Sunday, March 30, 2014

New Countdown: White Stripes on the Bonus Segment, We Hardly Knew Ye

Arctic Monkeys
Now, THIS is a more typical show, in terms of deadline. I'm not early. I'm not late. I'm right where I usually am: typing up the blog post for a podcast at nearly 1 AM. It's a sultry, film-noirish life I lead, isn't it? (Just noticed the word "noirish" looks like "no irish", which is a stance I certainly don't hold any truck with. Irish Welcome!)

There's a very indulgent bonus feature thing in this episode, but you have to get through the first half to find it. Happy hunting!

Countdown #191

Arctic Monkeys
Barenaked Ladies
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums
Foster the People
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Neighbourhood
The Vandals
The White Stripes
Young the Giant

Post for Rickey

Rickey: I know I didn't post the "Countdown" label for episode 191. HOWEVER, it was for good reasons of not enough characters allotted in the Labels section. This is a special post for those of you sorting by "Countdown" to get all the episodes: A link to the blog post where the podcast is linked. DOUBLE LINK

Blog Post Containing Episode #191

Friday, March 28, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #27 Death Cab for Cutie "Plans"

Death Cab for Cutie Plans, 2005

Plans is the most beautiful, uplifting album about death that I've ever heard.

No, not all the songs are directly about death, but I think they all are at least glancing at it out of the corner of their eye.

Take "Summer Skin" for example. It's not about death. BUT it's about the end of summer and the approach of winter and the acceptance that this is the cycle that everyone goes through. So, it actually kind of IS about death. But in a non-depressing way! Which is quite lovely.

A lot of people are going to point to this album as the completion of the band selling out or changing their sound to appease a growing fanbase or whatever. They'll point to earlier albums as "way better" and maybe they're right, but this album is the album I keep coming back to. It makes me a little bit calmer about this runaway train we're on. You know. The one hurtling towards oblivion? This album reassures me that, as long as I cherish my time with the ones I love, and make sure they know who they are, I'll never be alone.

This is an album that I would never want to talk about with Ben or the band, because I have such a delicate interpretation of it built up in my head, that I couldn't stand it if they were to shatter it.

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Death Cab For Cutie - What Sarah Said

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1979

10. Olivia Newton-John - A Little More Love
9. Bobby Caldwell - What You Won't Do For Love
8. The Pointer Sisters - Fire
7. Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing

This is a live version of this song, and I prefer to have the music video but that'll be increasingly rare as we get away from 8/1/81. This was recorded about 6 weeks before this chart came out. It's called the "2nd version" because, if the comments are to be believed, Knopfler messed up the 2nd guitar solo and decided he wanted to do the song again.

6. Rod Stewart - Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?
5. Peaches & Herb - Shake Your Groove Thing
4. Donna Summer with Brooklyn Dreams - Heaven Knows
3. The Doobie Brothers - What a Fool Believes
2. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
1. Bee Gees - Tragedy

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Me First and the Gimme Gimmes album this May!

So, Fat Mike did an AMA on Reddit a couple of weeks ago where he said that the new theme for the new Me First and the Gimme Gimmes album was going to be Divas.

Well Joey Cape just posted a link to an Esquire article about the album, which is going to be called Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! which is slated for release in May.


Here's a link to the article, which also contains a cover of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" which is fantastic, of course.

One Year, 100 Albums: #28 Pearl Jam "Vs."

Pearl Jam Vs., 1993

First albums are often the rawest album in a band's catalog, but for whatever reason, this sophomore album is the rawest, hardest rocking album the band has ever done. I know it's supposed to be about conflict, and boy does it deliver on adherence to a theme.

If you only know Pearl Jam from the radio, you might be SLIGHTLY aware of the bitchin' guitar solos present in a lot of their songs, but I'm not sure you can know the levels of bitchin' they achieve without listening to the first song on the album, "Go"

The best thing that I ever did with regards to PJ was purchasing a bootleg live album (from their Official Live Bootleg Series, of course) and just immersing myself in that. I picked out an album with as many songs that I knew that I loved and then sat back and let the songs that I'd never heard before wash over me. After a while, it seemed that most the "new" songs that I loved from the live album were from Vs. and so when I bought this album, it was no big surprise that I loved it as much as I do.

