luke Bryan - Doin' My Thing

Thursday bring Country music back to the forefront of the B Side, and getting back to JenInTosa's suggestions from a while back. Running through them, it looks like those are about gone - so after that, I need some more! Even if they're repeat artists, I'd be happy to look into 2nd albums from artists. Anyhow, Mr. Luke Bryan. In the stunner of the year, he's from the south - Leesburg, Georgia. He first got a guitar at age 14 and learned how to play. His intention was to move to Nashville after finishing high school. That move was delayed when his brother died the same day he was scheduled to pack it up and move out. He stayed in Georgia then, and attended Georgia Southern University. His music career didn't start until 2006, when he was 30 years old. He moved to Nashville in 2001 finally, but he only got a deal to be a song writer, not his own act. He wrote some songs for Travis Tritt - which I suppose got his name out there. He finally got a deal and released his first album in 2007 to very little acclaim. This album came out in 2009 and has seen slightly more success, certified gold by the RIAA. Now I'll be honest, just over halfway into this album, I kept thinking how mediocre it was. And doubly honest, the first track is one of the worst songs I've ever heard in my life. But then track seven pops up - in which he covers OneRepublic's 'Apologize'. And by no means is it an amazing rendition or anything, but I absolutely adore that song. One of my favorite ballads ever. And for him to put that on a country album is a great risk/reward situation. I give him high praise for that. So that bumps this up to a middle of the road to above average record. He's got a couple nice tracks here, but most stuff that I'd be indifferent to.

1. Rain Is a Good Thing
2. Doin' My Thing
3. Do I
4. What Country Is
5. Someone Else Calling You Baby
6. Welcome to the Farm
7. Apologize
8. Every Time I See You
9. Chuggin' Along
10. I Did It Again
11. Drinkin' Beer and Wastin' Bullets

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Apologize
2. Do I
3. Doin' My Thing

2.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lenny Kravitz - 5

I have a strange one for you guys today. I'm guessing every single person who will read this will have heard of Lenny Kravitz and listened to many of his songs over the years on the radio or heck, even watching videos on MTV. But I bet zero of those subsequent people have ever bought a Kravitz record. Am I right? I honestly don't know anyone who owns a record by him. Is it because overall his albums are really bad? I recall listening to the album that had 'Are You Gonna Go My Way' on it back in the day, because it was one of few modern albums our public library had in stock. I recall thinking back then it was fairly bad. And now listening to this one once through - you have the sick anthem in 'Fly Away' that you hear. So you go to pick up the album and you're expecting the same type of face melting guitar pageantry. Problem is, you don't get that. Kravitz seems to mix up his albums so much, that instead of it either being a solid piece of rock history - or a mash up so splendid it makes you crave more (NERD, Gorillaz) - it just leaves the listener confused and unhappy. Okay, that could just be me - but still. The album dropped in 1998 and is 3x platinum in the states. He has a couple other platinum selling records, but this was the biggest. Which, understandable. 'American Woman' was also a pretty big hit as it was used in the Austin Powers films. But overall, the sound just isn't there. If you drop a 15 song album, I'll expect to enjoy more then 3 tracks. And I don't here. I wouldn't go as far as to say this music is bad, but it really doesn't matter what mood I'm in. The music just isn't appealing to me with exception of the couple songs. Maybe others feel differently about him...but I just don't see any value in buying his stuff. He's got another due out this August, so we'll see.

1. Live
2. Supersoulfighter
3. I Belong to You
4. Black Velveteen
5. If You Can't Say No
6. Thinking of You
7. Take Time
8. Fly Away
9. It's Your Life
10. Straight Cold Player
11. Little Girl's Eyes
12. You're My Flavor
13. Can We Find a Reason
14. American Woman (Bonus Track)
15. Without You (Bonus Track)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Fly Away
2. American Woman
3. Can We Find A Reason

2 out of 5 stars

Good Charlotte - Young And The Hopeless

Looking at my reviews, I knew I had to do a punk type band today - but had no clue which I should go for. I was strumming through my very limited section of punk rock, and I noticed Good Charlotte. And wow, I recall hearing their name all the time about 10 years ago, but have heard about zero since. Guess it's time to research. They are a Maryland based band that started around 1996. They have five studio albums out since 2000, with the latest coming in 2010. Crazy. I don't listen to those types of stations often, but if they had any monster singles, I typically would hear them on the pop stations. Basically everything they had off this album. This was their second release, and it dropped in 2002. The band and the label decided to try the old dualdisc for this release. If you don't know what that is, basically you have a regular version of the cd on one side, then bonus tracks/content on the other side. Notoriously the dualdisc is a huge flop because people aren't used to turning their discs over. Or treating them poorly on one side, saving the other that plays the music. Didn't matter too much for this record though, as it sits a solid 3x platinum in the states. Only one of their other records charted in the US so far. It's easy to see why this one was so popular. They were appealing to a bunch of crowds with their upbeat, poppy sound - but still punk rockish. I guess what's flooring is how huge this genre was around the early 2k's. Think about this band versus AAR or pretty much any other punk band making pop music. They all still sound the game. And they aren't talking about anything, just making upbeat, three note guitar tracks. Blah. I wouldn't listen to this today if I were you. It's just not worth your hour.

1. New Beginning, A
2. Anthem, The
3. Lifestyles of Rich and Famous
4. Wondering
5. Story of My Old Man, The
6. Boys & Girls
7. My Bloody Valentine
8. Hold On
9. Riot Girl
10. Say Anything
11. Day That I Die, The
12. Young & The Hopeless, The
13. Emotionless
14. Movin' On

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. The Anthem
2. Lifestyles
3. Hold On

1.25 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bon Iver - Self Titled

I really need to cleanse my palette after that hot mess that was LMFAO. Yikes. Anyways, Bon Iver. I've known about the band for quite a while now - only because of the collaborations with hip hop artists. But I've heard quite a few people talk about Bon Iver as though it's a person - when it's actually a band. I guess Justin Vernon would be the closest thing to the personification of the band, so I'll assume talking about Bon Iver as only one would be him. The cool part about these guys is their from my backyard, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Okay, so geographically, not really my backyard, but my home state. So it's still cool. They've been making tuneage since 2006 - same as my previous review. They dropped their first record in 2008, and it was considered an amazing album, one of the best of the year. The album was recorded in a remodeled veterinarian clinic in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, which was bought by Vernon and his brother in 2008. It was converted into April Base Studios, built mainly over the defunct swimming pool attached to the clinic. Vernon's reason for recording in the location was that "[it's] been a wonderful freedom, working in a place we built. It's also only three miles from the house I grew up in, and just ten minutes from the bar where my parents met." Kind of a neat story. This has an indie mood type feel to it. It's definitely slower, so think that brand of music. It's not going to hype you up, but it may calm you down. Very peaceful music. I highly suggest this today. It's just another well done Bon Iver record.

