Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2000

10. Samantha Mumba - Gotta Tell You
9. Sisqo - Incomplete
8. Erykah Badu - Bag Lady
7. 98 Degrees - Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)
6. Destiny's Child - Jumpin, Jumpin'
5. Pink - Most Girls
4. 3 Doors Down - Kryptonite

That drum part! This song excited me every single time it came on the radio. It seemed to herald something awesome on the horizon. Between this song and "Loser" (remember that awesome breakdown 3/4 of the way through "Loser"??), I'm actually surprised I never bought this album. I guess Amnesiac and Machina were coming out around the same time and I was devoting my energies to that kind of thing.

3. Creed - With Arms Wide Open
2. Madonna - Music
1. Christina Aguilera - Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #70 Pixies - Doolittle

Pixies Doolittle, 1989

The first thing about this album is that I certainly don't know it as well as most people that love this album. And I certainly am not well-versed in the Pixies' body of work. This is the only album I own by them and I had to get it twice to appreciate it.

I saw it on one "Best Albums of All Time" countdown or another. I feel like it was on VH1, but it could just as easily have been in Rolling Stone or Spin. I knew that "Where Is My Mind?" was the quirky little song at the end of Fight Club and that Kurt Cobain said that Nirvana were basically just ripping off the Pixies on "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Oh, and Eddie and Mark talk about the Pixies, specifically their gorgeous baselines, at the end of Empire Records (at least the did on the original cut. Who knows? Maybe that got taken out in the "Special Fan Edition").

So I got the album. I think it may have been for Christmas. And I'm fairly certain it was SYoC (because every album on this list has some relevance to my Sophomore Year of College, it's turning out).

And I just couldn't get into it. It wasn't loud enough, angry enough, fast enough. Basically, it wasn't Nirvana and I was disappointed. So I sold the album. Well, I got rid of it, at least. I don't remember selling it, but I had it at one point and then I didn't.

So then years later, I'm living in an apartment with Kristen (who was my fiancee at the time) (and is now my wife) and I put a Facebook status (Which I can't find.....Good God. It may have been an AIM Away Message....) up saying that I wanted people to suggest albums to put in my car's CD changer and that they could recommend anything but if they recommended an album I didn't have, they had to send me the songs so I could burn the CD. So my friend Jesse Wells suggested a number of albums that became super important to me. And one of them was Doolittle.

And this time it made sense. And I felt really stupid for having not "gotten" it before.

The basslines ARE beautiful. The music IS angry and loud and sometimes fast. But it's not punk, or pop-punk, or whatever I was hoping for it to be in 2003. It's an album that is effortless to listen to and always enjoyable.

Here's a video for my sister's favorite song on the album:

And here are two of MY favorite songs on the album. Though, like I said at the beginning, you probably are already very familiar with them.

Pixies - Wave of Mutilation
Pixies - La La Love You

You can buy Doolittle at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Oh and if you wanted to see that part of Empire Records, here it is. Discussion winds its way around to the Pixies at (0:51):

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Lady Gaga "Applause"

I was excited this week because I saw that Eminem's new song made the Top 10 and it meant that I could hold off Lady Gaga or Miley for another week, but the song doesn't have a proper video yet. So my plan is to put the Lady Gaga song on this week and, as long as the Eminem song is still in the Top 10 next week, put it on, even if it's just the audio version.

Say what you will about the genre of music she makes, you can't say that Lady Gaga's videos aren't interesting to watch. She definitely has cribbed some stuff from Madonna. Plus maybe like Bowie? I'm not sure. Certainly not the worst song I've ever heard and some interesting visual stuff, to boot.

I guess I was a little hesitant to put a Lady Gaga song on my site, but the thing is that I am interested in exploring, or at least taking a peek at, as much music as I possibly can. And sometimes that takes the form of a relatively unknown Scottish band and sometimes it takes the form of this. And it would be a disservice to what I want to do here, if I cut myself off of this mega-popular stuff.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Over the Wall

Animals / Tell Her I Love Her - single cover art 

Going through songs from 2013 for inclusion on my Festive Fifty longlist (I'll do a separate post on that right after I finish writing this. In fact, it may have gone up before this one goes up at 2. So look both before and after this post if you're confused about what I'm talking about.) and I realized I hadn't actually listened to the songs from this split put out by Gerry Loves Records. It's a split between John Knox Sex Club and Over the Wall.

I like the Over the Wall song, "Tell Her I Love Her" very much and will probably be including it on my longlist. It's something about the mixture between the Scottish accent, the synths, and the guitar. I just love it!

You can still buy the 45 that this appears on. Just Go Here!

2013 Festive Fifty Longlist Vote!!!!

I sent out this email on Thursday and am just getting around to posting it here. Hopefully it won't cripple your list construction!

Hey Everyone!!!

