Tag Archives: Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile: 240% More Likable

8 Jul

Covid slowed down enough that I got to go to a concert for the first time in quite awhile. The variants are still around, and N95 masks are more expensive so nobody is really wearing effective masks any more. I’m just hoping that my vaccine and booster do their job, and I’m relying on the fact the show is outside in open air so my risk will be reduced. We had tickets to the Indigo Girls with the Symphony in May, and I was really worried about being indoors with a lot of (singing) strangers. I haven’t gotten Covid, and don’t want to, but also–it’s my top fave of all time, the Indigo Girls. If there’s anyone to take a risk for–it’s them! But unfortunately, that show was cancelled… Because someone came down with Covid. So I had been disappointed, but also relieved. Because that is a pretty high risk situation, and I would never go to a movie theater or the dentist yet because being in enclosed spaces with strangers is still really gross and a high risk. I really hope I don’t get sick! But hopefully that won’t be a factor for this outdoor show.

The venue: Starlight Theater is probably the easiest venue I have ever dealt with (maybe Deer Valley with all its free ski parking, actually, now that I think of it). But it was pretty easy for us because we got an AirBnB shack (this is not an exaggeration) in the run-down neighborhood across the street from the venue, so we were able to walk 1.5 miles and have no logistical car issues! Though I was legitimately afraid the entire time that my car’s catalytic converter would be stolen. I parked it in between our shack’s porch with visible Ring camera and the (literally) condemned house next door, so it was sort of tucked in. Two nights cost $307.42!!! Wrong address given in the confirmations *eye roll* Landlords are on my ultimate bad list right now, as you know [see Emergency Move post from January 2022].

But walking was EVERYTHING!

The sound at the venue was effing amazing too. Someone on Reddit said it was better than Red Rocks, which may or may not be a bridge too far, but I will say it was better than the Gorge. But only because it is smaller and less open than the Gorge. There was no bad seat either. We could afford the 3rd row from the very back, but it still felt like row 8. I could see perfectly!

Katie Pruitt is one to watch! She came out feisty and with big energy and rocked out most of her setlist. The pipes are unreal and I have to put some of the songs on my “Pipes” playlist along with Whitney and other legends, because it was that amazing. No wonder Brandi picked her. I played Pruitt’s stuff on the treadmill later and Spotify made them sound substantially lower key and slower, so I’m excited for her next tracks. I hope she brings that energy to the studio. New fan for sure.

Tanya went next and I don’t really know her, but a lot of people in the crowd did so it was a fun set as well.

It was my eighth Brandi show and it was a good one, though I think because of guests it was spaced out a bit weird. When the show ended I was incredulous how early it was! But the encore ended up being a full third of the concert so it ended up better than expected. If I were the band, I might have done something like DMB did with Acoustic vs Electric sets and have an intermission between the actual band and the guesting people. But since the encore was SIX songs long, I didn’t feel shorted or anything. Everyone was full of energy from 1st note to last and the feedback loop between the performers and the crowd was strongly positive and amped up.

To open the show, the twins came out and jammed out. An instrumental version of 2 song choruses were played, but I should have written them down. It was energetic though.

Setlist:

  • Broken Horses
  • The Things I Regret
  • The Story (dedicated to a fan who donated to Looking Out Foundation)
  • The Eye
  • The Mother
  • Mama Werewolf
  • Woodstock (Joni Mitchell cover)
  • Rocket Man (Elton John cover)
  • Right on Time
  • Cannonball
  • Sinners Saints and Fools
  • Happy Birthday to Josh the celloist? I think–I took it for me
  • The Joke

Encore:

  • Mainstream Kid (w/Katie Pruitt)
  • That Wasn’t Me (w/Tanya Tucker)
  • Bring My Flowers Now (Tanya Tucker cover w/Tanya Tucker)
  • Hold Out Your Hand
  • Stay Gentle
  • Over the Rainbow (July Garland cover)

I thought the slow stuff when on a bit long–we were sitting for at least songs 5-8, and 4 low-key songs in a row is two songs too many probably. I didn’t really like the Joni Mitchell song itself, but I could tell it was very technical and difficult to sing and play, so it was fun to take in even if I wouldn’t buy the CD.

Brandi’s outfit and aesthetic really fell into place during the Elton John cover! I was doing the ugly sweat the entire day in moisture-wicking tank and skort so I KNOW she was effing dying of heat. You couldn’t tell though.

I had been particularly excited to hear Sinners Saints and Fools live because there is SO MUCH potential for cool instrumentation and rocking out. I won’t say I was disappointed with the song (though I did miss the motorcycle-sounds at the end like it is on the track) but I will still say its potential is unfulfilled–there’s still the next show, right?

I went to the show for my birthday, so it was absolutely perfect that happy birthday was sung to a band-mate. I imagined it was for my own b-day.

The encore Mainstream Kid was the best version of this song so far, and I sang and danced my a$$ off the whole time!

Tanya Tucker was decidedly post-60 and her talking points, mutterings, and costume changes provided me with a lot of humor. I never really knew any of her music before so I wasn’t familiar with any of it–but the crowd loved her. It seemed like some people came to see her, rather than Brandi, because she had quite a following and cheering section. I will say–kids, don’t smoke.

I’m happy to say she did the encore in a t-shirt because it was HOT out.

Hold Out Your Hand was a great choice to end the “encore” which I am regarding as the guest section of the concert, as it is probably Brandi Carlile’s most fun song in the catalog. It was fun to see her try to do the stanzas as fast as she did on the album (I think she made one–no shade, bc it’s FAST). I don’t know all the words, but I wish I did because she makes it look really fun to sing.

Then what I am considering the true encore was slow, which is nice for an encore. And the tribute to Pride brought tears literally to my eyes.

It was a really nice time, as always. And per the usual, I came out of the venue liking Brandi 30% more than I did before. I think that’s 240% more than my initial impressions (which were great!) if my math is correct. It’s happened like that every concert. She just seems so nice, and genuine, and she has such a talent! She is one of my favorites. Can’t wait to see her again, and I will most definitely go back to the Starlight. Though it would be really nice if she could make it to Saint Louis some time.

Ranking of Brandi Carlile’s Catalog

4 Jul

I’m about to go to a Brandi concert for my birthday, so I thought I would rank her songs. I used the same judging format that I did for the Indigo Girls and Taylor Swift, so check out those entries for the logistics and math (yes this is a quantitatively judged ranking).  Here is Brandi Carlile’s studio album (not lives or reworked. Yet.) songs from skip to best.  The later in this list, the better the song:

Skip:

82. Keep Your Heart Young-

This one is a skip for several reasons (and none of them are that it’s a bad or un-entertaining song).  It’s wildly loved by the fandom, and they play it at many a concert–so it’s just overheard by me.  More than that, this song in particular signaled a genre change that I didn’t want, as a fan of the original iteration of the band.  It’s good, it’s fine.  But prior to this, Brandi was too cool for school.  She was hipster and edgy and an alternative-something mid-20 (Me.  And Cool.) would really aspire to.  This song was the first homey, country, down-home, ‘mom’ folksy song.  I’m still mad at it.  But I am glad now that Brandi got a Grammy she’s returning more to the 2015-ish sound.  I hope she’ll do more rock in the future.  Or at least sneak it in.

Meh:

81. Heroes and Songs

80. Oh Dear

79. Just Kids-

The best of the meh category. It’s a great album ending, but not as good as a stand alone song.  The ambient noise is really cool.  It’s just too long and slow of a track when not used as a closer.

Neutrals:

78. Beginning to Feel the Years-

Slow. Brighter singing tone and a chorus. It doesn’t sound like Brandi very much.

77. If there was No You

76. Sixty Years On-

Voice cracks in this version. Symphony version is better, but I decided not to do any extra albums this go-around.  I might add them in later because I think I skipped at least 2, and maybe a third.

75. Murder in the City

It’s too much a copycat of a different band. Don’t like the talking through the song style. What a waste of Brandi’s pipes. The backing harmonies and strings sound good though.

74. You and Me on the Rock-

73. I Belong to You

72. Save a Part of Yourself-

Catchiness to the song. claps but harmonies and Italian snippets too.

71. Every Time I Hear that Song

70. By the way I forgive you.

69. Happy

Amber-lee. Writing is good for break-up song.

68. Someday Never Comes

Goods:

67. . Hearts Content

66. Stay Gentle

I like when Brandi is at least a little edgy. This is too sweet and leaves me Wanting another component in the song.

65. Wilder

Maybe it’s the way the band is mic-ed up to catch the harmonies but Brandi sounds echoy in a low quality way. Harmonies are nice, but nobody wants this one slowing down every concert as they are doing.

64. Blood Muscle Skin and Bone-

That first sound is so different and interesting! It doesn’t sound like Brandi singing for a lot of it. The claps and wailing 1950s harmony come off as a little cheesy. I do like the snare fast beat.

63. Fulton County Jane

There just a touch of yodal and it’s excellent.

62. 100

This one has an instrumental bridge with slight tension. At the Gorge, they played this with the tympani and it was the best version of this song!  If that was the album version, it would easily be an awesome.

61. Throwing Good After bad-

😞 Detailed.  Some lyrical complexity but slow and depressing. (Gr)

60. Letter to the Past

Passionate singing. Note. Built to last totally takes me out of the song and into a car commercial. It’s the last impression of the song and always makes me drop the rank a few spots bc it’s so jarring.

59. Gone

Waltz backing. Simple song. Nice bridge with twin harmony.

58. In the Morrow-

Low key. High notes just at end. Some kind of bango/subtle bluegrass really makes this song! There is a rise in the music & singing.

