Sunday, December 24, 2006

Commit This To Memory

This isn't a best of 2006 as much as i want it to be. I'm not that current and i don't apologize for that. Music, like wine, needs to age and i'm glad there are people out there that agree (specifically thanks to Kevo). Some people are completely on top of everything new. I'm not one of them and i'm OK with that.

Top 3 Radio Songs of 2006 (knowing that i've listened to the radio a total of 8 minutes all year):
3. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
2. Chamillionaire - Riding Dirty
1. Shakira - Hips Don't Lie

Top 6 Bands/Albums I'm Looking Forward to Digging Into in 2007:
6. The Killers - Sam's Town
5. Radiohead (for real this time)
4. The Roots - Game Theory
3. Johnny Cash
2. Jurassic 5 - Feedback
1. The Decemberists

Top Bands That I Need a New Album from in 2007:
6. Jimmy Eat World
5. Coheed & Cambria
4. Common
3. BlackStar
2. Counting Crows
1. The Fugees

The Kanye West Award, in honor of Sophomore Albums that will inevitably suck:
Panic! at the Disco

The Pixies Award for Most Unique of the Year:
Tie between Matisyahu and Joanna Newsom

The Rocky Balboa Comeback Album of the Year:
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium

Most Critically Acclaimed Album That My Mom Suggested:
Ray LaMontagne - Trouble

The Prom Night Award for Biggest Let Down of The Year:
Thursday - A City by The Light Divided

Top 10 New (to me) Albums of 2006:
10. Snow Patrol - Eyes Open
9. Fivespeed - Morning Over Midnight
8. Doves - Some Cities
7. Matt Costa - Songs We Sing
6. Robert Earl Keen - What I Really Mean
5. OAR - Stories of a Stranger
4. Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
3. Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison
2. Tool - 10,000 Days
1. Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself

Imogen was a tough call at number 1, but it did get a lot of "love at first listen" points. When i first put her CD on i had no idea what to even expect and really only turned it on as background music. When i heard Hide and Seek, i stopped everything i was doing to listen to it. Then i started to CD over just to pay attention to what i had missed. I just like the depth of this CD and i like all the different influences on her music. And her voice just seals the whole deal. So i'm calling it for her. The Tool CD was mind blowing when there were actually songs, but every other track is some kind of ambient noise and that just irritates me and kills the flow of the album. The Snow Patrol album should be higher but i really haven't had a chance to listen to it very well so that's why it's low. I was really impressed with OARs CD especially since its their 8th full-length album but it sounds like its the first one where all their talent finally came together. The Doves CD is super good but it's not anything that new or that special, just an enjoyable album.

So that's that. 2006 is on it's way out, and 2007 will be over too before i've gotten used to signing it on my checks. That's just the way it goes. But the music will be here and so will this blog and the many others that have popped up. I'm looking forward to another year of great music and sharing my thoughts on it with all of you.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

Feeling pretty basic and tired on this Monday morning so i'm hoping the shuffle cooperates...we'll see.

1. Mellow My Man - The Roots, off of The Roots Come Alive
My freshman year of college we had 2 kids named Matt that lived on my floor in the dorms. One was like 6'2'' and one was like 5'4'', so naturally they became "Big Matt" and "Little Matt" respectively. Little Matt was from LA, babysat for Samuel L. Jackson, lived in the Hills, and loved hip hop, so much so that he was like the only short, white Jewish kid to attend the Watts Riot benefit concert with De La Soul, Rebels of Rhythm (Jurassic 5's former group) and other classic hip hop groups. This CD always reminds me of him. We listened to it straight through on the way to the mountains and and back and on the night before i moved, we sat in my room with a few people and listened to it while the party raged on outside. Good times. Good CD. The Roots are fantastic, if you didn't know.

