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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

20 - 16 Favorite Albums of All Time

20. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around
This is the album that caused me to fall in love with the music of Johnny Cash. For most alternative music fans my age, I knew who Johnny Cash was, I respected him for his contributions to music, but I really didn't listen to his music. That all changed when I saw the music video for "Hurt". It is  a truly haunting piece of art. Listening to this song caused me to get the record, and the rest as they say his history. I fell in love with Cash's music, and finally understood his greatness. I now see him as a modern-day commentator on life, spirituality, and politics. Someone who has something to say, and one you should listen to. (Unfortunately the official music video is no longer on YouTube, so I must use a lyric video.)

19. Norah Jones: The Fall
Very similar to how American IV made me a fan of Johnny Cash, The Fall made me a fan of Norah Jones. The first time I heard Chasing Pirates, I fell absolutely in love with her music. For me, this is pop music at its finest. Great lyrics, catching beat. What more could you ask for? In addition to having this great song, The Fall also features some other great songs such as: "December", "It's Gonna Be", and "Even Though". The Fall is still my favorite Norah Jones album, and my number 19 favorite album of all time.

18. Ringo Starr: Ringorama 
In my opinion, the last twenty years has seen Ringo Starr release some of his best music since The Beatles. A few highlights include the albums: Liverpool 8, Vertical Man, and Postcards in Paradise. But for my money, his best album during this time period is 2003's Ringorama. This is my favorite solo Starr album, and it features a heartfelt tribute to George Harrison "Never without You", commentary on the British Royal Family with "Elizabeth Reigns", and good old fashion rock n' roll with "Eye to Eye". From beginning to end, this is one great album, and one of Ringo's best ever.

17. System of a Down: Toxicity 
I love System of a Down. I love the fact that there isn't another band in the world that sounds like them. Their music is aggressive, yet informative. I started listening to System in college, and I vividly remember reading Toxicity's lyric book, and being shocked with the content they were discussing throughout the album. Issues such as the drug epidemic, prison overpopulation, the environment, and orgies and groupies. All on a single album. Like Rage Against the Machine, I feel like I learn something new every time I listen to System of a Down. It's true they cover a wide range of topics, but they are also probably the best modern metal band.

16. The Postal Service: Give Up 
They say you are either a Death Cab for Cutie fan or you are a Postal Service fan. I am a Postal Service fan. Ben Gibbard's side project only released one album. One album. And its perfect! And beautiful! From beginning to end, Give Up captures an emotional feeling that is difficult to put into words without sounding "corny". Its not emo, but it is very emotional. It has an electronic/computer sound, yet it still sounds very organic. Part of me wishes that Postal Service would release another album. But then again, having one perfect album is not a bad thing at all either.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

25 - 21 Favorite Albums of All Time

25. NewVillager: NewVillager
Newvillager is a really cool band, with a really cool sound. They sound artistic if that makes sense? Yet their music is very poppy. Their self-titled debut album came out in 2011, and has never really left my regular playlist on iTunes. NewVillager consists of a group of artists that utilize music and visual means to get their message across. In fact, and I may be wrong with this, but all of their music videos for their debut tell a story across all of the videos. They are visual, and I love their sound. I've been hoping that they would eventually release another album, but if they don't I am very content with their one and only release. Six years later, and I still hear something new every time I listen to it.

24. The Garden State Soundtrack
This soundtrack is 2000s indie rock 101. If you want to get into indie rock, and I think you should, this is an excellent jumping off place. I discovered so many bands solely because of this soundtrack. The Shins, Iron & Wine, Nick Drake, and Thievery Corporation, just to name a few. But it doesn't just feature, what at the time were up and coming artists. It also features mainstream acts such as Coldplay and Simon & Garfunkel. Picking a single song to showcase from this soundtrack is incredibly difficult, but I think I need to go with the song that is synonymous with the movie, Frou Frou's Let Go. It's amazing!!

23. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
This was the first "weird" record I listened to in college. Before college, I was pretty mainstream in my musical tastes. Whatever was on Q101 or 94. 7 The Zone at the time was pretty much what I was listening to. But this record left such an imprint on my subconscious that I still vividly remember the first time I heard it. I was in the on-air studio at my college station with my best friend Kev Kellam. He asked me if I had ever heard Yoshimi. I said no, and he replied with "It's weird, but mainstream. You'll like it." Boy, was he right. I still love this record, and I hope that one day, The Flaming Lips will return to this level of weirdness. Fingers crossed.

22. Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine
It never ceases to surprise me people's reactions when I tell them that I love Rage Against the Machine. They look at me like, "you like metal?" Yes. Yes I do. Although I'm not as into metal as I used to be in the early 2000s, I still, every once in awhile headbang. Whenever I listen to Rage, I feel like learn something. I feel encourage to read books and ask questions. I felt this when I was younger, and still do now. Rage's debut is an amazing record. From start to finish, it doesn't let up.

