Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Canned Heat - Living The Blues



Have you heard of Canned Heat? Wait. Loaded question. You have, but you may not know it. They have a plethora of outstanding tracks out there - most of which you'd recognize at the drop of a hat. These guys are all about blues, but in a more uptempo fashion. From what I hear, they were sort of pioneers at making blues something you could tap your toes to. They formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California - which makes perfect sense. One could almost call this west coast blues, since it has that sort of feel to it. When the band was launched - they were called 'Canned Heat Blues' - after a 1928 song done by Tommy Johnson. After touring and becoming popular around the US, fans seemed to simply shorten the name to Canned Heat. The band went with it. With the way they did music and their general attitude - they became icons of the hippie era. They basically played every major music festival during the 1960's. The band had two international hits - including one off this album 'Going Up The Country'. Now, I love this song. And the track is a remake of an older blues song done by Henry Thomas called 'Bull Doze Blues'. The group had a knack for turning old, obscure blues tracks and revitalizing them into something new and fresh. Boy were they rewarded for their efforts too. They sold many copies of this album and the song was #1 all across the world. My only complaint about this album is the length. It's too darn short - but then again, all albums were that way back in the day. I love the feel of it and I love the uptempo blues idea in general. I've always been a fan of the Canned Heat - and you might already be - just give 'em a shot.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Refried Boogie, Pt. 1
2. Pony Blues
3. My Mistake
4. Refried Boogie, Pt. 2
5. Sandy's Blues
6. Going Up the Country
7. Walking by Myself
8. Boogie Music
9. One Kind Favor
10. Parthenogenesis

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Going Up The Country
2. Pony Blues
3. Sandy's Blues

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Amon Amarth - Once Sent From The Golden Hall



Wednesday you say? Death metal you say? Sure. Those things go together like peanut butter and jelly. I think... Anyways, follower janis! knows her metal, and she asked that I take a peek at Amon Amarth. Turns out they are a Swedish death metal band that started making tunes in 1992. Apparently the name is translated to English to mean 'Mount Doom' which is a reference from JRR Tolkien's book 'Middle Earth'. The band worked on an album in 1993 called 'Thor Arise' - but it was never released because of the poor sound quality and unevenness of the audio. Even though it was never done in a studio - the band started to get a little bit of a following. 1998 saw the signing with Metal Blade Records, and the debut release of this album. Looking back, it was praised for being this raw fusion of dark rhythms and then the lead singers growling vocals making for intriguing metal. The band does a lot of their writing based on mythology and Pre-Christianity themes. I guess there is a genre called "viking metal" - who knew? These guys would fit that sort of label though. While I suppose I can see the reason why music like this exists - it definitely isn't for me. I never did enjoy the shouty type of metal, and this is nothing but shouting things I can't understand and using words that aren't in anyone's vocabulary under the age of 2,000. I wouldn't recommend popping this in today unless you're really in the mood for a headache.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Ride for Vengeance
2. Dragons' Flight Across the Waves, The
3. Without Fear
4. Victorious March
5. Friends of the Suncross
6. Abandoned
7. Amon Amarth
8. Once Sent from the Golden Hall

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Ride For Vengeance
2. Without Fear
3. Abandoned

FINAL RATING:
1.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You



The New Music Tuesday variety hour now begins, and we showcase the Red Hot Chili Peppers latest works. Now, I won't claim to be the biggest RHCP fan - but their last record, 'Stadium Arcadium' really failed to meet any sort of expectations set forth by their previous records. And unlike my last review, the double album went on too long and made me want to stop listening to music forever. I'm giving away too much - I haven't reviewed that album yet. I literally have no expectations of this album - as I feel it could be just as subpar as the last one. They've gone through some changeover, and bassist Flea made the comment, "it’s just like a very … meaningful and rejuvenating rebirth for us." So maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will be something new and outstanding. The album is supposed to touch a lot on life and death through the lyrical content. Not sure about you all - but I typically don't look the the Chili's for my spiritual music and thinker type sounds. I guess it's hard - because this album does have this upbeat sort of Ben Folds piano type feel to it. And I don't get it. I mean, I'm not saying bands shouldn't change their identity and find new musical niches over the years. In fact, I love when bands reinvent themselves to create great music. I do. But honestly - your name is the RED HOT Chili Peppers. Since when did you move to albums of zero heavy guitar work and all ballads? They should be the Mild Yellow Bell Peppers. Now don't get me wrong, some of these songs are kind of good - and I'd probably tolerate the album if it said "Train" on the front. But it doesn't. It says RHCP, and it should be at least some heavy rock or deep alternative rock stuff. But it's not. The album is almost exactly one hour of me getting increasingly annoyed that I can't tap my toes to one single track. And for that, I say no to you Chili's. Just stop.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Monarchy of Roses
2. Factory of Faith
3. Brendan's Death Song
4. Ethiopia
5. Annie Wants a Baby
6. Look Around
7. Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, The
8. Did I Let You Know (This I Know)
9. Goodbye Hooray
10. Happiness Loves Company
11. Police Station
12. Even You Brutus?
13. Meet Me at the Corner
14. Dance, Dance, Dance

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. I'm so annoyed I can't objectively put up a Top 3. Maybe some other day.
2.
3.

FINAL RATING:
1.75 out of 5 stars

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact



Tuesday is here, and we start with the Techno variety hour. I know absolutely nothing about Gang Gang Dance - other than they were on my related to Nick Jaar from last week. I seem to recall being fairly disappointed in his effort - so hopefully this one gets me a little more jacked up. So turns out the band is from New York - and has been making tunes since 2001. They're fairly well known for their experimental style - which pretty much means you never know what genre you're going to get from them. Album to album - show to show, it's always new and fresh. From what I'm hearing this album - it's pretty heavy into synth and everything feels 'Take On Me'-ish circa 1985. Which when combined with cool beats and heavy percussion, sounds pretty cool. I can't really find any critics that have anything negative to say about this album and the band as a whole. Quite honestly, before I looked into anything else - I was really digging the vibe this puts out. I mean, it's very different - but still super awesome. Pretty spacey feeling, but still has the merits of an electronic record. This is just about the perfect length for what it is. I don't feel as though you could make an experimental rock/dance album that was overly long, because people would tend to lose interest after a while. With being concise and dropping 10 tracks, you get the exact feel of what they want you to, and then that's it. It ends and it makes you want to put it back on and run through it again. No drag-on feeling and no feeling of 'what the H did I just listen to?'. Delightful, check it out.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Glass Jar
2. 8
3. Adult Goth
4. Chinese High
5. MindKilla
6. 88
7. Romance Layers
8. Sacer
9. 888
10. Thru and Thru

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Glass Jar
2. Adult Goth
3. Chinese High

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV



Since it is my birthday, I don't have as much of a problem doing one rap type album for you guys and then a real rap album for you all. 'Tha Carter IV' dropped today, and I really want to listen to it. So why not give you guys a peek into the world of Weezy too? Exactly. Sure I'm also bucking the New Music Tuesday trend, but hey - it's my bday! It's my party and I'll review if I want to. Everyone knows about Lil Wayne at this point, and his struggles with the law and his respect in the industry. Now - I wouldn't call myself the biggest Weezy fan ever, but I do respect what he's doing. Building the Young Money camp and making music pretty much non stop for his legions of fans. When I did 'Carter III' a while back, that was really the first and only album from him that I couldn't put down. I loved every minute of it. Since then, each album he puts out has probably 3-5 tracks I really like, then a bunch of stuff I would turn off. I like that he's willing to mix it up and try new things - but sometimes it's those odd styles that are a turn off. So far, this album seems much more "normal" and it seems he was looking to make another classic like Carter III. And at first glance today - I really like this one again. From the singles you've heard so far, '6 Foot 7 Foot' is that go hard type rap that any real fan of the genre will love. 'John' is that typical forgettable Rick Ross collaboration. 'How To Love' is that sort of hate it or love track, but I like the ballad and it's not overly poppy which is nice. 'She Will' is the Drake collaboration, and it's got a nice beat and solid lyrics too. But the biggest surprise was the 3-part track that is the Intro/Interlude/Outro. It's really good. I went back to those each a couple times. Of course there is also the T-Pain collabo that I can't stand, but then there is one with Bruno Mars that makes me happy. Happy that Bruno is getting more work with major rappers and happy because it's just a good song. All in all, I'm really content with how this came out, and glad that Lil Wayne went back to the magic formula. It's rumored that this could be his last album, and if it is, I think he can sleep well knowing he dropped a great one.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Intro
2. Blunt Blowin
3. MegaMan
4. 6 Foot 7 Foot
5. Nightmares Of The Bottom
6. She Will
7. How To Hate
8. Interlude
9. John
10. Abortion
11. So Special
12. How To Love
13. President Carter
14. Its Good
15. Outro

