Monthly Archives: June 2010

2010 Mid Year Review: Albums You Should Have Bought!

Well, here we are, six months in to 2010.  Musically it has been a pretty solid half a year.  Today I will list a few of the albums that you should have picked up thus far this year.

The albums are listed in no particular order.

2010 Mid-Year Review: Albums You Should Have Bought

Artist Album
Massive Attack Heligoland
The Black Keys Brothers
Gary Allan Get Off On the Pain
John Butler Trio April Uprising
Spoon Transference
She & Him Volume Two
Vampire Weekend Contra
Drive-By Truckers The Big To-Do
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
The New Pornographers Together
Jack Johnson To The Sea
The Gaslight Anthem American Slang
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Mojo
Band of Horses Infinite Arms
Flobots Survival Story
The Dead Weather Sea of Cowards
The National High Violet
Minus the Bear Omni

 Great music awaits!


Tune In Tuesday: 6/29/10

Welcome back for yet another installment of Tune In Tuesday

Music’s connectivity varies by person but I believe that there is some resonating emotional cord that is struck when we are truly touched by the music.  While I appreciate the complexity of the instrumentation, I tend to gravitate to the lyrical aspect of music.  While this is not always etched in granite, it holds about 90% of the time.

Today I am going to go back a few years and highlight some albums that are indelibly etched in my fabric for various and sundry reasons.

Under the Table and Dreaming

Dave Matthews Band

This was the first studio album from Dave and the band and was a really musically liberating sound.  The combination of guitar, bass, violin, saxophone and drums just sounded so fresh in the early 90’s.  The vibe from the music was so upbeat that you couldn’t help but move while listening to it. 

This album was in heavy rotation during college and began a twenty year relationship with the band.  I’ve seen them live several times and own all their studio albums as well as the majority of the live albums. 

Key Tracks: The Best of What’s Around, Typical Situation, Jimi Thing, Ants Marching, What Would You Say

Singles (Soundtrack)

Various Artists

This is the best soundtrack to come out in the 90’s and may very well be the greatest soundtrack of all times.  I realize that is a really bold claim and I’m ok with that.  I’m a rebel!

This album captured Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins on one album before they reached the collective conscience of the country.  The album went platinum and really caught the buzz of the Seattle grunge scene.  In addition to the great songs from the soon to be huge bands, there were several key tracks from stalwart Seattle bands such as Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone.

Key Tracks: Drown, Chloe Dance/Crown of Thorns, State of Love and Trust, Breath, Birth Ritual, Would

And Justice for All

Metallica

This was my heavy metal musical baptism and bible in the latter part of my high school years.  I was really into classic rock and when this album came out I could not get enough.  The guttural growls of James Hetfield, the relentless drumming of Lars, and just the all out anger of the sound was so intoxicating.  As a recalcitrant teen, this was my anthem.  As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to appreciate the level of skill that they possess as a band of musician and how they helped define the genre.

Key Tracks:  Dyers Eve, One, The Shortest Straw, Blackened

Green

R.E.M.

Green was R.E.M.’s sixth album but was their major label debut.  This album was also the debut of Peter Buck’s mandolin which would help define the band’s sound on subsequent albums.  The album had such a different sound from their previous albums.  Stipe’s singing is more deliberate and clear and the lyrics run a range of emotions. 

Key Tracks:  Stand, You Are the Everything, World Leader Pretend, Orange Crush, I Remember California

Full Moon fever

Tom Petty

This was Petty’s first venture into solo territory even though he had collaborations with his Heartbreakers and a Wilbury or two.  The album has a cleaner almost crisp sound compared to some of the earlier Heartbreakers albums.  Helmed by Jeff Lynne (Traveling Wilbury’s, Electric Light Orchestra) the album is solid with no real weak tracks. 

Key Tracks: Runnin Down a Dream, Free Fallin’, Love Is a Long Road, I Won’t Back Down,

Joshua Tree

U2

This is my all time favorite U2 album.  They had not quite blown up into the biggest rock band in the world but were well on their way.  Each track is unyielding in musical bliss and twenty plus years later, it plays like a greatest hits album.  The album is sonically heavier than their previous albums and is their foray into the influence of the blues. 

