Friday, May 30, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #9 Saves the Day "Stay What You Are"

Saves the Day Stay What You Are, 2001

It kind of feels like this album has always been in my life, even though it actually made its way to my ear during my Freshman year of college. I believe I downloaded each song from LimeWire (which was the custom in that time and place). I actually had the track order wrong, swapping the positions of "Freakish" and "As Your Ghost Takes Flight" (or maybe "Freakish and "This is Not an Exit") which still bugs me to this day. I hate getting to know an album in the wrong order.

Saves the Day kind of remind me of what Alkaline Trio's California cousin would be like (even though StD is from New Jersey). They're bright and poppy, but the devastating and sometimes disturbing imagery is present in their songs as much as (if not more than) the darker, Chicago-based band.

There's imagery of self-mutilation, other-people-mutilation, the band getting revenge against others, and other people getting revenge against them. It's all wrapped in a candy coating, but the bitterness is there.

If I could pinpoint my feelings after listening to this album, I would say they're somewhere in the range or "we're all messed up in various ways, but it's possible for all of us to make it through and come out the other side stronger and happier. or we won't make it through at all and they'll toss our rotting corpses on the garbage heap." So it's certainly an album of contradictions

Saves the Day - Jukebox Breakdown
Saves the Day - This is Not an Exit

You can buy Stay What You Are at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday:1970

10. The Beatles - Let It Be
9. The Ides of March - Vehicle
8. Tyrone Davis - Turn Back the Hands of Time
7. Joe Cocker with Leon Russell & the Shelter People - The Letter

I don't know if the other people on this video are Leon Russel and the Shelter People, but I love watching Joe Cocker perform and I'm trying to keep from posting YouTube videos of records playing for as long as possible. Great chart this week, though, huh?

6. The Poppy Family featuring Susan Jacks - Which Way You Goin' Billy?
5. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Up Around the Bend/Run Through the Jungle
4. Simon & Garfunkel - Cecilia
3. The Moments - Love on a Two-Way Street
2. The Guess Who - American Woman/No Sugar Tonight
1. Ray Stevens - Everything is Beautiful

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dessa is coming to the East Coast this Fall!!

One Year, 100 Albums: #10 Barenaked Ladies "Maroon"

Barenaked Ladies Maroon, 2000

Barenaked Ladies are another band where there was really no way to satisfactorily pick just one album that is my "favorite". They all have pros and cons. In the end, I went with Maroon. I think that it typifies the kind of music that people don't realize BNL are capable of making.

I feel like the album is a primer in Barenaked Ladies' songwriting, starting off with some over-the-plate pop songs ("Pinch Me" "Too Little Too Late") and then getting into some more ornate, detailed fare ("Go Home", "Falling For the First Time") before kicking it into high gear with detailed stories ("Conventioneers"), pun-heavy dramas ("Off the Hook"), and gut-wrenching tragicomedies ("Tonight Is the Night I Fell Asleep At the Wheel").

This is the kind of album that you play for someone who thinks that the band is just a novelty act playing cheesy "rap" songs like "One Week" or "Another Postcard".

Actually, the funny thing about Barenaked Ladies is that MOST of their songs are at least semi-serious. They're certainly not saying to themselves "What wacky subject matter can we write about next?" when they go to record a new album.

Go get this album, fall in love with the band, and then get the rest of their albums. (NOTE: When Steven Page left the band, something happened to them that I'm not sure is entirely good. I often think that maybe he was the catalyst that made the band step up to the plate. I am still trying to wrap my head around All in Good Time (the first album after he left) and I haven't even heard Grinning Streak (the second).

Barenaked Ladies - The Humour of the Situation
Barenaked Ladies - Helicopters

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake "Love Never Felt So Good"

This song is really good. I know there's kind of maybe a lot of eye-rolling about the "new" Michael Jackson album, but I feel like, based on what I've heard, that it was put together by people that had a real love for MJ's music and just wanted to get previously unheard Michael Jackson music out to the people. Call me naive, but this doesn't feel like a money-making project. I mean, if it was just a money-making project, I don't think this song would be as enjoyable.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Countdown: Memorial Day 4!!!!

Another Memorial Day weekend podcast. It's amazing that I've done 4 of these now. And that the first one was a Flashback Countdown. Nuts.

We're driving to Rehoboth Beach tomorrow and I'm worried that I'm going to be a zombie, so I'll make this short (I'm always typing some variation of that tune on these, aren't I?) and sweet.

It's a good episode this week. Especially if you like cheeky young British lads. :) Hope you enjoy it!

