The #1 place to get music lists on the internet. Where most lists go to ten, I'll do them one better and go to eleven. Some of the lists will be a "best of" (the good), some will be a "worst of" (the bad), and some lists will focus on unknown bands and music (the unknown).
No one thinks of Los Angeles as a country music city. Los Angeles is a city drenched in steamy asphalt roads, overpacked with tin cars on an eternal idle. The urban sprawl is a desolate kingdom of industrialization. This is the city that gave birth to heavy metal music that crawled its way out of the sleaze and grime of its underbelly. It gave birth to a massive hip-hop culture that rebelled against the forced environment of the low-income slums. It is not a city that brings to mind the heartfelt twang of an acoustic guitar. But despite all that, Los Angeles is a desert. Long before the skyscrapers, celebrities, and traffic nightmares, it was a western town snuggled up against a sandy beach. If you rip off the superficial covering, you will discover that country is in LA's heart and soul.
Marie Danielle is not a country artist. She is an LA artist. Even though she's originally from the East Coast, her sound is born from the rich musical tapestry that makes Los Angeles such a layered bastion of musical expression. On her new album, Hustler, Marie embodies all the great emotional baggage coursing through LA's veins. The album opens with the heartbreaking "Tinseltown" subtly crafted with a hint of Don Henley's lonely howl. On "Dreary Head" there is an inescapable Brian Wilson loveliness. "One Night Stands" is sprinkled with Beck's heart-wrenching desperation of feeling alone in a crowded room. There's Exene's boldness, Rivers' introspection, and even a touch of swagger from GNR Lies on the album's essential song, "Soldier." Each of Danielle's song has its own identity, but Hustler as an album is even better than the sum of its parts.
Hustler's crowning achievement is its ability to evolve over multiple listens. Upon first pass, it hooks you with its sensitivity. But with repeat visits, the listener is able to peel back the layers discovering emotional peaks and valleys tucked inside the melodies. For every moment of hope there's an air of darkness. For every downfall there's a smile. For every fluffy cloud there's a silver nitrate lining. It's a conflict-laden journey with Danielle's sultry vixen-esque voice, guiding you along with its alluring seduction. Her intimate tone wraps you in a comfortable blanket, holding you close as if you're the only person this album is made for. The album's major appeal is how personal it feels. Marie Danielle is everyone. She's your neighbor, she's your sister, she's your ex-girlfriend. She is your confident, and in this moment, she's confiding in you.
Being a musical artist in LA means you have to be a fighter. Playing shows in LA means competing against narcissistic Angelenos who would rather hear the sound of their own voice than bother listening. The artist must power over them...over the selfies and status updates. To successfully come up in this environment, an artist must have internal strength and tenacity. It is a war of attrition and those who survive are stronger from it. Danielle is a survivor.
Marie Danielle's album, Hustler, is a must. It is the summer mixtape for that long drive up the coast or the late night drive to Vegas. It will accompany you after a break-up and be your fan on a first date. If you're still reading this review and haven't purchased it yet...well, you're wasting your time.
This weekend was Record Store Day. The greatest single event created for music fans everywhere. And for all the haters, they're just bitter because they didn't think of it first. Seriously. Without Record Store Day, independent record stores would be out of business, not increasing in numbers. So for any flaws it might have, the positives outweigh the negatives in extremes.
This year, for Record Store Day, there were a few "alternate" versions of popular albums. The Flaming Lips' alternate version of "Clouds Taste Metallic" and Fleetwood Mac's alternate "Tuck" are a couple that come to mind. This got me thinking. How can we re-imagine famous albums in a new way? Not necessarily a better way...but a new way. Like visiting a best friend in a new house or a director's cut of a great movie. Are there other ways to enjoy something we already love?
