Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Countdown: Brain Revolt

Bear Hands
Started very strong on this one, but then I started falling all over my tongue as it got later and later and my brain began to revolt in favor of sleep. Silly brain.

As I mention in the episode, this week marks the halfway mark of the year so I guess it's a "the year's half started/the year's half over" sort of situation. Pick a side!

Countdown #204

Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
Big Data featuring Joywave
The Black Keys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums
Jack White

Friday, June 27, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #1 Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream"

Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream, 1993

And so we've arrived here at the #1 position. Anyone who knows me at all probably guessed this would be the album at #1.

Siamese Dream is the only album I have displayed in my house. Smashing Pumpkins are the only band, in fact, to have a place on any of the walls of my house. I have a "shrine" in my room with a vinyl copy of Gish, a ZERO t-shirt, a photo I bought in college, and my original Wal-Mart censored copy of Siamese Dream.

I got into the Smashing Pumpkins through the follow-up to Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I was spending a lot of my time at my friend's house playing video games and listening to the radio when the singles from that album started playing on the radio. I fell in love with the song "Zero" and my friend made me a tape of the songs from the double album that he thought were the best. They were mostly from the first disc and so, to this day, the songs on the second disc aren't as familiar to me.

While I was stoking the flames of my fandom, I discovered the songs "Today" and "Disarm" and was just blown away. This was one of those "listen to the radio in hopes of hearing them" kind of situations. And so I decided I wanted to get myself into a situation where I could hear them whenever I wanted. I needed to get a copy of Siamese Dream.

I don't remember why there was a delay in my actually getting the album. I don't know if I was saving allowance or what, but I DO remember writing about being excited to get the album in my 8th grade English class.

But then the day came when I went with my mom to Wal-Mart (the local Target hadn't been built yet and so this was the most convenient option in our eyes. Plus we were already there probably looking for clothes or something.) to make the big purchase. This would have been Fall 1996. I found the CD, looked at the back, and found it blank. Hm. Oh, I guess it's just an artistic decision of the band. (Silly silly James)

Once I realized that the CD tracklist wasn't anywhere to be found (I later realized this was the Wal-Mart censored version. The track "Silverfuck" caused them to remove the tracklist. And make no other changes to the album. I hesitated for so long to buy (What's the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis because some of the tracks were blank on the back of the CD and I didn't want to play them and hear all sorts of profanity that I imagined filled them.) it became my mission to figure out what the songs were based on the liner notes which had old pictures with the lyrics and titles hand-written on them. I knew "Today" and "Disarm" from already knowing them and I could figure out "Quiet" and "Spaceboy" and "Sweet Sweet" pretty easily. But the rest of the songs required a little detective work. It turned out that "Silverfuck" appeared in the credits, so that was the song that had no title in the cards. Eventually I had them all figured out but in the meantime, I'd formed this deep connection with the album. It's weird to think about but I might not love this album and this band as much if I'd gotten the uncensored version. Of course I probably wouldn't have been allowed to get an album with a song called "Silverfuck" at all, so I guess sometimes Wal-Mart's oppressive censorship can sometimes work out for the best.

The whole album is beautiful and angry and sad. It's an album I'm so at home with that it feels like a security blanket when I'm listening to. I'd never really realized it until I started typing this paragraph, but it's true. I feel safe and comforted when this album is playing. I guess that's why it made #1.

I know I'm not alone in my love for this album, but when I was young, I had no idea. There wasn't a large, accessible social media network to shout my love for this album to the masses and, even if there had been, I'm not sure if I would have taken the opportunity.

I often credit this album, along with The Simpsons, as the means by which I made my first real friends in Virginia. 7th Grade had been a rough year, friend-wise but, armed with obsessive recall of Simpsons quotes and instructions from Billy Corgan to "Stay cool and be somebody's fool this year" ("Cherub Rock") (I recently actually read the actual lyrics to the song and it dawned on me that the lyrics that I had taken for gospel were actually sarcastic....but that's ok. I feel like you take what you need from music. And the artist's particular intent is not necessarily the end all be all.) and he's declaration "I just want to be me." ("Mayonaise") ("Mayonaise" has permanently prevented me from ever being able to spell the word "mayonnaise" ever ever ever.)