Well, it's nearing the end of October and so that means it's time to start constructing the Festive Fifty for this year!

And now...the rules

1. Choose up to 50 (yes fifty) songs that were released in 2013 that you like. If you can only think of 10 (or even just one!) .. don’t worry .. We'd still like to know what they are.

2. Our resident 'statman' James has agreed to do the adding up, so please send your list to him at
starting with your favorite track first. (I could have changed this, but i always like thinking of myself as "statman")

3. Do this by Sunday 10th November (Midnight Pacific Time (so, 3 am Monday on the East Coast and 8 am Monday in England) at the latest .. and try to get other people to vote too .. please!! (Share it on Facebook!)

4. I will compile a short list of the top 100 songs which we will vote on to be in the top 50 and then we'll start inviting people to record introductions.

5. Any questions? .... good ... get thinking!!!

Looking forward to your lists,


P.S. Hint, hint .... the songs you put at the top of your list are more likely to get into the shortlist, and there is a good chance that if you put something first in your list (and it gets into the final 50) I will ask you to introduce it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Countdown! Back on Time!!!

Fitz & the Tantrums

Not going to do a big long explanation/preface this week. Just happy that I'm getting this posted in time!

Countdown #171

Cage the Elephant
Capital Cities
Fitz & the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
Tame Impala
Thirty Seconds to Mars

Friday, October 25, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #71 Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends

The truth is, you could slit my throat. And with my one last gasping breath, I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt

Taking Back Sunday Tell All Your Friends, 2002

If there's one album that I think of when I think of Sophomore Year of College (and, if you've been a regular reader of these things, you'll know that SYoC was a big year for me in terms of memorable albums), it's this one.

The girl that I was pursuing and then dating that year was a HUGE TBS fan and made sure this album was played at LEAST twice on any given road trip. And we belted the whole thing out at the top of our lungs. Good memory.

But when I bought the album (because you buy the album that the girl you're after is constantly talking about and obsessing over.), it was a challenge to get into. For one thing, the lyrics booklet was pretty much just a big fat lie. What they were singing was some sort of weird interpretation and abridgment of the lyrics printed in the booklet. And that was tough for me. It might have been tough regardless of the outside context, but when you're trying to learn an album as quickly and thoroughly as possible, it's pretty stressful when you realize you're going to have to do it the old fashioned way!

So maybe this album made the list because of a girl, but I continued to love this album long after we both moved on to other relationships. And I don't think it takes anything away from my appreciation of it that I got into it in that way.

The album is raw. It's definitely a debut. There's a hunger and desperation on this one that would be replaced on later albums with catchier hooks and more varied arrangements. And I know. I usually go for the albums that I would describe as "more varied". And I definitely struggled with this. I loved the next two albums they put out (Where You Want to Be and Louder Now) almost as much as this one. But I don't know if I would have loved them as much if I hadn't had Tell All Your Friends as a starting point.

Here's the video for "Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)", perhaps the catchiest song on the album. You can see why SYoC James was easily swayed by these guys. They love Fight Club as much as he does!

Man, they were so young. And then they'd split into TBS and Straylight Run. And then last year, the original band got back together. I haven't heard the album they put out. I'm a little scared that I won't be as into it as I want to be.


It's only 10 songs long, so I'm only going to feature 1 song. Fortunately, it's the most "Taking Back Sunday" song of all time, so it packs a punch

Taking Back Sunday - You're So Last Summer

You can buy Tell All Your Friends at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2001

This was the year I graduated from high school and started college!!

10. Jay-Z - Izzo (H.O.V.A)
9. Enrique Iglesias - Hero
8. Blu Cantrell - Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)
7. Staind - It's Been a While

If you knew Staind from before this song or "Outside" were huge, you know what a tremendous change this song (and the album it was on, Break the Cycle) was for the band. 

Matter of fact, here's the video for the first song I ever heard by them. Listening to it now, it doesn't seem all that hard, but at the time, it was the hardest thing I listened to.

6. Whitney Houston - The Star Spangled Banner
5. Jagged Edge with Nelly - Where the Party At
4. Ginuwine - Differences
3. Mary J. Blige - Family Affair
2. Alicia Keys - Fallin'
1. Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule - I'm Real

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #72 My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

This hole you put me in wasn't deep enough and I'm climbing out right now
My Chemical Romance Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, 2004

Somehow, Sophomore year in the Spring (that makes it Spring 2003), due to MACRock (all my stories are converging in this one album. Weird), I discovered My Chemical Romance. I listened to their debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and loved a whole lot of it. There were some parts of that album that gave me chills, some parts that made me throw my fist in the air in triumph, and some parts, frankly, that I tolerated to get to the other parts.

So I think you can imagine my delight when I got this album (it says it was released in June 2004,  but that seems WAY late, but who am I to argue with Wikipedia?) and put it on and there were ONLY good parts. First of all, the story the album told was much clearer. Then, the songs were much more varied and interesting. And finally, the adrenaline triggering parts that I had loved in the previous album were there, only in triplicate.