1. Perth
2. Minnesota, WI
3. Holocene
4. Towers
5. Michicant
6. Hinnom, TX
7. Wash.
8. Calgary
9. Lisbon, OH
10. Beth/Rest

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Perth
2. Michicant
3. Holocene

4 out of 5 stars

LMFAO - Sorry For Party Rocking

Okay Tuesday, bring it on. Hit me with your best New Music shot. And as a treat for the readers, I got a head start and will do two new albums today! Hooray! So we're starting with LMFAO - which is an acronym used via text messaging or on that new fad created by Al Gore - the internet. If you honestly don't know what that stands for by now, godspeed. Anyways, these guys have been "blowing up" on the pop charts for a little while now. Although I've heard of them, and I know a couple tracks have come on the radio while I was listening, my first impression of the songs were not positive. These guys are from the LA area of California and started making music around 2006 or so. The two "rappers" are related (uncle and nephew) and are related to Motown mogul Barry Gordy. Their first album dropped in 2009 and produced a couple singles. While it might have been considered a success by the label, it has only sold a couple hundred thousand copies total. Just last year though, they were featured on a David Guetta song, and they became more well known internationally versus just in the states. With the drop of this record, they are starting to tour overseas too. I'll assume they have to do this, as it's just not cutting the mustard here at home. I'm not really sure what to call this. It's kind of dance-ish and they certainly try to rap over the beats. All the things it's trying to be, it's not particularly good at any of them. How other sites have given this as high as 3 out of 5 stars is beyond me. My first impression seems to be my second, and this is garbage.

1. Rock the Beat II
2. Sorry For Party Rocking
3. Party Rock Anthem
4. Sexy and I Know It
5. Champagne Showers
6. One Day
7. Put That A$$ To Work
8. Take It To the Hole
9. We Came Here To Party
10. Reminds Me of You
11. Best Night
12. All Night Long
13. With You
14. Hot Dog

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Party Rock Anthem
2. Champagne Showers
3. All Night Long

1 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Clash - London Calling

When I reviewed Third Eye Blind the other day, follower janis! mentioned that I should look at a Clash tribute record that she claims is phenomenal. And I was just about to do that today when I realized I never did an original Clash record. So in lieu of putting the proverbial chicken before the egg - I figured I'd take a step back and do this first. Plus, pretty much every reviewing magazine and site ever puts this album in the Top 5 of all time. The Clash are from London, England and started doing music in 1976. What made them so cool, popular and talked about was how different they were. Think of Sublime meets No Doubt meets pop music with a couple other genres mixed in - with a sick rock sound. No one knew what to expect with these guys because they were doing something so unique for the times. London Calling came out in 1979 to amazing reviews. This album isn't just music, it has messages about a variety of topics that were big at this time. The album artwork is replicated after an Elvis record except the lead singer smashing his guitar on stage in New York. That guitar is sitting in the rock n' roll hall of fame. This is a pretty astounding 19 tracks which was a ton for that time period. In terms of my opinion of this album - it's tough. I've listened to this a few times in the past. And it just doesn't have that "it" factor to me. When I stack it up against other Top 5 of all time quality albums, this isn't even close. Now don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean this album is bad or anything - I just think the praise doesn't match the sound. Perhaps had I grown up in the 70's it may have had more of an impact on me. Who knows. I certainly would tell you to check this out sometime if you've never heard it - but don't expect it to replace your favorite album ever.

1. London Calling
2. Brand New Cadillac
3. Jimmy Jazz
4. Hateful
5. Rudie Can't Fail
6. Spanish Bombs
7. Right Profile, The
8. Lost in the Supermarket
9. Clampdown
10. Guns of Brixton, The
11. Wrong 'Em Boyo
12. Death or Glory
13. Koka Kola
14. Card Cheat, The
15. Lover's Rock
16. Four Horsemen
17. I'm Not Down
18. Revolution Rock
19. Train in Vain

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Train In Vain
2. London Calling
3. Clampdown

4.25 out of 5 stars

Thievery Corporation - Mirror Conspiracy

My weekend was incredibly short. I played in (and won) a volleyball tournament on Saturday - so that was cool. They usually pump the music in hot and heavy at those things, but this was a charity event - so less of that. Anyways, getting back into it this Monday sees Thievery Corporation cross my desk via follower peterman. This is a DJ duo from Washington DC that started doing the music thing in the mid 90's. Basically the band was formed from two guys who loved the club life. One member was the owner of the Eighteenth Street Lounge in DC and the other was a club goer. They talked about how much the love music and mixing, and decided to give it a shot. They dropped a couple 12" singles that generated some buzz - they got picked up and dropped their first record in 1997. While they haven't exactly blown up the world in terms of popularity and sales - they did open for Paul McCartney in 2009 for a huge concert in Maryland. They have another album due out tomorrow I think - so be sure to stay on the lookout for that one. Peterman requested this record though, and it's their second studio release. It came out in 2000 and isn't certified anything per the RIAA. They're kind of a laid back dubstep type band with big influences in lounge music with plenty of culture. I feel like any country could put this on and feel right at home. It's that diverse sounding to me. I can't nitpick and find anything wrong with this album. It's not going to pump you up to run a marathon or anything - but it's certainly a cool record. It's so very different that it's worth checking out this morning.

