Tag Archives: countdown

Awesome Albums of 2020 Top 13-1

17 Dec

#13

Black Eyed Peas (8 awesome; 3 good; 1 ok; 2 meh; 1 dislike of 15 = 

53.3% awesome; 

20% good; 

Awesome good avg = 36.65%

80% OK & up; 

6.7% dislike

Awesome – dislike =

46.6% awesome

Awesome good avg – dislike =

29.95%)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/16/black-eyed-peas-translation-album-review/

Every song could just blend together on this album.  The theme is perfectly executed, where the individual songs can hold up on their own, but the album could be played and the listener might never know when one song ended and the next began.

At one point, I thought Translation would be my winning album of the year.  I decided to weight dislikes heavily though–b/c it takes a LOT for me to not like a song at all.  And I just can’t get behind using the word “bitch” to convey someone you don’t like or respect.  And it pains me to mark down Will I Am because I think he does have a good heart (he is my VERY favorite episome of Songland because he was so nice and fair and awesome), but I can’t get behind that one song…

#12

Taylor Swift (6 Awesome; 7 good; 2 ok; 1 meh; 1 dislike of 17 = 

35.3% Awesome; 

43.8% good; 

avg awesome/good is 39.6%; 

88.2% ok & up. 

Dislike = 5.9%

Awesome – dislike = 29.4%

Awesome good avg – dislike = 33.7%

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/25/taylor-swift-folklore-album-review/

What a good album–it’s an understatement.  Taylor Swift again shows her dexterity as a writer and performer.  She really can do anything!  Do I like Dream-Pop?  Absolutely not.  But I like Taylor, she’s a sentimental favorite of mine, and I can appreciate what she’s done here.  This album’s strongest feature was the layered writing, which embedded so much information, that it drove multiple listens–genius.  Folklore is most definitely the most lyrically-robust album of the year.  Like Apple’s work, Taylor shows she has a keen knack for saying, showing, and musically burying meanings everywhere.  Just don’t call folklore “Alternative” IT IS NOT IN THE ALTERNATIVE GENRE.  This is most definitely an attempt at dream pop like Lorde and an inspiration to Taylor, Lana del Ray.  But more hooks and catchiness.  Taylor can’t help but to write earworms.  It’s a good departure and makes me excited for whatever is going to follow.

This album was also heavily penalized for a poorly written (in my opinion) hastily added song.  I expect more from a writer of Taylor’s caliber.  She could easily write a hundred better Covid songs, and she should have.  There’s really no excuse for just throwing a song on an album.

#11

Lauren Alaina 

Getting Good (2 awesome; 2 good; 2 ok; meh; dislike of 6 = 

33% awesome

33% good

Awesome good avg = 33.3%

100% OK & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/10/lauren-alaina-getting-good-ep-review/

I never knew given the choice between some drinking break-up album and a more traditional country good-girl album, that I would prefer the latter.  But in this case I did.  I felt like the Getting Over Him wasn’t very authentic for Alaina.  I suggest she #1, just combine into an album in the future.  #2, stay true to herself, because without even knowing there was a choice I gravitated to her more true story.

#10

Kenny Chesney  (4 awesome;6 good;2 ok; meh; dislike of  12= 

33.3% awesome;

50% good; 

Awesome good avg = 41.65%

100% OK and up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/kenny-chesney-here-and-now-album-review/

It feels to me like Chesney knows the exact combination of elements to make a winning record.  And he’s combined them (as he always has) to make a good record.  What I’m not getting, is a lot of genuineness, authenticity, or enthusiasm for making music.  It all seems very detached and formulaic.  Also, this party guy is wearing thin, and feels a bit disingenuous to me.  I’d like to see an album with more introspective, that I can tell Chesney feels.

#9

Brothers Osborne (4 aweseome 2 good 1 ok 3 meh OF 11 = 

36.4% awesome; 

18% good) =

Avg of awesome and good = 

27.2%

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/15/brothers-osborne-skeleton-album-review/

The album takes a sharp turn on song 5.  It goes from trite, bro-party country to something better.  I wish they would cut out the first 4 songs, actually–it’s that much of a change.  

#8

Green Day (4 awesome; 4 ok  of 10 = 

40% awesome; 

Awesome & OK avg =

60% good

80% ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/03/green-day-father-of-all-album-review/

I think this album utilized the piano better than some of their past works.  And that fast pounding on it, does a lot to increase excitement.  There is also a James Dean sort of 1950s enthusiastic rebel sound that’s still punk-pop, but a little retro.

#7

Indigo girls (4 awesome;  4 good;  3 ok;  meh; dislike of 11 = 

36.3% awesome; 

36.3% good; 

Avg of awesome & good  =

36.3%

100% OK and up.)

#6

Selena Gomez  (7 awesome; 6 good; 4 ok; meh; dislike of 17  = 

41.2% awesome; 

35.3% good;  

Awesome good avg = 38.25%

100% Ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/selena-gomez-rare-album-review/

Does it feel personal to anyone else that Bieber got 4 Grammy nominations for an unpopular album, full of derivative lyrics, and Selena was snubbed?  Like, she calls him out in this album, this solid, good album.  But he gets the noms and she doesn’t?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Unless politics and or money were involved…

#5

The [Dixie] Chicks (5 awesome; 5 good; 1 OK; 1 meh; dislike of 12

41.7% Awesome; 

41.7% Good; 

Awesome good avg = 41.7%;

91.7% OK & up)

Grammy nominations proved that The Chicks still aren’t off the blacklist. Which is ridiculous considering the political polarization, and mainstreaming of talking $hit about the top politicians. And the Shit-Show that is Trump. The music industry should be groveling at their feet. And fans should be telling them they suffered from being ahead of their time. But here we are, back in hypocrisy-land.

