Tag Archives: linkin park

40th spot to 31st Best Albums of 2017

8 Jan

#40-TLC

You just can’t recapture the past.  Especially without a member, my personal favorite member.  But TLC’s self-titled 2017 album comes out strong, especially the song, “Haters” in which the message is absolutely true.  And it’s a good message.  Very relevant in these tumultuous times.  I’m not big on the very heavy sampling, but maybe the other 2/3 of the group can work out the kinks of being a duo and produce some quality tunes that are more in line with the past albums.

#39-Katy Perry

I think she was pushing a little hard to find that empowerment anthem, and because she was trying too hard it didn’t happen organically.  I like ‘Hey Hey Hey” but the first line of the song is, “A big, beautiful brain” which is a little over-the-top and not that singable.  Another example is “Power.”  It’s almost like Perry writes in soundbites that she hopes can become the next catch phrase or mantra.  I suggest she just write from her heart instead.

#38-John Mayer

I’m not gonna lie—Mayer is losing major points and positions because of his weird-ass cover art.  He looks like a junkie with unwashed hair that someone doodled over at the bus-stop.  WTF?!  Whoever convinced him to go that direction (or approved it) should be terminated.  Also, as much as Mayer tried to introduce some funk vibe into The Search for Everything, the album is mostly boring.  It’s like once he lost his arrogance, he also lost his inspiration.  The only songs I could attach to is “Never on the Day You Leave” and “Roll it On Home.”  The song “Changing” gets honorable mention from me.  But sometimes Mayer comes on a little too strong and tries to force emotion, which I do not like.  I would like to see John Mayer do something different but have that spark too.  Work on the whole package, man!  This album makes me wonder if he was just a flash in the pan-not a real talent.

John Mayer

#37-Kid Rock

He has that southern-fried rock going on, but I can’t help but think of Trump when I listen to it.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but my impressions are Rock is more racist than rebellious these days.  I have no idea how he is as a person, but the type of music is a little too Lynard Skenard for me to feel comfortable jamming to.

kid rock racist

#36-Various Artists

Trios sounds like an experimental, jazzy cacophony.  Sometimes it’s just discordant sounds, others it intones a suspenseful mood.  The album is individual and cohesive.

#35-The Killers

It’s a little quiet, and a Lot less dancy.  Wonderful Wonderful was probably the best example of (just slightly alternative) rock & roll in the scene, which comes as a surprise to me.  “The Calling” is the most reminiscent of their other albums.  I also liked, “The Man…Remix” is a space-oriented shake-your-ass kind of song

#34-Drop Kick Murphys A little less pub-anthem, but still as cheeky as ever.  You can still sing to them when you’re drunk, but 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is more melodious than past fare.  Standout of the bunch is “First Class Loser” which is awesome!

Dropkick Murphys

#33-Evanescence

Synthesis is Epic to the point I was wondering if it was written for a show or at the very least a video game.  This gal can SING though and per the usual she proves it.

#32-Linkin Park I see Linkin parts as four distinct sounds:  The angsty scream-yelling (not too much), the rap with thoughtful lyrics that make sense, the melodious singing, and the catchy hooks.  This album is very melancholy, without a lot of that anger that I used to like.  The sound is too different in One More Light and alienates me as a long-term fan.  The songs are still catchy, but they’ve lost that edge.

#31-Maroon 5

Red Pill Blues doesn’t have that special Maroon 5 beat.  It’s also not dancy at all.  And it’s not really catchy like past albums.  It’s kind of soft and unassuming, a dud actually.  I’m disappointed and hope they will rev things up again.

