Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The 11 Best Record Store Day Successes

At 4:00 AM Saturday morning, I pulled up outside a record store in Sherman Oaks, armed with a few graphic novels, a half-read Malcolm Gladwell tome and 2-liter bottle of Pepsi Max.  I was not alone.  In fact, I was 9th.  In a line that would later that day stretch to over 150-people long, I was part of the core group of dedicated music purists.  The starting line-up.  The Breakfast Club of vinyl.  A tenth member showed up at 4:30, in hopes he was the first one to arrive looking for the Cake box set.  When he found out he was the third one to walk up desiring its glory (knowing the store only obtained one copy), he tossed his hand in the air, disgusted by the whole event and marched off cursing with a wicked lisp.  We were a united front and no one was going to break our tribe.
For the next 7 hours, we discussed our purchases.  Who was getting what?  We strategized with each other, plotting which albums we were sure to get, while at the same time conscious of the others' picks.  Like the crossing of the streams in Ghostbusters, there could be no overlap.  With three people in line only there to get the Paramore release (that's dedication...but it is a cool-looking record), our competition was minimal.  Once we had announced our choices, once we had determined our lists, we no longer allowed to make changes or additions that affected anyone else's lists.  That would be seen as treasonous...and there's no telling the severity of the scowl that would be emitted from a pissed off music nerd.  
Finally, the rest of the line showed up as the crack of six came around.  But we were the tribal council.  We had the power in the front of the line to determine who was getting what.  If the twelfth person in line came only for the Joy Division EP, and I was thinking about getting it, it meant I held all the power over their music-buying fate.  But even vinyl aficionados have morals. There were no cuts.  There was no buying for a friend.  There were also no assholes.  We respected each other's right to be there. At the end of the day, we're a community and we protect our own.
As massively successful that Record Store Day is for the fans and styluses everywhere, it is always amazing to watch what limited edition, colored-vinyl, filled with live demos of covers has the most sustainability outside of the store.  I'm not talking about which album you enjoy listening to the most, that's personal, and there's no list for that.  I'm talking about which albums garner the most online demand.  Some of the albums that were predicted to be draws like Outkast, the side by side series, and even the new Conor Oberst had very little online life.  Even the highly hyped Green Day Demos red vinyl was being outbid by the CD version of the same title.  But some titles...some titles exceeded expectations and will now live on in legend of the RSD history.
Here are the 11 Best Record Store Day Successes:
  1. R.E.M. - Unplugged (307) - I've been waiting for this release for 23 years.  It does not disappoint.  Online it's selling for 350% over its list price and there seems to be no dip in the demand.  Despite its popularity it sounds fucking incredible. Only 1000 of these were made, which means it will be in demand for a long time.
  2. Cake - Box Set ($330) - All of Cake's seven albums, plus an 8th never-released album, all printed on different colored vinyl.  Even though it sells for more than REM, it cost twice as much originally.  This thing was so popular it literally caused  a guy to cry in line because he didn't get it.
  3. Ghostbusters ($100) - The surprise of the day.  Whoever thought a 30 year old movie theme song on glow in the dark vinyl would be wanted by everyone in line.
  4. Garcia ($148) - Jerry's first solo album on white vinyl.  Dead fans who are not dead are fighting tooth and nail for this one.
  5. The Liars - Mess On a Mission ($75) - This might edge out Paramore for the coolest looking record.  Clear vinyl with yarn inside.  A truly unique release.
  6. Devo - Live at Max's Kansas City ($107) - From 1977, this is a great uncovered gem by a legendary band. 
  7. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World ($96) - A cult classic soundtrack draws a cult classic crowd. 
  8. Death Cab For Cutie ($95) - DCFC with an orchestra...this is the kind of release RSD is made for.
  9. Childish Gambino ($80) - Donald Glover may be a funny guy, but he had the best packaging of the day.
  10. Life Without Buildings ($102) - An obscure release by an obscure 80s band for the first time in America.  If you don't get this now, you'll never get it.
  11. Jack White - Lazaretto ($475) - Even though this is selling for the most amount of money online, it's not really fair to compare it to the others since you could only purchase it at one location.  It's still cool as shit.  Looks like Jack just raised the bar for coolest RSD release.  Your turn Wayne Coyne.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By EMA

