Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Songs of 2012

Last week were the favorite albums.  This week, some of my favorite single songs of 2012.  To keep things brief, I've come up with three words that come to mind to describe each, and I'll let your ears do the rest.  Again, in no particular order:

The Raveonettes, "Sinking With The Sun" ... Glowing.  Sumptuous. Ringing.
Richard Hawley, "Leave Your Body Behind You" ... Yearning.  Epic.  Grand.
Micky Dolenz, "Do Not Ask For Love" ... Vocal.  Beautiful.  Surprise.
Memory Tapes, "Thru The Field" ... Stewart/Gaskin-esque.  Synth-y.  Bouncy.
Passion Pit, "Take A Walk" ... Personal.  Optimistic.  Personal.
Noisettes, "Contact" ... Shirley-Bassey-esque.  Orchestral.  Underappreciated.
The Milk, "Kimmi Kimmi" ... Swingin!  Soul.  Badass.
Nada Surf, "Teenage Dreams" ... Guitars.  Driving.  Message.
The Gossip, "Melody Emergency" ... Animal.  Emotional.  Groove.
Fun, "Some Nights (Intro)" ... Sneaky.  High-note 2:55.  Rhapsody!
Dr. John, "Locked Down" ... Swampy.  Soulful.  WelcomebackMac!
Devo, "Monster Man" ... Unstoppable.  Concise.  Riff.
Black Country Communion, "Common Man" ... Keyboards.  Funky.  Old-school.
Rush, "Headlong Flight" ... Pinnacle.  Massive.  Relentless.

And to follow-up on the lyrics/sentiments of that last song:  Some days will be dark, some nights will be bright.  Live life so you'll say "I wish that I could live it all again!"  (Thanks Mr. Peart)

Welcome to 2013, y'all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Favorite Albums of 2012

Few albums blew me away, but it was certainly another good year overall, with perhaps a slightly more eclectic mix of music attracting my attention. Here's a list of my Top 10 favorites, in no particular order. Follow the links and give 'em a listen...might find a couple to your liking as well!

Dr. Dog
Be The Void

What charmers. Dr. Dog plays the finest kind of indie rock, almost folksy with acoustic guitars, easygoing vocals, super-catchy melodies, mostly cheery lyrics but with depth, and at times rocking with joy. Great music for walking around in the woods.


Paul Weller
Sonik Kicks

This guy has been been around since the late 70's with mod revival band The Jam. None of his solo stuff since then has really grabbed me, but this sonically adventurous album is a different story. Rock, electronics, big beats,'s all here in interesting ways. Get your kicks!

David Byrne & St. Vincent
Love This Giant

Mr. Byrne does his best work collaborating with others:  From his old Talking Heads buddies, to choreographer Twyla Tharp, Brian Eno, recently Fatboy Slim, and now St. Vincent's Annie Clark. Duet singing, lots of inventive brass, catchy and funky songs exploring the human condition. Vintage Byrne.

Men Without Hats
Love In The Age Of War

Calling all New Wave fans! This band was a "one hit" wonder (has anyone never heard "Safety Dance" or not gotten sick of it?) but they actually released several albums through the 80s and early 90s before falling off the popular music map. Well, surprise surprise, in 2012 they came back with a new album and I was, VERY pleasantly, surprised. I never really took this band seriously, but this album has a lot of urgency and sincerity to it, and the insistent beats and catchy tunes make a very easy and fun listen. This would be a great addition to anyone wanting to host an 80's Dance Night party.

Bob Mould
The Silver Age

Wow, Bob Mould...first with indie hard rockers Husker Du, then legendary - and brief - Sugar, then the many solo years, branching out into electronica, mellowing a bit and stating a few years back, "no more loud rock albums" (or something to that effect) as we learned that he suffered from tinnitus. So I was a bit...well more than a bit...surprised to hear this new album, which sounds like a followup to those two epic Sugar albums of the 90s. Silver Age is the perfect title to sum up where he's at now, back into fighting shape and pumping out the heavy melodies. Rock on, Bob!  This may be my next personal anthem:

In the silver age I walk away singing 

The silver age is calling out a melody 
Never too old to contain my rage 
The silver age, the silver age

DC Fontana
Six Against Eight

Whee, what fun! A total throwback album to the swingin' 60s London scene. Loud brass, horns, Hammond keyboard and orchestral flourishes. This album's got it all, baby! (I have to admit, what initially attracted me was the video to the title track, an homage to the classic (and one of my favorite all time series), The Prisoner. Well done, lads and lasses!