Adam Levine douche

My Most Listened to Music of 2014

8 Dec

I’m not finished blogging.  And that dearth of posts wasn’t some planned hiatus (don’t worry, I would have warned you).  I just stopped making time, I guess.  I used to really think about my blog a lot.  If something notable would happen, I’d file it away.  At night, I would think of cute blog titles.  When bored, I might think about how I would write down an event or story.  But this last year was full of surprises.  I won’t be sorry to see 2015 become my past.  I had been in my post-bac program working very hard to get to grad schhol–and that didn’t happen.  So everything changed.  And we moved to a new state.  Again (for me) and that’s always a huge logistic, emotional, and time adjustment.  I got caught up in just getting back to a secure, stable place.  Finding the job and getting enough hours and a good schedule, check-check, and check!  Getting my car all legit for Utah-check.  And exploring this new city and state–a mission in progress.  Between that and the daily things, blogging just fell by the wayside.  But I’m in no way giving it up.  I’ve worked very hard on this collection of posts–and I do enjoy it, when it doesn’t become an obligation.  So I’m going to try to think about it again.  No promises on the quality or quantitity of posts just yet.  I just promise to put it in my mind.  Besides, I love looking back at a year, count downs, and looking ahead–which January is ideal for.

Here is a post that I’m not sure why I didn’t publish LAST December.  I probably intended on making it better–which is also  a reason I haven’t written in awhile.  I wanted to have solid ideas, write well, edit, and make sure the posts were GOOD.  Well, I’m taking that pressure off, and just getting things out there for awhile.  So about my 2014 music listening:

PHOTO_20151127_164525

This isn’t some feeling I have, it’s based on statistics from my LastFM scrobbles.  If you’ve been living under a rock, and don’t know what that is, here’s a description:  An add-on that sends every song played (itunes, Spotify, ipod, ANY program/device that plays music) to the website.  The site compiles most listened to artists, songs, and albums.  And they do it for the week, month, 3 months, 6 months, year, and overall.  Really, if you just learned a bunch of stuff–you should check out LastFM and start scrobbling.

So without further ado:

10]  Akon

Has still got it.  I’ve always liked him, and still do.  It’s good for running and during squeegee time at work too.

9]  Hans Zimmer

I think this came about out of Spotify’s Classify list.  You can pick a mood/instrument/era/etc and listen to music that represents that.

8]  Dumpstaphunk

Because I tried to give all the Gorge Caravan bands that Dave picked a fair shake.  But despite many listens, I wasn’t really feeling this one.

7]  Piano Tribute Players

For studying purposes.

6]  Linkin Park–>Burn it Down

They are one of my long time favorite bands, and they put out an album in 2014.

5]  Brian Tyler

Honestly, I can’t even tell you who this is.  Lesson–be careful what you listen to if it means nothing.  Maybe it’s on a soundtrack of some sort?  I really don’t know.

4]  Moon Taxi

WTF?  Prep for Gorge Caravan–which we didn’t end up listening to.

3]  Vitamin String Quartet–>top song:  With or Without You

A girl has to study.  But it doesn’t have to be a bummer.  I get to listen to my favorite songs without distracting lyrics, no problem with that!

2]  Brandi Carlile–>top songs 1-3:  Turpentine, Fall Apart Again, Closer to You (who knew?)

My musical girlfriend HAD to be in the top spots.  And congratulations on 3 amazing openers at the Gorge!!!

1]  Dave Matthews Band–>with 1-5 most played songs:  Lie in Our Graves (a summer tour staple), The Stone, Ants Marching, Crush, and Crash.

Of course.  Because of concert prep, excitement before and after the ticket purchase, excitement before and after the concerts, and just all the billions of versions of each song–it’s obvious it added up.

2013 New Albums

24 Mar

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

freq inside cochlea

Worth mentioning (1 song made my list):

“Sacrilege” Yeah Yeahs

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

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

“Fault Lines”  Tom Petty.

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

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

“To Hell With You” Sleigh Bell

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

“Never Wanted Your Love” She & Him

“Blurred Lines” Robin Thicke

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

“Axis”  Pet Shop Boys

“Alligator” Paul McCartney

“Immortal” Kid Cudi

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

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

“Vertigo”  Jason DeRulo feat. Jordan Sparks

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

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

“Monsters of Sunderland” British Sea Power

“A Light From Home” Bradley Joseph

“Put It In” Blue October

“I’m Not in Love”  10cc

DMB Chicago 2014

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

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

Blossom Music Center

–Made the List–

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

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

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

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

Stereophonics–4 made the list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DMB Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DMB flower instruments

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

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

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

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

Robin Thicke = 2 starred, 2 on list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fish bowl 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

dmb stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Music of 2014 [I Ran Out of Time]