My favorite album of all time is the Cure's "Disintegration." It might be the perfect album. To me. It got me thinking...is there a new way to enjoy this album? Even by merely re-ordering the songs... Is there a new way to experience it? I took the 12 songs from the original release. I included the 4 B-sides and used the extended remixes of the singles in lieu of the current album versions. With these 16 songs, I ventured out to create a new album.
Immediately, I noticed one very important thing...the order of the songs is as important as the songs themselves. Here's something to consider. If I try to make a 12 song album, using these 16 songs, the possibilities of different albums number in the...get ready for this...billions. Yes, billions. There are over 800 billion different ways to order these 16 songs. Eight hundred billion. This is true. It's called math. Permutations, precisely. Google it.
So, of the 800 billion possible combinations, are there other combinations that work? The answer is...yes. Over the course of re-evaluating this album, I discovered two very different paths, creating two polarizing different albums: a dark album...and a light album. So I have included them for you here. Disintegration: The Light and Disintegration: The Dark. Listen to them both below...and enjoy a new journey into The Cure. Even songs used in both alternate versions, come across with totally different feels in their new homes. A unique experience that can surely open the door into the listening of other favorite albums.
Trying to stay on par with the original, I have capped the running length under 70 minutes. Let me know your thoughts...and your own versions.
The Cure Disintegration: The Dark
The Cure Disintegration: The Light
It's been a hard year on music. Another major loss today with the passing of the iconic, Phife Dawg. A legend, whose lyrical mastery inspired a generation of socially-motivated rappers. A wordsmith, a poet, a legend. Your words will live on.
Here are the 11 best Phife Dawg performances in A Tribe Called Quest:
Buggin' Out (Low End Theory)
Oh My God (Midnight Marauders)
Electric Relaxation (Midnight Marauders)
Scenario (Low End Theory)
Award Tour (Midnight Marauders)
Check The Rhyme (Low End Theory)
Can I Kick It? (People's Instinctive Travels and the Path of Rhythm)
In high school, I bought a four pack of CDs from Costco, featuring four of the Eagles best albums. The set included The Eagles, Desperado, The Long Run and Hotel California. Costco had been packaging four packs of CDs like this for some iconic artists like Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. It was a great doorway drug for a young kid, discovering a classic artist for the first time. I purchased the Eagles because I was growing up in a small town where country music was the mainstream while I preferred rock music. I believed it was a nice alternative to have in my car in case someone found one of my Depeche Mode or Cure CDs lying around. What instantly struck me about the Eagles was their flawless ability to teeter back and forth between two lead singers with strong success. Both of them had similar styles that blended into beautiful melodies and harmonies. Only the Grateful Dead and Fleetwood Mac can brag about having multiple lead singers. But when Weir sang over Garcia or Buckingham over Nicks, there were distinct differences in the songs. The Henley-Frey combo was a needle in a haystack. A perfect union that has forever ended.
Glenn Frey's legacy is unmatched except only by his brother in arms, Don Henley.
RIP Glenn...Take it easy...
Here are the 11 Best Songs Sung By Glenn Frey:
Take It Easy (The Eagles - The Eagles)
Lyin' Eyes (The Eagles - One Of These Nights)
Tequila Sunrise (The Eagles - Desperado)
Already Gone (The Eagles - On the Border)
Don't Give Up (No Fun Aloud)
You Belong To The City (Miami Vice Soundtrack)
New Kid In Town (The Eagles - Hotel California)
Outlaw Man (The Eagles - Desperado)
Somebody (The Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden)
The Allnighter (The Allnighter)
King Of Hollywood with Don Henley (The Eagles - The Long Run)
Legends are rare. Legends who endure are even rarer. Legends who can defy death are the rarest of all. Bowie's absence will leave a hole in all our hearts but his music will live on in our souls. Bowie shared his dreams with us: dreams of tomorrow, dreams of the unknown. His dreams will live on in all of us.
This list encompasses the majority of Bowie's solo career. I did not include Tin Machine, Black Star, New Day or his guest spot/team-ups. I also avoided the live albums. This list was hard enough with just his main releases. I will update this list through-out the day as I re-visit Bowie's amazing dreams.