2. Liar - Built To Spill, off of You in Reverse
My verdict is still out on Built to Spill. I really like this song but then i'll not like the next one i hear. I'm not really sure and i haven't spent enough time listening to this song to really comment on it. This song usually doesn't pass my iPod ADD test though, which means that while i'm driving, i'm constantly clicking forward on my iPod searching for the perfect song for that drive. And i'll listen to the first 30 seconds of 20 songs instead of listening to 5 songs straight through. I have ADD and unless a song really fits my mood, i'll probably just skip right past it. This song, and other Built to Spill songs, get skipped. If i practiced what i preached and actually listened to the entire CD in order, i'd probably like them a lot more.

3. Well As Well - Before Braille, off of Tired of Not Being Away from Here
I've talked about B4B a lot so i won't go back through all of it, but i will say that Rajiv, their amazing guitarist, is back from Peru and i'm really excited to see what he'll do in the next few months musically. I'm sure the South American influence will really be apparent in his new music. Here's hoping that he gets to it soon. This scene is really really lame. I can't tell you the last time i went to a local show. Oh yeah, probably since i don't have any friends in local bands anymore (good work guys, see you this weekend at Shelly and Mia's wedding...)

4. Lights - Journey, off of Journey's Greatest Hits
My iTunes loves Journey, and as we've said before, what's not to love?

5. Bullet Holes - Dispatch, off of Gut the Van
I'm really, really pissed that they broke up without me ever having the chance to see them live. From all accounts they were just an amazing live band and they're concerts were just good-times all around. Bullet Holes is one of my favorite songs from them, it starts off all slow with this cool vocal intro and harmony and then it runs off into this cool double time action. Dispatch has that college rock kinda feel to them and you can pretty much take that as a description of their music. It's not deep, it's not experimental, it won't change your life, but they do incorporate some cool keyboards, a ton of percussion (they have done entire CDs and albums without a drum set) and very cool vocal harmonies. For a road trip sing-a-long you really couldn't ask for anything better.

Well i wanted simple, and that's pretty much what i got. And even though i said i wouldn't, i'm working on a year in review type post so be sure to check that out later this week/weekend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Things December Brings

Every end of every year always brings with it a number of lists, whether it be person of the year, movie of the year, etc. And i actually thought about doing a top 5 songs or albums of the year, but it's just so predictable and i'd probably pick an album that came out in 2005 and everyone would make fun of me. Besides, music, like a fine wine or scotch, needs to age a bit. So if a new album came out this summer (ie. The Killers, Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs) i probably haven't gotten around to hearing it yet. So forget that.

My rambling aside, Rolling Stone has predictably released their Best 100 songs of 2006. Here it is: Top 100

Let me know what you think in the comments.

I'll post my reaction soon, i don't want to taint the jury pool just yet.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

This is my first shuffle in a while where i've actually had pants on while writing it, so that's a plus (depending on how you look at it, i guess.) I'm at my new office and despite having thousands of things to do, i'm staying true to the Shuffle. For those of you who don't know, i started my own promotional marketing company and we just moved in to our brand new, 2 room office this morning. It beats writing on my couch at home, although i did enjoy being able to watch the 11 am sportcenter and eating Cheerio's for lunch. But eventually, all good laziness must come to an end and i'm happy to be back doing something meaningful with my existence. There was a lot of negativity in my life last week and i'm happy to be starting this week off with a better attitude and a little more hope for humanity. And it doesn't hurt that i already went and purchased a brand new 30gb iPod video that holds all of my songs (instead of having to delete something old before adding something new, as was the case with my now stolen iPod.) There is a silver lining to everything and in this case, it's a silver and black lining with a color screen. Now on with my life and on with the shuffle.

