Friday, December 22, 2006

My Top Ten Records of 2006

1. The Ark – State of the Ark

The album that I listened to the most this year. A glam-rock masterpiece that would have sounded just as great in 1976 as it does in 2006. “One of Us is Gunna Die Young” is the type of anthem that should have been huge. Oh well. They're huge in their native Sweden, but it seems America isn't ready for a bi-sexual rock and roll savior.

At least not just yet.

2. Scissor Sisters – Ta-Dah

They avoided the sophomore slump and made their first proper album. Love is in the air on their minds as the Scissors dance, rock, roll, and wield a serious falsetto track for track on this superb second offering. “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” should be the new “Love Shack” at weddings from now on, and in an alternate universe, it probably is.

Closing track "Everyobody Wants the Same Thing" is a proper summation of everything the Scissor Sisters are, and something we all need to live in 2007.

3. Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat

I could never get into Jenny’s proper band, Rilo Kiley, but one listen to the gorgeous “Rabbit Fur Coat” and I was hooked. Lewis writes insightful alt-country tales of men and woman damaged by life but with the will to push on. Pretty, thought provoking, and also super catchy. Rilo who?

4. Morrissey – Ringleader of the Tormentors

Morrissey finds joy in sex! Maybe now people can stop asking if the Smiths are going to get back together and realize that Morrissey has been releasing killer Smiths records for years, under his own name. 2004’s “You Are the Quarry” was the return to form and “Ringleader” might be his best record yet. I could not stop listening to this since I got it. It has all the trademark wit you expect with Moz, but this time the guitars have serious muscle, no doubt thanks to veteran producer/legend Tony Visconti. If you didn’t like Morrissey before this won’t change your mind, but if you’re a fan, more ammunition to prove the latter their morons.

5. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – Show Your Bones

“Show Your Bones” is exactly the record I wanted the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s to make after their full length debut “Fever to Tell.” Organic, emotional, and reigned in JUST enough, “Bones” is a tour-de-force of what rock music can and should be in the future. I think in ten years this will be considered a classic, and in twenty won’t sound a touch dated.

6. Goldfrapp – Supernature

This really came out in 2005, but not here in the states until this year. Goldfrapp simply made the best electro-dance record in years, writing good songs around their catchy blips and bleeps. “Number 1” is an absolute revelation and if “Oh La La” doesn’t bring you to your feet they don’t work properly.

7. Lily Allen – Alright, Still

My favorite pop record of the year. Young Lily’s voice and perspective are 100% London, and she bounces through reggae-lite super catchy tune after tune on the most consistently enjoyable record of the year. She somehow manages to ride the line of being too cute, bitchy, sexy, and cloying without ever dipping to far in either direction. Lyrically she’ll make you laugh, but her melodies will be bouncing through your head from days to come.

8. Junior Boys – So This is Goodbye

It was the Junior Boys that really brought sexy back this year to me. One of the hands down sexiest records about things ending ever, this electro wet dream is the perfect record for late-late at night or early-early in the morning. It’s not a singles record, more a serious mood piece. That’s not to say the songs aren’t great though.

9. The Killers – Sam’s Town

It’s easy to make fun of and write off The Killers. Singer Brandon Flowers wears his ambitions on his sleeve and for whatever reason, we just can’t stand when someone is trying to do something great, and lets us know about it. But because of all the hype, first listens to “Sam’s Town” were done with a heavy ear. Was it “the best record of the last twenty years” as he said? It’s didn’t really blow me away… how dare he say something like that?! That was until I found myself listening to it over and over again, and digging not only the hook on top of hook powerhouse, but lyrically… it’s rather beautiful. Maybe a little over-serious, but I dig it anyhow.

10. Dixie Chicks – Taking the Long Way

Controversial country hasn’t been around in ages and thank you Dixie Chicks for bringing it back. Their best album to date is a mostly quiet affair and while publicly they are all spitfire and public uproar, the songs tell a tale of woman confused by the world and where they are in it. Catchy, beautiful, strong… this is the new Dixie Chicks. They may have lost a couple fans, but I think they gained a few... and became important songwriters in the process.


