2013 New Albums

24 Mar

Yes, 2013.  I just want you to know I’ve been working on this all the time (save for Brandi Carlile’s new CD listens) since January.  And I had listened on and off since mid 2013.  The songs were all very long durations.  The albums included a lot of song.  2013 was no small feat!  But finally FINALLY!  I HAVE FINISHED.  Yes, all-caps is necessary.  And yes, this is 3-10-2015.  From good singles, to made the list, to least to most starred songs here’s the list:

freq inside cochlea

Worth mentioning (1 song made my list):

“Sacrilege” Yeah Yeahs

“It Should be Easy” Will-i-am (Brittany Spears).  It has the electric sound of The Flaming Lips, the electric-pop singing of Cher, and the dancey beats of Justin Timberlake.

“Evolve or be Extinct” Wiley.  Who can say no to rap with an English accent?  You don’t hear this every day!

“Fault Lines”  Tom Petty.

“Tik Tik Boom” T.I. (feat. Britney Spears)

“Autobahn” Starfuckers.  It’s long (5:41), it’s electronic, it’s dancy–but it’s a rave-reminding dance fun-time.

“To Hell With You” Sleigh Bell

“Aint Your Right” Sky Ferreira.  It has a little bit of an 80s sound with electric backing and waif-like singing, but unlike the eighties–it has a feminist sentiment.

“Never Wanted Your Love” She & Him

“Blurred Lines” Robin Thicke

“I’ve Got Soul” Hanson.  Was Hansen always this churchy?  I think the three guys probably were, but their sound used to have extremem pop influence.  This new album as a whole was more spiritually-oriented, but I liked their characteristic bounciness was still in “I’ve Got Soul.”

“Axis”  Pet Shop Boys

“Alligator” Paul McCartney

“Immortal” Kid Cudi

“Brave” Josh Groban.  An uplifting, catchy chorus, and obviously that resonant voice.

“State of the Art”  –robot toast remix, Jim James.  a low-key song at first, but warms to a dancable beat good for rockin’ or running.

“Vertigo”  Jason DeRulo feat. Jordan Sparks

“Get Lucky” Daft Punk, featuring everyone & their brother.  I couldn’t help but like this song, but I think the hyped Daft Punk was severely overrated in 2013.

“Water and a Flame” Celine Dion.  She sounds like a smoker and a lot more blues then the romantic style I’m used to.

“Monsters of Sunderland” British Sea Power

“A Light From Home” Bradley Joseph

“Put It In” Blue October

“I’m Not in Love”  10cc

DMB Chicago 2014

Buckcherry- Confessions.  Like Flaming Lips’ newest endeavor, I like this album mostly for the concept.  The songs are OK, and there might be a standout, but it’s not really a song-comparison kind of disc.  This one goes as a set, and must be judged as such.  I like that each song title is a seven deadly sins (mostly).  It’s a really cool idea and you should give the entire thing a listen.

Bret Michaels- Jammin’ With Friends.  Also a conceptually-driven album that has it’s strength in its collaborations.  He plays with a variety of other musicians, some famous, some more obscure.  The re-calibrated versions (covers) are good, and have Michaels’ own spin on them–some even for the better.

Blossom Music Center

–Made the List–

Kenny Chesney = 2 made the list.  I usually don’t love Kenny, and feel he’s waaaay overrated.  I did like the duets and island feel of Life on a Rock.  Even if it’s a Jimmy Buffet rip-off.

Eels = 2 songs made the list.  For some reason they remind me of “Spongebob Square Pants.”  The creepy, scratchy singing is cartoonish, but interesting.  It’s high energy, but almost villain music.

Jay Sean = 2 songs on the list.  I like the caribbean-island feel mixed with rap and R&B.  I also like that these songs don’t disparage anyone (especially women).

Trapt–3 made the list.  Their live sound is a little more edgy.

Stereophonics–4 made the list.

