Great New Albums for November 2014

All of the top songs and albums posts for 2014 are descending upon us.  And guess what, most of them are crap.  Check out the top Rock Artists of 2014 according to Billboard.  Granted, there are some great rock acts on this list, but in what universe is Lorde considered rock?  And how in the living hell did she top acts like Foo Fighters, Jack White, and Arctic Monkeys?  Also, why am I surprised?  A mainstream list like what Billboard provides is never going to satisfy me.  So on I march making my own lists.  Here are some listen-worthy albums from November.  Stay tuned for my obligatory 2014 lists coming soon.

Dels- Petals Have Fallen

New rap that I like?  It does exist!  This English born rapper, graphic designer, and filmmaker creates music that harkens back to raps heyday.  If you’re a fan of Jurassic 5, The Roots, or Mos Def, give him a listen.  With connections to acts like Hot Chip, you can’t go wrong.

 

Also check out:  RGB,  Shapeshift (earlier album)

 

Ormonde- Cartographer/Explorer

Like St. Vincent?  Fan of Indie Folk and Pop?  This is your album for November.  This isn’t get out of your seat and dance music, but if you’re looking for a soundtrack to chill, they have your number.

Also check out:  A Grande Design, Lemon Incest (earlier album)

 

Circa Survive- Descensus

Heavy at one moment and melodic at others, Circa Survive has a sound all their own.  My attraction to the band lies cleanly in the vocals of Anthony Green.  Dig his high pitched, odd voice.

Also check out:  Schema

 

Foo Fighters- Sonic Highways

Really I didn’t even need any other albums on the list for November.  Because, let’s be honest, I listened to this one like it was my job.  Perfection.  The only complaint I have is it’s only 8 songs.  That’s almost an EP!  I love the story behind the album and the docu-series of the same name on HBO was fantastic.  A must listen and a must watch if you’re a fan of music history and well, music in general.

Also check out:  Something From Nothing, Subterranean, and In the Clear…damn, just listen to the entire album.

 

Happy listening!

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees…2035

This post originally appeared over at my old writing hub, Lefty Pop.  Given the largely musical space of my personal blog, I thought it a great candidate for reposting.  Enjoy!
The list of 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees is out.

There are rockers of all sorts:  punk, progressive, new wave, and industrial.  We have our now standard rap nomination as well as some R&B.  Missing this year are the acts who would be considered early influencers, those groups who tend to bleed together for me in an amalgam of doo wop and matching suits and have names that always begin with “The” as in, The Comets, The Crickets.  Replacing these acts are a few disco nods.  After reviewing the list, one may be inclined to wonder,  if all of these acts qualify, what the hell is Rock & Roll?

Rock and Roll:  noun a type of popular dance music originating in the 1950s, characterized by a heavy beat and simple melodies. Rock and roll was an amalgam of black rhythm and blues and white country music, usually based on a twelve-bar structure and an instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums.

So pretty much anything.  Because all music has its roots firmly planted in something that could be found in this description.  Arguably all music genres have some influence on others, but I hate to think that lately it’s to our detriment. For example, T-Pain planted some sort of junk music seed with his auto-tune that has grown like kudzu all across the airwaves.  Even country, supposedly the purest of the song-spinning sects hasn’t been immune.  So if it’s all about what was big on the charts, what does that mean for the 50 something year old me?

I wonder…

Here are your nominees for 2035:

Taylor Swift:  Predominantly known for influencing an entire movement of white girl, breakup songs set to sloppy guitar strumming, Taylor managed to remain on the Top 40 charts well into her 40s.  But as her original fans found themselves unable to find the motivation to continue to shake it off whilst balancing a challenging career and successful relationship, her popularity waned.  Now a successful producer of this decade’s resurgence of boy bands (most notably Swifty’s Sweeties and Solo Course), her influence on the industry inexplicably continues.