So yeah. It's my favorite album. And in honor of that and the end of this series and everything, here's all 4 music videos for singles released from this album, in the order in which Wikipedia tells me they were released.

Smashing Pumpkins - Mayonaise

You can buy Siamese Dream at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

I want to take a second really quick to thank some people who have supported this project from way back when I was starting to post these things last summer and who have continued to support this project through Likes and Comments (Facebook or otherwise) ever since. So thank you to Jim (Happy Birthday!), Tyler, Chad, Nat, and Kate.

And a big thank you to everyone who read even just this #1 on the list. It's cool to know there's something of an audience out there! THANK YOU.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1966

10. The Chiffons - Sweet Talkin Guy
9. Dusty Springfield - You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
8. The Capitols - Cool Jerk
7. Robert Parker - Barefootin'
6. The Cyrkle - Red Rubber Ball
5. Simon and Garfunkel - I Am a Rock
4. The Lovin Spoonful - Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?
3. The Rolling Stones - Paint, It, Black

Well, I think it's about time that we did a Rolling Stones track. And this video really stood out to me. Look at them, lookin all fancy in their suits and army jackets. There were a bunch of videos I ALMOST posted, but it feels like the Stones have won the day.

(On further inspection, I played a Stones track as recently as 1971. But who cares? This song rocks.)

2. Frank Sinatra - Strangers in the Night
1. The Beatles - Paperback Writer

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #2 Bob Dylan "Blood on the Tracks"

Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks, 1975

Oh goodness. This album. First of all, Bob Dylan claims this ISN'T about a horrible, gut-wrenching breakup. Which is, of course, hooey. Every song is about the end of love or betrayal or even, on "Idiot Wind" how stupid the both of you are.

It's some of the clearest writing of Dylan's career. Something that has frustrated me with albums like Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde is that the words SOUND nice, but what the hell is he talking about? I mean, I'll still listen to them, but it's with the understanding that he could basically just as easily be saying nonsense words that sounded cool together. It's a pedestrian complaint and I'm 100% aware of that. It doesn't hold me back from enjoying any of those albums, but it does make me enjoy Blood on the Tracks more.

Most of my cool anecdotes about this album I gleaned from this book, which I highly recommend if you like this book. It goes through the overall context that the album was recorded in (in both NYC and Minnesota) as well as going into stories from the musicians themselves about the recording of each song.

I've featured two songs with stories in that book because I could have picked literally any song to feature and felt great about having picked it. That's the atmosphere we're working with here in the top 2.

"Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" is a Western epic that I just love. The story from the book is that when Dylan went to record the harmonica part, he came in and the whole band winced at how he was playing. He was off-key, off-time, just everything. But then they realized it worked. It worked better than it would have if he was playing "correctly".

And then there's "Meet Me in the Morning" which was not a song that ever really caught my attention until I read about it in the book. The slide guitar player tells a story about how Dylan provoked him into anger and that that is why he played the solo so passionately and intensely. Now when I hear the song, I smile because I can FEEL the guitar player seething in annoyance, coming in before Dylan is done singing the verse and just basically setting the track on fire. And it's become one of my favorite songs on the album.

When I was a lad, my Dad gave me three Dylan albums for my birthday: Freewheelin', Blonde on Blonde, and Highway 61 Revisited. If I were to give my son introductory albums for Dylan's career, I'd include Blood on the Tracks. I don't know which of those three I'd cut, so I'd probably give him 4 albums. Or, geez, I don't know.

Fortunately, I don't have to make that kind of decision, because I'm hoping to one day be able to set up my CDs in a way that the kids can pick albums out and play them and get to know them. I won't quote the whole Nick Hornby passage about Dylan albums, but I feel like it's a nearly impossible decision to pick just three or even five Dylan albums to introduce someone to him.