2 Jan

This is supposed to be a post about my top 10 newly released albums of 2014.  As you know, I still haven’t posted 2013’s because I ran out of time then too.  Maybe I’ll just post the unfinished version since I’m now 2 years behind on it.  But this year I was not about to (totally) fail again!  So I just wrote a little blurb about each artist that ended up on my somewhat-narrowed list from throughout the year.  It’s not a true top 10, but gives you an idea of the ones that I found good enough to make my list.  The number of songs are the actual songs that made my list’s cut.  And number of songs I liked is an indication of how well I liked the 2014 album, but isn’t always indicative of a true spot on the list–some artists just had longer or shorter CDs.  So there you have it–and I hope you have the stamina to read this all the way through!

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Imogen Heap (21 songs) had a long album, but the instrumental music was interesting.  I like things I can study to, or work without distraction to, and this fit the bill nicely.  It’s not my absolute favorite of the year, but it gets the job done.

Phillip Phillips (12 songs) was one of my favorite albums of 2014.  He has the characteristic foot-stomping sound and who wouldn’t like that?  “Thicket” had a nice instrumental background that added layers to the sound.  Aside from depth, it made the whole effort seem less poppy and more substantial.  I wish Behind the Light was more lyrically complex and less repetitive though.  I’d like more depth throughout the next record.

Mariah Carey (10 songs) has always been a favorite of mine–that gal can really belt it out!  And I can always FEEL what she’s singing about.  The long-title of the album sucks, but the songs are solid, featuring her characteristic range and emotion.

OK Go (10 songs) is in a top spot, but there are less favorite songs only because their album was shorter.  I think they’ve grown musically, and become less poppy (not that it was ever a bad thing for them).  Hungry Ghosts is still as catchy as ever, but their is an added layer of seriousness to them.

James Vincent McMorrow (10 songs) was a fortunate find.  The music is mellow like Bon Iver and just as easy to listen/study to.  Though the songs aren’t heavy, they bare no less weight.

Boys II Men (9 songs) are back!  I can truthfully say I enjoyed Collide as a present day effort–not just a retro throw back to my middle school years.  It even surpassed some of my staple-bands in 2014.  They have nice harmonies and developed a lot of emotion throughout the album.  “So What” was a soulful ballad of longing that moved me.  “Talkin Under Water” was another standout song.

Eric Clapton (9 songs) obviously knows how to make a successful record.  And Eric Clapton & Friends is no exception.  It has blues, rock, and country and features a smattering of other greats.  I especially liked the old-country “I’ll Be There.”

Jason Mraz (9 songs) is a sentimental favorite of mine since he was my very first concert.  YES! is quieter then his usual pop, and I can’t imagine what the single must have been because it lacks that one super-catchy tune.  I liked the more emotive depth and think it shows maturity.  It’s more serious, but I think with a few listens, all the songs would become favorites.

Spoon (9 songs).  I have always liked Spoon, and this album did not disappoint.  It’s relatively harder then their last effort, which was great to study to.  This one seemed to speak a little louder, but I could still concentrate on other things as I listened.  And instead of only one catchy song, there were a few on They Want My Soul.

Sarah McLachlan (9 songs) was much of the same.  Which is good, but sort of blah too.  I’ve always liked her low-key, feminine sound, but I wish she would take some more risks in her career.  “Monsters” did speak to me, and was my 2nd favorite track on Shine On.  The closer, “In Your Shoes” was my very favorite, because it had a very positive, and uplifting message behind a singable melody.

Lilly Allen (9 songs) has a smattering of different sounding sounds–which I liked.  “Hard Out Here” a feminist anthem, especially resonated with me.  And her cover of “Somewhere Only We Know” surprisingly–hit the mark.

Colbie Caillat (8 songs) put out one of my favorite 2014 albums, Gypsy Heart.  It was sassy/feisty, it was sweet, it was uplifting.  I thought it had good voice throughout the duration, and you know how I like the more bitter samplings, which were provided also.