Countdown #199

Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
The Black Keys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums

Friday, May 23, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #11 Thrice "The Artist in the Ambulance"

Thrice The Artist in the Ambulance, 2003

I read an article in Alternative Press magazine (I think) about Thrice's album The Illusion of Safety that talked about how it was just crammed full of riffs and was really good. I had heard a couple of songs on compilation albums that I liked, so I picked it up. And loved it. So when I heard they were releasing a new album, I eagerly anticipated it. The 2003 Warped Tour comp had "Under a Killing Moon" on it, so I listened attentively to try to get a handle on what this new album would sound like.

I bought The Artist in the Ambulance from a Best Buy in Virginia Beach on my way home from pulling cable at one of the High Schools. I was driving a coworker home and, when we got back in the car and I popped the album in, his complaint was that all the songs sounded the same. I can see his point, but that's only going to seem true if you aren't paying much attention. I don't begrudge him his lack of attention. I just think that anyone who's actually listening to this album will agree that it's an amazing one.

I lump this album in with Rise Against's Revolutions Per Minute in the category of "Punk Albums with Heart". The whole thing is about thinking and not letting people shut you out of learning and picking your own path. That soaring too close to the sun is sometimes the only thing you can do to truly be free.

It all culminates in the title track which is about how singing is all well and good, but it's not enough. It's a challenge the band is putting to us and also to themselves to do more than speak, to do more than sing. To try to make an actual difference in the world.

"Rhetoric can't raise the dead
I'm sick of always talking when there's no change
Rhetoric can't raise the dead
I'm sick of empty words, let's lead and not follow"

This is a song and an album that inspires me and I think that's something you don't often find.

Thrice - Cold Cash and Colder Hearts
Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance

You can buy The Artist in the Ambulance at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1971

10. Daddy Dewdrop - Chick-a-Boom (Don't Ya Jes' Love It)
9. Bread - If
8. Ringo Starr - It Don't Come Easy
7. Aretha Franklin - Bridge Over Troubled Water/Brand New Me
6. The Honey Cone - Want Ads
5. Lobo - Me and You and a Dog Named Boo
4. Ocean - Put Your Hand in the Hand
3. The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar

I kind of figured that this was going to be the song this week. I'm interested to hear some opinions about the lyrical content. Pretty edgy stuff. Also, it appears that this is the first thing I've ever posted on my blog from the Rolling Stones. Weird.

2. Jackson 5 - Never Can Say Goodbye
1. Three Dog Night - Joy to the World

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #12 Paul Simon "Graceland"

Paul Simon Graceland, 1986

For a long time, this album was kind of the Holy Grail of music. I knew that I liked "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from when my Dad played it for me as a kid. I had seen the video for "You Can Call Me Al" with Chevy Chase and thought it was hilarious. But I didn't know anyone who had it and I had never seen it in a store.

I don't know when I finally tracked it down, but it may have been as part of my ongoing project to listen to all the Grammy winners for Album of the Year from my birth to present (I have similar projects with Best Picture and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners).

I don't remember my reaction when I first listened to it, but over the years, it has become clear that it is one of the all-time greats. I believe there was some hubbub about him working with South Africans during Apartheid or something, but I don't think that's something people generally think of anymore. Am I wrong?

The album is all over the place in terms of genre, but I think that it traces a clear line between the roots of rhythmic music in Africa, through the titular home of Elvis, and eventually settles in New Orleans for songs like "That Was Your Mother". It's a fun way to think about the album.

But no matter how you think about the album, it's worth it to check out the whole thing. If you ask me, this was the peak of Paul Simon's solo career.

Paul Simon - Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Paul Simon - That Was Your Mother

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Paramore "Ain't It Fun"

I love this band so much. I've loved what I've heard of this album. This is probably going to be another album that I end up buying/asking for this year. This video looks so fun! I'm so glad that the song finally made it up to the Top Ten!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Countdown: Fences v. Bleachers

I am always finishing these up so late, that I never feel like anything I write in the blog posts for these podcasts is worthwhile. All I do is talk about how late it is or how tired I am.

While both of those are true, I'm going to try to figure out something else to talk about. Hmmmm. Nope. Not coming up with anything.

Chris Martin was in a sketch on SNL a couple of weeks go and he was funny! Good for him. I always love it when some members of the band get to be in sketches. Or even star in them!

