Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#39: Beastie Boys-(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!!!) (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!!!)"
Artist: Beastie Boys
Release Date: February, 1987
From The Album: Licensed To Ill (1986)

Quick Take: "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" (sometimes shortened to "Fight for Your Right") is a song by American group the Beastie Boys, released as the fourth single released from their debut album Licensed to Ill (1986). One of their best-known songs, it reached no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of March 7, and was later named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The Beastie Boys also included the track on their hits album, The Sounds of Science in 1999, and Solid Gold Hits in 2005. The song, written by Adam Yauch and band friend Tom "Tommy Triphammer" Cushman (who appears in the video), was intended as an ironic parody of "party" and "attitude"-themed songs, such as "Smokin' in the Boys Room" and "I Wanna Rock". However, the irony was lost on most listeners. Mike D commented that, "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to "Fight for Your Right" who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Albums Of 2014

Just a quick look here at the 20 albums from the past year that struck me as my favorites. There were several...and I repeat...several albums I did not pick up when I probably should have. So unlike past years, I cut my purchase rate by a third as well as my consumption by a quarter ( I did stream quite a few albums I decided to pass on til a later date that never ever actually really happened. Sorry Beck...and The New Pornographers.....and Swans...and the list could go on for awhile.)

So I can tell you this. I did not like the Tune-Yards album this year. It was my biggest purchase disappointment. I was less than enamored with the new Horrors album. I found the new Elbow album to be a little too comfortable. And I think the Orwells and Twin peaks are just two reasons the Chicago scene is starting to light up a new genre of garage rock soon, but I'll leave them off the list for now. Maybe next year. This year was filled with a lot of melancholy but a lot of great albums fit that bill. Here's my 20 favorite albums I purchased from the past year.

Also, take time to vote on our reader's poll on the side-panel of the blog. Cheers and Happy new year! A songs list is ready to be released next Monday. Thanks for reading again!!!

20. Fear Of Men-Loom
JHO Take: Like if the Cranberries found time travel from 1995 to the future this is what would happen. They would release their debut album Loom under the name Fear Of Men. Anyone listening would mistake Luna, Waterfall or America as the best Dolores O'Riordan songs she ever penned but it's not her. It's Jess Weiss. And once the rest of the band catches up to the intensity of Weiss' lyrics, this Brighton outfit will be a force to reckon with. Until then, Loom is one solid and very enjoyable debut. Just enough to crack my Top 20 for this year.

19. Ryan Adams-Ryan Adams
JHO Take: Hey, I'm a sucker for early 80's AOR music and Adams hit me in the gut with his latest self titled album. Each guitar chord rings like it should be playing through an 8 track in your brand new 1980 Chevy Camaro. It's not Adams' strongest effort but I couldn't shake not liking it enough to not include it on my year end list. This album's got some charisma. Like a Mathew McConaughey charisma. And he's made a comeback. Why ignore Adams when all he wants to do is rock it like Jackson Browne? Gimme Something Good, Gimme Something Good, Gimme Something....

18. The Antlers-Familiars
JHO Take: Gimme some more sad stately horns man! I mean with each passing song on Familiars, the despair grows and the horns bellow. If that's the effect they were going for, then they did us justice! But not for every mood, Hotel, Palace and Intruders are the real keepers here. The rest fit the soundtrack perfectly. They lost the intensity from Burst Apart a little bit but they added horns man! And that is enough to label it a Top 20 fave of mine from 2014.

17. The Rural Albert Advantage-Mended With Gold
JHO Take: What I take away from the latest album from Canadian outfit Rural Albert Advantage is they do everything with a straight face. They remind me of My Morning Jacket without the Peanut Butter Pudding Surprises or odes to Black Metal. this is a serious album but yet a seriously great written album. Every song chugs along at just the right pace and is a perfect soundtrack for any long drive in cold climate conditions. Will keep an eye out for what's next for this undervalued album of 2014. Not cool enough for the hipsters...not rocking enough for the can't get the 90's out of my head brainwashed. This is music that is truly mended with gold.

16. Augustines-Augustines
JHO Take: And speaking of not cool enough for hipsters, the Augustines would fit into this group as well. I mean, they wrote the album U2 wish they would would have recorded and put on iTunes for free for everyone. In another generation and time, Augustines released an album that would have gotten radio play, a guest spot on SNL and a place above and beyond the MTV Buzz Bin. In 2014, they will receive small chatter in certain quarters with a self assured, wearing your heart on your sleeve albums that bristles with fine tunes. If only the Gaslight Anthem had followed suit with that in 2014...

