2013-01-25

Behold the power of the independent music blog!

Silent Attraction

macklemore

On January 24, 2013, the music industry will drastically change, thanks to an unsigned white rapper by the name of Macklemore. Why? Because Macklemore will be the first unsigned artist in over a decade to hit #1 on U.S. Charts, with the song “Thrift Shop.” Not bad for a guy whose debut full-length album, The Heist, was just a collaboration between friends that sold 78,000 copies in its first week.

Macklemore’s achievement is a big warning sign to the mega-labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Corporation, who for the first time in quite a while, do not have a number one hit. Through just his massive online following, Macklemore was able to go to top without the help of a gigantic label covering his back or spending millions of dollars on marketing. These labels have to be nervous; no longer do artists need to go…

View original post 222 more words

JACOMB’s Best CDs of 2012

2013-01-09

My Top 20 Albums for 2012

Well, it’s that time of year again, and it’s been a good one for music, at least in my world. This year I’ve seen Watershed five times, Red Wanting Blue five times, the Clarks, and a host of other really great (and some not-so-great) supporting acts, new acts at Comfest and some bands from right here in Youngstown.  While my annual list isn’t as Columbus-centric as past lists have been, there are still some kick-ass Ohio bands that made the list.

So, with that in mind … here are the rules:

• Must have been released between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012 (As listed on Amazon)
• Must be available for purchase via Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, CDBaby, Bandcamp or band’s website. Can’t pimp a CD that you can’t buy or download legally
• Must be longer than 30 minutes, or it goes into the EP category
• Must not be a live album
• Must not be a greatest hits package
• Must not be a box set or a collection of previously released material

My list, my rules. Don’t like it, make your own list,

1. Red Wanting Blue – From The Vanishing Point

I never really expected this album to be as good as it is, start to finish, and shame on me for that. I kind felt like a bad fan because it sat on my desk unopened for about three months. Why? Well, I had a digital download of five or six songs I got when I bought it in the pre-sale, and figured those were the best songs from the CD. I was wrong. I’ve played this CD so much if it was vinyl I’d be on my second or third copy. And their live shows … constantly improving, both with old songs and the new tracks. Seriously, if you’re a fan of Americana, you can’t go wrong with “From The Vanishing Point” and the best song, I think, is the ghost track, “My Name Is Death.”

Favorites:  Audition, Walking Shoes, Dinosaur, Ballad of Nobodies, My Name Is Death

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

2. Watershed – Brick and Mortar

I was excited to get a new Watershed album, and even more for the tour, but I didn’t expect the album to be as good as it is. It was a real tossup between “Brick and Mortar” and “From The Vanishing Point” … and I might flip-flop them, ya never know. But there’s nothing worse than a tie, so I had to move this to second place. There’s not a bad song on the album, in fact, “Manifesto (What I Like To Do)” might be my new favorite Watershed song, and “On A Broken Radio” and “Little Mistakes” are top 10, for sure. Joe Peppercon brings a host of talent to this band, and having Joe Oestreich’s chronicle of the band, “Hitless Wonder” (buy on Amazon) as summer reading made me realize how screwed up the music industry is when a band this good can’t catch on with the masses.

Favorites: Manifesto, Little Mistakes, On A Broken Radio, Words We Say

Buy on iTunes • Buy on AmazonBand Website

3. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter

Aaron Tasjan turned me onto these guys sometime in 2008 and they just floored me. This album is easily the best thing they’ve ever done. My girlfriend says it’s her favorite of 2012 … and while it’s one of my favs, I just couldn’t move either of the two above it down, but I originally had it at #7 before listening to it again and realizing I’ve played it more than anything but the top two, so it got the year-end jump. I can’t find anything about this I don’t like … the banjo is absolutely amazing on “Live And Die” and the lyrics, start to finish, are spectacular.

Favorites: The Once and Future Carpenter, Live and Die, Pretty Girl From Michigan, Winter In My Heart, February Seven … really, the whole album.

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

4. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

There’s nothing I’ve ever heard from Kathleen Edwards that I’ve not immediately liked. This is her fourth studio release, and she just keeps getting better, every time out. The lyrics, the music, the layering, everything about this album shows her growth and desire to make the next one better, not just make it. “A Soft Place To Land” might be my favorite song of the year.