This weekend and last weekend, Coachella will reign/reigned supreme.  It's the yearly sabbatical to spend three days in the hot sweltering dessert with overpriced water, lots of dirt, while networking with people you wouldn't normally sit next to in a Starbucks.  The only reason anyone deals with it is for the over-inflated line-up of everyone's favorite band of the moment.  I mean, does anyone listen to music from last year's line-up?  Phoenix?  Vampire Weekend?  They are so...last year.  I have never been to Coachella.  I would like to go once in my life.  I'm waiting for the Smiths to reunite for the show...or at least Jellyfish before I make the $400 plunge.  I grew on the original Lollapalooza.  I've had my fair share of summers days spent around mountains of dirt just so I could get close to Layne Staley or Les Claypool (ask your parents).  But Coachella has done something bold that Lollapalooza has never done.  It's something so daring, it makes we want to go to the show out of appreciation for their generosity.  They stream the entire show...online...live...and for free.  No other organization out there would think of streaming the concert...and if they did it...they'd never do it live...and absolutely never for free.  But Coachella has created a new standard and dared every other festival concert to do better.  I spent the whole weekend watching some of the best live performances I've seen in a long time.  Empire of the Sun, Foster The People, MGMT, Pharrell, Nas, The Pixies and Skrillex all gave me a private show in the comfort of my own home.  Thanks Coachella!  And if you have to go vegan to get Morrissey to play...I'm good with that.  I'll pack my hamburger to go. Here are the 11 Best Songs By EMA:
  1. Grey Ship (Past Life Martyred Saints)
  2. Angelo (Marked)
  3. Red Star (Past Life Martyred Saints)
  4. Soul On Fire (Soul On Fire)
  5. Breakfast (Past Life Martyred Saints)
  6. Kind Heart (The Grey Ship)
  7. Take One Two (Take One Two)
  8. Anteroom (Past Life Martyred Saints)
  9. Marked (Past Life Martyred Saints)
  10. Cowboy (Little Sketches On Tape)
  11. California (Past Life Martyred Saints)
Buy EMA's new album, The Future's Void...now!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The Faint

With Coachella launching this weekend, the most talked about musical reunion wasn't that of Outkast or Neutral Milk Hotel, it was that of Nirvana.  Being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, an accomplishment in itself, brings with it the  pseudo-obligatory live performance.  The surviving members of Nirvana have rarely played together over the past 20 years.  And when they do, they avoid Nirvana songs.  But at the ceremony, in tribute, they embraced their legacy head on.
Finding a replacement for Kurt Cobain would be practically impossible.  And no, Dave Grohl is not an adequate choice (in that role).  Maybe Mark Arm...maybe Frank Black.  But then you're battling with whether those singers can put in a respectable performance.  There's too much judgement.  I liked that they went with all women.  It's out of the box cool.  Instead of trying to replace Kurt, they took a 90 degree turn and actually re-invented what Nirvana meant in the most awesome way possible.  I loved Joan Jett jamming with them.  I'm not a huge Kim Gordon or Annie Clark fan, but I respect the choices.  Lorde did feel out of place and not because of her pop sensibilities...she just didn't bring the emotion in the right way.  Not that she was too new (remember when Eddie Vedder fronted the Doors) it just felt the choice was forced; more dictated than selected.  She was certainly worlds better than most of her pop cohorts.  At the end of the day, it was a nice feeling to see the guys jamming together again.  It was a tribute worthy of Kurt's legacy.
Nirvana is one of those few bands where the surviving members actually like (love) each other.  It's respectable that they don't want to trample on the career of Nirvana by carrying on with the band but I would love to see them play together more.  They have great chemistry. They're super talented in their own right.  I love the Foo Fighters, but damn, do I miss Grohl slamming the skins.  And Krist on bass, plays sludgier and grimier than anyone.  Throw Smear in there, with punk core roots and that's a bad ass band in need of singer.  Maybe throw Chad Channing on drums...and...?  Coachella...are you listening?
Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Faint:
  1. Worked Up So Sexual (Blank-Wave Arcade)
  2. Agenda Suicide (Danse Macabre)
  3. Call Call (Blank-Wave Arcade) 
  4. Southern Belles In London Sing (Wet From Birth)
  5. Glass Danse (Danse Macabre)
  6. Casual Sex (Blank-Wave Arcade)
  7. Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat (Danse Macabre)
  8. The Geeks Were Right (Fasciination)
  9. Sex Is Personal (Blank-Wave Arcade)
  10. Mirror Error (Fasciination)
  11. Your Retro Career Melted (Danse Macabre)
Buy The Faint's new album, Doom Abuse...now!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By Steel Panther