Nickelback:  Popular for lyrics which require zero interpretation and are repeated over and over again in an easy to memorize succession, this Canadian band soared to new heights as the children of millennials latched onto their parents misguided CDs purchases and forgotten iPod playlists from the early 2000s and termed them classic rock.  Nickleback tshirts started to be featured in Target and their old album sales spiked.  Chad Kroger opened this year’s Grammy podcast with a cover of “Photograph” featuring North West.

Rose Serbert (previously known as Ke$ha):  Rose gained respect after disappearing from the spotlight for a decade (rumored to be spent living on a commune in Montana), and then rebranding herself as a new wave folk act.  Her new offering combined 1980s synth with the hipster folk of the mid teens (2013-2016).  Though she’s fought hard to shed ties to famous white girl party anthems like “Tic Tok”, cougars covered in glitter, sporting vintage grills still sometimes make an appearance at her shows.

Skrillex:  After completing a series of complicated surgeries in the early 20s to fully become an actual Transformer, he released his long anticipated and biggest selling album to date, “Grindy Squeeling Blender Sex”.  This release launched the world’s longest ongoing EDM festival to date.  Skrillex’s set on the festival’s main stage set a world record when it lasted for a month straight and featured one never ending track.

Imagine Dragons:  Somehow this once indie rock band from Las Vegas are still touring on their 2012 release “Night Visions”.  Their track “Radioactive” has been featured in over 35,000 different commercials, movies, and shows.  Rumored release of their sophomore album is early 2036.

Florida Georgia Line:  Credited with the final demise of the genre once known as Country after releasing their 2020 album “Dirt Road Truck Girl Part 3:  Cruising Again”, this power couple switched gears and re-branded themselves as rock.  They’ve most recently been opening for Nickelback on their “Here We Go Again” tour.

Jack White:  Because credibility matters.  And also the death threats from 50 and 60 somethings are getting old.  You’re welcome old people.

With the demise of the radio and the ever growing music streaming services, it’s hard to imagine where the industry will end up.  But hey, it’s what sells records, or downloads, or whatever it is that allows actual musicians to make some actual money off of their art these days.  And who knows, maybe just like Africka Bambaataa grew “Planet Rock” out of Kraftwerk’s beats and started a music movement, one day a new music pioneer will find a gem in an Iggy Azalea track and launch an entirely new sound. But I’m not holding my breath.

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Running: An Exploration of Ego and Musical Landscapes

I’ve always enjoyed running.  I can’t really go so far as to say I love it.  It’s more realistic to call it a love/hate relationship.  Some of the reasons it’s pleasurable are also the reasons it can be miserable.  You never win at it really.  You can always go farther.  Or faster.  But it’s reliable.  It’s that friend who meets you every morning with an encouraging gesture and a boost to your ego only to kick you to the curb in 45 minutes when she’s had her fill of your company.  It’s hard more times than it’s easy, but yet I keep coming back.  Because every once in a while you have a day where you do win.  You set a challenge for yourself and then kill it.  And it’s enjoyable and almost, dare I say it, fun.  Today was one of those days.  Maybe it was a good night of sleep or maybe it was the fact that my playlist just kicked ass, but I had a great run.  I launched head on into my day ready to conquer the entire world.

So I thought I’d share my playlist for today.  Because running aside and second only to my husband and dog,  is my love for music (if you’re not a consistent reader of this blog).  Anything good is made great with a soundtrack.  Life needs it and running, at least for me anyway, damn near requires it.    Maybe you can tie up your sneaks and take it for a test drive; universe willing, you too will have an awesome run.

*Small disclaimer, some days I run to a created playlist I’ve painstakingly curated, but mostly I hit shuffle and go where the musical road may lead.  Today was a shuffle kinda day and as you’ll soon see (again, if you’re not a consistent reader of this blog), my musical tastes are all over the highway.