The vocals are clean and chilling and clever. The music is driving and dynamic. Truly, this is, from start to finish, a masterpiece of dark pop-punk. This was what assured me that this band was going to be huge. So it wasn't a surprise a couple of years later when The Black Parade came out and suddenly, they were these huge rock stars. I knew that they had earned it and that all the praise was valid.

This is the video for the first song I loved on the album.

And this is a video that hinted at what was to come for the band.

I picked these two songs to feature because 1) they're great songs and 2) they have amazing titles.

My Chemical Romance - You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us in Prison
My Chemical Romance - It's Not a Fashion Statement, It's a Fucking Deathwish

You can buy Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Katy Perry "Roar"

Well, we're down to the last three songs on the Top Ten that I haven't covered yet. If there's not some turnover soon, we may find ourselves with some free time on Tuesdays

I didn't expect to like this video by Katy Perry. I never expect to like things that she does, but I always end up being wrong. This is a fun video with an age-old story and I just thought it was really well done. It doesn't take itself too seriously and I think that's what makes it even more powerful.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Kaitlin Riegel

I've recently gotten a number of submissions for artists from New Zealand and Australia and this was the first of the pack. It came on while I was reviewing songs for my Festive Fifty longlist and it was one of those songs that I knew was special from the start.

If you have been blown away by Lorde's minimalist, slightly dancey music as it came to prominence this year, Kaitlin Riegel is worth checking out. Her music reminds me of Lorde's but with an added warmth that I feel Lorde is sorely missing.

If you go to the page on her website with the above video, there's a free download of the song. Now, I'm not sure if this is in error, but instead of just putting a link to the mp3, I've just put the link for the site. You know, for the web traffic.

According to the "Bio" section, she just finished recording a 5-song EP. So if you want, you could follow her on Facebook where I'm sure she'll update with news about a release date. Or just watch this blog and I'll keep an eye out. Or both! Do both.

New Countdown! Keepin Myself Honest

Cage the Elephant
Hey there!'s not Sunday at 10 am, is it? Well, Saturday night came and I just was not on the Muse's "to-inspire" list. So I kind of let it go. But then Sunday came and I suddenly had the inspiration! It was VERY exciting. And I just don't ever want to fake inspiration. I want it to actually come from the heart, you know?

So I hope you'll enjoy this countdown and then also enjoy one on Sunday. It's a practical smorgasbord of countdown-y goodness.

Countdown #170

Cage the Elephant
Capital Cities
Fitz & the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
Johnette Napolitano & Danny Lohner
The Neighbourhood
Tame Impala
Thirty Seconds to Mars

Friday, October 18, 2013

POS WDELH MDS RMX (Update Post! New song! Release Date!)

Pre-orders being taken through end-of-day Saturday! 

So, the Marijuana Deathsquads remix album of P.O.S's We Don't Even Live Here album finally has a release date. It's coming out on Tuesday 10/22/13! That's so soon! It'll be available here and it'll be free!

To get everyone hyped, they released another track from it. Here's the remixed version of "Lock-picks, Knives, Bricks and Bats"

One Year, 100 Albums: #73 The Starting Line - Say It Like You Mean It

The Starting Line Say It Like You Mean It, 2002

This is another band that I got into because of rooming with my good friend Andy Sophomore year. It's actually astounding that I have never realized all the bands that he got me into. Good job Andy!

The origin story of The Starting Line is that guitarist Matt Watts found lead singer Kenny Vasoli in an AOL chat room. Kenny was 14 and the rest of the band was like 18 and 19. But they really clicked and after releasing an EP in 2001 (With Hopes of Starting Over), they released this album on my 19th birthday, it turns out. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

What really drew me to this band was Kenny's lyrics. It seemed like he had a leg up on everyone else in terms of turning a phrase or expressing a very specific feeling in catchy, quotable ways.

Add that to the patented Drive-Thru Records pop-punk production and you have an amazing album. Lots of cool stuff with time changes in their songs and I'm always really drawn to that when it's paired with good lyrics.

I have many fond memories of listening (read: rocking out) to this album on the drive from Virginia Beach to Harrisonburg, where I went to college.

I never saw this video when I was in college and it might have been on MTVU, but it seems like the kind of video that I would have been really into. Sweet with a little bit of a caustic bite at the end.

The two songs I've chosen to feature from this album both contain iterations of the album title. "Almost There, Going Nowhere" just comes out and says it. "This Ride" turns the title on its head. I love hearing the album title in the lyrics, so hearing it twice is even better!

The Starting Line - Almost There, Going Nowhere
The Starting Line - This Ride

One more thing that seeing the video made me think of. I've always thought Kenny looked kind of like a T-Rex. I've always thought the same thing about Bradley Cooper. Do you think maybe they're both just cleverly camouflaged dinosaurs?