15. Parquet Courts-Sunbathing Animal
JHO Take: There's a certain point during the self titled song on the sophomore album where Andrew Savage just loses his shit and starts regurgitating the line Sunbathing Animal and I just gave in. And the rest of the album fell into place...especially the sad ending to Instant Disassembly and the really smart rocking Always Back In Town. This fellas ain't no one trick pony. There's enough humor and innovative song craft here to make anyone smirk or shake their head in disapproval. But that's what makes the great albums great and Sunbathing Animal, to me at least, is a great album.

14. Ages and Ages-Divisionary
JHO Take: The harmonies on the intro to Ages and Ages' first song on Divisionary, Light Goes Out, is so damn affirming you don't want it to ever end. But it does. And fortunately, the rest of the album doesn't slide much from the graces of the opening salvo. Like Fleetwood Mac meeting the gang from Arcade Fire and deciding to do a bit of gospel and folk, Divisionary is the perfect antidote for anyone sick of the bands trying to be happy and quirky without anything meaningful to say behind it. I mean the last song on the album pleads you to stop and think and do the right thing...via four part harmonies. Can we have more bands like Ages and Ages step up and do the right thing too????

13. Damien Jurado-Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son
JHO Take: Somehow, the latest from Jurado got lost in the shuffle for me early on this year. But sometime this fall I returned to the man who decided to Return To Maraqopa and I fell in love with yet another great album from this Northwest stalwart of a songwriter. A bit more layered than previous outings, Borthers...still holds Jurado's best qualities of mixing songwriting that is honest without laying on the layers of sob. It's a middle ground of feeling down but still holding your head high for the next blow to come your way. And the last rack even sounds happy..optimistic. Maybe Jurado's next path will be a sunny power pop affair. Nah.

12. Angel Olsen-Burn Your Fire For No Witness
JHO Take: I think Linda Rondstadt every time I listen to Angel Olsen's album. And that's a knock that isn't negative. It's a relatively cool thing. Raw and brutally honest in spots, Burn Your Fire For No Witness has a certain cocksure certainty to it. Is it becuase one song is titled Unfucktheworld? Maybe. But High Five and High and Wild are just bangers..songs with warped guitars and piano stanzas that beg to be played from your local music hall for a religious experience. And Olsen isn't afraid to let it all out there. Like Sharon Van Etten's Tramps a couple years back, Olsen has now got my eye as the female singer songwriter to keep an eye out for. The funny thing is Van Etten outdid Tramp this year but we'll get to that a bit later down the list.

11. Bombay Bicycle Club-So Long, See You Tomorrow
JHO Take: These lads from England ride every song on a thin line of just being enough left of center to keep my attention and So Long, See You Tomorrow varies enough throughout to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen. They do electronic mash ups (Carry Me), Jonsi knock offs (It's Alright), touching love songs (Can't Take My Eyes Off), Indian pop (Feel), and throbbing pop songs (Come To) in a matter of 40 plus minutes. That's no small feet. A recent favorite band of mine Yeasayer could be lumped into this pop-extravagannza of world beats but they've retreated into a dark place on their last offering. Bombay Bicycle Club let their feelings and vibes burst with color and that's what makes this such an engaging album even if I don't plan on closely following the band days down the road. This was music to make me smile in 2014.

10. St. Vincent-St.Vincent
JHO Take: Annie Clark has clearly become the critic's darling and her self titled 2014 release has cemented her into every Top whatever list you're gonna see from this year. And it should receive the praise because the album is full of robotic but hefty tunes. She's become the female David Byrne for this generation in many ways. Music to bounce your head with while taking a sardonic look at the way we live. There's not a weak song here at all and the strong ones REALLY are that good. I don't think a line touches the way we live more than "People turn the TV on it looks just like a window." All songs follow that smashing observation. The rest of the album follows its lead. We are slaves to technology and St. Vincent is your soundtrack. What's the point of doing anything?

9. Chad VanGaalen-Shrink Dust
JHO Take: Chad VanGaalen comes from a strange land. I don't know how to describe Shrink Dust except it is beautiful in its grotesqueness. He has self conscious issues on Monster, he does a ditty about a Hangman's Son, he does some weird sci fi tricks on Where Are You?, he portrays 60's garage rock as the coolest strand of nostalgia on Cut Off My Hands, he makes use of the title Evil in the track of the same name better than I've ever heard it described before...he's Canada's Wayne Coyne without performing in a bubble. And I really dig Shrink Dust. It's weird. But you kinda need that shake up once in awhile.

