Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Best Thanksgiving Songs 2014

In making the perfect Thanksgiving holiday mix, I have realized one very important thing:  there are no Thanksgiving songs.  How is it possible in the most capitalistic country in the world that the mass marketing propaganda machine never exploited the Thanksgiving holiday (which is America's own unique holiday) with tunes to celebrate the day?  There are more songs celebrating Festivus (which is a fictional holiday created by George Costanza) than there are songs about Thanksgiving.  Today, that changes. Websites have attempted to make Thanksgiving playlists in the past,  but there are always glaring issues with them.  Because of the lack of overt Thanksgiving songs, songs that potentially encompass the Thanksgiving theme are selected even though they have nothing to do with the mood or feeling of this day.  Playlists tend to pick songs with Thanksgiving food in the title but songs like Dee Dee Sharp's "Mashed Potato" is not about the dinner staple but about a dance.  Ray Charles' "Sweet Potato Pie" is about a girl not a dessert.  Also, just because a song has "Thanks" or "thank you" in the title doesn't instantly make it Thanksgiving worthy.  Andrew Gold's "Thank You for Being a Friend" or Dido's "Thank You" are nice gratious songs but only borderline set the right mood.  Or even Drive-By Truckers "Thanksgiving Filter" is dead-on accurate but not appropriate for a family setting. Some songs have major religious themes but ultimately Thanksgiving isn't a religious holiday.  Too many of them feel out of place.  And lastly, some of the Thanksgiving-esque songs just plain suck. So I have challenged myself to make the best Thanksgiving playlist ever.  In making the list, I wanted to encompass what is truly at the core of the holiday.  Having gratitude is a major component, but I believe more than anything, Thanksgiving is about family.  Thanksgiving is about bringing together the family and celebrating our differences as much as our simularities.  And being thankful for having them in our lives. I have scoured the internet and my personal library to create a playlist that is as ecclectic as a Thanksgiving meal and as diverse as the dinner guests. Enjoy and have a happy Thanksgiving. Here are the songs from the list and enjoy the mix below:
  1. Thanksgiving Theme - Vince Guarandi Trio
  2. Let's Turkey Trot - Little Eva
  3. Family Affair - Sly & The Family Stone
  4. Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie - Jay & The Techniques
  5. Tday - Jo D. Jonz
  6. I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For - Bing Crosby
  7. Home - Jack Johnson
  8. Kind & Generous - Natalie Merchant
  9. Be Thankful - Natalie Cole
  10. Family Time - Ziggy Marley
  11. Family Man - Fleetwood Mac
  12. Family Tree - Gerry Rafferty
  13. Thanksgiving Song - Mary Chapin Carpenter
  14. Cats in the Cradle - Harry Chapin
  15. Thank You Too! - My Morning Jacket
  16. Family Reunion - The O'Jays
  17. Thanksgiving Prayer - Johnny Cash
  18. Nothing Beats A Family - Ricky Skaggs
  19. Home For The Holidays - Perry Como
  20. Thanksgiving - George Winston
  21. The Thanksgiving Song - Adam Sandler
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving song?  

Monday, November 24, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By Fugazi

$5 concert tickets. $10 CDs. No t-shirts. Fugazi was/is/will be an anti-band.  They sold tickets because they needed to.  They charged for CDs because they needed to.  And since they didn't need t-shirts...they didn't sell them.  They didn't sell hats, keychains, posters or even action figures!  I know, right?  To be honest, I never thought I'd do a Fugazi or a Pink Floyd list because of a new release.  Over the past month, I get to do both.  No, this is not a new album, but a reissue of the band's first demo.  Close enough. Here are the 11 Best Songs By Fugazi:
  1. Merchandise (Repeater)
  2. Waiting Room (Fugazi)
  3. Public Witness Program (In On the Kill Taker)
  4. Epic Problem (The Arguement)
  5. Repeater (Repeater)
  6. Five Corporations (End Hits)
  7. Song #1 (3 Songs)
  8. KYEO (Steady Diet of Nothing)
  9. Bad Mouth (Fugazi)
  10. Bed For The Scraping (Red Medicine)
  11. Suggestion (Fugazi)
Buy Fugazi's new album, First!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 11 Best Rare Tracks By Wilco