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. 6 Foot 7 Foot
2. Intro/Interlude/Outro
3. How To Love

FINAL RATING:
4.25 out of 5 stars

Tyler The Creator - Goblin



Well B Siders - today is a day. What day you ask? It's my birthday! I'm still at work and not celebrating like perhaps I should - but that's okay, because I can blog about music, which is a very fun thing to do. And last night, watching the MTV Video Music Awards - there was one person spotlighted a couple times, and I've been paying attention to him for about a year or so now. Tyler the Creator was born in 1991 and started doing the music thing in 2008 or so. He grew up in Los Angeles and attended thirteen different schools during his twelve years of education. From what I can see, it wasn't a behavior thing or whatever, seemed they just moved around LA and Sacramento quite a bit as a kid. He taught himself to use the piano at 14, and he knew he loved music. He's the leader of the hip hop group OFWGKTA, which stands for something too long and kind of dumb, but he also acts as the producer of all their music and videos. This was his second studio recording, with the first dropping in 2009 and not performing very well. This one has seen more publicity and sales - but still nothing amazing. It's pretty easy to tell why though - this stuff is so against the grain, it's very odd to know what to think. While I think there are some aspects of this album that are really promising and feel the talent is there - it doesn't come together as something more than a really odd album. It's probably worth looking into - because he'll probably blow up someday and you'll have been on the front end of it, but don't be surprised if you're left scratching your head when you're done.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Goblin
2. Burger
3. Yonkers
4. Untitled 63
5. Radicals
6. Steak Sauce
7. She
8. Transylvania
9. Nightmare
10. Tron Cat
11. Her
12. Sandwitches
13. Fish/Boppin Bitch
14. Analog
15. Bitch Suck Dick
16. Window
17. Untitled
18. Golden

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Goblin
2. She
3. Yonkers

FINAL RATING:
2.25 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 26, 2011

Boyz II Men - Cooleyhighharmony



The reviews can be so scattered - the other day I heard the song, 'It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday' - and I thought, "man, I gotta review that album". Turns out I'd never gotten to any Boyz II Men yet - and that song was off this - their first record. Perfect! 'Cooleyhighharmony' came out in 1991 (holy cow - people in my generation are getting OLD!) and is a sick 9x platinum. I think most of those sales were piggybacking the major hype surrounding the single 'Motownphilly' back in the day. Which by the way, why did the group have to name all their stuff with no spaces? Was that cool back in the day? Anyhow, this is named after the film 'Cooley High' and the album is dedicated to the group's tour manager Khalil Roundtree - who was murdered in Chicago in 1992. This album was reissued in 1993 after the popularity of a certain track off the 'Boomerang' soundtrack - perhaps you've heard of it? A little track called 'End Of The Road'? Yeah, we all know it. I haven't heard it in probably 10 years - but I probably still could recite every last word. This album started with a small 10 tracks - but the reissue contains 17. Not a bad bump in a couple years. We all know this album, and we all know the band. I won't sit back and tell you that the album is so amazing you need to rush out and buy it or whatever - but it's a really nice throw back joint. There are a couple songs on here I forgot about - which was a nice surprise. 'Motownphilly' isn't going to make my Top 3, and that should tell you something - given how big it was. This is so worth going back on today if you're looking for something to whisk you away to the early 90's. Or even if you're just a B2M fan.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Al Final del Camino (Spanish Version)
2. Please Don't Go
3. Lonely Heart
4. This Is My Heart
5. Uhh Ahh - (sequel version)
6. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Original Version)
7. In the Still of the Nite (I'll Remember)
8. Motownphilly (Radio Edit)
9. Under Pressure
10. Sympin (Radio Edit)
11. Little Things
12. Your Love
13. Motownphilly (Original Version)
14. Sympin (Original Version)
15. Uhh Ahh (Original Version)
16. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Radio Edit)
17. End of the Road

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday
2. End Of The Road
3. Please Don't Go

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Gillian Welch - The Harrow And The Harvest



Loaded up Amazon this morning and the computer screen practically reached out and slapped me across the face telling me to listen to Gillian Welch today. Okay, that may be slightly hyperbolic - but you get the point. Ms. Welch here is 43 years old and was born in New York City. She was adopted as a baby by a family of entertainers. Although born in NYC, Gillian moved to Los Angeles at three years old as her parents found work writing for the Carol Burnett Show. She sang from a very early age - including putting in small shows for her elementary school classes. When she entered adulthood, she attended UC - Santa Cruz searching for her musical identity. While playing in a goth band, she heard an album by the Stanley Brothers - and according to Welch, "The first song came on and I just stood up and I kind of walked into the other room as if I was in a tractor beam and stood there in front of the stereo. It was just as powerful as the electric stuff, and it was songs I'd grown up singing. All of a sudden I'd found my music." It's virtually impossible to ascribe a genre to her music - as it's sort of a country, bluegrass, soul, rock, folk conglomerate. Her first album came out in 1996 - and this one dropped just a couple weeks ago in July. This particular record probably focuses more on the folk rock side of the house - but it's really well done. Got a share of uptempo tracks as well as ballads, which makes for a nice change of pace. It's only 10 tracks, but they're all very well done. I hear some piano, banjo among many other instruments, which I love. This is a really neat record and an artist we could all pay attention to. Happy Friday!

TRACK LISTING:
1. Scarlet Town
2. Dark Turn of Mind
3. Way It Will Be, The
4. Way It Goes, The
5. Tennessee
6. Down Along the Dixie Line
7. Six White Horses
8. Hard Times
9. Silver Dagger
10. Way the Whole Thing Ends, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Dark Turn Of Mind
2. Scarlet Town
3. Silver Dagger

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Shins - Oh, Inverted World



I've heard many things about this band called The Shins - but I cannot say I'd ever really given them the time of day before. This morning they popped up as a recommendation since I enjoy the album 'Guero' by Beck. So hopefully this album has a similar sound to that. Looks like these guys were based out of New Mexico - but now hail from Portland, Oregon. They started making "sub pop" style music in 1997 or so, which seems crazy. I know I heard of them a long time ago - but yikes, I'm getting old. Anyways, they got a real shot because of Modest Mouse - and their willingness to let them come along on some touring. This record was their first, and it was released in 2001. The album's title comes from a lyric in the second track, "One by One All Day", and there are several theories as to its meaning. It may allude to a line from German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. In his 1843 Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Marx blames religion for creating an "inverted world consciousness" that excuses mankind from self-responsibility. Alternatively, it may refer to the science fiction classic "Inverted World" by Christopher Priest. And yeah, I referenced that from someone - but I thought it was interesting. Not many bands would be mistaken to quote from something that deep. Anyways, this isn't anything like 'Guero'. It makes me pretty sad. Sad that I don't like it as much, and sad that "like it - similar" services are so off base. I do like this though, and maybe I'd love it had I not had a preconceived idea in my head. I'll have to run through it a couple more times and reevaluate it. It's a very highly rated album critically, so I'd definitely tell you all to check it out. Don't think Beck, this old school Brit pop meets folk rock. That sort of feel.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Caring Is Creepy
2. One by One All Day
3. Weird Divide
4. Know Your Onion!
5. Girl Inform Me
6. New Slang
7. Celibate Life, The
8. Girl on the Wing
9. Your Algebra
10. Pressed in a Book
11. Past and Pending, The

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Caring Is Creepy
2. Know Your Onion
3. New Slang