Here are the 111 Best Songs By David Bowie:
Suffragette City (Ziggy Stardust)
Life on Mars? (Hunky Dory)
Modern Love (Let's Dance)
Ziggy Stardust (Ziggy Stardust)
Rebel Rebel (Diamond Dogs)
Moonage Daydream (Ziggy Stardust)
China Girl (Let's Dance)
The Man Who Sold the World (The Man Who Sold the World)
Young Americans (Young Americans)
Changes (Hunky Dory)
Hang On To Yourself (Ziggy Stardust)
Space Oddity (Space Oddity)
Golden Years (Station To Station)
Five Years (Ziggy Stardust)
Andy Warhol (Hunky Dory)
Song For Bob Dylan (Hunky Dory)
The Width of a Circle (The Man Who Sold the World)
Neighborhood Threat (Tonight)
Bang Bang (Never Let Me Down)
Jean Genie (Aladdin Sane)
Blue Jean (Tonight)
Sound and Vision (Low)
John, I'm Only Dancing (Ziggy Stardust)
1984 (Diamond Dogs)
Cracked Actor (Aladdin Sane)
Starman (Ziggy Stardust)
Let's Dance (Let's Dance)
Watch That Man (Aladdin Sane)
Queen Bitch (Hunky Dory)
Velvet Goldmine (Ziggy Stardust Deluxe Edition)
Be My Wife (Low)
Rock N Roll Suicide (Ziggy Stardust)
Loving The Alien (Tonight)
Fascination (Young Americans)
Star (Ziggy Stardust)
Let's Spend the Night Together (Aladdin Sane)
Soul Love (Ziggy Stardust)
All The Young Dudes (Aladdin Sane 30th Anniversary)
Cat People (Let's Dance)
Scary Monsters and Super Creeps (Scary Monsters)
She's Got Medals (David Bowie)
Diamond Dogs (Diamond Dogs)
New York's In Love (Never Let Me Down)
I'm Afraid of Americans (Earthling)
Lady Stardust (Ziggy Stardust)
Kooks (Hunky Dory)
Black Country Rock (The Man Who Sold the World)
Fame (Young Americans)
Criminal World (Let's Dance)
The Supermen (Hunky Dory Special Edition)
Janine (Space Oddity)
Secret Life of Arabia (Heroes)
Strangers When We Meet (Outside)
Growing Up (Diamond Dogs 30th Anniversary)
Time Will Crawl (Never Let Me Down)
The Bewlay Brothers (Hunky Dory)
Drive In Saturday (Aladdin Sane)
Oh! You Pretty Things (Hunky Dory)
It's Hard To Be A Saint In City (Sound and Vision)
In these lists, the order is always arbitrary. If I were to publish this list every day...every day there'd be a new order. And I'd look back at the old order and wonder what the heck was I thinking. The old order is nowhere as good as the new order. But I'm not going to do that. I'm going with one order, it's not a new order, it's not an old order, it's the only order. But if you don't like my order and prefer a new order then just hit random and you can have your New Order in any order you want.