8. Strand Of Oaks-HEAL
JHO Take: With all the back stories and tragedy surrounding Strands Of Oak's concept behind HEAL, you have to admire this fact: This album is catharsis to the T for those who need to, well, heal. Timothy Showalter (originally from Indiana) was in a car crash just last year and decided on this album to put all his efforts into writing an album to allow himself to rebound. It's powerful and never allows you time to wander about other things. The album kicks off with one of the best choruses of 2014 on Goshen 97 and Showalter just pours out enough sweat to make you want to listen to every story that follows on each song. Truly an inspirational album without any moments of kookiness. He's on the heels of Kurt Vile and The War On Drugs as Philadelphia's (where he resides now) prized possessions in music 

7. Cloud Nothings-Here And Nowhere Else
JHO Take: I have to admit that the first few times I listened to Cloud Nothings' latest album I wish that the boys would have let up just a little bit. Here And Nowhere Else is without a doubt the hardest working album I've heard this decade. It doesn't let you stop and breathe at all. But that's the point of it and it finally sunk in that banging your head into a wall over and over is sometimes better than not banging the wall to begin with. Sounds dumb right? Stupid analogy? The breakneck rhythm section is detrimental to these guys true core. It's raw and each song rocks. While many rock artists (I can't count them) have retreated into safer havens, Cloud Nothings may be the last rock outfit to do just what they set out to do. Rock out at every moment given. Turn it up to 11? That's cliche. But who else is doing that these days?

6. Real Estate-Atlas
JHO Take: And if Cloud Nothings bear the torch as the last remaining rock band in my eyes, then thank god I have Real Estate to keep me grounded with the volume turned down to 3. Atlas is so effortless but yet so charming. I could write the same things about Real Estate albums ten years from now and one thing remains true. This is music I want to drink lemonade to on the porch in late May at dusk and ponder just how good life has really treated me. It's simple music sure but it's pure. And every song here fits perfectly with one another. 

5. Spoon-They Want My Soul
JHO Take: It's crazy that you could call Spoon's 2014 album a come back, but I've been clamoring for something new from the most consistent rock band since the turn of the century and guess what? They didn't disappoint me at all. In fact, they released one of their strongest efforts after a 4 year hiatus. Expectations are always high and Brit Daniel and mates laid down a smart, even rocking, effort still in the constrained nature we've become accustom to. There's a lot of bite to the songs on They Want My Soul while adding textures to songs they never had dabbled in before. Inside Out is trip hop fanaticism, Do You is a should of been world wide hit and Rainy Taxi has one of the coolest vibes in a song in 2014. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can always count on taxes and consistently great releases from Spoon, thank god for the latter.

4. Mac DeMarco-Salad Days
JHO Take: It's a slacker delight. DeMarco is a pure songwriting one man wrecking ball. What gets me most on Salad Days is how the guitar is lazy, but in a strange sunny way. Every song has that effect of lazy, sunny afternoons somewhere better than where you are sitting now. And lyrically, DeMarco isn't afraid to lay down the right words at the right time. My only gripe at first was the programmed drum beats (I believe they're programmed, they're too perfect not to be). But after several listens I threw that caution to the wind and thoroughly enjoyed all of Salad Days. Really not a stinker in the bunch here at all.

3. The War On Drugs-Lost In The Dream
JHO Take: There's so much work being put into Lost In The Dream. Every song is constructed for that American dream that is so out of touch. Adam Granduciel locked himself in his house with the curtains drawn for several months and came out stronger with Lost In The Dream. It is truly the workman's album. The haze is lifted from prior release Slave Ambient to reveal that Granduciel has become one of the truly innovative American songwriters for this generation. I love that he coyingly channels Petty and Knopfler throughout the album but gives these songs a character of their own. When my father passed away earlier this month, the song on the iPod that came up was the title track when I pulled up to my Aunt's house at dusk. I knew there was something ending soon and I will always associate it with my dad's death. He would've loved Lost In The Dream, it was his kinda vibe. Miss him already...

2. Sharon Van Etten-Are We There
JHO Take: I have little to say here except that if Van Etten was around in the 90s during the Lilith Fair days, she would've headlined. What a voice! And what a great soundtrack for a nice roadtrip down old memory lanes in the country. Van Etten actually outdid what she accomplished on her previous effort Tramp. She hit a grand slam. Stripping back the heavy dramatic effects from Tramp but yet building stronger songs from the core, Are We There is an album from the female artist who should be receiving tons of accolades for her achievements right now in recording. Your Love IS Killing Me and Every Time The Sun Comes Up are both killer tracks. Best female artist out there right now. Period.