Oh what the hell. I have it from an email I sent to a friend nearly 4 years ago (Thanks GMail!) So, here's the whole Nick Hornby passage (from Songbook):

"I'm not a Dylan fan. I've got Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited, obviously. And Bringing It All Back Home and Blood on the Tracks. Anyone who likes music owns those four. And I'm interested enough to have bought The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, and that live album we now know wasn't recorded at the Royal Albert Hall. The reviews of Time out of Mind and Love and Theft convinced me to shell out for these two, as well, although I can't say I listen to them very often. I once asked for Biograph as a birthday present, so with that and The Bootleg Series I've got two Dylan boxed sets. I also, now I look, seem to own copies of World Gone Wrong, The Basement Tapes, and Good As I Been to You, although this, I suspect, is due more to my respect for Griel Marcus, who has written so persuasively and brilliantly about Dylan's fold and blues roots, than to my Dylanphilia. And I have somehow picked up along the way Street Legal, Desire, and John Wesley Harding. Oh, and I bought Oh Mercy because is contains the lovely "Most of the Time," which is on the High Fidelity soundtrack. There are, therefore, around twenty separate Bob Dylan CDs on my shelf; in fact I own more recordings by Dylan than by any other artist. Some people -- my mother, say, who may not own twenty CDs in total -- would say I am a Dylan fanatic, but I know Dylan fanatics, and they would not recognize me as one of them."

Bob Dylan - Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts
Bob Dylan - Meet Me in the Morning

You can buy Blood on the Tracks at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Sam Smith "Stay With Me"

I feel like I've been posting/talking about Sam Smith a lot on Facebook and it's great to see him make the Top Ten with this pretty amazing song. I remember sitting up in my seat when he performed it on SNL. He's definitely an example of why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

Here's the video:

And then here's a killer live performance with a special guest:

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Nerdiest Conundrum

So, I've been thinking about something.

For more than two years, I've done my podcast based on the Alternative Songs chart, a chart based only on airplay. I chose it because it most closely resembled the songs I grew up hearing on the radio (which adds up).

But in 2009, a chart started on Billboard called Hot Rock Songs, which, for a couple of years also measured airplay, but starting in October of 2012, it also started measuring sales and streaming data, which means that it, unlike the Alternative Songs chart, the Hot Rock Songs chart is....influenceable. One of the things that I've worried about from the start was that the Alternative Songs chart was largely influenced by playlists that big corporations like Clear Channel dictate and that it didn't necessarily reflect the tastes/trends of the public.

So here's the conundrum: Do I switch formats? It feels like we have a good thing going with the Alternative Songs chart, but the Hot Rock Songs chart has more of the data I want to be reporting on. Also, the Hot Rock Songs chart, it appears, has a wider range of musical styles, actually more in line with the way the Alternative Songs chart started in the 80's when it was the Hot Modern Rock Songs chart.

I think what I'm going to do is watch the HRS chart until the end of the year. See what I WOULD be playing if I switched. And then, if I decide that it's a more attractive chart to do a podcast on, I'll start doing podcasts based on it after the Artists of the Year Countdown.

Any thoughts/ideas that anyone has regarding this admittedly silly conundrum would be appreciated!

Off the Charts #7: Birthday 2013!

No Age
Well, I didn't think I was going to actually get this done. And, in fact, I thought that meant the end of this feature, but inspiration struck for some reason and so here we are. These are all the blogs that I subscribed to on my birthday last year that posted on my birthday (July 16). Multiple posts were pared down to one, because some blogs post a LOT! It's a long one, but I think it's enjoyable. And VERY eclectic!