1. Treasures
2. Monde, Le - (French)
3. Indra
4. Lebanese Blonde
5. Focus on Sight
6. Air Batucada
7. So Com Voce - (Portuguese)
8. Samba Tranquille
9. Shadows of Ourselves - (French)
10. Hong Kong Triad, The
11. Illumination
12. Mirror Conspiracy, The
13. Tomorrow

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Lebanese Blonde
2. Treasures
3. Air Batucada

3.25 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rant #18 - "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?"

I was going to do a couple more reviews for you guys today - but I honestly don't have time to run through two albums today. Combine that with the fact I haven't done a commentary piece in a while, I figure why not right?

I think I may have mentioned a couple times before has I'm such a fickle concert goer. Back in the day, I used to really enjoy it. I wouldn't even have to love a band all that much and I'd go see the show. At some point, concerts seemingly went up in price about 9 fold - and I determined it was no longer a good value for my money. That and I got to college and was broke. Today, I've been starting to go again. It started with my cousin graciously taking me to see STP last year since she had free tickets. And the experience blew my mind off. Then I hit the Experience Hendrix show - about two weeks later. Was also a great show. Devotees probably know my photo up top is of E, the mystical man behind the Eels, and this is really the meat of my quandary. I saw them live with my best good buddy last year. The concert was beyond amazing. Probably the most well done show I've ever been to. They are coming back to Milwaukee again in August - but he's going to be in Australia. Do I take someone who's not really all that into the band - you know, like me back in the day? Or do I just sit this one out?

Part of it is sitting back again and thinking about price and value of the show. Since I'm going to Florence + The Machine, Cage and Black Keys in a couple weeks at Summerfest, that's a big chunk of my concert budget right there. But what if that show doesn't meet my expectations? I think we've all been to at least one or two shows that you were really pumped for, and the band laid a complete egg. Maybe they were jet legged that night, maybe they're just not a good live show. Either way, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you're walking out of the venue. And that's part of the reason I stopped going back in the day. I hate it when I spend good money on a show, and then I don't hear one song I wanted to hear. Or they're just rolling around on stage for two hours and not really playing anything.

The question for you guys isn't concert specific, but in general - what do you think about going to shows? I know from personal experience that a couple readers really do enjoy going to shows. The question I have is, what makes that experience so delightful for you? Why no matter what the cost or where the venue is, would you pay to see your favorite band live without hesitation? 9 times out of 10 I'm going to turn it how many others are that way? Maybe I should do a poll or something. Anyways, just curious to get some feedback. I'll probably go to the Eels in August anyways, because I'm confident it'll be a solid show. But if the Summerfest show totally drops the ball - I'll think twice.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Joss Stone - Mind, Body & Soul

Every so often, an album or artists falls into my lap in the strangest ways. A perfect example would be today's review of Joss Stone. Now, I've heard of her before - probably heard a single or two on the radio as well. But I can't say I've ever proactively sought her music out. And I have no reason for that other than ignorance. Now there was a story yesterday that two fellas were arrested connected to a plot to kill Joss here. Very odd story. They were found on her property and then they had a bunch of murdering related items in their vehicle. Time will tell if they give a motive or whatever, but at the surface they seem a bit loony. Anyway, because of that - I figure I should give her music a go! She was born in 1987 in England. She started singing at a very young age, around 13 or so. She's also into the acting game a little bit - having a role in Eragon which seems like it came out decades ago now. What's super crazy, is if you just put this on today and listen to it - it's clearly now what you'd expect. I know at this point, she's 24 years old, but when this came out - she'd have been around 17 or 18. Now, I'm not sure about you guys, but typically teenage stars have a certain sound and a certain lyrical content. The sound - woah. She sounds like a savvy, soul or r&b singer. Then you see a photo of her, looking really hot and having the red highlights - there is just no way you'd expect this vocal and this lyric coming from that girl. It's mind blowing. Anyways, this is awesome. I have no idea why I didn't get tuned into her earlier. Even though she's young, I believe her blues-y tracks. I want to hear more from her. I'm all flustered. I honestly am going to listen to this the rest of the day.

1. Right to Be Wrong
2. Jet Lag
3. You Had Me
4. Spoiled
5. Don't Cha Wanna Ride
6. Less Is More
7. Security
8. Young at Heart
9. Snakes and Ladders
10. Understand
11. Don't Know How
12. Torn and Tattered
13. Killing Time
14. Sleep Like a Child
15. Right Time, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Right To Be Wrong
2. Killing Time
3. Snakes And Ladders

4 out of 5 stars

Keith Urban - Be Here

Thursday ahoy! And it's time for more country music here on the B Side. Looking through the Billboard Country charts this morning, there are a solid number of artists making music right now that a) I haven't reviewed and b) I've never heard of. Urban certainly doesn't fit into the latter category, his name seems to be at the forefront of a lot of country discussions. I'm not sure I've heard anything by him, time will tell. This is his best selling album at 4x in the states, so I figured I'd start here. You wouldn't really know listening to him, but Urban was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia at age 6. Shortly after the move, he started competing in youth singing contests and winning many of them by age 8. He's been making music since 1990 - after making a splash in the Aussie country scene. Back in 1992, he moved to Nashville to conquer the American scene as well. And although he began making solid headway into the business, he also had a severe cocaine addiction that was keeping him from really taking the next step. He checked into rehab in 1998 to get clean. This particular record came out in 2004, seemingly after his problems had dissolved. This produced three number one country hits and had another track peak at #48 even though it never was released or played on the radio. For the most part, the album is pretty upbeat and fast paced. I could see country fans getting ready to this album in the morning, and even driving into work with it. It may be a little too contemporary for my liking, but it's a good listen. I'd have to hear his other stuff to get a real feel for him as an artist, but at first blush - I can see why he's popular.