1. Sun Kil Moon-Benji
JHO Take: Let's get this aside. I'm a bit distraught about how Mark Kozelek was pigeonholed as a jackass for his comments on Adam Granduciel and War On Drugs earlier this year. It became a headline that kinda ruined the hype of the hands down best album of 2014, Benji. It's true that Kozalek reacted a bit of a dick in the way he kept feeding the fire by poking at the media bear with tongue in cheek songs about the affair. 

But let me say why Benji is the best album of 2014. It was challenging. I didn't always stick around for songs when I wasn't in the mood. But when I was, I damn fell in love with every song on it. The storytelling and raw emotions were conveyed in an unbelievably great way. Several people die on Benji. Kozalek doesn't pull out any big showstoppers. The whole album is a showstopper. The characters he sings about from his past are sad and humorous. They're all part of his life and it's a confessional approach that he uses that truly wins the listener over if they're paying attention enough. If you ever need a glossary to all the characters and places that Kozalek sings about it here it is Glossary to Benji

I don't know, maybe empathize with Kozalek because he grew up in Masillon, Ohio and it sort of reminds me of my own hometown in West Virginia I grew up in. The characters are similar in so many different ways. Benji is definitely not for everyday listening but I tell you, when the mood strikes, there wasn't a better album released in 2014 than Benji. I will always remember this year for that album in particular. And yes, it was named for the movie about the dog with the same name. Hang that on your flagpole and let's look forward to another great year of music in 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

#40: Pearl Jam-Alive (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Alive"
Artist: Pearl Jam
Release Date: May, 1998
From The Album: Ten (1991)

Quick Take: The first single and video from Pearl Jam's smash 1991 debut, Ten, "Alive" wasn't the huge hit that its follow-ups were, but its late-night airplay on MTV was crucial in helping break the band into the big time. While "Alive" had a big, stadium-ready chorus, it was also subtler, less macho, and less grandiose than true arena rock. Acoustic guitars played an important supporting role underneath the warm fuzz-tone of the electrics, and the slower tempo gave vocalist Eddie Vedder a chance to hold back and show the gentle side of his rich, sonorous voice, thus creating a greater contrast when he kicked up the intensity. The opening riff creates a sort of seesaw effect, sliding back and forth from a power chord to a single-note melody rising as though out of a cloud. Jeff Ament proves himself a terrific bassist, never riding the root note of the chord but sliding up and down, often providing a contrasting harmony with the single-note part of the riff. Vedder's lyrics seem to concern traumatic episodes in the past, whether in family or love; however, the specifics are often left unclear, communicating the discomfort only through a sort of hazy, impressionistic, half-repressed memory. It's probably safe to assume that the intent of the chorus ("I, oh, I'm still alive") is to make the song a tough-survivor anthem, although one does wonder if the singer feels any ambivalence about the value of having made it this far. "Alive" closes with an extended guitar solo by Mike McCready, whose licks are inspired by blues rockers like Clapton and Hendrix, but aren't really bluesy themselves, instead sounding filtered through classic rock. It adds a final epic touch to the song, as though the lyric-centered part of the song simply wasn't enough to achieve complete catharsis.

Friday, December 12, 2014

#41: Beastie Boys-Intergalactic (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Intergalactic"
Artist: Beastie Boys
Release Date: May, 1998
From The Album: Hello Nasty (1998)

Quick Take: "Intergalactic" is a song by American hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, released as the first single from their fifth studio album Hello Nasty on May 12, 1998.The single hit #28 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, making it the band's third Top 40 single there. It also reached #5 on the UK Singles Chart, where it remains the band's biggest hit in the country. The song received a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1999.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#42: Red Hot Chili Peppers-Higher Ground (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Higher Ground"
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Release Date: April, 1989
From The Album: Mother's Milk (1989)

Quick Take: The Red Hot Chili Peppers released a cover as the first single from their fourth studio album Mother's Milk. Their version earned an MTV Video Award nomination. It was featured in the films Passenger 57 (1992), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995), Center Stage (2000), Walking Tall (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), The Karate Kid (2010), and The Change-Up (2011). This version has also been played in a season one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1991). It is also featured in the video games Guitar Hero, Rocksmith, and SSX3 (in SSX3, a remixed version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers version done by the X-Ecutioners was used). The music video was featured in an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head. The song was used by FX to promote The Ultimate Fighter: Live and it also serves as the show's theme song.
Courtesy: Wikipedia