Friday, February 28, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #35 Blink-182 "Dude Ranch"

Blink 182 Dude Ranch, 1997

I think I'm going to have to do a supplemental group of posts at the end of all of this for albums that didn't make the cut, but should have and albums that I simply forgot about. This album beat out the album that followed it by a narrow margin. Enema of the State was Travis Barker's first album with the band and his skill is one of the most noticeable differences between this album and that album.

But despite the narrow margin, it was always going to be this album for me. It has the raw, "we're just some guys that decided to start a SoCal punk band" vibe that was on their debut, Cheshire Cat, but you're also seeing more of the amazingly catchy songwriting that would be at its peak on Enema and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Plus it has my all-time favorite Blink song on it ("Apple Shampoo")

I got into this album in high school, which is the perfect time to get into an album like this, which mixes immature dick jokes and Star Wars references with increasingly sophisticated observations about love and growing up.

The songs are diverse and surprising and even the silly interludes become endearing.

This is an album that I don't often come back to these days, but when I do, I always enjoy it. That COULD be because I have the context of listening to it with my friend Orlando in my car. Nostalgia is certainly involved, but I think it's also a great album to listen to because you're seeing a band with tremendous amounts of potential and virtually no pressure to make a fantastic album (their breakthrough hit, "Dammit", is on this album), make a fantastic album.

If you're curious to know what an album with Travis playing these songs would have sounded like, check out the live album, The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show (iTunes) (apparently it's not available on Amazon!), where they play a number of songs from this. Pay particular attention to "Untitled"!

Plus the video has Alyssa Milano. Try to notice her when Tom's mega-bleached hair isn't blinding you!

Blink-182 - Pathetic
Blink-182 - Apple Shampoo
Blink-182 - New Hope

You can buy Dude Ranch at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1983

This is the year of my birth!! Less than 5 months from this chart, I made my way into the world!

And so, in honor of this being my birth year (and my wife's!), here are videos for EACH song on the top 10 this week in 1983!

10. Musical Youth - Pass the Dutchie

9. Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton - We've Got Tonight

8. Men at Work - Down Under

7. Eddie Rabbit with Crystal Gayle - You and I

6. Duran Duran - Hungry Like the Wolf

5. Culture Club - Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

4. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

3. Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut

2. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - Shame on the Moon

1. Patti Austin with James Ingram - Baby Come To Me

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #36 Alanis Morissette "Jagged Little Pill"

Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill, 1995

I think this is an album that gets a lot of hate for being stereotypically, embarrassingly 90's, but that's only from people who haven't listened to it in a long time. People that have a caricature of Alanis in their minds as this hateful, caustic, burdensome woman WHO DOESN'T EVEN USE THE WORD "IRONIC" CORRECTLY.

What they're forgetting when they're going for the quick callback joke, is that Jagged Little Pill is a powerhouse. It has such a wide range of tones and emotions that it can almost be overwhelming. I think it's true that you have to be in a very specific emotional headspace to listen to it and get all of the brilliance it's putting out there. Some sort of combination of vulnerability, sarcasm, self-deprecation, and hope.

I got into this album in almost the same way I got into Dark Side of the Moon: I had a tape that someone had recorded the album onto and I listened to it almost in secret. There were curse words on it and concepts that I didn't even understand until I was much much older ("Would she go down on you in a theater?") and all of that made it the most exciting experience.

The album has only grown more meaningful as I've gotten older, particularly the non-singles like the ones I featured below the video. If you don't understand what she's singing about in either of those songs, well, then I guess you had an atypically idyllic childhood/adolescence. Congratulations!

Now let's talk about this video. Isn't it weird that it exists on a continuum from Sinead to Miley? Also, why do people hate on the harmonica so much? I think it's PERFECT in this song and video. I just love the simplicity of this one and, though I ALMOST went with the video for "Ironic" (multiple Alanises take a road trip), I'm really glad I chose this one to put up here.