As I compiled this list I realized it was not possible to simply call it the “Best of 2006.” I simply have not heard everything this year (can anyone really?) and like any kind of art… things fall to personal taste. While I consider myself a pretty open-minded guy when it comes to music, will give just about anything a listen… there are certain types of music I do not gravitate to, or even listen to. Country is a big genre that I pay little attention to, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t like SOME of it… as you can see I really loved the Dixie Chicks record, and would say that Jenny Lewis had the country record of the year, though she is not considered country at all.

So as the year comes to a close and I feel the need to put some finality on the music that effected ME this year it’s really something I’ve been sharing with you all along via this blog. Sure, it’s obvious that I tend to post and write about stuff that I really like, so maybe, despite my open mind, this blog is a little one-note. But if you are a reader, consistently… it’s because your tastes line up with mine a little, or you’re a friend and just being nice. ;)

As we look to 2007 I hope to discover more great music, pass it on, and brighten our lives a little… if possible. I really welcome your comments and suggestions. I was introduced to some great stuff that people sent me or just mentioned to me, and that’s what this is all about… because with this new information age it’s WE who CAST MUSIC. We can share much easier now, and while this troubles the labels, it spreads music to the people it’s for… all of us.

Here is to a Happy New Year, I’ll see you in 2007!


Listen Up!

Song: Listen Up!
Artist: The Gossip
Album: Standing in the Way of Control

Olympia, Washington’s (by way of Searcy, AR) The Gossip are a dance-rock act that combine bluesy guitar riffs with persistent drum patterns melded together with lead singer Beth Ditto absolutely amazing voice. This girl can sing, she can wail actually… and has been called the best singer in rock music today by some.

I fist heard about the Gossip a couple years ago when I heard their song “Fire Sign” on a compilation. I liked it, but really dig their new dancier direction on “Standing in the Way of Control.” The title track was the first single and Le Tigre did an amazing remix that I actually liked a touch more than the original. “Listen Up!” is a slow-building call to arms about “people you just can’t trust.” While it’s a little simplistic, Ditto’s voice commands attention, and you are taken away with the song.

I recommend this entire record if you dig this track. It’s very consistent and great for a Friday night.


Here is the video for "Listen Up!":

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Black Sweat

Song: Black Sweat
Artist: Prince
Album: 3121

Best of 2006

Here is a song that should have been bigger than it was. Prince released yet another album this year entitled “3121” to a basic shrug from the public. Due to a loop hole in the rules of record sales, Prince was able to “sell” over 2 million copies of his previous disc “Musicology” by including it with a ticket to his latest sold-out tour. So basically, despite having no major hits from the album, one was bought with ever ticket to his show making it top the charts. Brilliant! “3121,” in comparison has sold just over 500,000 copies, which still is nothing to scoff at… but then again, he’s Prince.

I have been a Prince fan for some time and while I have not gotten all of his music (there is just too much) I have found much pleasure not only in his hits, but albums as a whole. I haven’t really loved his recent output, but respect it and love that he keeps making music. He is a true artist and amazing entertainer. Despite my semi-fandom, his concert was one of my favorite of all time. He is a man that walks on stage and you immediately lock your eyes to him. He commands attention.

While I didn’t love all of “3121,” I did like it more than “Musicology,” which was billed as a return to form. “Black Sweat” was at the top of the heap though and really should have been bigger here. It mixes classic Prince with a new hip-hop oriented sensibility. The minimalist beats sound like The Neptunes produced it, and I can’t help to think that if this came from a younger “hipper” R & B performer it would have been the hit it deserved to be.

At this point, Prince has carved a very important slice of rock & roll history for himself and while his reign doesn’t seem that far gone, he is an elder statesmen of pop. He continues to push himself forward writing music endlessly and is probably completely comfortable with his group of loyal fans and playing when he wants to. I can not imagine, based on how prolific he seems to be, what is in his archives. He could be releasing records for years to come no doubt.


The slick video for "Black Sweat":

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

London Bridge

Song: London Bridge
Artist: Fergie
Album: The Dutchess

"Best" of 2006

This song was everywhere. I felt like “London Bridge” was stalking me at one point.

Fergie-ferg’s “London Bridge” is the little sister (or copycat) of Gwen’s “Hollaback Girl.” It has the same clap-clap rhythm, and an “I AM SHOUTIING AT YOU”-style vocal delivery. But what is it about? I’ve already seen this debated on VH1’s Best Week Ever… nobody seems to know. Probably because it is in fact non-sense. It’s a non-sense song, a lot of hits are. But what an intriguing line:

“How come everytime you come ‘round,
My London, London Bridge wanna go down?”