1. Days Go By
2. Better Life
3. Making Memories of Us
4. God's Been Good to Me
5. Hard Way, The
6. You're My Better Half
7. I Could Fly
8. Tonight I Wanna Cry
9. She's Gotta Be
10. Nobody Drinks Alone
11. Country Comfort
12. Live to Love Another Day
13. These Are the Days

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Better Life
2. The Hard Way
3. Days Go By

3.25 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Velvet Revolver - Contraband

There are a number of lead singers of bands I'd love getting a beer with. Not to be one of those over-the-top crazy fans, but just ask a couple questions and see if the guy is as cool as I perceive him to be. One of those guys is Mr. Scott Weiland. What's that? A segway...allow me to continue. Along with Weiland, this is yet another rock supergroup that formed in 2002. They have half of Guns N Roses (including Slash) and then a guy from Wasted Youth. The story goes, there was a bit of an encouraging from VH1 to get this band going. They auditioned a ton of singers back in 2000 or so, but couldn't find the right fit. Weiland was included then, but STP was still going, and he didn't feel he could leave. Weiland had a bit of an in, as he was in rehab with one guy and then attended the same gym as another. When Weiland was sent the original demos, he claimed it sounded like "Bad Company gone wrong". But after STP disbanded, he heard some new stuff and compared it to the original STP 'Core' era. Critics bashed this album, saying it was too much of a GNR/STP mash up. Well personally, I don't see it. Obviously it's going to sound like STP - since it's the same vocal. But in overall sound, it's really nothing like STP. I could see some comparisons to GNR, but it's way less intense. This is a more laidback rock, save a couple tracks. They claim they're back in the studio, but that Weiland it out for certain. Probably due to STP dropping their new record, and touring. This album is 2x in the states, with a couple nice singles off it. I'd recommend this one today. While it's not amazing, it's got again, a nice overall rock/alt rock feel. If you're a fan of either contributing band, you'll enjoy this band too. Especially if you're an STP nut like me, this will be right up your alley.

1. Suckertrain Blues
2. Do It For the Kids
3. Big Machine
4. Illegal I Song
5. Spectacle
6. Fall to Pieces
7. Headspace
8. Superhuman
9. Set Me Free
10. You Got No Right
11. Slither
12. Dirty Little Thing
13. Loving the Alien

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Slither
2. Fall To Pieces
3. You Got No Right

3.25 out of 5 stars

Corrosion Of Conformity - Deliverance

COC is just one of those bands. I'm not 100% sure how I stumbled across them, but I've known about them for a really long time, and never given them the proper time of day. It's completely inexplicable, since I tend to enjoy the couple singles I've heard from them over the years. They're from college town Raleigh, North Carolina and started making metal music in 1982. Certainly didn't realize they'd been around since before I was born. That's kinda nuts. They have quite a few albums out there, 7 all in total. Actually an 8th slated to be on the way sometime this year. The first came out all the way back in 1984 with this particular record dropping in 1994. It's also their best selling album - but don't get too excited about sales. It has only generated 400k or so in sales - nothing to write to the label about. They've gone through a ton of different band members - and messed around with the sound a couple of times. They started as more of a punk band, and changed to model after "James Hetfield or Ozzy Osbourne" and generate those types of sounds. This is certainly more up that alley - maybe a little less hard than Metallica or Ozzy/Sabbath. This was the first record with Pepper Keenan as lead singer, where he still resides today. All in all, I enjoy this record. I can understand why it's not the most popular thing on the block, but I think any metal fan would enjoy it. Heck, I think any rock fan would enjoy it. It's not overly hard, not shouty - just a nice rock feel. Give it a go today, you'll be surprised.

1. Heaven's Not Overflowing
2. Albatross
3. Clean My Wounds
4. Without Wings
5. Broken Man
6. Senor Limpio
7. Mano de Mono
8. Seven Days
9. #2121313
10. My Grain
11. Deliverance
12. Shake Like You
13. Shelter
14. Pearls Before Swine

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Clean My Wounds
2. Without Wings
3. Albatross

3.75 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bad Meets Evil - Hell: The Sequel

Is it any secret at this point that I enjoy the lyricism and flow of one Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem? No? Okay, good. People might be reading the artist tagline up there and be thinking, "why the heck is this guy talking about Em?" Well fans, I'll tell you. Bad Meets Evil is a hip hop duo that consists of Eminem and Royce da 5'9". A long time ago, before Em made it huge, he dropped a little mixtape album under this moniker. And often times when people ask me what my favorite Em track is, or at least my Top 5 - a song from Bad Meets Evil comes up. There is this track titled 'Scary Movies' that blows my mind clear off. Highly recommend you check that one out today. They also recorded a song called 'Renegade' that got scrapped so Em and Jay-Z could run with it on his 'The Blueprint' album. Royce is another Detroit based rapper who lives basically through Em. I've heard his solo stuff, and let's just say it's nothing to shake a stick at. But his stuff with Em is really solid. And he's also part of the Slaughterhouse group, which Em was trying to sign to Shady Records. This is really only an EP, not a full album. But you can still buy it from Best Buy today for $10 bucks. I have reasonably high expectations for this - solely because how much I enjoyed the first mixtape. It was really a great idea to give this another shot. And while it's 11 tracks and not all of them are amazing, a couple of them are really great sounding to my ear the first go 'round. Royce always did have a really nice flow, and when him and Em showcase it like in a track like 'A Kiss' - it makes you crave more. This is a must listen today for any Em fan, and a highly encouraged listen for any rap fan in general. Still a should listen to the casual music fan, as it's an easy fun listen. A couple tracks really got me going, so now I'm all hyped up inside. Happy Tuesday!

1. Welcome 2 Hell
2. Fastlane
3. Reunion, The
4. Above the Law
5. I'm On Everything
6. Kiss, A
7. Lighters
8. Take From Me
9. Loud Noises
10. Living Proof
11. Echo

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Fast Lane
2. A Kiss
3. Living Proof

