Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Is this the greatest book ever written? Probably not but it's close. I've been writing this blog for the past six years; I've written hundreds of lists. Taking some of the best lists directly from the site and adding in some brand new lists, I am proud to present my first book. Sticking with the theme of my blog I've delivered a book that takes a look back at one of the most chaotic decades in music. It was the decade where music went from being physical to only existing in a digital space. It was an era where pop dominated and rock was stuck taking the bus. With this book, I hope to right the ship and look back at some amazing bands that were overlooked.
You can purchase the book now at Amazon and Kindle. Right in time for all your holiday shopping needs.
The 111 Best Music Lists of the Decade
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Harry Potter proved that a great franchise can make you a whole lot of money. Twilight proved that a shitty franchise can do the exact same thing. The one thing that Twilight did right was its soundtracks. As crappy as the movies were, the soundtracks were some of the best movie soundtracks being made. The Hunger Games franchise has arrived giving us the best of both worlds. A great franchise and a great soundtrack. Too bad Cameron Crowe never made Singles into a movie franchise.
Here are the 11 Best Songs From The Twilight Soundtracks:
- Eclipse All Yours - Metric (Eclipse)
- Meet Me On The Equinox - Death Cab For Cutie (New Moon)
- Spotlight - Mutemath (Twilight)
- Ours - The Bravery (Eclipse)
- Neutron Star Collision - Muse (Eclipse)
- Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Iron & Wine (Twilight)
- Let's Get Lost - Beck & Bat For Lashes (Eclipse)
- No Sound But The Wind - Editors (New Moon)
- What Part Of Forever - Cee-Lo Green (Eclipse)
- From Now On - The Features (Breaking Dawn 1)
- Where I Come From - Passion Pit (Breaking Dawn 2)
Monday, November 25, 2013
Side projects and supergroups always draw amazing attention but usually end-up disappointing greatly. It's hard for an artist to experiment with a new sound because of the expectations they bring with them. A few artists manage to exceed expectations usually by throwing a big curve. If it is too outside the box, it tends to scare listeners away...and if it's too inside the box...it leaves listeners wondering what the point was in the first place? Billie Joe of Green Day and Norah Jones of pianos team-up today to play a collection of Everly Brother songs. Which side of the box does this fall In? Out? Under? Over? Ever?
Here are the 11 Best Supergroup Duos:
- Electronic (Bernard Sumner of New Order & Johnny Marr of The Smiths)
- She & Him (Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward)
- Pinback (Zach Smith of Three Mile Pilot & Rob Crow of Heavy Vegetable and Thingy)
- Felt (Murs & Slug of Atmosphere)
- Quasi (Sam Coomes of Heatmiser and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney)
- Discovery (Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend & Wesley Miles of Ra Ra Riot)
- Bad Meets Evil (Eminem & Royce Da 5'9")
- Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson
- Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles)
- The Evens (Ian McKaye of Fugazi and Amy Farina of The Warmers)
- WZRD (Kid Cudi & Dot Da Genius)
Buy Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones new album, Foreverly...now!!
A great cover is hard to come by. When making a covers album, artists have two hurdles to overcome. They have to uphold to their own standard of music quality, plus they have to make a song that is respectable to the artist's original track. This creates an even bigger double edge sword because the artist doing the cover has to honor the original track by not completely bastardizing it but they have to put their own stamp on it by making it their own. Not everyone can be Jimi Hendrix covering Dylan or Cake covering Gloria Gaynor but they need to have their own voice. The homespun duo of Sweet and Hoffs recreates classic tracks like Baez and Simon on a road trip through our AM psyche. Their newest '80s offering promises to turn our MTV up to 11, so until then, let's flashback to the summer of sixty, um, seventy, um, yeah.
Here are the 11 Best Covers By Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs:
- You're So Vain (Carly Simon, Under the Covers Vol 2)
- And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles, Under the Covers Vol 1)
- Different Drum (Stone Poneys, Under the Covers Vol 1)
- Maggie May (Rod Stewart, Under the Covers Vol 2)
- You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor, Under the Covers Vol 2 Bonus Disc)
- Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac, Under the Covers Vol 2)
- Peace Love And Understanding (Nick Lowe, Under the Covers Vol 2 Bonus Disc)
- Melissa (The Allman Brothers, Under the Covers Vol 2 Bonus Disc)
- Hello It's Me (Todd Rundgren, Under the Covers Vol 2)
- Sugar Magnolia (Grateful Dead, Under the Covers Vol 2)
- Care of Cell #44 (The Zombies, Under the Covers Vol 1)
By Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs new album, Under The Covers Volume 3...now!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
I've never been of a fan of greatest hits packages. Ironic, huh? The problem is most greatest hits packages are never a truly accurate collection of a band's best songs. Most of the times, they are just a collection of a band's singles. That's not greatest hits, that's just songs picked for radio promotion. And "greatest"... that implies that these songs are the best songs of the songs that were picked for radio play. That means a band would have to have dozens of hits in order to select the greatest ones. And who's to say that they are all hits? Once a band is past their creative peak, most of their radio songs fail miserably, which would be the opposite of hit. I'd love to see a label put out a collection of "Greatest Misses," underrated songs that flopped. That would actually be interesting. Many bands' best songs are hits...but great bands always have a collection of songs just under the skin that are on par with the best of their hits.
