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Monday, July 31, 2017

My 25 Favorite Albums Recap

Well I've just finished my 25 favorite albums of all time list. It was a lot of fun putting the list together. If there was one thing I would do different, it would be the layout of my articles. I think I could of done it much better job with it, and made it easier to read. Because of the weird layout, I am reprinting the list below in a standard layout below.

1. The Beatles: Rubber Soul
2. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
3. John Lennon: The Plastic Ono Band
4. Arcade Fire: Funeral
5. Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All of His Friends
6. William Elliot Whitmore: Field Songs
7. Moby: Wait For Me
8. Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues
9. Nirvana: In Utero

10. Nick Drake: Pink Moon
11. Paul McCartney: Flaming Pie
12. Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
13. St. Vincent: St. Vincent
14. The Living End: The Living End
15. Radiohead: In Rainbows
16. The Postal Service: Give Up
17. System of a Down: Toxicity 
18. Ringo Starr: Ringorama
19. Norah Jones: The Fall 
20. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around
21. Beck: Guero
22. Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine
23. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
24. The Garden State Soundtrack
25. Newvillager: Newvillager 


The Top 5 Favorite Albums of All Time

5. Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All of His Friends
I still remember hearing Viva la Vida for the first time like it was yesterday. One of my closest friends from college was working at a Best Buy, and he called me to see if I wanted a copy of Viva la Vida on Vinyl. His store had a copy, and he would hold it for me if I wanted it. I was in my car before he even finished that sentence, racing over to racing to his store to pick it up.  After purchasing I saw that it came with a CD copy, so I opened it, and popped it into my car stereo. It was like a smack in the face of beauty. Hearing Life in Technicolor for the first time is a moment etched into my mind forever. I think I listened to that record, and nothing else for like three weeks straight when it was first released.  I think it is still their best album ever, and it's my favorite. The music videos that accompanied this record are beautiful too. Especially the one for Strawberry Swing.




4. Arcade Fire: Funeral
Much like William Elliott Whitmore's Field Songs, it is very difficult for me to put into words as to how much I love Arcade Fire's debut album Funeral. Funeral is the soundtrack to my college years, or as I like to call them, the best years of my life. I was first introduced to Arcade Fire by one of my closest friends from college. She pulled me into the student newspaper's office, looked me straight in the face and said "Listen to this album, it will change your life". She was right. Arcade Fire was the "smart" band that I would advocate for throughout my college tenure. Everyone I met needed to know why they were so great. They captured the feeling of the mid-00s and college for me perfectly.





3. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
In my humble opinion, John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band is the most pissed off, angry album I have every heard. Recorded shortly after the Beatles breakup, and while participating in Primal Scream Therapy, Lennon goes on the attack, and nothing is spared from his wrath. He attacks his parents, the music industry, God, and his ex-bandmates. The only person spared from his wrath is his wife Yoko Ono. This is a very therapeutic album for me. When I am at my most pissed off, I listen to this album, and I feel the angry subside. I think that is one of the things that I love and admire the most about Lennon. He verbalized things I would never say out loud. It is so cool, and something I wish I could. But there is only one John Lennon for a reason.




2. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
John Lennon is my favorite Beatle of all time, but George Harrison created the greatest solo Beatles album of all time. The epic All Things Must Pass was released in 1970, and featured all of Harrison's backlog of songs that were either rejected by The Beatles, or were never brought to their attention. Which utterly blows my mind. All Things Must Pass is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is never boring, and it showcases Harrison's genius and equal to Lennon/McCartney. It made George a superstar, and well-deserved too. Every autumn, I listen to this album. I love it, and is a perfect record.



1. The Beatles: Rubber Soul 

Finally we have reached my number 1, and of course its a Beatles record!!! The Beatles are my favorite band of all time, and it makes perfect sense for them to have the number one spot. For my money, Rubber Soul is the perfect illustration as to why the Beatles are the greatest band of all time. It is a perfect middle years album. It showcases the Beatles at their pop music height with such songs as: Drive My Car or You Won't See Me. But it also shows where they will be going in the future in regards to song and music experimentation. This can be seen with such songs as: Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, and In My Life. All of this is perfectly blended together into a my favorite album of all time. And the amazing thing, Rubber Soul is the second album the Beatles released in 1965. That is unbelievable when you think of that. And though not on the official album, We Can Work it Out was released around the same time as Rubber Soul, and is a perfect representation of this time period in Beatles history.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

10 - 6 Favorite Albums of All Time

10. Nick Drake: Pink Moon
Nick Drake's life and career utterly fascinates me. Due to cripplingly shyness, Drake only performed a handful of concerts ( I think the number is seven), never gave an interview, and never toured. There is no footage of any of his live performances, and even few public color pictures of him. He sold fewer than 5,000 records during his lifetime, and died a premature death. You only have three albums, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon and that's it. Pink Moon is my favorite and I feel it is his best work. Stripped to its bare bones, Pink Moon features Drake's incredible guitar playing and vocal accompaniment and place it at the forefront of this album. It's beautiful, and I feel a MUST listen to any music fan.



9. Nirvana: In Utero

For my generation (early thirties) Nirvana was the equivalent to The Beatles. Kurt Cobain was able to express emotions in his music that many felt, but were too timid to say out loud. This created an authentic connection with Cobain and his fans that is difficult to explain, but is strongly felt. Nirvana released In Utero in late 1993, which was the follow up to their highly successful major label debut Nevermind. In Utero is incredible!! It sees Nirvana exploring new territory, and pushing their limits as musicians. Which makes it a little sad in my opinion. It's an opportunity missed out on because of the tragic events of the week of April 6th, 1994.



8. Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues

I love the Punch Brothers!! I think they are the most exciting band in the world today. For the past two years, there hasn't been a week that goes by where I do not listen to one of their albums, or a rock block of their songs. My love for the band really began with this album,  The Phosphorescent Blues. I still vividly remember my excitement and awe when I heard the album for the first time. I could not get enough, and I still cannot get enough. Without a doubt, this album made the Punch Brothers one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time.




7. Moby: Wait for Me
A common theme of my all-time favorite list seems to feature albums that made me fans of the band. This statement is true for Wait for Me. I knew of Moby, but I never really listened to his music before this record. When I did, I was blown away. It almost felt like I was "going home" when I was listening. Their is a melodic quality to Moby's music that adds sadness, and thoughtfulness.



6. William Elliott Whitmore: Field Songs 
It's difficult for me to put into words how much the music of William Elliott Whitmore means to me. There's happy songs, sad songs. He has music that I want played at my wedding and at my funeral. It's music of the earth, and it speaks to me in a way that only John Lennon and The Beatles can compete with. For me, Field Songs cements Whitmore's place as one of my all-time favorites. The poetry is moving, the music gets the foot tapping, and it makes you feel emotions that can be scary to confront at times. It's beautifully simple. And that quality makes it epic.


Paul McCartney Setlist 2017

Photo Credit: Me
I'm taking a brief pause from my favorite albums of all time list to bring you the setlist for Paul McCartney's setlist from his Tuesday July 25th, 2017 performance at the Hollywood Bank Amphitheater out in Tinley Park, IL.

What can I say about Sir Paul, that already hasn't been said? He was amazing live. At 75, he sounded incredibly, and performed a slew of songs that haven't been performed in years. A Hard Day's Night, Temporary Secretary, and In Spite of All the Danger are just a few examples of this.

On another not, I do note like Hollywood Bank Amphitheater. It took 45 minutes just to get into the parking lot, and the actual venue itself was dirty. Highly disappointing. All well. What can you do?

2017 Setlist

1. A Hard Day's Night
2. Save Us
3. Can't Buy Me Love
4. Letting Go
5. Temporary Secrtary
6. Let Me Roll It
7. I've Got a Feeling
8. My Valentine
9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
10. Maybe I'm Amazed
11. We Can Work it Out
12. In Spite of all the Danger
13. You Won't See Me
14. Love Me Do
15. And I Love Her
16. Blackbird
17. Here Today
18. Queenie Eye
19. New
20. Fool on the Hill
21. Lady Madonna
22. Forty-Five Seconds
23. Eleanor Rigby
24. I Wanna Be Your Man
25. For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
26. Something
27. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
28. Band on the Run
29. Back in the U.S.S.R.
30. Let It Be
31. Live and Let Die
32. Hey Jude

Encore
33. Yesterday
34. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
35. Hi, Hi, Hi
36. Birthday
37. Golden Slumbers
38. Carry That Weight
39. The End

Monday, July 24, 2017

15 - 11 Favorite Albums of All Time

15. Radiohead: In Rainbows
I still remember when Radiohead first released In Rainbows. It was the fall of 2007 and it was a revolutionary moment for the music community. In fact, the event was so big, that the Press Secretary of the White House was asked to comment on its release. In Rainbows was offered at whatever price fans were willingly to pay for it. If they wanted to pay $9.99, they could. If they wanted to pay $.99, they could. This pay what you want model was further adapted by other musical acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Saul Williams. So it was really cool when In Rainbows came out, it felt like an epic event. But the best part, its one of Radiohead's best albums. Which is really saying something. Maybe even top three that they have ever done. It is my favorite for sure.




14. The Living End: The Living End
I have loved this record since my freshman year of high school. Australia's The Living End burst onto the American music scene with a mixture of punk and rockabilly that to this day I have to play at a very loud volume. It really captures a moment for me. Whenever I listen back to this record, I almost feel like I'm back in high school. I remember what that feeling was like. And that's a really cool thing for an album to be able to do. Plus it has some great songs on it. I need to find the old "The Box" cable channel and spend a $1.99 to see this music video again.



13. St. Vincent: St. Vincent
I am so happy that I was able to include this album on my list. I almost got bit by my own rules that I set for this series of postings. Thankfully this record was released in 2014 and meets all of the aforementioned rules. Which again makes me very happy because I really love it. This album made me a fan of St. Vincent. For me at least, it served as a great introduction to the art that Annie Clark (St. Vincent) produces. It is abstract, yet accessible. Additionally, she is probably the greatest guitarist I've ever seen live. She absolutely shreds!!! Birth in Reverse is a great example of her kicking ass.




12. Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
Man, this is a cool sounding record. I mean, it sounds really, really cool. Much cooler, than I will ever be. Mid-00s Britpop will always have a very special place in my heart, since it was a large component of my college soundtrack. Released in 2005, Bloc Party burst through my stereo with such great songs as: Banquet, Helicopter, Like Eating Glass, and This Modern Love. Recently, I re-listened to it, and it still sounds really, really cool.




11. Paul McCartney: Flaming Pie
The second solo Beatle album to make my all-time favorite's list comes to use from the one and only Sir Paul McCartney. I love Flaming Pie. I think it is his best solo record he has ever done. Recorded right after McCartney's participation in the Beatles' Anthology series, Flaming Pie really sounds like a Beatles album. From start to finish this is a must listen for any serious music fan. It really shows McCartney at a creative high point.

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.