You can buy Say It Like You Mean It at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Guest Review of Countdown Tracks! (Episode 5)

It's time once again for a Guest Review. I have one mix CD of Countdown tracks still awaiting review, so sometime soon we're going to go back to songs from early 2012, but I have some more recent songs from a mix CD that I sent to my friend Shalini! I know her via the internet, because she is Internet Friends with my friend Erin (she did the second Guest Review).

So here are Shalini's thoughts on 20 songs from the Countdown. Some of these songs go back almost a year! In fact, the oldest song in this list (Atlas Genius - Trojans) debuted on Episode #130. And, of course, some of these songs are on the Countdown that will be going up on Sunday. Four of 'em, in fact. I'm not going to give away which four, but I bet you can figure it out!

And now! Heeeeeeeeeere's Shalini!

alt-J - Breezeblocks

Oh! I know this song. It’s….that song. On the radio.

I like it. It always reminds me of if the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show started his own band, it would sound like this guy singing. There’s even a xylophone in it! (I think? It sounds like a xylophone.)

Atlas Genius - Trojans 

I know this song too. I even own it! Do I win something? Or are you trying to stump me? Because FAIL. I even know the name of the song (Trojans? Right? Which is a terrible name.), but that’s their fault for being understandable in their pronunciation, unlike Swedish Chef up there. I especially like the electric guitar (or…whichever instrument is playing that riff over and over again—did you know one of my sons absolutely loves music, and started watching Austin City Limits when he was two? Two. He had a favorite indie band and everything (it was Death Cab for Cutie, but he was also partial to My Morning Jacket, and I didn’t even know who My Morning Jacket was, and I was a young mom! In my twenties! Hip! Fine, I was never hip or young. You got me.) This song sounds nothing like My Morning Jacket or Death Cab. This sounds like a song stay-at-home moms listen to while running on the treadmill. That’s a compliment to me, but probably an incredible insult to music lovers everywhere.

Atlas Genius - If So

Peppy! I could also run to this on the treadmill. (I’m sorry Cool Band Guys.) And I’ve never heard it, so that’s probably extra Cool Band Guy points. It strangely makes me crave parmesan cheese. I don’t know why. I might just be hungry. 

It actually sounds a lot like the last song. [Good ears! Same Band!]

Capital Cities - Safe and Sound

This is horrible, but my kids take swimming lessons at a place called “Safe and Sound,” so that’s all I ever think of when I hear this song. I do really like it, except for the part where he says, “I could fill your cup,” which sounds vaguely porny. Ew. Wait, he also uses the phrase, “tidal wave of mystery,” and “hurricane of frowns.” As a writer, I must say I’m a little offended that this guy isn’t even TRYING. Come. On. 

Whatever, my river won’t evaporate. 

Daft Punk - Get Lucky

Daft Punk! Oh, the lyrics to this always get me. They’re so varied and veiled. What are they talking about? What do they want to DO? It’s like a Where’s Waldo of song lyrics! So mysterious! (I do like it.)

Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light 'Em Up)

Oh, any song with clapping or simulated clapping has me at hello. Except, wait. I hate this.
 I really hate this guy’s voice. A lot. And…I don’t know, this sounds kind of like what The Eagles would sound like if they weren’t old and decrepit and awful musicians. 

Fast forward.

Fitz & the Tantrums - Out of My League

I’ve heard this song before, too. I really like it. Heeeey, this CD is MINE. I can listen to these songs again. Score! 

This song is super depressing though. Someone’s out of this guy’s league? Well, just wash your hair and put on a clean shirt, Cool Band Guy. You’re pretty talented, so don’t worry. Any girl who can’t see that isn’t worth your time. –Mother of another Future Cool Band Guy speaking 

[I think this song is more about being absolutely blown away by how lucky you are to be with the person you're with. Being sure that there must be some mistake. It's a happy song!]

fun. - Carry On

Somber. This is different. There’s a piano. Oh, it’s that man that sounds like Tracy Chapman. This is…fine. A little love ballad. Meh.

Imagine Dragons - Demons

Why do singers think that moaning into a microphone in the beginning of a song is what people want to hear? That’s not what I want to hear. Is there something written in music reviews that says artists should do that? No. 

I’ve heard this song a bazillion times and I kind of hate it now, but I think at one point I liked it a little. I don’t have much to say about it, just like I don’t have much to say about, like, Red Hot Chili Peppers, except that no one likes their songs as much as radio thinks we like their songs. Please stop.

Imagine Dragons - Radioactive

This sounds like a song that would be on Grey’s Anatomy. I haven’t watched that show in a long time, but I could see this played over a dramatic scene between Mer and Der and like, a surgery where someone bleeds out and they hug each other and are sad and then go home and cuddle on the sofa, but what about that poor guy who bled out on the table, Mer and Der? The life of a plot device is not for the weak of heart.

