Saturday, September 28, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By Drake

In hip-hop, it's all about street cred.  If you haven't murdered and pillaged townships for most of your life then you might as well turn in your mic and become a DJ. I don't think any rapper in the history of the game has had less street cred than Drake.  First of all he's Canadian, which should have eliminated him right off the bat.  But to make matters even more unrealistic, he used to star in Degrassi High.  Even with all this going against him, Drake has managed to become one of the most inventive and innovative hip-hop artists out there.  Because he had to fight against his thug-less image, it's as if he's pushing the boundaries of rap can be to prove that he knows what the hell he's doing.  He's pushed rap so far, it's to the point that it's questionable if it's even rap anymore or has become something unto itself.  Don't let his squeaky clean image fool you, Drake is as hard as any one in the rap game.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Drake:

  1. Take Care (Take Care)
  2. Over (Thank Me Later)
  3. Marvin's Room (Take Care)
  4. Fear (So Far Gone)
  5. Fireworks (Thank Me Later)
  6. Best I Ever Had (So Far Gone)
  7. Find Your Love (Thank Me Later)
  8. Well Be Fine (Take Care)
  9. Thank Me Now (Thank Me Later)
  10. Headlines (Take Care)
  11. Look What You've Done (Take Care)
Buy Drake's new album, Nothing Was the!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By Kings of Leon

The new TV season is finally upon us.  Thousands of new shows will debut and we will pick a lucky handful to survive through-out the season.  Even less will be renewed.  And only a couple will become our new collective crushes.  Like a great song, a great show can unite us as a people.  The most conservative Republican and the most liberal Democrat will find some common ground if they both watch Breaking Bad.  A Boston Red Sox fan and a Yankee fan will have at least one hour of solitude if they both watch Game of Thrones.  The hardest gangster and the nerdiest scientist will share a laugh over the Big Bang Theory.  At the end of the day, with all our hardships, our life struggles, our fights, our disagreements, our debts, and our losses, we all have a need for escape.  And no, we don't all like the same shows.  But the same shows are the common thread that hold us together at the water cooler.  And for one minute, your least favorite co-worker will become your best friend when you both share a mutual distaste for the series finale of Dexter.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Kings of Leon:

  1. Sex On Fire (Only By the Night)
  2. Knocked Up (Because of the Times)
  3. The Bucket (Aha Shake Heartbreak)
  4. Closer (Only By the Night)
  5. Four Kicks (Aha Shake Heartbreak)
  6. Use Somebody (Only By the Night)
  7. California Waiting (Youth And Young Manhood)
  8. On Call (Because of the Times)
  9. Happy Alone (Youth And Young Manhood)
  10. Velvet Snow (Aha Shake Heartbreak)
  11. My Party (Because of the Times)

Buy The Kings of Leon new album, Mechanical!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By Nirvana

Last night I saw Paul McCartney perform live on Hollywood Blvd.  It was a surreal event with the streets closed down and a giant stage in the middle of the road.  This was the first of two live concerts for the Jimmy Kimmel show.  Monday night featured Sir Paul while Tuesday night would host Justin Timberlake.  I was the only one in my office who made the walk down to see Paul perform live.  Everyone else in the office chose to wait and see Justin Timberlake the next night.  When talking about Paul, there was even one girl in my office who said, "I don't even know any of his songs."  It wasn't until we had to explain to her that he used to sing for the Beatles that she finally acknowledged that she "guesses" she knows who he is.  After squeezing my way onto a balcony overlooking the street I was treated to one of the greatest rock n roll artists of all time...for free.  Perks of working in Hollywood.  One of the most amazing moments of the night was during "Hey Jude."  Now if you've never been to Hollywood Blvd. then let me explain to you that it's an amalgam of tourists, Angelenos, amateur hip hop artists trying to sell their rap CDs, bums, crazy drug addicts, and street people dressed up like your favorite movie personalities like Marilyn Monroe and Chewbacca. When "Hey Jude" started playing, everyone was singing along: the rich, the poor, and the guy dressed like Jack Sparrow. This one song transcended every era, every nationality, every walk of life.  It is bigger than iconic.  It defines iconic.  This ordinary man wrote a song that every man, woman, and child knows.  This song is a piece of our lives.  It is a piece of us.  It is a part of the tapestry of our universe.  This is the power one song has to bind us together.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Nirvana:

  1. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nevermind)
  2. Lithium (Nevermind)
  3. In Bloom (Nevermind)
  4. Serve The Servants (In Utero)
  5. Heart Shaped Box (In Utero)
  6. Lounge Act (Nevermind)
  7. Pennyroyal Tea (In Utero)
  8. All Apologies (In Utero)
  9. Aneurysm (Hormoaning Version)
  10. Sappy (No Alternative)
  11. Rape Me (In Utero)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By Jack Johnson of the 00s

As we're nearing this website's book release, here's another sample ripped from the pages of The 111 Best Music Lists of the 2000s.