Key Tracks: With Or Without You, Running To Stand Still, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Trip Through Your Wires

Great music awaits!


Mixed Tape Monday:Home

Well, dear, sweet, gentle reader, I apologize for my absence the last couple of days.  I was on vacation and did not have much time to write.  Before you go getting all jealous, I was not at some exotic locale sipping fruity beverages with crazy names and umbrellas impeding my drinking ability; nor was I finding myself in some serene, remote, mountainous setting. 

I was, in fact, at home dealing with the issues of owning a home and in my case, a ninety five year old home.  Yes, the home is indeed older than I.  It is also a lovely home that needed a little repair.  I use the term “little” loosely as I had to replace the upstairs AC and the hot water heater.  And, to be fair, I did not have to do it myself but I did have to avail myself to the schedule of the valiant workers who brought tidings of cool air and hot water. 

I’d like to give a gratuitous plug and a big shout out to Aire Serve Heating and Air Conditioning of Fort Worth and Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for their solid work and expertise.

With all of that being said, today’s Mixed Tape Monday theme is Home!

Enjoy and welcome back to the time waste that is my bog!

Song:              Sweet Home Alabama (I’m sure you all saw that one coming)

Artist:             Lynyrd Skynyrd

Album:           Second Helping

Song:              Home

Artist:             Alexi Murdoch

Album:           Time Without Consequence

Song:              On My Way Back Home

Artist:             Band of Horses

Album:           Infinite Arms

Song:              Taking Your Home

Artist:             Don Henley

Album:           Inside Job

Song:              My Father’s House

Artist:             Bruce Springsteen

Album:           Nebraska

Song:              Home

Artist:             Foo Fighters

Album:           Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Song:              What Is Home

Artist:             The Black Crowes

Album:           Before the Frost…

Song:              Heading Home

Artist:             Donavon Frankenreiter

Album:           Donavon Frankenreiter

Song:              Long Way Home From Anywhere

Artist:             Bruce Robison

Album:           Long Way Home From Anywhere

Song:              House of Valparaiso

Artist:             Calexico

Album:           Carried To Dust

Song:              Goin Home

Artist:             Dan Auerbach

Album:           Keep It Hid

Song:              Give a Man a Home

Artist:             Ben Harper

Album:           Fight For Your Mind

Song:              Home

Artist:             Eli Young Band

Album:           Jet Black and Jealous

Song:              This House Is a Circus

Artist:             Arctic Monkeys

Album:           Favourite Worst Nightmare

Song:              Quiet Houses

Artist:             Fleet Foxes

Album:           Fleet Foxes

Song:              My Lady’s House

Artist:             Iron & Wine

Album:           Woman King (EP)

Song:              Charlemagne’s Home Town

Artist:             James McMurtry

Album:           Childish Things

Song:              House of Stone

Artist:             Mudcrutch

Album:           Mudcrutch

Song:              Life In a Glass House

Artist:             Radiohead

Album:           Amnesiac

Song:              I’m Coming Home

Artist:             Robert Earl Keen

Album:           Gringo Honeymoon

Great music awaits!


Tune In Tuesday: 6/22/10

Welcome back to another installment of Tune In Tuesday.  Today’s six albums are pretty diverse in regards to musical genre and over all style but have the commonality of not sucking at all. 

Mojo

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

This is Mr. Petty’s first studio album in eight and is well worth the wait.  The tunes are refreshingly reflective of the bands thirty plus years in the business. The songs have an air of fun and a cohesive quality that have always been a trademark of the Heartbreakers.  Heavy on the sweet southern rock sound, the songs have a classic vibe that sounds fresh yet familiar.  Petty’s voice is in fine form with the light, nasally, southern drawl, Campbell’s guitar playing is as tight as ever, and Trench’s ability to tickle the ivory brings it all together.  The album reminds you why Petty is so great and why he can take eight years off and come back just as relevant to the music scene.