It has rockers like "Go" and "Animal" and "Rats", quiet reflection in "Daughter" and "Elderly Woman..." and "Indifference", and a lot of incendiary political stuff on tracks like "WMA" and "Glorified G". It also has the closest thing to a Bruce Springsteen song that PJ has ever done in terms of feeling the need to get in your car and drive away from your troubles and start over ("Rearviewmirror").

If you only buy one Pearl Jam album in your life, this one is an EXCELLENT choice. It encapsulates every good quality that the band brings to the table.

Pearl Jam had a longstanding policy against making music videos and I couldn't find a satisfactory live video. So here's 3 songs! If you have a favorite Vs. era live video, post a link in the comments!

Pearl Jam - Animal
Pearl Jam - Rearviewmirror
Pearl Jam - Indifference

You can buy Vs. at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Soko "We Might Be Dead Tomorrow"

Another song to make it up to the Top Ten on the wings of a viral video! I love it when this kind of thing happens. It feels like we're permanently recording phenomena that go beyond music.

SO. Here's the official video for the song. I'm going to say it's NSFW (not safe for work) but there's nothing offensive in the video. It just has some candid, clothesless moments. It's a beautiful video, actually. It just might give a passing coworker the wrong impression.

Here's a SFW version with an orchestra backing her. This really is a gorgeous song.

And finally, here's the video that lots of people watched that got the song up into the Top Ten. Apparently Soko is one of the people in it, though I couldn't pick her out. See if you can!

And I also saw this and I think that it should also be on this post, because Jimmy Fallon surely contributed to the chart.......position....ok it's just because of the cute puppies and kitties.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Countdown: Deadline Achieved!

Young the Giant
Well, last week was about not meeting a deadline I set for myself. But I'm writing THIS on Saturday morning! So we're doing great over here. My mother-in-law is set to take care of the kids this afternoon and evening and my wife and I are going to try to achieve a good mixture of relaxation and responsibility-accomplishment!

The countdown is really in a very fun and enjoyable place, these days, you guys. Maybe it feels like this every spring when the winter is ending and everything is looking up. Having great music to listen to is the delicious, hard-rocking icing on the cake!

Countdown #190

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums
Foster the People
The Neighbourhood
The White Stripes
Young the Giant

Friday, March 21, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #29 Nirvana "In Utero"

Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old

Nirvana In Utero, 1993

I got In Utero on cassette tape in what was probably something like 1996, because I also got the first Presidents of the United States of America tape in that same shopping trip. I was under the impression that, because they cost less, it was better to get tapes. In my defense, I only had a Walkman for a while there and so it made sense on that level, too.

The PUSA album was slightly shocking because the first song, "Kitty", had the repeated use of the word "fuck" on it.

And then there was In Utero. It was the first and only album that I've ever decided that I wanted to like and knew that I would eventually like it, but that it was not for me at that time. I was not ready. I don't remember specifically what it was that spooked me so. It may have simply been the title of the 4th song ("Rape Me", of course.) but I feel like it was the lyrics contained therein. Actually, it might have been the noise and feedback on the first two songs ("Serve the Servants" and "Scentless Apprentice"), which are NOW two of my favorite songs on the album, that did it. I had only heard "Heart-Shaped Box" and MAYBE "Dumb" or "All Apologies" and was probably not educated in music enough to discern the merit of the more cacophonous sides of the band.

Gradually, I made my way through yelly punk and Staind albums and when I found my way back to this album some years later, it sounded like the angels singing from on high. Seriously, this is the kind of album I want to become the kind of music my kids think of as "classic rock".

So, why not Nevermind? The album certainly has its merits, but this album has drive. And anger. And sadness. And confusion. Which its predecessor also had, but, somehow on In Utero, all of the feelings are distilled to everclear (lower-case e) levels of potency.

You should hear this album. It's the delivery on the promise that Nirvana made with Nevermind. It's harder and louder and more intense and only gets better with age.

Nirvana - Scentless Apprentice
Nirvana - All Apologies

You can buy In Utero at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1980

When this chart came out, John Lennon was still alive.

10. Linda Ronstadt - How Do I Make You
9. Kool & the Gang - Too Hot
8. Shalamar - The Second Time Around
7. Rupert Holmes - Him
6. Donna Summer - On the Radio
5. The Spinners - Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl
4. Andy Gibb - Desire
3. Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Rumor has it that John Lennon heard this song and was inspired to get back into music. I can't find confirmation of that, but it would be pretty cool if it were true.

