Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Friday, September 30, 2011

Moving Forward.

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

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

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

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

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

B Side

J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story

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

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

Listen To Samples

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

3.25 out of 5 stars

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

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

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

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:

5+ out of 5 stars

Amy Grant - Heart In Motion

You know what's crazy? Amy Grant is 50 years old. Now, I know that I'm no spring chicken - but 50? Come on. I remember this album pretty vividly. It was hard not to hear at least one Amy Grant single every day back in 1991. I'm getting ahead of myself though - I need to start from the childhood beginning. Her family settled in Nashville when she was a kid, which pretty much guarantees a kid will end up in music. She wrote her first song and performed the first time at 16. She recorded her first album in 1977 - at the ripe age of 17. Here was this regular girl with a solid voice, singing Christian tunes. It wasn't really common at the time, and Grant had the market cornered. Where now Christian acts tend to have more barriers than doors opening, it was the opposite for Grant. She was contacted by just about every major company wanting her to do specials and appearances. She was even labeled as the "Queen of Christian pop" by the media. Not a bad thing. In the mid 80's - Grant got a little greedy though. She wanted to be more than just a Christian act. She wanted to make contemporary pop music (still with a Christian undertone) but have it appeal to the masses. Her first couple attempts didn't fare so well - but then BAM! 1991 came, and 'Heart In Motion' dropped. What exactly did this accomplish? Only a 5x platinum rating in the states. Not bad eh? Now, this certainly isn't the kind of music I normally groove on. We all know that. A 7-8 year me however, thought singing this all over our townhouse at the time was pretty amazing. If nothing else, bring back some memories today. I promise you know all the words still.

1. Good For Me
2. Baby Baby
3. Every Heartbeat
4. That's What Love Is For
5. Ask Me
6. Galileo
7. You're Not Alone
8. Hats
9. I Will Remember You
10. How Can We See That Far
11. Hope Set High

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Good For Me
2. Baby Baby
3. Every Heartbeat

3 out of 5 stars

Friday, September 23, 2011

Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

Another one of my big supporters has always been my partner in crime, Heidi. And it doesn't happen super often, but once in a while she'll drop me a band she's grooving on and wants to get my input on them. Well, this is coming much later than I'm sure she wanted, but here goes nothing. Local Natives are an indie rock band based out of Los Angeles, California. This album dropped in the United Kingdom in November of 2009 - but didn't make it's way across the pond until nearly March of 2010. The band mates knew each other from high school - and then they went on to attend UCLA together as well. They 100% self funded this album, which is super cool. That means you have the five members jamming away - and not putting anything out that doesn't pass their standards. The album is named after a house they stayed at in Orange County, with a pretty neat backstory: "It was insanely messy and there were always friends over knocking around on guitars or our thrift store piano. It was an incredible experience and I’ll never forget that time." Love band stories like that. In terms of sheer style, I have no idea what I'd call this. Almost every track seems to be a three part harmony, which for some reason I'm finding super cool. It's somewhat uptempo, yet still really chilled out - which is an odd paradigm. I think these guys have merely scratched the surface for what they're capable of. But this is still a really worth while album. Fun listen. The whole thing kind of runs together into something beyond my words. This is a great "get you into the weekend" type of record, so please, check it out.

1. Wide Eyes
2. Airplanes
3. Sun Hands
4. World News
5. Shape Shifter
6. Camera Talk
7. Cards & Quarters
8. Warning Sign
9. Who Know Who Cares
10. Cubism Dream
11. Stranger Things
12. Sticky Thread

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Wide Eyes
2. Warning Sign
3. Airplanes