#4

Dua Lipa 5 awesome; 3 good; 1 OK; 2 meh of 11 =

45.5% awesome; 

17.3% good

Awesome good avg = 31.4%

81.1% OK & up)

The album reminds me a little of the ‘Bring It On’ Soundtrack.  Nothing ground-breaking here, but a fun listen all the same.  There are glimmers of potential on this album.  And when Dua Lipa embraces her own voice, that’s where things go right.  This artist reminds me of a hybrid between Katy Perry’s California-girl lite pop and 1980’s vanilla, Debbie Gibson. And too often she veers into the easy, superficial sound rather that challenging the status quo of pop. 

#3

Aloe Blacc (8 awesome; 1 good; 1 ok; meh; dislike of 10 = 

80% awesome; 

10% good; 

Awesome good avg = 45% 

100% Ok and up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/17/aloe-blacc-all-love-everything-album-review/

Overall, a very strong album.. Each song builds on the last, and it fits a cohesive theme.  I’ve heard Blacc use his voice more and would have liked to see more low and super-high notes, but it still left me with a lot of feeling.

#2

Fiona Apple (all good–heavy intellectual = 100%)

(8 awesome; 4 good; 1 ok; meh; dislike of 13 = 

61.5% awesome; 

30.8% good 

Awesome good avg = 46.15%

100% OK and up

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/fiona-apple-fetch-the-bolt-cutters-album-review/

I initially was happy to see Fiona Apple releasing music again, because it’s been a long drought, and she’s historically an artist I like.  And on first listen to the album, I could see there was a lot going on and it should be good.  Do I like to listen to it the most?  No. Do I think Apple had the most technically sound and spectacular album of 2020?  Yes.  I think she deserves album of the year Grammy.  But Apple doesn’t just hand it to you.  You have to work to understand and appreciate Fetch the Bolt Cutters.  And it’s also intentionally not that sweet and pretty and pleasing to the ear.  Apple has made known she can sing beautifully, and play piano with virtuosity, but here she chooses not to.  So it’s a little work to listen.  But also a cerebral masterpiece.  Smartest work of 2020–and that’s saying a lot with folklore on the scene.

TOP ALBUM OF 2020:

Kesha (14 awesome, 2 OK of 16 = 

87.5% awesome; 

Awesome + ok avg = 

93.75% good

100% OK and up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/23/kesha-high-road-album-review/

The Good: 2020 Albums Countdown (30-14)

11 Dec

#28

Eminem (2 amazing 9 good 2 alfred talking(3 tot); and hated 4 of 17  =

11.8% awesome; 

52.9% good songs; 

Awesome good avg = 32.35%

23.5% hated = 

Awesome – hated = neg%

Good – hated = 29.4% good

Awesome good avg – hated = 8.85%

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/30/eminem-music-to-be-murdered-by-album-review/

I had to deliberate long and hard to decide where to place the album on the list.  It contains probably the best rap song of all time (yup, I said it) and also a really powerful song, that’s ne of the best of anybody this year.  Unfortunately, it also contains that Eminem-brand misogyny, violence, and toxic masculinity, as well as a denial of white privilege.  I used to overlook those things a lot because I was younger, and I could think of the guy’s real life upbringing and struggles and somewhat justify all that toxicity.  Rap is a historical record of racial politics and socio-economic struggle.  But also, it’s 2020, and these issues are at the forefront, and Marshall Mathers has had plenty of time to get counseling, perspective, and education.  So I could not bring myself to rate it in the Awesome grouping for those reasons.

#27

Alanis Moressette (3 awesome; 3 good; OK; 1 meh; 2 dislike OF 11 = 

27.3% awesome; 

27.3% good; 

9.1% meh; 

18.2% dislike

Awesome – dislike =

9.1% awesome

Good-dislike =

9.1% good

Awesome good avg – dislike = 

18.2%

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/11/alanis-morissette-such-pretty-forks-in-the-road-album-review/

I feel like half of this album is my favorite.  It’s a more mature version of Morissette, though she’s still got that edge I’ve always loved.  She is honest and emotional, independant, yet in this album, there’s more vulnerability then I remember on prior works.

But then half of the songs fall into the “trite” category.  Maybe a little too saccharine for my liking.

#26

T.I. (3 awesome; 9 good; 3 ok; 2 meh; 2 dislike of  20 = 

15% awesome; 

45% good; 

Awesome good avg = 30%

15% meh; 

10% dislike

Awesome – dislike = 5% awesome

Good – dislike = 35% good

Awesome good avg – dislike =

30%)

Taylor Swift

Evermore (1 awesome; 10 good; 3 ok; meh; 1 dislike of 15 (so far)

6.7% awesome; 

66.7% good

Awesome good avg = 36.7%

93.3% OK & up

6.7% dislike

Awesome – dislike = 0

Good – dislike = 60%

Awesome good avg – dislike 30%)

DON’T FREAK OUT THESE ARE FIRST IMPRESSIONS & SOME ALBUMS TAKE MANY LISTENS TO APPRECIATE

#25

Kelsie Ballerini (11 of 13 good; 1 strongly dislike message = 

84.6% good 

– 7.7% dislike = 

76.9% good)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/14/kelsea-ballerini-kelsea-album-review/

I have this little theory that Taylor Swift went around and did some (uncredited) featured work on all her friends’ albums.  Like just for fun and because she can.  I talked about it on the Selena album and on Katy Perry, and I thought I heard some contenders in this album too.  I heard her on those other 2 albums, then made my theory, then listened  for it on this album.  Song candidates:

1) The Other Girl- the parts where it says, “They know about me” and also “red dress” line.