First came Elvis.  He made all the young girls faint.  Then, he got fat and died.  Second came The Beatles.  They made all the young girls scream.  Then, they got shot in the face. Third came Michael Jackson.  People screamed and fainted but not for the same reason as the first two.  He died, but a bit later.  Fourth came Prince.  He pretty much just kicked ass.  Fifth came Nirvana.  People screamed but they weren't really aroused; they were more angry...but not about anything particular.  Sixth came Metallica.  Wait, no, they came fifth. Sorry.  Seventh came The Backstreet Boys.  It should have been Nsync but I always forget where their * is supposed to go, so I skipped them.  I think then came Eminem.  I don't remember what he did.  What am I talking about again?

Oh yes, now I remember.

All these bands are just prelude to the greatest band of all time: Steel Panther.

A band so good, they made Guns N Roses wilt, they made Def Leppard blind, they made Cinderella miss the ball, and most importantly, they made all the young girls scream, faint, and wet their t-shirts with such passion that half the girls who attend a Steel Panther show...leave pregnant.

Panther's lyrics are so poignant that Bob Dylan asks them for songwriting advice.  They're guitar playing is so magical that Jimi Hendrix once rose from the grave just so he could go see a Panther show.  Unfortunately, it was sold out.  They're drumming is so wicked NASA has been known to set their instruments to it.  And the bass playing is pretty good, too.

At the heart of it all, there's the voice of Michael Starr.  It's a voice so majestic angels tune their own vocal chords to it.  It outscreams Axl, out howls Halford, and out roars Hetfield. Starr's voice is so unmatched that he once beat Jesus in karaoke contest by singing a soaring rendition of Bon Jovi's "Living on A Prayer" that was so powerful that it helped land a jet at LAX after the pilot passed out from a heart attack.  Who knows why Jesus chose a Debbie Gibson song to compete?  He deserved to lose.

Every single word of what I have just written is absolutely true.  And if you don't buy the new album before you finish reading this post, there's a good chance you're going to catch an STD.

I tried to do the top 11 songs by Panther...but all of their songs go to 11.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Steel Panther:

11.  Asian Hooker (Feel The Steel)
11.  Death To All But Metal (Feel The Steel)
11.  Party All Day (Feel The Steel)
11.  The Shocker (Feel The Steel)
11.  Just Like Tiger Woods (Balls Out)
11.  Fantasy (Fantasy Single)
11.  Critter (Balls Out)
11.  Fat Girl (Feel The Steel)
11.  17 Girls In A Row (Balls Out)
11.  I Want Pussy (Community Property)
11.  Don't Stop Believin' (Don't Stop Believin')

Buy Steel Panther's new album, "All You Can Eat"...now!!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The 11 Best Manchester Orchestra Songs

