Five for Friday: My 5 Favorite Albums of 2013

While I have an affinity for old music (most particularly the 80s and 90s), I must admit that there is still a ton of solid music coming out everyday!  Now, you’re not going to find this on your radio dial for the most part and don’t even try to look to MTV (do they even play videos at all now?).  Most of the stellar new artists and sounds are being birthed right here on the internet.  With the growing popularity of streaming services, the harnessing of social media’s power, and enough music related blogs to overwhelm even the biggest music fan, we have a virtually endless supply of new jams and talent at our fingertips 24 hours a day.  Yes, I do suffer to escape from the grip of nostalgia from time to time and I miss MTV for sure (sorry Youtube, you just don’t offer the same feel), but I must admit that the internet has done simply amazing things for music.  I love that I’m here at the end of 2013 giving you my favorites of the year via the interwebs and this blog!  Drop me a line and let me know what album rocked your world this year!

This year’s favorite list is a fairly solid representation of my musical listening habits.  On the top 5 we find:  2 bands that have been kicking ass since the 90s and would be classified as true alternative rock, 1 band that defies all attempts to be thrown into a category (and who I discovered through the handy, dandy internet), 1 poppy girl group with a indie edge, and 1 hipster necessity.  Let’s dive in shall we?

Number 5:  Local Natives- Hummingbird

Though not as magical as their debut album Gorilla Manor (2010), this sophomore effort lives up to my expectations.  I’m a sucker for vocal harmonies and bizarre instrumental sound.

Number 4:  Haim- Days are Gone

I’m not such a music snob that I can’t appreciate a good dose of candy coated pop every now and then.  But usually it all gets a bit too sickeningly sweet and ridiculous for me after a few minutes.  Enter Haim.  This sister act gives me the poppy lightness I sometimes craze without the cavities.  They were brought up listening to everything from Joni to Motown, and you can hear the diverse influences bleed through on each track.  One minute you hear something that could be at home in the Big 80s (full of synth awesomeness) and the next you’re jamming to something that could loosely be classified as rock.

Number 3:  Full Service- Carousel

I’ve written about these guys several times now, and I’m confident this won’t be the last. There is no other group touring today that sounds like them.  Not one.  They kill on vocal harmonies,  their guitar riffs shred, and their songs have the uncanny ability to get stuck in your head for months at a time.  Since I already was a big fan, I knew I would fall in love with their new album.  Well, even I was shocked and amazed at just how good Carousel is.  Every note on every song is a winner.  There are no throw away tracks here.

I have a challenge for you:  go to Spotify and listen to a few tracks off of each of their albums and then report back to me.  You won’t be sorry.

Number 2:  Pearl Jam- Lightning Bolt

This is quickly becoming a contender for favorite PJ album (I bounce between Ten and Vs. with Vs. usually winning).  So effing good.  It gives me all the best of the band that I’ve loved for so many years:  well-written songs, tight vocals, and killer guitar.  It reeks of the 90s and in a very good, very grungy sort of way.

Number 1:  Queens of the Stone Age- …Like Clockwork

I have listened to this album no less than 50 times since it’s release.  It gets better with every listen.  QOTSA are easily in my top 10 favorite bands of all time and so my opinion suffers from the standard fan bias, but I’m confident in saying that this is their best album yet.  It’s everything I love about rock and roll bundled into 47 minutes of perfection.  Listen and repeat ad infinitum.


 

Honorable Mentions:

Artic Monkeys- AM

Nine Inch Nails- Hesitation Marks

 

What were your favorites of 2013?

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

 

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: What’s the Story Morning Glory?

This week Jen over at My Skewed View asked for us to create a playlist of songs that tell a story.  Initially I thought, sweet, that leaves this open to damn near anything.  After all, doesn’t all music tell a story?  No?  Okay, doesn’t all music with the exception of maybe dubstep tell a story (unless blenders converting into transformers is a story)?  I mean, it may not be a deep story, but it’s a story nonetheless.  But I get it, she wants GREAT stories.  She wants a saga.  She wants ahem, EPIC (shudder).

Still there are so many great stories out there!  How do I keep this to (around) five?  Great googly moogly, Led Zepplin could fill out every participant’s list with 5 unique songs.  And then you have Billy.  Is there a Billy Joel song that doesn’t tell a story?

Here are mine….last on the list as usual.  Some how I’m always late when I post at lunch time.  Y’all TMers are CHEATERS I tell ya!  I guess I’m gonna start writing my next Tuesday post right now and wait with bated breath till Jen’s link goes up so I can yell first triumphantly.  I need to get back in with the cool kids.