Hugh Laurie = 4 made the list.  This is one to watch!  I like the jazzy-blues feel, soulful singing, and instrumentation.  I hope there is a follow-up.

John Legend = 2 songs on the list.  Hero of the music industry.  Nuff said.

Franz Ferdinand = 2 songs on the list.  Just alright.  I was disappointed there were no beat changes, false-stars, or dancable songs like I remember in 2005(?).

R. Kelly = 2 songs on the list.  As expected it’s sexy, it’s R&B.  The album also features many other artists.

Pearl Jam = 3 songs made the list.  I have a hard time getting in tune with their slurry way of muddling through lyrics.

Lady Gaga = 3 on the list.  It’s fine.  Maybe I’m not her target audience.  It’s dance.  It’s pop.  It features catchy choruses.  I just don’t feel it.

Moby = 3 songs made the list.  This is more of a background album to study to then a forefront album to listen.  I like the mellowness, but said mellowness means no starred stand outs.

Iron and Wine = 3 on the list, none starred.  It’s OK.  Doesn’t make enough of a statement to say much more then this about it though.

Morgan Taylor Reid = 4 on the list.  It’s like a toned-down One Republic.  With a little The Fray sprinkled in.  I like the chill easy-listening, but nothing got me excited.

Panic!  At the Disco = 4 songs made the list.  I feel like Too. . .  [long of a title] is a fan-album.  The songs were ok, but there was no song that really hooked me in and spoke to me.  It’s fine and good to write entire albums for the die-hard fans, but I don’t think one catchy mass-appeal single would have killed them.

Sheryl Crow–4 songs, ugh.  Made the list, no favorites.  I HATE to say it, I really, really do.  Side-note] Sheryl Crow was one of the first 12 CDs I ever owned, the first album under heavy rotation, and the first poster of any musician to ever grace my bedroom wall.  I loved Tuesday. . .  Sang along with her self-titled album, and felt The Globe Sessions.  She is one artist that I’ve continuously appreciated.  So that’s why it hurts me to say with Feels Like Home, her country crossover album–she sold out.  I think this country is forced, and a way to play it safe in the ultra-competitive world of music.  As an (aging) female rock gal, I think she went to country where older women have more of a chance.  But it doesn’t really suit her and it’s contrived.  I always hoped to catch Sheryl Crow at a live show or festival before she’s ancient and washed up–I really hope I’m not too late. . .

Arcade Fire = 5 on the list.  I liked their other albums a lot, and they went on heavy rotation.  Reflektor is not only poor spelling, I didn’t get a feel for it in the same way.  It’s just OK, and that disappoints me.

Aaron Neville = 5 on the list.  I love his voice, so crooning and gentle.  The reworked classics sound nice too.  I don’t think they are starrable songs, because none are original.

Eric Clapton = 6 on the list.  Old Sock has a different sound from how I remember Clapton’s signature.  It’s country-blues, and it’s good.  There are no stand-outs, despite it’s easy listening.

The Dear Hunter = 6 on the list.  They sound like a softer Fall Out Boy.  It’s just ok, but there’s potential.

Kings of Leon = 7 on the list, none starred.  And not because I didn’t like Mechanical Bull, (random title) just because it’s kind of down-low music.  It’s good to study to or good chill party background.  I do think it’s as good as the last album though.

Gregory Allen Isakov = 8 on the list.  He’s a quiet, study song-writer, mello guy.  Not the kind of artist you star for catchy choruses.  More of a staying-power kind of vibe.

Nelly =  8 on the list.  I liked them enough to put on the list, but there are no new favorites here.  No club anthem or running song. . .  M.O. was good, not great.

DMB Australia

98 = 1 starred.  And 1 other song made the list.  It’s old school by now, but the starred song, “No Part of You” is ahh-mazing!