This week the swelling pied piper of social media took on two foes.  In both cases, social media triumphed and the accused offenders were shamed into submission.  The first was Boomer Esiason.  Bengal Boomer made a comment that baseball player's Daniel Murphy's pregnant wife should have had a scheduled c-section prior to MLB's opening day.  The second was Brendan Eich.  Eich was a brief two-week CEO of Mozilla because social media shamed him out of the job.  Around ten years ago, Eich contributed money to a California proposition that would ban same-sex marriage.  For this "crime" he received a tsunami of digital slander until the point came that he had no choice but to step down to escape. Though social media won in both instances...only in the first situation did social media succeed.  With Eich, social media failed. With Boomer Esiason, Boomer tried to cast his outrageous, outdated, misogynistic views upon another person.  He tried to shame Daniel Murphy for being a pussy-whipped husband in an attempt to look more manly himself.  It back-fired.  In this case, social media played the perfect partner of checks and balances.  The interwebs slaughtered Boomer from all directions.  He got sacked faster than he did running a play action for the Bengals.  With Boomer, social media was the hero. With Eich, social media ventured into a various dangerous territory.  I will start by saying I think gay marriage should be legal and if you don't believe in gay marriage, don't marry a gay person.  Though Eich may be on the wrong side of history, does that mean he shouldn't have a right to function in society like everyone else?  Eich is not the only one who contributed to Prop 8.  I'm sure some of your neighbors, your friends and even your family members contributed.  Should Eich be publicly shamed for supported a cause he believes in?  Should everyone you know be publicly shamed?  What social media did wrong here is that it imposed its will upon an individual person.  Social media committed the wrong that Boomer Esiason was guilty of. The problem with social media having this much power is the ease in which it can be manipulated.  From the incorrect suspects being identified in the case of the Boston bomber to the #cancelcolbert weekend trend, when social media snowballs in one direction, it is impossible to slow it down.  We need to be more diligent as a people to be more responsible with this power.  If we lose control of it because of our flippant negligence, then we're in danger of being lost.  What happens next time when a different viewpoint is the majority or has the momentum...and the spot light gets turned on you? The great thing about this country is that we get to believe in whatever we want.  And we get to express it, we get to voice it when we vote.  We shouldn't be tied up to a tree and be forced to endure insults because our opinion was in the minority.  The point of voting is to maintain order.  If we lose sight of this, we become the bullies, that we stand up against. Here are the 11 Best Songs By Manchester Orchestra:
  1. Virgin (Simple Math)
  2. Everything To Nothing (Mean Everything To Nothing)
  3. Shake It Out (Mean Everything To Nothing)
  4. Where Have You Been? (I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child)
  5. Simple Math (Simple Math)
  6. Wolves At Night (I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child)
  7. I've Got Friends (Mean Everything To Nothing)
  8. In My Teeth (Mean Everything To Nothing)
  9. Pale Black Eyes (Simple Math)
  10. I Was A Lid (Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind)
  11. Mighty (Simple Math)
Buy Manchester Orchestra's new album, Cope...now!!!  

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The 11 Unknown Tracks By Kurt Cobain

Twenty years have passed since the death of Kurt Cobain.  That's four times longer than the ever brief career of Nirvana.  In that period of time, Kurt Cobain's legend has grown.  His antics have been intensified.  His creative vision has become iconic.   As they say, Immortality is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.  In 1991, Nirvana was the right band at the right time. 
As legendary as Cobain has become in the lore of rock n roll, there remains a strong resistance against him and the quality of his music.  He's been called overrated, generic, and untalented.  I don't think any other artist out there who is loved and admired by millions is as hated as much as Cobain is.  The question I always wonder...is why?
It's one thing to not like the music of Nirvana.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Music is a personal journey and everyone's journey takes them somewhere different.  What I don't understand is how many people will flat out deny that Nirvana is influential, groundbreaking or an important part of rock history.  I think most people's adversity to Cobain is because everything about him was the complete opposite of what a rock star should be.  He dressed like he was broke.  He sang out of tune.  His lyrics were abstract.  He championed Boston and Black Flag in the same breath.  He did all the wrong things to become a rock star, yet, he became the biggest of his generation.  He refused to conform and by being an individual, he rose above the masses.  
To those who stand in the way individualism, who scream that the path most traveled is the path to success, that conformity is comfort, they will never understand why Cobain belongs next to John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan.  But because they don't understand is the reason they will never have the power to decide.
Below is a list of some songs you may not know featuring Kurt's presence.  But Kurt's influence is heard everywhere.  From Green Day and Tori Amos to The White Stripes and Weezer to of all people, Miley Cyrus.  Whether we like it or not, Cobain shaped our world and his spirit lives on in all of us.
Here are 11 Unknown Kurt Cobain Tracks:
  1. Down in the Dark - Backing Vocals & Guitar (Mark Lanegan - The Winding Sheet)
  2. Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Guitar (Mark Lanegan - The Winding Sheet)
  3. Bikini Twilight - Guitar (Go Team - Scratch It Out)
  4. A Bureaucratic Desire For Revenge Part 2 - Guitar (Earth - Extra Capsular Extraction)
  5. Divine And Bright - Vocals & Guitar (Earth - Extra Capsular Extraction)
  6. Sky Pup - Guitar & Co-Producer (Melvins - Houdini)
  7. Hooch - Drums & Co-Producer (Melvins - Houdini)
  8. Spread Eagle Beagle - Drums & Co- Producer (Melvins - Houdini)
  9. The Priest They Called Him - Guitar (William S Burroughs - The Priest They Called Him)
  10. Asking For It - Backing Vocals (Hole - Live Through This)
  11. Softer, Softest - Backing Vocals (Hole - Live Through This) 
Buy Nirvana Music...now!!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The Cloud Nothings