Anyway, here’s my list and despite the name, I didn’t feature any Oasis (sorry Lance).

What’s the Story Morning Glory?

 

Billy Joel- The Downeaster Alexa

Shall we get Billy out of the way first?  I struggled to pick one, just one, Billy Joel song (hello, Leningrad, Goodnight Saigon, Captain Jack…..Allentown!), but this has always been a favorite of mine.  Tell me a great story about gritty fishermen, their warm hearts, and their families Billy!

Notable lyrics:

So if you see my Downeaster “Alexa”
And if you work with the rod and the reel
Tell my wife I am trawling Atlantis
And I still have my hands on the wheel

 

10,000 Maniacs- Poison in the Well

Natalie Merchant has one of the coolest voices in music ever.  Let’s just go ahead and acknowledge that.  This song used to make me so curious as a kid.  I imagined an actual town with an old fashioned well.  There was someone poisoning the village.  Yeah, it’s just as chilling when taken as a metaphor.

Notable lyrics:

O, they tell us there’s poison in the well, that someone’s been a bit untidy and there’s been a small spill. Not a lot, no, just a drop. But there you are mistaken, you know you are. I wonder just how long they knew our well was poisoned but they let us just drink on.

 

Led Zeppelin- Battle of Evermore

Any song that references Tolkein is epic by definition.

Notable lyrics:

Queen of Light took her bow, And then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom, And walked the night alone.

Oh, dance in the dark of night, Sing to the morning light.
The dark Lord rides in force tonight, And time will tell us all.

Pearl Jam- Jeremy

Yeah, I couldn’t do this list without including some PJ!  I am still reeling from the concert at Voodoo.  When they played this song…..chills.  Such a sad, sad story of abuse and bullying coming to a horrible end.

Notable lyrics:

Daddy didn’t give affection
And the boy was something that mommy wouldn’t wear
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

 

The Allman Brothers- Melissa

The song that spawned my name.  I used to HATE hearing this as a kid.  I’d get super embarrassed.  But it is a cool story about a music man on the road who can only be fulfilled by one.

Notable lyrics:

Crossroads, seem to come and go, yeah.
The gypsy flies from coast to coast

Knowing many, loving none,
Bearing sorrow havin’ fun,
But back home he’ll always run
To sweet Melissa..

 

Bonus- Lana Del Rey- Gods & Monsters

If you still haven’t checked her out, do yourself a favor.  Talent.  This song is about the recklessness of those in the music industry (drugs, fame, youth, etc.).

Notable lyrics:

In the land of Gods and Monsters
I was an Angel
Living in the garden of evil
Screwed up, scared, doing anything that I needed
Shining like a fiery beacon

 

My Skewed View

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to: Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy

Eating:  Leftover potatoes and lima beans

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  I saw the Broadway play “Movin’ Out” which was review based on all Billy Joel songs.   It was great!

 

 

Five for Friday: 5 Reasons Why Pearl Jam Rocked My World at Voodoo

It’s been a bit challenging to get back into writing after getting back from my trip to NOLA for Voodoo Fest.  Work is a hectic mess right now which means I’m crazy busy.  And on top of that I have what I call a concert hangover.  Three days of wonderful, live music is a nice departure from reality.  I’ve been trying to relive the experience at work by pumping Spotify.  It’s not really working though.

Given the dealing with reality dilemma, it only makes sense that this week’s Five for Friday is all about  the very best set I saw at Voodoo, Pearl Jam.  How good was it?  Well, only Foo Fighters can rival it.  Seriously one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  There are other bands I like more, but for your concert buck, not many can touch these guys.

 

Number 5:  Steve Gleason

So for those of you who don’t know his story, go learn more about him and his foundation, Team Gleason, here.  Steve played for the Saints several years ago.  In 2011 he was diagnosed with ALS.  The disease has taken him from playing in the NFL to being able to speak only through a computer in a few short years.  He’s a huge Pearl Jam fan (he’s from Washington).  How cool is it that he introduced the band and picked the set list for the night?  By the way, the set list was perfection.

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Number 4:  Eddie’s Crowd Interaction

I hate when I go to shows and there is nearly zero interaction with the crowd.  I like to hear the story behind a song or a funny anecdote.  Give me something to make me feel this musical connection a bit more.  Well, Eddie definitely interacted.  Swigging from a wine bottle for the entire show made for loose lips by the end.  He talked about:  Team Gleason,  the BP oil spill, pot legalization, people in the crowd (including a guy in a bunny suit….which led to a comment about furries), etc. 

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Number 3:  Mike, the effing man, McCready

He shreds.  Hard.  Seriously the dude is an animal.