21. Beck: Guero
I feel like with Beck's 2005 release that I finally understood his greatness. Beck reinvents himself with every record he releases, one of the things I really appreciate about his now. But back then, I can't say that I "got it". But then I heard Guero. Guero is nothing more than a great alternative rock record that has great riffs and killer lyrics. It should me why Beck is so popular, and made me want to check out more of his music, which I did. Now I'm a huge fan of his, and I credit Guero for making me a fan.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Expanding the List

Hi! June has been a very busy month. I apologize for not writing sooner. But you know life happens. I've been busy though working on my favorite 10 albums of all time list, and I must admit, it is much harder than I thought it would be.

So I actually ended up with a list that consists of 25 of my favorite albums of all time. So I think I'll expand the list and make it my favorite 25 albums of all time. Now it is time to place them in their proper order.

And since I am expanding the list, I will be making a slight change to the rules of these posting. Instead of only allowing two solo Beatles' albums, I'll now allow four in total. Each Beatle will be represented on this list.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parameters for my Favorite Albums of All Time List

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to begin compiling a list of my favorite albums of all time. But before I could actually put that list together, I thought I should develop a set of parameters. These parameters aren't meant to be super specific, just general guidelines.

1. Timeframe. All records that make it to my list must be at minimum one to two years old. I want my list to consist of albums that truly hold up. I've noticed that over the years, when I've assembled my "End of the Year " favorites list, I've included albums that really don't hold up. Some reasons are based on quality, some is based on my musical taste changing. I don't want that for this list. I want a "timeless" quality to it. And for me, if I consistently listened to an album over the course of a few years, you can bet that it's one of my favorites. Which is a perfect segue way into number 2.

2. Re-listenability. I should go out of my way every now and then to listen to this album in full. For example, once a year, I always try to listen to George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. I love everything about the record. It's so good. Again for me, that's a characteristic of a great record. I go out of my way to listen to a album at least once a year. Now since I've mentioned a Beatle, I should move onto number 3.

3. Limited Beatles. I love the Beatles, and I could totally make this list consisting of nothing but Beatles albums along with solo Beatles albums. But I don't want to do that. I want my all time list to have some diversity to it. Hence I am limiting myself to one Beatles album and two solo Beatles albums for this list. In total this list will consist of 10 entries, with two honorable mentions, so three spots out of twelve should be plenty to house my Beatles selections. Plus it'll allow me at some point to develop a favorites list consisting of nothing but the Beatles.

There you have it. My basic parameters for my Favorite Albums of All Time List. I'll start next week with my two honorable mentions.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Favorite Albums of All Time

Over the past few days, I've been doing some reflecting regarding what my favorite albums of all time are. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be fun to put a list together of my top 10 favorite albums of all time are, and why they mean so much to me.

Before I compile the list, I need to set a few parameters for what makes an album one of my favorite of all time. This will be a fun list to develop.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Remaster

I am utterly blown away by how GREAT the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sounds. It's crisp and the volume is note muted. This remaster allows room for the harmonies, instruments, and other effects. I feel like I am hearing this record for the first time.

In fact, I think the harmonies are the real highlight of this remaster job for me. Hearing how John, Paul, and George's voices blend together in perfect harmony is incredible. I really hope the rest of their catalogue gets a remaster job like this. I will gladly repurchase the catalog if it sounds as good as Sgt. Pepper.

There's also a part of me that hopes that this remastering reminds people why they feel in love with Pepper in the first place. Over the last few years, Pepper's standing in the musical community has gone down slightly, and I truly hope these reminds everyone how great it is.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New Records of 2017

I've always prided myself on embracing new music. I've always had an open ear to check out new records or new artists. This year feels different though. In fact I'm a little disappointed in myself. I feel like there has been absolutely nothing that has "grabbed" my full attention. It is true that there are a number of new records that I have enjoyed very much (Check out the listing below.) There's just nothing that has grabbed my attention.

Maybe it is true, as you age, you get more set in your musical ways. Maybe that's what has happened to me? Maybe 2017 hasn't been that great for music thus far? Maybe the records that will speak to me haven't been released yet. All of the aforementioned ideas could be true or false. Only time will tell. It just feels like last year at this time, I had some many favorite new albums. This year, I feel like I'm in a musical drought, and I keep returning to old favorites.

Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau: Self-Titled

Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer: Bach Trios

Spoon: Hot Thoughts

The Shins: Heartworms

Gorillaz: Humanz

Los Campesinos!: Sick Scenes