Tag Archives: Avett Brothers

2016 Albums

1 Jan

Here is my annual countdown of top albums.  I actually kept up on it throughout the year, and things are much better researched as a result.  I tried to listen to all the big name artists and my favorite artists as they came out in 2016.  And if I had extra time, I listened to genres I like or names I thought sounded cool, or whatever Spotify suggested.  This might be my best work yet!  From last 2016 album that made the cut, to my top choice for 2016’s album of the year:

 

26.  Melissa Etheridge:  I was pretty surprised myself at how far down the list her album felt.  The main problem?  Trying too hard, and it’s a pretty grave error.  I gave leniency to artists who tried something different (and fell a little short), who only came away with 1 or 2 songs I liked, or who just kinda did the same thing they’ve always done and sounded boring as a result.  But Etheridge, is lower, because it’s like she feels a little washed up and is insecure.  I liked “Born Under a Bad Sign” but it’s a cover and let’s face it, Homer Simpson sings that like a boss.  Melissa needs to regain confidence, have a message again, and regain some passion.

25.  Alicia Keys:  I wanted to like it.  I like the stripped down, no makeup cover.  I like the message of empowered women.  I did not, however, and unfortunately, really like the album.  I wanted it to be more piano-driven.  I wanted more range in the singing.  I wanted it to be a little softer.  What I got was a LOT of 1990’s throw-back, complete with pseudo telephone call interlude and everything.  I got a toughness.  I got disappointed.  I didn’t hate “Blended Family” and I thought “Pawn It All” with it’s soul/blues vibe was the stand-out song.

24.  Bon Iver- Experimental and jarring.  I liked the last albums because it was calming and relaxing.  This one is definitively-NOT.  I can see he was trying to do some avant-garrd electronic, but the music lost it’s dreamy, meditative quality in the process.

23.  Bruce Springstean:  I like this album better than I like his other stuff (not at all).  It sounds like a blue-collar worker that just got off a double shift and stepped up on the kariokee stage–a beer in hand, of course.  It’s gritty and rugged.

 

–>>We’re entering the neutral zone.  Nothing really BAD, but not super-interesting either<<——-

22.  Gavin DeGraw:  I can hear influences of Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars.  It’s OK, but DeGraw needs to find his own voice.

21.  The Head and the Heart:  I saw these guys open for Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge one year.  And I don’t remember a thing about them.  This album is much the same.  There is nothing wrong with the music.  It’s pleasing, it’s plesant enough, it’s fine.  It’s just hardly worth mention.

20.  Hank Williams:  This bawdy tavern album should precede this fictional evening of frightened rabbits.  It’s amped up, energetic, and rowdy–as it should be.  Nothing new here though.  One Trick Pony.

19. Frightened Rabbits:  It’s Irish music after the party.  When everyone has passed their drinking limit, and the raucous singing and jigging is done, and people are passing out or crying.  Still an integral part of the scene, but certainly not the upbeat story of the beginning of the night.

18. Brittany Spears:  Is ever the perky, dancy pop star in this new (and every previous) album.  This time she seems to have more command.  The lyrics indicate she’s taking control and will not be pushed around.  The tracks are intentional.

17.  Dawes- Easy-listening.  It’s good background with nothing wrong about it.  The reason it doesn’t rank higher, is that it also has nothing particularly interesting about it either.

16.  Elton John:  I have always liked Ser John, from the crazy-saucy 1970’s-1980’s sing-alongs to the quieter, more reserved “Peachtree Road” and “The Diving Board” CD’s.  This album falls in with the more subdued fare, and that’s fine.  But compared to the previous 2 albums, it’s a little. . .  Dare I say, boring.

15.  Kings of Leon- Hipster rock.  It’s a staple.  It’s good in the car.  It reminds me of Seattle.  This album is a good effort-though there’s not a “Sex on Fire” stunner ready for radio.  “Around the World” does come closest to main-stream appeal.

14.  James Vincent McMorrow:  This music is chill.  Good for background.  It’s the type of album you would play for a quiet dinner party or to relax in the tub.  It’s the vibe Bon Iver used to be–before all that experimental SOUND intruded.

13.  Sum 41:  What a surprise entry!  I did not expect much from this band-a decade past its peak.  I was happily pleased to hear a still punkish, but more mature set.  “The Fall and the Rise” rivals anything by Green Day.  It’s throbbing beat and rebel lyrics really open up the album and made me want to hear more.  “War” is another winner.