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Jake Owen - Easy Does It



Sorry about not getting anything out to you guys yesterday. The United Way volunteering ended up taking a larger portion of my day than I thought it would. Regardless, we're back today and we're back with some country music. Apparently this Jake Owen fella is blowing up the country charts right now with a single that will be released on his next record. Looks like that's slated to come out next Tuesday - so instead we'll revisit an older work in his discography. This one dropped in February of 2009, and has seen a Gold status in terms of sales. Turns out Jake here was born with an identical twin - and both were into sports and whatnot growing up in Florida. Jake was on a path to become a professional golfer while attending Florida State - but that dream was cut short due to a wakeboarding accident that left him unable to play. It was that very accident that left him recovering and when Jake decided to pick up a guitar and start learning. He picked up a gig at a local bar, and he ended up getting bit by the bug. Of course he moved to Nashville - and the rest is history. There isn't much about his musical style that sticks out from this record. It's country in the sense you couldn't distinguish that it's a signature Owen track by lyrics, a vocal or any style. It's pretty contemporary - and pretty ambiguous. By no means is it bad or hard to listen to - it's merely plain. There were a couple nice singles that helped it sell - but it doesn't surprise me this isn't hugely popular.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Tell Me
2. Eight Second Ride
3. Easy Does It
4. Don't Think I Can't Love You
5. Cherry On Top
6. Who Said Whiskey (Was Meant To Drink A Woman Away)
7. Green Bananas
8. Anything For You
9. Every Reason I Go Back
10. Nothin' Grows In Shadows

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Don't Think I Can't Love You
2. Eight Second Ride
3. Tell Me

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Late Posts Today

Good Morning B Siders:

The posts will be coming in late today. I'm donating most of my day to the United Way to help the less fortunate.

While I know you're saddened that you won't have any new morning reading, I always encourage people to donate their time and effort to help those in need.

Catch you in the PM.

B Side

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Game - The R.E.D Album



It's a double New Music Tuesday day. Why? Well, techno reviews were one ahead - and why not? It's also a color album day, with the Muppet Green and now Game Red. In the rap circles all around the US, this is a pretty highly anticipated record. The Game has been promising another album for about two years - but this thing kept getting delayed and delayed. Ten full times this album was delayed and assigned a new release date. This ended coming out in Interscope, which was a huge shock to me. It was out there that Game and Dr. Dre reconciled, and Game would be back with Aftermath. Dre is on the album, but obviously didn't or couldn't resign Game. Almost every single track was produced by someone different here, which makes for an interesting album, but also a big time mash up of different sounds. And there were a ton of songs that didn't make the cut, and producers that subsequently didn't. Now at first glance, people are going to think R.E.D Album is going to be about the color and the gang reference. But not according to Game. He states it's about: R.E.D. — that's rededicated. Rededicated to hip-hop [...] to my 'hood, Compton. Rededicated to my family, rededicated to everything. I hope that's the case. I've always enjoyed his work. I feel he brings an honest view of the rap game and the industry in general. His second drop, 'Doctor's Advocate' is one of me favorite rap records of all time. I'm not sure this one has that type of hype around it, but it's pretty good. 'Red Nation' featuring Weezy is an A+ type track. The second release 'Pot Of Gold' is a pretty solid follow up single, and the Paramedics features my man Young Jeezy, so it's going to get a notch up for that alone. There are a ton of cameos here too, so many that I'll need to listen to this another 20 times before I can truly digest it. At first glance, it's solid. Maybe not as amazing as previous works, but still well worth a listen.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Dr. Dre Intro
2. City, The
3. Drug Test
4. Martians vs Goblins
5. Red Nation
6. Dr. Dre 1
7. Good Girls Go Bad
8. Ricky
9. Good, the Bad, the Ugly, The
10. Heavy Artillery
11. Paramedics
12. Speakers on Blast
13. Hello
14. All the Way Gone
15. Pot of Gold
16. Dr. Dre 2
17. All I Know
18. Born in the Trap
19. Mama Knows
20. California Dream
21. Dr. Dre Outro

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Red Nation
2. Pot Of Gold
3. Paramedics

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Muppets - The Green Album



New Music Tuesday encompasses a variety of sounds and artists. An anonymous reader dropped this into the suggestion box and said, "Hey B Side - you dummy, listen to some Muppets!" Well, those may not have been the exact words, but I read it as such. So here we are, Muppets all queued up and I'm halfway through it so far. All this really is, is a bunch of artists covering popular muppets songs. It was released on Walt Disney Records, and doesn't appear to be something for charity or anything fun like that - just Disney expanding their horizons trying to make money in different ways. A week ago if one was so inclined, you could have listened to this whole thing on NPR's web page under the "First Listen" program. At first glance, there are a number of bigger artists on here that you'd expect some good stuff. We all know how much I love Weezer, but maybe what you folks don't know - is I'm in LOVE with Amy Lee from Evanescence. Her voice is magical to me. I like that My Morning Jacket is on here too, they need to get some publicity. Now, I can't remark as to the popularity of the muppets TV show, and if these are in fact songs that appear on the show often. I can't claim to watch it, nor remember watching it much as a kid. The only muppet thing I can recall was the cartoon muppet babies - which was relatively entertaining. In terms of this record, uhh, I guess it's fun? I think if you're a fan of the show, I could see this being epic. And I think this could be really fun for kids too. In terms of me listening and loving it - not a ton. I like a couple tracks, but I'm not sure I'd ever put this on normally. Chalk this up to the novelty category for me, and I'd have to be in some sort of special mood (possibly intoxicated) to what to listen to this.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Muppet Show Theme Song - OK Go
2. Rainbow Connection - Weezer/Hayley Williams
3. Mahna Mahna - The Fray
4. Movin' Right Along - Alkaline Trio
5. Our World - My Morning Jacket
6. Halfway Down the Stairs - Amy Lee
7. Mr. Bassman - Sondre Lerche
8. Wishing Song - The Airborne Toxic Event
9. Night Life - Brandon Saller
10. Bein' Green - Andrew Bird
11. I Hope That Something Better Comes Along - Matt Nathanson
12. I'm Going To Go Back There Someday - Rachael Yamagata

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Rainbow Connection
2. Mahna Mahna
3. Bein' Green

FINAL RATING:
2 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 22, 2011

Semisonic - Feeling Strangely Fine



Over the weekend, I caught a piece of VH1's Top 40 One Hit Wonders of the 90's. It reminded me how many great tracks there were during the decade that people tend to forget about. For prime example, who wasn't rocking 'Closing Time' in the late 90's? You know you were. Me personally, I didn't really like the song all that much - but most of that was because I couldn't go anywhere without hearing it. But it made me wonder, bands like Semisonic here, has anyone really given them a chance? A chance to get real play on an iPod or any other music device? I'm going to do that today - see if their 1998 release of 'Feeling Strangely Fine' was simply a one hit wonder type of album, or if there is any substance here. They started making music in 1995 and are out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They only have three studio albums out there, with this one being sandwiched in the middle. They has some success with other singles, including one off this record - but not here in the states. The UK apparently has some sort of inexplicable love for Semisonic that we don't seem to share stateside. I'm reading that when the band went to record this album, they had sixty tracks in mind to fill it up. They ended up weeding that down to 12. I can't imagine that was a fun, simple process. This album reminds me a lot of a Ben Folds meeting any other alternative guitar based band and meshing to make a record. Now, it's not nearly as good as Ben Folds, or most other alt rock bands out there. But it makes something - and that's a start. There are maybe 3 to 5 songs I'd listen to on here, the rest are pretty mediocre. They just lack the substance that you'd want to hear from such a powerful single. And that single isn't really representative of the rest of the record. So I don't know, I'd say just skip it and listen to the Top 3.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Closing Time
2. Singing in My Sleep
3. Made to Last
4. Never You Mind
5. Secret Smile
6. DND
7. Completely Pleased
8. This Will Be My Year
9. All Worked Out
10. California
11. She Spreads Her Wings
12. Gone to the Movies

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Closing Time
2. Made To Last
3. Secret Smile