Vaguely sexual, part historic architecture lesson… “London Bridge” is by far the weirdest song to hit it big on the radio since… well probably “Hollaback Girl.” (I mean… what was THAT about anyhow?) But “Tubthumping” also comes to mind.

The line “I’m such a lady but I’m dancing like hoeeee” pretty much says it all, though I look back to what I’ve known since Fergie came onto the scene… and I ask myself, when has she ever been “a lady?” There’s the crystal meth phase, and that picture where it looks like she peed herself onstage, and then well, “My Humps” sort of says a lot about her character... I suppose we couldn’t really expect Laura Nyro from her.

Along with Jessica Simpson’s “Public Affair,” “London Bridge” is on my super-guilty pleasure list. I have found myself dancing around in my apartment to this song multiple times, and a look at my iTunes reveals… I’ve played it over forty times. Oh snap!

But does “London Bridge” signify an alarming new low in artistic expression? I don’t know, at least it uses a metaphor, as obtuse as it may be. “Rump Shaker” was more direct… and didn’t even bother to use actual words for the chorus. Is “London Bridge” stupid? Well… yes, and no. Trying to intellectually dissect this song is like looking for deeper meaning on “Jackass.” It’s probably not there. But this song (and Fergie herself) have been raked over the coals a lot this year and I’m not sure it deserves it. Maybe it doesn’t make any sense… but can you tell me what “Whooly Bully” is all about? And for all the hipsters that put TV on the Radio’s “Return to Cookie Mountain” on your top ten… do you know what they’re singing about? And what does that title have to do with anything? Sometimes, things don’t have a deeper meaning, and sometimes you can hide behind art for arts sake.

The brilliant thing about this song is that from the first time you hear it, you know it. It’s not complicated, and yet doesn’t seem to get old. The horns are crisp and command attention from the get-go. This is a song that I can imagine taking back in time thirty years, playing for a group of people and see them go B-A-N-A-N-A-S. It’s really nutty no? And while the theme of getting drunk and having sex is not super original, it is a big part of what our culture is today, and HAS been for many many years. Do we blame Fergie for this? We can’t.

This is a song that every once and a while I stop and really listen and think… “I can’t believe this exists. It’s absolutely one of the most ridiculous pieces of music I’ve heard in ages.” And isn’t that something in itself?

Enjoy. (Or at least try to.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Easy Silence

Song: Easy Silence
Artist: Dixie Chicks
Album: Taking The Long Way

Best of 2006

What an interesting couple of years the Dixie Chicks have had. Their rise to fame was slow at first but immediately changed upon the hiring of Natalie Maines as lead singer in 1998. They soon rocketed up the country charts and continued their success with the release of 1999’s “Fly” which began to garner them even more mainstream attention as well as 2002’s “Home,” which made them international superstars. Their latest, “Taking the Long Way” was one of the few breakout hit albums of the year in a year when CD sales are down dramatically from years before.

I’ve never been a big country fan, specifically pop-country, but I have several friends that are and because of this have been introduced (or forced) to listen to the Chicks. I am thankful I have. From a country-outsiders point of view, I have been amazed at their growth as songwriters along their success. “Wide Open Spaces,” their first hit album is pretty much paint-by-numbers pop country. Pretty, twangy, with just enough sass to be labeled “spunky” but not obnoxious. I find it almost un-listenable. “Fly” is a step in the right direction, taking what worked for them in pop-country, yet their pro-feminist voices began to emerge in tracks like “Ready to Run,” “Goodbye Earl,” and “Sin Wagon.” It’s still a touch too “Yee-haw!” for me, but I began to realize these girls should be watched as they were doing things much more interesting than their contemporaries.