4.25 out of 5 stars

Black Country Communion - 2

Tuesday. Since I'm a couple ahead on my techno reviews, I'm going to run with two New Music Tuesday entries today. That means I had to get up extra early to listen to two studio length albums in time to get them reviewed for ya'll this morning. The challenge subsequently ended up being, there wasn't a whole lot of amazing things out today. Quick show of hands, who has heard of this band before? As I'm scanning the crowd, I see zero hands go up. Now I'll add that this is a rock supergroup, continuing my uncanny ability to pick them out of a crowd. Just some guy that was in Deep Purple, some guy who's the son of a guy from Zeppelin and the some guy who played with Alice in Chains and Alice Cooper. No big whoop. In what I'm referring to as a big shocker, this band actually formed just last year. I never see that. Every band that comes my way has at least been together a couple of years before they drop a record. And based on this album's title, it's safe to assume this isn't even their first album - and you'd be right! Formed in 2010 and dropped their first album in Sept of 2010. Having gotten through this 1.5 times as I'm writing this, I'm not really sure what to think of it. While it's certainly not bad, none of the tracks are really sticking with me. Sound wise, it's basically straight up old school rock. They're not doing anything crazy. Vocals are good, lyrics are basically non-existent. I couldn't imagine singing along with any of these tracks. This album reminds of when you see a band perform at a carnival or something, and there are about 5 chicks in the front row belting out crazy lyrics and the rest of the crowd is just kind of moving along in acknowledgement. They're not necessarily happy to be there, but more indifferent. I won't say that the album is totally mediocre, but I am generally indifferent.

1. Outsider, The
2. Man In the Middle
3. Battle For Hadrian's Wall, The
4. Save Me
5. Smokestack Woman
6. Faithless
7. An Ordinary Son
8. I Can See Your Spirit
9. Little Secret
10. Crossfire
11. Cold

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Little Secret
2. Man In The Middle
3. Crossfire

2.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kinks - Lola Versus Powerman And The Money-Go-Round, Part One

I ever so much enjoy listening to some classic rock on the occasion. One of my favorite tracks is 'Lola' by the Kinks. I'm not exactly sure why, but when that track comes on, I typically get pretty pumped. I'm getting ahead of myself though. I'm going two for two today in English bands - with the Kinks being from North London. They started making music in 1964 though, slightly earlier than the Monkeys. They hit it really big in the mid 60's with 'Your Really Got Me' which was a monster success both in England and in the states. People of all countries were both in love and confused by their style. It was so dirty and garage sounding, yet it somehow sounded so polished and intentional. This was one of the first bands that made that type of music "cool". Not knowing what else to say back then - critics called it "crossover music" and didn't let it fit into a certain genre. The Kinks had such a long career, they were huge then they ceased to exist for a while and then reached a little more success. This album came out in 1970 which was right on the front end of the decline. They literally dropped about a hundred albums over 30 years. Probably too much music and the fans felt jaded on the quality coming out versus all that quantity. This is probably one of the most resoundingly polarizing albums in the history of music. Some people love it, some absolutely hate it and some are right down the middle. I think this is a great record. I think given it's time, it was a trendsetter in different, garage band type music. And for the Kinks, it was almost a concept type record, as their others didn't really sound like this one. All in all, it's by no means amazing, but a couple tracks are awesome and the record as a whole is solid. Well worth listening to.

1. Introduction
2. Contenders, The
3. Strangers
4. Denmark Street
5. Get Back in Line
6. Lola
7. Top of the Pops
8. Moneygoround, The
9. This Time Tomorrow
10. Long Way From Home, A
11. Rats
12. Apeman
13. Powerman
14. Got to Be Free

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Lola
2. Apeman
3. Long Way From Home

3.5 out of 5 stars

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not

Monday, Monday. Just another manic Monday. Per usual, the weekend cruised by entirely too fast. But getting back this morning, I realized that I hadn't done a follower Shaqwanda based review in forever! And if you're reading today Shaqwanda, I've only got one or two left from you - so pop in some more bands! The Arctic Monkeys here originated in Sheffield, England and started making music in 2002 or so. These guys have a couple really interesting stories from their humble beginnings. When they were playing smaller shows in England, they were giving away burned cd's with some tracks on it for people to listen to and get accustomed to the band's style. Not all that unusual for bands getting their start. Well what ended up happening, is many people began file sharing the album, somehow it got the title of 'The Broadway' and it leaked everywhere. Most people that were late to the party truly believed it was an actual studio album because the title gained that much popularity. The other neat story was fans created a MySpace page for them in the early years. In an interview, they were asked what the internet medium has done for them and the industry - and they mentioned they had no idea how to put songs on the internet. When the follow up was asked, 'well, how do you explain your myspace page?' - they claimed they didn't know anything about it. Fun stuff. These guys have sold really well in the UK, but not great in the states. Many critics believe the UK press is simply a hype machine, and bands from there are too overhyped when they make it to the states. I enjoy the vocals on this record, and oddly enough the lead singer sounds a tad like the the guy from Cage the Elephant. It's got a really high energy, indie feel to it - which is pretty cool. Depeche Mode keyboardist criticized the track 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor', saying it was - a bombardment of the most unsubtle, one-dimensional noise. While I don't agree with that, I'll concur that is music isn't exactly the most complex either. But it doesn't need to be complex to be good sounding, and this is a flat out good sounding album. Give it a run today, I think you'll be impressed.

1. View from the Afternoon, The
2. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
3. Fake Tales of San Francisco
4. Dancing Shoes
5. You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights But You Were Staring Straight at Me
6. Still Take You Home
7. Riot Van
8. Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured
9. Mardy Bum
10. Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But...
11. When the Sun Goes Down
12. From the Ritz to the Rubble
13. Certain Romance, A

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. You Couldn't See For The Lights...
2. From The Ritx To The Rubble
3. Fake Tales of San Francisco

3.75 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 10, 2011

Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs

I made a comment about this one a couple weeks back now. Mainly just that it intruiged me beyond my wildest dreams. Sure I'm not a huge fan of Pearl Jam - but typically I find Vedder's solo stuff pretty refreshing and fun to listen to. And add a ukulele to that? Could be straight up gold! Interesting little artwork tidbit - the cover art features a photograph of the sculptural work "The Lost Correspondent" by Jason deCaires Taylor. The sculpture is underwater with many others at a dive site called Moliniere Bay - Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada. This is an album of cover tracks and original Vedder written material. It's a very short album, checking in at a mere 30 mins. But I really like the concept. I like that while Vedder is still very much a part of Pearl Jam, he's going outside the box to create a piece like this. In fact, Pearl Jam is making a return to the illustrious Alpine Valley Amphitheater in East Troy, Wisconsin this year. It sounds like it's a multiple day thing, and passes are quite expensive. Vedder did a solo tour back in 2008, where a couple of these tracks were unveiled. Apparently the response was so positive, that he decided to drop an entire record. While the originality of this album is off the scale, it's all very redundant. I want to give this high marks just because of how refreshing and different it is, when you get into it - it's very short, but all so the same. It's fairly hard to make the ukulele sound different over 16 tracks. Which is probably why individually they're so short. I'm going to go in the middle on this, but tell you it's still worth investigating. I mean, it's a ukulele for gosh sake! How often do you get to hear it?