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Number 2:  Swinging from the Lights

The set had these great, huge light bulbs.  At the end, Eddie went swinging from one. Mike was smashing another with his guitar.  And then they launched into Yellow Ledbetter.  Have I mentioned how great the set list was??

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Number 1:  Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns

I nearly wet myself when they started playing this song.  Then I was smiling so hard I got a face cramp.  Actually, I wore that shit eating grin the entire show.

Other favorite song of the set:  Rearview Mirror

Full set list:

All in all the show was, dare I say, man I really hate to use this word, but it really, really was…..EPIC.

 

I leave you with this awesome video someone made for the misheard lyrics to Yellow Ledbetter.  I strained so hard to see if I could pic out a nugget of understanding at the show.  Yep, I got pretty much nothing.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

 

*Photos courtesy of craveonline.com*

Today:

Listening to:  Primitive Hearts – Harmony

Reading:  “The Vampire Lestat” by Anne Rice

Random fact:  I love the way shoe stores smell.

 

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Voodoo Fest Edition (A review, sort of)

I’m baaaaccckkk!  Hot on the heels of another solid trip to NOLA for Voodoo Fest, Jen gives us a free-for-all theme.  Well thanks lady!  This gives me the post space needed to do a quickie review of my experience this past weekend.

Let’s start with a list of the bands I saw and then I’ll give you my favorite song played by some of them.

Pearl Jam– This is going to get an entirely separate post of its own.  Let’s just say that they killed it.  I was in awe the entire time.  Mouth cramps from smiling too hard.

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Nine Inch Nails- Trent Reznor does not age.  Vampire?  This set was so heavy, just like it should be.

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The Cure–  They played all of the songs I wanted to hear except two.  Considering how many albums they have and the fact that I did get to hear one of my favorites that they’d never played live before, I consider it a win.  Also, Robert Smith looks exactly as I expected him to look, like a Tim Burton created old man.  But his voice is still flawless.

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Paramore– This was band I wasn’t really amped to see.  I’ve never been a big fan.  And I actually only intended to check  out a few minutes of their set.  Yeah, I stayed for the entire thing.  Converted fan.  Hayley Williams and her band are the real deal.

The Gaslight Anthem– They rocked it out hard.  Much bigger fan now.

Alkaline Trio– Nice, hard set.

Cults- Meh, descent show but nothing too memorable.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewin– Wow.  I was seriously impressed with their show and stage presence.  This really isn’t my standard musical preference, but they threw a party AND put out positive vibes.  His intro to “Same Love” create a few tears.  Touching.

Youngblood Hawke- High energy.

The Virginmarys– Only caught the tail-end.

Kid Rock– We only stayed for the first 20 minutes of this.  His music tends to all blend together for me. I kept thinking “Wait, didn’t he already play this song?”  And his opening video was a bit preaching and ‘Murica.

Moon Taxi– Some sound problems and the stage lighting was bit annoying.  But they sounded great.  A cover of NIN’s “Closer” got off to a rocky start, but they pulled it together at the end.

Matt & Kim–  Spazzes…in the best way possible.  These guys were all over the place and so much fun to listen to and watch.  Kim is a straight-up maniac!

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Allen Stone–  Magical voice.  This guy is reminiscent of Stevie Wonder.  He has so much soul.  I expect him to blow-up in the coming months.

Robert Delong–  This was the only show I caught on the techno stage.  I must be truly getting old because I didn’t “get” the other bands playing there.  It all sounds like video games on crack to me now.  This guys we checked out because he actually sings (granted with a lot of effects) and plays instruments.  A fun set.  He’s worth checking out for some upbeat stuff that would be great for running or working out.

Here are my favorites:

Pearl Jam- Chloe/Crown of Thorns

I nearly lost my shit when they played this.  Wasn’t expecting it at all.  For those of you who don’t know, this is a Mother Love Bone song.  They were arguably the birth of grunge.  Andrew Wood died just prior to their debut album being released.  I love this damn song so much.  Song cuts in around 2:00.

Nine Inch Nails-  Terrible Lie

I need to note that the guitarist and Daryl Dixon could be twins.

The Cure- Burn

In another, holy shit, am I getting to hear this moment, they played their song from  The Crow soundtrack.  It’d never been played live before.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- Same Love

Tears.  Mary Lambert gave me chills.

Paramore- Brick by Boring Brick

The Gaslight Anthem- 45

Matt & Kim- Let’s Go

Allen Stone- Sleep

This guy is ridiculously talented.  And he was a blast to watch.