57. Cannonball (G-Gr)

56. The Eye

Too copycat of Fleetwood Mac. It seems like the band was lost during Firewatchers Daughter. They wanted that Grammy and more mainstream success but didn’t know how to go about it. This is one that I dislike it not for the song as much as what it indicated the direction the band was taking. Still, beautiful harmonies.

55. This Time Tomorrow

Nice and prominent harmonies but in a more authentic way to the band. Not as much of a copycat song.

54. Most of All

Talks about her parents. I like the sentiment and the growth. Notes. Harmony. Sentimental without being saccharine.

53. A Promise to Keep

More catchy, stronger writing than blood .. Backing Cello gives lots of resonance.

52. When You’re Wrong

Prelude to in these Silent Days. Haunting.  Tells a full story. Scream-wail is emotive and a good end.

51. Tragedy-

Notes put it over cannonball. (G-Gr)

We’re getting into the top 50 songs in the catalog:

50. Until I Die (G-Gr)

Over tragedy bc the jam and beat is more. Prominent twin harmonies.

49. Turpentine-

Low register. Catchy. This is another one that’s an awesome when done with the symphony. The symphony version is definitely over The Joke, but this one is pretty short.

48. The Joke-

I’m a bit mad at this song too. I see it as pure Grammy pandering. And as you can see, I ranked it at one point, then forgot to put it in the writing somehow-oops. Major infraction is this is the song the led most people to discover the band. I’m in the camp that it’s overrated. It was a moment in time, and Brandi hyped it up big-time. It is a good song with a good meaning and singing moments. I just don’t think it’s even close to the best song (as you can see by the half-number–this might bother me a lot later and I’ll have to re-do the whole damn thing. But it’s July 4th so I’m going to leave it for now.

unpopular opinion- I think this song is overrated. It also bothers me that “I have seen how it ends” doesn’t quite fit in the alloted space. I think there’s 5 beats in the music but 6 syllables in the words and she extends “how” for 2 beats. She shoves 7 in a 5 so “it” gets lost. She could have fixed it so easily by saying “I’ve seen how it end” Also that concept is cliche.

47. I Will

More catchy than the Joke. Cello snippets are nice. Falsetto. Lyrics.

46. Wasted

Instrumental bridge. Lyrics.

45. Whatever You Do

Soft Cello. I love the line, “never said I’m sorry but I meant it.” Orchestral. scream note ending

44. Late Morning Lullaby

Call back to Dreams. More twin harmony. Exciting bridge. Singing and lyrics.

The fact there are 43 songs ranked great and higher speaks to the quality of Brandi Carlile’s work. The numbers sound pretty high, but these are all, solidly great to perfect songs:

Greats:

43. In My own Eyes-

Bridge different from the song. Captures a yearning sound in the singing. (Gr)

42. My Song-

Strong guitar. Angsty. Emotive singing. Visual lyrics. “My mind is full of razors” is such a good line.

41. The Mother-

I like that this is real, not saccharine. This one is always a crowd favorite.  I had this lower in the rank only because Brandi had played it at so many live shows I was at, and I got oversaturated with it.  Also, I’m not a mother.  But after seeing the YouTube video where Brandi plays it to the female inmates, I just…  Go watch it!  (G-Gr)

40. Shadow on the Wall-

Strong harmonies-more twins involvement is nice.

39. Caroline-

Upbeat.  unique tempo to the catalog. Elton John.

38. That Year-

I had ranked it quite a bit lower because it’s a slow song that is super-depressing.  Deals with suicide without stigmatizing the person. Detailed. But I had to move it up because it’s such a powerful story and heartfelt message.

37. Touching the Ground-

Lyrics. Catchy. (G-Gr)

36. Hiding My Heart-

Call back to the story.

35. Sugartooth

Tells an entire story. Heavy subject matter of addiction and suicide packaged in a surprisingly upbeat tune.

34. Follow-

Notes. More of an instrumental break down.  (G-Gr)

33. Throw It All Away-

Notes. Great visual lyrics. Deep. (G-Gr)

32. Losing Heart-

Catchy chorus. More beat. Interesting beat. (G-Gr)

31. Josephine-

Falsetto harmony. Catchy chorus. (Gr)

30. I’ll Still be There-

If it all- note. The song builds. Then it all gets even stronger at the end. Kind of melting the middle.  (G-Gr)

29. Downpour-

Can hear Cello well.  Low register. (G-Gr)

28. Fall Apart Again-

One of my fave lyrics in her whole catalog: “And I think the world of myself but the world doesn’t think much of me.” (Gr)

27. Have You Ever-

Really fun tempo and a beat like footsteps. Inclusive of twin harmonies. (Gr)

26. Looking Out-

More complex backing than Fall Apart. Suitcase on my chest. Afraid of… List. Someone loves you high note & rock out.  (G-Gr)

On to the top 25 songs in the catalog:

25. Again Today-

Low register. Speeds up and jams at the end. Twins are more involved than pride. More of a tone change than Pride & Joy. (Gr)

24. Pride and Joy-

Wow-singing is strong throughout the entire song. Very orchestral. Instrumental from soft to intense.  (Gr)

23. What Can I Say-

So catchy. Conveys longing and religion human failure without being OTT. (G-Gr)

Awesome:

22. Alibi-

Unique sound to her catalog. Softly alt-punk is a fun experiment without changing the whole genre. Good harmony and beat. A bit repetitive. The sticks at the end and syncopation make it interesting.

21. What Did I Ever Come Here for? 

I really identify with these lyrics of putting yourself out there, going back to someone comfortable. Wanting them to look at your intentions, then being rejected. Catchy also.

20. Party of One-

More complex. Lyrically based. Instrumental swell. Depressing. Once, Brandi actually responded to my tweet regarding this song! Screen-grab is going in the scrapbook.

19. Before it breaks-

Lyrics. Instrumental jam.

18. Harder to Forgive-

Good writing. I like how it calls out someone who traumatized her without being mean or over dramatic. Like a march. I think the echo effect is put to good use here.  kazoo. Breakdown. Scream note.

17. Mama Werewolf-

Concept & lyrics. I know this is going to be a major-favorite at the concert [P.S. I had originally used ‘mega’-favorite, as in the shark.  Big, large, upsize.  And fuck Trump for (among many, many, many other things) ruining that word.]

16. The Stranger at my Door

I love all the cowboy sounds embedded in this one. It’s western folksy in the best way. best ending!

The top 15 songs of the catalog:

15. Dying Day-

Prelude to all the ‘home is your heart’ series of songs. Low-register AND high notes-very strong singing.The ‘dum. Da da dun dum’ end of phrases are good.

14. Right on Time-

Notes! Base. I like the acknowledgement and accountability for hurting another.

13. Hold Out Your Hand-

I like how fast she sings. Then also how it slows on the chorus. It’s surprisingly high difficulty to get the verses out that fast. Notes. Is this the most FUN song in the catalog?!

12. Rise Again-

Faster. Notes! Beat. Twin harmony. Rocks out at the end.

11. The Things I regret-

The most awesome of the awesome songs.  Trying to convince herself to let herself be happy. High energy. more lyrical. Hand claps.

Elites:

10. That Wasn’t Me- 

It was the lead single for Bear Creek, but totally different from every other song on the album. The piano along with the harmonies sound nice. A good rehab song. Earnest.

9. Broken Horses- 

The singing is A+! Not only the notes but playing with voice. Lyrics are meaningful and full of symbolism. I like ending a relationship and also having no guilt about that. Standing up for yourself is important. I like the tempo changes. Maybe too many repetitive choruses. Broken Horses doesn’t mean breaking a horse, which bothers me.

8. Closer to You

More catchy than Broken Horses even if the notes don’t compare.

7. Sinners, Saints, and Fools-

Instrumentals sound full and great. The story is a fun concept and not too OTT churchy. Scream note! The strings squeaky. Piano is chaotic. Motorcycle end.

6. Wherever is Your Heart-

I like the sentiment. I like the underlying fast tempo. This song makes me excited. The notes in the chorus sound so good. Twin harmony. The Falsetto back there adds a lot. Beats. The slower refrain is an interesting change and conveys an inner dialogue and strife. This song is particularly good bc the instrumentals and singing style are very upbeat but the words are pretty sad and depressing. A tiny bit over Closer to You bc it starts slow and changes speed and has a notable bridge is generally more complex

5. Mainstream Kid-

It’s really fun to hear Brandi be more edgy. The social commentary of the lyrics is awesome.  I ranked this higher than the prior 2 sings (even though I love them both a lot) bc the singing is so powerful throughout. And also some extra points for taking a risk. Scream singing is fun and powerful. The guitar repeats, beat, and even handclaps are all good elements of the song that jazz me up. The pulsing and lower register prior to a growl note is such a good end!

4. Hard Way Home-

Harmony that sounds like sirens is a great opener. Love the pace it’s just like walking. I can really get behind the message of doing things the hard way. It speaks to me a bit more than Wherever is Your Heart’s subject matter. Love the “I’ll tell you how I wanna live… Lyric. The syncopation at the end makes me amped up!

Top 3 elites:

3. Dreams-

I like the beat and the more rock sound. The strong singing and harmonies are present but packaged in a harder, more rhythmic backing. Also, I’ll never forget seeing this one live at Spokane’s knitting factory. Brandi was so cute and cool and I wanted to meet her so bad!

2. Raise Hell-

This song never fails to make me hyped! I love the message and the yells during the sock. That beat and even the handclaps. Her singing! I love to sing this anytime especially at a concert. When Brandi opened for Dave at the Gorge, the poster we made said, “Raise Hell.”