FINAL RATING:
2.25 out of 5 stars

Atreyu - Lead Sails Paper Anchor



Hello Monday, apologies to the B Side Nation for Friday - I ended up getting side tracked and not posting anything. I didn't have anything mind blowing in mind anyway, so no huge loss to you guys. But we're back today with Atreyu, a metal band that follower janis! has asked me to take a look at. They formed in 1998 and hail out of Orange County, California. The name of the band was initially Retribution, but it was changed to Atreyu after the character of the same name from 'The Neverending Story'. What a fun kids film that is - but I digress. They have five studio albums out there, and I decided to choose this one today because of it's status. Now, it didn't sell a million copies or anything - but it charted as high as eighth on the overall US charts, so that's pretty solid. The album came out right around this time in 2007 - only to be repackaged and re-released in 2008 again with some new artwork and a couple new tracks. They did some cool things leading up to release, like a jigsaw puzzle for fans that would play a new track upon completion. They put together a couple other fun games on the website too, a neat idea. Anyways, these guys are metal - but I'm not sure they're doing anything that sets them apart from any other hard rock band out there today. I was pretty "meh" on this until I got to track 13. You guys all know how much I adore covers, and they covered one of my favorite metal songs of all time - 'Epic' by Faith No More. Love it. Nice cover too. That will take the rating up a notch or two, but all in all - I'm not sure I'd listen to this one over and over. I enjoy it, but probably not enough to come back to often. Worth a listen though, even to the metal novice.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Doomsday
2. Honor
3. Falling Down
4. Becoming the Bull
5. When Two Are One
6. Lose It
7. No One Cares
8. Can't Happen Here
9. Slow Burn
10. Blow
11. Lead Sails (And a Paper Anchor)
12. Squeeze, The (Bonus Track)
13. Epic (Bonus Track)
14. Clean Sheets (Bonus Track)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Epic
2. Lose It
3. Lead Sails

FINAL RATING:
3.25 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams



We transition from a pop icon to probably the biggest 'mood' act this side of a guy named Mayer. I've always had some sort of soft spot for Jack Johnson's laid back, island music. Not entirely sure why, but there are weeks or months at a time when I find his music to be so calming and fun - and exactly what I need to survive life in general. Okay, that's overboard - but you get the point. 'In Between Dreams' was his third studio release, and it came out in 2005. It's a very respectable 2x platinum in the states, which makes it his best selling effort of all time. It's certainly not my favorite by him, but I can understand why it is others'. The cover art is a depiction of a mango tree, which is in reference to a mango tree outside of Brushfire Records where the album was recorded. There is also a reference to the same mango tree in the widely popular track 'Better Together'. I'm probably going to go all homer here because of my soft spot, but I really enjoy this. There are a couple quite amazing tracks on this record - ones that I feel anyone can enjoy. I think the positive to music like Mr. Johnson is - it's music for anyone. Doesn't matter your color, background or taste, I think if you're in a relaxing mood, this music is perfect for you. And when I was in Hawaii a couple years ago, this would have been a great soundtrack to just sit by the ocean and relax (which sounds amazing right now). Good voice, good acoustic guitar - good times. Give it a whirl.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Better Together
2. Never Know
3. Banana Pancakes
4. Good People
5. No Other Way
6. Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
7. Staple It Together
8. Situations
9. Crying Shame
10. If I Could
11. Breakdown
12. Belle
13. Do You Remember
14. Constellations

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. No Other Way
2. Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
3. Good People

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Janet Jackson - janet.



I'm tired today, and frankly kind of crabby. So if that shines through in my reviews, my pre-written apologies. Anyways, I think Janet Jackson was in Milwaukee or something a few days ago, and follower janis! asked that I do another album from her. So here I am today, reviewing another DIAMOND selling record. Having dropped in 1993, this album has sold over ten million copies easily. It's a ludicrous 28 tracks deep and produced an astonishing 9 radio singles. Now, some of the tracks on here are "interludes" which always surprise me are on Janet's albums. I don't particularly care for them, and don't understand why they're still so prominent in certain genres of music. This album is credited for cementing Janet's status as a global music icon and sex symbol - which also probably helped the twenty million in sales. If you have the time, check out the cover art for the 2 disc special edition. It's hot. I'm betting that a few guys bought it just for the photo. This was also an album where Janet really tried to set herself apart musically from her brother, as her first couple albums drew too much comparison between the siblings. Now, I want to be objective on this album. It's good, there are a ton of huge singles here and the music for the most part - has a quality factor. But it's so long, and there are so many interludes and not good tracks, it really takes away from the whole. A person like me would maybe listen to 3 or 4 songs from this whole discography of an album. For me, this is going to be a slightly above average effort, in spite of all the hoopla. I'd be curious for those people who love it, how many tracks they skip.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Morning
2. That's the Way Love Goes
3. You Know...
4. You Want This
5. Be a Good Boy...
6. If
7. Back
8. This Time
9. Go on Miss Janet
10. Throb
11. What'll I Do
12. Lounge, The
13. Funky Big Band
14. Racism
15. New Agenda
16. Love Pt. 2
17. Because of Love
18. Wind
19. Again
20. Another Lover
21. Where Are You Now
22. Hold on Baby
23. Body That Loves You, The
24. Rain
25. Any Time, Any Place
26. Are You Still Up
27. Sweet Dreams

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Again
2. That's The Way Love Goes
3. If

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Van Halen - 1984



Can't you see what I mean? Might as well jump! I've recently decided that Van Halen is one of the more under appreciated bands of all time. Why you ask? Well B Siders - quite simply put, they're pretty rockin'. I was listening to their greatest hits compilation a while back and couldn't help to be dumbfounded by all the incredible hits they had and how powerful their sound was. This was released in well - do I really need to answer that question? Maybe you think it's a trick, but it was actually released in 1984. Stunning. It's at least the 2nd DIAMOND certified album by Van Halen, including their self titled debut drop. That's a crazy amount of album sales generating just from two records. 20 million + from two albums is crazy sales. Everyone knows Eddie Van Halen's guitar prowess, but people forget he was a trained pianist as well. And that ability is put on display a bit more on this record. One of the favorite tracks, 'I'll Wait' allows Eddie to put on a piano show - which is awesome. The title track is also him on a synthed out piano - which is kind of a cool, spacey lead in for the record. This album incredibly never made it to number one on the charts in spite of having a TON of huge radio singles. A small album called 'Thriller' was also out in that year, and spent a lot of time at #1. But with hits like 'Panama' and 'Hot For Teacher' - this album is considered one of the best of all time, and not just by me. In short, this album is pretty amazing. I think I still like their debut slightly better - but it is a very tight race. I can't imagine you won't like this today - so give it a shot.

TRACK LISTING:
1. 1984
2. Jump
3. Panama
4. Top Jimmy
5. Drop Dead Legs
6. Hot for Teacher
7. I'll Wait
8. Girl Gone Bad
9. House of Pain

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Panama
2. I'll Wait
3. Jump

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Say Anything - ...Is A Real Boy



Hump Day is here, and hopefully we really do get over that hump today. The rest of this week could fly by and I'd be more than okay with that. We get back to punk rock music today, and Shaqwanda's suggestion of Say Anything. Can't say I'd heard of these fellas before, so this is totally new to me. They've been around since 2000 or so, and are based out of Los Angeles, California. They used to be known as Sayanything but in 2002 added a space and started dropping extended play albums underground. This created a small bidding war in the California area to get these guys signed to a deal. The pressure got to lead man Max Bemis so much while trying to create the first label masterpiece, he nearly lost his mind in the process. Upon losing his mind, he thought he was being filmed all the time and confronted some strangers (thinking they were in on it) while in New York. After he recovered, he relaxed a bit and just made an album. This album was the fruit of all that labor and breakdown, and came out in 2004. The album didn't do particularly well, and was rereleased in 2006 with some additional tracks on a bonus cd. That still to this day hasn't sold over the top either. I guess from this having come from the idea of doing a rock opera type record, to what it is, it came a long way. From top to bottom, it's got quite a bit of that 'emo' type sound, which I don't identify with very well. The album is very highly praised by other critics, so I'll tell you to form your own opinion and check it out - but this simply isn't for me. I've gone through it twice, and I just don't groove on it.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Belt
2. Woe
3. The Writhing South
4. Alive with the Glory of Love
5. Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat
6. The Futile
7. Spidersong
8. An Orgy of Critics
9. Every Man Has a Molly
10. Slowly, Through a Vector
11. Chia-Like, I Shall Grow
12. I Want to Know Your Plans
13. Admit It!!!
BONUS DISC:
1. Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too
2. Little Girls
3. Most Beautiful Plague
4. It's a Metaphor, Fool
5. Total Revenge
6. Metal Now
7. I Will Never Write an Obligatory Song About Being on the Road and Missing Someone