One of the original points of this blog was to do a retrospective of a band leading up to their most recent release.  Only on a rare occassion would I include a new song, but mostly it was a guide to a band's material up until this point.  The only time, I side-stepped that rule was when a band would release their own retrospective.  Material on my list would naturally cross over with the tracklist of the release.  This is especially true in the case of Wilco.  Having heard 95% of these songs over the past two decades, there's nothing new to report except to chronicle the contents.  The retrospective is the retrospective.  A few songs didn't make it onto Wilco's 77-track rare songs LP but for the most part, this set is as exhaustive as they come. Here are the 11 Best Rare Tracks By Wilco:
  1. Promising (Chelsea Walls Soundtrak)
  2. Glad It's Over (Heroes Soundtrack)
  3. Any Major Dude Will Tell You (Me, Myself, & Irene Soundtrack)
  4. Panthers (A Ghost Is Born Deluxe Edition)
  5. Bob Dylan's 49th Beard (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Bonus CD)
  6. One Hundred Years From Now (Return of the Grievous Angel)
  7. Blasting Fonda (Outtasite)
  8. Thirteen (Big Star, Small World)
  9. True Love Will Find You In The End (Daniel Johnston Tribute)
  10. Message From Mid-Bar (The Whole Love Bonus EP)
  11. A Magazine Called Sunset (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Bonus CD)
Buy Wilco's new Rare Tracks Set, Alpha Mike!     Don't forget to check out our blog's awesome new book The 111 Best Lists of the 2000s.  Available now!  (featuring Wilco)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The Buzzcocks of the 70s

The punk scene in England lasted for three years...tops.  From 1977-1979 this pocket of chaotic, fuel-filled, dynamic, rebellious bands screamed their hearts out.  While most bands or scenes go on way too long, not only did the punk scene disolve before it became stale, it did the most punk thing of all ended before it peaked.  It's almost poetic that many of these punk pioneers have reformed decades after their prime to further their music career.  Had they stayed together, they could have conquered the world in the same fashion grunge would do 11 years down the road.  They walked away from it all, from the fame, the pop stardom, and the riches.  Not only did they do it with royal nose up at the establishment, they did it knowing they could have had it all.  By returning later in life, missing their most lucrative years for music making, it's their way of saying they never needed the mainstream in the first place.  It was never about making money, it was about making music the mainstream didn't want but needed.  There's nothing more punk than that. Here are 11 Best Songs By The Buzzcocks of the 70s:
  1. Ever Fallen In Love? (Love Bites)
  2. I Don't Mind (Another Music In A Different Kitchen)
  3. Autonomy (Another Music In A Different Kitchen)
  4. Sixteen Again (Love Bites)
  5. Harmony In My Head (Harmony In My Head)
  6. Nostalgia (Love Bites)
  7. Breakdown (Spiral Scratch)
  8. Fiction Romance (Another Music In A Different Kitchen)
  9. You Know You Can't Help It (A Different Kind of Tension)
  10. Fast Cars (Another Music In A Different Kitchen)
  11. Promises (Twice Bitten)
Buy The Buzzcocks' new album, The Way now!!!    

Friday, November 14, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By The Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl is a fighter.  He's not just a great drummer, singer, guitar player, director, or producer...he's an innovator. He challenges what is expected of himself, what his fans want from him, and what he's capable of doing.  By creating the Foo's new album through an HBO documentary in multiple cities with a guest list that any band would beg to have, he's changed the landscape of who the Foo Fighters are.  From an offshoot of Nirvana, the Foos have become their own entity.  They are today's gold standard of rock bands.  In taking on a new endeavor, recording in a new way, always runs the risk of failure.  The Foos know this...but they put themselves out there anyway.  They deserve respect for taking a chance. This is why I am blown away by Taylor Hawkins recent comments about U2 adding their music to everyone's itunes library.  He claimed it was Orwellian.  It's not.  And he obviously didn't read 1984 to know that he's misuing the word Orwellian.  U2 didn't giving away their album for free on your itunes is no different than CBS broadcasting the Big Bang Theory on your television.  You don't like it?   Don't watch, don't listen. The irony here is that it was the Foo Fighters' album, "In Your Honor," that automatically and illegally installed spyware onto your hard drive when you put the compact disc in your computer.  I wonder if there's a word that would describe that type action, when a corporation secretly spies on its customers.  It's a good book Taylor, you should read it. Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Foo Fighters:
  1. Everlong (The Colour & The Shape)
  2. The Pretender (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace)
  3. I'll Stick Around (Foo Fighters)
  4. Walk (Wasting Light)
  5. Learn To Fly (There Is Nothing Left To Lose)
  6. Come Back (One By One)
  7. Alone + Easy Target (Foo Fighters)
  8. Breakout (There Is Nothing Left To Lose)
  9. Low (One By One)
  10. Dear Rosemary (Wasting Light)
  11. Good Grief (Foo Fighters)
Buy Foo Fighter's new album, Sonic!     Buy this book or everyone you know will die. Don't forget to check out our blog's awesome new book The 111 Best Lists of the 2000s.  Available now!  (featuring Foo Fighters)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By Pink Floyd