12.  Lady Gaga:  I can’t decide if I’m inspired or annoyed by Lady Gaga’s career directory.  She ripped off the Club Kid dress code, introducing it to the mainstream as if it were her own.  And now she’s shamelessly stealing Madonna’s singing arc, going from pop hits, to more serious fare.  It’s a good recipe for longevity, but I’m not so sure I’m ready to hear her more serious side (and see her business acumen in action).  And I stand by my opinion that the Superbowl’s national anthem was awful–even if I’m the only one alive who thinks that.  But it did help to contribute to the new image of maturity this album is going for.  The standout track on Joanne is most certainly “Million Reasons” which shows Lady Gaga isn’t just photo-worthy, but has inspiring lyrics and a good voice.  Bottom line-once you get used to the fact the party-phase is over, this album is a sturdy offering.

11.  OneRepublic-  They used to be one of my new favorite bands.  I thought the songs were catchy and I liked the Native American flair of the last album.  Except this album is SO electro-pop.  A total copy-cat of Daft Punk–who I don’t think are that great.  Yeah, I said it.  I think Daft Punk is over-hyped.  And ‘Oh My My’ is is rip off of that.  Still, this review isn’t a dislike–it’s just relative to previous works and other music on this list.  Despite my harsh criticisms, I do like several of the songs.  “Lift Me Up,” NbHD,” “Wherever I Go,” are catchy, and “Better” a Twenty-One Pilots-eske electro-pap (that’s the word I coined for pop-rap) gets stuck in my head every time I hear it.

10.  Green Day-  It’s a little wrote.  Maybe they’re past their prime.  And certainly if the band is still considered (sell-out) punk, it’s barely.  But they were one of the first bands I liked, they are one of the most continuously good producers of music, and there are a few stand out tracks.  “Bang Bang” is saucy and hard-core, probably the most punk on the album, and maybe for the last few albums.  My favorite track, and the best political statement is, “We Live in Troubled Times,” which in light of this Trump victory is a spotlight to current events, and a prophecy of the future.  “Revolution Radio” and “Still Breathing” are catchy.  The rest are a little tired, but in a dearth of (main-stream) punk artists–still relevant.

9.  The Avett Brothers:  This album feels more. . .  Communal.  It’s a sort of folksy, around-the-campfire sound.  “Satin Pulls the Strings” has the rock that I look for with The Avvett Brother’s material, but the rest of the tracks were a little lighter fare.  Like they have mellowed a little–or are trying to break into that Americana Grammy category.  “Divorce Seperation Blues” with the yodelling, harkens a Dude Ranch weekend–whimsical, yet relevant to today.  I think this is one of theose albums, that you grow an appreciation for the more you listen.  And the nature of this list is sort of listen once and rate.  I think I’ll like it more and more when I’m not judging for a countdown.

8.  The Lumineers:  I’ll be honest–I expected more.  Don’t get me wrong, ‘Cleopatra’ is listed toward the top of this list for a reason.  I just really, really liked the acoustic partially-bluegrass sounds of their last album.  But all that’s gone.  The bluegrass portion of the music, anyway.  It has that stripped down feel, and unpolished sound that has been secretly perfected.  But the foot tapping aspects are no more.  Still, “Ophelia” and “Cleopatra” are catchy, radio-worthy high points of the record.

–>  getting good<–

7.  Michael Buble:  We all know Buble is my boyfriend.  And I think his business plan of jumping into an empty genre, and pandering to the middle-aged women is a genius.  But I was torn this year.  I couldn’t decide if the album was–too much pandering and disengenuine, or the result of a true passion for the almost forgotten swing genre.  It goes pretty far to the Sinatra crooning sound.  I had to take some points off his ranking because the answer to that question wasn’t quite clear to me.  But if he does MEAN it, the album is another great work.  But certainly intent matters, here.  My favorite song, is “I Wanna be Around,”  which I could not tell at first if it was a love song or a break up song.   Another strong song is the “Nobody But Me, alternate version with trumpet.”

6.  Panic!  At the Disco:  High energy!  This album is certainly a rejuvenation for the band.  I don’t follow the band members, but the sound leads me to believe a major life obstacle has just been surmounted.  Everything feels new and hopeful and exciting.  I originally heard one of the tracks in Lake Tahoe, and I felt like I was behind the times.  Because it seemed like the song had already broken out ages ago–which was not the case.  It just FELT like I missed the boat, because this is one of those albums, then when you listen to it, makes you cooler than you actually are.  Also, with original ideas over sampled tunes, this is the newest album, that seems like a familiar, old friend.  Each song could be a single.  This is a party album, a running mix, and a car-trip standby.

5.  Adele:  Everything you expect from Adele:  The soulful sound, pitch-prefect singing, that longing voice conveying heart ache.  It’s a solid effort, and yes, even though “Hello” has been parodied to death–I still think it’s the stand-out track.  “River Lea” is also really nice

4.  Lukas Graham:  A new artist, but so good that the album made my best albums of 2016 list.  The first weekend I heard this self-titled album, by this Denmark native, I was ready to make it the number 1 album of 2016.  It’s good.  I love it.  It’s different–piano, rap, R&B, blues, rock and soul can all be heard.  The singing holds up, and can almost feel gospel.  The lyrics tell a story, and it feels spiritual.  My only negative is that the music doesn’t stand up to the test of time for one reason only.  I guess America isn’t as family-oriented as many countries, because after a bit, the common mention of family got a little distracting and. . .  Tiresome?  It isn’t like close family ties are boring or annoying to hear about, but Graham mentions his family in nearly every song–and it IS just this side of too much.  But that’s a small complaint.