#1 song of the whole catalog:

1. The Story-

I listened to each track 2-3 times with an open mind and based my ranking solely on each song’s merits. And it’s no surprise that the band’s originally most well known track landed on top of the list. It builds from slower to rock. And the notes! It’s always exciting to hear it, and now I like to watch the indoctrinated take it in for the first time. It captures the essence of the band.

My Notes and Deliberations:

BRANDI CARLILE CATALOGUE RANKINGS

Elite 10, Awesome 6, Great 3, Good 1, Neutral 0, Meh -3, Skip -6

Brandi Carlile 2005

  1. Follow” (Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 4:13 G-Gr 2
  2. “What Can I Say” (Tim Hanseroth) – 2:50 G-Gr 2.6
  3. “Closer to You” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 2:54 E 10
  4. “Throw It All Away” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:43 G-Gr 2.7
  5. “Happy” (Carlile) – 2:32 M-N -1 (3 listen kept spacing out)
  6. “Someday Never Comes” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 2:47 M -3
  7. “Fall Apart Again” (Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:37 Gr 3.1
  8. “In My Own Eyes” (Carlile) – 3:31 Gr 3
  9. “Gone” (Carlile, Paul Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:05 G 1
  10. “Tragedy” (Carlile) – 3:45 G-Gr 2.5

The Story 2007

  1. “Late Morning Lullaby” (Brandi Carlile) – 3:27 G 1
  2. The Story” (Phil Hanseroth) – 3:58 E 10 #1
  3. “Turpentine” (Carlile) – 2:58 G-Gr 2
  4. “My Song” (Carlile) – 4:28 G-Gr 2.4
  5. “Wasted” (Carlile) – 3:47 G 1.2
  6. “Have You Ever” (Phil Hanseroth) – 2:32  Gr 3.1
  7. “Josephine” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:02 Gr 2.9
  8. “Losing Heart” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth, Phil Hanseroth) – 3:35 Gr 3
  9. “Cannonball” (Carlile) – 3:52 G-Gr 1.2
  10. “Until I Die” (Carlile) – 4:06 G-Gr 1.5
  11. “Downpour” (Carlile) – 3:14 G-Gr 1.9
  12. “Shadow on the Wall” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:15 G-Gr 
  13. “Again Today” (Carlile) – 10:38 Gr 3.3 (after slow part really good )
    • Contains a hidden track, “Hiding My Heart” (Tim Hanseroth) G 1.1

Live at Easy Street 2007

  1. “Closer to You”
  2. The Story
  3. “Have You Ever”
  4. “Turpentine”
  5. “Fall Apart Again”
  6. “Downpour”
  7. “Josephine”

Give Up the Ghost 2009

  1. Looking Out” – 4:18 G-Gr 5
  2. “Dying Day” (Tim Hanseroth) – 3:33 Gr-A 4 (Brandi’s singing conveys longing perfectly. Ending note!)
  3. “Pride and Joy” – 4:20 Gr 3.1 (Starts slow & quiet and builds speed & intensity through the song. Instrumental break.)
  4. “Dreams” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:31 E 10 #3
  5. “That Year” – 3:35 Gr 3 (Lyrically dense and meaningful but also slow and depressing)
  6. “Caroline” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:36 Gr 3.3 (Fun song and Elton John)
  7. “Before It Breaks” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:57 Gr-A 4.1 (The lyrics touch me. The instrumental break is strong.)
  8. “I Will” – 4:09 G
  9. “If There Was No You” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth) – 2:39 N
  10. “Touching the Ground” (Tim Hanseroth) – 3:17 G-Gr 4
  11. “Oh Dear” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth) – 2:50 N-M

Live

Bear Creek 2012

Hard Way Home”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth3:21 E 10.1
2.“Raise Hell”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth E 10.2 #24:08
3.“Save Part of Yourself”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth N-G .53:22
4.That Wasn’t MeBrandi Carlile A-E3:42
5.“Keep Your Heart Young”Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth S3:20
6.“100”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth G 13:21
7.“A Promise to Keep”Tim Hanseroth G-Gr 2.54:02
8.“I’ll Still Be There”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth G-Gr 2.8 (high note)3:26
9.“What Did I Ever Come Here For”Phil Hanseroth A3:40
10.“Heart’s Content”Brandi Carlile G 0.9 (Cello. Sounds like Doris Day.)3:34
11.“Rise Again”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth A4:11
12.“In the Morrow”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth Gr4:02
13.“Just Kids”Brandi Carlile, Jared Faw. M-N (Very slow. Like the cycling piano. Good to close the album. 6:47
Total length:50:56

Firewatchers Daughter 2015

TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Wherever Is Your Heart”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth3:50 A-E
2.“The Eye”Carlile, Tim Hanseroth3:35 G 0.9
3.“The Things I Regret”Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth3:26 Gr-A
4.“Mainstream Kid”Carlile, Tim Hanseroth4:19 E
5.“Beginning to Feel the Years”Phil Hanseroth3:08 G-Gr 1.5
6.“Wilder (We’re Chained)”Tim Hanseroth3:32 G 1.1
7.“Blood Muscle Skin & Bone”Phil Hanseroth4:16 G-Gr 2.0
8.“I Belong to You”Carlile4:30 N-G (end speeds up)
9.“Alibi”Tim Hanseroth3:00 A
10.“The Stranger at My Door”Carlile3:42 E (Cowboy gallop, twin’s backing. That sample at the end!)
11.“Heroes and Songs”Carlile2:47 M
12.“Murder in the City”Scott Yancey Avett, Timothy Seth Avett2:53 G 1.0

By the Way I Forgive You 2018

Every Time I Hear That Song”4:01N
2.The Joke4:39 G 1.1
3.“Hold Out Your Hand”4:22 A (The fast syncopation. Style of storytelling country like Jonny Cash)
4.“The Mother”3:17 G-Gr 1.3
5.“Whatever You Do”4:07 N-G
6.“Fulton County Jane Doe”4:43 G 0.9
7.“Sugartooth”4:28 Gr
8.“Most of All”3:51 G 1.2zs
9.“Harder to Forgive”4:06 A-Gr 4(When it slows down. And Brandi’s singing. Kazoo backing.)
10.“Party of One”5:47 A-Gr 3.5 (Depressing. I like how each piece of the song is like an entirely different song.)
Total length:43:25

In These Silent Days 2021


Length
1.Right on Time3:05 A 6.25
2.“You and Me on the Rock” (featuring Lucius)3:50 N (This song bothers me the same as when TS says, “talk real SLOW so your mama don’t e.” Like, what? I just start thinking- where does Brandi live and how did they dig the foundation if it’s on rock?  Steals the enjoyment.
3.“This Time Tomorrow”3:26 G 1.1
4.“Broken Horses”5:03 E
5.“Letter to the Past”3:40 G 1.4 (stonewall rubber band bothers me also)
6.“Mama Werewolf”3:41 A 6
7.“When You’re Wrong”4:26 N-G
8.“Stay Gentle”2:28 G 1
9.“Sinners, Saints and Fools”4:32 E #4
10.“Throwing Good After Bad”4:07 Gr
Total length:38:16

This Time Tomorrow [Brandi Carlile In These Silent Days]

20 Jan

The third track is This Time Tomorrow.

This song compares well with a few other songs in Brandi Carlile’s catalogue [see my post about these songs, Travelin’ Man: https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=11954&action=edit%5D. It’s a song from the perspective of a person that travels a lot, and is very busy. But in all of those songs, the narrator says their heart is always with the other person. And that narrator looks forward to physically being with their lover again. But this iteration is more downtrodden and hopeless, with lyrics like:

begins to grow faded/hard to see the ground on which you stand/feel like a stranger/carve a faith/broken spirit /hope that you hold tightly to has all but vanished/no words of comfort/lost and without love/fight to kill that deafening sound/holy dreams of yesterday aren’t gone/haunt us like the ghosts of Babylon

The light has gone out of the partner’s eyes. Not only can this partner not be counted on anymore to ground our troubled narrator, the main character is indicating that the other person is so unstable, the ground cannot even be seen. The lover isn’t grounded at all anymore.

Thus, instead of feeling comfort when physically home with the partner, the narrator feels lost, like a stranger. There is no familiarity anymore. Carving a faith is laborious and doesn’t come easily. Spirits were once hopeful, but now the partner left home is broken. The narrator holds their lover tightly, though every positive emotion has already vanished. Instead of coming home to comfort and love, the narrator only finds a stranger they have lost track of, and who gives them silence.

Through all theses signs of being over, the narrator insists their previous dreams (hopes) haven’t disappeared. Haunt us like ghosts of Babylon is saying their tangible love, which had the couple feeling so hopeful despite constant distance (and a damaged traveler) haunts them now. The love and hope and support are only ghosts of Babylon. Babylon was the club in Queer as Folk. Queers like to use it because it’s this supposed wonder of the world. It’s supposed to be a comforting, accepting place of beauty. But it might not have even existed. It’s a good stand-in for something hidden, ephemeral, or elusive. Which also describes these past positive feelings in this relationship.

Brandi Carlile: Right on Time

17 Jan

First of all, I don’t understand Brandi’s new look.

It’s like David Bowe & wild-days Elton John mashed up. I get that those were her heroes/idols, but the look is definitely a “show look” not street wear. So I figured it must be like an era (al la Taylor Swift) and probably fit the theme of the new album. But it was confusing that the twins didn’t change their look at all. They looked the same as they ever did. But I waited for the album, hoping it would fall into place once I heard it.

Nope.