Jack Johnson’s debut album, Brushfire Fairytales, was one of the last truly great word of mouth albums.  Before the internet, word of mouth meant something more than a mass email or blog hit.  When you recommended an album, your music cred was on the line.  Your recommendation could not be previewed by 30-second sound snippets.  The only way to hear the music was to go out and buy the album.  So, if you were telling your friend to go out and spend their money on one of your music recommendations, it had better be good.

My good friend was so confident about his recommendation that he gave me a money-back guarantee.  If I did not like the album, my friend would reimburse me.  There are very few artists that can prompt that kind of blind assurance.  How could I say no?  I bought the album and weeks later, I found myself making the same money-back guarantees to other friends.  Not one of them logged a single complaint. 

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Jack Johnson of the 00s:

1.  Symbol in My Driveway (On & On)
2.  Banana Pancakes (In Between Dreams)
3.  Never Know (In Between Dreams)
4.  Flake (Brushfire Fairytales)
5.  Cookie Jar (On & On)
6.  Go On (Sleep Through The Static)
7.  The News (Brushfire Fairytales)
8.  Imagine (John Lennon Tribute Album)
9.  Taylor (On & On)
10.  Better Together (In Between Dreams)
11.  If I Had Eyes (Sleep Through The Static)

Fun Fact:  Jack Johnson records his music in a purely solar-powered recording studio.

Buy Jack Johnson's new album, From Here To Now To!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By The Naked & Famous

 A new season of Fantasy Football is like a new year in music.  Every year/season you have your old reliables.  The players (& bands) who always meet your expectations.  Then you have the old guns who still have a few moments still left in the tank but overall they're on their way out.  And finally, you have the newcomers.  From the rookies who bring on the unexpected to the second year players who have to deal with the sophomore slump. In music, nothing is more crucial than the sophomore album.  The second album is almost more important than the debut.  On a debut, bands are give a little bit of slack.  As long as your debut shows promise, it's acceptable.  On the sophomore album, there is no slack.  You either show up with your A game...or your game is over.  A second album that doesn't meet expectation can have a trigger effect on a band's entire career.  A weak second album will make the world think your first album was a fluke and you'll be shut you out.  A strong showing on a second album will almost solidify you as a legit band for the rest of your career.  The Naked and Famous deliver their second album this week.  After their hype-heavy debut, it will be up to their new album to move them forward.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Naked and Famous:
  1. Young Blood (Passive Me, Aggressive You)
  2. Punching In a Dream (Passive Me, Aggressive You)
  3. All Of This (Passive Me, Aggressive You)
  4. Spies Spies Spies (This Machine) 
  5. Eyes (Passive Me, Aggressive You)
  6. Serenade (This Machine)
  7. Meeting People Sucks (This Machine)
  8. Girls Like You (Passive Me, Aggressive You)
  9. Birds (No Light)
  10. Frayed (Passive Me, Aggressive You) 
  11. Wild (Punching in a Dream)
Buy The Naked & Famous new album, In Rolling!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By The Dirtbombs of the 00s

Two months away from the release of my first book.  As promised, here's another post from the book as it appears in print.  Enjoy!  More to come...


Back in the 1960s, England had outlawed rock music.  The government needed to protect its fragile British youth from the dangerous influence of the corruptible messages of the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks.  So private boats anchored in international waters, broadcast the scandalous songs to their audience on dry land.  That music that pulsed with intense raw energy.  The bands of the 60s were painted as criminals but they were nothing more than a bunch of young kids banging on their instruments and shouting about everything that crossed their mind.  To have that kind of unbridled freedom was an attractive force that could never be stopped.  The Dirtbombs sound like they were part of this generation.  The static charge of their guitars blasts out of the speakers like the band was broadcasting live from a garage hidden on the bottom deck of an abandoned fishing boat.  It's not just like the band sounds like they should have been part of this world, they play as if they still have a chance.  As if they play with such fury and fire, their music might actually travel back in time and be heard by this past era.

The 11 Best Songs by The Dirtbombs of the 00s:

1.      21st Century Fox (Dangerous Magical Noise)
2.      Wreck My Flow (We Have You Surrounded)
3.      Ever Lovin' Man (We Have You Surrounded)
4.      Don't Break My Heart (Dangerous Magical Noise)
5.      Chains of Love (Ultraglide In Black)
6.      Brand New Game (If You Don't Already Have A Look)
7.      All My Friends (If You Don't Already Have A Look)
8.      If You Want (Ultraglide In Black)
9.      Stuck In Thee Garage (Dangerous Magical Noise)
10.  Lupita Screams (If You Don't Already Have A Look)
11.  Indivisible (We Have You Surrounded)

Fun Fact:  Lead singer, Mick Collins, originally conceived the band as singles-only outfit.  But due to mass popularity, they caved and began releasing full albums.