Here are the 111 Best New Order Songs:
Bizarre Love Triangle (Brotherhood)
True Faith (Substance)
Broken Promise (Brotherhood)
Love Vigilantes (Low-Life)
The Perfect Kiss (Low-Life)
Round & Round (Technique)
Shellshock (Pretty In Pink)
All The Way (Technique)
Here To Stay (24 Hour Party People)
State of the Nation (Substance)
Sooner Than You Think (Low-Life)
Mr. Disco (Technique)
World in Motion (World In Motion)
Dream Attack (Technique)
Thieves Like Us (Substance)
I'll Stay With You (Lost Sirens)
Vanishing Point (Technique)
This Time of Night (Low-Life)
Touched By The Hand of God (Salvation Soundtrack)
Age of Consent (Power, Corruption, & Lies)
Waiting For The Siren's Call (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Blue Monday (Power, Corruption & Lies)
Crystal (Get Ready)
Face Up (Low-Life)
Dreams Never End (Movement)
Way of Life (Brotherhood)
Close Range (Get Ready)
Hey Now What You Doing (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Primitive Notion (Get Ready)
Guilty Partner (Technique)
Dracula's Castle (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Turn (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Love Less (Technique)
Turn My Way (Get Ready)
Krafty (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Guilt Is A Useless Emotion (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Sugarcane (Lost Sirens)
Who's Joe? (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Times Change (Republic)
Vicious Streak (Get Ready)
All Day Long (Brotherhood)
Angel Dust (Brotherhood)
Such A Good Thing (World In Motion)
Everything's Gone Green (1981-1982)
Ruined in A Day (Republic)
The Village (Power, Corruption, & Lies)
Best & Marsh (Technique Collector's Edition)
Cries and Whispers (Power, Corruption & Lies Collector's Edition)
Brutal (The Beach)
60 Miles An Hour (Get Ready)
Jetstream (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
Let's Go (Best of New Order)
Someone Like You (Get Ready)
Fine Time (Technique)
Hellbent (Lost Sirens)
Morning Night And Day (Waiting For The Siren's Call)
September has always had that schizophrenic nature of being placed in the middle of the year, yet it's the month that represents the beginning of many new things in our culture. September is the month that a new school year begins, it's the month when TV shows begin their new season and new TV shows debut, and it's the beginning of the award season for Golden Globes, Oscars and Grammys. It's also the time of the year when record labels begin releasing their biggest albums of the year, gearing up for the holiday season. There are more new album releases in the first two weeks of September than in July and August combined. (I just made that up but it sounds accurate.) To kick off this new start as we head into the end of the year, I've concocted a playlist for such a time. I've chosen a wide variety of music from old artists, new artists, rock to hip-hop to dance and everything in between. Some of these are new songs to debut this month, others are from albums that will be released in the coming weeks. Sit back, enjoy, while watching the new NFL season.
The Best September 2015 Playlist This Month:
The Arcs - Outta Of My Mind
New Order - Restless
Neon Indian - Annie
Disclosure - Willing & Able
The Weeknd - In The Night
Small Black - No One Wants It To Happen To You
Big Grams - Fell In The Sun
The Libertines - Gunga Din
The Dead Weather - I Feel Love
Silversun Pickups - Nightlight
Chris Cornell - Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart
Metric - The Shade
Empress Of - How Do You Do It
Baio - The Names
CHVRCHES - Leave A Trace
Mac Miller - 100 Grandkids
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Downtown
Craig Finn - Maggie I've Been Searching For Our Son
Led Zeppelin made albums. Like others of their generation, Led Zeppelin didn't make music to be radio stars. They didn't make music to be featured in commercials, movies, or TV shows. They didn't make music for any other reason but to make great music. Their albums were islands. Moments in time. A place to journey to. A sonic landscape to escape to. Back then, it was about quality not quantity. There are very few songs that slipped out from in between the cracks. In fact, prior to the Led Zeppelin box set of 1990, the band only officially released one extra song as a B-side (Hey, Hey What Can I Do).
This week sees the final release of the Led Zeppelin remasters series. Though most of the bonus tracks were alternate versions and demos, some better than others (actually, few better than others), there was a handful more unreleased tracks in the overall series.
Led Zeppelin bonus tracks are a rarity. They may exist in small doses but only to draw attention to their larger contributions. They exist like bonus scenes at the end of a Marvel movie. The end credit scenes. Over the course of the remasters and box sets, enough bonus material has come out to form one additional album...an "end credits" album.
With the releases of Led Zeppelin coming to a close, here is the final culmination of their remaining music, compiled in one album, aptly called "End Credits."