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Paramore – Playing God

Eating:  Pasta

Drinking:  Need caffeine.

Random fact:  Pearl Jam has now likely topped my favorite live shows list.  The only possible contender is Foo Fighters.  There are other bands I like more, but these guys know how to put on a live show, deliver unexpected songs, and interact with the crowd.  So many other bands just get up there and play.  That’s great, but I want to feel engaged.  That, to me, is what live music is about!

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Something Wicked

This week Jen asked for scary songs.  Hmmmm, well my nonconformist attitude will not allow me to include Monster Mash (I hate that song, sorry) and I’m sure at least half the lists will include Werewolves of London.  I kinda hate Kid Rock for ruining that song for me.

 

This week, I’m off to NOLA on Thursday for my annual Voodoo Experience trip with my bestie.  So much music, so little time.  I’ve found it hard to focus on any tunes this week outside of the set list, though I did make a bit of time to listen to some Velvet Underground yesterday at work (RIP Lou).  So of course, some of the Voodoo performers made it onto the list of terrifying tracks:

Twin Peaks Theme- Angelo Badalamenti

This song still gets under my skin.  This show was so twisted.  When I rewatched it a few years ago, it was just as insane as I remember.

Twisted Nerve-Bernard Herrmann

I also included this on my Tarantino post, but it bears repeating.  Try walking down a hallway with this playing and not freaking out.

O Fortuna- Carmina Burana

If ever I’m to be sacrificed, I’m fairly certain this cacophony of terror will be the soundtrack.

Lullaby- The Cure

A song with the lyrics, “the spiderman is having me for dinner tonight” is always going on my list of scary!  Also, Robert Smith can look a bit terrifying.   Plus, I’m thinking about The Cure, because I get to see them this week!

 

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See?!

Cemetery Gates- Pantera

Can’t have a Halloween list without a little bit of metal.  I love this song for running.  AND I’m visiting the House of Shock this week!

Bugs- Pearl Jam

Bugs are gross; thus this song is gross.  Also, I get to see Pearl Jam this week.  Hey, did I happen to mention that I’m going to NOLA this week for Voodoo?

And finally, no Halloween list would be complete without:

Mr. Crowley- Ozzy Osbourne

 

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A gem from Voodoo 2010.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

 

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Nine Inch Nails – Lights In The Sky

Eating:  Salad

Drinking:  Water

Random fact:  I’m getting a little anxious about going in House of Shock.  I actually cried in a Universal Studios haunted house.  Bring on the stress sweats!

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Doc Martens, Flannel, and Angst (or me as a teen)

So today Jen Kehl and crew over Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday asked for the 5 songs that made us who we are!  Well folks, I’ve already done this post!  And since I had a work lunch today, that’s very fortunate for me (as I have zero writing time)!  Go check out the Five Albums (with corresponding favorite songs) that defined my teenage years because, let’s face it, our teenage years have a HUGE influence on who we become.

Five for Friday: 5 Albums That Defined My Teenage Years.

 

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Those 5 albums yielded this…..yikes.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

 

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me

 

100 Word Song: Once

She eyed the clock.

Her temple felt like it was about to explode.  They all had their “once upon a time” stories:

Once I was a franchise quarterback.

Once I was the talk of this town.

Once I was beautiful.

It never ended.  Or maybe that was the problem; it always ended.  Because there was also always a “and then”:

I blew out my knee.

My public lost interest.

I grew old.

“Dr. Richards, did you hear what I said?”

“Time’s up for today Lindsey,” she replied.

Once she’d dreamed of helping real people; not these Hollywood has-beens.

Yeah, once.

 

couch

 

 

The 100 Word Song story was written for the prompt:  Pearl Jam- Once

Lance over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog hosts this challenge each week.  This week he asked that we share our memories of this album.  I’ve actually already written about this one.  It appeared on one of my first Five for Friday posts,  Five Albums That Defined My Teenage Years, at number 3.

I actually owned this one on tape first.  To make it worse, it was a tape I bought at a flea market for a few bucks.  I discovered it was a bootleg copy upon returning to the car.

I had a really hard time choosing between this and Vs. (my favorite PJ album), but this album was likely the first alt-rock album I fell in love with; so it had to win out.  I remember my Mom saying that I wouldn’t think Eddie Vedder was cute if he weren’t a musician.  Well he is a musician and a brilliant one at that, so it’s a moot point.  Fave song:  “Evenflow”.

 

It’s still an amazing album after 22 years.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  The xx – Crystalised

Eating:  Veggie burger

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  I will be seeing Pearl Jam play for the first time this year.  I know, insane.  Better late than never.