The Cult- Coming Down (1994)

Origene- Sanctuary (2003)

Metallica-  For Whom the Bell Tolls  (1984)

The Limousines- Undercover  (2013)

Ted Nugent-  Motor City Madhouse (1975)

Foo Fighters-  Dear Lover (1997)

Nirvana- Downer (1989)

Full Service- Greetings (2013)

Band of Skulls-  Wanderluster (2012)

Joe Jackson-  Breaking Us in Two (1982)

Dropkick Murphys-  I’m Shipping Up to Boston (2005)

Perry Farrell-  100 Ways (1996)

Goldfinger-  My Girlfriend’s Shower (1996)

Dirty Projectors-  Two Doves (2009)

The Inmates-  Dirty Water (1979)

Cypress Hill-  How I Could Just Kill a Man (1991)

Leftfield-  A Final Hit (2005)

The Four Tops-  I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) (1965)

Douglas Armour-  The Whole World (2008)

The White Stripes-  Hotel Yorba (2001)

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Happy trails and tunes!  Let me know how your run went.

Stay positive and love your life.

-Melissa

New Music Tuesday: Top New Album Releases for October

The leaves have changed, the weather is getting crisp, and the time is perfect for a backyard fire.  You know what goes great with a fire (besides some good friends and great brews)?  New music!  So prepare your ears and get thee to a computer stat!  Because these new releases from October are just waiting for a download.

Best New Album Releases October 2014

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Hozier- Hozier

Critics and indie rock lovers are falling all over themselves for this guy.  “Take Me Church” is so freaking catchy and is getting some major airtime.  This means I’m destined to hate it soon after it appears in a gazillion ads and movie trailers, but for now I’ll enjoy.  Andrew Hozier- Byrne has an Irish sourced soul, a beautiful mane of hair, and an even more beautiful voice.  Bonus points awarded because his first single tackles a human rights issue.  “Take Me to Church” is about  gay discrimination in Russia.  The video achieved viral status last year launching the Hozier love fest.

Also check out:  Like Real People Do

Milky Chance- Sadnecessary

Folky at times and a bit electro-indie at others.  I’m totally digging this German duo and their latest pop offering.  Open the windows and do a little fall cleaning or baking.  I dare you not to dance!

Also check out:  Stunner and Loveland

We Were Promised Jetpacks- Unravelling

My picks this month are skewing poppy for sure.  Here’s another pop rock group from across the pond.  Emo and a smidge punk at moments, somehow this album goes a little dark while remaining optimistic.  And it’s wonderfully cohesive.

Also check out:  Night Terror  The critics seem to hate this one.  I find it odd and delightful.

The Flaming Lips- With a Little Help from My Fwends

Ever wonder what a tribute to The Beatles “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” would sound like if say, Miley Cyrus, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog and Moby teamed up with The Flaming Lips?  Well here’s your answer.  These guys come together with a list of other musical pals to make a strange album even stranger…and also completely awesome.  Bizarre and beautiful, you have to give this one a listen.  Skip about a minute in to get beyond the crazy.

Also check out:  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and She’s Leaving Home

High Ends- Super Class

I’m a big fan of Yukon Blonde (a Canadian synth-indie-pop band).  High Ends is lead singer’s Jeff Innes’ solo project.  He wrote the album and recorded it in a home studio.  Completely upbeat with singable choruses, it pairs nicely with the first four albums on my list.

Also check out:  Keep on Dancing and The Weight

Le Cassette- Left to Our Own Devices

A chill-wave 80s throwback, Left to Our Own Devices is wonderful from start to finish.  If you’re a fan of M83, this album will be right at home in your collection.  A Peter Gabriel and Bowie presence is tangible.

Also check out:  Electric Paradise and Arms of Mine

There you have it folks, 6 gems from October.  I’m hoping my November picks end up more on the rock end of the spectrum, but sometimes we all need a little dance break.  Enjoy!

What were your faves from October?  Let me know below!

Stay positive and love your life!

-Melissa

New Music Rocks!

