Current Listens

Crack Up – Fleet Foxes (new release)

Ten – Pearl Jam (1991). Bangin.

Love and War – Brad Paisley (2017). this one has some crazy features on it, most notably Mick Jagger and John Fogerty. The title track is my favorite thus far.

My Aim Is True – Elvis Costello (1977). Not a new one for me, but this album is so damn good I’m hooked all over again.

Closer – Joy Division (1980). I couldn’t get with Joy Division before, but I’m giving it another chance.

Automatic for the People – R.E.M. (1992)

Murmur – R.E.M. (1983). My favorite R.E.M. Album at the moment.

Top 5 Favorite Solo Artists

5. Carole King 

She wrote a dozen of #1 hits for other artists throughout the 60’s before even starting her solo career. Tapestry was the best selling female solo album for decades, and rightfully so. It’s an acoustic masterpiece and my favorite of hers. Her first 3 albums are all beauty’s. Apparently King is one of the gifted musicians with perfect pitch too.

4. Elvis Costello

The revival of the rocker. My favorite album, My Aim is True, is a masterful display of soft punk rock. It’s honest and harsh, yet childish and innocent. I know He always had a backing band like the attractions or the imposters, but seriously Elvis Costello was the face.

3. Van Morrison 

Favorite album: Moondance. Honorable mention for Astral Weeks.

2. Jackson Browne

4 insane albums in Running on Empty, The Pretender, Jackson Browne, and Late for the Sky. The first is my favorite of all and definitely one of my favorite albums of all time. Favorite song: Love Needs a Heart

1. Neil Young

Come on who didn’t see this coming. This is THE man, THE myth, THE LEGEND. So many amazing albums, but my easy favorite is After the Gold Rush. This is the folk rock masterpiece. Top to bottom spotless. It shuffles with Revolver and Pet Sounds as my favorite album of all time. Harvest is great don’t get me wrong, but After the Gold Rush is the one. Tonight’s the Night and On the Beach are also phenomenal albums. I’d make a favorite songs list, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. 

Honorable mentions:

Bob Dylan

Billy Joel

Gordon Lightfoot 

David Bowie

John Lennon (easily had the best solo stuff out of all the former Beatles)

3 albums for a gloomy day

Sweetheart of the Rodeo – The Byrds (1968)

This is a VERY country album, thanks to Gram Parsons. It’s one of the Byrds’ best and it very well with its heavy strings and slow twang.

Cold Spring Harbor – Billy Joel (1971)

Amazing. Billy Joel’s first studio album and second best to The Stranger (1977) IMO. It is not only the atmosphere that the music creates, but the album’s name and cover that really initiates the cold feeling. What’s really great is how slow piano ballads like “tomorrow is today” are offset by quicker, upbeat pop songs like “everybody loves you now”. Also, I dig that mustache he used to sport.

Tapestry – Carole King (1970)

I’d really like to know if there is a better album for today. So perfect, so soft and sweet. Starts with a bang in “I Feel the Earth Move” only to be followed by a collection of heart wrenching originals. This is easily one of my favorite albums ever and a must listen above all else. Tapestry is at the pinnacle of the singer songwriter genre.

Spontaneous Concert for the great Brian Wilson

Last night I went to see Brian Wilson for the 2nd time. Let it be known that Brian is truly my hero, my favorite musical mind. He is the paragon of musical genius and the mastermind behind one of my favorite albums ever, Pet Sounds. He and his band played all the way through Per Sounds as well as the early Beach Boys pop hits and even some deep cuts that I didn’t hear the first time I saw them.

It was an amazing show. Unfortunately, his voice is done as he’s in his mid 70’s now, so some of my favorite tracks ever like “Don’t talk out your head on my shoulder” and “I just wasn’t made for these times” weren’t the same, but still amazing to see live nonetheless. I hope to see him once more on this final Pet Sounds tour and possibly the last concert of his career.

 Pet Sounds is the magnum opus of The Beach Boys and, objectively speaking, one of the greatest albums of all time. If you want to get into The Beach Boys that is one of the first reccomended listens IMO. Brian still closes every show with Love and Mercy, an amazing song that is sure to bring your eyes to water if you know Brian’s life story and history of debilitating mental illness he has had for a majority of his lifetime. As a self-proclaimed Beach  Boys super fan, I had a great time. 

Current Favorite All Time Bands

I think it’s about time I make a personal list. Also I mean bands so I’m excluding solo artists for this lists, which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t otherwise make the top 5

5. The Velvet Underground 

I’m very new to the Velvet Underground, but they have undoubtedly blown my mind to pieces. I finally realize just how influential they were and just how many artists whose sounds I can track back to the Velvet Underground. Loaded, Te Velvet Underground, and The Velvet Underground and Nico will all be new additions to my favorite albums ever list. What really makes them special is the fact that they really weren’t doing anything special: they didn’t use any really experimental studio techniques like the most recognized artists of the time. They just created great, wholesome music and that is what I truly admire.

Loaded and The Velvet Underground are my favorite albums 

4. The Flaming Lips

I’m new to this one too. Something about Wayne Coyne’s repulsively whiny vocals just gets me. I love the heavy use of synthesizers and random electronic sounds that somehow come together to produce great songs. I think they write phenomenal lyrics that are really dark in contrast to the upbeat music. I hope to see them this year while they’re on tour. 

The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are my favorite albums (the latter is one of my all time favs)

3. The Rolling Stones

There is no straight up rock band better. The Rolling Stones are the kings. Is there another group whose music is more apt for a night of partying?

Exile on Main St. is, in my opinion, the greatest pure rock and roll album ever.