1. Space Cowboy - Steve Miller Band
Good god, for all the positivity i just spouted, this was not what i needed as the first song of the day... Didn't Nsync have a song called Space Cowboy as well? (Don't ask how i know that. Just shutup. Shut. Up.) Anyway, funny story about Steve Miller Band. Back in high school, Adam Mortemore and I went to see Tom Petty at America West Arena. Before Petty came on stage they announced that with your ticket stub from the Petty show, you could get into the Steve Miller Band/George Thoroughgood show the following week, for free. I'd never heard of a buy one, get one free concert ticket, but hey, we were going. So we got a big crew together and went out to Desert Sky Pavillion (and yes, i realize that both of the venues i've talked about have new names, but i will not bow to the corporate naming rights phenomenon. Chase Field will always be BOB, Invesco Field will always be Mile High, and America West Arena will never be US Airways Center and Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion will never be Cricket. That's just the way it is.) Well anyway, George Thoroughgood sucked and Steve "Guitar" Miller was a lot of fun. After the show we hung out in the parking lot with two 20+ year old ladies who must of thought that were 20+ year old guys (we were like 17 tops and we would be damned before we would have told them any different) and then on the drive home, with them driving next to us, they flashed us. Yes, at 17 we were excited to see boobies, and that's what i remember most.

2. Two Points for Honesty - Guster
Guster is hugely underrated and one of the only bands from that college rock, Dispatch, OAR, backwards white hat, midwest type rock genre that is still surviving. I've always liked them and i definitely love this song. For such a happy band, this song is pretty angry. But the first line is, "If that's all you will be, you'll be a waste of time." And maybe this song hits home for me too because the second line is something like "You've dreamed a thousand dreams, none seem to stick in your mind." And that line pretty much describes me and the last 5-8 years of my life in all of its ADD glory. Something to be proud of right there.

3. (Let it be noted that another Steve Miller Band song came up in this spot and i just hit next as i shook my head with disgust. 4,278 songs and i get 2 Steve Millers in the first 5. Unbelievable.)
Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama - I Shall Not Walk Alone, off of Live at the Apollo
Today's shuffle should be called the 6 degrees of concerts i've been to. So at the aforementioned Tom Petty concert, the opener was the Blind Boys of Alabama, who by far were one of the most entertaining and enjoyable openers i've ever seen. I think i've written about that show before, so i won't go into huge detail, but these guys are actually blind and they'll get up in the middle of the show and start walking around the stage and the poor bass player will literally have to stop playing and go follow them around the stage making sure they don't trip or fall of the stage. It's high comedy. But anyway, even being as white as i am, i would have loved, LOVED, to be at this show, at the Apollo. This whole CD is magnificent and about as soulful as humanly possible. Ben Harper's low voice combined with the Southern Baptist Church choir feel of the Blind Boys is a juxtaposition for the ages. Please let me send you this CD. Just ask. I'm begging you to let me share it.

4. Angel from Montgomery - Dave Mathews Band
This is a cover that DMB does live and although the recording quality sucks, it's a good song. It originally by John Prine but Bonnie Rait did it as well. The other cool aspect of this song is that Dave only sings the chorus. It's actually the violin player singing, which i think has only happened on a few live songs. (Additionally, an search shows that Toby Keith is starring in a movie this year called Angel from Montgomery. Maybe they'll have a free screening of it at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill in Las Vegas. What's next from Toby? A fragrance perhaps? Everyone else has one. How about "Freedom Ain't Free" Eau Du Toillette by Toby Keith - An aromatic yet rugged mixture of Bud Light, Axle grease from a Chevy Truck and a hint of blood from wounded American soldiers. What an asshole.)

5. Table for Glasses - Jimmy Eat World, off of Clarity
People obsess over Clarity like they obsess over Radiohead. And don't get me wrong, i like the album, but I like others better. I have to be in the right mood to listen to Clarity and as we all know, i can never really love a CD unless i can listen to it anytime, anywhere and in any mood. This is a CD that i'll let play when it comes on and when it's over, i'll always remark to myself that it's a really beautiful album and that i really enjoyed listening to it, but i can't actually remember stopping what i was doing and paying specific attention to the details of the music. And i think this scene from High Fidelity pretty much articulates what i mean (and is pretty much a microcasm of this entire blog, including the Monday mix tape reference, me being physically unable to post the Monday MORNING shuffle before noon and my wierd feelings for "sad bastard music."):
[Rob turns off Barry's tape]
Barry: OK, buddy, uh, I was just tryin' to cheer us up so go ahead. Put on some old sad bastard music, see if I care.
Rob: I don't wanna hear old sad bastard music, Barry, I just want something I can ignore.
Barry: Here's the thing. I made that tape special for today. My special Monday morning for *you*... special.
Rob: Well, it's fuckin' Monday afternoon! You should get out of bed earlier!