So part of the reason for the neglect of my personal blog is that I was writing twice weekly for an awesome site called Lefty Pop. It was a wonderful co-op of writers passionate about music, politics, and pop culture.  Sadly, the editors decided to shutter the doors in mid-October.  I’ve decided to move one of my recurring Lefty Pop posts over to this site.  Each month I’ll give you the readers’ digest version of the albums released during the previous month that are worthy of a listen.  No long reviews.  No music snobbery…okay, maybe a bit of snobbery.  I hope this will be a great way to share my love of music with the world, find some fellow hardcore music fans, and give my friends who are clambering for some good, new music a source from which to tap each month.    This recurring post will also be part of me venturing back into a semi-regular blogging habit.  I’ll very  likely be revamping the site as well (new look, new name), so stayed tuned.  I see great things ahead…and definitely great music.  I’ll have your October digest up later this week, but in the meantime, please enjoy these selections from September originally posted over at Lefty Pop.

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It’s finally gotten to the point that I can’t even stomach, let alone enjoy, the “music” being played on Atlanta’s local Top 40 station.  I know what you’re thinking, “why are you listening to the radio?”  Drive time morning commute baby!  I have a long running habit of toggling between two local morning shows.  Here’s where it gets sticky; sometimes the morning show on the Top 40 station plays songs in between segments.  Let me tell you, I nearly throw my shoulder out switching to anything else.  Even a commercial is preferable.  It’s gotten bad people, really bad. In case you’d like to inflict some pain on your ears, because you’re into that sort of thing, Google “All About That Bass”, anything from the new Maroon 5 album, or Iggy Azalea (dumb name, even dumber songs).  But please, you must save yourself from Jason Aldeen’s new song where he imagines what would happen if his truck could talk.  Jesus.

But have no fear, if my opener has you longing for the old days and U2’s forced download has you thinking that musical bliss is a thing of the past, I’ve got the fix for what ails ya.  Here are six solid releases from September for your listening pleasure.

Lonely the Brave:  “The Day’s War”

What’s this?!  Guitars in a new release that’s actually climbing the charts?  Hell yeah and rock on.  Though LTB’s offering is a little more Biffy Clyro-espue, new age, arena anthem than gritty, in your face, rebel rock, it’s still rock, and I have to say, I love this album.  It’s cohesive and listenable start to finish.  The bands sites The National and Pearl Jam as influencers and you can hear it.  Critics and fans alike can’t get enough.

Also check out:  Trick of Light, Deserter, and Dinosaurs

King Tuff:  “Black Moon Spell”

King Tuff is the moniker adopted by Kyle Thomas for his offering of what can be described as lo-fi, stoner rock, 60s and 70s nostalgia, and glam rock all at once (depending what track you’re currently spinning).  He’s back with his third and what I’d argue, best offering.  Though critics are giving “Black Moon Spell” middle of the road marks (C+ to B-), I quite enjoy the album and find it far more accessible for the casual listener attempting to discover new rock.  I also dig that KT, in the spirit of Pearl Jam and The Gaslight Anthem,  took a stab at a vinyl tribute song with  “Black Holes in Stereo”.  Does anyone else here Danzig’s “Twist of Cain” in the title track?

Also check out:  Beautiful Thing and Sick Mind.

The Preatures:  “Blue Planet Eyes”

Like your rock a little more on the poppier end of the spectrum?  Check out The Preatures.  Fans of Haim with feel right at home amongst the dreamy and then groovy offerings of Blue Planet Eyes.  Danceable tracks, sing along lyrics, and funky guitar, this album has it all.  It’s totally fun.  It get bonus points for Spoon’s Jim Eno’s involvement in its production.

Also check out:  Rock & Roll Rave and Ordinary.

Alt-J:  “This is All Yours”

Let’s move from very accessible to very polarizing.  Alt-J is a love em or hate em band.  Even the critics can’t agree.  One lauds praise like they’re the next coming and another compares them to Radiohead rip offs doing it wrong.  I happen to dig Alt-J.  Bizarre for sure: I know their new album will firmly cement them in the instant skip category when my husband is in the car.  But this album, just like “An Awesome Wave” will definitely get some time in the rotation from me.  Approach with an open mind and lay aside your hipster hate, and you just may find you have a little room for “This is All Yours” in your playlist.