The Script (8 songs) was never really on my radar before.  I only listened to No Sound Without Silence out of obligation because I recognized their name.  Surprisingly, it was of my favorite offerings of the year.  There was a wide vareity of sounds, from soft, to rocking, to an Irish-sounding fight/drinking-style song (“Paint the Town Green”).

Little Big Town (8 songs) is an eighties band, right?  I recognized the name, but not the sound.  I like the country-pop, the harmonies, and especially–the cheekiness.

Weezer (8 songs) has to be listened to as a collection.  The songs do best as an album unit, not really singing (pun) individually.  It’s a relaxed album, but also has punchy spots like “Cleopatra’s” number shouting segment.  Weezer is always catchy, but I like the range and harmonies highlighted here.  PS–I just love the cover art.

The Kooks (8 songs) are, I swear, a band on my “Feeling Groovy” CD of 1960s hits.  Is that accurate or is this a different band?  It reminds me of hipster music, actually.  Something I might hear at SXSW.  It’s got a quiet, cool, vibe so it’s good.

Jason Derulo (7 songs) had one of my favorite 2014 albums with Talk Dirty.  He jumped from the romantic “Will You Marry Me” to sexy club sex-staple “With the Lights On” flawlessly.  And “The Other Side” proves Jason can sing!  I love the high-notes and think it makes for a perfect single.  I like when an artist can display this range.

Maroon 5 (7 songs) was a long-awaited release for me.  But it spoke to me less then their past efforts.  Maybe it was the hype that let me down.  It was good, don’t get me wrong, I just thought it would be in the top two for the year.  “In Your Pocket” was a standout musically.  It’s the type of song that will get stuck in your head, and it showcases their vocal range and layers.  Unfortunately, I think the concept/lyrics are stupid.  Cheater, show me your phone?  Is this a thing now?  It may be because I’m anti-phone, but this seems random and lame.  “Sex and Candy” was successful–I like the Marcy Playground version more, but this slow, smoldering version was nice in a different way.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (7 songs), aside from having an obnoxiously long name was a decent listen.  Though they sound very much like Ben Kweller to me.

Tim McGraw’s (7 songs) album started out quiet and I was disappointed he got a little old a tired.  BUT about halfway through the songs gained speed, and he cemented his place as one of the top country artists of today.  Anthems, love, drinking, and sing-alongs are all represented here.

Green Day (7 songs) probably should have ranked higher in my list.  I have very high expectations, because Dookie was amongst my first 12 CDs ever (BMG Music Club) and “Basket Case” is one of my all time favorite songs of ever.  So having said that, Demolicious was good.  And a good concept for between new release albums–just not enough.

Counting Crows (7 songs) talks through the songs too much, which is, apparently, a major pet-peeve for me.  I did like the songs though they were much like they always are.  I’d like to hear something refreshing, while still keeping to their roots.  “Scarecrow” was my favorite on Somewhere Under Wonderland.

I liked Train’s (7 songs) last album better.  It was catchy and had a couple stand-out songs.  This one has a sense of desperation and sadness to it.  Also, I feel like they tried to include a peppy/catchy song, but “Just a Memory” and “Angel in Blue Jeans” just comes across as poor renditions of “Drive By” sometimes crossed with “Somebody I Used to Know.”  I mean, it’s good, but it’s not really a happy sound–or original.

Enrique Iglesias (7 songs) had a star with “Heart Attack.”  I usually don’t like spanish-language albums, because I don’t know what they’re saying and lyrics are the major reason I love most music.  But his primarily spanish, SEX AND LOVE (are these all-caps Spotify, or a thing?) had a lot of longing behind the mystery lyrics, and as I said, the stand out song made this a keeper.

Lenny Kravitz (7 songs) has a solid 2014 contribution, but no song became my favorite.  I really liked his 2006? CD, so every following album seems a disappointment by comparison.  Strut was fine though, and it lacked nothing that I can put my finger on. . .

John Butler Trio (6 songs) transcends genres and I love that!  Blues, calypso, etc. . .  I liked the variety on Flesh & Blood best of all.  I also liked the low-key singing and the background music.

Lady Antebellum (6 songs) is so fun!  I love to listen to them, whether it’s when I’m chilling, in the car, or running.  And I liked 747 so much I consider it in my top 3 (probably, and we’ll see).