Ha ha. Perfect. Love you guys.
Have a good day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Giving Thanks

Usually people do this kind of thing during Thanksgiving. But, in the Wright family, we do it at Christmas dinner with Grandpa. He sits at the head of the table and calls on the oldest person first. My cousin Lexi is older than me but she lives in Hong Kong and hasn't been around the last few years to cover for me. That leaves me as the oldest in attendance, and the first one that Grandpa calls on to talk about, "What they're thankful for and why." And given my bouts with ADD (and despite me knowledge that it's coming), i never have anything prepared. Fortunately, I'm an immaculate bullshitter (hey, it got me through high school AND college. I can't do simple math in my head, but i have a degree. You want to fight me on this?!?), so, at Christmas, i say a bunch of stuff about family and love and priorities, which is usually all true and i come off as the spontaneous hero and spiritual role model of my young family. Good times, trust me.
So anyway, this year, I'm taking Grandpa's challenge seriously. I've already planned my speech, and thanks to Grandpa's week in the hospital, it has never been easier. But, i thought I'd take it a step further and talk about the music and the musical people i am thankful for. And just to be warned, this may be an ongoing post because I'm sure i won't think of everything this minute. In fact, I'm just going to post one (or 3 as it turned out) thing right now, and then post sequential "Thanks" as we go towards x-mas and the new year. And maybe this will be a year-round thing, after all, why should we only be thankful during one time of the year? We'll see.

Alright, the first thing I'm musically thankful for:
This was really tough. Do i owe it to IM? Limewire? Chris Perry? (who, by the way, has hooked me up with more bands in the past 6 months (before they've become amazingly popular ie. Panic at the Disco, Lydia, Paramore, etc.) than anyone else? OK, it's cheesy, but i have to thank this blogging community. It's not the juggernaut i thought it'd be by now, but I'm an impatient and generally cranky person. It's grown by leaps and bounds since I've become a part of it. Ron wrote first in Political.Pop.Culture and many have followed suit. It's growing gradually and gaining serious steam. And for that i am happy and visibly excited. I've tried to have one blog each for all of the things I'm interested in but found myself posting about music more than anything else, hands down. And I've discovered so many new bands. A short, off the top of the head list: Augustana, Matt Costa, The Decemberists, Neutral Milk Hotel, Iron & Wine, Lupe Fiasco, Arcade Fire, Alexi Murdoch and Michael Franti, just to name a very small few. These were all thanks to Suzanne, Sara, Ron, Courtney, Laura, Erika and many others who have joined this small force.

The second, and i believe he deserves his own section (and maybe one day, his own radio station), Nole. Because he took his love of music the farthest of anyone but knew his priorities when he had enough. And he stays so true to his roots (allowing that his roots are more than a love of POD? AHHHHHHH.) From "This Song Can't be About Blowing Stuff Up Because of Terrorism" to Freeverse to the recent Led Zeppelin Top 5, Nole has always been a musical lighthouse for me to follow. Sure, some ships follow the light and run horribly aground to the oily dismay of many seagulls, penguins and otters, but for the most part, he has lead us through the rocky shores of the damn Black Eyed Peas and towards the safe port of Johnny Cash and others. And Ron deserves his own spot here too because even though he is often the driver of the bandwagon, his open minded-ness has turned us on to some music that most of us would have missed (ie. Michelle Branch). If you're the guy testing the aim of the new batting cage machines, you've got to be ready to get plunked a time or two. But you're also going to rack some homers. Thanks Ron.