Here are the Next 11 Best Songs By The Killers:
- Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine (Hot Fuss)
- Bones (Sam's Town)
- Bling (Sam's Town)
- A Matter of Time (Battle Born)
- On Top (Hot Fuss)
- Deadlines And Commitments (Battle Born)
- Losing Touch (Day & Age)
- Under The Gun (Somebody Told Me)
- Sam's Town (Sam's Town)
- Shadowplay (Sawdust)
- All The Pretty Faces (When You Were Young)
Buy The Killers new album, Direct Hits...now!!
Monday, November 18, 2013
The Visitors conclude our blog's salute to a handful of stellar up-and-coming unknown bands.
Off the streets of New York, this quartet is a drag-down, cranked-up, surly bunch of croonsters unleashing their inner Julian Casablancas while swaggering like Simon Le Bon. They're the kind of band you'd imagine playing in the basement of speakeasy, where Tony Soprano, Ray Luca, Jessica Rabbit, and Barry Manilow discuss music and fashion. A place so thick with cigarette smoke, you can't even see the band, their music beckons from some far off corner where it is just loud enough to serenade to your evening, but quiet enough to create a mood-setting audio curtain that encompasses you like a warm blanket. The rumor is the band are all ex-convicts living under false identities to protect themselves from the Feds, the criminals, and any scorned lovers. They play like they have something to hide, and they're enjoying every minute of it.
Their debut EP drops on Dec. 1st. But get a sneak peak...right now.
Check them out:
Jason Forman: Vox/Guitar
Jeremy Arambulo: Bass/Vox
Joe Zizzo: Drums
Cameron Keym: Keys/Guitar
Sunday, November 17, 2013
In the '00s, music was all about "more." Everything had to be bigger, louder, with more layers and more singers. More guests, more instruments, more BPM. It was like every song had to be packed with more goodies than a Vegas-style buffet. But instead of having more to offer, the songs felt less human and had less emotional connection. We want our songs to sound more human and less like computers.
Heaventide ushers in a fresh, nostalgic presence that we haven't felt in music since the early '90s. Their bare bones approach defies any genre. With a groove that would make R. Kelly bounce and a headstrong female voice that would motivate Ani DiFranco to kick off her Birkenstocks and dance, Heaventide is a shining example of what music with a soul is supposed to sound like. With as much Massive Attack as Erykah Badu, their song "The Chore" is a murky bruiser of a broken-hearted love song. There's a dark vibe to this angelic tune, a fore-warning to anyone who dares to scorn the hearts of this trio of women from Canada. If more music would have this kind of emotional strength, it would make Katy Perry's roar sound more like a whimper.
Check out their song "The Chore:" https://soundcloud.com/heaventide/the-chore
There's been a huge resurgence of the blues appreciation this past decade. While the White Stripes and Black Keys stole much of the lime light with their blues-turned up to 11, traditional blues took a back seat. Off Orbit is a pure blues rock band out of Miami, Florida. While many blues rock bands before them like the Black Crowes or even the Stones were noticeably influenced by the blues greats, Off Orbit truly tries to harness the power of the BB Kings, the Stevie Ray Vaughns and the John Lee Hookers in their music. There's struggle in their songs. There's a fight that can only be found in a blue collar bar band that plays their heart out every night to the one regular who's drowning himself in a beer in the back of the bar. The Beatles started this way, too, look where it got them. Absorbing the atmosphere of the Latin culture of Florida, Off Orbit adds their own touch of flair to a grimy genre. Their guitars sizzle with style backed by a rhythm section that provides a punch of disco soul. When it all comes together there's a psychedelic vibe shaking the songs from the inside, with Moises' lead vocals as our humble guide. If all the records in a vinyl shop climbed off the shelves and had a party when we all went to sleep, it might sound something like this.
Check them out here:
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I'm extremely impressed by the amount of great music coming out of Europe. I guess there's a common universal language about wanting to rock the fuck out. Up next, let's head over to Finland and discover The Kobra Kicks.
It's a little hard to believe that it's been over a decade since the indie lo-fi fuzzbox of the Strokes shook their way into our world. It's been so long that the Strokes don't even sound like the Strokes anymore. It's their influence that is now rippling its way into a whole new slate of bands. Kobra Kicks employ all the best parts of the early 2000s indie rock movement. From their Tokyo Police Club tongue-in-cheek chatter to their Libertines swagger, Kobra Kicks unleashes slacker party anthem that would be the theme song to the 3:00 AM after party you didn't tell your parents you were going to. It's fun, catchy and everything that's gets us excited about new music.