Key Tracks: Running Man’s Bible, Something Good Coming, Takin’ My Time

American Slang

The Gaslight Anthem

This is the third album for the New Jersey band and a pretty dramatic departure for the heartland punk rockers.  It seems that the urgency and tension of the first two albums has dissipated and allowed them to grow as a band.  Obviously influenced by Springsteen, American Slang is a more mature sound for the band and allows them to better connect to their audience as well as bring new folks into the fold.  Don’t get me wrong, the band still rocks and a few songs have the speed and antagonism of their previous two albums.

Key Tracks: Bring It On, American Slang, Orphans

Fly Between Falls

Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO)

Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) is the hippie, trippy, California band that brings the good time vibe to everything they play.  The band was formed by high school buddies Zach Gill, Steve Adams, Dan Lebowitz.  They all share vocal responsibilities and play a variety of instruments. 

Their debut album “Fly Between Falls” was originally released in 2004 and rereleased when ALO signed to Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records in 2006.

This album is just plain fun.  Each song is up tempo and quirky yet sucks you in a little deeper each time you listen. 

Key Tracks:  Girl I Wanna Lay You Down, Wasting Time (Isla Vista Song), Barbeque

I and Love and You

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers are the folksy, rocking, alt/country with a tinge of bluegrass band from North Carolina.  With such a diverse pedigree, is it any wonder the Rick Rubin took notice, signed them to his label, and produced their major label debut “I and Love and You”?

The album is sonically rich with harmonies provided by Scott and Seth.  The melodies are tight and the musical arrangement has a certain level of complication but not in an overly dramatic fashion.

Key Tracks:  Ten Thousand Words, Kick Drum Heart, January Wedding

One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) teamed up to write and record an album for the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s “Big Sur”

With Kerouac’s connection to jazz, both Farrar and Gibbard seem to be an odd choice to write and represent the spirit of Jack.  However, given the tragic nature of the book and Kerouac’s immersion into the depths of alcoholism and debilitating depression, Farrar with his naturally dour vocal styling and proclivity to writing deep emotionally damaged lyrics was a competent selection, while Gibbard seemed an awkward fit with his more melodic voice and previous synth heavy work with The Postal Service. 

Given the inspiration for the album it is no surprise that musically, the album is steeped in Americana with acoustic, electric, & steel guitar, lap & pedal steel, harmonica, piano, and percussions.  A majority of the lyrics were taken from Kerouac’s 1962 novel “Big Sur” and Jack gets writing credit on all of the songs except Gibbard’s lyrical contribution on the title track.

The irony of this project is that as dark and damaged as Kerouac was; the album is hopeful with a vulnerable beauty etched in the music and lyrics.

Key Tracks: California Zephyr, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, Big Sur, San Francisco

One Day as a Lion

One Day as a Lion

One Day as a Lion is the musical collaboration and eponymous debut EP of acid tongue, fire and brimstone, anti politico Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) and drummer Jon Theodore (Mars Volta). 

The overall vibe on the EP is not an exodus sonically or lyrically for either musician.  The lyrics are politically and emotionally charged, the music is in your face antagonistic, and the overall delivery is the equivalent of a sledgehammer.  Bombastic drums and hypnotic keyboards bolster the fiery vocal release of de la Rocha.  The album has urgency to it in both the spirit of the music and the delivery of the lyrics. 

While the five songs seem to play quickly, what the album lacks in length, it more than makes up for with the strength of each song.  It also brings the realization the potency of de la Rocha’s delivery and the void that has existed musically since the disbanding of Rage Against the Machine.

Key Tracks: All 5 Songs!

 Great music awaits!


Tune In Tuesday: 6/15/10

Welcome to another addition of Tune in Tuesday

Omni

Minus The Bear

Minus the Bear is a Seattle, Washington indie band that has been around since the early 00’s.  Omni is their fourth and most recent release.  The album was produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, My Morning Jacket).  The album is easy to listen to and does not require a lot of thought as it has a certain background noise pop sensibility to it.  Each song was recorded in its entirety as opposed to piecing together recorded bits, which provides more of a live feel to the recording.