Note- Their single “Left Hand Free” was made at the behest of the record label to “appease the American audience”.  It sounds nothing like the rest of the album.  Satire or no, I still enjoy the track.

Also check out:  Every Other Freckle and Nara

Mazes:  “Wooden Aquarium”

British rockers very clearly influenced by 90s American alt-rock.  The very clear comparison to their influences has garnered a bit of a rating problem amongst critics who believe the band is struggling with their own identity.  I don’t care, I’m all over this 90s throw back.  At times a bit Pavement and at others reminiscent of Oasis, “Wooden Aquarium” delivers a wildly enjoyable album sure to be at home in any Gen Xer’s collection.

Also check out:  Mineral Springs

Death from Above 1979:  “The Physical World”

My favorite September release, I adore this album.  From the opening song “Cheap Talk”, it’s got a rocking synth momentum that carries you through the final track and then sends you right back to the start to do it all over again.  Sebastien Grainger’s voice is slightly reminiscent of Britt Daniel’s (second Spoon reference this post) and is a wonderful fit for his hefty drumming.  Guitar riffs, odd beats, delicious synth infusions, I just can’t say anything else without going full fan girl.  Go listen and let the album speak for itself.  Wonderful.

Also check out:  Cheap Talk, Virgins, and Gemini

Happy listening!

-Melissa

Twisted Mixtape: Awesome Mix Volume 2

So Jen returned one of my very favorite blog hops this week, Twisted Mixtape!  Oh how I’d missed it.  With the stress of getting married, starting my own company, and writing twice weekly for Lefty Pop, my personal writing time has taken a serious hit.  In fact, someone of you are thinking, “oh yeah, I do remember subscribing to this blog.  I thought she’d disappeared into the void of blogging block.”  Nope, just busy.  But no way was I going to miss out on the opportunity to follow a mixtape assignment!  Today’s tape is inspired by the original Awesome Mix Volume 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy (awesome movie if you haven’t seen it).  It’s just a bunch of songs I wouldn’t mind as a soundtrack while floating around in space.  And in also keeping with the movie, these songs all skew older.  There nothing here beyond 1988.

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U2:  Where the Streets Have No Name

Really this could have been just about any song from War or Joshua Tree

George Baker Selection:  Little Green Bag

Jen and I have discussed our mutual love for this song.  Never gets old.

Ram Jam:  Black Betty

This is just a pure rock out track.

ELO:  Mr. Blue Sky

Makes me happy.

Allman Brothers Band:  Blue Sky

I can see my childhood living room and feel the warm summer breeze coming through my window if I close my eyes.

Rush:  Subdivisions

Quintessential nerd jam.

Yes:  Owner of a Lonely Heart

Solid advice.

Toto:  Africa

Made me miss the rains and I’ve never even been to Africa.

Tears for Fears:  Head of Heels

Belongs on any mixtape I make.  One of my favorite songs ever.

Simple Minds:  Alive and Kicking

My 2nd favorite 80s new wave hit.

Pink Floyd:  Learning to Fly

Hard to pick just one Pink Floyd song, but this one has always been instantly repeatable for me.

 

After a thorough review of my songs, you could easily call them “Songs I listened to in the backseat of my childhood car”, which is fitting given how Star Lord obtained his mixtape.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Bosnian Rainbows – Eli

Eating:  Rigatoni with homemade vodka sauce, arugula, and garden fresh tomatoes.

Drinking:  H20

Random thought:  This time next month I’ll be prepping for my engagement party.  Squee! So excited to be marrying my soul mate, best friend, and perfect partner in life!

14 Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)

This post originally appeared over at the Lefty Pop.  Lefty Pop is the pop culture and politics site I contribute to twice weekly.  Go check it out.  Lots of funny, talented writers call it home.

New music, is there anything better?  Okay, perhaps there are a few things that rank higher in life, but not many.  I seldom sit in silence.  My life has a constant (well made) soundtrack provided by my iPod, Spotify, or the humming of whatever ear-worm that has worked its way into my cranium.  We’re over halfway to the finish line of 2014, and so far, this year’s audio offerings have been rather pleasings.  Here are 14 of my favorites in no particular order.