I never thought I'd do a Pink Floyd list for a new release.  Maybe there was a box set coming out yet again...or another remastered deluxe special expanded edition.  Maybe.  But new material...I had given up on that fantasy.  Today...20 years since their last release, a new Pink Floyd album is here.  I know, it's not technically a new release.  It's leftover material from the Division Bell session, reworked into an instrumental tribute to late keyboardist Richard Wright.  No, it's not Dark Side of the Moon...but then again...DSOTM is considered one of the greatest albums of all time in any genre.  Expecting the band at 70-years-old to match a one in a million anomaly is foolish.  Expecting the band to do justice to their later work is honorable.  The album is just that, a touching end to a gallant career.  The Endless River sounds like a film score, floating in at the end of a movie as the credits scroll across the screen.  We expect bands to end their careers with the same bang in which they arrived.  The problem with that is our expectations are flawed.  The band will choose to end their career they way the want to end it and not the way the fans deem.  The band is great not in spite of their flaws but because of them.  The Endless River is who the band at this moment time and we should appreciate they are still around to enrich us one more time with their music. Here are the 11 Best Songs By Pink Floyd:
  1. Comfortably Numb (The Wall)
  2. Wish You Were Here (Wish You Were Here)
  3. Dogs (Animals)
  4. Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 (The Wall)
  5. Brain Damage (Dark Side Of The Moon)
  6. Us and Them (Dark Side Of The Moon)
  7. Childhood's End (Obscured By Clouds)
  8. Echoes (Meddle)
  9. Have A Cigar (Wish You Were Here)
  10. Green Is The Colour (More)
  11. Shine On You Crazy Diamond I-IV (Wish You Were Here)
Buy Pink Floyd's new album, The Endless!    

Saturday, November 08, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By Calvin Harris

Harris' debut album had more in common with James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem than the Electric Daisy Carnival behemoth he is today.  Harris' ascension to the dance world titan has been a rocket launched at top speed with one guest spot by Rihanna.  Harris' rise from underground EDM artist to the top of the pop charts is indicative of electronic music.  Like alternative rock, that fostered in the club scenes for decades until it dominated the airwaves, EDM now has its time in the sun.  But like all musical trends, it's only temporary.  Alternative rock has continued to evolve since its heyday, what is going to be exciting to watch is how electronic music evolves in similar ways. Once it the eyes of the mainstream pop world turn to the next momentary trend, the most daring creativity will come.  The best is yet to come. The 11 Best Songs By Calvin Harris:
  1. Feels So Close (18 Months)
  2. Acceptable in the 80s (I Created Disco)
  3. We Found Love (18 Months)
  4. Vegas (I Created Disco)
  5. Bounce (18 Months)
  6. I Need Your Love (18 Months)
  7. Ready For The Weekend (Ready For The Weekend)
  8. Thinking About You (18 Months)
  9. Stars Come Out (Ready For The Weekend)
  10. Colours (I Created Disco)
  11. Flashback (Ready For The Weekend)
Buy Calvin Harris' new album,!!!      

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The 11 Best Bonus Tracks from Smashing Pumpkins' Aeroplane Deluxe Edition