Third, I'd like to thank Monday mornings, iTunes, iPods, Limewire, AIM, Discmans, Walkmans, headphones, earbuds, vinyl, the Internet, blogs; DJs Span Phly, AM and Z-Trip; my cousin Matt (who introduced me to Punk), Donny Ducote (who introduced me to grunge and angst), my girl T from Boulder (who introduced me to hip hop), Courtney (who introduced me to Emo and depression, love you Claw); the Stugo sound system, Mike Flosi and Brett Kaufman; Y95, Power 92.3 (before it was rap), 103.9 (when it was the Blaze, and now that it's back to being the Edge), the Clubhouse, the Modified, The Marquee, Hayden Lawn, Red Rocks, the Fillmore, my 500gb external hard drive, my parents record collection; and Coheed and Cambria, Thrice, Yellowcard and Thursday (who really pulled me back into loving music after a deep, deep period of losing hope back in 2003). For without these things and people, none of this would exist today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Led Zep Top 5

Gotta thank Nole for getting this started. I was having major writers block until i saw his post and i was going to leave this in his comments and then it just got carried away. Make sure you visit Nole's blog to see his thoughts and post on this topic yourselves too you lazy asses.

OK, top 5 zep songs of all time (with apologies to Good Times, Bad Times):
5. Since I've Been Loving You.
The blues riffs and solos in this song are just so smooth. And the vocals are sweet too. If Led Zeppelin had been Phish, this song would have lasted 28 minutes.

4. Kashmir - One of the coolest songs of all time. Hands down. Ever. It just is infectious. And never has a song been so simple yet sound so big and powerful. It's only this low because of P-Diddy (and Ron), who spent many many hours rhyming over exact same riff. And no, i don't care that he had Page and Plants permission and participation.

3. Nobody's Fault But Mine - Gotta love the guitar in this. And the vocals (No-no-no-no-no-no-no-noooooooobody's fault but mine). And the drums. And everything. But you have to stand and applaud at the damn harmonica. John Popper eat your cholesterol clogged heart out! (That joke doesn't work anymore because of this.) This song, in this top 5, is like that figure skater or gymnast in the Olympics who has to do their routine too early in the program and basically can't get 10s from the judges no matter how good they are because the judges are saving the 10s for later. It would be higher, but it can't be higher than Ramble On or Over the Hills and Far Away (or When the Levee Breaks for that matter, but Nole already used that one.) I used to put this song on repeat and walk from class to class at ASU just listening to this over and over and blatantly singing and air-guitaring on a crowded walkway and not giving the slightest shit how weird people thought i was. And that's how good this song is, it makes you rock out. You don't have any control over it. This song owns you. You're its bitch. You might as well lay back and enjoy it. It'll be over in about 6 minutes.

2. Ramble On - Flea and Les Claypool might, and i mean might, be able to play this bassline exactly. (Alright, i'm exaggerating, Flea could definitely rock this part, but that shouldn't take away that never, in my time playing bass, did my fingers even come close to moving that fast.) The part during the chorus is mind blowing. And the Lord of the Rings reference can't be beat: "In the darkest steps of Mordor, i met a girl so fair, but Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her." Now Eragon, Nate and I have to go track the Uruakai westward across the plain.

1. Over the Hills and Far Away - You never forget your first love. The guitar at the beginning almost sounds like a question being posed. And then when the drum kick comes in, that's the beginning of the answer. And i guess the lyrics fit that too. The guy says, Hey lady, you got the love i need. Are gonna give it to me? And then goes on to convince her why she should. (I'm not on drugs, but sometimes i think if i was, that would explain a whole lot.) I've mentioned before my passion for songs that start out slow or quiet and build up to some amazing crescendo (G&R - November Rain, Weezer - Only In Dreams, etc.) and this song gets there in a hurry but it feels like there is more wheeling, turning, tumbling fury as the song plays until about 40 seconds left and then it bottoms out into a quietness before coming back about half volume to end the song. It's like the guy paused to wait for the girls answer, she said yes, he grabbed her hand and walked off. I can see the scene in my head. And that my friends is MUSIC.