3.  Regina Spektor:  I usually have to be in a certain mood to listen to Specktor.  And who doesn’t hate that damned, SUPER-long “Orange is the new Black” intro that goes on and on and on while showing creepy pieces of weird faces?!  I can’t STAND that, and after like a full 5 minutes it sucks the life right out of me.  Especially during a binge-watching marathon–which, P.S. there is no other way to watch the series.  We have the fast-forwarding down to a science, and I implore Netflix to only show the intro on the first episode of a season.  Because HATE!  Anyway, Specktor, or re-GINA (rhymes with female anatomy) as I call her can get too wail-ey and spoken word poetry for me.  Normally.  I really thought her newest album overcomes all that and is female music without being too much.  “Bleeding Heart” could even be a radio single.

–>great!<–

2.  Beats Antique-  A coworker played this, introducing me to the world music, circus, jazz electronic, that I believe has technically been around for years and years already.  And as I’ve listened more and more in 2016, I feel like I’ve already been a fan for years and years.  The music just attaches in your psyche and resonates.  I saw them in concert, and thought their stage show was severely lacking–especially for such an experienced and well traveled band.  While the music calls for tigers jumping through hoops, cobras in baskets, and belly dancers, the best they did was stand holding a golden hoop.  At any rate, I hope they go mainstream.  This album is worldly and electronic, and experimental as ever–like you’d hope.  But it also harkens back to Jazz and Blues and makes you feel like you’re sitting in a dark corner of Louisiana enjoying a hurricane.

1. Kaleo:  Technically, should be listed under best new artist, but was so great they made it to my best overall album of the year list.  Well-rounded and singable, but also seriously substantial.  I love “Way Down We Go” with such obvious gospel influence is the leading single.  The band is fun to listen to, but by no means lighthearted fare.  It inspires thought.  Take “Broken Bones” with its folksy, chain-gang feel.  It makes me look to history, and acknowledge the fact that music is one of the few places where black people have carved out a platform to talk about their lives, challenges, and political concerns.  Rap music didn’t just stem from nowhere.  “Automobile” hearkens back to that 1970s story-telling song vibe.  And it’s got a catchy hook also.  “All the Pretty Girls” sounds like Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow, in that it’s quiet and sweet.  But I think it’s more catchy than those artists with it’s get-it-stuck-in-your-head ‘won’t you lay me down’ chorus.

 

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Concerts

20 Jun

2003 when I was 20 (so old!) was my first concert.  Randomly Mid-Missouri got a lot better people than Northern Nevada.  Steadman opened for Jason Mraz.  It was a really cool first concert, because Steadman sings amazingly and Jason Mraz talked a lot throughout the show, telling song origins and being funny.  that same year I saw John Mayer, who was good, and Shania Twain who is SUPER-talented!  I cheaped out and ended up in the second to last row, but boy can Shania belt it out!  She had costume changes and was totally giving things to the first few rows and singing autographs as she sang.  I wish I would have paid for better seats!

I saw Ani DiFranco, in Columbia, Missouri because she is Douche’s favorite.  All the lesbians young and old were there, so that was cool, but I am fairly unimpressed with Ani.  Firstly, she doesn’t vary her guiter riffs.  Her singing voice is sub-par.  She thinks she’s so profound, so her lyrics are pretentious.  She can’t really be a lesbian icon, because she was married to a man at the time.  I especially do not like the drug rumors.  And she did seem jittery and erratic to me, so I could see how she might be doing coke or some other upper.  I can say, she is very congenial and the audience wants to LIKE her.

I also saw Soggy Bottom Boys who opened for Blind Boys of Alabama because of Douche.  It was a really good show though I initially had no interest.  The blind guys would get up and rock out dangerously close to the edge of the stage, and their gospel flavors would just inspire the crowd to really get into it!

Then, I went to a flurry of Indigo Girls concerts.  The first was in Saint Louis with Douche.  Then, two years later I saw IG on all three tour stops near Missouri:  Saint Louis where Girlyman opened, the Blue Note in Columbia (which the Girls hated, b/c the acoustics weren’t right for them), and Kansas City.  The Kansas City show was especially good, as the crowd was really into it, and Amy and Emily were surprised by that, and geared up to meet the energy, and promised to come back in the future.  Then, I saw them again in 2006 in Saint Louis with Lori.  And in 2010, I saw them in Tacoma with Cool.  I make all my girlfriends go to their concerts with me, I guess!  Now Cool and I are going to see them at the Seattle Zoo next month.