Off the Charts #7: Birthday 2013

Against Me!
The Bluetones
The Dandy Warhols
Electric Soft Parade
Frank Ocean
The Hood Internet
Jack Handey
Kurt Vile
Michael Alvarado featuring Carissa Rae
Miles Davis featuring John Coltrane
No Age
Of Montreal
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sara Bareilles
Smashing Pumpkins
The Vaccines
The Wild Swans

***And Featuring the Following Blogs***
What If? (Post From My Birthday)
The Vinyl Villain (After my birthday, JC moved blogs. He moved HERE)
Across the Kitchen Table (Post From My Birthday)
Culture Pop (Post From My Birthday)
Song, By Toad (Post From My Birthday)
I Sing In the Kitchen (Post From My Birthday)
Daytrotter (Post From My Birthday Featured in this Podcast)
Elements (Post From My Birthday)
I Am Fuel, You Are Friends (Post From My Birthday)
Page-Turner (Post From My Birthday)
Pigeons & Planes (Post From My Birthday)
Crestfallen (Post From My Birthday) (Oh, I have in my notes that I picked the song I picked for this post because a version (from the rerelease that I talk about) of it was released on my birthday, as well)
Panda Head (Post From My Birthday)
The Hood Internet (Post From My Birthday)
Sandpaper Suit (Post From My Birthday)
Sirens of Decay (Post From My Birthday)
Linear Tracking Lives (Post From My Birthday)
Snopes (Post From My Birthday)
We Listen For You (Post From My Birthday)
Listen Before You Buy (Now over at Unrecorded) (Post From My Birthday)

Link silliness yet again

This is to link to the post with the Birthday 2013 podcast. All the labels wouldn't fit.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New Countdown: R.I.P. Casey

The Black Keys
So, I wouldn't say this episode is a "tribute" to the late, great Casey Kasem. I do PAY tribute to him, though. This was a very fun one. I like to think Casey had fun doing his show, just like I have fun doing mine. I know it can be a grind sometimes, but it feels so worth it.

Hey Happy Summer, everyone!

Countdown #203

Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
Big Data
The Black Keys
Fitz & the Tantrums
Jack White
Marvin Gaye
Three Dog Night

Friday, June 20, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #3 Elliott Smith "Either/Or"

Elliott Smith Either/Or, 1997

One night, I was listening to my friend Andrew Bain's radio show. He played a song that really caught my ear. It was so quiet and, for some reason, that drew me even further into its siren song. When the song was over, Andrew's cohost gave him grief about playing a song with a number of curse words in it (I found out recently that after a certain hour, FCC rules about profanity stop applying, but none of us knew that then), but I wasn't listening very hard any more. I was too busy thinking about how great the song "Say Yes" was and how I would get my hands on the album.

This was Freshman year of college. I can't remember if it was Fall or Spring semester. I think it might have been Spring Semester because I was single when I came home for Spring Break. The reason that's important is that I bought Either/Or (because an album with 11 tracks of silence plus "Say Yes" would be worth it) and the book Replay, went home, and read the book cover to cover while the album played on repeat. When I was finished with the book, I started it over, reading and listening deep into the night. It's an experience that made both the album and the book more special to me, and also inextricably linked them in my mind. So, one of the things that you have to do to see Either/Or from my perspective is read that book a couple of times. It's a great book, even if it's not a Great Book, you know?

The other memory I have of the album, which makes me think that maybe that experience happened on Fall or Winter break (I was single off and on all year), is the memory of being really sad (which generally means exhausted, but they feel the same in the moment) and of going out VERY late at night with my Discman with this album loaded into it and my journal (which means I could look up what date that was and align the dates for certain...if I was writing this at my house) and just sort of meditating on life and love and all sorts of Freshman year of college stuff.

Those two memories make this album feel like it was made specifically for me and so it's always a source of great joy and a feeling of community when I talk about this album and other people like it, too.

You can definitely hear him cribbing some stuff from The Beatles, once you know that he was a huge Beatles fan. It's the stuff from the minor key songs like "And I Love Her" that I hear most. It's fun to make that connection. Sort of like listening to The Ramones, knowing their love of the Bay City Rollers.