1. Can't Keep
2. Sleeping By Myself
3. Without You
4. More Than You Know
5. Goodbye
6. Broken Heart
7. Satellite
8. Longing To Belong
9. Hey Fahkah
10. You're True
11. Light Today
12. Sleepless Nights
13. Once in a While
14. Waving Palms
15. Tonight You Belong To Me
16. Dream a Little Dream

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Dream A Little Dream
2. Tonight You Belong To Me
3. Goodbye

3.25 out of 5 stars

Sara Bareilles - Kaleidoscope Heart

First and foremost, that might set a new B Side record for most confusing artist and album title spelling ever. At the very least, I'll vote it most likely to be misspelled. Regardless, this is a Suggestion Box entry from an anonymous person - and asked that I view the video for 'Uncharted' as well. I have since figured out who put this in the box, but I'll keep it unknown. Sara was born in 1979 in Eureka, California. After attending and finishing school at UCLA, Sara decided to play local clubs in the LA area to explore her music career. That was in 2003 and then shortly after in 2004 - she was noticed by Epic Records and signed a deal. And although that original drop didn't produce much thunder for her, the follow up record out in 2007 is certified platinum today. Mainly based on the single 'Love Song' which was a pretty huge iTunes seller. This now being the third studio release for Sara, so far getting pretty solid reviews from critics. Getting through this a couple times now this morning, I'd say it's fairly solid. I'd prefer if it was a little slower and more of a mood record than it is - as there are just a couple too many super uptempo songs for my taste. But getting to the video for 'Uncharted' - it's a pretty cool video. There are a TON, literally one metric ton of cameos in the video. I won't give all the names away, I'd encourage you to check out the video and see how many you can name. Let's just say there are a lot of other artists in the video - probably more than you can name. Give this one a go today, it might make your Friday turn into Friday night!

1. Kaleidoscope Heart
2. Uncharted
3. Gonna Get Over You
4. Hold My Heart
5. King of Anything
6. Say You're Sorry
7. Light, The
8. Basket Case
9. Let the Rain
10. Machine Gun
11. Not Alone
12. Breathe Again
13. Bluebird

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. King Of Anything
2. Uncharted
3. Basket Case

3.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo

I was strumming through my music collection recently, and I noticed an old copy of 'I'm Real' - the one featuring Ja Rule. It reminded me of a time in my life when I found pop/rap collaborations acceptable, where now very few get my heart pumping. I'm not sure at this point I need to talk too much about Jennifer Lopez. I'm guessing most people know her story - her background and what she's up to today. I think she does a nice job on American Idol, and it would surprise me if she didn't come back for the 97th season of that program. The one current thing I'll comment on, is she's absolutely smoking hot for a woman in her forties. Time has been very, very kind to miss Lopez. At the point when this record dropped (2001) she also had been the star of a film called 'The Wedding Planner'. She was the first person to have a number one movie and a number one record in the same week. I'm not sure if it's happened since either. Maybe Eminem with 8 Mile or something. Regardless, Lopez dropped an album just a couple months ago, that got murdered by the critics. And pretty much unanimously too, which is rare. According to sales, J-Lo hit her peak with this album, selling 8 million worldwide and 4 of those here in the states. Nothing she's done since has come even close. Even this record as a whole, isn't particularly amazing. While I'll concur it's probably her best record, it's 16 tracks with only a handful being worth while. And it's not a cultural thing either since a lot of her songs here have a heavy Hispanic influence. Most of the people I know of her decent do not care for her music period. She's still Jennie from the block, still making sub par to bad music. I'd say her acting was so much better, but the only movie I enjoyed that had her in it was 'The Cell'. Yeah, instead of telling you to listen to this today, I'll tell you to watch The Cell. Fantastically twisted movie. And hey, it's still promoting J.Lo, so she can't be mad at me.

1. Love Don't Cost a Thing
2. I'm Real
3. Play
4. Walking On Sunshine
5. Ain't It Funny
6. Carino
7. Come Over
8. We Gotta Talk
9. That's Not Me0 . Dance With Me
11. Secretly
12. I'm Gonna Be Alright
13. That's the Way
14. Dame (Touch Me)
15. Si Ya Se Acab¢
16. I'm Real [Murder Remix]

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. I'm Real (Remix)
2. Ain't It Funny
3. Play

2.5 out of 5 stars

Third Eye Blind - Self Titled

Thursday arrives in style today with a little Third Eye Blind. And it comes as a Suggestion Box entry from follower peterman. These guys come from San Francisco, California and started making music in 1993 or so. There is a nerdy story as to how the name came about - but The B Side doesn't condone nerdery in the music business, so I'll elect not to share that one. What is kind of cool, is when they were first getting started - they'd play smaller local shows and use pinatas. Yep, right over the mosh pits. So you'd be banging around with your friends and strangers then get showered with candy. Except one night, when the band knew some record execs were in to see if they were signable, they filled the pinata with live crickets instead of candy. Funny - but kind of gross at the same time. When this record dropped in 1997, it sure looked like TEB was going to be the next biggest thing in the music industry. The album today is sitting out there at a raucous 6x platinum, which is a sick selling debut drop. Since this release, TEB has pretty much not been heard from. They went through some line up changes and have dropped a mere 3 records since 1997. None of them coming anywhere near the popularity of this one. Since it's my blog, I'll tell you my opinion of this one. It's garbage. Straight up garbage. Sure, some of the music is catchy and you may want to sing along. But lyrically, arrangement wise, there is nothing of substance. As I listen to this 15 years later, it certainly doesn't stand the test of time. It's just another band that struck it big because of a couple of singles, but then were exposed for their lack of real talent as time went on. Sorry TEB fans, but your band is a sham. Happy Thursday!