I don’t know what’s happening. The album is not a funsy-disco, or campy gay theme, nor is it thematic like outer space, or anything that warrants a costumy look. So I chalk it up to midlife crises. And the album might support that view…

It opens with Right On Time– With the words, “It’s not too late” this song sets the album’s tone. The piano-driven, lyrically-centered tune reminds me of “That Wasn’t Me.” That latter song was the single off of Bear Creek which is apt, because I think that album was the beginning of the story arc discussed in this current album. I feel like Bear Creek was all excitement and hope for what was to come, all getting together and family-building. While In These Silent Days is the impending ending/inevitable divorce, maybe staying together unhappily in co-dependence

There are nice bits of electric guitar w/the piano, to show both regret and a bit of edginess. And oh, the singing! Brandi’s voice shines through this song, as well as every song on the entire album. She is always a stunner on vocals, but in each track she makes sure to showcase it, not in just one or two outstanding singles. In this album-opener, Brandi hits that high note. Twice. Then it’s an even higher note!

Brandi/the narrator of the song acknowledges bad behavior, which does warrant anger/hurt in the other person, but makes clear it’s not too late, and she(?) wants to try again. So this album starts at big relationship problems, and indicates things are about to fall apart. But the main character is grasping tightly, not wanting to give up and let go.

Travelin’ Man: A Trilogy of Related Brandi Carlile Songs

2 Nov

The song, “This Time Tomorrow” on the new album, ‘In These Silent Days’ is quiet and a bit inconspicuous. But I noticed a theme running through Brandi’s catalogue: This song compares well with “Closer to You” and also to “Wherever is Your Heart” off Firewatcher’s Daughter. It’s (all 3, really are) a song from the perspective of a person that travels a lot, and is very busy. But in all three songs, the narrator says their heart is always with their love back at home (GF? wife? the subject may change over time). And that narrator looks forward to physically being with their partner again. I’m going to awkwardly refer to whoever the primary perspective in the song as “narrator” because I’m not certain who this story belongs to. All 3 seem to write a lot of the music, and maybe it’s the combined experience of Brandi, Phil, and Tim. I haven’t seen interviews or other info that tells which one might be talking for sure.

Closer to You (the first written of these 3 similar sentiments):

I’m staring out at endless rows of green
There are miles of hay like I have never seen
Just when you think you’ve had enough and
your dreams come true
I just want to be closer to you

My mind wanders through all that I’ve been hiding from
I tried not to let you down
Now I wonder if I’ve been doin’ something wrong
Help me get my feet back on the ground

Tomorrow I’ll be lying under you
With a heart of gold and arms to fall into
I know that there might come a day
where my life is through
But I just want to be closer to you

My mind wanders through all that I’ve been hiding from
I tried not to let you down
Now I wonder if I’ve been doin’ something wrong
Help me get my feet back on the ground

Someday we might learn to tell the truth
We might even find the fountains of our youth
We all needed something real we all need proof
I just want to be closer to you
I only want to be closer to you

The tone of this song is excited, almost wonderous at these novel sights. And when the narrator gets fatigued of all the travel–all their dreams (of adventure? money? fame? musical growth?) come true. They will press on with the travel over the long term. The writer of this song thinks maybe they’re going about the relationship, career, and/or life wrong, The final verse conveys a searching for something higher-and alludes to a spiritual crises. Even so, the narrator has the tangible in their mate. And knows their loved one will be there to ground them when they get back home. It is indicated that the narrator KNOWS this person with golden heart will be there. There’s no doubt.



In Wherever is Your Heart, written early on in relationships, it’s decidedly upbeat and hopeful:

I think it’s time we found a way back home
You lose so many things you love as you grow
I missed the days when I was just a kid
My fear became my shadow, I swear it did

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home

You made me feel like I was always falling
Always falling down without a place to land
Somewhere in the distance I heard you calling
Oh it hurts so bad to let go of your hand

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home

Even when you’re high, you can get low
Even with your friends you love, you’re still alone
We always find the darkest place to go
God forgive our minds, we were born to roam

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home

Oh God forgive my mind, oh God forgive my mind
When I come home, when I come home
Oh God forgive my mind
There’s a road that’s long and winding, it hollers home
I’m calling home

Oh God forgive my mind, oh God forgive my mind
When I come home, when I come home
Oh God forgive my mind, oh God forgive my mind
When I come home, when I come home

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home



Or, might I say, the song of the song is upbeat and gives an optimistic vibe, and the chorus is true to that sentiment. This 2nd song says no matter how far apart geographically the two partners are, they both take solace in the fact that their hearts are together. They don’t need to be physically together to feel and know the love they share. BUT the verses betray a darkness in the narrator. They lost things/people as they aged, and reminisce about a simpler time of when they were a child. Now, they feel fear nearly always. The falling verse that’s next directly ties back to the plane metaphor in “You and Me on the Rock” and tells of that broken foundation that comprises this person. The narrator tells that even with this beautiful sentiment of loving and spiritually being with your lover, even when separate, their mind still fights. The mind is still lonesome amongst friends, sad during happy times, aberrant from the happy chorus.

Which brings us back to this current song, You and Me on the Rock:

When the fire inside that burns
So bright begins to grow faded
It can be hard to see the ground on which you stand
Though you may not be afraid of walkin’ in the darkness
You will feel like a stranger in this land

You can try to carve a faith out of your own
But a broken spirit may dry out the bone
And the edges of the night may cause you sorrow
You know I may not be around this time tomorrow
But I’ll always be with you
Yeah, I’ll always be with you

When the hope that you hold tightly to has all but vanished
And there are no words of comfort to be found
You will know what it means to be lost and without love
May you fight to kill that deafening sound

But our holy dreams of yesterday aren’t gone
They still haunt us like the ghosts of Babylon
And the breakin’ of the day might bring you sorrow
You know I may not be around this time tomorrow
But I’ll always be with you
I’ll always be with you

Ooh
Ooh
Ooh

repeats

Now the person at home doesn’t have a golden heart, but that bright fire faded. They can’t even find the ground, and aren’t the stable force they were in “Closer to You” anymore. Instead of coming home to comfort, the narrator feels like a stranger. Carving faith is more laborious than how easily it came in the first 2 songs… What is the exact same in all the songs, is the narrator will always be with this other person in spirit when they travel, just as before. The next verse gets at the heart of this entire album again. The lyrics reiterate that love has all but vanished, yet the narrator grasps tightly to whatever is left of it. The person left at home, no longer has words of comfort as mentioned in the prior songs, which makes the narrator feel even more lost than they already felt.

I like the new album, but it’s a bleak story. And this trilogy of songs shows the trajectory of a traveling person with a broken foundation who found, and then lost, love and now lives in a codependent state. ‘In These Silent Days’ tells the same story of the catalogue, just in a more condensed form.

PS- I think I’m going to do a few of these similar song postings, as I heard a lot of pairs and triplet songs while going through the album.

Labor Dave Weekend 2014

7 Sep

We went 2 of the 3 days. We spent the big bucks on seats. We made a sign for the opener (Brandi CArlile!) and for DMB. Which we worked really hard on and it turned out adorable. We chalked the car. Planned the hair, makeup, and clothes to look extra cute. It should have been the best year!

But it wan’t. Actually, I cried crocodile tears. Lesson learned: More money spend doesn’t automatically translate to better time, more fun. Maybe it translates to better pictures? Or just experience did.

We had previously gone to the show on Sunday only. And that’s what I would advise fans to do (unless you are a binge-drinker and love obnoxious crowds). By Sunday, everyone is tired, sunburned, hung-over–and it makes them more subdued. That’s my crowd–a little less amped up, at least to the point of politeness.

Friday everyone is full of energy. They have not been cooked in the sun yet. And they’re not hung-over and low key. Friday it’s all frat boys and pushing, and so so so much smoking. Like, yuck, it’s after 1950-who is still smoking?!! We’re in WAshington state, and WA is environmentally conscious, educated, and healthy. Don’t go on Friday.

The beautiful sign ruined everything. I was excited to hold it. We worked so hard, and it was super-cute. But the first time we held it up (between songs) some frat boy fussed. I wanted to say, fuck you, you’re too busy bing-drinking, yelling, pushing, and smoking to notice anyway. But Cool got very anxious, and refused to hold the sign at all after that. Which made me severely disappointed. I tried to get her to hold it, b/c we had spent a lot of time and planning on it–but she listened to the 1 frat boy and refused. It was a huge fight!

The weekend could not be salvaged after that.

We had seats for Friday and Sunday, and of COURSE Brandi performed Sat–the day we didn’t have tickets. It was windy. The friend we were staying with was sick with a migraine. It wasn’t the good time we had planned, hoped for, anticipated, or paid for.

So just know that you don’t have to spends loads of money to have fun. Our most fun year was our cheapest and our most expensive year went the worst.

YOU make your fun time!

2019 Album Countdown: Increasing Enthusiasm (Top 3)

31 Dec

3 Lizzo:  

I didn’t want to like Lizzo, because it seemed like she came out of nowhere and took Grammys from people I really like.  I hadn’t even heard her name out there, and knew nothing of any of her songs (I guess the one pitfall of losing radio who crams hyped things down your throat).  Suddenly, she was a name I heard everywhere.

But her tunes won me over. Like, big time. For awhile I actually thought she was going to be my #1 album for 2019.  I like the female empowerment, the cool-factor within the songs, and the production value.  But my biggest reason was that this album makes you excited to listen to it.  And the feminism and body positivity sneaks in while you’re dancing.  It’s good.

–>P.S. Here’s an unpopular (honest) opinion:  I Judged on the songs, not the red carpet. I acknowledge, like most white, cis women in America (the 1st world?) I have been socialized with certain beauty standards.  I simultaneously hate these standards and sometimes feel pressured to abide by them. I think it’s important to love your body. But also strive for a healthy, toned body.  And I strongly believe you should wear what makes you happy and comfortable. I know I usually do. But I do think the formality of an event should be considered, as should what flatters.  I find her immodest outfits a travesty and train-wreck (not in a prude-way). I think she could dress dramatically and show who she is in a more tasteful way. And I always think everyone’s clothes should fit them properly. 