2. Dan Fogelberg - Longer
1. Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)

I'm not just going to NOT put the Pink Floyd video up, just because I also wanted to put the Queen video up. Of course, this is from the movie The Wall, but it's as good a music video as any, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #30 Flight of the Conchords "Flight of the Conchords"

 Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords, 2008

It's easy to put Flight of the Conchords into the same box with Tenacious D. Both two man novelty bands (in FOTC parlance) who make hilarious, slightly weird comedy and also make hilarious music.

But there's a reason that Flight of the Conchords is 50-some positions higher than The D. And I think the difference is that Flight of the Conchords like the music they're making and hope that you will too, but if not, they understand and hope you have a nice day. Tenacious D has an unspoken attitude that feels like if you don't like their music then you can just go jump in a lake.

This difference allows the Kiwi Komedians to appear silly or lame with no fear of losing fan base, because they haven't established any sort of requirements where they have to maintain some sort of "Cool" quota. And that makes them cool. Haha. It doesn't make sense, but it's a fact.

I came to love these guys gradually. I would hear snippets of songs being sung by friends at a party (the most memorable being the "Steve" part of the song depicted in the video below) and the Contrast Podcast would occasionally have a song by them. In fact, it was the appearance of "Business Time" on the "Time" episode of the CP that really made me want to find out what this was all about.

And so, I started watching the show and fell almost immediately in love with these two clueless New Zealanders (3 if you count Murray, and Murray always counts Murray, so I guess we should too) trying to figure out not just how to survive New York City, but also how to "make it" as musicians.

If you haven't seen the show, you should. But this album will work even if you haven't. It was especially tough to pick songs to feature because they're all so amazing and all so vastly different from one another. The wise move is to go down and get the album on MP3 from the links below.

Flight of the Conchords - Mutha'uckas
Flight of the Conchords - Business Time

You can buy Flight of the Conchords at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Idina Menzel "Let It Go"

I'm so stoked to see this song go into the Top 10! It's the 5th song from a Disney movie to make it into the Top Ten and the first song that is the version that appears in the movie.

The other four songs are:

  • Colors of the Wind (Vanessa Williams) (1995)
  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Elton John) (1994)
  • A Whole New World (Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle) (1992) (First and Only Disney Sountrack Single to go to #1)
  • Beauty and the Beast (Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson) (1991)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Countdown: Not Making Deadlines and Having it Be Ok.

Cage the Elephant
Beware the Ides of March....because the Rock Music might sneak up behind you and stab you in the back...but, like, in a good way? Haha. I think that completely made sense. Although if there's some sort of database for "Rock Music is a gateway to drugs and violence", I'm probably not helping the cause along any.

Ah! I forgot to play any Dropkick Murphys for St Patrick's Day!!! Oh well, maybe I'll think of it next week and do it after the fact.

Enjoy! :-D

Countdown #189

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums
Foster the People
The Neighbourhood
The White Stripes
Young the Giant

Friday, March 14, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #31 Dessa "A Badly Broken Code"

Dessa A Badly Broken Code, 2010

This is a weird feeling. Usually, I am excited to talk about an album, but I haven't thought very in depth about it, usually because it's an album I've known since high school or college. But this album is different. I have only known about Dessa for about 4 years, but readers of this blog will know that she is one of my all-time favorite artists. Actually, she's one of my all-time favorite PEOPLE. And so I have lots and lots of thoughts about this album.

First, why did it not even break the top 30 of this countdown if I love her so much? Well, the main reason is that my way of ranking albums was, as I've said from the beginning, flawed. But there are a number of things that keep it from being much higher. I hate to say it, but the male vocals in this album's version of "The Chaconne" are a big reason. It takes me out of the feeling of the album. And that's not even an issue anymore. If she was recording this song today, I'm sure she would have collaborated with Aby Wolf on some killer harmonies. I guess that MAIN reason it's so low is that it's still a relatively new album and it hasn't quite attained "classic" status in my mind yet. But it's getting there.

After such a huge paragraph about why it isn't as high as it could be, it's time to tell you about why I love this album. Those reasons are a little harder to nail down. It has something to do with her confidence, I think. There's also something about the particular genre that she falls into. She has a way with words that makes her an amazing rapper, but she also has a fantastic voice, which, it would stand to reason, makes her an amazing singer. The album is an exploration of most of the possibilities available to her. There are delicate story-songs ("The Chaconne"), crew anthems ("Crew"), a little trip-hop ("Seamstress") and two songs consisting almost entirely of just her voice ("Poor Atlas" and "Into the Spin") (I say "almost entirely" because "Into the Spin" has at least a....cello? I think it's a cello.)