The Lumineers - Stubborn Love

I have this album. I really like The Lumineers. But I don’t understand the lyrics. “The opposite of love is…in dear?” ["The opposite of love is indifference." Does that help the line? It does for me.] That’s my guess, but that doesn’t make sense. Maybe these guys need to write for some poetry journals so we can all feel their broken-hearted pain. Also, ladies, don’t date sensitive guys who will write about you later in poetry journals and song lyrics. It sounds romantic now, but when you’re explaining to your kids how you knew the Kinks and yeah, you were Lola, it’s going to be awkward.

Mumford & Sons - Lover of the Light

Starts slow, picks up…a little. Could use some banjo. Banjo makes everything a little more peppy. This song is in the genre of what I like to call, “those songs on the album that no one gives a fuck about,” like the second book in a trilogy. Yeah.

Muse - Panic Station

This song is annoying me. Fast forward.

The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather

Oh, Sweater Weather. This is just a strange song. I don’t want anyone’s hands in my sweater. Is that romantic? No, it’s not. It’s creepy. Get your hands out of the sleeves of my sweater, you cold-hearted man. Go far, far away.

New Politics - Harlem

This song reminds me of something cheerleaders would do a peppy routine with lots of backflips and claps to. I like it very much. 

Nine Inch Nails - Came Back Haunted

Nine Inch Nails played every single day of my high school. Just the beginning of this song makes me barf. If I listened to all of it, I would probably bleed out of my ears. I have never hated music more.

Of Monsters & Men - Mountain Sound

This song belongs on a pebbly Irish beach with, like, a thick cable knit sweater and a tambourine. With some soup. 

Silversun Pickups - The Pit

Is a chipmunk singing this song? I think so.

Thirty Seconds to Mars - Up in the Air

I can’t tell if it’s the synthesized music, the “fucked up on life” lyrics, or the “whoaaa ooo ooo” background girls singing, but this song is supremely awful.

Twenty One Pilots - Holding On To You

Last one! It seems to feature Chopsticks in the beginning, but it seems to work for the song. I think this is one of the only songs I haven’t heard before. And, hey, clever lyrics: “the mountain range of my left side brain,” “when we gonna stop with it/ lyrics that mean nothing/we were gifted with thought.” MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY. 

Well, unless it’s Katy Perry, because ROAR, I love her. 

Niiiice. These guys are good. I might say this is my favorite song on the whole CD. Bravo, Cool Band Guy. 

Thanks so so so so much to Shalini for this amazing Guest Review. 

Hey everyone! Shalini has a BOOK coming out in a couple of days! An actual book! Go over to her blog, READING AND CHICKENS,  for more information. 

Throwback Thursday: 2002

10. LL Cool J - Luv U Better
9. Eminem - Lose Yourself
8. No Doubt featuring Lady Saw - Underneath It All

If No Doubt had had this as their first single off of Rock Steady, I would have snatched that album up on Day 1. This song is a drastic change from the SoCal ska of No Doubt from Tragic Kingdom, but it's a song (unlike "Hey Baby") that gives the audience some credit.

And, I know that, as one YouTube commenter pointed out, it probably required a lot of makeup to make her appear to not be wearing any makeup at the end, but I think it's an effect that really works and I really like it a lot.

7. Creed - One Last Breath
6. Avril Lavigne - Complicated
5. Missy Elliot - Work It
4. Cam'ron featuring Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey & Toya - Hey Ma
3. Eve featuring Alicia Keys - Gangsta Lovin'
2. Kelly Clarkson - A Moment Like This
1. Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland - Dilemma

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #74 Brand New - Deja Entendu

Brand New Deja Entendu, 2003

I remember buying this on the day it came out. I got it at Planet Music in Virginia Beach which, at the time, was the closest music store to my house, although, now that I think about it, there was a Best Buy a little bit closer, so I don't know why I didn't go there. The point is moot now because 1) they built a Best Buy even closer than the other one and 2) I don't live in Virginia Beach anymore.

My friend and roommate Sophomore year (the year we had just finished when this album came out), Andy was into Brand New pretty early on, but "Last Chance to Lose Your Keys" was on a sampler from MACRock Freshman year. It may not have been the SAME sampler as the one I talked about with All-American Rejects, but it was certainly in the same stack of samplers we got that weekend.

Whatever. So, I was a big fan of Your Favorite Weapon. It was a favorite of the girl I had been dating Sophomore year and it had clever, caustic lyrics that really spoke to me. Still do, in fact. But overall, it was these kids from Long Island putting on angry/murderous masks.