Saying that, her ‘fuck-your opinions’ attitude is what shines through her music and is exactly why I ranked her album so high. 

-”Soulmate” has a good message, but that percussion is straight out of 2016.  Also, I will never think trilling is edgy or gagsta-cool.

-”Jerome” using ‘juicy pots’ in a lyric is yuck!  I do like the sound of ‘your style and that beard ooh.’  What I love is, ‘Take ur ass home come back when ur grown.’  Yes! Strong woman speaking her mind. 

-”Like a Girl” is my favorite.  Super-empowering. It has a very Karmin vibe with sassy-smart-pop-rap.  “Heaven Help Me” has that sound too.

-”Truth Hurts” hooks you!

-”Better in Color” so that’s where big dick energy came from?!  Also, I normally do not care for screaming in a song, but it’s cute and goes perfectly with the tone (see what I did there?) of the story she’s telling in the song.

-”Cuz I Love You” has an epic background with good singing that hits all the right notes.

-”Tempo” is too repetitive.  I do like Missy’s breakdown.

-”Good as Hell” is catchy and uplifting.

 

2 Set It Off”

I had this tied with Mika for a minute, and this album went above his, because the whole album was strong, with no throw away songs.  This is filed under ‘Alternative Rock’ which I feel isn’t really a thing anymore.  And I wish it was because that used to be my favorite genre-what a relief to hear it (I guess I’ll accept any iteration of it as this point) in 2019!  It sounds like pop with gruff singing to me, but I did like it. They just might be a manufactured band, and you can hear a lot of influences, samples, and possible straight up copying of other bands.  And that sounds like a criticism on my part, but it isn’t. I like that they’ve incorporated a lot of the sounds I like, while keeping things energetic and fresh. The track list is diverse as a result of this, with each song featuring a different artist’s vibe:  Fall Out Boy, Epic (video game), boy band, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Jonus Brothers. . .

Courtesy of Jon Weiner Rock band Set It Off is touring in support of its 2016 album, Upside Down. agomez@abqjournal.com Sun Jan 07 16:55:59 -0700 2018 1515369347 FILENAME: 927584.jpg

-”Go the Bed Angry” Nice pop duet!

-””Hourglass” sounds reminiscent of Fall Out Boy, with slightly more rock.

-”Stitch Me Up” is a boy band song.

-”Unopened Windows” I can tell this song was included to showcase some singing ability.  And it works moderately. I’d say the singing is slightly better than mediocre.

-”Criminal Minds” I like the fast speed

-”Kill the Lights” sounds like Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy.  And you know how I’ve been known to like those bitter lyrics!

 

1 Taylor Swift:

I hate how the first thing I have to do is a disclaimer justifying my choice.  Taylor is as successful and rich as she is because she is talented.  And hardworking, and smart, and good at marketing and business and promotion.  And fuck society for hating on that.  And the disclaimer:  Now, now now before you judge me for being too white, too mainstream, too pop–a sellout of a reviewer, let me justify this choice.  Just like the other artists on this list, it’s solely based on this year’s album only.  Fashion, likeability, my personal staple-favoritism, does not factor into the decision of my album countdown.  The art alone is judged. Yes, I’m obsessed with Kaylor in a very real way.  And I love the Easter eggs and videos and marketing genius that is Taylor Swift the brand.  But I chose Lover as top album, because it is the perfect embodiment of 2019.  It’s so many songs.  There is a story of each one, which pretty much sums up the goings on of the year–it’s always something these days…  

-”Lover” and it’s many iterations is beautiful and self-written with introspection and pure romance.  I get heart eyes everytime I hear it.

-”The Man” The political message and feminism is at the forefront of this jam, and it’s refreshing to hear it.  I love how cheeky, yet unapologetic Taylor Swift is as she wonders what her career, finances, and life would be like without the patriarchal chains every woman wears knowingly or unknowingly.  Calling it out is good for her and awesome for gals everywhere to hear.  

-”Paper Rings” All the symbolism, all the romance!  Taylor is really at her best when she’s telling a detailed story using metaphors.  

-”Soon You’ll Get Better” It’s the ‘eat your veggies’ track, that we might not like as much as sugar,but that we need to hear.  It’s very serious and somber subject-matter, but she’s really showing vulnerability and sharing a personal struggle that’s universal.  Also, cool is that the Dixie Chicks were brought back from political purgatory to feature on the song and their country vibe sounds amazing.

-”You Need to Calm Down” political AND fun.  Sing-aloud anthem with a message. It’s fun and important.  It’s the statement we’re hungry for, the inclusion we demand.

-Cornelia Street” Features one of the most emotive moods on the album.  The singing, volume, and production emphasize feelings.

-”Afterglow’ This song is written from the opposite perspective that Taylor usually  takes. I like that it shows introspection, maturity, and accountability. It shows she’s not only grown as an artist, but as a person.

-”False God” I think we can all agree we need to hear Swift singing about oral sex.  And good for her for doing it obviously and unashamedly. And the brass in this song is a different vibe than we usually hear from Swift’s work, and really adds something.

-”Daylight” I’m glad this is a more practical love song.  We do not have the dreamy syrup-love of the early days. It’s an acknowledgment that sometimes (even true) love is messy and imperfect.  Not everything is a fairytale and sometimes strife comes about. It’s a great last track that closes the album beautifully.

-”Archer”  Tay (um we’re on a nickname basis, because her music makes me feel like she and I are best friends!) gets a really bad wrap for talking shit in her songs.  Let’s give her credit where credit is due for showing maturity in showing she sometimes is the archer and sometimes the pray.  

-”Death by a Thousand Cuts” This song tells of a turning point and evokes much sadness.  The bridge (always a Taylor strong point) is A+ here.

-”Cruel Summer”.  So it was a major mistake not to make this the first single and maybe even release it late May/early June–you know as the summer jam.  Also to showcase the album content a little better. And I think “Me!” could still have been released in June as the 2nd single because summer is a time for light content.  And gay pride is accepting of a little campiness that is “Me!” But nobody called and asked me(!). *Read* Taylor please call me or write me anytime, for advice (ha ha) or just to chat.  I’m obviously joking, but for real, contact me.

-”It’s Nice to Have a Friend” It’s a little disjointed, possibly containing more than 1 subject, but what a nice take on love.  Childhood and friendship evolving. It’s a little talked about love that everyone experiences and not that many people sing about.

-”I Forgot that You Existed” I’m ranking these tracks based on what I feel are the strongest song elements, messaging, and critically/technically (judged by people, overall).  This particular track is probably in my top 4 on the album, but I think since it speaks to the haters (yet again, which mind you I love, but critics and the public at large are tired of, and find immature) it’s down here.  I do find it super-catchy, and personally love a bitter song.

-”Miss Americana” A symbolic gesture of a song that shows Taylor is finished with all the high school-type drama.  She’s grown up now and the stupid games aren’t worth the stupid prizes.

-”Me” is the light and fun side.  We don’t always have to take everything so serious.  It’s the shameless spelling and let-loose dancing song.  Also, marketing to the kids?  Smart.

-“London Boy” You have to be clever to write satire.  And Swift’s humor shines through on this gem.

-”I Think He Knows” for me personally, this song has a pronoun problem that I can’t get on board with…  Kaylors know what I’m saying.

 

So there you have my choices for the top (and bottom) albums of 2019.  And if you’re wondering where (my former in my imagination girlfriend) Brandi Carlile is on this list…  Because after all she took on a side-project, The Highway Women.  I like the idea of a female country/Americana group.  But honestly, I would have had to put it in the changed their sound category, and I just don’t have the heart to but Brandi on the bottom of any list.  Mostly, because I have hope she will return to her earlier sound and all will be well again in my fandom.  But for now–it’s omitted.  But the rest is accurate.  At this moment in time.  Hope you enjoyed my list–it’s a year of picking out albums, listening to the songs, comparing elements, and writing–not a small undertaking.  But I love it so I hope you do too.

Album Countdown 2019: My Disappointments (19-28, rather 28-19)

28 Dec

I usually rank all of these artists higher, so I was particularly disappointed in them in 2019.  And can we just talk about how country music is totally off the rails right now?  Like, what the fuck happened to it?  Where has it gone?  It’s really superficial, lacking most of the elements I look for in a good country song.  The closest thing to it is this folksy Americana/roots stuff that Brandi Carlile ran off into.  Roots in fine in small doses.  But I want country, country!  And I’d like Brandi to go back to a more folk-rock sound.  Please and thank you.

 

28. David Gray:
He used to be one of my staples. And I was very excited to see his new album had ‘jazz’ right in the title! I really expected something. But alas, the tunes were quited and meh. And I aborted (which I never take lightly) the song by song review because of boredom.

 

27. Marren Morris
Her breakthrough albums made me an instant fan! I really liked it and had it on heavy rotation for 2 years. So I was excited to see her next effort since she has more fame, clout, money to go in a direction she wants musically. I’d have liked to see more personality on the 2nd album–it was kinda forgettable despite the duets. What a disappointment.