I think that Elliott Smith made a great contribution to music with this album for sure, but also all of his other albums. His death hasn't been mourned as much as other, bigger names, but I think the fact is that we haven't felt the full vacuum of his absence yet. As the years go on, I think the Elliott-shaped hole will begin to resolve in our cultural vision. Hopefully there's a kid out there with a poetic mind and an acoustic guitar unknowingly  walking a path to fill it as best as anyone but Elliott Smith himself could.

Elliott Smith - Between the Bars
Elliott Smith - 2:45 A.M.

You can buy Either/Or at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1967

The Summer of Love!!

I picked a couple of selections this week. Why? Because it's my blog and I can do what I want! :) Man, this week was full of hits! Wow! And I've never featured any of the the three bands that I picked this week before!

10. Tommy James and the Shondells - Mirage
9. The Happenings - I Got Rhythm
8. The Temptations - All I Need
7. The Association - Windy

6. The Music Explosion - Little Bit O' Soul
5. Jefferson Airplane - Somebody to Love

4. Englebert Humperdink - Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)
3. The Turtles - She'd Rather Be With Me
2. Aretha Franklin - Respect

1. The Young Rascals - Groovin'

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #4 Fleetwood Mac "Rumours"

Fleetwood Mac Rumours, 1977

I came to this album later in life than I feel is fair. This is SUCH a high school album and I feel like I would have listened to it every day in my car if I'd discovered it in 1998 instead of many years later. I don't even know when I finally decided to give this one a listen. 2007? Later? I know that when I first started listening to it, I told my Dad how much I loved it and he told me a story about listening to it over and over when he was roughly the same age as I was.

It's an album that, for me at least, is better the more you imagined everyone playing on it hated each other. I like to imagine scowls and glares in the studio and then this AMAZING album coming out of the whole ordeal.

I was talking to a friend on the phone today about that part in Wayne's World where Wayne says that everyone knows Frampton Comes Alive because you received a copy when you moved to the neighborhood along with samples of detergent. I've always found that this line rings false for me. But I was realizing on the phone with my friend that it rings true if the album is Rumours. I feel like everyone knows this album. Whether everyone LIKES this album, I don't know. But I can't figure out what's not to like. Sure, "Don't Stop" and "The Chain" are a little dated or something, but seriously? You don't like "Songbird"? "Go Your Own Way" doesn't do anything for you? "Gold Dust Woman" leaves you cold? I don't think so. If you "don't like" Rumours, then my bet would be that you haven't listened to it or you haven't listened to it recently.

So, I wanted to do a blog post a number of years ago that would have featured two pieces of writing about the first several seconds of two songs. But, for whatever reason, I never wrote that post. But here is one of the pieces of writing. It's from Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live. It's amazing. Everything I've ever read by him is amazing.

"I once interviewed Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, arguably the least pretentious semi-genius of the modern rock age. We started talking about how the best parts of songs are usually accidents; Tweedy mentioned that the most transcendent moments in pop music are inevitably unintentional, because listeners reinvent those mistakes and give them a personal meaning no artist could ever create on purpose. This segued into a conversation about Fleetwood Mac, and I told him about the way Quincy and I would incessantly play the opening five seconds of "I Don't Want to Know"[sic] at maximum volume. This is because--if you play the song loudly enough--you can hear Lindsey Buckingham's fingers sliding down the strings of his acoustic guitar. His sliding phalanges make this unspeakably cool squeak; it sounds organic and raw and impossible to fake. Q and I would play this opening sequence over and over and over again, and we were convinced that this was the definitive illustration of what we both loved about music; we loved hearing the inside of a song. And when I told that story to Tweedy, I was surprised how inexplicably happy it made him.
        'It's so great to hear you say that,' Tweedy said. 'I don't know Lindsey Buckingham personally, but--from what I know about him--I would assume he's the kind of artist who wants to control every single element of how his music is perceived. Yet the one moment off Rumours that was most important to you and your friend is a little crack he couldn't spackle over. Nobody can control anything, really.'" (Buy the book!)