Countdown #198

Arctic Monkeys
The Black Keys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums
Kings of Leon
Me First & the Gimme Gimmes

Friday, May 16, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #13 R.E.M. "Automatic For the People"

R.E.M. Automatic For the People, 1992

I recently talked on my podcast about how I came to know R.E.M. I was in 6th grade and would listen to the Lion King soundtrack over and over as I did my spelling homework. Eventually, my mom suggested that I might want to listen to something else. Say, for instance, this R.E.M. album Out of Time. I took it under advisement and eventually did start listening to other music. Specifically the first two Kriss Kross albums. Not *exactly* a win in Mom's column, but not a loss either.

It was probably two years later that we were in Crest Books, a musty old used bookstore that is now the headquarters of a limo rental place, and for some reason, I was browsing the books and Mom was browsing the CD's. She bought Automatic For the People for me and gave it to me in the car. I looked it over and it seemed ok, but I wasn't completely sold.

I remember the specific events around which I became sold. It was basically bedtime, but Mom was on the phone with someone so I was listening to this album on my Discman while I waited for her to get off. For whatever reason, maybe the headphones, maybe the silence of a quiet house, this album struck home. I may have read along with the lyrics in the liner notes (I don't recall if the liner notes for this album had the lyrics or not...) or maybe I was just in the right place, cognitively, but it really struck me that these were stories! Narratives in music! Not just silly, "I love you, won't you love me too" stuff, but narratives with emotions and complications!

And, in what I'm realizing is becoming a theme in some of these stories, some of the songs had profanity in them! I found out what the "Star" in "Star Me Kitten" stood for. I heard lyrics like this, from "Ignoreland"

They amplified the autumn, nineteen seventy-nine.
Calculate the capital, up the republic my skinny ass.
TV tells a million lies. The paper's terrified to report
Anything that isn't handed on a presidential spoon,
I'm just profoundly frustrated by all this. So, fuck you, man. (Fuck 'em)

By the time I got to the gorgeous one, two punch of "Nightswimming" and "Find the River," I was hooked. The lyrics and music touched me in a way that was rare at the time and I knew that this was an album for the ages. 

Later, I'd find that this album was somehow linked in my mind to the time in which it was released and I started thinking about what it would have been like to be an adult in 1992 and getting this on cassette tape. In fact, I wrote a poem about listening to "Drive" as a character from that time. I had an epigraph from "Sweetness Follows," so I guess that means the poem is more about listening to the whole album. Anyways, this is super awkward, but here's that poem and then we'll do the video and featured songs.


Yeah, yeah we were altogether
lost in our little lives
R.E.M. “Sweetness Follows”

Driving through Central Illinois
On a cold winter’s day
Michael Stipe’s voice is haunting.
But fitting.
How can this Georgia boy
Strumming an acoustic
Add his own layer of frost to the windshield?

The landscape is the brown of all the leaves of America
That fall

But never hit the ground
They settle on these fields.
The interview is tomorrow.
November 14, 1992
For a job
A life
I don’t know.

R.E.M. - Drive
R.E.M. - Ignoreland

You can buy Automatic For the People at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1972

10. America - A Horse With No Name
9. Ringo Starr - Back Off Boogaloo
8. Aretha Franklin - Day Dreaming
7. Al Green - Look What You Done For Me
6. The Stylistics Featuring Russell Thompkins,Jr. - Betcha By Golly, Wow

Ok, I know I said in the comments last week that I'd pick the hardest, proggiest, Edgar Winteriest track on this weeks countdown. But the selection of that kind of song is pretty thin and I think it'd come down to America or Ringo Starr. Plus, come on. This song is magical.

5.  Michael Jackson - Rockin Robin
4. The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There
3. The Chi-lites - Oh Girl
2. Joe Tex - I Gotcha
1. Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #14 Doomtree "No Kings"

Doomtree No Kings, 2011

Sometimes you're lucky enough to be following a group early enough that you get to witness them achieve master status. That was the case with No Kings and Doomtree.

In their respective posts for this series, told the story about discovering P.O.S and I think I told the story about finding Dessa a little bit later.  Man, I hope I did. So, anyways, I'd seen the whole Doomtree crew in concert and followed them on Twitter and all of that when they announced that they had a release date for their next crew album and that they were heading up to a cabin to record it.

This was a bold move. What if something had gone wrong? What if they hadn't like what they came up with at the cabin? Most of the group spoke/tweeted about how much pressure it added to select a release date before anything had been recorded. It was like Babe Ruth calling his shot.

And then they knocked it out of the park.

