Thursday, March 31, 2016

Random observations

I will be honest, I am burnt out on Throwback Thursday. I decided to put it on hiatus. I decided to replace the weekly series with some random observations (throw in some irreverent humor here and there). I recently decided to put the journal I was given for Christmas to good use by jotting down some random observations through out the day which includes music.

Random Observation #1: The worst hip hop music out there today has to be just about most "artists" on that trashy tv show Love and Hip Hop (Atlanta, NY, and Hollywood). This pretty much says it all. Crappy and cliched lyrics, horrible delivery.

Gimme Psalm One, Dessa, and Angel Haze over this chick and anyone on Love and Hip Hop.

Random Observation #2: There are just some songs that should NEVER be turned into a dance song, and "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman is that song.

Talk about ruining a classic song. By the way, Tracy Chapman is a goddess. You can't do no wrong with her music.

Random Observation #3: People need to hear Synthia by The Jezabels, one of the best releases of 2016. So far it is in my top spot of my favorite 2016 releases with SVIIB by School of Seven Bells right behind it.

Random Observation #4: my guilty pleasure at the moment is Joey + Rory's Hymn album. Not big on the lyrics (corny but their religious hymns hence the title of the album). It is Joey's vocals that makes the album enjoyable to listen to, she reminds me a little of her idol Dolly Parton.

Random Observationn #5: I am so tired of seeing bands like Hanzel und Gretyl, Lush, and L7 not make an effort to come to the Twin Cities. L7 is playing in Chicago but in August, I am already going to Chicago in September for Lush and it isn't a cheap affair for one person. UGH! Oh well. At least I have seen L7 live once back in 1994 at Lollapalooza. Never seen Lush live. Another thing I want to get a third lens for my DSLR camera so no L7 for sure.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Favorite Albums From the '90s: Reverence by Faithless

Faithless is easily one my top five favorite bands from the '90s. I am not positively sure how I discovered their music but I have no doubt it was on a dance compilation and/or at the now defunct nightclub in Milwaukee, WI Metropolis. The band's first two albums really resonated with me with their mix of trip hop, house, and trance music. Still do to this very day. Today's dance music lacks the soul and originality of Faithless and their counterparts at the time.

It has been awhile since I have heard their first album Reverence so here I am sitting at my desk composing tonight's blog while streaming the album via Spotify. Music still sounds amazing after 20 years since its release in 1996.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Album Of The Week: Creatures by Ari Mason

If you haven't heard of LA based artist Ari Mason then you have no idea what you are missing. I first discovered Ari Mason on Youtube a year or two ago. I was struck by her distinctive vocals and It was last year when she got signed to the label Negative Gain which made me happy. Last week her album Creatures came out. I have been waiting for a full length album from Ari and I was not disappointed. The wait was certain worth it. I most certainly recommend checking out Creatures. Favorite tracks: Dim the Lights, Beasts Tonight, Brother, and Sleep Still (my personal favorite track).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekly Playlist for 03.28.16 - 04.03.16

Looks like I am back to creating my own playlists. Spotify keeps putting together really crappy playlists despite what I stream on its website. Whatever. I hope my readers like what I put together.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Albums I am currently listening to

I have to admit after hearing the tragic story of Joey and Rory, curiosity got the best of me and I requested one of their albums from the library. I definitely not a religious person and not a huge fan of overtly religious music but I set my personal feelings aside and listened to Hymns with an open mind. Much to my surprise, I actually liked what I heard. Joey reminded me of Dolly Parton and Kasey Chambers with her. Damn shame what happened to Joey. She passed away way too soon.

I admit Ice Cube has quickly become one of my favorite rappers. AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is a solid rap album but I am find myself liking Death Certificate a bit more.

I wish Candace (formerly Is/Is) didn't move out west to Portland, OR. I never got to see them perform live when they lived in the Twin Cities. I absolutely love their music especially their new album New Future I heard a few tracks at work yesterday and loved what I heard.

Hold is one of my favorite albums I have been listening to a lot lately. Hydrah is also another act that I wish she had not moved out west but at least I got to see her live once. Definitely recommend checking her out if you dig Moby and Delerium.

Great album by one of my favorite artists that I have discovered via youtube.

I need some more time to really gather my thoughts on the new albums by Helalyn Flowers and Avarice in Audio. I need some more time for the music to grow on me to be honest.