Alanis Morissette - Perfect
Alanis Morissette - Forgiven

You can buy Jagged Little Pill at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz "Talk Dirty"

Here's a song I feel conflicted about. I like the way the song sounds, with the horns and everything, but the lyrics give me pause. I guess they shouldn't. It's certainly not the first song about booty. 2 Chainz's verse is very explicitly sexual, but I suppose that's not really a problem either. And I like the shots of the guys dancing because they're very talented.

So I guess it kind of breaks even. I like it way more than that Pitbull/Christina Aguilera song with the a-ha sample.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Countdown: Hey things went according to plan!!!

Foster the People
Well, I accomplished my goal of getting this one done a day early so that I can go to my concert tomorrow night. Very stoked!

I hope you enjoy this one!

Countdown #186

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Dar Williams
Foster the People
Gnarls Barkley
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
Pearl Jam
Vampire Weekend
Young the Giant

Friday, February 21, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #37 Me First and the Gimme Gimmes "Blow in the Wind"

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Blow in the Wind, 2001

I first heard about Me First and the Gimme Gimmes from my friend Erin. But she had only heard of them as something of a rumor. THEN we were on dinner break from some play we were doing so a bunch of us went to the mall. And that's where I found my first Me First album: Are a Drag which was all showtunes made famous by women. The thing was, I didn't know most of the songs, so I was worried that they did covers AND originals. But, slowly but surely, I tracked down the musicals that each song was from using CDNow (which I believe got absorbed by Amazon) (Wikipedia would have been very helpful back then) and confirmed that they were a 100% cover band.

So then I got their first album Have a Ball (70's covers) and eagerly awaited the release of this, their 3rd album. It's all 60's covers and it very nearly didn't make the list. In fact, if I could (and I could, but it would be a hassle), I would have had two Me First albums here: this one and their "black" album Take a Break because I love them roughly equally and I guess it was just the inclusion of "Oh Girl" and "Mona Lisa" (which never really take off for me) on Take a Break, that caused me to choose this one over that one.

This was the first Me First album I actually ANTICIPATED and let me tell you something: there's few less exciting anticipations than the anticipation of a Me First album. You know it's going to be great and weird and amazing. In fact, I'm anticipating a new one right now!

Their Beatles cover threw me off a little since it wasn't as direct a cover as some of the other songs, but now I love this version almost as much as the original!

Some Me First songs contain references to punk rock songs. "My Favorite Things" starts off like Bad Religion's "Generator", "You've Got a Friend" starts off like "Blitzkrieg Bop", and "On the Road Again" starts off like the Misfits' "Astro Zombies".

This album has references, too. "Elenore" maintains the basic instrumentation of "London Calling" throughout the whole song. But my favorite ref on the album is the one that kicks off the album. I heard this first and THEN the song it's referencing, but "Blowin' In the Wind" references the hidden track on NOFX's Punk in Drublic which contains an outtake of the band trying to get the harmony right on the line "How did the cat get so fat?" from the song "Perfect Government". Which is SO obscure until you know the NOFX album and then it's fantastic.

You should probably just buy all the Me First albums.

I couldn't find any music videos, which doesn't surprise me, so here's three songs. One from the beginning, one from the middle, and one from the end. (Fun fact: The last song is a cover of a song I featured a couple of posts ago with Carole King!)

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Blowin' in the Wind
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Who Put the Bomp
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

You can buy Blow in the Wind at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1984

10. Shannon - Let the Music Play
9. Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want to Have Fun

I'm just going to go with my gut on this one. I recently played the Michael Jackson song. The other ones I was considering were Van Halen, Nena, and Culture Club. But I think this one leaves them all in the dust. Plus it ends with a cool Marx Brothers ref.

8. Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart
7. Michael Jackson - Thriller
6. Genesis - That's All
5. The Romantics - Talking in Your Sleep
4. Nena - 99 Luftballoons
3. Kool & the Gang - Joanna
2. Van Halen - Jump
1. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #38 Lagwagon "Let's Talk About Feelings"

Lagwagon Let's Talk About Feelings, 1998

Let's start things off with the video, since it's the first track on the album and one of the first times they played it.