Deja Entendu was a different beast altogether. It was as if they had taken off the masks and their actual faces were much darker than the scary masks they'd just removed. There is a richness to the shadows on this album. This was Brand New no longer slinging mud from the shallows. This was them diving in, rolling around, and pulling innocent bystanders in with them.

It's almost a concept album. It starts off idealistically, though intensely with the mantra of "Tautou" and then goes right into the innocence-lost anthem that is "Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades", perhaps one of the strongest songs on the album.

With his boyhood extracted (not necessarily willingly given), our main character ascends to the heights of hedonism and hubris ("Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't") and then plummets back to earth. He loses the girl ("The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot"), loved ones ("Guernica"), his inhibitions/ethics ("Me vs Maradona vs Elvis"), until finally he's lost everything and the album ends with him quietly contemplating the road that's led him here ("Play Crack the Sky").

I'd never really thought about why I enjoy the album so much until now, but I think it's because it serves as a lesson to keep my demons in check. "I've seen what happens to the wicked and proud, when they decide to try to take on the throne for the crown"is a lyric from "Jaws Theme Swimming" that references a dialogue between the angels that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play in Dogma where Damon is warning Affleck to control his hubris and not wage a war on God.

So I guess this album is basically saying, "You better check yourself, before you wreck yourself"

Brand New - Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
Brand New - Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis

You can buy Deja Entendu at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Lana Del Rey - "Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix)"

Well, there aren't any new videos on the Top 10 this week, so that leaves, Katy, Lady, Miley, and Lana to choose from.

Lana it is. It's pretty cool that this remix has made the Top 10 as opposed to the original mix. And after having finally watched the video, I can totally see why. It has that kind of bittersweet "Cruel Summer" vibe that feels kind of like a sunburn that you get right before a cold snap. You remember and still feel the summer, but at the same time it feels like a million years ago.

And the video feels like found footage, which I love. All in all, probably my favorite thing I've seen associated with Lana Del Rey yet.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel

This is so exciting. I'm really stoked when I get an email from a band I've never heard of and the song they send me is SO FREAKING EPIC. Guitar solos, harmonies, everything. It's such a wonderful feeling to hear something as engaging as this.

This is their new single and I think you'll agree that this thing is just about as expansive as can be. By the time you get to the end, you feel like you've really gone somewhere with this band and that's an incredibly rare thing. Take a listen below.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Countdown: A Journey Through My Inbox

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour
I get a lot of music-related emails in a given week, but this week seemed like there was an unprecedented number of them devoted to artists on the countdown. Maybe the robots are getting close to calibrating the perfect combination of music to email me about, or maybe it's just a coincidence. Either way, I spend a good deal of time reading from things that showed up in my inbox in the last week or two. The plus side: Very little mention is made of Wikipedia in this episode (though I recently donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, so my conscience is pretty clean on that front).

Countdown #169

Cage the Elephant
Capital Cities
Fitz and the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
Kings of Leon
The Neighbourhood
Tame Impala

Friday, October 11, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #75 Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape

Foo Fighters The Colour and the Shape, 1997

Some of the albums on this list, they're maybe a little obscure. If not obscure, then maybe not essential. But this is one that doesn't meet either of those qualities. This is an important album, you guys.

This is the album that proved that Dave Grohl would have a future in music beyond being the drummer for Nirvana, and if you look at all of the fantastic albums he has played on, not to mention the amazing Foo Fighters discography, you have to agree that that's a big deal. Sure, it's the sophomore album, but the first one could have just been a fluke. This is the album that blasted us into the future.

It has probably the biggest singles that the Foos have released. Walk up to someone and ask them to name you a Foo Fighters song. 9 times out of 10, they'll name a song from this album. In fact, they'll probably name this:

And a fantastic song it is, too. But the best thing about this album is that it holds up. And it wouldn't do that if it was only the memorable singles that were good songs. This thing is chock full of 'em. So, instead of featuring "Monkey Wrench" and talking about listening to it at my 8th grade picnic and just loving life (oops. Did I accidentally just tell that whole memory?), I'm going to feature two songs that not a lot of people talk about. It's just a coincidence that they're both the tracks right before the two BIG HUGE singles.

Fun Fact 1: "Up in Arms" is my favorite song from this album, and quite possibly my all-time favorite Foo Fighters song.

Fun Fact 2: I almost didn't feature "February Stars". Seriously. How dumb would I have felt if I hadn't?

Foo Fighters - Up in Arms
Foo Fighters - February Stars

You can buy The Colour and the Shape at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2003

This is the year that my wife and I started dating!

10. Black Eyed Peas - Where is the Love?
9. Ludacris featuring Shawnna - Stand Up
8. Fabolous featuring Tamia - Into You (techinically this is featuring Tamia or Ashanti, because the former did vocals on the single and the latter did vocals on the album version. I decided to refer to the single)
7. 50 Cent - P.I.M.P.
6. YoungBloodZ featuring Lil Jon - Damn!
5. Pharrell featuring Jay-Z - Frontin'

This is the kind of song that I would hear on the radio or on the TV at one of the food establishments on campus and it almost seemed like, "That can't be a REAL song" because it was so different from everything else that was going on with music at the time. Retro and at the same time forward thinking. Love it.