Things really hit er… home for me with the release of “Home” in 2002. With this record they ditched the pop sheen and went straight up bluegrass and happened to have their best batch of songs yet. True, they got some killer help by the likes of Patty Griffin & Radney Foster, but great songs like “White Trash Wedding” and “Tortured, Tangled Hearts” are all theirs. The only misstep, in my opinion, is their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” It’s one of my favorite songs, and at the time I argued that they didn’t understand it (which is obnoxious in retrospect, I know) but I felt their singing, especially paired with the image of them singing it as in the video, just didn’t hold the emotional weight that is in the song. Smashing Pumpkins got it right, there is real hurt there… I just didn’t hear it in the Chicks version.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that while on the European “Home” tour, Natalie made the off-hand comment that they were ashamed to be from Texas as it was the home state of president George W. Bush. Because of this, the Dixie Chicks found themselves public enemy #1 with a lot of country fans, who are mostly comprised of Republicans. The entire debacle was documented in the celebrated “Shut Up and Sing” by filmmaker Barbara Kopple & Cecilia Peck. While the incident did not crush their careers, it has dented their tour and CD sales by a certain margin for sure. It did not effect their creative powers any however, as “Taking the Long Way” is their best most assured release to date, and one of the best albums of 2006.

The Trailer for "Shut Up and Sing":

The Dixie Chicks wisely choose producer extraordinaire, Rick Rubin for the album and he helped them mold their best songs and biggest statement to date. They did not shy away from speaking on the incident, with first single “Not Ready to Make Nice,” and stuck to the more classic country sound of “Home.” Oddly enough with the Dixie Chicks I tend to like their quiet ballads more… and I HATE ballads. But songs such as “Easy Silence” and “Everybody Knows” showcase their deft ability to slow down and let true emotions come across. Their stunners, as are the more upbeat songs such as “I Like It” and the stellar opener “The Long Way Around” which sums up who the chicks are and have always been… small town girls with big city dreams.

And maybe that’s why I love ‘em.


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Greatest

Song: The Greatest
Artist: Cat Power
Album: The Greatest

Best of 2006

This week I am going through all the music I was able to hear this year, picking my favorites, and what I thought were the best albums of the year. There have been a few songs and artists I haven’t highlighted yet that I want to point out, and you can expect my top ten record of the year choices on Friday.

Falling just short of making my top ten is Cat Power’s “The Greatest,” her seventh album and my favorite from what I have heard of hers. Recorded in Memphis with a slew of legendary session musicians, “The Greatest” is a melancholy slice of southern soul filled with Cat Power’s (Chan Marshall) trademark diary lyrics and girly cooing vocals. This is no sad sack ride though, as may have been the case with some of her earlier work. It’s a very rich album that took me a few times to get into.

Many people are giving Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times” the top spot for album of the year yet I find “The Greatest,” which has a similar sound, to be much more enjoyable and interesting. The title track is a simple yet effective ballad about a would be prize fighter that reminds me of Brando’s Terry Malloy from “On The Waterfront.” The rest of the album is varied in tone, and a bit more upbeat.

With “The Greatest” Cat Power moved from indie darling to true contender.


Harmony Korine, the writer of “Kids” and writer/director for the truly awful “Gummo” directed the funny, outrageous video for “Living Proof”:

Friday, December 15, 2006

When You Wasn't Famous

Song: When You Wasn't Famous
Artist: The Streets
Album: The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living

After the groundbreaking sophomore album “A Grand Don’t Come For Free,” The Streets (AKA Mike Skinner) had much to top with the third LP, “The Hardest Way To Make an Easy Living.” Unfortunately, he fell pretty short. It is not awful by any means, and the first single (and best song on the record) “When You Wasn’t Famous” is one of his better songs with trademark wit and its sing-a-long, though odd, chorus. The theme of the record is clear, though the execution doesn’t quite gel. It could be the let down from high, high hopes… but I wanted more.

While the music world went nutso when The Streets debut album, “Original Pirate Material” debuted in 2002, I found it to be rather annoying, immediately dated, and filled with non-songs… no melodies whatsoever. This is what made “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” such a surprise for me. I absolutely dug his “man of the people” vibe, using his odd British flow to weave a story about loosing 1,000 pounds and the blokes, girls, and chips that made up part of the story. Lead single “You’re Fit But You Know It” sounded a little like Blur’s “Parklife” but had a distinct charm and difference to it, I played it non-stop. The remainder of the songs really worked best within the context of the story, which was SORELY needed in the ever changing era of downloadable singles. The other absolute standout was the heartbreaking (and heart-felt) “Dry Your Eyes” which was a smash in the UK. It’s a British hip-hop ballad that utilizes strings vs. dipping into rhythm and blues to convey the bubbling emotions.