Nine Inch Nails = 1 starred and 1 more song on the list.  It sounds like dark computer electronica.  Really, it kind of bummed me out.  The sound is a little unfeeling.  But I guess it’s good. . .  I do like “Copy of a” for it’s catchy beat and a little more listener-friendly tone.

Vampire Weekend–3 on the list, 1 starred.  I like the fast music and frantic singing.

Natalie Maines =  1 starred, 3 on the list.  I thought she had a respectable solo effort.  Mother showed good potential.  And I liked her newfound seriousness.  But I don’t think showing her characteristic playfulness would hurt the next album.  I’d like to see more of a mix of both.

KT Tunstall = 3 on the list, 1 starred.  Invisible Empire is very different from KT’s other records in that it’s quiet and has an old-school country vibe.  Sure, it’s not as immediately catchy, but  don’t think that takes away from the quality.  The instrumentation is more nuanced and the vocals more thoughtful.  It’s a quiet album, but good.

Luke Bryan = 1 starred, 3 on the list.  Crash My Party certainly feels like you’re at a bonfire party.  Before I looked at the album title, I was going to write that.  Aptly titled.  I see a lot of potential here, but it’s a little superficial to be outstanding just yet.  With maturity, I think Bryan can be a key player.

Jake Bugg = 1 starred, 3 total on list.  It’s an interesting sound.  Hipster.  Across-the-pond.  (Soft?) punk.  He’s one to watch.

B.O.B = 1 starred, 3 on the list.  They have a more easy sound to them these days, and I liked the softer vibe.  BUT the starred song, is still a heavy-rock/rap tune that will help motivate me as I’m sprinting.

Dido = 1 starred, 3 on the list.  I usually don’t like Dido, but Girl Who Got Away was more jazzed up with a stronger percussion then before.  I also felt the lyrics were less meditative and more provocative in that she has feelings.

Lissie = 1 starred, 4 on the list.  What she lacks in superior singing ability, she makes up with passion.  There is something about her vocal quality that isn’t stellar (nasal-tone?  Crackle?) but I really didn’t even notice it til I was listening carefully in order to write this post.  I like her cheekiness and the fact she says important things.

Neko Case = 4 on the list, 1 starred.  I really like the mix of old-school country and hipster.  It’s sort of friendly and chill with just enough “you’re not in the scene” to remain cool.

Ciara =  1 starred, 4 on the list.  I liked the rapping in “I’m Out” but that may have been Nicki Minaj.

Everything Everything = 1 starred, 5 on the list.  Unapologetically superficial and clubster.  Listening makes me think of the gay-boys lip-syncing and choreographing moves for the club.  Arc is FUN, but don’t expect seriousness here.

Fall Out Boy = 1 starred, 5 on the list.  Save Rock & Roll makes me conger an outdoor rally trying to accomplish. . .  things.  The album seems motivational, with unifying cries, but for what, I’m not certain.  Maybe that’s not the point.  The point is to remind people that music is a driving force that still has the ability to MOVE people to action–of any kind.

Golgol Bordello = 1 starred, 6 total songs on the list.  This album is still good.  It’s still energetic.  Pura Vida Conspiracy is relatively quieter then their last album.  Which isn’t quiet at all, but it doesn’t make me want to spring like their past offerings.

Linkin Park = 1 starred, 6 made the list.  As one of my long-term favorites, Linkin Park rarely disappoints me.  Sadly, Recharged, did.  I didn’t like their new highly electronic sound that deviated from their passionate rock.  I get the impression this album is more of a filler between “real” albums. . .  Get back to your roots, Linkin Park.

Paramore = 1 starred, which I really like a lot, because it is different from most of the rest.  It’s a very serious tune–what can I say?  I like the heavy, substantial songs?  When I’m in the right mood, I like 6 songs off their self-titled album of 2013.  I have to say, they’re a little 80s-centric for my usual mood though.  It’s just too pseudo-punk, clappy, pop for my norm.  And for some reason I think the band (or maybe their core fans?) are a little too over the edge of hipster for us real, down-to-Earth-types.  But, in a light, dancy mood, I’m in!