Oh, and here's the song for reference:
Fleetwood Mac - I Don't Wanna Know

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way
Fleetwood Mac - You Make Loving Fun

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Magic! "Rude"

This is a cute, sort of old-school video. It tells the story of the song and I really like this song a lot. I was going to copy/paste the story from Billboard about how they wrote the song, but I can't exactly be bothered, so the gist is that it was originally about a girl who wouldn't marry him, but it was too dark. By making it about a prospective father-in-law, the subject lightened up a little


Sunday, June 15, 2014

New Countdown: Now I Wanna Wish You a Happy Father's Day!

First off, Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there. I know I've got a couple of great Dads and a great Father-in-Law that deserve lots of accolades!

This one was a pretty fun one with a huge bonus feature at the end. I hope you'll stick with it to the very end!

Also, have you noticed how many "B" bands are on the countdown these days?!

Countdown #202

Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
Big Data
The Black Keys
Fitz & the Tantrums
Jack White
The Ramones

Friday, June 13, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #5 Weezer "Weezer"

Weezer Weezer, 1994

For a long time, this album was, kind of like Graceland, an album that I dreamed of one day owning for myself. I would occasionally convince a friend who owned it to play it, or I'd hear "Buddy Holly" on the radio (this was rare) and all would be right with the world.

And then one day, I owned it. I could put it on whenever I liked. I remember that I bought it when we were out for the day in Boston because we ate lunch at Faneuil Hall. Actually, I may have been visiting with my friend Lisa, because I seem to recall she was there too. I remember being anxious to get home and listen to it and revel in the idea that this fantastic album was MINE.

All of that comes from the fact that this is nearly a perfect album. There's no song that isn't fantastic. It's a masterpiece.

If you think back to my post on The Offpsring's Smash, you'll recall that I said there were two albums from 1994 that were fantastic but that built up expectations that the band failed to deliver on, in the long run.

Weezer is the poster child for this concept. A band whose first two albums hinted at nearly unlimited potential. They were as different as night and day, but they were both great. Surely the album that followed Pinkerton would be the album that changed the world. A collection of music that historians would point to and say, "Mankind's endeavors in music all led up to this, Weezer's 3rd album".

And then we got The Green Album which, if it was made by another band, say, as their debut, would have been a great, though perhaps slightly rudimentary, study in how to make power-pop music.

But then you re-listen to The Blue Album and all the pleasant things you have to say about The Green Album fall away. I think that the band would have been fine to release The Blue Album, Pinkerton, and then one more album which contained all the gems on the rest of the albums they've released.

But I digress.

You should own this album. I don't care what kind of music you listen to. This is an album that defies genre and age and everything else. It's not just good rock music. It's Great Music.

Weezer - My Name is Jonas
Weezer - In the Garage

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: Thanks and Mashup!

So, before we get into the Top 5 tomorrow, I just wanted to thank all of you for reading these silly posts I've been doing this year. It's been so fun for me to write and I hope it's been fun for you to read!

A while ago, I put together a 2 (or 2.5) second mashup of a song from each album in the Top 5. It's 5 different singings of the word "You" because without all of "You", this would just be me shouting into the void.

So, here's the mashup. See if you can figure out what the Top 5 are!

The "You" Mashup

Throwback Thursday: 1968

10. Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - The Look of Love
9. Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra, and Chorus - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
8. The Rascals - A Beautiful Morning
7. Aretha Franklin - Think
6. Archie Bell & the Drells - Tighten Up
5. Richard Harris - MacArthur Park
4. Ohio Express - Yummy Yummy Yummy
3. Tommy James and the Shondells - Mony Mony
2. Herb Alpert - This Guy's in Love With You
1. Simon & Garfunkel - Mrs. Robinson

I'm working at a different location today and I didn't have the foresight to prepare this post last night. So it's late to go up. I also might have done a little more looking into the other songs, but i figure, c'mon, this song's a classic. And I found a performance FROM the year we're throwing back to. So I'm appeased. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #6 The Ataris "End is Forever"

The Ataris End is Forever, 2001

This is, if the list is to be believed, my favorite pop-punk album. And I think that, outside of the list,  it's certainly way up near the top.