Because the song was a hit, and no doubt because he was probably told over and over how off the hook great the song was, “A Grand” has the VERY Dry Your Eyes-like “Never Went to Church” which is good, but like Coldplay’s “Fix You,” a lesser version of a past hit.

“When You Wasn’t Famous” (one of my favorite songs of 2006) illustrates what is great and unique about the Streets, yet also points to what could be the problem with “The Hardest Way.” Part of the charm of Mike Skinner was his every-guy persona, with a very working class life but a simple charming wit about him. As art imitates life, Mike got rich and famous and therefore his late night fish and chips on the street faded as well. One of the reasons I find little to no connection with the majority of hip hop is that I don’t own twenty cars, drink Moet, or any of that other baller shit. What made the Streets different was the everyman charm… and “The Hardest Way” is an entire album of how that is gone.

I highly recommend the entirety of “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” as well as a track or two from the new record. It’s not exactly hip hop as you might know it, and I wouldn’t call it Grime either. (Though he is often lumped into that British hip-hop sub-set of rap.) It’s just something completely of its own.


Here's the video for "Dry Your Eyes," a song you should know:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Know I Know I Know

Song: I Know I Know I Know
Artist: Tegan and Sara
Album: So Jealous

One of my hands down favorite albums of late 2004 was Tegan and Sara’s “So Jealous.” A fun poppy mix of new wave synths and distinct harmonies with songs about love and more love. Tegan and Sara, twin lesbians from Calgary, got their start by scoring the highest ever score at Calgary’s “Garage Warz” music competition. They signed to Neil Young’s Vapro Records in 2000 and have since released three records. Their debut “This Business of Art” and the follow up, “If I Was You” were more folk-pop affairs that “So Jealous” which kicked in the guitars, drums, and sing-a-long quotient.

“So Jealous” reminded me of Linda Ronstadt’s 80’s pop record “Mad Love” with a touch of Joan Jett-lite attitude, but a tenderness is found lyrically. It is almost impossible to highlight just one song as they are all so good. From the hyper-catchiness of first single “Walking With the Ghost,” the rock-pop bounce of “I Bet it Stung” and “Speak Slow,” or the gentle heartbreak of down-tempo songs “Where Does the Good Go” and “I Can’t Take It.”

I really can’t recommend this album enough if you like their sound even a little bit. “I Know I Know I Know” has a fun moog keyboard break by The Rentals Matt Sharp (formerly of Weezer) and is a good representation of the complete sound of the record. I could kick myself for not seeing them when they toured, but I will just have to wait for a new record and new tour. Or, I could just go out and get their recently released DVD “It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It.”


Here is the moody video for “Walking With the Ghost”:

And the goofy-funny video for “Speak Slow”:

And a teaser for the album:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Land of a Thousand Words (Junkie XL Remix)

Song: Land of a Thousand Words (Junkie XL Remix)
Artist: Scissor Sisters
Album: Land of a Thousand Words

I’ve been a bit obsessed with the original version of this song for the last couple weeks and was pretty excited for the single, which was released last week. Unfortunately this was the only other track, a remix by Junkie XL who did amazing things with the Sister’s “Mary” as well as the remix for Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation.” I am not blown away by this remix, and feel it could have been a bit better. It’s not necessarily beat heavy enough to be dancefloor-ready, and not loungy enough to be… well, loungy.

I was really hoping for a new song as a b-side, though they may have just put the best of those on the “Ta-Dah” bonus disc. (“Ambition,” which was on the “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” single was pretty boring.) I guess they can’t all be the best.


And if you haven't seen it yet...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Doctor's Orders

Song: Doctor's Orders
Artist: Carol Douglas
Album: Doctor's Orders: The Best of Carol Douglas

It is impossible to still have a case of the Monday's after listening to this song. Carol, thank you for being you.


Though she did end up on the People's Court once with another "Disco Diva"

Friday, December 08, 2006

All My Friends

Song: All My Friends
Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Album: Sound of Silver

One of my favorite dance records of last year was LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut. The two disc set featured their first proper album as well as a second disc that collected their singles from years before. (Including the underground dancefloor classic “Losing My Edge.”) I was pretty bananas for the first disc and loved the singles “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and “Tribulations.” The entire record jumped from style to style and was all consistently good. While the “style” for each song was a bit different, they continued to use some of their trademark sounds and beats (including their favorite, the cowbell) that they employ with their remixes that they do as DFA.