The name “Minus the Bear” comes from an inside joke among the band members, referring to the 70’s show B.J. and the Bear. “A friend of the band had gone on a date,” explains singer-guitarist Jake Snider, “and one of us asked him afterwards how the date went. Our friend said, ‘You know that TV show from the ’70s B.J. and The Bear? It was like that minus the bear.’ That’s the straight truth.”

Key Tracks:

Excuses, My Time By, Into the Mirror,

 Get Off On the Pain

Gary Allan

This is Allan’s eighth studio album and had two singles, Today, and the title track Get Off On the Pain, to land on the Billboard charts.  He is a solid singer and decent writer who co-wrote five of the ten tracks on the album.   With his voice and steadfast determination to keep a traditional country sound, Alan has managed to avoid the cookie cutter mold of a litany of current singers that plague the radio.

Key Tracks:

No Regrets, When You Give Yourself Away, Today, She Gets Me

To The Sea

Jack Johnson

To The Sea is the fifth studio album from the environmentally friendly musician and sold 243,000 copies in its first week, debuting at number one.  While Johnson does not navigate uncharted water, the album is solid with well crafted songs.  His voice has a bit more urgency as he sings and does not shy away from the electric guitar.  The vibe is still relatively mellow and the messages tend to be a bit more reflective but still positive.

Key Tracks:

You and Your Heart, No Good With Faces, Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology

Together

The New Pornographers

Together is the fifth release from this Canadian indie group.  The album is heavy on the guest list with the likes of Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Zach Condon (Beruit), and the horn section from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

The album has a powerful pop energy that is balanced by the varied vocal stylings of the group.  Lead vocals are shared between Neko Case, Carl Newman, Dan Bejar, and Kathryn Calder.  It is a fun album and might take a few spins if this is your first venture into the band.  Much like Canadian beer, you don’t realize how good it is until you try it.

Key Tracks:

Your hands (Together), My Shepherd, Valkyrie In the Roller Disco,

Great music awaits


Mixed Tape Monday: Sounds of Summer

Welcome to another installment of Mixed Tape Monday.  School is out, pools and water parks are full, and my grass is dying.  It can only mean one thing, SUMMER is here. 

I believe that we all have some form of Pavlovian response to songs and that they are etched in our brain based on times and circumstance.  The following songs are one’s that take me back to the halcyon days of my youth and summers spent with varied and sundry people and places.

 Today’s topic is Songs That Remind Me of Summer. 

Song:              Boys of Summer

Artist:              Don Henley

Album:            Building the Perfect Beast

Song:              Chattahoochee

Artist:              Alan Jackson

Album:            A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little About Love)

Song:              Wasting Time

Artist:              Animal Liberation Orchestra 

Album:            Fly Between Falls

Song:              Margaritaville

Artist:              Jimmy Buffet

Album:            Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

Song:              Cannonball

Artist:              The Breeders

Album:            Last Splash

Song:              Wicked Game

Artist:              Chris Isaak

Album:            Heart Shaped World

Song:              Under The Milky Way

Artist:              The Church

Album:            Starfish

Song:              Mr. Jones

Artist:              Counting Crows

Album:            August and Everything After

Song:              Linger

Artist:              The Cranberries

Album:            Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We

Song:              Breaking the Girl

Artist:              Red Hot Chili Peppers

Album:            Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic

Song:              Ants Marching

Artist:              The Dave Matthews Band

Album:            Under the Table and Dreaming

Song:              Hey Jealousy

Artist:              Gin Blossoms

Album:            New Miserable Experience

Song:              Epic

Artist:              Faith No More

Album:            The Real Thing

Song:              Listen Like Thieves

Artist:              INXS

Album:            Listen Like Thieves

Song:              The Pretender

Artist:              Jackson Browne

Album:            The Pretender

Song:              Been Caught Stealing

Artist:              Jane’s Addiction

Album:            Ritual De Lo Habitual

Song:              In Your Eyes

Artist:              Peter Gabriel

Album:            So

Song:              River of Deceit

Artist:              Mad Season

Album:            Above

Song:              Smells Like Teen Spirit

Artist:              Nirvana

Album:            Nevermind

Song:              So Fresh So CLean

Artist:              Outkast

Album:            Stankonia

 Great music awaits!