2)  and/or Love and Hate

3)  and/or Hole in the Bottle (the layered voice could easily be TS, and that last laugh?  If that’s not Taylor, then it sounds identical.  

#24

Smashing Pumpkins (awesome; 3 good; 1 ok; 6 meh; dislike of 10= 

30% good; 

40% Ok & up)

I mean, they haven’t given me all that much to say about the album.  It’s Ok, nothing really stands out except for the progressive track title spellings.  Not bad, could be more noteworthy next time around.

#23

Nada surf ( AWESOME 6 GOOD 1 OK MEH of 9 = 

66.7% good; 

77.8% ok and up )

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/04/nada-surf-never-not-together-album-review/

Not the “Popular” sound at all!  Far from it.  It’s actually more of a Death Cab for Cutie sound.  I was surprised this one ranked above my honorable mentions list.  It’s mellow, but not boring, and they gave me just a taste of their 1990s sound, but mostly had a new vibe.

#22

John Legend ( 4 good 3 ok of 16 =

25% good; 

44.8% ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/john-leg

end-bigger-love-album-review/

There were many songs on this album that I didn’t like something about.  But each of those disliked songs had at least one redeeming factor, or this entire album would have been ranked lower.

#21

Katy Perry (5 good 7 OK of 12 = 

41.7% good

100% OK & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/katy-perry-smile-review/

#20

Bon Jovi (2 awesome; 6 ok; 4 meh of 13 = 

15.4% awesome; 

46% ok; 

Aweseome + good avg=

30.7% good)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/10/bon-jovi-2020-album-review/

Bon Jovi wins easiest, most genuine segway into current events.  He does a seamless job of staying true to his own sound, and having an album that discusses all of today’s issues.  He hits on:  Political ugliness, the division in the country, war, racial justice, covid, and I applaud him for taking it on, and doing it well.  Every artist has a responsibility to do that right now.

#19

Rufus Wainwright (2 awesome; 3 good; 3 ok; 4 meh; dislike of  12= 

16.7% awesome;

25% good; 

Awesome good avg = 20.87%

66.7% ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/29/rufus-wainwright-unfollow-the-rules-album-review/

#18

The Strokes (1 AWESOME 5 GOOD 3 ok of 9 = 

11% awesome; 

55.6% good; 

Awesome good avg = 33%

100% ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/02/the-strokes-the-new-abnormal-album-review/

This is one of those albums that just might be too cool for anyone listening to it.  I’m glad to hear some more true alternative genre, but some of the experimental sounds are just too much.

#17

Haim (4 awesome; 5 good; 7 ok;  meh; dislike of 16 = 

25% awesome;

31.3% good; 

Awesome good avg = 28.15%;

100% OK & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/haim-women-in-music-part-iii-album-review/

I tried to listen to Haim before, because I heard a lot about them.  But I just didn’t really connect.  But some of their stuff was good on this album, and it made me want to listen to more of their catalogue again.

#16

Chris Stapleton (3 awesome; 6 good; 1 ok; meh; dislike of 14 = 

21.4% awesome; 

42.9% good; 

Awesome good avg = 32.15%

71.4% ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/chris-stapleton-starting-over-album-review/

#15

Miley Cyrus (3 awesome; 8 good; 4 ok; meh; dislike of  15 = 

20% awesome; 

53.3% good;

Awesome good avg = 36.65%

100% OK & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/14/miley-cyrus-plastic-hearts-album-review/

This album is awesome–but not really because of Miley herself.  She pairs with standouts and covers some favorites.  But whenever it’s Miley, by herself on her own track–it doesn’t really hold up.

#14

Lauren Alaina 

Getting Over Him

(2 awesome; 4 good  of  6 = 

33.3% awesome; 

66.7% good)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/12/lauren-alaina-road-less-traveled-album-review/

Overall, I was disappointed.  If your EP is made of a few really great songs, put it out.  But if the songs are not perfect, either edit til they are better, or add some stunners and make a full album.  Also, the two things I liked best about her past album, was Alaina’s positivity and good messaging, and her vocal strength.  This EP showcased neither.

Yet, here it is at the top of the ‘Good’ list, because it’s out of 6 songs.  So maybe it’s the smartest way after all…

I didn’t realize Alaina had put out two EPs until (embarrassingly late) the day before I was ready to publish the finalized list.  Why not just make them 1 album?  So to all the people I said edit and put out an EP if you need to–never mind on that.  Spotify made it a complete pain in the ass!  It was hard to see them.  Hey Spotify developers, if you’re reading this–puh-leeze make all kinds of music chronological.

How I Formed My 2020 Album Countdown

8 Dec

I try to do a yearly top albums of the year countdown. And usually I uses the Wiki albums (for that year) page to see what’s dropping. I make sue to listen to my historical favorite artists, and if I still have time I’ll check out albums of genres I’m a fan of, then big names. And I usually just go by my own opinions–nothing academic, nothing fancy. I simply rate the albums as I like them.