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too
2. Alive With The Glory Of Love
3. Metal Now

FINAL RATING:
2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch The Throne



New Music Tuesday is a slight misnomer this week, as 'Watch The Throne' technically dropped last week. But it was a very odd sequence. It came out in iTunes only last Tuesday - then only Best Buy last Friday. I'm still not sure if you can buy this at a Target for example, because I think the exclusivity extends for another couple weeks. Regardless of all that, just look at the two names listed in the header - this is a pretty highly anticipated record. And yes, I bought it the day it came out. They started talking about doing an album like this back in early 2010. And immediately people got excited. 'H-A-M' dropped quite a while back and then 'Otis' dropped a couple weeks back. The next single 'Lift Off' is due to hit radio sometime next week as well. Now if you've heard 'HAM', then I think you'd have a certain sound in mind for what you expect this to be. Well friends, it isn't that. It isn't a 12 track go hard kind of record. It's so up and down in terms of style and pace - I'm not really sure how to ingest this. What I love about it - the guys do a pretty great job jotting down lyrics and going hard spitting them on the mic. What I find odd is the way the album plays. It seems so not coordinated in places which makes it kind of odd to listen to. But I think with that, comes the fact there were probably so many different ideas and thoughts they wanted to convey on one record. And that made this mash-up too strange. Now don't get me wrong - I still like this, but maybe I expected more? Is that the way to put it? I'm going to listen to this another 100 times or so, which will help me decide my opinion. But right now, it's well worth a listen, but I'm too confused to what the overall message is. What do they want me to hear and take away from it? Right now, it's a bunch of mix and match tracks that form a really cool packaged cd.

TRACK LISTING:
1. No Church in the Wild
2. Lift Off
3. Ni**as in Paris
4. Otis
5. Gotta Have It
6. New Day
7. That's My Bitch
8. Welcome to the Jungle
9. Who Gon Stop Me
10. Murder to Excellence
11. Made in America
12. Why I Love You
13. Illest Motherfucker Alive
14. HAM
15. Primetime
16. The Joy

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. HAM
2. Otis
3. Lift Off

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise



Techno Tuesday is here again - with another dubstep style DJ. Nicolas Jaar here is an American-Chilean musician. While making music, he's also currently enrolled at Brown University studying literature. He was born in January of 1990 in New York. His parents seemed to think raising a child in New York wouldn't work - so they moved to Chile when he was two years old. Apparently not totally working out, they moved right back to the states when he was eight years old. That's literally everything I can find about this guy. I know nothing else about him, his music style or his plans to make more music in the future. This is his one and only album out, and there isn't even a Wikipedia page for it. Not totally sure how I stumbled across this guy today - but here we are. I'm navigating through the album, and I'm finding a style that I'm fairly familiar with now, and I enjoy. It's got that James Blake style feel - which I adore. I'm not sure if the fourteen tracks have the same allure as Blake's 10 - but it's not awful. There are certainly a lot of experimental type tracks here, almost where it sounds as though he's just playing around on a drum kit seeing if he can make a sound that works. Other songs are very polished and sound like they could go on any dance artists record today. I think that kind of hodgepodge of sounds is what makes this fairly captivating, but also too odd to really recommend to others. While a freak like me will probably listen to this a couple more times, I'm not sure I can pass it along in good graces. If you're a big dubstep fan, go ahead and give it a go - otherwise it might be too out there for the normal tastes.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Etre
2. Colomb
3. Sunflower
4. Too Many Kids Finding Rain in the Dust
5. Keep Me There
6. I Got a Woman
7. Problems with the Sun
8. Space Is Only Noise if You Can See
9. Almost Fell
10. Balance Her in Between Your Eyes
11. Specters of the Future
12. Trace
13. Variations
14. Etre

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Colomb
2. Specters Of The Future
3. Balance Her In Between Your Eyes

FINAL RATING:
2.25 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 15, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins - Gish



I needed to do an alternative review today to keep my genre reviews even - and what a coincidence, the Smashing Pumpkins just announced a show coming to Milwaukee in October! It got me thinking. B Side, how much Pumpkins do you really love? I mean, enough to pay probably an outrageous amount to go to a show? And honestly, my love is really only with two albums - and I've reviewed them already; 'Siamese Dream' and 'Mellon Collie'. Now, it isn't that I don't care for the rest of their albums, in a ot of cases, I simply haven't listened to all of the albums. Now, I landed on not going to the show because frankly, I don't care for much of their new stuff. But the old stuff, I do enjoy - and I wanted to highlight another oldie but goodie for the band. 'Gish' came out in 1991 and was the Pumpkins first album release. It's platinum in the states, which you'd think would be an amazing feat - but their next two records are 4x and 9x respectively. Lead man Billy Corgan says this is a very "spiritual" album - which I guess I never thought about. Fun fact, this is another album that was recording in my backyard - in Madison, Wisconsin by Butch Vig. The recording was intense, with Corgan suffering a nervous breakdown and the bassist saying she didn't fathom how the band withstood the pressure. The album itself isn't polished up, and what you hear is what was recorded. The album is named after Lillian Gish, an old school actress. This is what I consider to be the Pumpkins signature sound. Kind of that grunge/punk hybrid, that made them awesome. Heavy guitars, but Corgan's angelic voice that makes a hard song turn into a ballad. This is the band I fell in love with. If the show would be albums 1-3, I'd be there in a heartbeat. And this album is that good - so listen to it!

TRACK LISTING:
1. I Am One
2. Siva
3. Rhinoceros
4. Bury Me
5. Crush
6. Suffer
7. Snail
8. Tristessa
9. Window Paine
10. Daydream

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Rhinoceros
2. I Am One
3. Siva

FINAL RATING:
4.25 out of 5 stars

Phil Vassar - Self Titled



After a solid weekend of fun, it's back to the grind. And we grind away this morning with Phil Vassar - as dropped into the Suggestion Box by JenInTosa. Phil was born in 1964 in Lynchburg, Virginia. While attending James Madison University in Harrisburg - he decided to take on learning the piano. He found work playing in smaller local clubs, and that allowed him to get bit by the bug. So naturally, he decided to move to Nashville to try to make a career in music. He got his big break as a songwriter, and wrote quite a few songs for larger acts. The biggest names being Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. He had multiple songs reach #1 on the country charts, and he was quickly gaining recognition as a guy who could put you over the top as an artist. As that section of his life was really heating up, he threw himself a curveball and decided he wanted to start being the guy behind the mic and on stage. So in 1999, he got signed as a singer to a Nashville based label. This album was his debut drop, and it came out in 2000. The big single was track one, 'Carlene'. It peaked as high as #5 on the billboard charts, and propelled this album to reach Gold status on the RIAA listing. It's his only album to chart, which means he may have peaked a little too early. He's now got five studio records out there, the last having dropped in 2009. There is a plan to put out another one this year, date TBD. This album is pretty easy listening country music. I can't even call it pop or contemporary, because it isn't that - it's the type of music you'd expect to hear in a store or something. Very non-offensive, and great background music. Enough to unwittingly get your toes tappin', but not enough to really pay attention.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Carlene
2. Just Another Day In Paradise
3. That's When I Love You
4. Rose Bouquet
5. Joe & Rosalita
6. Six Pack Summer
7. Lucky As Me
8. Like I Never Loved Before
9. Didn't You Know She's Gone
10. Somewhere In Between
11. Drive Away

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Like I Never Loved Before
2. Just Another Day In Paradise
3. Carlene

FINAL RATING:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 12, 2011

Heidi Presents, "This Just Can't Be Summer Love"

I’ve been to a lot of concerts this summer. First, was my hero, Paul Simon in May. In June, on a whim, I saw Rihanna - and LOVED the spectacle of a pop concert so much that when a Groupon to see Britney came up a month later, I went with my dancing shoes on. In July, a two year wait to see U2 ended in an awesome rain soaked exhibition of laser lights, spaceships and mother f**kin’ Bono. All of that, and I didn’t even mention my trip to see the Minnesota Orchestra.

