Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Quarterly State of Music ~ Spring 2017

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and it might be a while again, so let's get into it!

Mainstream "country":

YAAAAAAWN. One great song, "Tin Man." One awful song, "Body Like a Back Road," which will be my number one worst hit song of the year just on general principle. Though I can't imagine anything worse coming out, anyway. *tempts fate* Aaaand a bunch of boring songs by interchangeable dudes with interchangeable names. Luke Combs? Yeah sure, why not, throw a pair of jeans on him and put him out there. I feel like most of these songs ended up on the charts by default, rather than anything special they did. If you're hungry you'll eat whatever they put out at the buffet, even if it's generic Ritz crackers and unidentifiable Jell-O mold. "Oh well," you say, as you take a bite of cold hot dog. "It's here, so I guess I'm supposed to eat it."

Two of my least favorite "artists" of all time, The Chainsmokers and FGL, recorded a song together, because of course they have. That's how the world works. I have made it my life's mission to never, ever hear this song. Keep me in your prayers.

For the record, I hate the Chainsmokers a million times more than FGL. For everything bad you can say about FGL, I don't find them especially cynical. Their dumb music at least comes off as genuine, and the douchier-looking guy does actually sing. The Chainsmokers make no effort and have no talent whatsoever, and they know it, and that's infuriating. The Chainsmokers are counting their money and laughing at us. FGL actually think they're making good music. I still hate them, but it's a distinction I appreciate.

Pop charts:

"Lil Yachty." "Lil Uzi Vert." I'm just gonna accept the fact that the world has passed me by here, and get to the good stuff.

Bruno Mars and The Weeknd. I had no idea how much I missed 80s r&b, but for how much I've been listening to "That's What I Like" and "I Feel it Coming," apparently it was a LOT. This music feels nostalgic in the best way, and both songs are shoo-ins for my best hit songs list. As well as Lady Gaga's wonderful "Million Reasons," which only briefly hit the top 20 thanks to the Super Bowl, but I'll take it. Of course her best album yet is her least commercially successful. *sigh* Though they made an awful first single choice IMO, they shoulda come straight out of the gates with "Million Reasons."

Linkin Park now sounds like the Chainsmokers. I'm gonna say that again. LINKIN PARK. now sounds. like THE CHAINSMOKERS. Complete with soulless, droning pop chick. I was never a big Linkin Park fan or anything, but damn, this is why the phrase "sell out" exists. And in the end, it doesn't even matter.

I wish Future was in the future so I never had to listen to him HAHAHAhahahahahA

Umm... this Harry Styles song actually isn't bad. I'm hearing an almost Beatles-esque melody in there. It's nothing earth-shaking, but in 2017 I'll take it. Curse you for making me have to learn another of the One Direction guys' names, though. :(

"Bad and Boujee" - Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. Why do people care about this "raindrop drop top" thing? It doesn't even flow, too many "p's" and "d's," it's clunky. And stop listening to songs just cause they have stupid words like "boujee" and "juju" in them! We are regressing as a culture you numbnuts!

I've already talked about the Chainsmokers WAY more than they deserve to be talked about, but now they're getting their stink all over Coldplay, for some reason. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

And finally, "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran, which has been number one for 10,000 weeks or some ungodly number. Ed Sheeran is not a bad artist, he's done a couple songs I've liked. But I DON'T GET the appeal of this. The lyrics are awful. He describes what sounds like the most boring date ever, which ends in sex for some reason? (I know boring conversation always makes me horny, yeah baby!) And then you get gross lines like "my bedsheets smell like you" and ewwwww, unhygienic is not sexy! Launder that shit! God that line squicks me out every time I hear it, which is a lot, since they play this thing everywhere. It basically sounds like safe, innocuous background music until it hits that line, and then I have to go home and clean stuff that's not even dirty! *cries*

And, "your love was handmade for somebody like me?" Wow, that's a clunky line. I mean, it's Shakespeare compared to nasty bedsheets, but... "handmade?" Like, I'm picturing Betsy Ross sitting and sewing a love flag. And "somebody like me?" That's a little vague, isn't it? "Well, maybe not me, exactly, but somebody like me. Someone who shops at the same stores, at least." Maybe I'm nitpicking, but this guy's known as a songwriter. Come on.

And then there's the sound: safe and boring, like everything else. Not even the lowest common denominator, more like the... middlest common denominator. I've seen it compared to "One Dance" and yup, it's just that dull. Apparently this is called "Tropical House," and excuse me, but since when does tropical = boring?? I mean, I hear "tropical," I think this:

God, I miss the 80s. But now we're in 2017, when the Rhythm is Gonna Bore You. It's gonna wear you down into a dull nub... look out, it's coming for you... oh never mind, it's taking a nap. Being a rhythm is hard work, I guess. It needs its rest. *pats*


Okay, well speaking of the 80s, there's a new Paramore song and it is 80s pop perfection! And the video... they really nailed the whole aesthetic. I am loving this, and I can't wait for the album!

So, albums. I've been slacking this year, big time. I have two albums I'm gonna try to get to before Paramore drops, one of them being The Maine. I love the Maine, but they released their album too close to the new MST3K, which has completely taken over my life. So sorry, The Maine, but I will get to you. I also want to hear Aaron Watson's album, which I've been putting off because I liked his last album so much. *blinks* That was a weird thing to say, I know. I just hate when an artist releases a career-defining album and you know nothing else will ever be that good.