Current favorite album right now.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Music to check out

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Favorite Albums From the '90s: Leftism by Leftfield

Leftism is another favorite album of mine from the '90s that the same former roommate who introduced me to the sounds of Delerium, Moby and other techno acts of that decade. Play by Moby, Karma by Delerium, and Leftism by Leftfield are the three albums that I was bombarded with during my time in Milwaukee and had a huge impact on my musical tastes.

What made Leftism stand out with me so much is that there is no one particular sound on the album. The music is so diverse. And the choice in guest singers is pretty damn awesome too from Toni Halliday to Johnny Lydon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Album of the week: Hold by Hydrah

As of lately I have been really digging a few 2016 releases like Heaven or Somewhere In Between by Kitten, SVIIB by School of Seven Bells, and Hold by Hydrah. Right now I am particularly fond of the Hydrah EP. I am reminded of Moby, Delerium, and Conjure One. It is like my morning and afternoon commute soundtrack. The EP is short and sweet. The music is super catchy.  I do with there was a bit more music but that's just me ;). If I didn't have work the next day, I would totally go see Hydrah live at 7th St Entry on April 24 so if you can, go see her and a few other local electronic acts perform that night.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekly Playlist for 03.21.16-03.27.16

After seeing another week of crappy or unknown artists on my weekly Discover Spotify playlist, I decided to create a new original playlist. Songs are old but most are relatively new. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Music to check out

A little late for this blog entry but I was super exhausted last night and went to bed early. Here is this week's collection of music I think my readers should check out.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday: 2002

Throwback Thursday time again. Tonight, it is all about the year 2002. Enjoy!











Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Favorite Albums From the '90s: Oceanborn by Nightwish

Of all the albums by Nightwish during the Tarja years, Oceanborn is easily my favorite album. It wasn't the first Nightwish album I had heard (that honor goes to Oceanborn). From what I have read, the band's first album Angels Fall First was more of an accident and not really meant to have been released as a proper album. As a result from that album, the band took a different and more ambitious turn and the results was Oceanborn.

I discovered Nightwish in a magazine which had an advertisement for Wishmaster which piqued my curiosity and I ended up ordering a copy online. The rest is history. I became fan immediately. I enjoyed Wishmaster but as soon as I heard Oceanborn, that album really blew Wishmaster away. I just felt that the music was overall better than on Wishmaster. After all these years, I can always thrown in Oceanborn and enjoy the album from start to finish.

On a final note, last year I went to Chicago to see Nightwish on their first half of their North American tour and got to see Floor Jansen sing a couple of songs from Oceanborn. She definitely nailed it and proved to be the perfect singer for the band in the present moment. Floor sounded amazing when she covered the songs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Album Of The Week: We Don't Even Live Here

It has been a month and I am still enjoying the hell out of P.O.S's 2012 album We Don't Even Live Here. It is one of my favorite CD purchases that I have bought this year so far. I love the production on the album. The songs are super catchy. The lyrics are described as "anarchist" which I can relate more to than the political themes in Public Enemy's music or the gangster lifestyle in NWA's music. No misogyny here which I appreciate on this album. I like some of NWA and Ice Cube's work but I cringe at the way women are viewed in their music.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Weekly Playlist for 03.14.16-03.20.16

Tonight I decided to create this week's playlist. Spotify's playlist for this week is terrible and wasn't worth sharing on my blog. This playlist I created pretty much encompasses my taste in music for the past several months. I have included my favorite hip hop tracks by P.O.S, Psalm One, Public Enemy, and Angel Haze as well as a songs from r and b band The Internet and local artist Dessa. My tastes in music has definitely evolved and it shows on this playlist I created. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Albums I am currently listening to

I have to admit hip hop/rap music is really growing on me. Still think there still is a lot of garbage in the scene (i.e anyone involved in that trash series Love and Hip Hop, heard some of the artists from that show and it was awful). Right now I am digging old Public Enemy especially Fear of a Black Planet. I love how in your face the lyrics are as well as Chuck D's booming voice. Considering today's political climate, this album as well as Public Enemy remains timeless and relevant as ever.

Not a bad album but I still prefer the originals over the reworked versions.

I can not stop listening to the new Kitten EP. It is so damn good. Great pop hooks and lyrics. Too bad Kitten is not passing through the Twin Cities on her spring tour and I can't get to Chicago on the dime.

Filofobiais one of those albums that I didn't take to when it first came out but later on find myself enjoying the music a lot more.

My favorite soundtrack as well as one of my favorite films which I just watched tonight. I do recommend watching this film. My favorite character is Snow Wolf who was just so tragic.