My friend Riley told me I would love this album. And I do now, but it took me a while to really understand that I should love it. This happens often.

So, on the surface, this is a pretty straightforward late-90's Fat Wreck pop-punk album. But then "Owen Meaney" ends and you play it again. And again. And again. And you come to realize that this album is all about connections, or rather a lack thereof. Every song examines some sort of disconnect or alienation. The fast pace is just a cover.

That's not to say I don't love the instrumentation. I do. It's so fun to air drum with. And the changes are surprising and refreshing at first, but then they become wonderful landmarks. Like in the middle of "After You My Friend" (from that video up there) where the music slows down and turns into elevator music for a couple of bars just to mess with you.

Even though I didn't feature it here, "Owen Meaney" is the crown jewel of this album. It starts off with an extended instrumental and then just when you think that it's just some weird instrumental, the lyrics come in, on fire. If you've read A Prayer For Owen Meaney, it hits even harder (It's a great book and you should definitely check it out) but it hits pretty hard as it is.

This is an album that I will love as much at 50 as I did at 20. But for vastly different reasons.

Lagwagon - Leave the Light On
Lagwagon - Messengers

You can buy Let's Talk About Feelings at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes
(The iTunes version is the re-release with 14 extra tracks of b-sides and stuff for the same price as the regular album on Amazon. Just sayin'.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Beyonce featuring Jay Z "Drunk in Love"

My two options for the week are both VERY sexual, which is nothing new to the Top Ten. So I decided to go with the video that I feel SLIGHTLY less awkward about posting. If it wasn't for 2 Chainz's verse, I might have gone the other way (and unless it falls off the Top Ten, or something else enters, you'll get that treat next week!) but I think there's something sweet and cool about Beyonce and Jay Z recording this song. It's like the opposite of a Fleetwood Mac song.

The video is pretty straightforward and actually has kind of a classic feel to it. You could imagine Janet Jackson making a similar video in like 1993.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Countdown: Not Letting a Measly Snowstorm Keep ME From Procrastinating!

Pearl Jam
Well, I had a bunch of time to do this, with the snow storm and everything, but, of course, decided to wait until the last possible moment to actually record most of it. I know some things go better if you're under pressure, but I mean, come on! :)

I can't do that again next week because I'm going to a concert on Saturday night! If you're interested in knowing more, you literally have to wait through the whole episode to find out details. So just forget I mentioned anything and then when I bring it up, it'll be like "Oh yeah! I *was* interested in that!"

Countdown #185

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Dar Williams
Foster the People
Gnarls Barkley
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
Pearl Jam
Vampire Weekend
Young the Giant

Friday, February 14, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #39 Counting Crows "August and Everything After"

Counting Crows August and Everything After, 1993

If I'm going to do this post right, then I need to start of with about 15 seconds of silence.


And we're into it. I got this album in a used record store in Brookline that was in this weird like mini, indoor, outlet mall. I'm not really sure how to describe it. You'd go in through some doors like you were going into any other store, but instead there were like 7 tiny stores. Maybe someone from Brookline knows what I'm talking about. The New England Comics was right next to it.

Anyways, I was familiar with the singles (Mr. Jones, Rain Kings) from the radio, kind of. I guess I knew Mr. Jones a little more and wanted to have a copy of the song for myself.

I listened to it a lot that trip to Boston and never really stopped. It's my rainy day album. It's one of those albums that rewards repeated listens because you learn all of Adam Duritz's pauses and phrasing and all of that. Of course all of that repeated listening will not do you much good at a CC concert, where he changes all of those pauses and phrasing and even the words to most of the songs. But I think he does it because he's feeling the emotion of the song and not limiting himself to something that he wrote more than 20 years ago. Which is a good lesson for all of us, I'd imagine.