This year has seen the release of two volumes of remixes by the DFA with the likes of The Gorillaz, Hot Chip, Le Tigre, Goldfrapp, and Nine Inch Nails, as well as a non-stop forty-five minute track created for Nike specifically for runners. (Available on iTunes.) In their spare time this year (Um… okay) they also produced the follow up to the self titled debut, “Sound of Silver” which is scheduled to be released at the end of March next year. Due to our new rapid information society and technology being what it is, the album has been leaked… and I got a chance to listen to it.

I immediately liked this album, despite it feeling less dancy as the debut at first. Its textures and complexities are coming through with each further listen, and more specifically, how lyrically strong the record is. Lead James Murphy blends psychological tales of friendship and love with state-of-our-culture musings about America, city life, and how things are changing, possibly for the worse. It’s very tight and a complete conceptual work… I’d almost call it the first dance singer-songwriter album.

The songs do take their time to build and many reach and surpass the seven minute mark, which may be a determent to some. Though I am appreciating the stories being told here, and the time they are given to stir within the listener, making the payoffs bigger, and better.

“All My Friends” is smack in the middle, creating a seriously dramatic centerpiece that sets you up for the rest of the album. The open sounds like the beginning of “Baba O’Riley,” and uses a persistent piano vamp that builds and moves the song along while lyrically the song connects on a very emotional level. This is an amazing song that worries less about being important to the dancefloor but creating a mood and tone that grabs the listener pretty forcefully.

I have also been obsessed with the album closer “New York I Love You (But You’re Bringing Me Down)” as it really sums up perfectly the state of New York City right now, with the narrator torn with his love of the city and what it still means now, yet conflicted with the consistent corporate cleansing that has plagued the city over the last decade. It’s a straight forward piano ballad, beautiful, sad, and upon its close I soon realized I had finished one of the most important records of 2007… and it’s not even here yet.


Here is the video for "Tribulations," which can be found on the debut:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hunting For Witches

Song: Hunting For Witches
Artist: Bloc Party
Album: A Weekend in the City

Bloc Party’s “Silent Alarm” was one of my favorite records of last year. I didn’t love ALL of it, but there was much to enjoy and several of the songs remained in constant rotation on my iPod. They were yet another band influenced by 80’s goth AND pop, and I just really dug lead singer Kele Okereke’s voice. They blew up after “Silent Alarm” and released several singles both here as well as in Europe. (Where they are considered superstars.) The album was big enough in fact to warrant an entire remix album, entitled (not so cleverly) “Silent Alarm Remixed.” Which I must say, as those things go, was pretty darn cool.

It’s safe to say that their follow up is hotly anticipated by the music world and it has in fact already been leaked and distributed via the web. I expect that because of this the late February release date will be bumped up closer. I’ve taken a listen and it seems just okay to me… a bit more of the same with a few new flourishes, though not a departure of their signature sound at all. “Hunting for Witches” is the song that really jumped out at me and I keep listening to. It’s a great dance-rock track that moves along nicely yet contains a dark underbelly to it. It’s not the first single, “The Prayer” is… which is also good, this one is just grabbing me a bit more.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Into The Ocean

Song: Into The Ocean
Artist: Blue October
Album: Foiled

I have a very good friend who recommended this band to me recently. They are an indie rock act from Texas that take their cues from a lot of 80’s jangle rock. “Into the Ocean” is taken from their fourth album “Foiled” which came out this year. I can’t speak for the whole record as this is all I’ve heard but I like lead singer Justin Furstenfeld’s hushed vocals that know how to soar when needed.

The group’s first taste of success had been the inclusion of their song “Calling You” on the American Wedding Soundtrack which helped it become a minor hit within the suburbs of Dallas. A quick look at their sales figures showed that “Foiled,” surprisingly, has sold over 600,000 copies since its release in March of this year. Pretty impressive considering that the new Janet Jackson record hasn’t sold that much yet, and is just about to fall off the charts.