4 out of 5 stars

Faith Hill - Breathe

WE'RE BACK! Thanks again to everyone who made it very clear they want me to keep going. It really helps. And a HUGE shoutout to JenInTosa who not only said I should keep going, but also dropped some new reviews in the Suggestion Box. For her efforts, my first review back will be country - in the form of Faith Hill. Audrey Faith Perry here was born in 1967 in Ridgeland, Mississippi. She was adopted as an infant into a Christian family who also raised two biological children of their own. Her vocal talent was on display early and often, as she first sang at seven years old in front of a big audience. Her biggest influence came after seeing Elvis Presley perform at the age of 9. She was so impressed by his on stage presence, that she wanted to get into the same industry. She had all sorts of performances while in college and beyond - but couldn't quite crack the bigtime. Of course, she then decided to move to Nashville to get noticed. After auditioning as a backup for Reba McEntire - she failed to secure a job doing that, and ended up working at a music publishing firm. It was there where she met her first husband, Dan Hill. After singing whimsically around the office, co workers took a shine to her voice, and ended up getting her in the door at Warner Bros. Records. Her debut album came out in 1993 and is certified 3x platinum in the states. Not too shabby. In 1994, her marriage ended and Faith was moving onto the fame by herself. She married Tim McGraw in 1996, and her career has soared. 'Breathe' came out in 1999, and is her biggest selling record at 8x platinum in the US. We all know my stance on country music - but this isn't that sort of album. This is a country/pop crossover record, that almost seems to lean more to the pop side. Some of these tracks you could easily see someone like Whitney Houston belting out. I like it. I like the overall feel of it and the way I quickly breezed through it. It's pretty upbeat and toe-tapping, which is fun. And then there are plenty of songs to sing along to, which is always fun. Give this a run today, I think you'll enjoy it.

1. What's in It for Me
2. I Got My Baby
3. Love Is a Sweet Thing
4. Breathe
5. Let's Make Love
6. It Will Be Me
7. Way You Love Me, The
8. If I'm Not in Love
9. Bringing Out the Elvis
10. If My Heart Had Wings
11. If I Should Fall Behind
12. That's How Love Moves
13. There Will Come a Day

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Breathe
2. If I'm Not In Love
3. The Way You Love Me

3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hang In There!

Thanks to everyone who commented, emailed, called, texted, and all that - letting me know they want me to continue blogging it up.

I've decided I will keep going - potentially Friday this week. I have an odd couple of weeks coming up with a crazy schedule - but I am going to do my best to get back in the swing of things.

Thank you so much for the support - and we'll see you soon!

B Side

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What To Do....

Hey All.

Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday, but I want to be open with all you guys. I've been finding myself having a harder and harder time getting all pumped for the reviews lately. Part of me thought I could just do less - but if I couldn't keep up with the two per day, I'm not sure if it'd be worth it anymore.

I guess I'm contemplating shutting 'er down - at least for a while, but I might be convinced otherwise too. It's been a really fun almost two years now, but I'm not sure I'll be able to go another two.

Shoot me a comment or something with your thoughts. I think if enough people let me know they really do want read this daily and enjoy finding new music - I'd most likely be happy to continue forward.

B Side

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hugh Laurie - Let Them Talk

It's New Music Tuesday - but I don't want to get into too much filler words, because I'm not sure if you read the artist headline - but yeah, it's THE Hugh Laurie. Now, I've never been a fan of the tv show 'House', but I recognize this guy as an actor - and not a musician. Apparently in July of 2010, he signed a record deal with Warner Bros and was slated to make a blues album sometime in the future. Well, the future is just over a year later, and here we are. Hugh isn't just sitting back and collecting checks either for this. He is playing the guitar and the piano while it appears others are handing the vocal side of the house. It seems to be a compilation of classic blues tracks, and simply done with the Laurie brand on them. Now, most of the arrangements were done by someone else and naturally the album was produced by someone else too - but people say it has his "seal" on it. Whatever that means. Since I don't watch the show I had no clue - but it sounds like he would often play instruments on the program as well. Some conjectured that it was not real and that it was a professional with him syncing, but hey, you were wrong! I have no idea what to make of this. Honestly - help me. I mean, it's not bad - but it's kind of out there. I really enjoy blues music - I love old school Clapton, BB King that sort of stuff. But this is arranged to not even sound like blues. Plus, he's a freakin' actor! I let out a long sigh while typing this and just say out loud, "I don't know". Maybe there are merits here, and maybe the music is worth while - I think it's just that I don't care. I'm ambivalent to this, maybe you won't be.