I have yet to get sick and tired of this album. I just love Ryan Adams' interpretations of Taylor Swift's album.

Also listening to (but the albums aren't on Spotify): Taylor Swift's 1989 and Adele's 25. Out of curiosity, I had to request Taylor Swift's album from the library (like hell I wasn't going to spend my money on a download of the album) just to compare the original with Ryan Adams' version. I think we all know which version I like 100x more and it isn't the original version. I already have posted my opinions of what I think of Taylor Swift's music so I won't regurgitate them again here.

Regarding Adele's 25, I honestly liked it more than I probably should.  Love Adele's first album 19, didn't care for 21, but now I am back to liking Adele again with her latest album. I especially love the track "Remedy".  I initially hated the song "Hello" when it first came out but funny thing is that over time the song has grown on me. Between 1989 (the original version) and 25, 25 is a much better pop album.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Album of the Week: Heaven or Somewhere In Between by Kitten

All this week I have been listening to the new Kitten EP Heaven or Somewhere in Between. I love her self-titled album. Her music has a slight retro edge mixed together with modern technology. Imagine '60s pop with today's synthpop. The hooks on the new EP is just as good as the songs from Kitten's self-titled album. The first two tracks "Fall On Me" and "Church" are exceptionally catchy. Too bad this is just an EP. I would have loved to heard a full length album. Kitten is proof that pop music can be both smart and good.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Favorite Albums From the '90s: Vegas by The Crystal Method

When I think of the '90s, the first thing that comes to my mind is techno music. Techno music at the time was truly amazing. I was introduced to techno music through a former roommate of mine when I lived in Milwaukee, WI. He got me into Delerium, Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, and The Crystal Method. One of my favorite albums during those formidable years was Vegas by The Crystal Method. The album is essentially the soundtrack to video games. I wish EDM today sounded more like Vegas and other albums I listened to in the mid to late '90s because right now it all sounds the same and pretty generic too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day

So today (March 8) is International Women's day. I thought in honor of the holiday, I would post some of my favorite female artists and their body of work that I thought my readers should check out (regardless of musical genres).

Psalm One: The Death of Frequent Flyer

This album is by far my favorite rap album ever. Nicki Minaj has nothing on Psalm One who can just spit out some mad rhymes on this classic album. The lyrics are deeply personal and often humorous. Psalm One is proof that women don't need to rely on their sex appeal to be taken serious. Check out the title track, "Beat the Drum", "Peanuts", and "Rest in Peace". Psalm One is dope. End of story. Rhymesayers should be embarassed for ignoring her for all these years after releasing this excellent album.

Ari Mason

Ari Mason is one of my favorite finds in recent years. I discovered her through youtube a couple of years ago. At the end of this month she is releasing a full length album via Negative Gain records. I am so looking forward to hearing the album.

Angel Haze: Back to the Woods

Angel Haze is my other favorite rapper. I first fell in love with the hip hop artist in 2014 when I heard Angel's song "Battle Cry" which features Sia which led me to buy Angel's album Dirty Gold. Angel was the turning point that got me to start changing my mind about hip hop music (still think some of it is garbage though). Angel's lyrics are so deeply personal and moving too. Lyrically I say Dirty Gold has the best lyrics Angel has written (so far). I say Angel is a huge musical influence on me in the past two years. Angel's latest album Back to the Woods is excellent. I have to admit I had to listen to it many times for the songs to really sink in. The title track is my personal favorite track on the album.

Invocation Array: A Color For Fiction

Invocation Array is one of my favorite bands from last year. The band features Kaia Young of The Luna Sequence (another fave of mine) and Adrianne Grady. Imagine The Luna Sequence with vocals.

The Luna Sequence: Fearful Shepherds Hunt Their Sheep

I first discovered The Luna Sequence via bandcamp a few years ago and hasn't looked back since then. Definitely one of my favorite new discoveries in recent years.

The Internet: Ego Death

To be honest, I am not totally sold on r and b music but I absolutely adore The Internet. I love Syd the Kyd's smooth, seductive vocals. Ego Death is easily my favorite album by The Internet and the one I recommend the most.

Kitten: Heaven or Somewhere in Between

Kitten just released a new EP which I absolutely love. I discovered her last year. She has such a distinctive voice. Absolutely love her brand of synthpop.