Best Songs of 2014 (14)-  Midge Ure: Are We Connected?

Remember Ultravox?  They were responsible for that melodramatic 80s new wave hit Dancing With Tears in My Eyes.  Midge Ure was the vocalist/guitarist.  Since 1985, he’s been riding solo, but he is still bringing all the new wave exaggerated emotions this girl loves.

Best Songs of 2014 (13)-  Leisure Cruise: Believer

Dave Hodge (of 90s Bran Van 3000 roots) and Leah Siegel (a local NY songstress) formed Leisure Cruise as a soundtrack to their imagined story about final time on earth prior to colonizing a new planet.  It’s been said to, “Imagine the music of a John Hughes film if it had been written by Bowie, remixed by Johnny Jewel, and fronted by a female Prince, and you’ll start to get the idea.”

Best Songs of 2014 (12)-  Speedy Ortiz:  American Horror

Remember how amazing Liz Phair was back in the 90s before she got all poppy and over produced?  Yeah, that’s Speedy Ortiz.  Raw, feedback laden guitar and deadpan, angsty female vocals have earned this band constant rotation in my playlist.

Best Songs of 2014 (11)-  Future Islands:  Seasons (Waiting on You)

Imagine if a guy with spastic moves, death-metalesque vocals (toned down), and vaguely Joaquin Phoenix looks fronted an indie-electropop band.  Future Islands is what you’d get.  They earned a place in indie hearts after their performance on Letterman wowed Dave.  Go check it out and enjoy the Cookie Monster vocals.  I’d rather share the official video which is even more bizarre.  Sympathetic nod to the right?

Best Songs of 2014 (10)-  Phantogram:  The Day You Died

The electronic rock duo eased their way into my faves a few years ago with Don’t Move and When I’m Small.  Their 2014 album followed up with multiple highlights.

Best Songs of 2014 (9)-  Beck: Unforgiven

This may be my favorite Beck.  I listened to his new album Morning Phase in its entirety at least 25 times.  Mellow, dreamy, and beautiful.  If heaven had a soundtrack, this would be a strong contender.

Best Songs of 2014 (8)-  311: First Dimension

You’re really surprised 311 made this list aren’t you?  Like I’m not going to offer up a track from my favorite band.  Check out my review of their latest album, Stereolithic.   My favorite song on the album changes weekly.

Best Songs of 2014 (7)-   Mastodon:  The Motherload

Mastodon’s new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, was just released.  Fans have eagerly been anticipating it following the much loved 2011 album from the Atlanta rockers, The Hunter.  It was worth the wait.  Solid.  Yes, I have Mastodon on the same playlist as Phantogram.  Variety people, it’s the spice of life.

Best Songs of 2014 (6)-  Jack White:  Would You Fight for My Love?

I’m kind of digging what living in Nashville is doing to Jack White.  His latest offerings chase the ripping guitar with a bit of twang.  The result is rather pleasing.

Best Songs of 2014 (5)-  Kongos:  Come With Me Now

Super catchy.  Who doesn’t love a bearded accordion player?

Best Songs of 2014 (4)-  The Pretty Reckless- House on the Hill

Apparently the lead singer was on Gossip Girl.  Regardless, I love what they’re offering up so far.

Best Songs of 2014 (3)-  Temples:  A Questioned Isn’t Answered

Anywhere a band is creating psychedelic rock that would easily be at home on a commune, I’ll be there to listen with a smile.  Why does this music make me so happy?

Best Songs of 2014 (2)–  Cloud Cult:  Chemicals Collide

Strings may be my ultimate weakness.  Throw a violin or cello into a track and I’m all in.  Besides what part of “experimental, environmentally conscious band formed in the 90s” doesn’t sound like it was made for me?

Best Songs of 2014 (1)- Tokyo Police Club:  Tunnel Vision

A fitting indie rock track to end the list.