They are currently recording their debut album. When they blow up...remember you heard about them here first.
Check out their kicking song, Krokodil: https://soundcloud.com/the-
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
The amazing thing about rap today is the legacy that comes with it. Last decade, we saw a generation of rappers who were influenced by the originators of the genre. Today's rappers were born into a world where rap always existed. It was part of their environment. It is a part of their culture. When rap first started, it was the voice of a people who didn't have a voice. Now, it's an avenue for anyone to be heard.
Mikey J is of this new generation of rapper. Where the rules and the limitations have been completely torn down and are ready to be reinvented. With samples straight out of indie rock's back catalog, Mikey J spouts lyrics that flow from his head in such a stream of consciousness fashion, it feels like a best friend pulling you close telling you how it is. Even the songwriting invokes an entirely new plane of thinking, where it could as easily be right at home next to Mac Miller as it could be next to Mike Shinoda. If hip-hop one day takes over the world, the world will be a better place.
Mikey J will be performing in the tri-state area in 2014.
Check out Mikey J's mixtape: We Are the Rocket Boys
Follow Mikey J here:
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
They're rowdy and rough. They're flag-waving country punks with swing-a-billy boots stomping the floor. Imagine Zac Brown at a Pixies show or Dwight Yoakam dueting it up with the Arcade Fire. There are so many influences in The Underhill Family Orchestra, it's as if they pulled a little something from every nook and cranny in Miss Liberty's kitchen, including the kitchen sink. They play with such high-energy, it's like they are trying to entertain all of America from their back porch in Mobile, Alabama. And don't tell them they can't do it, it will only make them play louder, faster, and with more spirit than Thomas Jefferson wearing an American flag tuxedo. And, if you spill your beer from dancing too much, you won't even care.
Their second album is set to be released in December 2013, with an extensive tour of the Southern states. For all of us on the West Coast who will miss their rambunctious good time (for now), we'll have to settle for debut album, "This Is..."
Purchase and preview, their debut album, "This Is..." and their new single "Showdown at St. Lawrence" over at their Bandcamp Page.
Check out their video for "Showdown at St. Lawrence" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oMoTsG0Jao&list=TLEEscmKQbgnM7CuDFGfG0HUOqvGaI1lQM
Follow them to the ends of the Earth here:
The Underhill Family Orchestra is:
Jeremy - Drums/Guitar/Vocals
Brian - Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Joelle - Tambourine/Vocals
Steven - Guitar/Drums/Vocals
Ben - Mandolin/Guitar/Vocals
Monday, November 11, 2013
Moving forward with Unknown week, let's stick with the international theme and check in with SchnarffSchnarff from Glasgow. This working man's European rock outfit howls with the spirit of Springsteen and wails with the grit of Grohl. The guitars hum with a forceful bounce right out the Sleater-Kinney playbook while drums pick up the groove with a Black Keys swagger. These guys may come from the other side of the pond but they bare their souls like they've spent their lives in Heartland of America, working 16-hours days, scrubbing their fingers to the bone, just to eke out enough money to keep their electricity on for one more day. There's a sense of true struggle that cries for attention underneath the crash and tumble. These guys don't just deserve a listen...they demand it.
A European tour is in the works.
Here's an MP3 of their song "Urrrgh"
Check out their video for their lead single "Urrrgh": http://www.youtube.com/watch?
More SchnarffSchnarff goodness as Soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/
Vocalist - Myles Bonnar
Guitarist 1 - Andrew Maclean
Guitarist 2 - Richard Douglas
Bassist - Brian Farguhar
Drums - Jaamie Douglas
Friday, November 08, 2013
As a music blogger, you get tons of submissions from bands requesting you present their music to the world. That's one of the main reasons I have an "unknown" section. It's hard to sift through a lot of the material and find good stuff. I have neglected it. So starting today and over the weekend and next week, I would like to present some of the best submissions I've received these past few months.
Up first, all the way from the freaking Ukraine is the indie rock band, Colaars. Isn't amazing how easy it is to get a submission from the other side of the planet? This wouldn't have been possible 20 years ago. Now it's normal...and it is to our benefit. These guys have been tearing up Europe since 2010 and their music is slowly making its way over to the states. With the driving force of Modest Mouse, the ambiance of U2 and the complexity of Explosions in the Sky, Colaars is an energetic kick in the pants of the post-punk, post-rock hole-in-the-wall club circuit. They're the kind of band you expect to open for a headliner and would end up blowing the headliner out of the water. They're the kind of band who you would stumble upon at a club, who would draw you in and leave you sweating by the end of their set. They're the band that would be ringing in your ears the next morning with that feeling of wanting more. I've said my piece...now go listen to these guys for yourself.