Favorites: A Soft Place To Land, Chameleon / Comedian, Pink Champagne

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

5. Dar Williams – In The Time Of Gods

I think my biggest regret of the summer was not seeing Dar Williams at The Kent Stage. This album is so good, it’s hard to believe she’s had eight other studio albums. How she finds the ability to pull out new songs, ideas, stories and song structures shows the amazing talent she is. The opening song is a crazy parental look around the world, and it just gets better from there. I think Dar Williams and Mary Chapin Carpenter are the two greatest female Americana singers in this generation.

Favorites: “I Am The One Who Will Remember You, Write This Number Down, You Will Ride With Me Tonight, I Have Been Around The World

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

6. Steven Wright-Mark – My Plastic World

Steven Wright-MarkI reviewed this album on the blog. That’s here. This is from it:
If you’re a fan of the sweet lyrical hooks of power pop powered by amazing guitar riffs and changes you don’t see coming, “My Plastic World” will score well in your real world. It’s ready, and able, to be on your turntable. It may not go straight to number one, but Steven Wright-Mark’s “My Plastic World” would be a welcome addition to anyone’s playlist.

I wrote that in August. It still holds true today. This is a great album.

Favorites: My Friends Are Trash, Almost Summer, Imaginary Friends

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

7. Enemies! – Desolation Dream

Desolation Dream - smallIn addition to putting out two EP’s and touring all over the country, Aaron Lee Tasjan managed to get a full-length album out, too, with this Madison Square Gardeners side project with Rich Hinman, Mark Stepro, and John Kengla. Twelve songs of music that rocks you out of your seat, or gives you a beat to relax to when they slow the tempo down, including the album’s opener “Apathy Junkie,” which is going to be featured in “The Way, Way Back,” a movie starring Steve Carrell and Amanda Peet. That’s pretty sweet, if you ask me. Always happy when good things happen to good bands!

Favorites: Weird Ohio, Apathy Junkie, Summer of Legs, Fighting For The Rock ‘n’ Roll

Buy on Bandcamp • Enemies! Facebook Page

8. Two Gallants – The Bloom and The Blight

An aptly named album if there ever was one … this is all sorts of sonic noise and amazingly soft quiet tunes with a flow that just made this an album you listen to, not a collection of songs. Not a concept album, but expertly tracked. As gruff and chaotic as it is at times, it’s just as surprisingly slow and sweet at others. I liked this a whole lot more than I thought I would based on what I’d heard from others about it. Hope they tour out on this side of the country.

Favorites: Willie, Sunday Souvenirs, My Love Won’t Wait

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

9. Sinead O’Connor – How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?

Yes, she’s still making music. And yes, it’s still really good. This is her ninth studio album and her voice is still just as sharp and identifiable as ever, and her lyrics are just as haunting. “Queen of Denmark” might be my favorite song she’s ever done, and that’s taking the crown from “Jackie,” from her debut album, so that’s saying a lot. While this is a whole lot less angry on the surface that some would expect, she’s still simmering, just presents it better.

Favorites: Old Lady, Back Where You Belong, The Wolf Is Getting Married, Queen of Denmark

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

10. Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives

Someone gave me a Postal Service CD at a show in Columbus in 2005. “Listen to this. I think you’ll like it.” That was my introduction to Benjamin Gibbard. I hadn’t heard anything from Death Cab For Cutie, simply because the name sounded like something I’d not like at all. Granted, that changed after I listened, and when I heard he was putting out an album of songs that have been stuck in his back pocket for years, I was pretty exited. Like Greg Joseph’s “American Diary,” sometimes when you’re in a band, you have songs you write for yourself. This is like that. Said Gibbard, “‘These songs span eight years, three relationships, living in two different places, drinking then not drinking. ‘They’re a side story, not a new chapter.” What’s funny is the first single, “Teardrop Windows,” is like my third favorite song on the album. “Bigger Than Love” and “I’m Building A Fire” are better, in my opinion.

Favorites: Teardrop Windows, Dream Song, Bigger Than Love, I’m Building A Fire

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

The rest of the Top 20

… in list form, because this is late and I’m lazy.