Three weeks after my intergalactic trip to Mars with U2, I hopped in my flashy new Hyundai and moseyed down to Milwaukee to see the eels with my B Side peeps.

The small show at the Turner Hall Ballroom could not have been more different than any of the other shows I saw this summer, the crowd was small, the venue’s floorboards threatened broken ankles and I wasn’t super familiar with the band. Yet, I was blown away by how much fun the band was having playing the show, and actually really loved how every song had energy. The time I spent trying to cram in eels songs the week before set me up to think the show would be really mellow, but the show . . . rocked. I walked in as an interested music lover and came out an eels fan.

Part of what was so fun about the show was the charisma of all of the band members, but mostly their front man E. I was charmed. I’m sure the ZZ Top aesthetic had something to do with it, but they managed to escape the obvious indie rock stereotype of a bunch of artists who take themselves too seriously. God knows I love a sense of humor, and seeing the band on stage having a great time has actually made me enjoy the small collection of eels songs that I’ve amassed on Grooveshark even more. Seeing the band live made me like them more – which is the best possible outcome when you go into a show uncertain.

Funny enough, with the exception of Paul Simon in May, I’ve spent the summer going to see shows where I’m not familiar with the music, and it has paid off. I don’t know all of the songs that were played at the eels concert, but if I wouldn’t have gone, I wouldn’t have checked out Hombre Lobo – which is an awesome album. If I hadn’t seen Britney, I would have never heard the song How I Roll which has revolutionized my time at the gym. I wouldn’t have really known that U2 live sounds exactly like the radio, and that Rihanna isn’t just an oversexed pop vixen – she CAN SING and LOVES doing it.

It’s been a great summer so far. And I encourage you all to see more bands live. It doesn’t have to be a huge national act, but one of my favorite ways to learn about new music is to see the artist for myself. But if you can't make it, go get a copy of Hombre Lobo and Femme Fatale. You won’t regret it.

B Side Presents, "8/5/2011, Turner Hall"

As has been documented various times on the blog, the eels played another show in Milwaukee last Friday. As soon as I found out they were coming to town, I knew I had to attend. Here is my write up of how the show went, and hopefully we can get Heidi's view on it today too!

The show started with an extreme juggler - which yes, is very odd. He was kind of funny though, and it wasn't so much about the juggling as it was some humor and crazy on stage stuff. While it wasn't the most exciting opening act of all time, it wasn't awful. The crowd was reasonably into it, and he got the crowd amped up for the main attraction! Or so we thought...

Some random guy came out on stage next, and talked about how proud he was to introduce the next band. And how they've been touring all over Asia and just got back and were excited to play for us tonight. Apparently they were from Green Bay or something, and were thrilled to be back home. The band was super mellow and slow, and was WAY too much of a contrast to the juggler and then the eels. They were so meh that I don't even remember their name, which is very odd for me. I'll say their mediocrity helped in one thing, making the eels that much more wanted to be on stage.

Then it happened. The lights came on and the band started making their way out. The Chet on guitar, P-Boo on guitar, Koool G Murder on bass and two other guys playing horns and woodwinds. Yes, woodwinds. Then came the man, the one and only E. They opened to 'Flyswatter' off 'Daisies of the Galaxy'. Pretty good track to open with, fast paced and sing-alongy. I can't recall the exact setlist and none have been posted online, but there were a few that really stuck out for me. They played 'Souljacker Part 1' and did some funky guitar effects on it that made is super awesome. 'Prizefighter', 'Beginners Luck' and 'Tremendous Dynamite' were all excellent performances off 'Hombre Lobo'. Those tracks all had the crowd singing along as well. The biggest contrast to the show they did here in '09 at the Pabst, was the tone. Last year it was all about quick, fast songs - even if the original recording was slow. They beefed everything up and made it into a rock track. For this show, they slowed things down a couple of times, which was awesome. 'Climbing To The Moon' was an excellent choice by them and 'Blinking Lights - I'm Going to Stop Pretending I Didn't Break Your Heart' was spot on. Overall, I think I might have been one of maybe a couple dozen people belting out the lyrics - but it was awesome. E made it fun too by making some jokes in between tracks, and setting up some solid references to Milwaukee to get the crowd going. They came out for a double encore - which was semi expected but still awesome. I recall 'Dead Of Winter' and 'Fresh Blood' on them encores - and they rocked them both. I left with a giant smile on my face, and nothing but anticipation to see them again next year.

And I went with three people that never really listened to them before, and while I won't speak for Heidi, the other two seemed to really enjoy it. Both of them saying they'd go back to a show when they came back. That says a lot. And I hope that encourages some other readers to check out their performances sometime, even if you aren't familiar with their discography.

Bottom line, it was awesome. And I'll go back every single time they come around.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ZZ Top - Eliminator



A-how-how-how-how. Good old ZZ Top. One of my very good friends hates ZZ Top with a passion. And it's a very misguided hatred. We used to listen to the music on cable channels in college, and they'd come on all the time. The trivia allowed me to know that the only member of ZZ Top without a giant beard, is named Frank Beard. Odd? Yes. Funny? A little. Interesting? Not really. 'Eliminator' here came out in 1983 (great year) and has sold a TON of albums. How many you ask? Well, it's certified diamond - which is 10+ million. I can't find an actual figure, otherwise I'd shout it out. Just popping this in for the first time today, it's easy to tell why it has sold like it has. It's 11 tracks deep, and half of them saw major radio airplay. It's the eighth studio album for ZZ, and this album was meant to be slightly experimental. They wanted to use more synthesizer and make a more pop music type album. Something that didn't initially go over well within the band. The record is pretty much all synth, drum machine and a sequencer. You can tell just from listening to it. It's got the signature car on the cover and the name itself is named after the winning of a street drag race. All things are are supercool and would help sell a lot of records. The videos helped too, thanks to that newfangled music television. All in all, this is a classic. Hate 'em or love 'em, this album is worth the praise and respect it gets.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Gimme All Your Lovin'
2. Got Me Under Pressure
3. Sharp Dressed Man
4. I Need You Tonight
5. I Got the Six
6. Legs
7. Thug
8. TV Dinners
9. Dirty Dog
10. If I Could Only Flag Her Down
11. Bad Girl

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Sharp Dressed Man
2. Legs
3. Gimme All Your Lovin'

FINAL RATING:
4.25 out of 5 stars

Gwar - Hell-O



Oh Thursday. I was locked out of my computer most of the morning, so sorry for the late posts. But as I was reflecting on life recently, I remember watching Beavis and Butthead on MTV way back in the way. And we all know how much they loved watching metal videos from the couch. And a band that always seemed to pop up was Gwar. Now, naturally I knew nothing about Gwar at the time - and even more toward adulthood, they seemed to be a band that I just wrote off as "not for me". But here I stand, writing a blog where I'm all about giving artists and music a real chance. So I'll do that today, and follower janis! thought it'd be quite the comedy if I checked into them as well. I decided to run with their debut album - which came out in 1988. It's certified Gold in the states, but the Germans must enjoy them since it's 2x platinum over there. They're not from Germany or anything - they're from good old Richmond, Virginia. All I've ever heard about these guys is how crazy their on stage shows are, and how they talk about taboo issues in their music. I've heard they spray stuff all over the audiences and they lampoon celebrities too. Style wise, they're metal. No doubt about that. Little bit of comedy mixed in and some shock rock too. I think this music is odd. The actual value of simply notes, lyrics and beats - seems very minimal to me. I could get the cult type appeal from a fanbase, but I'm not sure I'd ever be a Gwar head. Maybe you will, and check it out - but this isn't in my wheelhouse.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Time For Death
2. AEIOU
3. Americanized
4. I'm in Love (With a Dead Dog)
5. Slutman City
6. World O Filth
7. War Toy
8. Captain Crunch
9. Pure as the Arctic Snow
10. Je M'Appelle J. Cousteau
11. Gwar Theme
12. Bone Meal
13. Ollie North
14. Techno's Song
15. U Ain't Shit
16. Rock & Roll Party Town