This year I decided to try a more quantitative approach. Which is why my descriptions of songs and albums, might not match up all that well with the album’s placement on my list. I judged songs on a scale of awesome, good, OK, meh, and dislike this year. OK means neutral. No complaints, but no excitement either. meh, ment to me that it was boring, or I tuned it out, or the song didn’t make an impact on me. Awesome songs instantly made me enthusiastic. It is a rank based on my own reactions, and what gets me going. So obviously–awesome isn’t objective. It’s geared toward what I like. Good were the songs that were above neutral, but that didn’t make me excited. They were solid songs, but didn’t have that it factor. And dislikes were things that offended me, things I thought were thrown together without a bunch of thought, things that made me angry. It takes a LOT for me not to like a song!

Then to formulate the list from worst to best, I mathematically quantified the number of each type of song against the number of songs on the album. And this definitely favored artists with less tracks. But a theme this year, was edit. Which, when I was first getting into music was entirely different. Back when you had to pay $12, then $17, and sometimes $22 for an album–it sucked when that album was short. What a waste of money. Those albums with 8 songs or something were an awful value. But also it sucked to buy a whole ass album, just for 1 song. And the rest of the songs sucked. I’m talking to you Billy Joel, River of Dreams. Don’t just put songs on an album to fill it out. Now that streaming is primary, nobody needs or wants filler material. I suggested that artists only put out there BEST work. Also, I really weighted disliked songs heavily. Just because I like most things. It really has to be awful for me to dislike it.

What came out was a list of albums that surprised me. It would have been different if the rankings weren’t based on percentage. But I can tell you the albums represent how much I like and dislike the tracks. So I might not do it this same way next year, but it’s totally accurate to the songs I like and dislike for this year.

2020 Album Countdown: The A-OK (24-18)

7 Dec

I’m trying something different with my countdowns this year. Instead of writing a whole big thing (that nobody will read) I did individual album reviews and put the link under the artist. If you wanna check out my specific thoughts, click the link-if not, move through the count!

This is NOT the final list. This is the middle of the countdown list.

24.

Jason Mraz (1 awesome; 2 good; 5 ok;  meh; 4 dislike of 12 = 

8.3% awesome; 

16.7% good; 

66.7% OK & up

 -33.3% dislike = 

33.4% OK & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/jason-mraz-look-for-the-good-album-review/

This is a very light, and optimistic album.  And I have an ethical dilemma about supporting a “look for the good in everyone” or “make love not war” narrative, when it’s a matter of ethics violations, suppression, human rights, and life and death, as is going on right now.  It’s the right message for a different time.  Sorry (not sorry), but this hippy-dippy $hit ain’t gonna cut it right now, and it’s a pretty privileged position to be coming from when people are literally dying in the street.  At this time, I say, Jason, read the room.

Also, not to get too down on the artist of my first concert experience, but I really dislike the genre of reggae.  So each song was judged on my opinion, rather than on it’s own merits as I usually would.  Because there’s no way I’m putting even a good reggae song on my playlist!

Thirdly, listening to reggae I do not like made me wonder if there’s some sort of listener effect (scientifically speaking) where your opinion remains consistent.  For example, because I didn’t like 2 reggae songs in a row, am I more likely to hate that third song too?  Even if it’s not reggae? And this is only broken with an extreme like of that third song?  I was wondering because of the true reggae songs, I think there were 3-4, yet I really didn’t like any of the songs that followed….

23.

Jojo  (2 awesome; 3 good; 5 ok; 1 meh; 4 dislike of  16 = 

12.5% awesome; 

18.8% good;

Awesome good avg = 15.65%

62.5% OK & up

25% dislike

Awesome – dislike = neg

Good – dislike = neg

Awesome good avg – dislike = neg

Ok – dislike = 37.5%)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/jojo-good-to-know-album-review/

22.

Lady Gaga (5 good, 5 meh, 1 hate of 16 = 

31.2% good; 

31.2% meh; 

Avg of good & meh = 

31.2% OK

-6.3% for hated song = 

24.9% good; 

24.9% OK

Chromatica (interludes):  they’re nice.  I like them and was left wanting more each time.  I gather they are a type of separation for the musical chapters.  I say that because I was wondering why the album doesn’t sound futuristic until a third of it is finished.  And I realized there was a break-up to end the first third, then a 2nd chomatica interlude, and a definite change in feel/sound.  If that’s the case, I say throw out the entire first chapter.  Every song was weak and generic.

I was listening to the Lady Gaga album, and a song came on that immediately made me amped up and excited.  I thought–finally!  It took til track 16, but here is a show-stopper.  It was the next song in her catalogue, Bradley Cooper singing “Black Eyes” off A Star Is Born Soundtrack.  But that little story tells you how I felt about Chromatica.  There was some strong ‘remix for the gay club scene’ vibes from this album.  It’s dancy.  I did like, what I gather, is supposed to be 3 chapters of a story.  It’s a neat concept, and I’d like to see it done better in the future.  On this album, you could unfortunately toss chapter 1 and 3 in the trash.  Each of the songs on the first and last thirds of the album were weak to bad.

21.

The Flaming Lips (4 ok of 11 = 36.4%)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/the-flaming-lips-american-head-album-review/

Alice fell asleep in Wonderland.  That’s how I would describe the album.  It’s experimental, but down-tempo, low-key.  Background music, with distortion.  

These last 3 songs, finally woke me up.  I nearly didn’t finish listening to the whole album, because I thought I could tell where it was headed.  I’m glad I didn’t abandon it before it got better.  I wish Flaming Lips had released an EP with the latter-part of the album.  