To be honest, until my friend told me about them I had not heard of them at all… yet their record is #107 this week on Billboards top 200. I don’t say that to be obnoxious, it’s just rare that there is a moderately successful band that I haven’t at least HEARD of. Then again, when Danity Kane topped the charts a month back I had to be explained who they were. Oh well, you can’t know it all! ;)

Thank you Jamie!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Song: Fidelity
Artist: Regina Spektor
Album: Begin to Hope

Speaking of girls with pianos… here is one of my favorite songs of the year, Regina Spektor’s “Fidelity,” which was the lead single from her sophomore album “Begin to Hope.” When Regina first hit the scene she toured with the Strokes and got a lot of media attention surrounding the Russian songstress’ debut “Soviet Kitsch.” I didn’t care for that record that much and didn’t understand what the fuss was about, but “Begin to Hope” makes good on the promise… she’s one to watch.

The melody is very quirky to this song, as is her singing, which gives it a very unique sound. Below is the video which is cute, though I am glad I wasn’t involved in this fight, must have been murder to clean up.


Monday, December 04, 2006


Song: Humpty-Dumpty
Artist: Tori Amos
Album: China (Single

Tori Amos is a love her or hate her artist. You either dig her off the wall (to totally incomprehensible) lyrics, or find them cloying or even frustrating. When Tori burst on the scene with her sophomore album “Little Earthquakes,” she was a revelation to me in high school. Her subsequent albums have been a bit all over the place, at times I thought she lost her mind (“Boys For Pele”) that she had lost her touch (”To Venus & Back”) and then that she had made the best record of her career (“Scarlet’s Walk”) only to follow it up with her absolute worst (“The Beekeeper.”) [Tori has been many things but never this boring.]

What got me really hooked on Tori in the beginning wasn’t just how different and powerful (not to mention oddly catchy) that “Little Earthquakes” and “Under the Pink” were, but the myriad of amazing b-sides that could be found on the CD singles released during this time. B-Sides are of course the extra songs that were recorded during the time of an album but left off the official release for whatever reason. Only semi-obsessed music dorks like yours truly really pay attention to b-sides, but sometimes they offer an interesting glimpse into the creative process. The formula truly goes, great album, good b-sides, bad album, AWFUL b-sides.

Late September Tori released her fist box set called “A Piano” which collected many of her best known b-sides, alternate versions, and live cuts from all of her albums. Five CD’s of unabashed Tori, which may be way too much for the casual listener. I actually haven’t gotten the collection yet, as I own most of it already… but am still interested in getting it at some point. I have enjoyed, since its release, seeing fan boards go ablaze with typically crazy Tori fans arguing over what was included, what was excluded, etc. (Tori fans are particularly obsessive.) While a glance at the track list seemed pretty extensive by my knowledge, I did miss her fun cover/re-write of “Humpty Dumpty,” which was released on the “China” single. If you’re a casual fan, and maybe love “Little Earthquakes” but get lost in her further catalog, I would highly recommend both the “China” and “Winter” singles as they comprise the best of Tori’s b-side output from this period.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Song: Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Artist: Twisted Sister
Album: Twisted Christmas

I don’t know about you, but the fact that it is December 1st today is semi-freaking me out. I was just wondering where the summer went, and now the fall is out the door and winter is in full swing. (Despite it being close to 70 in New York.) In the music world, its tis’ the season for releases that make perfect gift, but also for an onslaught of holiday themed music. Personally, I half loath holiday music… which probably comes across as a little bah-humbug, but I do find most of it pretty grating.

There have been some half-way tolerable holiday collections from various artists, and a scant few full holiday albums from artists that work. (I personally love the Brenda Lee Christmas record the best.) But while there are artists I really like with new holiday albums out this year (Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan) I really have zero interest in getting them.

I can promise you I won’t be highlighting much holiday music this month, but since it is December 1st I felt it right to show you something that I actually think is kind of funny. Twisted Sister are marking their thirtieth year as a band together by releasing one final album, and it’s a holiday record to boot. “Twisted Christmas” is comprised of the hair-metal legends putting their sleazy, nasty voodoo all over classics like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” (with Lita Ford!) It’s all kind of awful, but that’s besides the point… what’s funny is that what was once considered dangerous is now kitschy fun.

Best of the lot is the first single, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” which is done in the style of their biggest hit, “We’re Not Gunna Take It.” (The band has actually admitted that their song was inspired by the holiday classic. Really?) It works… not really as “music” per say, but at least it’s something different! And in true Twisted Sister style they have made two funny clips for the song, one animated and one live action (which will REALLY remind you of “We’re Not Gunna Take It”) that are a fun view. Check them out below.

Enjoy, and heck… Happy Holidays!