I had first heard The Ataris on the Life in the Fat Lane Fat Wreck Chords comp. The song was "San Dimas High School Football Rules" and, if you've ever heard that song, you'll agree, it's one of the greatest pop-punk songs of all times.

So I tracked down the Fat Wreck Chords EP that had that song on it: Look Forward to Failure and I got some songs on Napster and I tracked down the Kung Fu Records album that song on it: Blue Skies, Broken Hearts, Next 12 Exits. And I absorbed it all. All the frustration and longing and anger and humor of being a teenager who was constantly wanting girls but never wanted by them was there.

Then I heard that they had a new album coming soon: End is Forever.

I often think that New Found Glory's Sticks and Stones was the first pop-punk album I ever eagerly anticipated, but that's not entirely right. It was the first album I ever eagerly anticipated with other people.

I eagerly anticipated End is Forever 100% on my own. And that first time I put it in my Discman was GLORIOUS. Actually, I can't think of a time that I've played this album and not been moved. Something about the heartfelt lyrics, fast pace, and clips from Clerks and Good Will Hunting make for a nearly perfect pop-punk experience.

The Ataris - I.O.U. One Galaxy
The Ataris - Fast Times at Drop-out High

You can buy End is Forever at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Calvin Harris "Summer"

It just feels really appropriate to play this song this week. It feels like summer is here in all its glory. We've had some lovely days and also some toasty ones. But, of course, every day has ended with a laser-lit dance party at the villa. Because it's summer, you know?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

New Countdown: Night and Day

Cage the Elephant
So, I spent some one-on-one time with the music this week and now I feel like we're buddies. I noted a pattern about the way the countdown is distributed. And I got a subscription to a certain chart-filled publication. So that means it's a hefty, fun episode and I hope you enjoy it in all its glory!

Countdown #201

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #7 The Beatles "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band"

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967

So, what the hell am I supposed to say about this album that hasn't been said before? It's not a niche album that's near and dear to my heart like Dessa. It's not a genre classic that maybe isn't familiar to some people like Thursday or the Get Up Kids. It's The Beatles.

I remember checking this and Rubber Soul out of the library in Brookline one summer and realizing that the band that I had grown up hearing play songs about love and submarines also made this weird psychedelic stuff that wasn't as straightforward as who loves whom (yeah, yeah yeah) or how much loving they're giving or how many days a week they're loving that person or what kind of day's night it'd been.

It was nearly impossible to pick just one Beatles album for this project, so I went back to the first principles of this whole thing: the Desert Island. What Beatles album do I love but also haven't listened to to death? Weirdly, I feel like I listen to Revolver more than anything else and then maybe Abbey Road? After some amount of deliberation, I decided this one was eclectic and great enough that I could listen to it sitting on the beach watching hope of rescue dwindle for weeks.

Of course, I'd probably make some sort of Beatles mix CD to take with me. I mean, that's what everyone would do, right? Because surely there's no one that can say that all of the Beatles songs they could ever want to listen to exist solely on one album. I just can't imagine that being the case. I mean, for one thing there's the second side of Magical Mystery Tour which is all Sgt. Peppers outtakes (Ok, I just looked it up and only "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" were Sgt. Peppers outtakes. But my point remains the same.)

All the songs on this album are my favorite songs on this album. Favorite moments? I like the "animals that eat each other" part of "Good Morning Good Morning". I like the "Leave It" part at the end of "Lovely Rita". I love how trippy "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is. I love how hard the "Sgt. Peppers (Reprise)" rocks.

I mean come on. This album is one of the greats. I know it's been hyped to death and there are probably people that are like "Ugh, that album is SO over-rated" or whatever. And I readily accept that there are people who don't like the Beatles or don't know who they are and have no interest in finding out. But I maintain that this album has something for everyone.