And i don't mean to put a damper on this post by ending it this way, but my garage and car were broken into last night and what do you think they stole that bothered me the most? It wasn't the golf clubs, the power tools, the skateboards or the feeling of peace and security that my neighborhood USED to give me. It was my fucking iPod (and 20 assorted CDs). And they took the tape adapter and the charger too so they probably drove away scrolling through my 4,000 songs, my belongings hastily thrown in the back of a truck. (I'm trying so hard not to assume their race right now but i'm guessing i didn't have anything they wanted to hear.) Anyway, i'm not looking for sympathy or anything but it's anecdotal evidence of how much i love music and i thought that was important to share.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle (The slacker afternoon edition)

1. Faithfully – Journey, off of Journey’s Greatest Hits
Journey is just fantastic. I know, I know, it’s 80s and cheesy and everything but they’re also great for all those same reasons. And really, can you think of a song that has covered this topic in the last 20 years??? No, because it hasn’t been done. When I think of Steve Perry and Journey, I think of some of the hardest partying, groupie shacking rock and rollers out there and it’s hard for me to believe that they wrote a song about how hard it is to be on the road and miss their families and their wives while traveling around and then promising to be forever theirs, faithfully. It just cracks me up. And you know you like it too, stop lying to yourselves.

2. Atomic Dog – George Clinton
Let’s put it this way: Without this song Snoop Dogg has no career. George Clinton has really gotten screwed/left out of this whole forefather of hip-hop conversation. He probably would have made billions in royalties if he was The Beatles, but instead he had his just had his beats robbed from him by the word “sampling” which is somehow different that “stealing.” Puff Daddy alone owes George millions. Let’s move on.

3. Arrive Alive – Before Braille, off of The Rumor
B4B has already made an appearance on the shuffle before so I don’t need to tell you again how much I like them. I was looking at their myspace the other day however and it doesn’t look like they’ll be doing any new stuff anytime soon. That’s pretty upsetting to me but the good news is that Rajiv gets back from his mission any day now so I’m excited to have his guitar skills back in the area. I hope to hear something new and great from him soon. Maybe he can re-energize the guys. The Rumor was their first full-length CD and i’m still really impressed with it. For a local, small label release, it is just mastered and arranged so well. Like I’ve said before, the order of the songs matter so much and I think The Rumor is one of the finest examples of that I’ve found.

4. Autographs & Apologies – Motion City Soundtrack, off of I Am the Movie
You know those CD samplers you get when you buy shoes at Industrial or pick up for free at a concert or festival? Well I got one from Epitaph a while back and it had this super-catchy song called The Future Freaks Me Out by this band called the Motion City Soundtrack. The future was in fact freaking me out at the time so I loaded my car up with stuff and took off for about 3 weeks. On the way out of town I bought this CD and spent the next 3 weeks listening to it, digesting it, singing along with it. It was amazing timing. The struggles that the songwriter was going through and the struggles I was having were common in many way and of course that just sucks you deeper into any album. “Long lasting this obsession, from sleepless Mays, to Denver cold. Somewhere in between, I threw myself away.” Good stuff. But the real artwork comes on the song Modern Chemistry, a little ditty about therapy and psychiatric medicine that goes like this:
“i barely have the motivation
they say i suffer from a lack of serotonin synapses
they happen too
infrequently for me to be functioning properly
i took the pills i took the advice the panic stopped
but still i'm not right”
You work the words serotonin synapses into a song and then call me.

5. Those Sweet Words – Norah Jones, off of Feels Like Home
It’s weird how this CD never got the acclaim of the first one, even though it’s so similar. Anyway, I’ve always liked Norah. Her voice is a warm blanket, or hot chocolate, or a fire in the fireplace or a second glass of red wine or a Crown and water. Ok, maybe the last one’s just for me but seriously, you know what I’m saying. Norah is that warm tingly feeling in your belly. And that’s all I have to say about that.

And in other news, a beautiful and talented new voice has entered this conversation about music, and in turn, life. Laura is, like many of us, a frustrated journalism major searching for a medium to express her ideas and thoughts. And after some encouragement, I think she’s found an excellent venue. Check her newest words out in my link section and give her your love and thoughts in the comments.