Weird All Yankovic (6 songs) is played out.  But is he?  Judge as you will, but I like him and think he’s clever.  I also like Vitamin String Orchestra, if that puts my mentality in perspective.  I saw a biography talking about how hard he works to find the perfect word replacements, and I respect that.  And yes, he’s not technically conceptualizing songs or writing music, but his job is not EASY.  I give him props for coming up with a fresh new spin on the Top-40 songs for decades.

Kristen Chenowetch (6 songs) sings some sort of show-tunes or opera–I’m not sure how you categorize it.  Anyway, it goes in my top selections, for sure.  I heard pure talent. . .  Once my initial shock and trepidation wore off.  I’m glad I listened through the whole album, instead of turning it off for genre-aversion reasons.  Small gal, BIG voice, and big talent.  Color me impressed.  If nothing else, check out, “Popular” which features multiple languages and humor.

Karmen (6 songs) seems like an anomaly to me–the style of music sounds immature.  Not as in novice, or bad–just like Ke$ha–like low maturity members.  But the beats are slammin’, the rapping impressive, and melodies stay with you.  Nothing immature about the production value of this album.

Melissa Etheridge (6 songs) obviously has to be mentioned for This is M.E..  I felt like she was past her prime and trying a little too hard.  The songs seemed contrived and formulaic.  An example, “A Little Bit of Me” with it’s sappy lyrics and na-na-nas had no edge at all–it was Disney, for lack of better word.  Still, after such a long career, the artist didn’t have a total miss.  Songs like “Ain’t that Bad” redeemed the 2014 effort with a raucous rock about lesbianic drama.  And “A Little Hard-Hearted” a lament about love-long-gone with meaningful lyrics spoke to me.  P.S.  Melissa SING, don’t talk through your tracks.

Timber Timber (6 songs) is kinda weird and discordant.  But I can get onto it.  It reminds me of listening to a Donnie Darko sort of thing.

Ray LaMotagne (6 songs) wasn’t as good without Brandi Carlile’s featured vocals, but it was an easy listen all the same.  I like the low key vibe–pre the usual.

Fray (5 songs) is a band I expect a lot from, and I was a little disappointed until the closer, “Love Don’t Die.”  The prior songs were fine, they were good–but not like before.  But the last song was so great it mostly made up for the lack of stand outs.

Shakira (5 songs) has that disgruntled ex-girlfriend vibe on her self-titled album.  In a dancable way–of course.  I especially liked “You Don’t Care About Me.”  Obviously, it’s one of my favorite releases of 2014.

Blake Shelton (5 songs) makes me feel like I’m at the only tavern in town.  “Neon Lights,” especially, made me reminisce about my small-town upbringing.  Bringing Back the Sunshine as a whole was that way–I had fun imagining myself in the middle of nowhere listening to some real country.

Likin Park (lost count) had a cool concept.  I thought it was neat that they released vocal tracks and instrumental background tracks in addition to the full songs.  Though, because the band has been one of my staples for a long time now, I didn’t really feel this album was up to par.  I couldn’t pick out a song that spoke to me as I usually can, let alone multiple songs. . .

311 (5 songs) is good syncopated, robot rock.  I like the slightly less edgy sound of Stereolithic.  Though it has wisps of POD, I think this band found some maturity, while still staying true to their main thing.

Bush (5 songs) always has their own distinct sound which is true of Man on the Run.  I like the rock, like the beat, and feel the industrial vibe they convey.  It’s not Razorblade Suitcase quality, but it’s not a loser either.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (5 songs) are a staple–obviously.  They’re also older, and settled into their careers, not necessarily striving to produce the most popular album of the year.  Still, they took risks with “Hypnotic Eye” and had a more bluesy sound that was interesting.

Johnny Cash (5 songs) posthumus album brought mixed feelings.  Was it released for the money or because the songs are too strong to remain unheard?  Unfortunately my opinion leans toward the former.  Though I did like the more country feel, and especially liked the actual singing, rather then talking through songs.  At least check out “She Used to Love Me a Lot” as I think it’s the best of the bunch.