In between, the IG I don’t remember going to any other concerts.  Maybe there are more that I just don’t remember right now. . .  I tried to see Dave Matthews Band with Cool, even had the tickets, and went to the Gorge and everything.  Only to find out that the tickets were for the day before.  It.  Was.  Heartbreaking.  That super-sucked!

 

In 2016 I saw Lord Huron and Trampled By Turtles at The Complex in SLC.  The venue was horrible!  It’s in a bad neighborhood of abandoned buildings, trash, and the edge of the homeless population.  The first thing was getting frisked.  The venue is literally a dark, dank warehouse that someone slapped a stage into.  There is no seating, sticky concrete floors, and the alcohol options are sorely lacking.  You can get over-priced watered-down (I assume) cocktails in a different room and miss the show, or pay for over-priced piss-water fratty beer in a sectioned-off portion of the main room.  Who doesn’t sell a single craft-beer option in 2016???  Get with the program!  The sound is loud, but garbled.  You are packed in like cattle, and as always, people are rude.  And the tall people always push to the front.  The two screens went black.  There were 45 minutes between the opening act and the main band.  The small of “fart” would waft by frequently.  It was hot.  I’ll never go back to that venue–I’m too old for that crap.  But both bands were awesome!  Lord Huron opened and I’m sure some of the crowd came just for them.  People seemed really into it, and knew the songs.  They made a fan out of me, too.  The light show was good, and they rocked!  It’s the very first time I’ve ever heard the crowd chant, “one more song” at the end of the opener.  I don’t think they prepared another song, or maybe someone told them time was too short, because there was no encore by the opener.  But the crowd most definitly clamored for one and it would have been awesome to see!  Looking back, I’m kinda glad they didn’t because things moved slowly enough as it was, and that standing in a jam-packed group on concrete super-sucks.  Then, Trampled By Turtles came on and were amazing.  I would describe their sound/genre as “hipster bluegrass.”  It’s the instrumentation of bluegrass, with less country of vocals, more indy/alternative singing.  I like them all the time, especially their fast songs.  But watching in person made it even better.  Their hands move so fast!  And the harmonies and timing are so awesome!  TBT just moved into my top 4 favorites.  I think this year (this moment) it goes:  Indigo Girls (because of 1sts/nostalgia, longevity, a huge catalog, ability to tame any crowd, and ability to grow with the times), Brandi Carlile, Dave Matthews Band, then TBT.

’03 Steadman opened for Jason Mraz- Jessie Hall(?) CoMo

’03 John Mayer-  Jessie Hall(?)(2nd x) CoMo

’03 Shania Twain- Arena(?) STL

’03 Indigo Girls- The Pageant(?)(2nd x) STL

’04 Ani DiFranco- ____Theater(?) CoMo

’05 Soggy Bottom Boys opened for Blind Boys of Alabama- Blue Note, CoMo

’05 Indigo Girls (2nd x)- The Pageant(?)(3rd x) STL

’05 Indigo Girls (3rd x)- Blue Note (2nd x) CoMo

’05 Indigo Girls- _____ KC (4th x)

’06 Girlyman opened for Indigo Girls (5th x)- The Pageant(?)(4th x) STL

’10 Indigo Girls (6th x)- Pantages Theater Tacoma

06/’11 Empty Space Orchestra opened for Minus the Bear- Knitting Factory, Spokane

07/’11 Indigo Girls (7th x)- Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

10/’11 Brandi Carlile- Knitting Factory (2nd x), Spokane

(left an hour early b/c of super late start and necessity of working early the next day)

Sat, 9/1/’12 Avett Brothers opened for DMB- Gorge

Thurs, 10/’12 Brandi Carlile (2nd x)- Knitting Factory (3rd x) Spokane

Sat, 11/23/’12 Brandi Carlile (3rd x) w/Seattle Symphony- Benaroya Hall, Seattle

Sun, 8/31/’13 DMB (2nd x) @ Gorge (2nd x)

Fri, 8/29/14 Brandi Carlile (4th x) opened for DMB (3rd x) @ The Gorge (3rd x)

Sun, 8/31/14 Brandi Carlile (5th x) opened for DMB (4th x) @ The Gorge (4th x)

Sun, 8/16/15 Anderson East opened for Brandi Carlile (6th time) @ Red Butte Gardens, SLC, UT

Wed, 9/9/15 DMB (5th time) @ Stateline (Harvey’s, Lake Tahoe)

Sat 8/13/16 Blind Pilot opened for Brandi Carlile (7th time) @ Deer Valley Resort in Park City

Mon 8/15/16 Lord Huron opened for Trampled By Turtles @ The Complex in SLC, UT