11. Todd Snider – Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables

Favorites: In The Beginning, New York Banker, Digger Dave’s Crazy Women Blues

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

12. Harper Blynn – Busy Hands

Favorites: In Another Life, Knife, Summer in Exile

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

13. Bob Mould – Silver Age

Favorites: Star Machine, Round The City Square, First Time Joy

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

14. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

Favorites: Hold On, You Ain’t Alone,  On Your Way

Buy on iTunes  • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

15. The Whiles – Somber Honey

Favorites: So Sweet, Mouth of the Wolf, Seem So Long Ago, Somber Honey, Leaving

Buy on Bandcamp

16. The Lumineers – The Lumineers

Favorites: Dead Sea, Ho Hey, Stubborn Love, Morning Song

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

17. Alberta Cross – Songs of Patience

Favorites: Magnolia, Ophelia On My Mind, I Believe In Everything

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

18. Keane – Strangeland

Favorites: Disconnected, Silenced By The Night, Sovereign Light Cafe, It’s Not True

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

19. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

Favorites: Handwritten, Too Much Blood, Biloxi Parish, Mae, National Anthem

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

20. Green Day – Uno, Dos, Tre (combined)

Favorites: UNO: Kill The DJ, Oh Love, Angel Blue;  DOS: Baby Eyes, Amy, Makeout Party; TRE: 8th Avenue Serenade; Amanda, Walk Away

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon (Uno, Dos, Tres) • Band Website

Bonus: Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

Favorites: Land of Hope and Dreams, Death To My Hometown, Rocky Ground

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website


Agree? Disagree? Leave me comments about what you think I missed.

It’s time for an Oasis Reunion. I have a plan.

2013-01-05

help me andy harrison

Andy Harrison. Years ago you worked with my friends in the X-Rated Cowboys. Now we beg you to help us in this struggle between the Gallagher brothers. I regret that I am unable to convey my request to you in person, but my finances have fallen under attack, and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to England has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the music into the memory systems of this Internet Music Blog. My hope is that you will know how to retrieve it. You must see this blog safely delivered to the Gallagher brothers in England. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Andy Harrison. You’re my only hope.

I say this for two reasons:

1. Allison and I were out one night when “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova” were played on the jukebox and we looked at each other with that “Damn, that shit was sweet, right?” look. And then we grumbled about Liam and Noel’s inability to get along. And how we wished they could suck it up for the sake of the music.

2. You know Noel Gallagher, I assume. If not, you have ways to reach him. You’re the guitar tech for Tim Smith, who plays in  Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and with Sheryl Crow, so logically, short of hoping he Google ego-searches himself and by some freak of nature actually reads this blog on his own, you’re my only hope.

In all honesty, I don’t have a brother, and have never owned a guitar, but I do have two sisters who I’ve fought with many times. And my oldest sister did break several of my toys and prize possessions, so I understand the anger Noel must have over Liam breaking his guitar during a fight … but to deny the world the greatness they made together because of a guitar, to me, just seems like a crime, especially in a world where an overgrown Oompa Loompa called Nicki Minaj is a judge of a glorified karaoke competition that picks our next pop star on one network, and a bevy of low-to-no talent ‘singers’ are doing the same on, apparently, every other network. Since “Dig Out Your Soul” was released in 2008, eight new singing shows have launched. And, in my opinion, they all suck.

Every time I see a new singing contest show starting, or, as Fox tells me, the one that started it all is coming back with a “TWO NIGHT TELEVISION EVENT” I ask myself why is the world searching SO HARD for talented singers? (And since when did shitty reality shows, or any TV show, become an ‘event’? Stop that, right now. You’re a television show. That’s all.)

That night, at a bar that features live original music two or three times a month, while watching a completely meaningless college bowl game (The Big Corporate Sponsor Bowl at Other Big Corporate Sponsor Stadium, I think it was) and listening to the jukebox, it hit me:

We search because we have no new Oasis music to satisfy our needs.

And this has got to stop.

I’m tired of dodging shitty singers sitting in judgment of other shittier singers on every shitty network channel every damn night.

Please, I beg of you, kind sir, please do whatever it takes to get Oasis and the Gallagher Brothers back together. Unlike Lorne Michael’s attempt to reunite The Beatles to play three songs for $3,000, divided up as they see fit, I have no playlist, and I sure don’t have a check for $3,000.

All I can really offer is a $25 Starbucks gift card and Quinn Fallon’s first two solo CDs. You can give Liam the CDs. If you get Oasis back together.