20.

Alicia Keys (7 ok of 16 = 43.8% ok)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/alicia-keys-alicia-album-review/

I guess the album is good, though it’s not my cup of tea, apparently.  I wanted higher energy, less slow, less chill.  But even for those who like this easy-going music, I think the album could have benefitted from some editing.  Don’t keep every song just to have a more substantial album.  Cut weak songs–even if it turns into an EP.  Or single.  

19.

Joan Osborn (7 ok of 10 = 70% ok)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/08/joan-osborne-trouble-and-strife-album-review/

18. The Top A-OK album of 2020 is:

The Lone Bellow (6 good; 6 meh of 12 = 

50% good; 

100% meh and up; 

avg = 70% Ok )

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/the-lone-bellow-half-moon-light-album-review/

Next list is The Good.

Check it out!

Honorable Mentions: Artists to Watch

4 Dec

Mandy Moore

I forgot at first what album I was checking out.  Because Moore sounds adult.  There is zero bubble-gum teeny bopper pop here anymore.  Still catchy though, with a definite maturity.  Good piano work also.  I think it reminds me of Amy Grant?  Is that who I’m thinking of?  Very adult contemporary, easy listening.  And that’s not criticism–just accurate.

Fifteen:  It’s interesting to hear the perspective of a grown-up former teen pop star. Her descriptive language really sets the scene and takes the listener back to that time.  Also, Moore talks about the milestones she had to miss for her singing career, which people forget about.  Fame is cool and neat, especially for a teen, but it also sucks and steals your childhood.  “Still a part of me” drives the point of the song home.

Forgiveness:  One of the strongest songs on her album.  Lyrically driven but catchy.  “Will I forgive you?  You don’t get to know.” Also, a little more melancholy and assertive than we’re used to seeing Moore.

Vanessa Carlton

All of it is very stripped down, like a new artist singing alone in a school gym. Yes, complete with the echo of the gym.  I was disappointed all the strings of the last album were absent, and when there’s any instrumentation, it’s soft piano.  Turns into background music readily.  It would be good study music, because it’s not distracting or overpowering in any way.  It’s also not super memorable either, except for:  Back to Life, The Only Way to Love, Salesman, and Miner’s Canary.

Mt. Joy 

Very mellow.  After “Come With Me” the album improves.  The latter half of the album starts to give me something to listen to.  The choruses become more catchy, the instrumentation a little harder and intricate, and some beat.  More emotion and excitement are in the latter half.  I’m going to name this year’s album collection (all of them) something about editing your work.

CeLo Green

Lead Me:  I like how it sounds like Sunday morning.  And I think that it’s hopeful.

I Wonder How Love Feels:  I like the waltz for Green.  It’s his brand, but new and interesting too.

Down with the Sun:  The falsetto salvaged this tune.  It’s a little vanilla save for that.

The Way:  This song kind of reminds me of an old Western, with the sort of bell tolling sounds.  And deep, voice telling a story.  It’s an unexpected for Green to wander, which makes it all the more exciting to the listener.

What I like is the extra funk flavor  put in many of the songs.  It’s almost a disco feel.  And the falsetto singing.  And the excitement some of the tracks generate.  What i do not like is:  Too many superficial topics, such as People Watching.  Also, I have a difficult time buying heterosexual songs from flamboyant (probably internally homophobic) Green.  I suspect he’s what I call a ‘dick in a wall’ playing straight, but then going to a truckstop/porn-store bathroom and well you know the rest.

So that’s not the way I wanted to end the post, so instead I’ll talk up giving a variety of music a listen.

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.

2019 Album Countdown: Tight Race (11-4)

30 Dec

This is the section I agonized over.  I think each of these albums was number 1 on my list at one point or another, and I really had to listen for fine details to organize them in the best way.

 

11 Tegan and Sara

I have heard so, so, so much hype that these gals are the indie fave.  They are supposed to be like the hipster, ‘too-cool-for-school’ low-key awesome band.  I’ve listened to them many times, trying to understand what it’s all about, and I never caught on to it.  I wasn’t feeling the 80’s vibes and thought it was too light, too poetic. Too hipster, not me.

This record changed my mind.  And at one point I had it ranked 2nd, because despite the 1980’s sound that really describes the band, the sound was varied and diverse.  The stacking of elements, the lyrics, every song sounding different. They play their own instruments, of which many are represented in these tunes.  I had to give some respect for talent. But packaged in a lite-sounding way that belied the depth.

 

11 Goo Goo Dolls:

The entire album had very short songs.  They were catchy and easy to listen to though.  It was a throw-back to their 1990s sound, but updated.  It would have ranked higher if there was longer tracks or if there had been at least one huge stand out single.

-”Lights” low key; good beat.

-”Autumn Leaves” Strong singing with feeling.

-”Money, Fame…” different sounding.  Had a slight Fleetwood Mac vibe. 

-”Come to Me” nice romantic song, I could see played at weddings.

-“Miracle Pill” darker song that’s very catchy and has good piano.

-”Lost” has a gospel touch.  Maybe too much though?

 

10 Rob Thomas:

What I liked most of all on this album was the genuine nature of it.  I felt Thomas was especially earnest in each song.  But it does have a tendency to fall into the ‘trying too hard’ category too frequently.  The clap track and that sweater lyric as two examples. Also, it was just not as catchy or technically good as either Jack or Josh.