1. St. James Infirmary
2. You Don't Know My Mind
3. Six Cold Feet
4. Buddy Bolden's Blues
5 Battle of Jericho
6. After You've Gone
7. Swanee River
8. Whale Has Swallowed Me, The
9. John Henry
10. Police Dog Blues
11. Tipitina
12. Winin' Boy Blues
13. They're Red Hot
14. Baby, Please Make a Change
15. Let Them Talk

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. St James Infirmary
2. Battle Of Jericho
3. Swanee River

2 out of 5 stars

Wild Beasts - Smother

I certainly hope everyone is back from a nice, long holiday weekend - well rested and ready to grind it out for another shortened work week. But we come back today - and it's Tuesday! We should have Monday off every week and just start on Tuesdays! But since I'm over on Techno stuff, I'm just going to run with a band I heard about recently, Wild Beasts. They're from Kendal, England and have been making music since 2002 or so. In what started off as a small duo - they turned into a trio in 2004 and started making music that labels wanted to be a part of. Their first studio drop came in 2008 and this particular album came out most recently in 2011 - their third studio recording. It went all the day up to number 17 on the UK charts - no real movement in the US mainstream though. I'm not totally sure what prior albums sounded like for these guys, but this is a very synth based sound. It really has that dream pop type feel to it as well. Like and indie rock meets dream fantasy land type sound. It's pretty neat. The band moved to London in response to wanting to make their third record, and it seemed like a solid move for all the band members. They talk about the album name and have some interesting thoughts on the word smother as it relates to humans and our reaction to the world. Worth a read if you're up for it someday. Anyhow, this has gotten pretty great reviews universally, and I won't be any different. It's not only intriguing, but really good music to boot. Not a bad combo platter. I can't imagine too many people not at least thinking this has a solid vibe, and it music you wouldn't at least be excited to sample.

1. Lion's Share
2. Bed of Nails
3. Deeper
4. Loop the Loop
5. Plaything
6. Invisible
7. Albatross
8. Reach a Bit Further
9. Burning
10. End Come Too Soon

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Lion's Share
2. End Come Soon
3. Plaything

4 out of 5 stars

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rant #20 - "March On"

As I briefly mentioned yesterday, it was the start of college football yesterday. While I'm simply a sports nut - I understand there are a variety of other things that get people excited about game day. When I get to my seat about 20 mins early - I enjoy watching the warm up videos on the big screen, listening to the starting line ups and just generally chatting about the upcoming gridiron matchup. But there is something else going on while I'm off in la-la land. And that small little thing, is the old marching band.

Now, I don't want to come off as a band snob or anything. I've gone to the UW Band's performances outside of sporting events as well. They're usually quite entertaining. When I'm in sports mode though, nothing else matters to me. I took a couple to the game last night, and the wife of the tandem wanted to head to the Union where the band performs before the game starts. I don't think I'd ever done that in my life, so I figured what the heck - let's give it a whirl. The Union is brand new and gorgeous, and a perfect venue for the band to put some show on. Now, they're all seated so you don't get the full marching experience - but it was fun to hear them play. To think about how hard these guys work, and how much time goes into their performances and all that, it's pretty amazing.

The bigger performance comes at the end of the games. Win or loss, rain or shine, the UW band performs in what they call, "The 5th Quarter". Now, I've been a regular season ticket holder for 7 years now, and had student tickets 2 years prior to that. And I can honestly count on one hand the amount of times I've stayed and watched the 5th Quarter. They usually do a random collection of dance favorites, and typically the same songs week over week. The Chicken Dance, Steve Miller's 'Swingtown', 'Shout' among many other songs that get the crowd up and moving after 3 hours of sitting and watching football. A really neat idea, and an overall fun time.