Dessa: Parts of Speech

It is really funny. The first time I heard Dessa a few years back I really wasn't all that impressed. Fast forward to 2016, I decided to give her another chance (as well as her most recent album Parts of Speech) and found myself really enthralled with Dessa's lyrics and vocals.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Albums I am currently listening to

Ryan Adams: 1989

This weekend I discovered that Ryan Adams did release his version of 1989 on CD. Being a big fan of the album and constantly listening to it on either youtube or Spotify, I immediately bought the album. Asides from the mediocre to atrocious lyrics by Taylor Swift (sorry but Taylor Swift is overrated and really isn't as good of an artist as many might think she is especially when it comes to music awards), I think Ryan does a fantastic job of transforming Taylor's music into music more organic and earthy. The lyrics still annoys me though. Taylor is an adult. She is not a teenager any more.

Tracy Chapman: Greatest Hits

I have been listening to Tracy Chapman's greatest hits cd for the past couple of weeks. I had checked it out from the library a couple of weeks ago. Today I finally bought my own copy. I have always liked her music when she first came out but I really was more into heavier music. Now that I am in my 40s, I have come to appreciate Tracy's music more so especially after I started listening to her greatest hits compilation. Listening to Tracy sing is like putting on my favorite pair of fuzzy pajama pants before bed. Her voice is so warm and comforting to listen to . I will say this I still do not like "Give Me One Reason". That song has been played to death. It is one of the few songs that radio has killed any enjoyment I got out of listening to it.

School of Seven Bells: SVIIB

SVIIB is my current favorite album at the moment. I have been listening to it on my phone or on Spotify constantly. I did pick up the CD version today when I went to The Electric Fetus. It is a solid album from start to finish. In the past I haven't been a huge fan of their music, did like some songs but not all. I find it ironic that the one album that I dig the most by the band is their final album. It does not happen very often when I can tell that the album is going to be great just by the first track but that is the case here.

The Jezabels: Synthia

One of my favorite albums I have saved on Spotify. Just love listening to it whenever I get the opportunity. That is another album I will need to buy the CD format of so I can listen to it at home on my stereo (as well as at work).

Blutengel: Nemesis - Best of and Reworked

I think this is one of those albums that I will most likely buy digitally than buy the CD format. The album isn't bad but just not worth spending the price of imports. The new versions of the Blutengel classics are just okay in my book. Definitely prefer the original versions. I suppose the band did not want to put out just a typical best of collection hence the reworkings of their music. For me, reworking the songs just felt forced.

Seize: The Other Side Of Your Mind

One thing I love about Spotify is that I can stream music that I always wanted to hear but never got around to buying for various reasons, this is the case with Seize's The Other Side of Your Mind. I remember hearing one of the songs off The Other Side of Your Mind on a compilation years ago and enjoying the heck out of it. Just never got around to buying the album. It is probably a good thing I hadn't because while I like some of the songs on the album, I really wasn't entirely crazy about it. I probably need to listen to it a few more times to let the music grow on me.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Music to check out

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday: 1993

It's throwback Thursday time again! This week I chose the year 1993. Unfortunately I am not able to post the actual Spotify players at the moment.

01. Curve: Cuckoo

02. Belly: Star

03. Depeche Mode: Songs of Faith and Devotion

04. Catherine Wheel: Chrome

05. Mazzy Star: So Tonight That I Might See

06. Pet Shop Boys: Very

07. Saint Etienne: So Tough

08. Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

09. The Cranberries: Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We?

10. Enigma: The Cross of Changes

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Favorite Album From the '90s: Star by Belly

If you have been living in a cave and haven't heard the news, the '90s rock band Belly has reformed and are in the process of announcing live gigs in the coming months on their Facebook page. No US dates have been announced yet. I think eventually they will start announcing dates in the US. I was so excited when I heard that the band had gotten back together. Their album Star is one of my favorite albums from the early '90s. My memory is very shaky but I believe the first time I heard the album was during my miserable freshman year in college. I ordered some tapes from BMG music club and one of the tapes I got was Star. I don't know what compelled me to buy it but I was looking for some interesting new music. 23 years later, I still love the album.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Album Of The Week: SVIIB by School of Seven Bells

I was perusing Spotify under the new releases section tonight and saw that School of Seven Bells have a new (and final) album out. Really can't say I have always been a fan of School of Seven Bells. I have liked a few songs here and there by the band but in general they were an entity I really didn't pay much attention to...until now. It is a beautiful, well-crafted synthpop album and a fitting tribute to the late Benjamin Curtis. I think I just heard my first serious contender for one of the best releases of 2016.