4. Chingy - Right Thurr
3. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz featuring Ying Yang Twins - Get Low
2. Nelly, P. Diddy, and Murphy Lee - Shake Ya Tailfeather
1. Beyonce featuring Sean Paul - Baby Boy

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #76 Anti-Flag - The Terror State

Anti-Flag The Terror State, 2003

The first thing about this album is that I actually don't believe I ever saw that cover. The cover of mine was a text block about how the cover was censored by many retailers (apparently the retailers of Harrisonburg, Virginia were among them) and it gives a web address for viewing the actual cover (shown above) which depicts a young girl (lead singer Justin Sane's niece) dressed in fatigues.

So we're already starting off with some tension. And it isn't eased by the lyrics. And that's exactly what you want from this kind of album.

I had heard Anti-Flag's previous album A New Kind of Army and, while I liked the inflammatory, rallying lyrics, the production left something to be desired.

With The Terror State, all the pieces come together into a glorious, white-hot, sarcastic battle cry. And I'm hooked.

The songs are more diverse, too, and that really helps. You wouldn't expect a band like Anti-Flag to start their album with the sound of an acoustic guitar, for instance. But they do. In this, the first track. Guess who it's about ;-)

And it only gets louder and angrier. I know it might be sacrilege, but this is as close to a reincarnation of The Clash as we're going to get. This one album. I don't even have any Clash albums further up the list, so start heaving those stones.

This album also sports one of the many unrecorded-by-Woody-Guthrie songs that bands like Anti-Flag and Dropkick Murphys were recording around this time, Woody's estate, I believe (or at least imagine), seeking out artists that Woody would have supported and enjoyed. But I'm not going to feature that song on this post. You'll just have to get the album.

What I will feature are two of my favorite songs from this album and, in the case of of "You Can Kill the Protester, But You Can't Kill the Protest," one of my favorite songs ever!

Anti-Flag - You Can Kill the Protester, But You Can't Kill the Protest
Anti-Flag - One People, One Struggle

You can buy The Terror State on Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Ylvis - "The Fox"

So....I....but.....just watch this and then we'll talk.

On one hand, holy crap. This is the #8 song on the Big Chart? This is another song that wouldn't be here if streaming hits didn't count.


It's kind of a crazy catchy song, isn't it? It sticks in your head for days, making you seem like some sort of hallucinating preschool teacher, talking about what various animals say.

I think this is a song that we're going to look back on and think, "Man, 2013 was kind of nuts, wasn't it?"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Boxed Wine

Cheap, Fun cover art

So, I was going through the songs that came out this year, trying to decide what my top 50 are so that I'm ready for the Festive Fifty longlist vote when I send out that email in a couple of weeks.

Generally, you can tell the stuff that has been funded by a major label, or produced by someone with lots of expensive equipment vs  someone who is not (aka music that I have purchased vs music that I have been sent) but when "First Time" by Boxed Wine came on, my ears caught fire. It was exactly the kind of joyfully executed power-pop that I loved about The Format and Tinted Windows.

The album has 9 more songs that are just as fantastic. I'm frankly surprised that I haven't been seeing blogs posting about these guys all over the place.

You can get their album Cheap, Fun (which is a fantastic title) on a "Pay What You Want" basis, here.

I don't know if I'm going to publish my 50-song longlist or not, but if I do, look for a number of Boxed Wine songs near the top.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Countdown: There's a Reason For the Parallel Structure of My Other Regularly Scheduled Blog Posts (or, I Can't Think of a Title!!!!)

Imagine Dragons
This one was a fun one. It was the first time I've ever kind of teased something from next week. It's the first time I've talked about a completely different song for a song's entire intro. And it's the first time I've gotten into the deepest most interesting discussion with myself (I'm insane.) in the very last intro of the show. So I hope you'll inaugurate October 2013 with me and enjoy this episode!

Countdown #168

Cage the Elephant
Capital Cities
Fitz and the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
Tame Impala

Friday, October 4, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #77 Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit!

Alkaline Trio Goddamnit!, 1998

This is the album I would hand you if you asked me what kind of music I listened to in college. It skews a little raw and loud and unproduced, but it's nevertheless pretty accurate.

I  love the way that you can almost picture them recording it. I love the fact that, even though it was recorded in 1998, it still has the structure of a vinyl record (5 electric, loud songs and then 1 acoustic song per side (Dan's is on the first side "Enjoy Your Day", Matt's is on the second side "As You Were")) and the lyrics are raw and unbridled. Like the sonic equivalent of tonguing the socket where a tooth used to be, and there's still a little bit of a nerve there.