1. Losing a Whole Year
2. Narcolepsy
3. Semi-Charmed Life
4. Jumper
5. Graduate
6. How's It Going to Be
7. Thanks a Lot
8. Burning Man
9. Good for You
10. London
11. I Want You
12. Background, The
13. Motorcycle Drive By
14. God of Wine

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Losing A Whole Year
2. Jumper
3. How's It Going To Be

1.75 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

George Clinton - Computer Games

Classic music can be of pretty much any genre. Normally I run with more classic rock type acts, but every so often, a genre bending act slips in there. Today is one of those days. George Clinton is mainly a funk all star, and of of the founders of the craft. Follower peterman asked that I do a greatest hits album by him, but he knows better. I always do the individual records first. It's cleaner that way. And on a quick side note, I had to review this particular record because of the track 'Atomic Dog'. Why you may ask? Well, it's no secret that I love sports, and I love the Green Bay Packers. Back in the day on radio station 102.9 in Milwaukee, the morning show guys Bob and Brian would interview Santana Dotson. And 'Atomic Dog' was his theme song coming on every week. And beyond that, it's simply a great song. George was born in New Jersey in 1941. He started his musical career by being in different funk bands - Parliament and Funkadelic. None of his band stuff sold overly well, so it was a bit of a flyer when he wanted to go solo. And I should make one thing really clear, it wasn't that people didn't like his music, or feel he wasn't great at what he did. I simply think by the time the 80's rolled around, the funk revolution was pretty well over. People were getting more and more into the rock music again, with your big hair bands and your Metallica's and Van Halen's. Regardless, Capitol Records picked him up, and this was his first ever solo drop. This came out in 1982 amidst great financial problems for Clinton. And although this temporarily relieved those problems, they only came right back years later. This is certainly funk music, and it's pretty well done. It stays true to that period, even though this certainly wasn't "cool" in the mid 80's anymore. It's not amazing, but I respect the music and what P-Funk was doing. Just for reference purposes, this is well worth checking out.

1. Get Dressed
2. Man's Best Friend/Loopzilla
3. Pot Sharing Tots
4. Computer Games
5. Atomic Dog
6. Free Alterations
7. One Fun At A Time

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Atomic Dog
2. Loopzilla
3. Computer Games

4 out of 5 stars

Chris Young - The Man I Want To Be

Well hello there Wednesday. You've snuck up on me! It feels like Tuesday, but here we are, mid week. Checking my review sheet, it seems I need to get a knee-slappin' country review in today, and where better to look than my good pal JenInTosa. She recommended I give a peek to Chris Young, who obviously isn't as popular as the baseball player with the same name - since he comes up first in my Google search. Alas, we move forward. He's got a new album dropping in July of this year, so I'm going to fall back to his most recent release, which was this album in 2009. Chris was born in 1985 in Tennessee. Seems like all the big country acts grow up in the south. I know it makes sense, it just seems odd. Anyhow, he competed on the 'Idol' type show for country music - called Nashville Star. After winning, he was signed to RCA Records, where he dropped his first album. His debut drop didn't sell particularly well, but it was mainly praised by critics and country fans. This here album produced four radio play singles, but still couldn't really break through sales wise. To this day, it's sold under 500k copies, which isn't a really solid performance. In my completely uneducated country opinion, this is classic country music. It's not at all the newer "pop" or "contemporary" country music you're hearing, which is probably more popular. This is more of a throwback to strumming guitars, singing about your life experiences and problems. This is more what I look for in my kind of country music. I won't say this guy is doing it better than anyone else out there, but this is a solid record. Give it a whirl today. Listen to this album while watching Chris Young (baseball player) highlights. Wait, that might destroy the time-space continuum. Nevermind.

1. That Makes Me
2. Voices
3. Dashboard, The
4. Gettin' You Home
5. It Takes a Man
6. Shoebox, The
7. Rose in Paradise
8. Twenty-One Candles
9. Man I Want to Be, The
10. Rainy Night in Georgia

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Rose In Paradise
2. Voices
3. Gettin' You Home

3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tech N9ne - All 6's And 7's

Remember like twenty years ago, when you heard the name Tech N9ne and you thought, "oh man that album is gonna go hard!!"? No? Yeah, me neither. I'm a pretty big rap fan, and I've heard of Tech N9ne probably literally since he started dropping music in 1991. He does a lot of collabo work with others artists, and some of those mixes are really solid. I'm not sure I ever really listened to one of his self releases to this point in my life, so I guess this is relatively exciting. Name obviously comes from the gun, the Tec-9 automatic handgun. Which also shows his age, since you probably wouldn't use that gun today - as the advancements in technology have made that gun tame by current standards. He's from Kansas City, Missouri, and I can tell you first hand - certain areas of KC have a huge hip hop influence. He used to be part of a group called Black Mafia, but that was fairly short lived. He focuses a lot on complex rhyming at quick speeds. So his music (similar to Twista or Busta Rhymes) can have tremendous flow and he shows incredible lyrical skills, but can be hard to follow as a casual listener. He's also heavily influenced by other old school hip hop artists - but in addition to that, he's inspired by old school rock acts. He lists acts like The Doors and Led Zeppelin as musical influences. Which to me, is awesome. I'd love to hear a rapper drop a mix of old school classic rock and hip hop. This isn't that, and it's one of those forgettably good rap albums. What do I mean? It's a solid record. It's got good flow, good beats and a nice overall feel. But would I actively listen to this again tomorrow? Probably not. It's really long (24 tracks) and all of them start to blend together toward the end. It tends to be a little overhyped, meaning the beats and arrangements are always going hard - and it gets to be too much. I think the production studio worked a little too hard on this one. Anyways, worth a listen to all my rap peeps out there, but skippable for my non rap moguls.