Lana Del Ray (5 songs) sings. . .  Pouty music.  Is that a thing?  I feel it’s an accurate description for the dreamy, waif, sound she brings to the table.  I do like it because it’s easy on the ears and I always like anything that I can play while studying.

Beck (5 songs) was not an album I’d call a star–it was mostly just innocuous.  I feel like in the past, Beck shared his point of view, but these songs were quiet and a little meh. . .

Nick Jonas (4 songs) had many things going for him:  Catchy, singable, dancey, and that bitterness I like so well.  His self-titled album is at the top of my list for 2014 efforts, even though I only love-loved 4 of the songs.  Those few were so good, that the album rose above some other artists.

Mary J. Blige (4 songs) sang the songs of a spurned lover on Think Like a Man Too soundtrack.  Though this is her go-to genre–the brokenhearted, bitter ex–she is awesome at it.  And this is probably my favorite type of music just because the lyrics are meaningful and it evokes so much emotion.  Someone dispassionate or out to make a buck just can’t pull it off, so I liked this 2014 offering.

Christina Perri (4 songs) is one of THE best singers out there, but head or heart got a very slow start.  She didn’t show her chops until “i don’t wanna break” and into “Only Human.”  When she does her stuff, though, she does it well.  “be my forever” is another favorite song in the bunch, and one that will stay with you awhile.  PS–I’m not a fan of lowercase titles, just so you know lack of grammar doesn’t make you cool or give you edge–it just makes you look ignorant.  Speak English, not text–rant over.  And excuse any of my own spelling errors in this entire post-ha!

Jennifer Lopez (4 songs) has a very different, more mature, sound in all but “AKA.”  I like it a little better, actually, then the club and R&B/Rap pop stuff she used to do.  She shows amazing vocal range as well as heart, in “Let it be Me” and “Never Satisfied” is a pretty little song.  I like J-Lo 2.0.

The Doobie Brothers (4 songs) are legend.  But I thought Southbound was some sort of re-release because I already knew the songs.  After further investigation, I realized each song featured a current artist.  And it did breathe new life into old staples.  Good concept, good way to re-enter the spotlight.

Santana (4 songs) is a lot like DMB in that you can’t be a partial-fan.  You have to listen closely for subtleties in the music to appreciate it.  As a partial-fan, the album begins to blend together for me.  I can tell Santana knows what he is doing on that guitar.  And I like all the featured artists.

Annie Lennox (4 songs) had a good concept for Nostalgia.  And it’s a good way to get back out there, put out a new record, without all the hassle of conceptualizing and writing your own new material–despite sounding sarcastic, or snarky–I don’t mean it that way.  I feel she gave respect to the songs, and put her own bluesy stamp on each of them.  She especially gave a respectful and haunting version of “Strange Fruit” which is a brave thing for a white person to sing.

Nickelback (4 songs) found some maturity.  I especially like the uplifting vibe of “What are You Waiting for?”  They’ve all but abandoned their objectification of women and sexualized hard-rock for a still-rocking sound.

Better Than Ezra (4 songs) reminds me of the Blacked Eyed Peas combined with. . .  Something less dancy and lower key.  I could get on to this.  I felt like “Dollar Sign” was a nice message about appreciating the important things-not just being capitalistic.  I like the sentiment.

Cold War Kids (4 songs) are a little too. . .  Whiny.  Maybe that’s the word I’m going for here.  They have this pleading sound that’s a bit dramatic and off-putting, but I like the TYPE of music they do.

Foo Fighters (4 songs) were also among the artists who grew up in 2014.  They still rock, but it’s a little LESS hard–soft is not accurate.  I didn’t fall in love with any particular song though, so they’re toward the bottom of this list.

Hard Working Americans (4 songs) has a gravelly voice and feeling in their album.  It was similar to John Mellencamp–but with actual singing.  The idea of blue-collar rock music is a good one–especially when the vocals are executed properly.

Kenny Chesney (4 songs) is not someone I usually listen to.  “Rock Bottom” and “American Kids” are both really catchy and I liked the easy-listen.