DMB flower instruments

Everything, Everything-  I had 2 of their songs on my list and I would classify it as hipster bubble-gum gay.  The songs are in a falsetto for the most part (that gay) and it’s catchy (pop), but seems a little too cool for school (hipster).

Of Montreal = 2 starred, on the list.  This hipster, English sound reminds me of listening to a Juno movie.  It’s too cool for school.  But I like it–even if I’m not in the club.

James Blunt = 2 starred, 2 songs on the list.  Though he always reminds me of Douche, Moon Landing deviates from his past sound enough to take a new place in my mind.  The 2 songs I liked had his characteristic voice, but a new feel.

Sarah Brightman = 2 starred, 2 on the list.  It’s relaxed and easy-going.  Kind of like a more instrumental, less new-agey Enya.

Robin Thicke = 2 starred, 2 on list.

Demi Lovato = 2 starred, 2 on the list.  I really liked her independence and anger on Demi.  It’s still dancy, but she has something to say.  Can’t wait for the next album.

Frightened Rabbit = 2 starred, 2 on the list.  It’s a low-key listen, and that’s OK.

The Saturdays = 2 starred, and 3 on the list.  It’s very poppy, and a little eighties-electronic, but I think they have some potential.

Sara Bareilles = 2 starred, 4 on the list.  Same great singing and emotion, less anger.

Justin Bieber = 4 on the list, 2 starred.  Yes, the kid is a major-douche.  BUT I did like a few songs from Believe Acoustic.  I like the concept of making a filler-album acoustic.  Also, it’s got a nice, laid-back vibe that I enjoy and could study to.  Again, I acknowledge this dude is a tool-bag in real life.

Gary Allen = 2 starred, 4 on the list.  The songs have drinkin’, lovin’, and love lost as every good country album should.  It’s melancholy though–a sort of recovery album.  I look forward to a brighter version in the future.

Britney Spears = 2 starred, 4 on the list.  It’s very clubby.  Very dancy.  Some of the songs are unemotional as a result, but there’s one sentimental lyrically-driven song here.  Britney Jean is solid, but not a top contender.

Backstreet Boys = 2 starred, 5 on the list.  They’re baaacccck!  And not quite relevant in today’s market, especially given their humongous popularity in the late 1990s, but there’s still a little something there.  I am a fan of the highly polished slick studio magic, but the singing and ballads seem a little forced and phony this time around. . .

Cold War Kids = 2 starred, 5 on the list.  Seattle or not–I don’t think I’m a big fan.  I find the singing a little whiny and tedious and get this off-putting emo-hipster vibe that I can’t tolerate.  Tuxedos is quiet, without a radio-friendly stand-out, but if you like this kind of thing, you might feel it more than I do. . .

Twenty-One Pilots–6 on the list, 2 starred.  I get a gay-vibe and superficial dancey beats.

Arctic Monkeys = 2 starred, 7 songs.  Some might be disappointed, because the sound is very different from the first album.  It has more of a. . .  beat?  It’s more uptempo?  Something like that.

Sean Kingston = 2 starred, 7 made the list.  Has a fun sound.  I like the island influenced rap.

Elton John = 2 starred, 17 on the list.  Sir Elton John is always one of my favorites and The Diving Board is no exception.  Though the tracks aren’t star-material for the most part, the album as a whole is really great.  The songs work together to tell a story.  It’s a thoughtful and mature album, saturated with instrumentals.  I like the cover art and concept, and the meloncholy sound is great for concurrent reading or reflection.  It’s heavy on piano, which is a great reemergence of his skills.  There’s a definite sadness/blues feel to the 17 songs (entire album?) that I placed on my list.  And I feel like I’m sitting in a deep South, smoky bar while I listen.