I decided on this list before her sophomore album "Parts of Speech" came out, but I think that I would still have picked this one over the follow-up. It's not that PoS isn't amazing. It is. You should get both. But this decision falls into the category of the rawer material winning out.

If this blog has a theme, "Get everything Dessa releases", is certainly in contention.

If you're still on the fence, watch the video below. It's a great display of both her rap skills and singing chops. Plus, she's gorgeous which certainly doesn't hurt.

Dessa - Mineshaft II
Dessa - Seamstress

You can buyA Badly Broken Code on Amazon, Amazon MP3, iTunes, the Doomtree store, and the Doomtree Bandcamp page

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1981

I just realized that this Top Ten came out before MTV was on the air. Weird.

10. Kool & the Gang - Celebration
9. Neil Diamond - Hello Again
8. ABBA - The Winner Takes It All
7. Blondie - Rapture

Such a weird, cool video. Debbie Harry looks fantastic and the guys in the band look super cool, too. Did you know that this song was the first song with rap in it to go to #1 on the Hot 100? It wasn't there yet, but in two weeks it would be. And it would stay at #1 until the second week of April!

6. Don McLean - Crying
5. Eddie Rabbitt - I Love a Rainy Night
4. Styx - The Best of Times
3. John Lennon - Woman
2. REO Speedwagon - Keep On Loving You
1. Dolly Parton - 9 to 5

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #32 Semisonic "Feeling Strangely Fine"

Semisonic Feeling Strangely Fine, 1998

There's a particular kind of album that was prevalent in the latter part of the 90's (maybe it's been around for years, but it feels like they reached maximum prevalence right around 1999) where the first song on the album was the hit single and the rest of the album was bland, unlistenable garbage. Occasionally, you'd find the second song on the album was the second hit single and SOMETIMES the third song on the album was the third hit single. But, inevitably, the rest of the album was fluff. It's not hard to see why the iTunes concept of "buy the songs you know you like" was SO popular when it came around a couple of years later.

Feeling Strangely Fine SHOULD have been one of these albums. It starts with "Closing Time", the song that most people who remember 1998 can remember being all over the radio, and if they know the name Semisonic, is the first and foremost song they associate with the band.

But then something weird happens.

The rest of the album blows "Closing Time" out of the water. Not to say that it's not a good song. It's just that it's the starting point for one of the best power-pop albums of its time. The album is full of introspection, love-sickness, tentative hope, and meditative happiness.

It's one of those albums that you have to wave away the protests of the people who don't know how amazing it is. "I know. I know. That song is SO 90's, but listen to the REST of it!"

It's one of those albums that you can put on and catch the eye of the other person in the room who knows what an amazing journey everyone's about to take.

In recent years, I've forgotten what a gem this one is and I'm really happy that I'm doing this series so that I can unearth some of these forgotten treasures in my collection.

{Tangent: In a similar vein, Phantom Planet's The Guest is this album's kindred spirit, arriving on the wings of another hit single that starts the album. If you like one of these albums, I would be surprised if you didn't like the other.}

Semisonic - Secret Smile
Semisonic - This Will Be My Year

You can buy Feeling Strangely Fine at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Katy Perry featuring Juicy J "Dark Horse" (Second Post: Official Video)

I made a rule with myself that I wouldn't post the same song twice on this Top Ten Tuesday feature, but there's no new song on the Top Ten this week and when I posted this song the last time, the video hadn't come out. And it's a pretty fun video!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Countdown. Blame It On the Rock (music)

The White Stripes (ca Icky Thump)
Ugh, Spring Forward is going to suuuuck, but at least we'll have alternative music to listen to as we feel all disjointed and weird. Try not to be late for anything, but if you are, blame it on the Rock (music). The Rock (music) can take it. Plus, any non-Daylight-Savings excuse will probably be welcome to any employer/celebrant/rendezvous co-participant.

Countdown #188

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Foster the People
Linkin Park
The Neighbourhood
Vampire Weekend
The White Stripes
Young the Giant

Friday, March 7, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #33 Rx Bandits "The Resignation"

Rx Bandits The Resignation, 2003

This is another album that took me a while to get into. "Sell You Beautiful" had me from the start, but the rest of the album took some growing. I was expecting the same kind of ska/reggae/rock blend that had made their previous album Progress so amazing. And this album was so weird! It felt like Matt Embree wasn't singing into the microphone all the time and the time signatures of the songs were odd and disjointed. It certainly didn't grab me right away.