The Best EPs released in 2012

2012-12-31

Every year I try to release my Best of list of the best music I’ve found in 2012, and every year the list gets bigger. This year I’m breaking it up into two lists:  EPs (which I consider to be less than 30 minutes) and full albums. This is the list of EPs. Here are the rules:

• Must have been released between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012 (As listed on Amazon)
• Must be available for purchase via Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, CDBaby, Bandcamp or band’s website. Can’t pimp a CD that you can’t buy or download legally
• Must be less than 30 minutes, or it goes into the full-length category
• Must not be a live album
• Must not be a greatest hits package
• Must not be a box set or a collection of previously released material

Those are my rules. Disagree? Make your own list! With that in mind, here’s my favorite EPs released in 2012:

1. Aaron Tasjan – August Moon & The Thinking Man’s Filth

Aaron Tasjan - August Moon

No, having “August Moon” on this list doesn’t go against my rule of previously-released material, as these are new recordings, and great ones at that. Keys by Bryn Roberts, strings by Eleanor Whitmore. Drums and percussion by Mark Stepro. Guitars by Aaron and and Chris Masterson. Background vocals by Mark Stepro, Eleanor Whitmore and Aaron bring new life to classics like “Life Is A Movie,” this might be the best version of this song I’ve ever heard. “The Thinking Man’s Filth” is more rocking than “August Moon,” especially the blistering guitars on “Hole In The Wall” and “Dirty Angel.” And like “August Moon” … this rerecording of “My Camera” might be my favorite version of that song.

Favorites: Fake Tattoo, Life Is A Movie (August Moon); Dirty Angel, My Camera (The Thinking Man’s Filth)

Both EPs are available on his Bandcamp site

2. Phantods – Music Is Dead

Phantods - Music Is Dead

It’s hard to include this on my list as the band has gone on hiatus, but damn, for three and a half albums, they were amazing. This short, three-song release was in conjunction with a final show in Columbus, and a screening of a documentary called “Meet The Phantods.” As creative as the band’s members are, they will show up down the road in another Columbus band, but it was a joy to see them on stage and I still smile whenever a Phantods song hits my iTunes playlist.

Favorites:  All three songs are great.

Buy it at Bandcamp for a $1. Yep. One dollar.

3. Ryan Smith – The Waiting

Ryan Smith - WaitingAnother Columbus artist here who makes some interesting electropop, taking generous use of looping, layering and a bevy of sounds that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere, especially when listening with earphones, or in the car. It’s like a sonic treat for your brain. And wallet, because he’s posted it for free on his Bandcamp site. And the only thing better than free music, is good free music.

Favorites: Four Letter Word, Give Me A Sign

Download it for free from his Bandcamp site.

4. David Ford – Austerity Measures & Ford 4.2

David Ford - Ford 4.2

As long as David Ford keeps releasing music — either full albums or EPs, he will find a spot on my favorites. “Austerity Measures” starts off rocking and remains true for all five songs, whereas “Ford 4.2” starts off with a short instrumental called “Overture” before getting into Ford’s typical singer/songwriter stuff, but “Ford 4.2” is much softer and piano-oriented than his usual guitar and layering stuff. Shows great growth and belief in letting the words rise versus the layering and sequencing he’s done in the past. “Austerity Measures,” on the other hand, rocks.

Favorites: “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love My Credit Card” and “Life Is Good” from “Austerity Measures” and “What’s Not To Love” and “Philadelphia Boy” from “Ford 4.2”

Buy both on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • David Ford’s Website

5. We Are Public Radio – We Are Public Radio

A great band from Akron that opened for The Clarks at Musica. At the time I didn’t recognize Andy Dolson (formerly of Dolson, a band I’ve seen open for Red Wanting Blue twice, I think. Regardless, this collaboration with Patrick Boyle resulted in a great six-song EP and some airplay on The Summit. The keys and guitars make a great mix. My only wish was this was longer than 23 minutes.

Favorites: Hurricane, Lonely September, Could Be You

Buy it on their Big Cartel site • We Are Public Radio’s website

6. Amos Lee – As The Crow Flies

Amos Lee - As The Crow FliesEverything this guy does winds up on my list, every year. He’s just amazing. From the lyrics, to the delivery, to musicians he has in the studio with him (last year’s ‘backing band’ for his “Mission Bell” album was Calexico). This EP is some of the songs that were recorded for that CD but never released, and feature Joey Burns and John Convertino from Calexico, so if you liked “Mission Bell” you’ll probably like this as well.