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. War Toy
2. Slutman City
3. Time For Death

FINAL RATING:
2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jill Scott - Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds Vol. 1



As a follow up to my praise toward those that dropped tunes into the box, follower Ashley asked that I run Jill Scott up the old flagpole. Now, I've heard of her before, from a collaboration she did with (I think) Moby years ago. She was born in 1972 in Philadelphia, PA. She was raised by her mom and grandmother - and she has stated in interviews that she was extremely happy as a child, and wouldn't change her experience for anything in the world. She attended Temple University for three years thinking she wanted to be a school teacher. However, she became a teacher's aide for a few months, and decided to drop out of school as that whole scene wasn't for her. She got her stage start doing spoken word poetry, reading her own works on stage. She was discovered by the artist ?uestlove from The Roots while doing her poetry. She subsequently collaborated and wrote for some of the best r&b acts in the world. This album was her first release, and it came out in 2000. She ended up getting much critical acclaim for it, and getting nominated for a Grammy award. This album contains so many different sounds and feels to it. It's very r&b and soulful, but it also contains a very big influence from jazz and maybe even some more Latino based music. It's certified 2x platinum in the states, which is pretty telling since it didn't really get any major radioplay. I can't disrespect this album in any way. It's something that as I get older, makes more sense to my musical palette. I'm only at the point however that I respect it, and wouldn't listen to it day after day. Maybe some day. If you're an Alicia Keys fan or maybe even Lauren Hill - it's got that sort of feel to it. And it's certainly worth a listen.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Jilltro (Album Intro)
2. Do You Remember
3. Exclusively
4. Gettin' in the Way
5. Long Walk, A
6. I Think It's Better
7. He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)
8. It's Love
9. Way, The
10. Honey Molasses
11. Love Rain
12. Roots, The (Interlude)
13. Slowly Surely
14. One Is the Magic #
15. Watching Me
16. Brotha
17. Show Me

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Watching Me
2. Gettin' In The Way
3. Slowly Surely

FINAL RATING:
3 out of 5 stars

Rush - Moving Pictures



Wednesday is here! And last week I asked all of you guys to help me out by rockin' some suggestions into my box. Well, a couple of you came through and it's MUCH appreciated! janis! asked that I review a little more Rush, since I reviewed '2112' over a year ago. Now, I really enjoy Rush. Not enough to go out and buy all their albums or anything - but I do always enjoy their listening experience. Now after '2112', the question was - which album do I really enjoy? And I don't think you need to look further than 1981's 'Moving Pictures'. It's 4x platinum in the states and fairly easy to see why. The opener alone 'Tom Sawyer' could have been enough to sell 4 million albums. Heck, track 4's 'Limelight' is another couple million. Never mind about all the other ones in between. James Hetfield later admitted that his 'Sanitarium' track stole the riff off of Tom Sawyer. 'Limelight' is drummer Neil Peart's experience with the band blowing up and having to deal with the incoming attention and fame. Pretty cool lyrics on that track also. The cover art is pretty neat, and there is a story out there you all can read if you'd like to find it. Too long to detail here. Interesting tidbit, the original release of this album had the first few beats of 'Tom Sawyer' left off the recording. If you have that album, it's very rare and worth quite a bit of money it sounds like. It was fairly immediately corrected and the bad ones were pulled. In a word, this album is classic. And it isn't as good as '2112', but it's really solid. Quality tracks from a quality band - enough said.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Tom Sawyer
2. Red Barchetta
3. YYZ
4. Limelight
5. Camera Eye, The
6. Witch Hunt
7. Vital Signs

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Tom Sawyer
2. Limelight
2. Red Barchetta

FINAL RATING:
3.75 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ace Hood - Blood, Sweat & Tears



New Music Tuesday was really slow today. Really - really slow. So here we go with another "up and coming" rapper from Deerfield Beach, Florida. Don't know where that is? Well, I do know it's in Broward County - which I believe is the area of Miami. Ace here is signed to We The Best Music - which is part of Def Jam - which is run by DJ Khaled. So you can imagine, this has a DJ Khaled style feel to it. Some of the tracks probably have a more specific artist feel, like track 4, 'Hustle Hard' which has been getting serious radio play over the last few months. And big ups to the song, since it's Milwaukee Brewers lead off man Rickie Weeks at bat song. Khaled and Ace Hood met in 2007 while Khaled was DJing at his radio station. He liked what Ace was spitting, so he asked him to cameo on his track 'I'm So Hood'. He subsequently liked what he hears so much, he offered him a record deal. Ace dropped his first album in 2008 to very little fanfare. They tried again in 2009 - similar result. Late 2010 saw the radio release of the aforementioned track, and the record started generating some buzz. They've tried putting out a couple more singles from the record, but they haven't had the same impact on the radio as 'Hustle'. So much so, they created a remix of the track and added to the end of the album. But typically, anytime you put Lil Wayne on a remix (especially right now) it's going to create some sales, so not a bad move. There's a Chris Brown and T Pain cameo on here - which aren't enough to get my excited about. If you listen to him hit it hard on track 4, you'd think you're in for a real raw, lyrics rap record. But the rest of this album can't match that type of flow. Which is sad. If I could get 10 tracks of 'Hustle Hard' - I'd be all in for this guy. Until then, I have to wait until he figures out if he wants to be a hardcore rapper, or a R&B specialist.

TRACK LISTING:
1. King of the Streets
2. Go N' Get It
3. Errythang
4. Hustle Hard
5. Body 2 Body
6. Memory Lane
7. Letter to My Ex's
8. Beautiful
9. Lord Knows
10. Bitter World
11. Spoke to My Momma
12. Hustle Hard (Remix)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Hustle Hard (Remix)
2. Hustle Hard
3. Go N' Get It

FINAL RATING:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Antlers - Burst Apart



I've really been digging the dubstep/electronic revolution that's been going on lately. And it may only really be going on in my mind, but I think the music is really bursting onto the scene and people are grooving hard. I always encourage people to open their ears to a newer brand of music, and this seems to be it right now. This is a three piece band that formed in Brooklyn, New York. They've been making an indie rock type music since 2006 or so. They are named after another band - The Microphones and their track 'Antlers'. What better way to show your idols? This album just came out in May of this year, and it's the bands fourth studio release since 2006. I'm in love with the cover art concept on this album by the way. It was designed by a guy named Zan Goodman who's done some other album covers for the band. Super cool. Their last album 'Hospice' was a record to talk about an abusive relationship lived through the eyes of a patient in hospice care. What critics are universally digging about this record, is the range the band showed in creating a follow up that wasn't exactly the same, but musically still beyond sound. And while I can't contrast and compare to the prior works, this album is really solid. Very 'dream rock' style music and has that transcendental sound that these new age electronic type sounding records have. I love it. I'd need to listen harder to the lyrics and all that - but off the surface the vocals are solid and the arrangements are beyond cool. This isn't for my beatnuts out there, but more for people who just love music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. I Don't Want Love
2. French Exit
3. Parentheses
4. No Widows
5. Rolled Together
6. Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out
7. Tiptoe
8. Hounds
9. Corsicana
10. Putting the Dog to Sleep

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. No Widows
2. Putting The Dog To Sleep
3. I Don't Want Love

FINAL RATING:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 8, 2011

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment



I think I've made it pretty clear I'm not a fan of the 'American Idol' program. And although a couple artists have gone on to have great success in the business from the show, I think in general they don't produce true, long standing artists. They basically produce someone that will generate enough buzz to sell one album or two. Lambert here was yet another "star" that didn't actually win the show, but made the final two. I now consider myself beyond an expert on his music and life, since I watched his 'Behind The Music' special last night. He struggled with the show because it was so public, and he hadn't made clear that he was homosexual before the show began. For some reason, he says he didn't want to come out public with it because it was his own business - but he wasn't ashamed of it. My honest opinion is, he didn't feel he could get enough votes to win if he officially came out during the show. Sad state of the US if that's the case, but regardless - it's done. He came out immediately following his loss on the show, and before he made this album and started touring. He released this in late 2009 and is certified gold in the US. He generated more buzz by posing in a magazine with a nude woman, and was basically called out by a homosexual based publication for not showcasing his sexuality or trying to cover it up. Lambert was pretty upset over that, and proceeded to be lewd at the American Music Awards as a follow up. That caused more controversy - but whatever. It wasn't all that entertaining of a story. The bottom line is, the guy has a lot of energy and has a vocal that's pretty easily identifiable. Problem is, his music isn't worth while. At least not this record. It's half poppy/half rock and then a sprinkle of misplaced anger and flamboyance. Maybe his sophomore drop will contain more substance, but I doubt it. And I'm sure by 2015, he'll fade into obscurity like the rest of the "Idols".