 

26. Madonna
File this one under: Expert Trying Too Hard. Yes, Madonna will always have it. But I could tell she was really trying to get in touch with a moment to better fit the aesthetic of 2019. Like that mom that borrows her 16 year old’s clothes to try to fit it with the kids.
“Extreme Occident” right/left/lost is not strong enough, and I found it to be a political cop-out. Madonna has never shied away from telling us who she is and what she thinks. Also, she has a large following and big audience that she influences. Finally, she’s a bit removed from the chasing fame and certainly financially stable. So what does she have to lose by making a big statement?
“Bitch I’m Loca” speaking part at the end was funny.
“I Don’t Search” very electronic (house?) with kinda dreamy lyrics. I, of course, like the “Vogue”-eske snaps.
“Faz Gastoso” is foreign language (Spanish?) and has an R&B tough-gal sound and a lot of tongue-rolling. It also has that sound given to a lot of 3rd world scenes with the instrumental breakdown and all. As a matter of fact, I felt a sense of dejavu listening to it, and was trying to figure out if it was copied from something…

 

23. Lady Antebellum:
I found the album a little ‘too.” You know overly sentimental and trying too hard.
-”The Thing That…” Nice harmony and nice like echo effect of the singing.
-”What If I Never” I liked how they alternate male vs female vocals on the verse then came together on the chorus. It’s a good concept-the thought that time might not always heal broken hearts caused from breaking up.
-”Pictures” Short and meh.
-”Downtown” Tells a story, with a lot of description.
-”On a Night Like” Is a nice love song.

 

22. Avett Brothers
-ugh! Too much talking! Every song is ruined with talk.
-”New Woman…” good political points/feminism, but I think it must have been written before Trump? It’s pretty optimistic, and the current political landscape and state of feminism is (I would say) bleak.

 

21. Jonas Brothers
The album seems quite generic and boring.
“Used to be” poppy. Just Ok.
“Love Her” is nice with the snaps and la-las.
“Hesitate” I like the sentiment of the lyrics.

 

20. Luke Combs
I was actually pretty disappointed this album was such a let down compared to the prior one that was well written. This one felt more forced and came off as phony to me–not nearly as authentic as the last album. I also thought that deep, resonant singing got lost on this one.
-“Angels Workin…” Has a good beat, is a good tailgate song, and was probably the strongest offering on this album.
-“Every Little Bit..” I like that it’s sad and cheeky. I always enjoy a good break up song, and this one is relatable.
-“Beer Never Broke” is a good tailgate song.
-“Even though…” Daddy? Um no, you’re too old for that, Luke. The song is folksy.
-“Frigerator Door’ is trying too hard to force sentimentality.
-“Mexico” is kinda short and meh-not that notable.
-“Better Together” is just OK. The singing is kinda rough.
-“Lovin on You” sounds like a jukebox song, with a good beat, and love lyrics.
-’Even Though” is too much for me. I put in in the ‘Army Wives’ category.

 

19. Thomas Rhett:
It isn’t the autobiographical catchy tunes of the other album I liked. I found most of the songs felt too short. He did more shorter songs and I wish he had added to each one even if the album turned out shorter.
-”Don’t Threaten me w/a Good Time” party song, fun, jam-band instrumentals
-”blessed” nice love song, only complaint is that it’s too short
-”VHS” is mildly catchy like the other album, but not in a strong way. Watered down summer jam.
-”Notice” is a nice, catchy love song. I like the detail in it, and I like how singable it would be at concerts.
-”Sand” is a summer party song and also a love song. I think the singing is good here-some higher notes
-”Beer Can’t Fix” is the Jimmy Buffet island song of the album. Calypso sound and duet sounds nice for the beach.
-”Don’t Stop Drivin’’ has a nice beat, more poppy.
-”Barefoot” gives a nice mental image. Has some background vocals reminiscent of the other album.

A Rainbows and Butterflies Obsession

21 Sep

But first, real quick: Ummm, when did WordPress become so user UNfriendly? Drafts are gone? I’m now having trouble uploading pictures. The auto-save didn’t work. I wrote this entire thing and it glitched at “publish” so irritating! It’s like the Myspace days, save your work elsewhere, lest lose it. Any tips?

 

And the topic at hand:

I am obsessed with Taylor Swift.  I have always liked her song-writing, and incorporation of personal details in lyrics (see so many blog posts that used her songs).  When I was driving almost 3 hours one way for all my IVF donor appointments, I must have listened to “Mean” and “Your Not Sorry” a billion times.  Her writing really touched my heart.  But I went away from her when Red came out–and was NOT available on Spotify.  Because how was I going to listen to the album without streaming?  That is also how I lost track of Adele also, who I think is super-talented and a wondrous singer.  But if you don’t allow streaming, I don’t have motivation to dig around.  And a lot was happening in Taylor Swift’s life and career at that time.  But once you’re out of the loop, it’s hard to get back in.  So I missed Red, 1989, and any Reputation stuff save for the music itself on the latter album.  I missed the dating, the clique, the feuds (except what was ubiquitous in pop-culture), and thus pretty much everything.

Brandi Carlile was my jam since, oh, 2010.  And I wish her music and everything still resonated with me now, as it had before.  I want to love it.  I wish I was still really into it.  I feel Brandi is an earnest person, with a good track record, and genuine concern about making the world better.  Her rock and folk albums were inspired, and even superseded some of The Indigo Girls’ work for me.  I like her (I guess her persona, because she makes you feel like you know her).  Her concerts are THE BEST.  And her actual singing is unmatched.  When she popped up on Zac Brown Band’s backing-vocals yesterday (listening to Spotify at work), I immediately knew it was her.

I am just not excited about this Americana direction she’s taking, dabbling in country, pandering to bullying, ect… to get Grammys.  I dutifully listen to the music she’s collaborating on, and really, really try to be a great fan.  But it’s not organically happening for me.  I can appreciate the work, I like it ok.  But my fandom is not what it used to be–and that’s disappointing.  It’s not over.  And I hope Brandi’s next album will feature the twins more, still have those notes she can hit like no other, and reignite the spark for me again.

And this post is not about how there can only be one female artist.  Not at all.  No trading is going on here.  I like them all and have a place in my heart for all of them.  There obviously, can (and needs to be) ALL the women in music.  They can all be successful, it’s important to support that, and help it grow.  I’m just illustrating that there was kind of a hole there (in my fandom?)… Which is when butterflies were bandied about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love color, love flowers, butterflies, tye dye, kittens, glitter, and unicorns, all of those things.  Always have.  It’s nothing to do with anything, just what aesthetic I’m naturally drawn to, and what incites passion and enthusiasm in me.  So when the “Me” video came out, it was my LIFE.  It was as if Taylor Swift made a video specifically for me.  Even better that little clues (Easter eggs) were throughout.  I also watched Pop-Up Video and loved all the trivia and facts and behind-the-scenes.  Same thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So just like that I was hooked back in, trying to find the meanings and read the clues.  And when super-gay “You Need to Calm Down” came on to the scene–I was floored.  It was fun, it was bright. . .  It painted Taylor (we’re on a first name basis) as at least an advocate and at most, was a coming out party for bisexual.  And that led to Kaylor.  Which is an easy word to describe a possible love between Taylor and Karlie Kloss.

PS-I don’t know what shipper means, and I don’t really care for it (I’m not 12), but that is the language used amongst Swifties, a group I’m too old to be in.  Which needs to change.  I should not be excluded just because I’m in my 30’s and can’t get on to the cool lingo.  Taylor Swift is an artist I’ve followed for a long time, I’m interested in, and who’s music/career I’m really into right now.  So I’m taking age out of it and being a super-fan (but leaving out the parts not applicable to me).

 

A lot of things made sense to me about Taylor being with Karlie.  Especially when you see the looks, body language, and intimacy between them on YouTube.  I feel like I have insider information about the difference between what friendships look like vs more.   I also know about the coming out process.  And when the lyrics of her songs are dissected in a different way–it makes so much more sense.  I am impressed by how coded Taylor intentionally or unintentionally made her lyrics and videos and media.  Like, how detailed could such a busy person get?!  Color me impressed!  That’s my very favorite thing about Taylor’s work.  Also interesting:  The LGBT community has used codes (handkerchiefs, ear piercings, etc, etc) forever to remain secret at large but still identify each other.  Which un-ironically(?) can describe Taylor Swift’s whole thing.  And what’s it called? double entrande’ ? Karlie has a computer coding school for girls, I think?  Codes, all the codes!  So now I guess I’m obsessed with accumulating irrefutable evidence of their relationship ie, I guess “outing” Taylor.

 

 

 

 

 

Which isn’t cool, and something I, personally, hate.  But I’m not doing in a blackmail way or smarmy, or anything.  More in a–knowing the REAL inspiration behind songs lets you in on the secret and allows more authentic enjoyment of the material.  It’s a little like my obsession with Disappeared (Jaycee Lee Dugard, The McStays, Maura Murry, etc, etc…) and wondering what ever happened to that person. . .  I always think about scenarios, make theories, and comb the internet for clues.  But this is a little brighter, because it’s about a true, hidden love-not disappearance and death.  But same combing for clues, making theories.

(Another blog post about that later–it’s kinda it’s own thing)

I was super into every Lover video, lyric, and Easter egg.  And thrust back into Taylor’s world-though I have a daunting amount of research to catch up on just so I know what’s going on.  There is a lot of media attention, romance stories, break-ups, friendships, characters–it’s worse than studying Chaucer.

Even more exciting-is that Taylor Swift is known to stalk her fans, get to know them via social media, then INVITE THEM TO HER HOUSE TO MEET HER.  Instant fantasy.  You know how I always want to meet them.  Hopefully the tone of this blog, and any criticisms of Taylor’s work doesn’t preclude me from that.  I thought about erasing any trace of negativity just in case.  But the integrity of the blog comes first.  Any my authenticity is always primary.  Over time, feelings can evolve, as Taylor herself knows all about.  Those were my opinions with information I had at the time, so they stay.