Favorites: Simple Things, Say Goodbye, May I Remind You

Buy it on iTunes • Buy it on Amazon • Amos Lee’s website

Think I missed something? Let me know and I’ll give it a listen.

CD Review: “My Plastic World” ~ Steven Wright-Mark

2012-09-05

Steven Wright-MarkI have a funny story to tell you about music piracy: Sure, it’s wrong, and in some way we’ve all done it … whether it’s mix tapes and CDs to Napster to any P2P or torrent site you know of; trading with friends, etc. And we’ve all heard about how it’s taking money from artists in the giant-trickle-down of the business of making and making money from albums, but sometimes, piracy has just the opposite affect … it creates fans. This is how I discovered, became a fan of Steven Wright-Mark. A guy who I can say I’d probably never have heard of if not for piracy.

After downloading his first CD — quite by accident, thinking it was the comedian Steven Wright — I gave it a listen and was completely blown away the first song, “Pawn Shop Crystal Ball.” Completely hooked me, and by the end of “Pop Motel” I became a fan. In the five years since then, that song has entered my Top 50, ever. It’s a well done power pop song with super catchy lyrics and hooks.

Since then, I’ve actually purchased both of his first two albums; and started following him on Facebook, Reverb Nation and Twitter … and was surprised when he not only followed me, but was active and engaging in conversations, debates, shared dislike of several bands I won’t name, and was surprised to get a direct message offering to send me the new CD, which I received a couple of weeks ago and have been listening to repeatedly.

“My Plastic World,” was released August 28th on Amplifrier Music Co, and is available digitally via iTunes. or Amazon if you want a physical copy, or if you’re a Spotify fan, you can stream it there, too. It quickly found a regular spot in my playlist, and easily one of the top three CDs I’ve heard in 2012. The lyrics are nicely woven little gems of power pop hooks, but what sets this album apart from his previous two are the guitar riffs. Flying out of nowhere and taking the songs a different — and better — direction musically. I mentioned that in a tweet, Steven replied, “Yeah, been getting into heavier guitars since playing more live. It’s simply fun to do!”

The 11-song album gets rolling with a 43-second distortion-microphoned intro and then the guitars kick in on “I Wanna” … which also features great vocal layering. That’s gonna be a fun one to see live, for sure.

“On Your Turntable” and “Almost Summer” show off the lyrics, including this gem from “Almost Summer”

“She hides intentions like her toes beneath the sand
One wiggle and it’s there to see”  ~ Almost Summer

A sad-bastard girlfriend-made-good song, “That Star” follows, then things get rocking. “My Friends Are Trash,” “The End Of Another Year,” “Imaginary Friends” and “Your Name” are four of the last six on the CD and the best four songs on the CD, in my opinion. Makes me remember the days when albums (and cassettes) had the A-Side and B-Side … and how one was always so much better than the other. For me, the B-Side of “My Plastic World” is far superior.  In all honesty, the entire 11-song, 41-minute CD is a home run, I just prefer the second half to the first half.

If you’re a fan of the sweet lyrical hooks of power pop powered by amazing guitar riffs and changes you don’t see coming, “My Plastic World” will score well in your real world. It’s ready, and able, to be on your turntable. It may not go straight to number one, but Steven Wright-Mark’s “My Plastic World” would be a welcome addition to anyone’s playlist.

And if you do check it out, toss down the money. Trust me. As I guy who discovered him through piracy, I have no problem dropping a Hamilton for a great CD.

Getting Back into the Swing of Things …

2012-09-04

Hello. Well, after a whole lot of changes in my life, and rediscovering the power and enjoyment of music, I”m ready to get back into the blogging about bands, albums, shows and all things I love about the bands, songs and musicians that you’ll probably never hear of. I’m going to try to cover at least one 2012 release a week through the rest of the year, mixed with random show reviews and rediscoveries.

So, if you’re still here … or you’re new here … welcome to JACOMB 2.0

JACOMB’s Best of 2011 List

2012-01-06

So, now that we’re five days into 2012 and I’m recovered from a long weekend of UFC, NYE, BCS and NFL … it’s time for my Top Albums list for 2011.