I couldn't find an acceptable video of a performance of a song from this album. So here's three songs from the album. And if you've never heard this album before and these songs are an introduction for you, please leave a comment. I'm very very interested in learning more about your world view.

The Beatles - Fixing a Hole
The Beatles - Within You Without You
The Beatles - Good Morning Good Morning

You can buy Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (I'm assuming to upgrade from vinyl or something) at Amazon and iTunes

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1969

This month should be pretty great! 1969-1966!

10. Three Dog Night - One
9. The Guess Who - These Eyes
8. Marvin Gaye - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby

I love this song and I love Marvin Gaye. So I put it on the popst, but i figured it was kind of a drag just to see a static image of a 45....

7. The Edwin Hawkins' Singers Featuring: Dorothy Combs Morrison - Oh Happy Day
6. The Friends of Distinction - Grazing in the Grass
5. Mercy - Love (Can Make You Happy)
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising I also put this CCR track on. This video was edited by a guy in Finland (I think?) and the track is a LITTLE sped up, but I didn't really notice. There are a number of songs on this Top Ten that I considered featuring. Like "Oh Happy Day" and "Grazing in the Grass" and, of course, "Get Back", but I have a feeling we're going to see more Beatles songs this month and I couldn't find a good Rooftop Concert video.

3. Elvis Presley - In the Ghetto
2. Henry Mancini and His Orchestra - Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet
1. The Beatles with Billy Preston - Get Back

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #8 Rise Against "Revolutions Per Minute"

Rise Against Revolutions Per Minute, 2003

I feel like everyone has an "angry" album. The album you listen to instead of burning it all to the ground and going off and living in the desert because the world is against you and it always will be. Revolutions Per Minute is that album for me. But it's so much more than angry, yelly catharsis.

The hint that this is the case is right there in the title. And in the album art. The title's a pun on the unit of playing speed of a vinyl record vs how many times can you revolt in a minute's time. (Five Iron Frenzy did SORT of the same thing with their live album Proof The Youth are Revolting). The album art (the cover and the back and the inside of the liner notes) features objects of destruction hybridized with everyday objects. For instance, the cover features a pair of headphones plugged into a grenade.

This is an appropriate symbol for what this album contains. Half reflections on living life to its fullest despite what naysayers you might encounter and half anthems to inspire people to fight against oppression in all its forms. In the most moving songs on the album, the first type and the second type meld together.

My favorite track, however, is solidly in the second type of songs. It's called "Blood-Red, White, and Blue" and is one of my all-time favorite protest songs. And before you call me out on it, yes, it has a bitchin' guitar solo. But that's only PART of what makes this song great.

I want this to be an album that my children and their children discover and draw inspiration from. Inspiration to stand up for others, to stand up for themselves, and to fight for the life that will make them happy instead of settling for a life that doesn't make waves.

Rise Against - Like the Angel
Rise Against - Blood-Red, White, and Blue

You can buy Revolutions Per Minute at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Nico & Vinz "Am I Wrong"

So there are two new songs on the Top Ten this week. I just watched both of the videos and, frankly, if I didn't pick this one to post this week, I would feel like slightly less of a good person. This video is visually striking and the song is very catchy, as well. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bonus Tagging

This is just a post to tag all the bonus artist from today's 200th Countdown.

You can find the episode HERE

New Countdown: 200 Countdowns, Still Reaching For the Stars

Bear Hands
Well, here we are! The 200th episode. It's a big deal! And I'd like to thank you all for making this journey with me. It's coming out a little late, but that's just a facet of the podcast occasionally, so it feels a little appropriate.

Lots and lots of bonus songs on this one, so strap in! (I'll do a separate blog post to tag all the bonus songs. They wouldn't fit!)

Countdown #200

Arctic Monkeys
Bear Hands
The Black Keys
Bobby Goldsboro
Cage the Elephant
Elvis Presley
Fitz & the Tantrums
Lana Del Rey
Linkin Park
Pearl Jam