1. The Pledge (Intro)
2. Technicians
3. Military (Skit)
4. Am I A Psycho?
5. He's A Mental Giant
6. Worldwide Choppers
7. We Miss You Man (Skit)
8. I Love Music
9. Strangeland
10. Call From Richie (Skit)
11. The Boogieman
12. Cult Leader
13. Call From KC Poet Camile (Skit)
14. Fuck Food
15. Overtime
16. Pornographic
17. You Owe Like Pookie
18. Delusional
19. So Lonely
20. If I Could
21. Angry Caller (Skit)
22. Love Me Tomorrow
23. Mama Nem
24. Promiseland

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. He's A Mental Giant
2. F**k Food
3. Am I A Psycho?

2.25 out of 5 stars

Above And Beyond - Group Therapy

Sometimes, the eternal struggle exists between finding music to review and then having the time to listen to multiple albums in a day to get a proper review out to you guys. But some days my friends, something in the world aligns just perfectly and it all comes together in perfect harmony. Today is one of those days. Techno Tuesday and New Music Tuesday are combining in this post to bring you Above and Beyond's latest drop, 'Group Therapy'. I reviewed an album by them a while back, and gave it a very positive review. If you don't recall from a couple of months, they are a British trance group that starting dropping fat beats around 2000 or so. From the couple records that I've listened to now, they really lay over a ton of beat over a nice vocal. This record has a couple really spacey tracks that are pretty solid as well. This is a collaboration record of sorts, that is utilizing the skills of Zoë Johnston and Richard Bedford. If you don't know who those two are, they are both fairly well known singer/songwriters from Britain as well. They might even be doing some vocals on this album, I can't find all the credits - probably since this just dropped today. I'm trying to figure out how to compare this to you guys, and my best foot forward is telling you it's like Jamiroquai on steroids. That sort of vocal and feel, but beefed up to the nth degree in terms of production and sound. This is a great dance album, and so far, Above and Beyond hasn't been afraid to go - well, above and beyond to me. Check it out, and dance the day away.

1. Filmic
2. Alchemy
3. Sun & Moon
4. You Got To Go
5. Black Room Boy
6. Giving It Out
7. On My Way To Heaven
8. Prelude
9. Sun In Your Eyes
10. Love is Not Enough
11. Every Little Beat
12. Sweetest Heart
13. Thing Called Love
14. Only a Few Things
15. Eternal

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Sun In Your Eyes
2. Love Is Not Enough
3. Sun & Moon

4.25 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kittie - Spit

Getting back into today is harder than I thought. I don't think I'm quite ready to not be in vacation mode. It's amazing how certain times you're very much ready to come back and face reality, and sometimes you simply don't want the trip to end. I'm in the latter boat my friends. But music and blogging should ease that pain, so here we go onto follower janis!'s recommendation of Kittie. Everyone probably knows by now they're going to be a metal band, since that's janis's forte. These ladies formed in Canada in 1996. I've never crossed paths with them in my years of life, and probably never would have. Two of the band members met while doing some gymnastics for school. Kind of an odd place to form a band, but we'll run with it. One of the initial members left abruptly in 2001, and started her own band. In the current time, only one of the originals exist in the band. Everyone else left. They talk about why they chose Kittie for the band name, and it's a pretty interesting story. Here it is: When we were thinking of names to call the band before our first show, we had decided that we wanted something completely contradictory to what the band and the sound of the band was. I think we chose Kittie because we wanted something totally unexpected, something that sounded weak, so that when you heard the band for the first time, it would be a total shock. I think there were a few other pussy sounding names...Like Swan or Swansong (which is what I remember really wanting to call the band)...But Kittie was chosen, and the rest is history. Pretty cool. Anyways, this was their first studio recording, and it dropped in 1999. Listening to it today, it's actually surprisingly softer than what I was expecting. It's pretty vocal heavy, which is a good thing. I like this, and I'd recommend checking it out. Don't expect the world, but it might be a good bridge from poppy music to metal stuff.

1. Spit
2. Charlotte
3. Paperdoll
4. Suck
5. Do You Think I'm a Whore?
6. Brackish
7. Jonny
8. Trippin'
9. Raven
10. Get Off (You Can Eat a Dick)
11. Choke
12. Immortal

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Immortal
2. Paperdoll
3. Trippin'

3 out of 5 stars

Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor

We're back! I know it was a long hiatus from blogging, and I apologize for leaving you all without sweet, sweet music reading for a week. Alas, vacation called, and I couldn't pass it up. Regardless of all that, follower Ashley asked that I look into some Lupe Fiasco a while back. Now, I've heard some of his tuneage here and there over the years, and never really thought twice to look into more of it. Not because I didn't like it, just because nothing ever grabbed me by the ear and made me look into more. Lupe (aka Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) was born in Chicago, Illinois back in 1982. He initially got into the hip hop genre because of his dislike for all the vulgarity in the material. Being about the same age as Lupe, I can understand his disconnection. I never minded the language, but by the time I was old enough to really listen, pretty much all of it was incredibly vulgar. He started recording music in his father's basement, and started blending styles. The rawness of Ice Cube, the lyricism of Jay-Z and Nas. He then gained some notoriety be remixing some Kanye tracks...namely 'Jesus Walks' into 'Muhammad Walks' which was big in Muslim circles and then making 'Diamonds Are Forever' into 'Conflict Diamonds', which got the attention of Yeezy himself. Kanye then asked Lupe to be on his 'Late Registration' album. He talks about the title being from Chicago where you don't have bodegas or stores, you have a bunch of shops called Food & Liquor. Which is fairly common in the midwest. I like this album, don't love it, don't hate it. I certainly see the potential in the kid based on this record, I just think it wasn't all quite together yet. Sometimes blending styles and trying to make something totally new takes time for the listener to fully concept. This is a mix of rap, R&B, soul, pop, mood - a little smack of everything. I'll go around one more time with this, but I'll be anxious to get to the follow ups.

1. Intro
2. Real
3. Just Might Be OK
4. Kick, Push
5. I Gotcha
6. The Instrumental
7. He Say She Say
8. Sunshine
9. Daydreamin'
10. The Cool
11. Hurt Me Soul
12. Pressure
13. American Terrorist
14. The Emporor's Soundtrack
15. Kick, Push II
16. Outro

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. The Cool
2. Daydreamin
3. Pressure

3.25 out of 5 stars