2. The Beatles

Admittedly, The Beatles are the chosen ones. The masters. The group that could do literally anything and it sounded better than anything else anyone could do. There is no better collection of heart wrenching music, rock and roll, psychedelia, and R&B. In all honesty I feel the beauty more with John’s music than with Paul’s. John was the aggressive, honest visionary. Sgt. Pepper’s may have been Paul’s concept, but it was championed by John. 

Favorite albums: Rubber Soul and Revolver 

1. The Beach Boys

Now these guys really get me. Brian Wilson, the mastermind, contrived the most sonically appealing sounds I’ve ever heard. Arguably the best singing group of all time. Their discography is massive so there is a lot of subpar crap in there, but an overwhelming majority of their music in the decade after Pet Sounds is insane. Beautiful instrumentation matched with embarrassingly cheesy lyrics is basically the hallmark of The Beach Boys. I’ll have to make a comprehensive ranking of their albums in the future. For now it goes like this:

5. Wild Honey

4. Friends

3. The Beach Boys Today!

2. Surf’s Up

1. Pet Sounds

1, 2, and 3 are all interchangeable sometimes. However, Pet Sounds is the undeniable Magnum Opus and reigns supreme. # 4 and 5 may not be palatable to most, so I reccomend trying out # 3 first then moving to # 2 and 1. I’ll also make a list of my top 50 or so Beach Boys songs. 

IF YOU FUCK WITH THE BEACH BOYS YOU FUCK WITH ME!

This Week’s listens

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)

The Velvet Underground – Loaded (1970)

The Velvet Underground and Nico – The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

I know I know I’m late to the Velvet Underground party. It’s never too late though because they rock. Personally, I prefer The Velvet Underground and Loaded to The Velvet Underground and Nico at the moment. I am starting to realize just how influential they were as it seems they just kind of invent sub genres with each song. 

Top 10 Billy Joel Songs (5/13/17)

I’m going to try to make personal rankings/lists more often just to see where I stand at the moment and I can update them in the future when my opinions change (because they always do). It’s just something fun to motivate me to post more often.

Starting with Billy Joel since I am going his concert tonight after all.

10. My life

9. She’s Got a Way

8.  Vienna

7.  Tomorrow is Today

From what I’ve heard so far of Billy Joel’s first studio album, Cold Spring Harbor, I have really enjoyed. I might do a post about this whole album in the future.

6. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

I’m a really big fan of storytelling in songs. That’s what attracts me to country music.

5. Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)

4. The Stranger

3. Piano Man

Who doesn’t love this shit

2. Only the Good Die Young

I may be totally sick of hearing this song, but still undeniably one of the best and still one of my favorites. I just have to listen to it sparingly- the same way I feel about pretty much anything from Fleetwood Mac.

1. Just the Way You Are

The first time I heard this song I was bored immediately. The simple lyrics were tiring and only reaffirmed my prior belief that Billy Joel was nothing but a bubblegum songwriter. A couple more listens and I am totally hooked man I absolutely love this song. It’s so beautiful and simple. When he said “I don’t want clever conversation, I never want to work that hard,” that was all I needed. Great song.

 

I’ll try to update this post in the future some time. This list is 100% likely to change.

Billy Joel: Hear me out

It appears that there is no consensus on Billy Joel’s music. Most people either loathe him or love him. I didn’t hate him, but I never took him seriously as an artist and most other friends I have that are pretty into music aren’t hot about him either. Of course I knew all the huge pop hits of his: Piano Man, Uptown Girl (still can’t get with that one), It’s Still Rock n Roll to me, My Life, We Didn’t Start the fire, Only the Good Die Young… you get the gist. Anyways I liked those songs to an extent, but they get pretty old after a while. So he’s performing at dodger’s stadium on Saturday and the tickets are cheap as shit so I thought what the hell you know I’ll go for the hits, buuuut I decided to give some of his other stuff a try just so I know more songs at the concert. What I did know was that The Stranger is like his artistic zenith so that’s where I started. Last 3 tracks on it are whatever IMO, but for the most part that albums fuckin bangs. I’d never heard Vienna, Italian Restaraunt, Just the Way You Are, or Movin’ Out. SO HEAR ME OUT. I must admit The Stranger is a pretty good album! I moved on to the rest and I was indifferent just like before, but he does have many redeeming hits spread out across his discography. He’s great at coming up with original pop melodies that are REALLY catchy and he’s a master pianist. Personally I don’t think he’s a great lyricist, but that’s just me. I’m not bashing Billy Joel right now I am saying that he definitely has more to offer than I originally thought (I still don’t think he’s amazing so ok maybe a little bashing…. but I’m not all the way through his discography yet so who knows maybe I’ll fall in love with it).

I am actually pretty excited for this concert now!

the stranger

Top 5 Songs for a Rainy Day

Really bored. Do not feel like writing a research paper. Here are 5 great songs for a rainy day.

5. Rhythm of the Rain – The Cascades (1962)

4. And it Stoned Me – Van Morrison (1970)

Subject-appropriate. A great emotional piece that may or may not make you feel better about the depressing rain.

3. All This is That – The Beach Boys (1972)

Does not have anything to do with rain, but those harmonies are wet AF. It fits a rainy morning.

2. Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson (2005)

This song is the shit I don’t care how overplayed it is. This one always picks you up.

1. Love Song – The Cure (1989)

I know there are much more relevant songs on Disintegration to choose from, but I’d rather listen to this one while driving through the pouring rain at night.

Jackson Browne

Listened to my mom’s vinyl of Running on Empty last night while studying. I was amazed at how beautiful every song was. I always liked Jackson Browne and thought he was a great songwriter. Little did I know he’s a fuckin genius. I listened to Running on Empty and The Pretender twice each because they are just so good. Every song is nostalgic yet peaceful. It’s life in music. I especially love his cover of “Stay” it’s easily the best version of the song I have heard.