This is the first album that I've ever felt addicted to. An album that, as it ended, for the longest time, I found myself thinking, "Well, it's not like I'm NOT going to listen to this again right now." Part of it has to do, I believe, with the way the last track, "Fresh New Track" (arguably the best song on the album) ends without a concluding downbeat.

But it's also the fact that this album is expertly sequenced. I'm talking from track to track on the album as a whole, but also from rapper to rapper on individual songs. The way that the emotional weight shifts when you move from a Dessa verse to a Mictlan verse? Amazing. The way Cecil Otter's verse on "Team the Best Team" hits the ground running? Exhilarating. The entirety of "Little Mercy"? Breathtaking.

The whole thing is captivating from start to finish and it's my hope that everyone who has been reading these posts will take a moment to at least listen to the tracks below. You won't regret it.

This is one of the rare albums that we can actually go to the AFD archives and look at my original review. So let's do that and then we can watch the video and listen to the songs. Setting the Wayback Machine for November 2011....

Doomtree - Little Mercy
Doomtree - The Grand Experiment

You can buy No Kings at Amazon, Amazon MP3, iTunes, the Doomtree Web Store, and the Doomtree Bandcamp page

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea "Problem"

This song is alright. I'm still sort of figuring out what I think of Iggy Azalea. But I think Ariana Grande is pretty great. I could have sworn that I had featured her song "The Way" on Top Ten Tuesday before, but I can't find it. She reminds me of early Mariah Carey, which I'm sure is the goal.

Lyric videos are weird.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New Countdown: It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Podcastin'

So it's hella late and I need to be up to make eggs and bacon with my 3 year old for Mother's Day probably pretty early, so I'll keep this short.

Happy Mother's Day to all applicable recipients of that greeting!

Enjoy this greeting card in podcast form! (PS Non-moms are totally also allowed to enjoy it. BUT NOT AS A GREETING CARD IN PODCAST FORM)

Countdown #197

Alanis Morissette
Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
Big Country
The Black Keys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums

Friday, May 9, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #15 Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here"

Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, 1975

Well, Pink Floyd was another tough band to pick just one album from. It seemed like Dark Side of the Moon would be the obvious choice because I love the story of finding my mom's cassette tape recording with the typed out labels and it was the first album by PF that I immersed myself in.

But I also really really loved The Wall, with it's totally messed up story and how it rocked and creeped me out in equal measure. It's an epic concept album and, if you know me, you know that this is right up my alley.

But then there's Wish You Were Here. What a beautiful album. I don't remember how I came to own it. It seems like it was a purchase during a time when I was buying as much Pink Floyd as I could and just blissing out as I drove around in my car. However I came to own it, it feels like it's somehow always been a part of my life. I remember a road trip where my mom and stepdad were upset about some aspect of the trip and were jabbing back and forth. I put this album in and cranked it.

I don't know the history of the album. I saw something about either Gilmour or Waters telling either Waters or Gilmour that they wouldn't be putting a couple of their songs on the album (the first two songs played in the FULL CONCERT below are those songs, I believe) or something. This album feels like the opposite of an album like Rumours or Blood on the Tracks or even The Wall. It's an album out of time for me.

I love the slow build of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V" and the symmetrical slow breakdown of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts VI-IX". I love the cynicism behind "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar". And show me a person who isn't enraptured by the title track. Point them out to me. Seriously, I don't think it's possible.

Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine

You can buy Wish You Were Here at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1973

This was the year my Mom graduated from high school!

10. Edgar Winter Group - Frankenstein
9. The Carpenters - Sing
8. Donny Osmond - The Twelfth of Never
7. Stealer's Wheel - Stuck in the Middle With You
6. Dobie Gray - Drift Away

There were a lot of great songs to pick from, but I picked this one because I was surprised to find out that a song I like by Uncle Kracker (sic) is a cover. What a nice, peaceful, summery song. I like it a lot.

5. Vicki Lawrence - The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
4. Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of My Life
3. The Sweet - Little Willy
2. War - The Cisco Kid
1. Dawn featuring Tony Orlando - Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #16 Radiohead "The Bends"

Radiohead The Bends, 1995

I came to Radiohead via OK Computer. I loved the video for "Paranoid Android" and really really loved the whole album.

I found a book called Radiohead: Hysterical and Useless which was published in 1999 and recounted their history up through OK Computer and it was a fascinating read.

Unsurprisingly, the book covered a lot about the album before OK Computer, The Bends. The way the author and the band talked about the songs, it sounded amazing. I was visiting my Dad in Boston at the time, so we took on a mission to go around to as many record stores as it took to find this album. And it took more than two. It was an age before iTunes allowed for instant gratification the way it does today.