But I gave it some time. I let it play over and over and over and now I can see that this album leaves Progress in the dust. It's a complex album with lots of intricacies. It's the kind of album that, were it just a single track, I would enjoy just as much.

It's an album that gives you a sense of being in the room as these songs come together. The band is able to create the illusion that they just started jamming and these amazing songs were what came out of it. The laughing and yelling off mic are what do it for me in this respect. When she was talking about what initially drew her to Doomtree, Dessa said that she liked that you could picture them recording. You could hear the rustle of the pages of their notebooks. Rx Bandits bring that same sort of thing to this album. It reminds the listener that they are real people playing amazing music and not a jigsaw puzzle assembled of the best takes for each musician.

Rx Bandits - Sell You Beautiful
Rx Bandits - Never Slept So Soundly

You can buy The Resignation on Amazon MP3 and iTunes (I could not find a physical copy for less than $40)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1982

We're officially over the rainbow, people. All of these songs were on the top 10 more than a year before I was bornnnnnnn [eerie echo]

10. Little River Band - Take It Easy on Me
9. Dan Fogelberg - Leader of the Band
8. Diana Ross - Mirror, Mirror
7. Hall and Oates - I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
6. Air Supply - Sweet Dreams
5. Stevie Wonder - That Girl
4. The Cars - Shake It Up

I was actually going to play the Joan Jett song, but I played it in the Billboard All-Time Hot 100 countdown (Part 4 specifically), and this is also a fantastic song. It would be a shame to play one great song twice and miss out on playing another great song.

3. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - I Love Rock 'n Roll
2. Journey - Open Arms
1. J. Geils Band - Centerfold

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #34 Green Day "Nimrod"

Green Day Nimrod, 1997

I am sure there's more than one person who clicked on this thinking, "Not Dookie?? What can he possibly be thinking?" And to those people I will say, Dookie is a fantastic album. It changed the face of music in basically the same way Nevermind did 3 years before it.

But Nimrod takes everything that was good on Dookie combines it with everything that was good on Insomniac and then takes that combination and somehow makes it even better.

It's the most eclectic Green Day album by a mile and I think Green Day is better when they mix it up. One of the problems I've had with post-American Idiot Green Day has been that all the songs sound VERY similar. Sure, there are exceptions. And those exceptions are the singles. And that is never a good thing. In my book, your single shouldn't be the best song on the album. It can be ONE of the best, but it should never leave the rest of the album in the dust.

The songs on Nimrod are their own little worlds, but they somehow contribute to the whole in a very positive way. I'm not sure I could listen to just one song from this album even if I tried really really hard.

Green Day is a band of peaks and valleys, I've found. Dookie was a peak. American Idiot was a peak. But Nimrod is the band at their best. It's no wonder their next album, Warning, took such a long time for me to get into. It was a left turn from this fantastic album, and EVENTUALLY an album that I very much enjoy. But it almost feels like an album from a Green Day side project.

It blows my mind to think that "Platypus (I Hate You)" and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" are on the same album. And that they both WORK. I think we've reached a point where no one hates Green Day for "going acoustic" anymore and I am so glad because putting a reflective acoustic song on an album that also contains "Take Back" is a punk move. It's an almost undeniable fact.

Get this album. Listen to it. Then listen to it again. It's a masterpiece and that's not really a word I throw around lightly.

Green Day - Worry Rock
Green Day - Reject
Green Day - Scattered

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: John Legend "All of Me"

A very straightforward piano ballad from John Legend this week. Kind of a nice change of pace from the last couple weeks. Not that I didn't enjoy the songs from the last couple of weeks. It's just that it can't always be about partying and drinking, you know? This is very sweet.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Countdown!: Murder and Anagrams

Cage the Elephant
It starts SO strong and then by the end it all starts to unravel. Of course, it's still a fantastic episode definitely worth listening to and playing for your friends, it's just that you might preface this one with "Ok, I know he sounds crazy by the end, but...."


Countdown #187

Arctic Monkeys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz and the Tantrums
Foster the People
The Neighbourhood
Vampire Weekend
The White Stripes
Young the Giant