Again, this is my list. Any CD released from November 1, 2010 to October 31, 2011 are eligible. To be considered a CD, it must be greater than 30 minutes.

With that being said, here’s my Top 10 for 2011, in order

1. Ollabelle – Neon Blue Bird
2. William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs
3. Amos Lee – Mission Bell
4. Tim Easton & THe Freelan Barons – Beat The Band
5. Bobby Long – A Winter Tale
6. Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine
7. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
8. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
9. Shane Sweeney – The Finding Time
10. The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

The Next 10:

11. Over The Rhine – The Long Surrender
12. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer
13. Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
14. Phantods – Creature
15. Neil Taylor – No Self Control
16. Cowboy Junkies – Sing In My Meadow
17. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials
18. Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
19. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
20. Paul Tabachneck – Here Goes Nothing

For those beneath the 30 minute time limit, i.e. the EP’s just not long enough to include … here are my top five:

1. Mikey Chuck Rivers – Last Night’s Beer
2. Strangers in Daylight – Strangers In Daylight
3. Enemies! – Enemies!
4. Erica Blinn – Eric Blinn EP
5. The 2011 Collected singles of Colin Gawel & Lonely Bones

Just Missed My List For one Reason or Another … they were in the mix all year, but just didn’t cut it when the final list was played.

Wilco – The Whole Love
Adele – 21
Kasey Chambers – Little Bird
Lenny Kravitz – Black & White America
Fiest – Metals
Colbie Caillat – All Of You
Neil Taylor – No Self Control
Wild Flag – Wild Flag

After reading other’s blogs and top lists, here are the CDs others are raving about I flat out didn’t like:

The Black Keys – El Camino
M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Things that came out too late to give a fair shake to but will probably be in my Best of 2012 list:

Red Wanting Blue – From The Vanishing Point
Micah Schanbel – I’m Dead, Serious

Becasue of work or my not knowing they were released or things I didn’t get to listen to yet for one reason or another …

Glossary – Love Live Us All
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Here We Rest
Amanda Shires – Carry Lightning
Kasey Anderson & The Honkies
Theressa Anderson – Birds Fly Away

Things I don’t consider:

Live albums
Greatest Hits collections
Box Sets
Things that have a majority of previous-released material or re-issues, otherwise Father’s Children would have been on the big list.

That’s my list. Did I miss something? Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Dear eMusic, I’m sorry, but we’re breaking up.

2011-01-29

Look, I know we’ve had a great relationship for going on five years now, and I know that we’ve both changed in that time, but after today’s visit, I’m afraid I don’t know you anymore.

It really comes down to the money.  I used to get a lot of bang for my buck with you. In fact, when I started, we’re talking songs were as low as 17 cents … based on how I purchased and paid … and there were lots of other options.

Lots of great music at cheap prices … albums as low as $3.00 and exclusive tracks that nobody else had, not to mention that there were bands that nobody else had in a digital format.

Then, as you grew, you got more expensive .. but you were still the best bargain around … even at 40 or 50 cents, you were great.  Your catalog was expanding, your exclusive tracks and impressive collections of whole discographies were amazing to me.

Then you had to big-time us.

Adding Columbia and RCA and all sorts of major labels that, quite frankly, none of us wanted.  As a bunch of introverts who would stare at our own shoes, mixed with the occasional extrovert who stared at other people’s shoes, we wanted our indie rock legal, and cheap.

We wanted Ryan Adams, not Bryan Adams.  Bruce Cockburn, not Bruce Springsteen.

The final straw, though, was switching from download credits to actual cash … I’d rather get my 30 credits at 50 cents a month than a flat out $12 dollars and 89 cent songs.

You’ve become Amazon without the selection. iTunes without the iPod. I see you heading down the same road as the download services once offered by WalMart and Sony and Napster … you went from a niche player that ruled your market to the smallest fish in your pond.

And I’m taking my tackle box and leaving.  Good luck to you.