There are so many great things about the songs on this one. In "Anna Begins", I love the stuttering drums and the bass and the way the chorus comes in like a ray of sunshine and the line "every time she's sneezes I believe it's love". In "Murder of One" I like the way it builds to that drum fill, and how he says the name of the band in the song. And I love everything about "Raining in Baltimore"

We're reaching the point in this countdown where I'm feeling like the order isn't right. Surely this is more than my 39TH favorite album. I don't know. It's such a good one. Wait until it looks like rain and then go get it and put it on repeat.

Here's the video for "Mr. Jones" because we shouldn't be ashamed of the 90's

Counting Crows - Anna Begins
Counting Crows - Raining in Baltimore

You can buy August and Everything After at Amazon, Amazon MP3, iTunes

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1985

10. David Lee Roth - California Girls
9. Don Henley - The Boys of Summer
8. Glenn Frey - The Heat is On
7. REO Speedwagon - Can't Fight This Feeling
6. The Pointer Sisters - Neutron Dance
5. Daryl Hall and John Oates - Method of Modern Love
4. Billy Ocean - Lover Boy
3. Philip Bailey with Phil Collins - Easy Lover

Couple of things on this Top 10 from this week in 1985: The singers from REO Speedwagon and Foreigner are basically the same guy. There are two songs from the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack on this Top 10 (#'s 8 and 6). Finally, I picked this video because I'm not entirely familiar with the song, Phil Collins ruled the Top Tens of the 80's, and I liked the concept of the video as outlined by PC himself (making a video of making a video about making a video). Oh, also Hall and Oates are a couple of hams, aren't they?

2. Foreigner - I Want to Know What Love Is
1. Wham! - Careless Whisper

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #40 Kanye West "The College Dropout"

Kanye West The College Dropout, 2004

First of all, I certainly didn't plan to have this post come out two days after the 10th anniversary of the release of this album. It's a pure coincidence. But I'm really glad that this coincidence happened, because I like to see that people still value this album as much as I do.

In fact, I have not liked Kanye more in recent years than I did after reading this post from Pigeons and Planes

So. My history with Kanye West. I saw the video for "Jesus Walks" at some point and paused for a moment on it because the beat was SO different from the other popular songs in hip-hop at the time. Then I saw him perform in the movie Dave Chappelle's Block Party and I really enjoyed that. And finally, the guy that I worked with at Perdue (who I believe I mentioned in the Carbon Leaf post) played this and also Late Registration (the follow-up to this) a lot and so finally (Amazon tells me) I bought it for my birthday in 2006. I think I probably bought both albums, but I don't think I'll check because this isn't about both albums. It's about this album.

This album finds KWest as a new rapper, but one with a number of years of experience as a producer. So he's made friends (Mod Def, Jay-Z, Ludacris, etc.) and has lots of fun production tricks.

The thing that finally sold me on this album is the beginning. An old man asks Kanye to sing a song that the kids can enjoy and so he starts "We Don't Care" by saying yeah he knows JUST the song. And then a chorus of kids comes in singing (with him), "Drug dealing just to get by/Stack your money till it gets sky high" and I have always (and will always) found that hilarious and irreverent. And it stays that way for the whole album. There are surprising turns of phrase and surprising points of view that keep this album fresh and enjoyable even into its second decade.

Kanye West - We Don't Care
Kanye West featuring Jay-Z & J-Ivy - Never Let Me Down

You can buy The College Dropout at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Pharrell WIlliams "Happy"

This is such a fun video with lots of great cameos. My favorite cameo is probably the couple of shots of the Odd Future guys (Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator, and one other guy) because they look like they are having fun but you also get the feeling like they were having fun walking the line between having a good time just dancing and having a good time goofing around and looking silly. And that's my favorite side of those guys. The silly side.

This is a simple, catchy song and I'm glad it's in the Top Ten!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Countdown: If I Didn't Know Any Better, I'd Say We Were in 2011 Again....