Billy Corgan has been called an insane genius.  He has also been called just insane.  He was a 90s icon, who to many of us who lived through 90s know, the Pumpkins were as big if not bigger than Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden when they released Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness.  Though grunge seemed like it was about to pass the mic to rap-metal, the Pumpkins slammed down their 10x platinum double album gargantuan masterpiece to remind everyone they held the throne...dominantly.  Following this madness, the Pumpkins released 5 singles to MCIS with enough B-sides to make up more albums, literally.  About a year later, The Aeroplane Flies High Box Set was released.  It was a concoction of leftovers, covers, and alternative versions, all stuffed in a funky lock box costing about three times as much as a typical Pumpkins album.  It still went platinum.
Last summer, Billy Corgan, revisited the unique MCIS companion Aeroplane box.  Expanded from 33 songs to 90 songs, it was one of the most exhausted remasters effort of its time.  The Pumpkins have definitely set the bar as high as it can go as they've been revisiting their catalogue.  The Pumpkins' underrated Adore, recently had the super deluxe treatment, which is such a massive release of material that will take months just to listen to it...let alone digest it.  It's taken a good year to absorb all the goodness of Aeroplane, and I figure I'll be ready this time next year to do the same for Adore.
The most interesting remaster is yet to come...the often forgotten Machina I & II rock opera.  I can't wait to see how they realize Billy's original vision.  That will be worth waiting for.  Until then...
Here are the 11 Best Bonus Tracks from Smashing Pumpkins' Aeroplane Deluxe Edition:
  1. Silverfuck (Live in Landover 1996)
  2. God (Live at the Double Door 1995)
  3. Love (Live at the Double Door 1995)
  4. Porcelina of the Vast Oceans (Live in Cleveland 1996)
  5. Bullet With Butterfly Wings (Live in Los Angeles 1996)
  6. 1979 (Acoustic)
  7. Star Song (DAT mix/Vocal Rough)
  8. Bodies (Live in Philadelphia 1996)
  9. A/Ab/E/B/F# (Gravity Demo)
  10. Marquis in Spades (8-Track Demo)
  11. The Groover (Gravity Demo)
Buy the 6-CD, 1 DVD Smashing Pumpkins Adore Box!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The 11 Best Bonus Tracks from the Led Zeppelin Remasters (so far)

  Part two of the Zeppelin Remasters has arrived.  Though the first set of releases (featuring I, II, II) were met with modest reviews, the unearthing of any new Zeppelin material is a monumental moment.  A lot of people haven't been thrilled with the clinical polishing of the Zeppelin classics.  It's too clean.  It's too loud.  A typical critique that all remasters suffer from.  I am not a fan of remasters.  Part of it is my personal attachment to the original arrangements.  The other part is that there are subtle emotional moments that can only be found in the dead air...or as musicians call "the space between."  I've learned to accept remasters as "alternate" versions and not ones that are replacing the originals.  When listening with that attitude, I have less distaste for the re-workings.  The real gem when remasters come out is not the new production of the old songs but the bonus material that comes alongside it.  The early bonus tracks for the Zeppelin remasters have been part for the lack of quality material sitting around in their vaults from that early period...but there have been a few gems.  Rumor is, as we get later in the remasters, the truly amazing rare gems will surface (per Page). The following list was not chosen as the best finished songs but the songs that add the most interesting peak behind the scenes. Here are the 11 Best Bonus Tracks from the Led Zeppelin Remasters (so far):
  1. Key To The Highway/Trouble In My Mind (Rough Mix)
  2. You Shook Me (Live in Paris, 1969)
  3. Immigrant Song (Alternate Mix)
  4. La La/Intro (Intro/Outro Rough Mix)
  5. Dazed And Confused (Live in Paris, 1969)
  6. Moby Dick (Live In Paris, 1969)
  7. Gallows Pole (Rough Mix)
  8. What Is And What Should Never Be (Rough Mix With Vocal)
  9. Heartbreaker (Live in Paris, 1969)
  10. Heartbreaker (Rough Mix With Vocal)
  11. How Many More Times (Live in Paris, 1969)
Buy the new Led Zeppelin Remasters IV and Houses of the!!  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The 11 Best Songs By Ryan Adams in 2014

For years, Ryan Adams was a faucet of music that your needed only to turn the knob and album after album would come pouring out.  Between 2000-2011, Adams had 19+ releases in the form of albums, EPs and exclusive singles.  Then for the last three years...nothing.  Well, it's 2014 and Adams is back.  In the past three months, Adams has four releases including a traditional Adams album, an 80s punk album, a country EP, and a Halloween inspired EP.  If he's making up for lost time, then we should see at least three more releases by the end of the year...probably a Christmas-inspired release, a dubstep EP, and a duets covers remix album.  It's funny because it's true. Happy Halloween. Here are the 11 Best Songs Released By Ryan Adams in 2014:
  1. Am I Safe? (Ryan Adams)
  2. Suburbia (Vampires)
  3. Trouble (Ryan Adams)
  4. I Keep Running (Jacksonville)
  5. Jacksonville (Jacksonville)
  6. Kim (Ryan Adams)
  7. Vampires (Vampires)
  8. Wolves (1984)
  9. Stay With Me (Ryan Adams)
  10. Tired of Giving Up (Ryan Adams)
  11. When The Summer Ends (1984)
Buy any of Ryan Adams' 2014 releases:  1984, Jacksonville, Vampires or Ryan!   Buy this book or everyone you know will die. Don't forget to check out our blog's awesome new book The 111 Best Lists of the 2000s.  Available now!  (featuring Ryan Adams)