You can download their EP Wood Arsenal here. Be sure to give them some Facebook love. And check them out on tour in Europe in 2014 in support of their upcoming full-length album.
- Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/colaarsband
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/colaars
- Bandcamp: http://colaars.bandcamp.com/
Dima - vocals / guitar
Vanya - guitar / back vocals
Bogdan - bass / back vocals
Eugene - drums
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Cut Copy's magical ability to capture the carefree '80s synth neon perfection is only outdone by their grounded creativity to deliver modern-sounding music without feeling dated. Though the John Hughes and Martha Quinn influence drips throughout the melodies, there's a powerful strobe light backbone whose true home would be at the Electric Daisy Carnival. Their songs have the charm of a mall-induced power ballad which are enhanced with the murky undertone that could set the mood for an after hours Tinder hook-up. It's music that captures the atmosphere of a generation for a generation whose main concern seems to be capturing itself.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Cut Copy:
- Hearts On Fire (In Ghost Colours)
- Out There On The Ice (In Ghost Colours)
- Lights and Music (In Ghost Colours)
- Pharaohs & Pyramids (Zonoscope)
- Feel The Love (In Ghost Colours)
- Future (Bright Like Neon Love)
- Time Stands Still (Bright Like Neon Love)
- Take Me Over (Zonoscope)
- Unforgettable Season (In Ghost Colours)
- Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat (Zonoscope)
- Need You Now (Zonoscope)
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
My heart broke when I first learned that ex-lead singer Tim Smith had left Midlake. Their break-out album, Van Occupanther, was such a mythical delight, it was like someone had journeyed it from the top of Mt. Doom and dragged it out of Middle Earth for our pleasure. One listen and you were transported to a world where Hobbits smoked long pipes and androgynous Elves are really good archers. Tim Smith was our Gandolf, leading us on an adventure that we might not return from...and we weren't sure we wanted to. Now, our Gandolf is gone. The shock was so great, we didn't want to go on. We considered going home and giving up. But maybe...just maybe... a new leader would emerge from the Dark Side of Rivendale. From the bard-like timber of Smith the Grey to the ranger-fueled grit of new singer Eric Pulido the White, Midlake emerges as determined as ever to get the Gollum off their backs.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Midlake:
- Roscoe (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
- Rulers, Ruling All Things (The Courage of Others)
- Head Home (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
- Acts of Man (The Courage of Others)
- Van Occupanther (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
- In This Camp (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
- Children of the Grounds (The Courage of Others)
- It Covers The Hillside (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
- Kingfish Pies (Bamnan & Silvercork)
- Winter Dies (The Courage of Others)
- Young Bride (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
Buy Midlake's new album, Antiphon...now!
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
With less than a month until the release of my book...promotion will be started any day now. I look forward to everyone buying at least 10 copies. It's Christmas, you know...and a very early Hanukkah.
Here is another list from the book: Eminem
Let me know what you think!!
Does one of the best-selling artists need more exposure? The answer is yes. Eminem is a great example of how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing field. One of hip-hop's greatest innovations is the "guest spot." Sometimes rappers can overdo it and include too many guests on their album. There is nothing more annoying than a rapper having so many guests that he barely has any time for himself. Featuring a couple of really great guests can have a huge impact on your album credibility, not to mention more exposure for the guest. Eminem is the best guest any rapper can ask to have on his album. Em's drop-ins are magnetic, not just elevating the songs but inspiring his fellow rappers, too. Would 50 Cent be a household name without Em's involvement? Would Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 be as legendary without young Eminem's pugilistic word-wit?
Eminem is not successful because of his guest spots. It’s his lyrics. He is one of the best lyricists of all time in any genre. It just goes to show that everybody can benefit from a little help, even the best.
Fun Fact: In America, Eminem was the top-selling artist of the '00s, selling 32 million albums. Close behind in second place were The Beatles.
The 11 Best Eminem Guest Spots:
1. Renegade (Jay-Z - Blueprint)
2. Outro (Obie Trice - Cheers)
3. Gatman And Robbin (50 Cent – The Massacre)
4. Drama Setter (Tony Yayo – Thoughts of A Predicated Felon)
5. We Ain’t (The Game – The Documentary)
6. It Has Been Said (Notorious B.I.G. – Duets)
7. Don’t Approach Me (Xzibit – Restless)
8. On Fire (Lloyd Banks – Hunger For More)
9. Rush Ya Clique (Outsidaz – Night Life EP)
10. Chemical Warfare (The Alchemist – Chemical Warfare)
11. Touchdown (T.I. – T.I. vs. T.I.P.)
Buy Eminem's new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2...now!!!