This weekend the internet was in an uproar over the #cancelcolbert hashtag. A comedian made a sarcastic comment about racial insensitivity. That's what comedians do.  They bring light to controversial topics via comedy.  Sometimes the jokes make their points brilliantly and sometimes they miss their mark, completely.  But the outrage over the comments were almost as absurd as the Washington Redskins' charity that the jokes were trying to make fun of in the first place. We need to stop throwing the term "racist" around every time we get our feelings hurt.  A racist is someone who belittles another race to show his race's superiority.  Colbert was never belittling another race to show his own racial superiority.  He was belittling the owner of the Washington Redskins (Daniel Snyder), who also is not necessarily a racist.  Snyder didn't name the team.  He bought the team when it already had its name.  Because he chooses to not change the name of the team that has been in existence for over 40 years doesn't make him a racist.  It may make him racially insensitive or even a douche bag...but he's not a racist.  Hitler was a racist.  David Duke is a racist.  Steven Colbert is a comedian.  Daniel Snyder is a racially ignorant business man.  The irony is that through this whole mess...Colbert's joke has drawn more ire toward him than Snyder has drawn for his deliberate insensitivity. Second of all, in marriage, spouses are always told to pick your battles.  The same goes here.  If you're the leader of a movement, and you're trying to prove to the world that you should be taken seriously, you need to stand up against/for something that matters.  Blowing your wad on a stupid joke makes you look petty.  While there are real problems involving race and discrimination in the country, you're wasting your time and our time on something that honestly doesn't fucking matter.  If my first impression toward your organization is that you waste your time on meaningless noise, then when something comes along that does matter, I won't be there to support you.  Ever read the story about the boy who cried wolf? A great new album by the Cloud Nothings is out now.  With only 8 songs, the band doesn't waste our time with album fillers...because every song matters. Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Cloud Nothings:
  1. Not Important (Cloud Nothings)
  2. Wasted Days (Attack On Memory)
  3. Stay Useless (Attack On Memory)
  4. Morgan (Turning On)
  5. You're Not That Good At Anything (Cloud Nothings)
  6. Leave You Forever (Leave You Forever EP)
  7. Our Plans (Attack On Memory)
  8. Been Through (Cloud Nothings)
  9. Cut You (Attack On Memory)
  10. Should Have (Cloud Nothings)
  11. Didn't You (Didn't You)
Buy the Cloud Nothings new album, Here And Nowhere Else ...now!!!  