Well, the album was even more amazing than described! And it turned out that I'd heard a song from it, "High and Dry" many times on DC101. I just never knew it was Radiohead! It was quite the revelation.

I was surprised when I determined that this was my favorite Radiohead album, but I guess it makes sense. It has all of their weirdness, all of their softness, and all of their hard rocking guitar-ness. It's kind of a blueprint for everything they'd done before and everything they've done since.....except maybe Kid A. That album, I'm convinced, was given to them by God or aliens or something out of this world.

It was incredibly tough to pick feature songs from this album. I decided to include a softer song ("Black Star") and a harder song ("Just") and to include the single that Cher in Clueless referred to as "the maudlin music of the University station" and "cry-baby music", "Fake Plastic Trees" (It's apparently Clueless week....for these two days (Yesterday and Today).)

Radiohead - Just
Radiohead - Black Star

You can buy The Bends at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Iggy Azalea featuring Charlie XCX "Fancy"

I'm kind of incredibly fascinated by this video. Maybe it says something about my innate prejudices, but I definitely had to look up an interview with Iggy Azalea to confirm that she was the girl in this video. And indeed she is. And in all the other videos, too. She says something in another song about studying The Carter (a Lil Wayne album) and it definitely shows.

And then the Clueless tribute adds something else to it. It also makes me look at Clueless in kind of a new way, too.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Me First Album Update!

Brooklyn Vegan posted a new song and a tracklist for the forthcoming Me First and the Gimme Gimmes album. The song is great and the tracklist looks fantastic.

Here's the tracklist:

Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! Tracklist:
1. I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
2. Straight Up (Paula Abdul)
3. Believe (Cher)
4. Beautiful (Christina Aguilera)
5. My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)
6. I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)
7. Top of the World (The Carpenters)
8. Speechless (Lady Gaga)
9. Karma Chameleon (Culture Club)
10. Crazy for You (Madonna)
11. On the Radio (Donna Summer)
12. The Way We Were (Barbra Streisand)

And here's a link to the article with the new song ("Beautiful")

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New Countdown: Cursing Sir Walter Raleigh, He Was Such a Stupid Get

Gonna keep this short and sweet this week. So tired, but I finished the podcast ALMOST  still in Saturday, so that's something, right?

Have a great week guys! :)

Countdown #196

Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
The Black Keys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums

Friday, May 2, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #17 New Found Glory "Sticks and Stones"

New Found Glory Sticks and Stones, 2002

I would say that New Found Glory are the seminal pop-punk band of my life. They were the first band that played this kind of music where I loved it and jumped around to it and wanted more, more more!

The summer that this album came out, they put the first single, "My Friends Over You" on a Drive-Thru Records sampler that you got if you purchased the Something Corporate Audioboxer EP. Which I happily did. The song was so good and I was so excited.

And then it came out. And it was good. But like almost all of the albums on this list, it took me a little bit to get into. The songs weren't as immediate as the ones on the self-titled album that preceded it (Reason: These songs are more complex).

But now, of course, I look at it as a classic. It's one of maybe 4 albums I would give someone who was interested in the pop-punk genre. In fact, I can't think of any time I've heard someone who likes the genre having a bad word to say about it. So this one is kind of a no-brainer.

I'm listening to it as I type and bouncing in my seat. If I wouldn't look RIDICULOUS, I would get up and jump around. MAN, I love this album.

Here's a video for the song "Head On Collision" done by the Troma people that did movies like Toxic Avenger and stuff. This song is also where the band All Time Low got their name!

New Found Glory - My Friends Over You
New Found Glory - The Great Houdini

You can buy Sticks and Stones at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1974

This was the year that my Dad and mother- and father-in-law graduated from High School.

10. The Main Ingredient - Just Don't Want to Be Lonely
9. Three Dog Night - The Show Must Go On
8. Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
7. Blue Swede - Hooked On a Feeling
6. Ray Stevens - The Streak
5. Jackson 5 - Dancing Machine

There's a lot of interesting and fantastic music on the Top Ten this week/year. But you really can't beat this, can you? It seems like just another song of it's era until Michael starts dancing. And yeah, the song is lip synched. But they all were back then. Most of the videos of "performances" of the songs on this list were lip synch performances. But you know what you can't lip synch? Those moves.

4. Gladys Knight and the Pips - Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me
3. Elton John - Bennie and the Jets
2. MFSB featuring Three Degrees - TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)
1. Grand Funk - The Loco-Motion