John Mayer = 2 starred.  I like John.  Always have.  He was my 2nd concert ever, and I’m completely out of the celeb-gossip loop so I don’t know of any of his D-bag ways.  Anyway, with this album, which I added 10 songs to my list from, he’s gone country *insert Taylor Swift joke here* and I think it suits him.  I think the last album was deeper, more heartfelt, and more sincere, but this one is moving–in a cross-over type of way.  And there are shades of the last introspective tunes in songs like, “Waitin’ on the Day.”  I can see the John is trying to project a more adult, mature version of himself, but I’m not jaded by the marketing, it’s still John’s low-key voice and mellow strummings.

J.T. = 2 starred.  And an amazing 11 songs made my list.  But he kind of made me annoyed.  After such a long hiatus, I was expecting greatness that matched his last effort.  And I found the first CD of 20/20 just. . .  Meh.  There was no “Sexy Back,” that’s for sure.  And I felt it was–too much–that his songs were ALL so lengthy.  Like, Justin, who do you think you are?!  When he put out a part 2, I was so over it.  I felt like he thought the first CD would be more popular, then he thought–oops try again.  So instead of the 11 songs being awesome and wonderful, the whole marketing skeme mostly annoys me.  And the songs need to be snipped in half–or shorter.

fish bowl 2

Ra Ra Riot = 3 starred and 4 on the list.  They are heavy with the gay-sounding pop and pleads “I wanna be your toy…”  I like the upbeat, dancy tunes and hope to hear more in coming years.

Brad Paisley = 3 starred, 4 songs on the list.  I admit, I liked “Celebrity” a ton, but I never liked Brad Paisley as a person/lyrically.  I think thought he was sexist.  The words in his songs just rubbed me the wrong way.  Wheelhouse has a slightly different tone to it though–are you kidding me a song about a survivor of domestic abuse getting revenge?  Alright!  I can stand behind that.  I’m still undecided if Paisley is a chauvinist, but I can give him the benefit of the doubt for this album.

Daughtry = 3 starred, 5 on the list.  Baptized is a little stronger of a statement then the last album, and I like the feeling that jumps out of both the lyrics and the instrumentation.  It’s harder, but still meaningful.  I approve.

Barenakid Ladies = 3 starred, 5 on the list.  Like the other albums, Grinning Streak has a playful, fast-lyric thing going on.  This makes it catchy, and it also lends to a jingle-type sound.  I don’t mind, but it’ll never go on heavy rotation because of that.

Skillet = 3 starred and 7 made the list.  They are like a non-douchy Creed.  It’s hard-rock, but with an uplifting vibe.  I can tell they’re not posers like the afore-mentioned band, in it for the money.  They sing with authenticity and feeling.

Avril Lavigne = 3 starred, 9 on the list.  Her self-titled album has little to no substance, but that’s what we like about Lavigne, right?  She’s a mindless edgy-pop guilty pleasure.

dmb stage

Bon Jovi = starred, 4 on the list.  What about Now is more subtle, more thoughtful, but no less cool then any previous album.  There is a hopeful tone that I really like and though its less hard-rock, there are still catchy riffs and riveting choruses.  And “Because We Can” is probably my all-time favorite song of 2013.  It’s upbeat, yet sentimental, introspective, yet energetic and motivating.

Darius Rutger = 4 starred, 4 on the list.  I felt a lot of emotion in True Believers, and thought it was a nice mix between country and contemporary soft-rock.

New Kids. . . = 4 starred.  Out of 4 songs that made the cut.  They’re back!  And surprisingly, they are not totally washed up.  I liked the broken heart song, the dance party song, and I thought they were still surprisingly relevant.

Bad Religion = 4 starred, 6 on the list.  It’s heavy punkish-rock.  The songs jam out, and are super-short (unlike almost every other 2013 album).  I like the catchiness and harmonies, but wish each song was slightly longer. . .