It should show you how much I like about 75% of this album to tell you that I generally want to skip the first 2 songs and then one song in the middle. The rest of the album is SO fantastic that it makes those weaker songs pale in comparison (though I would like to know the story behind "Cop" because I've never been so angry at a policeman as Matt seems to have been when he wrote it)

The violent imagery IS a little dramatic and maybe if you're coming to this one new, you'll find it to be a little "college open mic night" in terms of the lyrics, but even when they're at their darkest and goriest, I love the way this band turns a phrase on this album.

Here's a video of one of my favorite songs on the album taken from the first DVD I ever bought at a music event (Warped Tour....2002? 2003?) and perhaps the only one since.

Man, I love that song. Here are two more of my favorites from that album

Alkaline Trio - Clavicle
Alkaline Trio - My Little Needle

You can buy Goddamnit! at Amazon MP3 and iTunes

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2004

10. Akon featuring Styles P - Locked Up
9. Avril Lavigne - My Happy Ending
8. Alicia Keys featuring Tony! Toni! Tone! - Diary

I hadn't really heard of any of the songs on this top ten. Ok, that's not fair. I'd heard the Avril song, the Ashlee song, the Maroon 5 song, and P.O.S nipped the hook from "Lean Back" for "Half-Cocked Concepts". I nearly featured the Maroon 5 song, because it actually gives me memories of the time period, but this is such an amazing song, I couldn't help but feature it. She has an amazing voice and this is such a chill song. Very fun.

7. Ashlee Simpson - Pieces of Me
6. Maroon 5 - She Will Be Loved

Ok, I can't help it. This is a really good song too. This whole album, in fact, was quite enjoyable. This song got a little overplayed, but it's fun to watch a video and see the band NOT be huge rock stars and see Adam Levine relatively un-inked

5. Usher & Alicia Keys - My Boo
4. Nelly featuring Jaheim - My Place
3. Lil' Flip featuring Lea - Sunshine
2. Terror Squad - Lean Back
1. Ciara featuring Petey Pablo - Goodies

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #78 The Hippos - Heads Are Gonna Roll

The Hippos Heads Are Gonna Roll, 1999

This was the first thing that my friend (and Best Man) Riley introduced me to when we were freshmen at college. We drove around in his car with the windows down blasting this while he told me stories from high school about driving around in his car with the windows down blasting this.

It's also the first album I gave to my sister for...I wanna say Christmas? And she loved it, if I recall, but got made fun of by some dummy who thought that the band's name was dumb. What a dummy.

This album is, simultaneously, so retro-sounding, but also really contemporary. On the contemporary hand, it's ska-y and dancey, synth-y, but on the retro side, it's full of simple summery lyrics about unrequited love, beaches, and....well, there's a lot of unrequited love on there.

It's weird to feature this album on the second day of October, but it's supposed to be hot this week so maybe we can all fool ourselves.

Check out this very vintage 90's video (aka the only video on their YouTube channel)

We've reached the point in the list of albums where any song from this album is just fantastic, so I could pretty much have just picked them at random when deciding what to feature. But these happen to be two of my favorites.

Fun Fact: "Far Behind" actually led off the band's first album Forget the World but I feel like the added production values enhanced the whole experience and I prefer this version.

The Hippos - Pollution
The Hippos - Far Behind

You can buy Heads Are Gonna Roll at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monthly Poll: Coldplay - Parachutes

So I want to focus a little more on these Alternative Album Grammy Winners that I'm playing for bonus songs on the Countdown. So I think, on the first Monday of every month, I'm going to do a little retrospective poll related to the album from the proceeding month.

August's album was Coldplay's Parachutes.

Please answer the following questions in the comments section. (If you don't have an answer, feel free to skip the question)

1. What is your favorite track on Parachutes

  • Don't Panic
  • Shiver
  • Spies
  • Sparks
  • Yellow
  • Trouble
  • Parachutes
  • High Speed
  • We Never Change
  • Everything's Not Lost
  • Life is For Living (hidden track)

  • 2. What is your favorite Coldplay album?

    3. Which do you feel should have won the Grammy, if not Parachutes:
    • Tori Amos Strange Little Girls
    • Bjork Vespertine
    • Fatboy Slim Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars
    • Radiohead Amnesiac

    Top Ten Tuesday: Drake featuring Majid Jordan "Hold On, We're Going Home"

    This is the kind of video that you used to see a lot in the late 90's. I'm thinking, actually, of two Puff Daddy-related videos: "Hypnotize" and "Victory" both of which had epic storylines that went way beyond the content of the actual song.

    I didn't really have any thoughts about this song before I saw the video and, having seen the video, I'm still kind of unfazed by it, but it was neat to hear the meditative calm of the song juxtaposed with the violence of the video.