My Top 21 Albums of 2010

2011-01-22

#1 without a doubt and no, it wasn’t even close … my favorite album of 2010:

Two Cow Garage – Sweet Saint Me

Once again, this band blows me away by constantly and consistently upgrading the quality of their music.  2010 was a HUGE year for this band from Columbus, Ohio … from bassist Shane Sweeney discovering the joys of fatherhood to Micah Schnabel releasing a solo album (see “When The Stage Lights Go Out” below for more on that) to blowing up SXSW and leading an impromptu parade through Comfest and two tours that crossed the country, these boys were never home.  Now that the line-up is complete and they’ve been playing together for two complete albums now, Cody Smith (drums) and Andy Schell (keyboards) round out the amazing sound of the fifth full-length release from the best band you’ve probably never heard of.

Highlights: Jackson, Don’t You Worry; Sweet Saint Me; What Dying Is For; Brothers In Arms

http://www.twocowgarage.com

#2 .. only because #1 was so great:

The Madison Square Gardeners – Taste The Thunder & Tune It Up, Dime It Out

Released as two separate EP’s in 2010, the six-track “Taste The Thunder” and the five-song “Tune It Up, Dime It Out” make a terrific 43-minute trek through the greatness of this band. Aaron Tasjan’s lyrics continue to grow and I’d listen to Rich Hinman play me anything on that slide lap steel guitar he has.  They’re spending December recording new tunes and playing a residency at Rockwood 2 in New York City; and I can’t wait to hear what goodness comes out of these sessions.

Highlights: Blessing; Shoe Gaze Band; Everybody’s Girl; Cross The Line; Love’s The Only Way

http://www.facebook.com/madisonsquaregardeners

The rest of the Top 10 … in no particular order:

David Ford – Let The Hard Times Roll

My favorite troubadour is back again with thirteen more tunes that have been in heavy rotation in my iTunes/iPod since earlier this summer.  He’s had some problems with his record companies seemingly closing up shop overnight, but continues to putting on shows, working his way across America and his native UK.  The lyrics keep getting better, starting with the CD’s first song, “Making Up For Last Time” and “Nothing At All” … introspective, outlandish and socially commentary all at the same time.  It’s nice to see him continue to evolve and keep his fires burning.

Highlights: To Hell With The World; Making Up For Lost Time; Nothing At All; Hurricane

http://www.davidfordmusic.com

Semi-Precious Weapons – You Love You

I was hesitant to put this on here because it contains four previously released songs from their two independent releases, but they’re still opening for Lady Gaga, they’re still delivering the glam and the glitz and showbiz to people who either love them or hate them.  The new material is good, I really love “Leave Your Pretty To Me” … in the words of frontman Justin Tranter, “The Midwest loves a fucking power ballad.”  Same with “Look At Me” … but “Sticky With CHampagne” and “Statues of Ourselves” are just kick-ass fun tunes about living a rock-n-roll lifestyle on the glamour side of the tracks.  Subtlety is not his strength, so listener beware!

Highlights: Look At Me; Statues of Ourselves, Put A Diamond In It; Her Hair Is On Fire (2010)

http://www.semipreciousweapons.com

Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Age of Miracles

I’ve been an MCC fan going on 20 years now (thanks, neighbor who turned me on to her) and am glad she continues to make great American music that’s no longer classified as ‘country’ … it’s more folk, alt-countrish … what we now call Americana.  This 13-song collection features a lot of stripped down acoustic tracks that let her voice, and her lyrics, shine.

Highlights: I Have A Need For Solitude; We Traveled So Far; The Way I Feel; Zephyr

http://www.myspace.com/marychapincarpenter

Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

It’s not as great as their first release, “The ’59 Sound” … but it still has been rocking my world. They’re so throwback to when all you needed was three verses, a bridge, a catchy chorus and a great hook and riff. This album brings all that.  From the title track to “The Queen of Lower CHelsea” to “Old Haunts” …. there are tracks here that will stay with me my whole life.  “I called for my father but my my father had died. And you told me fortunes in American slang.”  … fucking genius.