MAN, I hope "Pompeii" makes it to July 14th. I don't even care what the number generator says that week. I know exactly who gets the picture at the top that week!

This one starts off super new and then settles into some of the songs we know and love.....although I suppose that's not entirely true. There are new songs and not new songs. Bonus songs and not bonus songs. Just like always. Enjoy!

Countdown #184

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Foster the People
Gnarls Barkley
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
Pearl Jam
Vampire Weekend
Young the Giant

Friday, February 7, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #41 Black Sabbath "Paranoid"

Black Sabbath Paranoid, 1970

This was a big leap for me in terms of buying an album I was frankly scared to buy. I had heard all about how crazy Ozzy was and all of the animal eating and all of that, so it seemed like this was going to be an intense album.

But it wasn't scary at all! In fact, you could almost say this album is almost....wholesome! It has a song warning about the dangers of drugs, an anti-war song, and a song about getting revenge against your enemies by traveling through time in an iron suit.


Ok maybe "wholesome" is taking it a little far, but the truth is, this is an enjoyable classic rock album where every song is memorable and there are drum solos and kickin' guitars and everything.

And if you're worried about the "Black Sabbath"/satanic stuff, the only mention of the stuff on this album is when they compare generals to witches in "War Pigs". Which is not exactly an endorsement of the lifestyle, you know?

Black Sabbath - Electric Funeral

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1986

10. Miami Sound Machine - Conga
9. James Brown - Living in America
8. Stevie Nicks - Talk to Me
7. Paul McCartney - Spies Like Us
6. Mr. Mister - Kyrie
5. Whitney Houston - How Will I Know

Tough choice this week. Four songs from movie soundtracks. Two songs from Rocky IV. But I decided to go with this Whitney Houston song. I almost went with the Miami Sound Machine song. I enjoy it quite a lot, but this one edges it out by a nose.

4. Billy Ocean - When the Going Gets Tough (Jewel of the Nile Theme)
3. Wham! - I'm Your Man
2. Survivor - Burning Heart
1. Dionne - That's What Friends Are For

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #42 Led Zeppelin "Led Zeppelin"

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin, 1969

I checked the first 4 Led Zeppelin albums out of the library at some point in early High School. I wanted to get into hard rock and I had heard that they were the best avenue in. So naturally I started with the first album and felt....odd. It wasn't Slayer or Pantera or Megadeth or whatever I was expecting. It was different. Softer and harder at the same time. "Good Times, Bad Times" always reminds me of that thrilling confusion.

During one of my first times through this first album (it was the one I became VERY familiar with. I dubbed them all to cassette tape, but really only listened to this. I would get into the others much later (IV, II, then III)), my mom walked by. "Mom, this is Led Zeppelin," I said with pride.

"Yeah I know. I saw them in concert when I was a teenager."


And thus the mystery of my mom's rocker past began.

I know now that the first two Led Zep albums were largely based on their interpretation of blues standards, which is why they didn't sound like the hard rock/heavy metal I was expecting. But I defy you to point out a moment on any heavy metal album that matches the exhilaration of the seconds before the guitar solo on "Communication Breakdown"

So, in keeping with the Carole King album, here's a whole Led Zeppelin concert from around the time their first album came out

Led Zeppelin - Communication Breakdown

You can buy Led Zeppelin on Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Oh hey! It looks like it was released exactly 42 years before my daughter was born! Cool!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bastille "Pompeii"

Another Alternative Top Ten Countdown alum makes the Top Ten on the Big Chart! What a fun, old-school feel to this video. I like a good narrative and this one has that. You know, it's funny that the two Alternative songs featured on TTT this week and last week are about a post-apocalyptic world. Weird.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Countdown: OOOON Time!

Cage the Elephant
It's rather late, but I'm really proud that this is going to go up at it's regularly scheduled time slot tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it and I'll see you next week!

Countdown #183

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Gnarls Barkley
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
Pearl Jam
Twenty One Pilots
Vampire Weekend
Young the Giant