TRACK LISTING:
1. Music Again
2. For Your Entertainment
3. Whataya Want From Me
4. Strut
5. Soaked
6. Sure Fire Winners
7. A Loaded Smile
8. If I Had You
9. Pick U Up
10. Fever
11. Sleepwalker
12. Aftermath
13. Broken Open
14. Time For Miracles

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Time For Miracles
2. Soaked
3. Whataya Want From Me

FINAL RATING:
1.5 out of 5 stars

Tears For Fears - Songs From The Big Chair



No surprise that I'm exhausted from yet another long weekend - that included getting my socks rocked off again live (review coming at some point). But we get back in the groove this morning with a little Tears For Fears. Now, I've known about these guys forever. Not sure why I never reviewed them before - but it just so happened I was watching something on VH1 and 'Mad World' came up, and I recalled how much I adore that song, and these guys were the originals. I decided not to do that album today, because this one was so incredibly popular. It came out in 1985 and is a sick 5x platinum in the states. They got the title from some show called 'Sybil' back in the 80's - which I have zero recollection of. But apparently it was about a lady who had multiple personalities and only felt safe when she was in her therapist's "big chair". So there you have it. This is one of the more highly regarded albums of the entire decade - and was mixed into the 1001 Albums To Listen To Before You Die analysis. It's certainly got that signature 80's pop feel, especially with tracks like 'Rule The World'. Very synthy, very 80's style beats. The beats almost lead this into being a dance album on some tracks, but then super ballady on others. That genre bending I think is what made this album, and the band so well respected. They were doing that at a time it was not at all commonplace. This album is beyond needing to check out. I can't stand 80's music, but I really respect this record. The hits are really hits and the rest is all pretty good too.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Shout
2. Working Hour, The
3. Everybody Wants to Rule the World
4. Mothers Talk
5. I Believe
6. Broken
7. Head over Heals/Broken
8. Listen
9. Big Chair, The
10. Empire Building
11. Marauders, The
12. Broken Revisted
13. Conflict, The
14. Mothers Talk(US Remix)
15. Shout (US Remix)

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Shout
2. Head Over Heels/Broken
3. Rule The World

FINAL RATING:
4 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eels Day - And Please, Give Me Some Suggestions!



As you all know - today is Eels day. I'm incredibly excited for the show tonight. If you live in the Milwaukee area, the show is at Turner Hall (near the Bradley Center) tonight at 7pm. My co-writer Heidi will be joining me, and I'm sure we'll both post our thoughts about the show next week. If it's anywhere near as awesome as their show was at the Pabst last year, everyone will walk home beyond pleased.

I wanted to add a little sidenote too - the Suggestion Box is getting pretty close to empty! Big shoutout to my biggest helpers - janis!, JenInTosa, Ashley, peterman and Shaqwanda. Please keep the suggestions coming! And if you're new to the blog or haven't ever dropped a Suggestion in before - just click the link in the upper right hand corner and there is a quick form to fill out. Suggestions make blogging a TON easier when I don't have to run through music to select on my own everyday. So thank you all in advance for dropping some artists in the box for me.

Everyone have a great, safe weekend otherwise. And do your best to jam out to your favorite tunes!

B Side

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eels - Electro-Shock Blues



Yeah yeah yeah - I know what you're thinking. Another Eels review B Side? Come on! They're playing in Milwaukee tomorrow, and I'm going! And Heidi is even coming along - driving hundreds of miles to go with me! I'm sure we'll both write up our thoughts and post them early next week. It's gonna be epic! I've talked about this before, but when this album was being written, lead singer Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) was in an extremely dark place. His mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and his sister had committed suicide within months of each other. This album is largely his reactions to the news and the events, and becoming the only living member of his family remaining. His father passed when he was a 19 of a heart attack, and E was the first to discover his body. I'm going to cut right to the chase with this one - the album is phenomenal. Every time I listen to it, I pick up more and more of what E must have been feeling and going through when he was writing this. Now, it helps I read his book 'Things The Grandchildren Should Know' before I listened to this the first time, and it was easier to put everything into perspective. But even if you haven't read it, you can listen to his words and his tone - and just know these were times of extreme struggle - but at the same point, hope that the future still held something better for him. Powerful, powerful stuff. 'Dead Of Winter' is essentially the tale of him being in the hospital seeing his mother slowly pass of cancer. 'Climbing To The Moon' plays in his experiences watching his sister be in and out of mental health facilities trying to battle her depression. The two 'Funeral' tracks and the opening track also relate to his sister's struggles. As sad as the album is on the surface, it's so much more than that. And each listen, makes me love it more and more. As close to a perfect album as you can have without having traditional "hits". If I could crusade one thing, it'd be having people read his book and listen to his album. It makes being able to put your own life problems and issues in perspective. Love it.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor
2. Going to Your Funeral, Pt. 1
3. Cancer for the Cure
4. My Descent Into Madness
5. 3 Speed
6. Hospital Food
7. Electro-Shock Blues
8. Efils' God
9. Going to Your Funeral, Pt. 2
10. Last Stop: This Town
11. Baby Genius
12. Climbing to the Moon
13. Ant Farm
14. Dead of Winter
15. Medication Is Wearing Off, The
16. P.S. You Rock My World

Listen To Samples

1. The Medication Is Wearing Off
2. Electro Shock Blues
3. Climbing To The Moon

4. My Descent Into Madness
5. 3 Speed
6. Ant Farm
7. Dead Of Winter
8. Last Stop: This Town
9. Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor
10. PS You Rock My World

(Yeah, it's really that good)

FINAL RATING:
4.75 out of 5 stars

Craig Morgan - My Kind Of Livin'



Thursday is here, and it's time for a country music review! Going back to my JenInTosa suggestion box entry - I only have two acts left from her list. My country recommendations are dwindling next to essentially nothing! If you have some specific albums I haven't gotten to yet, or an artist I haven't heard of, toss it my way! For today though, it's Craig Morgan. Craig was born in 1965 and lived in - you guessed it, Tennessee. He became an EMT at the age of 18 and was a soldier in the United State military. He was stationed in Korea, and while abroad, worked on his singing and guitar playing for the other fellas in his unit. He got his first music break finally in the the year 2000. This particular record was his third studio release, and is the only album to chart - being certified gold status. I think being a veteran and serving makes for a solid foundation of country music. And this album is about as old fashioned country music as you can imagine. I think in general, critics favor this record, but give it very average ratings after the wordy praise is over. And I as well have nothing bad to say about this album. It's got the old knee slappin' brand of country fun - but it's also lacking something to make it that 4 star plus record. I'm rooting for him though, and I see he's still putting out more music. I think based on this record, he has potential, but now it's 6 years later and hopefully he realized some of it.

TRACK LISTING:
1. That's What I Love About Sunday
2. I Got You
3. That's When I'll Believe That You're Gone
4. I'm Country
5. Lotta Man (In That Little Boy)
6. If You Like That
7. Ain't the Way I Wanna Go Out
8. Redneck Yacht Club
9. Rain For the Roses
10. Blame Me
11. Cowboy and Clown
12. In My Neighborhood

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. That's What I Love About Sunday
2. I Got You
3. Redneck Yacht Club

FINAL RATING:
2.75 out of 5 stars