Monthly Archives: March 2014

New Music: “Take a Seat” – Mason Noise

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“Take a Seat” is the latest single from R&B artist Mason Noise.  The song is a sleek and sexy track, brought together by Mason’s smooth vocals.   “Take a Seat” is off of Mason’s forthcoming album also called Take a Seat.

Check out the video below:

For more info on Mason, check out his web-site here.

Albums By Artist I Love, But Have No Interest In

To love a particular artist, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should consider that their entire catalogue is amazing.  Even the greatest artists have terrible albums or ones that just don’t move you.  Some of these listed are albums that are known to be terrible, others are just ones that have never quite caught my attention for whatever reason and have decided that they are not worth my time.

Elvis Costello – Armed Forces

 

I know that this supposed to be a classic Costello album, but there’s just something about it that I can’t quite get a grasp on. Maybe it’s the cold production that turns me off.  To me, the album seems stuck between the energy and anger of This Year’s Model and the go-for-broke eclecticism of Get Happy!!   It does however, contain one of the greatest opening lines in album – “Oh I just don’t know where to begin”.  I’m inclined to agree with you about Armed Forces on that one, Mr. Costello.

 

R.E.M. – Reveal

Yes, everyone knows that Around the Sun is a piece of shit.  Even the band, specifically Peter Buck.  But Reveal is also pretty terrible too. I understand where R.E.M. was trying to do, which was to make a Beach Boys-style pop record. But the songs don’t go anywhere and the harmonies aren’t quite up there with the best of the Beach Boys imitations. Ironically, they were better at this type of stuff when Bill Berry was still in the band and they weren’t trying to make a Beach Boys style album.  Up may have its faults, but at least it was interesting.

 

Outkast – Idlewild

Outkast are geniuses.  They’ve given the musical world so many great albums.  But Idlewild is not one of them.  From their beginnings right up through Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, their ability to mash styles and still be under the umbrella of hip-hop was a thing of beauty.  But Idlewild falls flat under its own ambitions: a hip-hop album with ’30s musical stylings.  Too often throughout the album, the listener is left wondering what the hell is going on rather than having their minds blown.  Outkast wisely disappeared after this album’s release ensuring that everyone remembered why they were great in the first place.

 

Bob Dylan – The Entire Christian Era

In the past few years, it seems there’s been a bit of revisionist history concerning Dylan’s ’80s albums. The consensus seems to be that they’re not that bad and that there are some good songs throughout the ’80s.  Hey, I admit to liking Empire Burlesque and Infidels and even Knocked Out Loaded has its merits (that being “Brownsville Girl” of course.)  But as far as the born-again era?  Dylan was the epitome of the counter-culture in the ’60s so who really wants to hear him singing about finding God and how those who sinned will be eternally damned?  Imagine if the Rolling Stones decided to have an album full of songs about the joys of domestic life or Rage Against the Machine put out an album that wasn’t political.  It’s the same thing.

 

U2 – No Line on the Horizon

The 360 Tour was great. U2 are always great as a live band.  But No Line on the Horizon is even worse than the misguided electro-tinged Pop.  With Horizon, U2 put out an album that wanted to please fans of their experimental side and fans of their soaring anthems.  A nice attempt that ultimately goes nowhere. “Get on Your Boots” is their most embarrassing song while “Magnificent” is half-baked re-write of “Beautiful Day”.  Say what you want about U2 but even at their worst, they’re never boring – except for this album.

Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak

 

Every once in a while, I think I should give this album another chance. And then I listen to it and I just can’t do it. West seems to think it’s a bit ahead of its time, and maybe that’s true. I tend to think it was ahead of its time even for him. The desolate and cold atmosphere was better served on last year’s Yeezus.  808s & Heartbreak finds West at a crossroad: an artist conflicted with his own image and where he aspires to be. It’s not exactly a terrible album, but it’s the only time I’ve ever been disappointed in a Kanye West release.