I think in general, the bands like that tend to get overlooked by the general population. Everyone knows and understand how hard the athletes work on and off the field to maintain grades, practice and try to have any sort of social life. Well, the band goes through similar strife, without any of the real recognition. If you're ever in town, check out their spring performances sometime. They tend to play more regular songs versus the ones that make everyone get up and dance. It's a really neat show. I'm sure wherever you're reading this - you have some college town relatively close to you that does something similar. Go check 'em out. Music doesn't always have to be so cookie cutter and the same, mix it up with a little marching band action sometime. You might be surprised how much fun you have.

Have a great, safe holiday weekend B Siders!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Journey - Escape

Can you believe I've been blogging for about a year and a half and I've never reviewed any Journey? How does that even make sense? Regardless, who doesn't love Journey? I mean, they're one of the best bands of all time. Wait, that's going way too far. They're just a band that put out a lot of really catchy music for a lot of years. Unlike my Abdul review - I do find their music stands the test of time, and a couple songs are actually even better today than they were years ago. This album came out in 1981 and is sitting at a cool 9x platinum in the states. It featured four Hot 100 singles, with the headlining 'Don't Stop Believin' only hitting number 9. The highest charting song ended up being 'Open Arms' which got all the way up to number 2. While I think this albums talks a lot about relationships and growing up and all that comes along with those two things - it isn't an album that musically feels restricted to those themes. Meaning - it's kind of timeless music talking about timeless subject matters. And I'm not attempting to imply this album is flawless or anything - but start to finish, it's extremely well done. I mean, the album was so inspiring they created a video game, Journey Escape for the Atari 2600. How many musical acts could say the had a video game in 1981? Not many - that's the answer to my own question. This is very much worth checking out today. And I'd be stunned if anyone took away a feeling of hatred or even dislike for this record. It's really good, and that's all I need to say.

1. Don't Stop Believin'
2. Stone In Love
3. Who's Crying Now
4. Keep On Runnin'
5. Still They Ride
6. Escape
7. Lay It Down
8. Dead Or Alive
9. Mother, Father
10. Open Arms

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Don't Stop Believin'
2. Open Arms
3. Who's Crying Now

4.5 out of 5 stars

Paula Abdul - Forever Your Girl

Today is a big day. It marks the start of college football season - more namely the Wisconsin Badgers. I'll be at the game tonight, and quite pumped. So yeah! That has nothing to do with Ms. Abdul here though - and her pop music straight out of the 80's. Follower janis! asked that I run through 1988's 'Forever Your Girl', which was her first studio release. Paula comes from a mixed background and grew up in a Jewish family. She took to dancing early in her life and knew it was something she was passionate about. She was a cheerleader and honor student in high school - and ended up getting a scholarship to Cal State - Northridge. Her freshman year she was selected to be a Laker Girl and became head choreographer for the University. So obviously the dance side was there and solid. It was 1987 when she first tried out the singing thing, even through her voice was raw and she'd never had any training. It took 62 weeks after the debut for her album to hit #1 - which sets a record in length to reach the top. It then spent 10 weeks at number one. She won a grammy for the video for 'Opposites Attract', and things seemed to be going nowhere but up. Her decline is something for a different post though, I'll focus on this album. So - we all know how I feel about pop music. And this is the ideal review to display how I feel about it. This music is absolute garbage. It's catchy as hell and makes you want to dance if you're into it. But lyrically, it's awful. The beats are fun and the 80's synth is worked in well. But when the day is said and done - the music doesn't hold up over the years. You could easily listen to this and feel nostalgic and love it again - but I think if you played this for today's pop crowd, they'd laugh. I'm laughing. You should laugh too.

1. Way That You Love Me, The
2. Knocked Out
3. Opposites Attract
4. State of Attraction
5. I Need You
6. Forever Your Girl
7. Straight Up
8. Next to You
9. Cold Hearted
10. One or the Other

Listen To Samples

Top 3 Tracks:
1. Straight Up
2. Opposites Attract
3. Forever Your Girl

2 out of 5 stars