-”I Love It” Amped up song!  Totally 1980s breakdown.

-”One Less Day” Good beat that reminds me of a like train chugging combined with a common Cher song.  Good uplifting lyrics. Kind of an anti Peter-Pan thing.

-”Early in the Morning” A stripped down song with thoughtful lyrics and occasional piano popping through.

-”Hold On Forever” It’s nice and chipper.  There’s something I don’t like about it: The ‘sweater’ lyric for one to the skippy tune, which sounds familiar and is taken from something else I think.

-”The Man to Hold…” I slow and forgettable.

-”Can’t Help Me Now” is catchy with deep lyrics that I felt.

-”Pieces “ is my favorite track on the album.  It is orchestral and dramatic with sweeping vocals.  The piano featured at the end is beautiful.

 

9 Jack Savoretti:

This album is probably more technically good then some that I placed higher on my list.  It has deep lyrics and instrumentals that at times made me think of: piano, funk, guitar, disco, accordion, and orchestra-whew!  I like this album a lot because it’s low-key. Also it’s very diverse, sounding like a few different musical influences throughout.  But it’s further down in my top 10 because it just didn’t have the catchiness some of the other albums had. And sometimes the singing is (intentionally?) rough which I don’t really care for in music.

“Dying for…’ Americana style music, but not strong on the singing.

-”Beginning of Us” nice little lyrics (about child-birth?) with sweet piano chords.

-”Going Home” is my favorite song on the album!  It reminds me of that Beatles ‘Wonder Years’ theme song.  Jazzy.

-”Youth and Love” has a disco flair.  I like the fast lyrics and the Queen moments.  It features Mika (who is on my list elsewhere) and a French breakdown.  The instrumentals are key.

-”Love is On” has a disco feel and good string accompaniment.  Extra froggy singing though.

-”Singing to…” The John denver feel must come from the slow pace of the song.

-”What more” A Chris Issac influenced tune with heavy strings.

 

8 Josh Ritter:

First let me get this off my chest;  Oh my goodness, Brandi Carlile would sound so good in a duet!  I like this nice strumming, cowboy poetry kind of lyrical feel.  It’s soft rock with a faster, more energetic beat that made this album slightly more catchy than Jack’s.

-”Ground Don’t Want…” This song has a roots beet somewhat like the chugging of a train or something.  

-”Losing Battles” I like the guitar and I like that the song tells a story.

-”On the Water” It’s a good strum.

-”A New Man” Features heavy guitar (and some violine?) and is more upbeat than typical country.  It starts like Brandi’s song.

-”The Torch Committee” This one also tells a story and makes me think of a Medieval march to storm the castle.  There are smoldering strings and percussion that are quiet enough to give the attention to the lyrics. It increases in intensity throughout the song until the instrumentals become the total focal point at the end of the song.

-”where the Night…” Sure it has rough Spring stein-esque sining.  The upbeat tinkling of the piano makes it good though.

 

7 Mika

First of all, can I just say how happy I am that albums are so track-heavy in 2019?!  And unlike cassette-culture when there were 2 singles, most of the songs are not throw-aways.  Keep this going, music industry! Except Mika started out near the top of my list, but dropped down, down, down because the first half of the album is super-strong with each song making an impact.  But I did feel like the first half of the album was a bit stronger and more diverse of a sound, and the 2nd half kind of faded into the background. I do like the dancy, fun vibe.  And I enjoy deciphering Mika’s musical influences on each song.

-”Tiny Love” had a good beat, spoke of gay love, and was interesting to listen to even after several repeats.  I could hear the Queen influence strongly, and it turned out to be a good thing. And then the stripped down ending, made me listen closely, and I thought it was a good technique.

“Ice Cream” reminds me of George Michael with the almost spoken lyrics and high vocal pa

-”Paloma” I can tell Mika really paid homage to his musical influences throughout the entire album.  This song is piano-driven Billy Joel. It’s a little, quiet song as Dave would say, and I like the singing on the chorus.  The gospel backing is a nice touch.

-”Sanremo” has a very 1980’s Calypso vibe.  There is soft singing, claps, and very subtle Calypso notes.

-”Cry” the repeated ‘cry’ was actually a good sound.  But the rest of the song was forgettable.

-”Platform Ballerinas” Is it an upbeat song about gay culture?

-”Blue” sounds like Bon Iver, but I found it slow and a little boring.

 

6 Melissa Etheridge

This may be the most introspective Etheridge has ever been.  And it’s refreshing to hear.  Sure, there is still plenty of swagger in her rock also.  And some touches even reminded me of her ‘Yes I Am’ album (I’m pretty sure she used the exact same chords on a couple songs) but it was in a good way.  I think the best musical parts of the album was the Native American sounds she included.  It was an unexpected but good addition to her regular rock sounds.  The reason Melissa is 5th when I thought this was her best album since ‘Lucky’ (one of my all time overall favorites) is because she is a little bit sexist in some of the bitter songs.  I like a bitter song, but misogyny isn’t a selling point to me (from females or males) and it won’t age well.

-”Faded…” has almost a powow/native sound to it

-”Here comes the pain” I like that it’s earnest and introspective.  A nice break from all the swagger and pride.

-”Good Lookin” kinda sexist/bitter, about someone who lives in the bubble.

-”The Med Show” Native, but with her hard-rock strong singing.  Best song, maybe.

-”The Human Chain” lyrically weak attempt at political neutrality.  And come on, people with money, power, and fame with nothing to lose–please make a statement.  A real statement!