 

Pearl Jam – Riot Act

Pearl Jam’s 2003 Tour found the band hitting a stride. Musically they were at the top of their game, and Eddie Vedder gave some of his most passionate performances due to the beginnings of the War in Iraq.  Too bad Riot Act (the album they toured behind) is pretty much the worst of their releases.  Riot Act is the exact opposite of that tour: tired and bland.  There’s nothing majestic like “Nothing As It Seems” from 2000’s Binaural or glorious as “In Hiding” and “Given to Fly” from Yield.  The one sole rocker “Save You” sounds forced and its excessive use of expletives is downright embarrassing.

 

The Who – The Who By Numbers

For the sake of the argument let’s forget that Face Dances and It’s Hard never happened.  After the sprawling and epic Quadrophenia, The Who returned with the lackluster The Who By Numbers.  Almost all of The Who’s trademarks are gone: chaotic drums from KeithMoon, powerful vocals from Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s crunching power chords. Townshend wrote the album in the midst of a life crisis but unlike his solo album 1980’s Empty Glass, his anguish left him uninspired.

 

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan

After the brilliant Elephant, The White Stripes released this mess. Get Behind Me Satan is what happens when an artist starts believing their own hype and then completely abandons the things that fans love about them. The album is unfocused and meandering.  The saving grace is “My Doorbell” but even that with its repetitive hook can get annoying after a while.

Artists I Used To Be Obsessed With, But No Longer Listen To

 

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Blues Traveler

This an interesting one, considering I really don’t like jam-bands. But in high school, for whatever reason, I thought that Blues Traveler was one of the greatest bands around. Like most people, I bought Four based on the singles “Hook” and “Run Around”.  I quickly fell in love with that album, and bought their live album Live Fall From the Fall not too long after.

Live From the Fall consisted of several songs that stretched past the 10 minute mark. The band’s sweeping interplay blew my teenage mind. I loved the way guitarist Chan Kinchla’s bluesy guitar riffs interlocked with John Popper’s wild and manic harmonica playing. They could rock the house with a song like “NY Prophesie” or “Crash Burn” and bring it down with the slow-burn of the epic “Mountain Cry”.

My obsessions with Blues Traveler dissipated as quickly as it came. I have no memory of when I stopped liking them, but I quickly became bored with the same things that made me like the band in the first place. The 10-minute suites seemed tedious, tired and boring.

But if “Hook” comes on randomly at a bar I’ll still sing along to all the words in the bridge without missing a beat.

Led Zeppelin

Those who know me, know that I despise Led Zeppelin. But during my freshmen year of high school, like many teenagers I fell for their bluesy spell. They were unlike any other band I had heard. Jimmy Page’s crunching riffs combined with John Bonham’s pounding groove seemed like a gift from the musical heavens. Robert Plant oozed sex with his soaring vocals.  What wasn’t to like for a teenager?

I think it was the live versions of “Dazed and Confused” that turned me off to Led Zeppelin. Some people may have thought that when Jimmy Page broke out the violin bow, it was the epitome of sort of mystical musical power.  Not me.  I found the whole move to be pretentious and egotistical.  And that shit would last for a half hour!  Also, around the same time I discovered that much of the music on their first and second album was ripped off from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon.

I don’t regret listening to Led Zeppelin, because they taught me what type of music I don’t  want to listen to.

System of a Down

Jesus, that was a weird period. I was really into System of a Down during my college years. Their unique brand of metal combined with Middle-Eastern flourishes really grabbed my attention.  They could be sophomoric and intelligent at the same time (as evident throughout much of Toxicity) which reflected much of the way I viewed life during college.

I liked them so much, that I even went to Ozzfest in 2002 just so I could see them live. And like jam-bands, I don’t particularly like metal.  They were pretty decent live, though I kept trying to convince myself even back then, that they were better than they actually were.  I kept that charade up for a few years until I came to the realization that their only truly good song was “Chop Suey!”

The Clash

I have mixed feelings about putting The Clash on this list, since they are a legitimately great band and I don’t despise them the way I do Led Zeppelin.  For years, I felt that they truly justified their calling card of “the only band that matters”.  Certainly, their self-titled album and London Calling are land-marks of punk.  And like The Beatles and The Stones they could take almost any style and make it their own.