Buy the Dirtbombs new album, Ooey Gooey Chewy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By MGMT

When MGMT burst onto the scene a few years ago, it was like a meteor filled with chocolate covered cherries exploded in our ears.  The album was all over the map from sugary synthy dance mania to psychedelic-laced head trips.  It was chaotic sound storm but it was beautiful at that same time.   Though their sophomore album toned down the frequency it still managed to deliver a worthwhile effort.  But now it's time for album three and the early word is not good.  I know MGMT sounds like they're trying to be the next Flaming Lips...but they should really be following in the footsteps of The Offspring.  See, the Offspring was originally a straight up punk band in the style of Bad Religion.  Though they had some hardcore fans, they were not appeasing a bigger fan base.  They started adding one or two goofy radio songs per album for the pop radio fans while on the rest of the album they stuck to their typical aggressive rock.  Twenty years later, they're still trucking.  It was a compromise.  Do a couple songs or the labels and radio, and in return, you get to have a career making music you love.  Not a bad trade-off.  MGMT should have a 1-2 Kids-like songs per album.  It's what the fans want.  Learn from Dexter Holland, he's a very smart guy.  He may sing for a punk rock band...but he also has a doctorate in microbiology.  True story!

Here are the 11 Best Songs By MGMT:

  1. Kids (Oracular Spectacular)
  2. Electric Feel (Oracular Spectacular)
  3. Time To Pretend (Oracular Spectacular)
  4. Flash Delirium (Congratulations)
  5. Weekend Wars (Oracular Spectacular)
  6. Song For Dan Treacy (Congratulations)
  7. Of Moons, Birds, & Monsters (Oracular Spectacular)
  8. Brian Eno (Congratulations)
  9. Indie Rokkers (Time To Pretend EP)
  10. Love Always Remains (Time To Pretend EP)
  11. Metanoia (Metanoia)
Buy MGMT's new album,!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By The Weeknd

Jewish holidays are like R&B.  No matter how happy they are, you always leave them feeling guiltier than when you started.   Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year.  In Judaism, you try to let go of everything bad that happened the year before and focus on doing better in the coming year.  Rosh Hashanah is basically a Jewish mother, "why can't you do better than you did in 5773?"  But Rosh Hashanah is ultimately a time of celebration, which is why there was a new John Legend album.  Even though there's time to reflect, it is really about jubilation. Today is Yom Kippur and to coincide with it we have a new album by The Weeknd.  Yom Kippur is the day of atonement.  It's a time when Jews fast from sundown to sundown.  It a time of hunger, suffering, and inner reflection.  As dry, sullen, and bleak that The Weeknd's music is, there is an inner reflection that shines through.  Would the new album be a great soundtrack at a break the fast sedar dinner?  Thematically, yes.  So if there is a rabbi out there who is pumping Kissland Saturday evening, just after sundown, then that's a dinner you want to attend, whether you're Jewish or not. 

The 11 Best Songs By The Weeknd:
  1. The Birds Part 1 (Thursday)
  2. Wicked Games (House of Balloons)
  3. The Morning (House of Balloons)
  4. The Birds Part 2 (Thursday)
  5. House of Balloons - Glass Table Girls (House of Balloons)
  6. High For This (House of Balloons)
  7. D.D. (Echoes of Silence)
  8. What You Need (House of Balloons)
  9. Til Dawn Here Come The Sun (Trilogy)
  10. The Zone (Thursday)
  11. Montreal (Echoes of Silence)
Buy The Weeknd's new album,!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By The Arctic Monkeys

When the Arctic Monkeys closed the Olympic games in London a couple years ago, most Americans had no idea who they were.  They all asked why did this no name band get to go on an international stage with Paul McCartney and play at one of the biggest events in the world?  Where were the big English bands that everyone knew?  The Led Zeppelins?  The Elton Johns?  What most Americans didn't know and still don't is that the Arctic Monkeys are one of the biggest English bands of all time.  In England, they are the equivalent of Nirvana in the states.  They expected England to entertain the world with what the world wanted instead of England had to offer.