-”Miss you” catchy, is it about politics or love?

 

5 James Morrison:

It was a really tight race between spots 3-11 this year, with me having to listen over and over for details and subtle differences between albums.  This top 10 has not been thrown together, it was crafted very carefully with many justifications for each spot. This album got 5th place for 2 reasons:  All the influences of music genres make it very eclectic and uplifting of a track list.  I hear: Roots, soft rock, soul, gospel, jazz. Secondly, because of the intricate instrumental layering of each song.  You can tell a lot is going on and there had to be good planning and execution to get to the final product.  There seems to be two versions of each song. One that features stronger singing, then one that is stripped down and almost acoustic.  It’s interesting to hear both versions, even back to back. I didn’t feel like it was double songs, more like–oh I can hear distinct differences.  My complaint is that I did keep having to check if I’d reviewed songs, because the whole album sounds so homogenous.  

-”Feels Like…” This sounds so much like Ray Lamontange with the roots/fold feel and catchiness.

-’So Beautiful” I do like the repeat three times and obviously the high note.

-”Slowly” It’s impactful the way the verse is whispered, but the chorus is loud. Also impactful is the way ‘let it fall’ is repeated.  Nice piano also.

-”Brighter Kind…” I like the ascending words and notes.  

-”My Love Goes…” sweeping gospel flavor.  The last seconds are haunting in a beautiful way.

-”Broken Strings” This song features Nelly Furtado, but she doesn’t really bring her personality to the part.  Honestly, Kelly Clarkson would have been a better match (and has better singing ability).  

-”I Won’t Let…” The orchestral background adds a lot to this song.

-”too Late for…” I like the sentiment that true love isn’t perfect.  Mistakes are made, and you move forward. I think it’s a good message when so many songs insinuate that mistakes and disagreements aren’t part of true or real love.  Interesting instrumentals top it off.

 

  1. Bruce Springsteen

I think this is a theme album or soundtrack.  And those usually don’t factor very high on a countdown list of mine.  But this one in particular feels so right and comes together in a cohesive way that sticks with the theme.  And Bruce never has a good singing voice (in my opinion).  But the scratchiness is actually well-suited for the Western feel of this album.  This album has a very ‘Reno’ casino quality to it-I’m not sure if that was intentional.

-“Rhinestone Cowboy” is catchy.

-“Sleepy Joe’s Cafe” features an accordion and truck stop lyrics, which match the tone of the song somehow.  Also, the jazzy interlude spices it up.

-“Drive Fast” was long, boring, and droning–I needed to get where we were going already.  He mumble-sings and the born to run section sounds very classic ‘Springsteen’ ie, not my fave.

-“Western Stars” tells a lyrical story with a lot of detail that sounds like a good camping vibe.

-“Hitch Hikin’” is a little quiet song with very nice backing instrumentals.

-“Hungry Heart” is older sounding.

-“Thunder Road” has harmonica and in a good way, but the singing is more shout-singing = grating.

-“The River” is another song featuring a lot of nice details and a storyline invoking loneliness and travel.  But the singing is again particularly grating.

 

Tomorrow, on the last day of 2019, I will share my choices for the top 3 albums of the year!

2019 Album Countdown: Middle of the Pack 18-12

29 Dec
  1. Sara Berelles:

She’s usually one of my favorites, but this album is kind of out of touch with the general population.  It’s very high-level (example: Orpheus) stretching to intellectual. And musically, it’s slow, which doesn’t help the accessibility of the product.  The songs aren’t catchy at all.

-”Poetry by dead men” is too much, should have been a book of poems, not an album.

-”Armor” is best (Eve)

-”Wicked Love” is good.

-cage where you live, history of silence, drum line beat (sounds like it references Taylor Swift)

 

  1. Hootie and the Blowfish:

It was nice to see them back on the scene!

“Not Tonight” catch chorus.  Low key night. I like the chords at the end of the song.

-”Hold On” Mentions the news  It mentions love, but it’s not a strong enough political message for me.  A lil’ love is not going to cut it when children and being separated from their families and put into cages, the environment is being un-protected for oil profits, and our democracy is under attack.

-”Lonely on a Saturday” I call it the, ‘I’m about to hit on you’ song.

-”Wildfire Love” The gal dueting on this sounds too Bonnie Rait (who is great) and it doesn’t match his voice.  She is too folk/old country while he is more modern and smooth. I do like the lyrics though.

-Everybody but You”..” I like the beat and I especially like when the lyric “stop” comes up and the music goes silent.  I also like the instrumental break.

-”Half a Day…” Is this a little sharp?  Its discordant in a good, interesting way.

 

  1. Lil Nas X:

Don’t we have enough “lil” yet?  Of course I like “Old Town Road” that crossover hit that just dominated the charts.  I like the hook, the unexpected pausing within the song, the country duet, and obviously whistling in a rap song.  I especially like that it’s unique and different. So I tried the rest of the album, and while not in one hit wonder territory, it still doesn’t really move me.  

-”Kick It” The brassy background instrumentals make the song more alieve and less dark and harsh.  

-”Rodeo” Good song and it has melody.  Which I miss in rap as a genre.

-”Space Coupe” unfortunately has no melody and too much repetition.

 

  1. Lana Del Ray

This is an artist I have heard a lot of good things about.  She was seriously hyped when her music came on to the scene.  Taylor Swift, who I respect as one of the best songwriters of ever, said Del Ray is her favorite writer.  I tried so many times to get into Del Ray’s music, but it’s just too sleepy. I’m just not into it, and I can’t make myself get into it.  