But over the past few years, every time I listen to The Clash I just get an overwhelming feeling of “meh”.  They just don’t grab me.  It all sort of un-raveled when I read Chris Saleswic’s The Ballad of Joe Strummer.  The book didn’t hold back and it un-did the myth of “Saint Joe”.  I had no idea that Strummer was actually the son of a diplomat and born into a pretty privileged life.  Granted, revelations like these aren’t always deal breakers (see John Lennon), but with Strummer it seemed like not only a let down but a punch in the gut.

Live

Throwing Copper was the soundtrack of middle school years. I loved everything about it.  Those songs really spoke to me.  “Shit Towne” was about my hometown!  “Waitress” was social commentary at its best (complete with curse words!).  And I had no fucking idea (and still don’t) what “Pillar of Davidson” was about it, but it sounded philosophical and heavy.  They were like U2, but louder.

And of course, like almost everyone my love of Live ended when they released their follow-up Secret Samadhi.  Everyone knew that Ed Kowalczyk could be pretentious, but that album took it to a whole other level and the songs weren’t catchy or memorable.  There’s some justification that it really could be the worst follow-up album to a successful one ever recorded.

When they released The Distance to Here in 1999, it seemed like a return to form, but of course it wasn’t.  But hey at least that album gave us the phrase “rose garden of trust”.

 

 

New Music: “Virginia” – Luke Elliot

 

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Luke Elliot’s “Virginia” is a bit of an anomaly. It seems totally out of place with every other genre of music that is being played today.  The piano-driven rock song is steeped in ’50s rockabilly.  Elliot’s references to train whistles and being lost out on the range evoke images of the Great Depression.  Part of “Virginia” seem to take their cues from retro-rockers from the early ’80s such as Mojo Nixon and the Reverend Horton Heat, especially his desperate crazy-man vocal delivery.

It would be easy for a song like “Virginia” to feel old and tired even as is explodes with energy from the speakers. It’s easy to argue that perhaps there’s not an original thought within the song and that’s it all been said before.  But to think like that you’d be not only wrong, but missing out a great song.  Elliot has taken a tried and true musical form and kept it current and that’s no easy feat.

“Virginia” is off of Elliot’s new EP Provisions due out on May 6th.

http://www.lukeelliot.com/

New Music: “The Only Ones” – Secretary

 

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Seattle Washington’s Secretary offer an introspective and mellow track with their latest single “The Only Ones”.   At the heart of the song is lead singer Craig Ellison Wolf’s soft and tuneful vocals.  Wolf sounds sad but never desolate.  His atmospheric vocals evoke the feeling at the end of the night out when time seems to be in a limbo: a good time has just ended and tomorrow will just bring headaches.  Max McSimov’s  pretty arpeggios and delayed guitar strengthen the mood.

For more info on Secretary, visit their web-site and check out “The Only Ones” here.

New Music: “I Hate My Body (And It Hates Me Too)” – The Sleepy Hahas

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From the title, “I Hate My Body (And It Hates Me Too)” sounds it could be a Nirvana song. One could be confused for thinking that song is an ode to self-loathing but the track is an explosion of hard blues and funk, complete with a keyboard solo.  The keyboard is central to the song’s success – it anchors the songs and gives the distorted guitars and vocals some contrast.

The video (seen below) is equally as wild as the band member’s faces float in white space – a piece of psychedelia meets ’80s pop-art.

For more information on the Sleepy Hahas, check out them on Facebook.

New Music: “Changeling” – Guess & Check

 

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With spring right around the corner, Guess & Check’s “Changeling” should be your soundtrack for warm weather.  “Changeling” is a gorgeous piece of indie-pop with hints of reggae rhythms and 80’s synthesizers.  Lead singer Maya Klein’s low-key vocals contrast perfectly with the soul-inspired harmonies provided by her husband Jay Klein.

“Changeling” is the third track off the band’s latest LP, Entanglement.   For tour dates and additional info on Guess & Check, visit their web-site.  Listen to “Changeling” below.