Carnivale Electricos

The ultimate soundtrack to a Mardi Gras party!  Great rock, New Orleans R&B,, smile, and shake your stuff!

The Stranglers

Well, these old punks just won't quit, nor should they!  Better music, by far, than one would expect at this stage. The band that started in the punk era, expanded their sound into rock, pop, goth and electronics as they grew, and survived into the 80's, 90's and 00's.  Here they are, older, a little wiser, becoming the cranky old men they always were from the beginning, and still making great music.

Clockwork Angels

I could go on about this album for many paragraphs, but I'll spare you.  If you're not a fan, you won't be now (Geddy's voice is "nails on a chalkboard" says one friend, for example).  Hey, they are what they are, but what they are if you ARE a fan is simply AMAZING.  This is a prog-rock masterpiece, complete with overarching theme (a futuristic society in thrall to clocks), masterful playing, and a handful of songs that ROCK most majestically.  A lyric from my favorite track goes "I can't stop thinking big" and that is truly the case with this most ambitious of bands that almost 40 years on continues to impress.

Sugarman 3
What The World Needs Now

Funky, cool...songs from this new/retro album could easily be featured on one of Quentin Tarantino's films.  Great for strutting around a city with this in your earbuds. Booker T. & The MG's would be proud.

Next year, lucky '13.  Looking forward to see what comes:  Older acts still kicking? New upstarts with exciting sounds?  A band ready to make a creative (and possibly commercial) breakthrough with their 3rd or 4th effort?  Looking forward to hearing as much of it as possible.  And if you come across anything of interest, please feel free to let me know and I'll check it out!  Cheers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rollin' down the roads

In the beginning, there was Robert Johnson:

Three decades later, there was Cream:

Another three decades plus, and we arrived at Rush:

Not really an evolution here, but how often do you hear a good cover of a cover? It sounds like Alex played the guitar solos in one take, and had a lot of fun in the process.

Which version is your favorite?

How do you think it be played in the 2030's? Will there still be electric guitars? I think yes.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Notable Singles of 2011

Some bands couldn't put out a whole killer album that knocked my socks off. But for whatever reason, they came up with one track that nailed it. Or it was a band that peaked a looong time ago but decided "screw it, what else are we gonna do with our free time?" so they kept recording. Or it was a new band that's figuring out what they're all about, what their sound is, etc, and that first album just managed that one thing that clicked...stay tuned for further developments. And then there were the solo artists or bands who may not have that natural ability to crank out a substantial catalog but whether it was full moon, or there was something in the water that night, or whatever...they got one great song made in 2011. Here's my list of those that got it done.

Nazareth: "Big Dog's Gonna Howl"
Okay, so it ain't "Love Hurts" but it's pretty damn good.

Washed Out: "Eyes Be Closed"
Hooray for shoegaze! This is a big warm blanket tossed over my ears on a rainy, windy night. Ahhh....

Kasabian: "Days Are Forgotten"
Remember Britpop? Me too, and I'm still waiting for the resurgence. In the meantime, here's some snotty Brits laying down a groove that we can shake it to without feeling too foolish.

Patrick Stump: "This City"
Way more 'mainstream' than I usually allow into my headphone space. I guess it was an review that convinced me to put this on hold at the library. What can I say? It's just very good. (Better than Starships "We Built This City, at least!) It made me think of my hometown (Portland) with some pride, in spite of complaints that it's too small, too dark, too wet. Nice anthem for anyone who likes to stroll their city's streets and soak in the vibe.

Ivan Julian: "Hardwired"
One of the last honest rockers. No overdubs, lyrics that get right to the point. I miss this kind of music.

Amy Lee: "Halfway Down The Stairs"
A cover song recorded for the Muppets Revisited soundtrack, this song was personally relevant with lyrics based upon an A.A Milne poem, understatedly (and seductively) sung by Ms. Lee.

The Men: "Who Am I To Feel So Free"
Oooh, Gang of Four style beat through a Bikini Kill filter. Love it! Keep it going, please! I miss this style as well. (One YouTube post described them as "the spiritual successor of Le Tigre." Yeah that's pretty close.) p.s. Not to be confused with The Men of 1992 who released one great album featuring a killer single "The Church of Logic, Sin and Love."

Primus: "Lee Van Cleef"
Musical tribute to actor Lee Van Cleef. That guy was kicked ass, and so did this song.

The Sounds: "Best Of Me"
Swede-pop with a bit of Muse-lite. Keep it coming!

Meat Puppets: "The Spider or the Spaceship"
Classic MP lyrics, simultaneously non sequiter and making perfect sense. They're back, and we need them now more than ever.