This week, we enter week 2 of the NFL season.  For years, Dallas had been America's team.  But over the last decade, the Patriots took the reigns.  Though the Pats are now 2-0, it's obvious their time is limited.  Who will represent the NFL to the world this decade?  The Niners? The Colts?  The Seahawks?  Whoever becomes the NFL's supreme team will be America's team, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

The Monkeys are England's bread and butter, just as the NFL is America's.  Both are exceptional, unpredictable, and something we can't live without.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Arctic Monkeys:
  1. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (Whatever People Say I Am)
  2. The View From the Afternoon (Whatever People Say I Am)
  3. Dancing Shoes (Whatever People Say I Am)
  4. Brainstorm (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
  5. Old Yellow Bricks (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
  6. Still Take You Home (Whatever People Say I Am)
  7. If You Were There, Beware (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
  8. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala (Suck It And See)
  9. Fluorescent Adolescent (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
  10. When The Sun Goes Down (Whatever People Say I Am)
  11. From The Ritz To The Rubble (Whatever People Say I Am)
Buy The Arctic Monkeys new album,!

Friday, September 06, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By The Pixies

Earlier this year, David Bowie made a long-awaited return.  My Bloody Valentine released their first album in 22 years.  Now, the Pixies are following suit. (And Sebadoh is not far behind)  Granted it's only an EP and Kim Deal is no longer with the band.  Though the EP is receiving generally good reviews, there's a lot of animosity out there that the new music tarnishes the band's legacy.  I never understood how bands' comeback albums always bring the question of whether the new music will trample the band's legacy. Isn't that the case with every new album?  Every subsequent album in a band's catalog can either bring down a band's legacy or elevate it.  It doesn't matter if it's been 3 years or 22 years in between releases.   Every release can affect that band's career.  A great legacy can be formed with one album, look at the Sex Pistols and Jeff Buckley.  If a band releases a truly bad album that doesn't necessarily discount the great music they made before that.  Dylan's Self-Portrait didn't ruin his career, it may have been a road bump, but now 30 years later, that album is receiving new love.  The great thing about being a musician is that they have the ability to re-establish themselves with the next album, look at what Eminem did with Recovery after Relapse.  The new EP series from the Pixies is a new era in the life of the Pixies...and will always be a piece of the legacy of the Pixies.

Here are The 11 Best Songs By The Pixies:
  1. Wave of Mutilation (Doolittle)
  2. Where is My Mind? (Surfer Rosa)
  3. Debaser (Doolittle)
  4. Rock Music (Bossanova)
  5. Alec Eiffel (Tromp Le Monde)
  6. U-Mass (Tromp Le Monde)
  7. Gouge Away (Doolittle)
  8. Monkey Gone To Heaven (Doolittle)
  9. Here Comes Your Man (Doolittle)
  10. Dig For Fire (Bossanova)
  11. Gigantic (Surfer Rosa)
Buy The Pixies new EP,!!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The 11 Best Songs By Nine Inch Nails of the 00s

This November I have book coming out based on this blog.  There will be more details to follow in the coming weeks.  Until then, I've included a direct copy of the Nine Inch Nails blurb in the book.

I have a friend who is madly in love with Trent Reznor and thinks everything he does is genius.  I think Trent has an edge but I do not think it is genius.  In my opinion, Trent Reznor's edge is that he's psychotic. The guy bought the Sharon Tate Mansion so it would inspire him to write the album, The Downward Spiral. He spent five years in a drug-induced coma so he could write the album, The Fragile. He sent hate mail to Guns N' Roses' message boards.  He worked out like an Austrian bodybuilder to pump himself up to make the album, With Teeth.  He watched hours of Fox News to mentally cripple himself so he could write the politically paranoid album, Year Zero.  He released a four-disc instrumental album, Ghosts, and gave it away for free.  He released one of his best albums in years, The Slip, and gave it away for free. Recently he ditched his day job as a singer and stepped behind the scenes to play sideman in a band with his wife.  Sometimes, being a genius and being psychotic are not too different.
Fun Fact:  Trent released digital samples of his songs from Year Zero for free for fans to download and remix.  The best remixes were released on their own album called The Limitless Potential.
Song Note (Only):  The song was influenced by the movie Fight Club, directed by David Fincher.  Coincidentally, the video for the song was also directed by David Fincher.

The 11 Best Songs By Nine Inch Nails of the 00s:

1.      And All That Could Have Been (And All That Could Have Been)
2.      Right Where It Belongs (With Teeth)
3.      Discipline (The Slip)
4.      Only (With Teeth)
5.      The Hand That Feeds (With Teeth)
6.      MeetYour Master:  The Faint Mix (Y34rz3r0r3m1x3d)
7.      Head Down (The Slip)
8.      Every Day Is Exactly The Same (With Teeth)
9.      The Beginning of the End (Year Zero)
10.  Not So Pretty (NINJA Tour Sampler)
11.  Zero Sum (Year Zero)

Buy Nine Inch Nails new album, Hesitation!