Joan Osborne (4 songs) is still around–I’ll bet you didn’t realize that.  She had more of a beat and a jazzy feel then her “God is One of Us” days, and it works for her.  I always picture a Southern jazzy club when I listen as it’s smoky and bluesy in a folksy way.

Tori Amos (4 songs) is more of the same.  I like piano, but I’m never super-excited to listen to her.  And I’m not sure why, because she’s a feminist, she sings with heart and a message.  But it’s a little show-tunes, for me and sometimes comes across. . .  whiny.  I did like “Wild Ways” pretty well though.

Coldplay (4 songs) kind of pissed me off last year.  For the longest time ever, they refused to put their music on Spotify.  Which is super-lame, because the ads mean the artists get their money.  So I saw that as greedy-greedy and pointless.  Because they are RICH mo-fos.  But once I was able to hear the songs, I thought they were less than par with previous efforts.  So I’m not sure what all the secrecy was about.  Call me unimpressed.

Bruce Springstein (4 songs) is not a good singer.  But it’s not always just about vocal prowess.  I like the community feelings invoked throughout High Hopes.

Kid Ink (3 songs) “Hello” is amazing.  I had to mention this album for primarily that song, but I did like 2 more as well.

Lee Brice (3 songs) is a good-time good ‘ol country boy.  I like his softer country, especially his blue collar anthem, “Drinking Class.”

Ariana Grande (3 songs) sounds a lot like J-Lo–at least her voice does–to me.  I love an empowered, bitter rant song and “Problem” perfectly fits that bill.  Watch this gal!

Against Me! (3 songs) can be described in 2 words:  Cheeky and honest.  I liked the direction of Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and everything the title and the front artist stand for.  I think this album would be a bit stronger if a few earnest, slow songs were mixed in with the angry punk-rock vibe.

Pixies (3 songs) are new to me.  I thought they were a neo-punk band, but it’s more like The Foo Fighters after a hangover.  It’s rocking, but not with the strength behind it–a little toned down.

Manchester Orchestra (3 songs) was, as far as I knew, a Christmas thing.  But “HOPE” is not x-mas, it features nice harmonies and a quiet simmer of songs.  It’s a little bleak, but substantial all the same.

50 Cent (3 songs) primarily made my list for. . .  The cover art.  I know, I know, but it’s a pretty awesome-looking lion.  I also like the sentiment, toughness, and growl in “Animal Ambition,” the title track.

Toni Braxton (2 songs) is back!  Sort of.  You know how I love a bitter anthem, and she provides a good one with “I Wish.”  In it, she says what every ex thinks–and it’s a little bit of awesome.

The Vamps (2 songs) have a couple of stand out songs.  “Wild Heart” is a foot-stomping anthem of sorts.

Ryan Adams (2 songs) is a little depressing to listen to.  I’m not sure if that’s the intention or not.  I did like “Stay With Me,” so I thought this self-titled album deserved mention.

Pharrell Willimas (1 song) had a good album, but got edged out of the top 10 by the strong competition.  The standout, “Happy” is a catchy, danceable song with a positive message that I think deserves mention.

Young the Giant (1 really good, and all listenable songs) sounds (to me) like a cross between Arcade Fire and Keane. It’s chill enough to study to and a nice listen. It just isn’t assertive enough of a sound to be a contender for the top spots. They need to find their voice, and it needs to say more.

Mya (1 song) spoke to me on the album, I felt “meh” about the rest.  But “M-O-N-E-Y” is worth mention (pun!).

The Black Keys (1 song) had a superb last album, but Turn Blue was a disappointment.  Only one song, maybe two even made my list, and not because they were super-outstanding.

President’s of the USA (1 song) seems played out to me.  Maybe I’m past their target audience?  I only partially liked “Electric Spider” but found the rest of the album silly and tiresome.

Honorable mention:  The Flaming Lips.  The concept–a re-do of the Beatles–is outstanding!  I really love the idea.  Trouble is, With a Little Help from My Friends is largely unlistenable.  It’s hard to take a psychedelic, out-of-the-box hit like Sgt Pepper. . .  to a crazier state without crossing the line.  And cross the line, the Flaming Lips did.  I wanted to love it, but it’s just too much.  I love their bravery and their creativity though.