What I’ve learned since I wrote (especially my Reputation review) then is that the album is OK as a stand-alone.  But what really expands the experience and gives it depth are the background stories, music videos, and especially the Easter eggs.  Which is why Reputation got kind of a mediocre review from me at first (which has changed with my Kaylor knowledge) and is waaaay better now.  That’s why the Kaylor truth is so important for Taylor Swift to share, and also why it’s important for me not to go erase the past.  That’s me and my story, and just like Taylor’s works, plays a part in future works.

So that’s what is happening with Me! (see what I did there>) and why I have been inspired to write (more, still not enough-time gets away) again.  And to especially make some songs.

Best 2018 Albums: Late for New Years, right in time for Chinese New Year and the Grammy Awards **edit 4/25/19**

5 Feb

30.  Cover songs and compilation albums don’t really qualify for my best of list.  But I wanted to give a special nod to this one, because I liked it.  And also, because I usually do singles, but this year I only found 2 so I am skipping singles and just shouting out this one:

Revamp (various artists)

“Bennie and the Jets” is distorted and spacey, reminiscent of Sargent Pepper’s Loneyly Hearts Club Band album.  “Candle in the Wind” is an unplugged version that evokes VH1 Storytellers. Miley Cyrus is surprisingly emotive in her rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”   Because Lady Gaga is such a shameless copycat of Madonna and her entire career trajectory, I often forget the gal can sing–and perhaps with more range than the material girl.  “Your Song” is a fitting choice for her, and she does it beautifully.  And Sam Smith is this next generation’s Elton John. His version of “Daniel” is impeccable.

Now from bottom to top. 

Here are albums I didn’t really care for:

  1. Playing Favorites, Meiko

I don’t get it.  She sings all covers.  But first, she makes them boring.  It’s all copy-cat songs, but done in the style of some weird-ass acoustic-guitar at the independent coffee shop.  Write your own songs, then we’ll talk…

  1. Delta, Mumford and Sons

Just when I was beginning to think maybe I was being too hard on them for changing their whole sound, Spotify snuck in “Little Lion Man.”  It reaffirmed my huge disappointment in where Mumford took their sound. This new album has no trace at all at the music that brought the band mainstream success.  It is slow, it’s not uptempo at all, and there is no acoustic/bango flair even a little bit. Big disappointment!

27. Life is Good on the Open Road, Trampled by Turtles

Firstly, it’s too long of a title.  More to the point, Why is their recent work so melancholy?  The sound is sad a forlorn and listening to this album bummed me out.  The best stuff is when they play super-fast, and this album had none of that.

26. Pray for the Wicked, Panic!  At The Disco

I thought this would be almost identical to Fall Out Boy since there are, like 2 bands in this genre.  Especially since both of these recent releases have religious album titles or song themes. Yet, what I got from this one was a decidedly bro-y vibe that I couldn’t get behind.  Nearly all the songs were of drinking and conjured up the worst type of frat-boy or party-monsters. I’d call this a miss, as it caters to a very specific, narrow audience.

And now the OK:

25. This House is Not for Sale, Bon Jovi

I always love Bon Jovi.  He is a legend, and all of his stuff has merit.  This album isn’t his strongest offering (or even in the top three) but it’s still good to listen to.  “Walls” and and title track, “This House is Not for Sale” are the strongest songs of the album. And I did miss that good ‘ol rock ballad that Bon Jovi is expert at writing and singing!

24.  Only Love, Jordan smith

Lyrically overwrought, but the guy has pipes!  “Feel Good” has a funk vibe that I like, and it’s really catchy.  I think the material could be toned down one or two levels as choirboy singing Disney covers leaps to mind, but the singing talent is there.  Lots of potential.

23. Golden Hour, Kacei Musgraves

I would call this poetry set to music.  Each song has great emphasis on the writing and lyrics.  I don’t really attach to it as a great album like a lot of critics and fans, and do not really think the hype is warranted.  It’s nice poems, but the singing of notes doesn’t really move me, and the songs don’t get stuck in my head…

22.  The Wandering Hearts, self titled album

They sound like a cross between Seal and Lady Antebellum.  The songs are pleasing, yet I feel a component is missing. It could be more catchy or passionate or something-I’m not certain what the last ingredient needs to be, but for now they have a lot of potential.

21.  Seasons Change, Scotty McCreary

The album is a feel good country album like those prior to This Hollywood country sound that has taken over. There are love songs and foot stompers.

20.  Bea Miller

It’s a pleasant reminder of the strong women who were so prominent in the 1990s

19.  Dark Horse, Devin Dawson

The title track is a strong, but low-key outlaw song.  “All On Me” is a stand-out. I like the voice, like the writing, and think this is an artist to watch.

18.  Nation of Two, Vance Joy

Initially I had this album ranked a lot lower because it is subtle.  I said that the album was a little too quiet and unassuming. “I’m going home” was the only catchy song, in my opinion.  Low-key is one thing, but a good hook shouldn’t be ignored entirely. When you listen (maybe ear buds were the difference? Or just more exposure?) multiple times the layers built into these songs become more obvious.  The instrumentation is varied and beautiful. And no, the songs aren’t catchy like straight pop, but they do grow on you.

The Good:

  1. Dogviolet, Laurel

Of course I want to place my name-twin’s album higher on the list and I do feel this mixing of sounds and genre-eclecticness has great potential.  It’s not strong on every track though. “Lovesick” is a mix of indie and folk with a little electronic flare.This album has an unmistakable sexuality about it.  Just the longing in the voice, and the “wanting” in the lyrics makes it sound that way. ”Recover” has that pleading to it that I’m referring to in the sexy, desperate way..  “Hold Tight” is just as catchy as Florence and the Machine and has that pop-indy vibe going. “All Star” is sensual, and bitter. And my favorite track is “Adored” which is pleading and angry at the same time.

  1. Volunteer, Old Crow Medicine Show

Happy-bluegrass.  Is there enough harmonica in music these days?  This album was fun to listen to with songs like “Methamphetamine” and the familiar tune “Flicker and Shine.”  It reminds me of Virginia City—or just Virginia mountain music.

  1.  No Roots EP, by Alice Merton

“Roots” reminds me of a more tribal Florence and the Machine.  There is a bit of funky playfulness. I can feel Merton’s feminism is each song, not so much due to any rawr lyrics, but more the combination of tenacity, strength, and longing in her voice.  “Lie to My Face” is the strongest song on the album, an anthem telling some deceitful, philandering partner where to shove their BS–in a sarcastic way.

  1.  Encore, by Anderson East

The back up singers lend a soleful, community feel to the songs.  “Girlfriend” is the stand out of the album. I saw them perform it live (as opener for Brandi Carlile) and it was meh–very lackluster.  For the studio-version, they added some more oomf. It has more percussion, more angst behind the vocals, and makes me feel when I hear it.  The other two songs I really liked were, ”All in my Mind” and “King for a Day” which are both very catchy.  In all, I wouldn’t say Encore is a contender for the top of my list.  But I do think Anderson East has a ton of potential, and we’ll be hearing more from them if they amp of their songs, and keep them interesting.

  1.  Vide Noir, Lord Huron

Sometimes, even I’m surprised about how this best album list shakes out.  I just listen and rank them against each other. And where they fall on the list is all about how that album only compares to the other albums from the year.  I will comment, of course, on person lives, concerts, and my personal biases, but the rank is about how that albums stack up against the other offerings of that year.  This is my second favorite band right now, because their concerts are near-perfect. The execution and energy is top-of-the-game stuff. They really need to put out a live album, because their studio work does not even come close to being as great as their performance at a concert!  “The Night We Met” feat Phoebe Bridgers, is a story song. “Ancient Names, (Part I)” is probably the best example for a new listener to sum up the band’s trademark sound. I like Vide Noir, because the songs all fit together in a cohesive way.  Now, let’s get on a concert album or compilation of live shows.  I’ll be first in line to buy that CD!

  1.  My New Moon, Amos Lee

This album is what I’d call stoner/hippy-rock.  It’s peaceful and easy to listen to, just like you’d expect.

  1.  Black Coffee, Beth Hart & Joe Bonamessa

“Black Coffee” will get stuck in your head and is a good single (and title) for the album.  And I especially liked the cover of “Sittin’ on Top of the World” as it showcased exactly how Beth Hart can take down to Earth material and jazz it up with her husky vibrato.  And Bonamessa really takes this into jam-brass territory with his seemingly improvised playing. It’s a sound that puts me right in a dark, smoky jazz night club. I need chicken and waffles after Black Coffee.

Top 10:

  1.  The Port Saint Joe, The Brothers Osborne

The deep voices, the harmony, the outlaw country attitude.  It’s a modernized throw-back to my grandfather’s country, and I like it.  I find it fun to listen to, and a little different, while being ultra-traditional.  I could drink to this, for sure. I could dance. I could do housework and feel bad-ass.  It’s nice to hear a band that isn’t a super-glamorized, polished version of music. Grand Ol Operey sounds without the slick-money sound of most other country.  

  1.  Mania, Fall Out Boy

They still have their signature sound, in a genre they pretty much pioneered.  He’s hitting the notes-like, whoa. The lyrics are some seriously thought-out writing.  “Bishops Night Trick”

Takes FOB out of frat-boy only status, sounding exactly like Panic at the Disco, into a serious place, where talent is evident.  The album has a theme and the songs flow nicely from one to the next. I’m as surprised as you this even made the list, let alone cracked the top ten.  They have an epic-sound in this album,(listen to “Church”) and a tight theme. It’s the singing, itself that really pushes this album to that next level.  Well done, FOB, you’ve risen above bro-status, into major-player.

