2013 November

All The Time by The Strokes

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It has been 12 years since The Strokes released their much hyped debut album “Is This It”. If you’re one of the originals on my email, you may recall a Strokes song I included in one of my first emails. The Strokes took a five year hiatus between their previous albums, but their new album “Comedown Machine” has arrived less than two years after they released “Angles”. This new album is one of their strongest in quite some time (I’d rank it 3rd behind their first two releases). The band sounds loose, and it appears they actually enjoyed recording the album instead of it being a more grueling process. The end result is a very consistent album. It’s definitely more subdued than their earlier output, but they have aged a decade since those days. I’ll admit I wasn’t an immediate fan of the band, they grew on me slowly over time. I’m not even sure how to describe what I find appealing about them. I’ve grown to appreciate Casablancas’ vocal stylings, Hammond Jr. has a somewhat unique guitar sound and they can definitely write some catchy riffs. It’s an example of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” things with this band. The track I’ve selected is the second song on Comedown Machine, “All The Time”. It sounds like vintage Strokes – Casablancas’ somewhat slurred vocals (hey, I never proclaimed to be a big lyrics guy so it’s not a concern if I can’t understand what he’s saying), some ringing guitar riffs, a propelling beat and it’s ends before you get tired of listening to it (that was meant to be a compliment).

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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It’s been 10 years since the release of their debut album “Fever To Tell” and “Mosquito” is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs fourth proper studio album. The band has changed up their sound from album to album and this is still true on their newest release. I’d say it’s more of a combination of their first two albums, with new elements added in. Their previous album “It’s Blitz” was much more synthesizer heavy, and they have definitely departed away from this sound. “Fever To Tell” was very high energy, lots of guitars, lots of squealing. The second album “Show Your Bones” was more subdued with slower, softer songs. “Mosquito” blends elements of both of these, and also adds some different sounds. It’s not the most cohesive album, but there are some interesting songs throughout the album. “Sacrilege is the lead-off track and may be the best song on the album. It definitely shows a nice progression for the band. Karen O.’s vocals are showcased on this track, which slowly builds up in intensity as the song unfolds. It also boosts the first time the band has ever leveraged a choir for some background vocals. The track “Mosquito” is campy and a bit tongue-in-cheek, but more reminiscent of what the band used to sound like. There are some cool tribal drums featured on the track, and some nice guitar work. It almost seems like the band is paying homage to what they sounded like a decade ago and can’t quite take themselves seriously. Also, you should check out the album art for this release, whether you like it or not you cannot argue that it’s not distinctive.

Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing by Ash Koley

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Ash Koley is a duo from Canada that has been making music together since 2004. The band is named after the lead singer, but the music is written by the second half, Phil. He also plays the majority of the instruments as well. The band was signed to a record label in 2009 and since then have put out 4 EPs and one proper album. The band is widely known in Canada for their hit “Don’t Let Your Feet Touch Ground.” Some of you may recognize it from SYTYCD and it was widely played during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada. Thanks to that song, the band was able to record their first proper album. The song that I have provided comes from their third EP called ‘Red’. Everything about this song caught my attention when I had a random Greys Anatomy marathon a few weeks back. I love Ash’s voice and how it pairs nicely with the tempo of the song. I also really like the flow of the song and the snare line. When this song comes on in rotation on my iPod, I can’t help but bounce to it. The video is quite enjoyable, and I must say sometimes I wanna run around in circles like Ash does when I hear this song 🙂

Daughters by Nas

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Steve dropped a song from Nas a while back, so i thought i’d share a Nas song as well. This is a song from Nas in which i’m 200% focused on the lyrics. As many of you know, the lyrical content of songs is what tends to gather my attention. Above anything, i appreciate the message that Nas is trying to convey in this song. He is speaking from life experience during the formative years of his daughter’s life. He expresses the good and the bad, how he doesn’t want his daughter to be with a guy like him, how sons and daughters are treated differently, and how no man is good enough to date his daughter. I tried to find a song that showed the lyrics on the screen, but they weren’t really PC songs. So you may have to listen to the song a few times to get his message, but its definitely one worth listening to. Nas’ flow is really steady and clear through the song, and i appreciate how the song doesn’t hit so hard like most rap songs. I also like the fact that there isn’t an r&b singer coming in and blowing out the track with their vocals, instead there is soft harmonizing from what seems like a few back up singers; which i think is much better than an mainstream r&b artist putting their own flare on it. It keeps the song organic and enables you to focus on the message that Nas is trying to convey.