-”Happiness is a Butterfly” is good.

-”Mariners Apt…” just sounds flaky and dreamy (like most her stuff) and I just do not like that whisper-singing she does. 

-”Hope is Dangerous’ is catchy, but repetitive.

-”Fuck it I Love You” she speeds up the verse in this one and it’s a nice touch.  

-”Cinnamon Girl” I love at aging lyrics, and this one has nice backing instrumentals.

 

  1. Marvin Gaye

-“X-mas…” sounds dreamy and experimental

-”Give My  Life…”

Pronounces, “rhap-so-dee” which bothers me, and the horns seem a little forced.

-*”Try it…” was easily the best song, very motown, catchy, with a subtle political message.

-”We can make it” A pop love song

 

  1. Beth Hart

I really enjoy listening to Hart when she goes really jazzy with it.  Her voice is well-suited for it with that vibrato stuff she can pull off.  I liked this album, but it was a lot more piano than a Mississippi soul sound I prefer.  Not as jazzy but extra-soulful. I guess without the element I love most, the piano is the best thing about the album (and feminism).

-nice piano “war”, skat

-”I need a Hero” = good, introspective lyrics, pretty piano.  ‘She-ro’ is going too far lyrically.

-”Bad Woman…” catchy

-”Woman Down” is nice, dramatic piano

12. Billie Eilish:

Review based on album alone, because I do not care for her weird bag-lady aesthetic.  And I think the industry and gonna take someone with her low maturity-level and chew her up, spit her out.  I see her as a drug addict pretty quickly. Already pedophiles are circling (Drake, I said it). Harsh, yet concerned–I would hire really really smart people if I were her.

I found the album to be like a more experimental Fiona Apple.  I liked most of the songs, with their jazzy flair and low-key, yet very produced vibe.  The ones I don’t care for are those that auto-tuned her voice the whole time. There was too much of the skippy vocals!  I like to hear some singing talent, not obscured for effect theatrics. I see a lot of potential, but the hype is a pitfall, and in interviews from what I see–she’s not equipped to handle a meteoric rise.

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.

Albums of 2019: Changed their Sound–in a bad way

28 Dec

 

These albums are towards the bottom of my 2019 countdown, because the artists went and changed their sound.  Obviously, to last over time, bands and solo singers need to grow and adjust with the times.  But changing your whole vibe so it’s unrecognizable makes it sound unfamiliar and alienates fans (exception:  Taylor Swift).  I switched it up and wrote this list from best to least favorite of the ‘changed their sound’ category of my countdown list.

Avril Lavigne:

OK, she probably had the 2nd best singing of the year (after Brandi Carlile inside the Highway Women and feat on the Zach Brown Band track), but it wasn’t HER.  I mean, she’s lost any punk edge she ever had.  And I usually don’t like when artists completely change their sound.  Melissa, is this you? But this is still good–in a totally different way.

-”Dumb Blonde” I especially liked how the notes get higher at the end of each phrase.  Skill is happening. It’s cheeky and included a nice rap breakdown.

-Crush” It doesn’t remotely sound like Avril and I kept thinking Spotify was up to its old tricks including a suggested song in the middle of my mission.  I thought Alanis Morissette was singing. But it’s good singing.

-”Tell Me it’s Over” It’s short.  It’s repetitive, but it’s still good.

-”Bigger…”  Wow mostly pop, with no edge.  Melissa strikes again.

-”I Fell in Love…” This haunting delivery was the whole thing.  Good lyrics and better high notes. The singing is really excellent on this album.

 

Black Keys:

They lost their hipster-vibe, cool factor that they used to have going for them.  Something about it just feels a little lighter than before. Maybe less percussion or base?  I can’t put my finger on what changed.  That depth and heavier sound is missing and the album lacks because of that.  Now they sound like anybody else–not a stand out.

-”Shine a Little…” Like the claps, but their sound is just a little lighter and not as cool as it used to be.

-“Get Yourself Together” It’s catchy, yet repetitive rock.

-Sit Around…” This one sounds a little bit like a throw back to CCR.

 

X-Ambassadors

Normally one of my favorites, but it’s like they lost themselves.  I couldn’t even tell it was them, The whole thing sounded like a boring version of Tracy Chapman-meh. 

 

Of Monsters and Men

This album went the way of Mumford and Sons.  Which exploded in much the same time frame.  Yes, yes folksy stuff is not really the sound in 2019, but there are ways to update and mutate your vibe without losing it.   I can see evolving and growing and adapting to changing times.  But they changed their sound so much it is unrecognizable. Instead of the folksy stripped down they had before, this was slick, heavily produced, polished, and computerized.  Nothing they were known for. They didn’t keep anything! It’s an entirely different band, as far as I’m concerned. And not for the better. We don’t need to conform to one genre.  There needs to be different genres, different unique sounds. I can’t understand why you would bow to pressure and stray from your roots, your influences, and former sound.

-The most substantial track was the first, “Alligator” which sounded epic and had an 80’s rocker chick vibe.  

-“Wars” has an ABBA sound, with (what’s that?) tambourine?  The ONLY folksy element I heard on the entire album.

-”Waiting for the Snow” sounds like Bon Iver (very experimental and almost electronic) with Sara Bareilles singing.  

-”Sleepwalker” was low key, with some chorus backing sounds that sound like Taylor Swift’s pop.