  1.  Raising the Bar, Terry Clark

I initially rated this album toward the middle of my list.  The songs alone are OK. It’s the theme and flow of the album as a whole that really makes it special.  This is the album you write/listen to when you’re freshly divorced and back in your rural home town trying to readjust.  “Giving Up Given a Dawn” is exactly reminiscent of that sentiment. “The One That Got Away” is a good break up song, full of bitterness and regret.  And you know that kind of writing has a special place in my heart. I love a good, fuck you song. “”As Long as There’s a Bar” is a good down-trodden country song.  “Young as We are Tonight” is about moving on, maybe rebounding, definitely getting drunk and making questionable decisions. And the song that naturally follows, (or precedes, depending on how you look at it) is “Bloody Mary Morning” which speaks of morning drinking.  I think the album is cohesive, and has a strong theme. “Cowboys in this Town” is a strong single, which talks about this divorcee seeing other options for suitors–that might even be better than what’s his name. jA+ for finding a theme and really sticking to it, and making me feel like I’m part of a situation and in that place, both physically and mentally.

  1. By the Way, I Forgive You, Brandi Carlile

I have to put the disclaimer out there, that compared to Brandi’s own body of work I didn’t care for this album.  It’s obvious to me she is Grammy-pandering. An example is the contest for fans to play “The Joke” most number of times for opportunity to win things.  That, is a tactic to increase stats. And it’s plenty fair but desperate, and manipulative?  Yup, it’s that too. I’d like to see a more natural and organic fan growth and actual stats.  Not just from Brandi, but industry-wide. Let’s get the $$$$ out of music and talent IN. Still, it’s Brandi Carlile!  Compared to others she’s still a head above the rest. “Hold Out Your Hand” has fast parts, melodic pieces, and some sass.  It’s like the old cowboy talk-alongside and special and different. Really, the only reason she ranked even this high on the list is because her technical singing skills are better than anyone else this year.  In the future I’d like to see the songs have more variation from each other. These all blended together for me. And I hope she’ll put the twins a little more to the forefront instead of relegating them to background status as she has in the last two albums.

  1. Come  Tomorrow, Dave Matthews Band

This is more of a singing album (vs instrument jamming) then the band has had in quite some time.  I attribute it to the lack of Boyd Tinsley, which I am disappointed about. His violin made the band interesting and differentiated them from every other band.  Though, Tinsley was a mediocre violinist at best, it still added flavor. That being said–he had to go. That sex-abuse stuff just will not stand with me (and the band, apparently).  Though I would have liked more of a public response condemning that behavior. And I guess then I would have complained it was hypocritical considering live outtakes with objectification of women going on by Dave and Carter.  Clean up your acts. Anyway, more to the point of the album’s quality–I like the writing and I like the softness about it. Dave’s voice is admittedly, shot–all that smoking, drinking, and screaming to “Halloween” will eventually take it’s toll, as is evident in “That Girl is You” which is a screetchy-dog-sounding horribleness in the beginning.  Was it intentionally bad? I don’t know, but someone in the editing room should have spoken up and chopped it. That’s the one blemish, and the rest of the album stands up, with superb, well-thought lyrics and sweetly sung choruses. “Virginia in the Rain” is a good example of beautiful, romantic lyrics, that are nice to listen to on a date. Nothing compares to “Crush” but this set of songs is in the same category.  And will make for some nice slow-breaks in the concert. “Black and Blue Bird” (another bird-titled song?!) is a nice, slower song on this album. The rest of the songs are also very nice, and still have jam-potential as we heard at the Stateline Concert. DMB is getting older, and cracks show from time to time, but they still hold up. And they still know how to put on one of the best live shows!!!

Top 5 Albums of 2018:

  1. Songs for the Saints, Kenny Chesney

Do not count me amongst Chenney’s long-time fans, though I am aware he has had an enormous following for a long time.  I never got on to his stuff and didn’t really “get” the appeal. Actually, I thought it probably had more to do with the look of his butt in his jeans than his tunes.  Songs for the Saints is substantial though. I like the melding of easy-Jack Johnson-type strumming with island-country. “Get Along” is a good example of this hybrid. Easy-going, peaceful, fun to listen to.  And I’m not sure that “Ends of the Earth” isn’t a Kenny Chesney that features Lord Huron–I know a mash-up when I hear one (even an uncredited one).

  1. Man of the Woods, Justin Timberlake

Once I got a grip on the theme-and that the album is decidedly NOT rugged as the title implies, I liked it.  Read: there is nothing woodsy about the album. It’s a love letter to his wife and cozy lifestyle full of funk and pop lyrics.  Same funk and dance as usual, and the same saccharine lyrics (sometimes gross:  “your pink my purple”?  yuck!!!), too.  But also the same calliber of really bringing that performance aspect to the table that we have come to expect of JT.  Let’s see this one on Netflix also!

  1. This Ones for You,Too, Luke Combs

Because these songs were on such heavy rotation this year I kept feeling like it must be an older album.  “One Number Away,” “When it Rains, It Pours,” “Must’ve Never Met You” wait–are these new songs?? I’ve been hearing them on the radio forever.  They’re like old, familiar friends by now. But the record is from 2018 and the songs are so catchy they just took hold quickly. I think it’s a good mix of country and pop.  Gravelly-voiced, cheeky lyrics combined with hooks that stay with you. I can’t wait for more. If this is where country is headed I like it.

  1.  Home of the Strange, Young the Giant

“Something to Believe In” is strong, it’s catchy and makes me want to sing, and when the band performed the song live at Innings Festival it was so extra.  “Nothing’s Over” is a little more low-key (comparatively) and still catchy in a mesmerizing way. This is my favorite band right now, because they are so great in concert–very high energy.  And they can write catchy, yet lyrically-relevant material. I (of course) wanted to rank this CD in the number one spot, but I think Ben Harper catches a wider variety of sounds, harkens back to jazz/r&b/rock’s roots in America, and masters several different instruments.  But Young the Giant is going to take the world!

 

–>late addition–<

Oh no!  How can this happen?  I’ll tell you:  The email that had been my primary in the past gets auto-forwarded to my new primary email.  And this has always worked well.  I still give whatever email address and everything ends up in the one I check-no effort required.  And I use different addresses for different purposes.  So I was always receiving emails.  I might have noticed an issue if emails just stopped altogether.  But sometimes I’d forget my passwords on whatever and have it emailed, and just never get that email.  So I thought whatever it was I was using was acting all glitchy–since the email and password weren’t working.  And I can’t remember how I figured out there was an issue, but my email had stopped auto-fowarding.  Like, months and months ago though.  What a mess!  All my Amazon notices were going to an email that I wasn’t receiving, as was Geico, and (this brings me to the point of why the preceding paragraph is in my albums of the year blog) my music fan artist update stuff.  I was not getting Dave, Brandi, or the Indigo Girls.  What a travesty–I missed everything!

So I see TODAY that the Indigo Girls did an album with the symphony that I completely missed 😦  And Amy Ray put out an album in 2018. . .

Holler, Amy Ray

This is most definitely Ray’s best solo effort.  And is #2 on my list of albums of the year for 2018.  It’s the country/Americana that I think Brandi Carlile is trying to strive for (in order to get a Grammy in a smaller, category-which did end up working for her, she got 3?).  Ray, unlike Carlile (who as a fan, I think obviously strayed a little from her authenticity in the last 2 albums) stays true to herself in Holler.  I think Ray makes the transition to a new genre easily, and steers clear of disingenuousness.  Her gravely, rough voice works great with the material, and she is genuine to her past aesthetic (of folk/rock, sometimes punk–ish), while breaking into new territory.  The songs are still edgy and full of advocacy and rebelliousness, as Ray’s writing has always been.  But there’s a rural feeling to it that is fresh and welcome.

The varied instrumentation that always features in the Indigo Girl’s songs is still present here, and brings a homey, desolate vibe.  Banjo, violin, percussion, even brass brings to mind listening in a shed, a dilapidated shack, or in the middle of the woods.  I think this is the closest Amy Ray has ever gotten to her inner self.  Every listen just whispers authenticity-there is no put-on here, and it’s a subtle change.  I think Ray has found that sweet spot, and I hope her next album is similar to Hollar!  I’m sad I didn’t find it until the 2nd quarter of 2019.

And Drumroll Please……

The TOP album of 2018:

 

  1. Choke Cherry Tree, Ben Miller Band

A new face/voice.  Every song makes me want to listen more.  Each track seems to feature a different instrument.  

“Trapeze” has the melody of a patriotic march, and the lyrics of a circus.  The chorus Makes me think of the Bayou. It ends in a cacophony of brass and other things that sound familiar but I don’t hear enough to identify.  See what I mean about novel and interesting? “The Outsider” is like a church-picnic stomp. It makes me want to see the band live to see what they would do with it.  “Sketchbook” has a fast pace and a story-telling cadence. “Nothing Gets Me Down” is folksy-outlaw. See how each song is so unique, yet the compilation of songs goes together well?  And the brass flare-ups make “I Got Another One” special and different. “My Own Good Time” has a waltz time key. And the singing is very folksy-evoking campfire days of yore. “Mississippi Cure” is haunting with gorgeous strings, yet upbeat with some catchiness of a pop song. Lyrically it is the most powerful song on the album, bringing race into the conversation-but in an organic way- not forced or pandering. And I think an accordion is happening on the song.  It’s a stand-out on a stand-out album! I can’t wait to hear more from Ben Miller Band-there is a lot of talent and a lot of potential for them.

So there you have it.  The top 30 albums in a kind of lackluster (unless R&B is your jam) year.  Let’s hope there’s more different types of albums in 2019.