Musical Evolution

As music has evolved, so has the process of recording and distributing to the masses.  We can now download music to our phones, computers, and portable music devices.  The fact that I can carry my entire musical collection electronically on a gadget that is no larger than a deck of cards is crazy.

Technology has certainly advanced the music industry and created a more diverse consumer market but I wonder if the immediacy of the process has made us less informed about the music that we claim to love.

Being close to 40, I made the following musical format progression:

  1. 45’s
  2. LP’s
  3. Tapes
  4. CD’s
  5. Digital Files

In the halcyon days of my youth (pre high school), I could not wait to go and buy the latest album from my favorite band (Rush, Styx) and go home, analyze both sides of the cover, check out the linear notes, and drop it on the record player.  I had the cool Panasonic stereo that had a tape player (that recorded) so I could make a tape of the album and put it in my Boom Box and walk around the neighborhood.

I would wait all week to listen to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Sunday afternoons and hope to hear my favorite song.

In high school, I had a huge collection of cassettes and would carefully select which ones I would load in my 48 tape carrying case.  And by carrying case, I mean luggage.  This thing was huge, had two handles and Velcro straps on both sides.  The stereo in my first car was worth more than the car itself.  I had the awesome tape deck that would actually fast-forward or rewind by song and a digitally tuned radio.  I was cool!

In college, along comes the small, thin, circular beauty of the Compact Disc, affectionately known as the CD.  It was revolutionary.  You would carefully place the CD on its tray, push a button and watch it disappear and then crisp, clear, CD quality sound emanated from the speakers.  The case was thin, square, and easily stackable.  The carrying case for multiple CD’s was thin, rectangular, and easily portable. As the technology progressed, there would be artwork on the disc, and the beauty of all beauties, the hidden track. 

Enter the digital age!  I embraced the digital age and purchased several MP3 players before I fell victim to the siren song of the iPod.  I own several iPods and a variety of docking stations to play them at home, work, in the truck, etc…

I am a fan of the portability of digital files however; I still buy CD’s in mass quantity.  To me, there is something pure about going into a record store, perusing the racks of music, and selecting a few must have items.  I still examine the covers, read linear notes, and enjoy every minute of each musical discovery.

Today, my kids have iPods!  The only albums they have ever seen are the few that I have left in my collection.  Record players and cassettes are completely foreign to them.  They have an awareness of CD’s but do not own any.  They like to purchase and download individual songs. 

As parents, we always want better for our children.  We want to afford them the opportunities we never had, we want to teach them from our mistakes, we want to raise them to lead a joyful, fulfilling existence. 

With all that is right with their world, I can’t help but feel a bit sad knowing that they will never have the kind of musical experience that I had as a child. 

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to the Randy Rogers Band!

The Randy Rogers Band is a country band that hales from the great state of Texas.  Yes, I realize that this Texas kick I’m on is stretching in to its second week and, well, I don’t care. Their debut album was a live album recorded at a bar in San Marcos, Texas in 2000.  By 2002 they had signed with an independent label and released their first studio album Like It Used To Be

Rand Rogers Band Discography:

  • Live at the Cheatum Street Warehouse (2000)
  • Like It Used To Be (2002)
  • Rollercoaster (2004)
  • Live at Billy Bob’s Texas (2005)
  • Just a Matter of Time (2006)
  • The Randy Rogers Band (2008)
  • Burning the Day (Set to release Aug. 2010)

They have come a long way since the bar scene of San Marcos.  They have opened for artists such as the Eagles, Willie Nelson, Gary Allan, and Dierks Bentley.  Their music fits the college scene with its good time party vibe but also digs a little deeper with each new release.  It is an interesting fusion of country and a rugged swagger that comes across as the musical love child of Waylon Jennings and Steve Earle.