Saliva = 4 starred, 9 made the list.  Saliva wasn’t as whiny!  Thank goodness they’ve matured a little, because I have always liked their hard-rock sound.

stage close up

Top Ten:  Tim McGraw-6 made the list, 5 starred.  There’s a real energy on this album.  It’s upbeat and well-thought.  The songs are catchy and have main-steam appeal without being contrived, formulaic, and sell-out.

#9:  Miley Cyrus = 5 starred, 13 on the list.  She’s a horrible human being (from what the media tells me) but the gal can sing.  And her sound is a deeper, different range than I’m used to hearing.

#8:  Gabriella Cilmi = 6 starred, 12 on the list.  My vote for Best New Artist.  Think Macy Gray with a thinner, more blues Southern vibe.  The Sting is solid, and she’s one to watch.

#7:  Avett Brothers = 6 starred, 13 on the list.  OK, last year I was mad they skewed my listening stats b/c I had investigated them as DMB’s Gorge opener.  And I hadn’t liked a lot of their library because they tend to scream a lot.  This year’s Magpie and the Dandilion has a nice album title, and I purposely added 13 songs to my list.  It’s more of a quiet, sweet, introspective sound this time around, a little love-lost.  I liked the seriousness the band has found.

#6:  Eminem = 1 super-starred (“Rap God”), several starred, 17 songs made the list.  The Marshall Mathers LP2 capitalizes on past fame and on current connections.  It’s heavy on featured artists and samples.  Em, has still got it though.  His raps are solid, hitting the right note between fun, catchy, and seriously making you question social issues.  I’m still a fan, even though he’s so controversial as an artist.

#5 of 2013:  Robbie Williams = 6 starred, 7 songs made the list.  He was smart to jump into the ring with Michael Buble who was the sole artist reaping the rewards of the vortex of swing/big-band.  What ever you call it, when ‘ol blue eyes was gone, so was a genre.  And Micheal Buble has certainly reaped many rewards for instilling new life into it.  Robbie Williams, I think, saw the success and left pop/electric to put out his best album to date-Swings Both Ways.  Good business decision, and surprisingly well backed up by the talent.  And a duet with Micheal Buble?  Sign me up!  He’s always a pleasant listen and one of my faves.

#4 of 2013:  Dropkick Murphys = 7 starred, 10 made the list.  They sound like a drunken Irish brawl band, high energy, lots of fight in their lyrics.  Signed and Sealed in Blood is in my top 5 for 2013, and I would get their next album in a heartbeat.

#3 of 2013:  Cher = 8 starred, 13 songs on the list.  Yes, she’s still got it.  Washed up?  Not at ALL!  Closer to the Truth is relevant, fun/clubby, yet mature and well-thought.  Her voice is clear and hopeful.  Listening to the album made me motivated to. . .  I don’t know what, but do more then dance.

#2 of 2013:  Rod Stewart = 7 starred, 8 made the list.  Rod Stewart shows that despite age, he KNOWS how to make a hit record.  Yes, the themes are slightly different–love for family, and gaining maturity.  Instead of sexy or superficial–it’s substancial and hopeful.  I’d dare to say that Time is Rod’s best album yet.  I really liked the instrumental backgrounds, the catchy hooks, and the more introspective lyrics.  I super-like most of the songs, but especially fell in love with, “Can’t Stop Me Now,” an autobiographical call to action.

#1 of 2013:  Michael Buble = 12 made the list.  Obviously, and of course.  All starred, 1 super-starred (“It’s a Beautiful Day”).  Aside from thinking Buble is genius for filling an abandoned genre, I think his music is universally pleasing.  He has a pleasant, crooning voice and a real likability within his albums.  Like his past records, I think To Be Loved appeals to a wide audience, including staple covers, duets, love songs, and even a bitter break up anthem–my afore-mentioned super-starred.  Come ’em coming Micheal I (and all the Vegas gagsta wannabes, and of course the cougars) can’t get enough!

And YES!  I did it.  I finished the listen and finished typing the list!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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