Monday, March 31, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The War On Drugs

With the news of Tom Petty's new album, Hypnotic Eye, (a major news flash in itself) the initial thought that hit me...seems to have hit just about everybody in the collective music community that the universe might just be aligning for the perfect tour:  Tom Petty with special guests, The War On Drugs.  It was epic enough that Christine McVie was returning to Fleetwood Mac (too bad Rilo Kiley isn't still around to open).  But to have two seemingly connected bands (one the leader and the other the padawan) release albums at almost the same time seems too good to be true.  The War On Drugs new album is their best album to date.  It's one of the first albums of the year I've been urging my friends to go out and buy.  With WOD's obvious similarities to Petty & co...the mere thought of the two of them sharing a stage was something more of a lost dream than a potential reality.  Like Wilco & Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam & Neil Young, Steel Panther & Spinal Tap...sometimes dreams do come true...let's keep our fingers crossed that this one might just happen. Here are the 11 Best Songs By The War On Drugs:
  1. Best Night (Slave Ambient)
  2. Taking the Farm (Wagonwheel Blues)
  3. Baby Missiles (Slave Ambient)
  4. A Needle In Your Eye #16 (Wagonwheel Blues)
  5. Your Love Is Calling My Name (Slave Ambient)
  6. Arms Like Boulders (Wagonwheel Blues)
  7. Comin' Through (Future Weather)
  8. Brothers (Slave Ambient)
  9. Show Me the Coast (Wagonwheel Blues)
  10. Pushing Corn (Barrel of Batteries)
  11. The History of Plastic (Future Weather)
Buy The War On Drugs new album, Lost In The Dream...now!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The Hold Steady

 No lyricist can capture life better in a song than Craig Finn.  If you need to hire someone to paint a picture of the tired, the working class, and the rejected in one portrait than the Hold Steady can put it to music.  They're the blue collar garage rockers to white collars of mainstream rock radio.  What Springsteen was raging about before he found his calling as a runner, The Hold Steady delivers with a habitual grind of grit, pantheon and pride.  They're the Northern States answer to the Skynyrds and the Tuckers.  From a world of skyscrapers, coffee carts and bitter cold, where salvation is defined by finding just enough pocket change in your coat for a cab ride home.  It's about staying positive when life is at its most mundane.  That no matter the height of the struggle, everyone of us is in it together.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Hold Steady:
  1. Chips Ahoy! (Boys And Girls In America)
  2. Soft In The Center (Heaven Is Whenever)
  3. Both Crosses (Stay Positive)
  4. Cattle And The Creeping Things (Separation Sunday)
  5. Stuck Between Stations (Boys And Girls In America)
  6. Your Little Hoodrat Friend (Separation Sunday)
  7. Stay Positive (Stay Positive)
  8. Knuckles (Almost Killed Me)
  9. Sequestered In Memphis (Stay Positive)
  10. The Swish (Almost Killed Me)
  11. Hot Soft Light (Boys And Girls In America)
Buy The Hold Steady's new album, Teeth Dreams...now!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The Tokyo Police Club

One of the most alarming things I read today was that Kiss is about to have their first Rolling Stone cover...ever.  Ever!  WTF Rolling Stone.  I'm not pissed that Kiss is getting a Rolling Stone cover...I'm in shock that it has taken almost 40 years for them to get one.  Justin Beiber's had THREE covers!  And he sucks.  Miley Cyrus has been on the cover of Rolling Stone.  But not Kiss.  Clay Aiken, Creed, Wilson Philips, Adam Lambert, and Snooki have been on the cover.  But not Kiss.  Charles Manson and the Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have made the cover of Rolling Stone.  But not Kiss.  A terrorist gets priority over Gene Simmons!  Seriously?!!  At least, Charles Manson put out an album.
On a positive note, Kiss does get their cover before The Pixies, Public Enemy, My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, The Kinks, New Order and The Velvet Underground.  
Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Tokyo Police Club:
  1. Favourite Colour (Champ)
  2. If It Works (A Lesson In Crime)
  3. Your English Is Good (Elephant Shell)
  4. Cut Cut Paste (Smith)
  5. Tessellate (Elephant Shell)
  6. Nature of the Experiment (A Lesson In Crime)
  7. Wait Up (Champ)
  8. Big Difference (Champ)
  9. Little Sister (Ten Songs, Ten Years, Ten Days)
  10. Box (Smith)
  11. Since U Been Gone (Ten Songs, Ten Years, Ten Days)
Buy Tokyo Police Club's new album, Forcefield...now!!