Top 5 Rand Rogers Band Songs:

  • Tommy Jackson (Like It Used To Be)
  • Love Must Follow You Around (Rollercoaster)
  • This Is Goodbye (Randy Rogers Band)
  • Wicked Ways (Randy Rogers Band)
  • Somebody Take Me Home (Rollercoaster)

Rogers is the main songwriter in the band Kenny Chesney covered “Somebody Take Me Home” on his album The Road and the Radio.  Through constant touring and a record release schedule of about every two years, the band has built a solid fan base and Rolling Stone magazine listed them as a Top 10 Must See Artist in the summer of 2007.

Check out the Randy Rogers Band at www.randyrogersband.com

 Great music awaits!


Tune In Tuesday: 6/8/10

Welcome to Tune In Tuesday.  Today’s installment of Tune in Tuesday features six random albums with Texas roots.

If We Ever Make It Home

Wade Bowen 

If We Ever Make It Home is Bowen’s third studio   This album reveals the trials and tribulations of any relationships.  It speaks of love, loss, and the fallability of human spirit.  He is a solid writer that is able to convey his story with passion.  Daddy and the Devil is an amazing song that features Chris Knight and Bowen on vocals. 

Key Tracks: Daddy and the Devil, If We Ever Make It Home, You Had Me At My Best

Fire, Honey, & Angels

Walt Wilkins

 This is Walt’s debut album and some of his finest songwriting.  Walt’s music has a timeless feel to it with poignant lyrics about love, loss, and the varying stages of life.  His voice is comfortable and familiar with a hint of wisdom.  He has the ability to convey so many different thoughts and feelings through his lyrics and voice.  His strongest material is the songs that paint a picture of everyday life.  His eye for detail is uncanny as is his ability to take the mundane and make it memorable.  Ruby’s Two Sad Daughters is possibly the best country song ever written.

Key Tracks: Ruby’s Two Sad Daughters, Our Lady of the Avenue, Lessons Never Learned

Like It Used To Be

Randy Rogers Band

This is the debut studio album for the band and is a solid first venture.  Their sound is appealing in the fact that it does not stand out.  It is good music that could be heard in any number of bars in a college town in the great state of Texas.  Their music gives hope to all the other folks that are out on the road singing in dive bars and backyards.  Their studio work is not overly produced and crafted for radio friendly hooks.  Tommy Jackson is my favorite song from the band to date.

Key Tracks:  Tommy Jackson, Lost and Found, Like It Used To Be

11th Floor

Erin Ivey

Erin Ivey is Austin’s Folk music darling.  She was voted one of the city’s top 4 unsigned artists in 2007. 

Her voice is amazing, both haunting and angelic with a touch of sensuality.  Her single “Chocolate” is an infectious little number that has her voice dripping over her guitar. 

Erin Ivey is a new artist for me as I just heard her for the first time when she opened for Joe Purdy in Austin a few months back. 

Key Tracks:  Chocolate, Separational, Beautiful World

Picnic

Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen is a Texas born singer/songwriter who has built a cult following of both fans and musicians alike.  Keen’s music is bathed in humor, the hills and landscape of Texas as well as the cast of characters he has met along the way.  Picnic has several memorable (in pure Keen fashion) songs and the duet Then Came Lo Mein with Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins as well as his cover of James McMurtry’s Levelland

Key Tracks: Undone, Levelland, Shades of Gray

True Love Cast Out All Evil

Roky Erikson and Okkervil River

Roky Erikson is the former leader of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and one forefathers of the psychedelic music scene.  This of course is before his well documented breakdown and battles that led him to a lengthy stint in Rusk Maximum Security Prison for the Criminally Insane. 

Will Sheff is the leader of Okkervil River and is the reason this album came to fruition.  Some of the songs were penned while Erikson was incarcerated.  Sheff deftly produces the album without trying to replicate the sound of forty years ago when Erikson was blazing the music scene. 

Key Tracks: Good Bye Sweet Dream, Be and Bring Me Home, Bring Back the Past

Great music awaits!