Highlights: American Slang; We Did it When We Were Young; Queen of Lower Chelsea; Boxer

http://www.gaslightanthem.com/

Chumbawamba – ABCDEFG

Say what you will about how tired you got of “Tubthumping” … you still sing it.  That was really NOTHING like the band is about (as the disappointing album sales to folks who love/loved that song show). I’ve played songs of this CD for people and they all say the same thing … “I like this, who is it?” followed by “Really? I never would have guessed that.”  They’re really rather mellow and fun to listen to. This album includes such fun songs as “Torturing James Hetfield” by forcing him to listen to their greatest hits album (to which Hetfield sings along); “Dance, Idiot Dance” and “The Same So-So Tune” … none of which have any resemblance to “Tubthumping” …

Highlights: Torturing James Hetfield; Dance, Idiot, Dance; Singing Out The Days; Missed

Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer

I had no real desire to listen to this CD … a friend asked me if it was on my pirate sites … so I broke all sorts of international copyright laws and downloaded it for her.  After I delivered said pirate CD she asked if I had listened to it .. I said “No, I’m not a fan of Gnarls Barkley.”  She gave me the STFU look and said, “You really need to listen to this.”    So I did.

And then I decided that Cee Lo Green was the love child from an orgy of The Temptations, Gladys Night, Aretha Franklin, all the original members of Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire, and several members of the Pips.  It’s all sorts of 70’s soul and the Motown sound mashed up with all that’s good about today’s rap/R&B that doesn’t involve autotune.

Yeah, I was floored.

Highlights: Fuck You; Satisfied; I want You; Fool For You; Wildflower

Victoria Vox – Exact Change

Step by step, left right left, this CD just hooked me with the multitude of hooks in songs, choruses, bridges and verses in a way that no other album did in 2010.  Victoria’s approach to songs, songwriting, singing and performance blew me away when I saw her in Columbus. She’s a blast to watch live for both the ukulele and mouth trumpet.  She love you. And she sings songs in French.  Without surrendering to invading German armies.

Highlights: Oh I Wonder; Technicolor Way; Make  A Mess; Shake It Up; Shake It Up

http://victoriavox.com/

Patrick Park – Come What Will

I don’t know how or where this CD came into my collection … all I know is it really blasted me out of some unhappy mindframes to some happy mindframes.  That’s what I love about music .. that ability to transform my mood from shitty to perfect with just a guitar and some words.  “You Were Always The One” is my song of the year for 2010 … because … well … yeah … it so fits my life and makes me smile. Because I found my one. And lost her. And found her again. So yeah … when he sings this, I get it:

“Now mistakes it’s true I’ve made more than a few
and I’m goin to make many others
And it’s hard to see why we go through this sometimes
All the things that we do to each other
And I don’t understand while I play these games and I trade the truth for lies
Cuz you’re always the one I was looking for babe, it just took time to realize”

Highlights: You Were Always The One; You’ll Get Over; Silence and Storm; Starry Night

http://www.myspace.com/patrickpark

Bonus CD:  Emma Pollock – The Law of Large Numbers.

She’s Scottish. She writes killer lyrics. She sings like she’s chasing Satan back to hell to take over. She doesn’t give a shit what you think.  I wanna have her babies. That’s why she gets the Bonus CD

Highlights: I Could Be A Saint; Letters To Strangers; House On The Hill; Hug The Piano

The Next Ten:

Doug Keith – The Lucky Ones

Dar Williams – Many Great Companions

Bookmobile – The New Patriot

British India – Avalanche

Ed Kowalczyk – Alive

Steven Page – Page One

Spoon – Transference

The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Lady Antebellum – Need You Now

Cage The Elephant has three shows in Ohio … this month!

2010-08-13

I’ve been a fan of Cage The Elephant since I saw a video of their Lollapalloza shot from 2009. Very entertaining and energetic rock and roll from Bowling Green, Kentucky, via London, England.  You’ve probably heard “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” or “Back Against The Wall” … but “Tiny Little Robots” is what I rocks my iPod at the start of my bike ride … because it gets the blood flowing!  Click the link there and listen to five good songs, then head over to their Amazon MP3 page and pick up the downloads!

I mention this because they’re playing three times in Ohio (and once in PA) in the next two weeks with Stone Temple Pilots.

Tuesday, August 17, Columbus at the LC (Outdoors)
Sunday, August 22, Cleveland at the Tower City Pavilion
Wednesday, August 25, Cincinnati at the PNC Pavilion
Saturday, August 28, Pittsburgh, First Niagra Pavilion

You know you like STP … so go early and give Cage The Elephant a chance to blow you away … or check back early next week for a review and some killer photos from my friend Meghan Ralston from http://www.photolosophys.com!