Half Moon by Blind Pilot

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I’m really sad to say that this band is very new to me; very new as in i just heard them for the first time on Friday. I was watching the Ellen Degeneres Birthday show, and this band was performing (it was their first network performance). I was immediately captivated by the song. The lead singers voice is very melodic and flows easily throughout the course of the song. I also really like the simplicity of the song, the soft snare line that opens the song, the whispering piano that comes to focus during the chorus, the horns that jump in during the chorus, and the harmony of the singers are all just amazing to me. I don’t have too much info on the band, but from what Ellen said about them they appear to be up and coming. I did Google them and found that they released their debut album in 2008 and it reached #13 on the Billboard digital charts. This song comes from their second album (We Are The Tide), which was released in September 2011. The studio recording is just as good as their live performance on Ellen. I’ve included both links for you to enjoy!

Studio Version:

The Ellen Show Performance:

Raining Blood by Jeff Hanneman, RIP

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(guitarist from Slayer) – Yes, I know Slayer isn’t most people’s cup of tea, but they were a highly influential band in the metal genre and considered one of the “Big Four” in thrash metal. Forming in the early ‘80’s, Slayer really stood out from their peers with their apocalyptic atmosphere and the speed and devastation they played with. They were a highly influential band and continue to have a very loyal following. Jeff Hanneman was one of their guitarists and also wrote some of Slayer’s most memorable songs. His death this week was a surprise, caused by liver failure. However, it should be noted that Hanneman suffered a severe spider bite two years ago and almost died then. He was in a medically induced coma for a few days, almost had his arm amputated and needed several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. He rarely performed with the band again after the incident. It appears that his liver failure and death was related to that spider bite from two years ago. Here’s a couple of highly memorable Hanneman penned songs.

Fuzzbang by Coliseum

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“Fuzzbang” also starts off with feedback, before ripping straight into an awesome fuzzy guitar sound. It’s really just an all-around fun song that is completely guitar-driven. It eventually goes into a total guitar frenzy for the last minute plus, but the lyrics are kind of superfluous anyway on this track.

Black Magic Punks by Coliseum

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Coliseum formed almost 10 years ago in Louisville. The three piece band just released their 5th album this week – “Sister Faith”. The lineup has changed some over the years, but the one constant is singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson. These guys mix elements of punk, metal, and even hardcore into their sound. What I love about their new album is the energy that is present throughout, and the feeling of almost being at a concert and hearing them play live. It’s a raw sound, yet still polished enough to sound really good. If you like the tracks below, you’ll enjoy the entire album. “Black Magic Punks” starts off with some feedback and then rips right into the guitar riff that drives the song. Besides being a straightforward, hard-driving and fun song, there are some subtle touches that add to the enjoyment. Some of the isolated bass and guitar parts during instrumental sections, some cool channel mixing with the sound, the whispering “Black Magic Punks” that you probably can’t even hear without headphones. The song is over so fast there’s no time to lose interest. Plus I’m sure this track will be even better when played live.

Alibi by The Strange Familiar

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As some of you may recall, i dropped a song by this group a while back called “Redemption.” I’ve continued to be a fan of their music, so i only found it fitting to provide you with another song from them. Just a quick recap of the group, they were formed in 2006 by husband and wife (Jeff and Kira) in Ohio. They released their first EP in 2008 (You Can’t Go Back), their debut album (This is Gravity) was released in 2009 from their own independent label and they just recently released their first nationally distributed full length album in 2012 (Chasing Shadows). Many of their songs have been featured in numerous tv shows and movies. This track comes from their most recent album. Upon first hearing this song, i was drawn in by the accompaniment of the piano with the cello. The piano obviously drives the song, but the strings that fade in and out during the song are a nice addition. I also really do enjoy the fact that there is no percussion and/or drum arrangement; it makes the song a little more enjoyable for me.

State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) by Jim James

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A few of you may recognize Jim James, he is the lead singer of the band ‘My Morning Jacket’; the band has put out 6 albums since 1999. Although I wasn’t an avid listener of My Morning Jacket, Jim’s voice is very distinguishable and I’ve always enjoyed it. When I heard this song in Hawaii I instantly thought it was a song from the band, so I was surprised to find out that it was from Jim’s solo album. In early 2013 Jim released his solo album, entitled ‘Regions of Light and Sound of God.’ Since I’ve just found about his solo effort, I haven’t had the time to actually carve through the album and determine if I like any other tracks off of it; but this track definitely held my attention. What I most enjoy about Jim is his voice and during this track, it flows melodically with the piano that introduces the song. As the song progresses drums come in to add more force to the song, as well as the guitar; altogether they lift the song to a faster tempo, which I think adds value to the song. Upon searching for the song on YouTube, I was able to find a live version from a performance on the David Letterman Show. I will say that I’m partial to the live version, but for your listening pleasure I’ve provided both. Enjoy!

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUYf2yu78Ts

Live Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdmJq0GbNPs