I have listened to Creeper, Sunny Sweeney, Jaime Wyatt and a lot of Miranda's monster album (albumzilla?) which I will save for my albums of the year list, because they're all really good! It's only April and I'm enjoying a lot of new music this year, so we'll call it a net positive even with the constant specter of the Chainsmokers looming over us. I'm sure their fans have really short attention spans, so we've got that at least. I hope they disappear after spending all their money stupidly and go as bankrupt as their talent and their souls. But knowing how infuriating they are, they probably invested in some nice safe stocks and put a big chunk in a savings account and will live in comfort off the interest the rest of their lives, the snotty assholes. God how I loathe them. BYEEEEE!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

tbt ~ Fastball

This band is underrated. And FYI, if you catch me humming this melody it's THIS version, not that current abortion of it.

I miss those 90s power pop/rock bands... Fastball, the Gin Blossoms, Semisonic, Del Amitri, Sister Hazel. I just miss melody-based music, a lot. But if there's one thing the 90s taught me, it's that something can be gone in an mmmbop. :(

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday ~ Miranda Lambert

Aww yeah, that's my girl!

Gorgeous song and vocals, and just the direction I hoped she'd go in. One of my favorites of her career, and that's saying something. This... this erases the memory of "Somethin' Bad," and I think that's all that needs to be said.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday LOL... and rant

This is gonna sound like an Onion article, but it's not. This is real life. People like this are out there, and while it's scary to realize, it's better than living in a total bubble, I guess. (I strive to live in a partial bubble.) Knowing is half the battle! And the other half is wine. Anyway...

I used to be involved in the graphics-making community on livejournal, back when such a thing was a thing. I'm still friends on FB with a couple people from that community, and one of them is friends with someone I knew slightly back then. Which is how I discovered said person has gone full crazypants. (Which is a shame, cause she was always very nice.)

1. She believes the earth is flat, so anything else can be taken with a grain of salt. I have no idea why people believe this way or what they get out of it. I try to be respectful of people's opinions as long as they aren't discriminatory, but denial of fact cannot be called an opinion. She also believes 9/11 was perpetrated by the gov't. Hoo boy. Again, what do you gain from such beliefs? What is the pull? Boredom? Just flat out dumbness?

2. Nothing pains me more than someone who seems like a genuinely devout Christian supporting this madman in the White House. You KNOW about the devil being the deceiver, you know it like you know your own name, yet you can't see the deception when it's right in front of you? What have you been studying for your whole life?? That's like going to medical school for eight years and then applying to be a zookeeper. That's like studying for a driving test and showing up in a helicopter. HOW DO YOU MISS THE POINT SO BADLY???

And does it even need to be said that if he were "someone else" doing incredibly immoral things, talking about women that way (i.e., someone on the other political "side"), you'd be denouncing his immoral ass so fast his unholy head would spin? But nope, since he's saying some shit you wanna hear, it doesn't matter if he's the most ungodly person to ever live. I don't even wanna know what kind of mental gymnastics it takes to get there, but I'll give it the gold medal in uneven parallel stupid.

This is why religion and politics should not mix.

Last point here... I don't usually condone cherry-picking Bible quotes to make a point, but this one is so obvious and all-encompassing, I don't think it could be seen that way. It's not like trying to find a specific quote stating your personal belief that gay people shouldn't eat blueberry pancakes on Sunday, or something.

Romans 16:18

For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Matthew 7:15

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

2 Corinthians 11:14

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

In other words, the deceiver will not appear to you as an enemy, he will not be a "damn dirty liberal," he will be trying to appeal to YOU, facebook conspiracy theory lady, to lead you astray. THAT'S WHAT DECEPTION IS. Now I'm not saying the orange shit demon is the literal devil, though he is kinda the right hue. But an instrument of evil? Absolutely. So just be watchful, folks. That's all I can say. Now on to the funny!


3. So yeah, while points one and two make me range in emotion from head-scratchy to impotent rage, this last bit is hilariously Onion-worthy. Keep in mind, this is a real person, under age 30, who is being serious, or at least serious in her beliefs if this is an attempt at "humor."

"...women were using the pink yarn to create hats so that the women who are going to march tomorrow will be able to wear a pink hat to show that they are united and are standing up that they don't support Donald Trump as their new president. I bring this up not to anger anyone but to point out the silver lining. Donald Trump is already making America great again and this is why:
1. Women are accepting their natural roles in society by knitting pink hats for other men & women.
2. They are purchasing pink yarn from their local shops which thus turn into profit for that local shop. Some shops have gained nearly $6,000 in sales just off of selling pink yarn!
3. Women are working harder than they ever have to get these pink hats finished by tomorrow (their words not mine) which in turn shows that they can work hard if they really want to accomplish a goal.
So scoff at Donald Trump, hold your "not my president" signs, go out and protest his inauguration tomorrow but you can not deny that Donald Trump isn't already creating new jobs and bringing in profit for businesses whom usually wouldn't have made that much profit before hand. I can't wait to see what else Donald Trump can do for this country if he's already creating jobs before he officially becomes the President of the United States."

Got that? A majority-hated person is actually doing good by being so hated. Protesters create business so we can all thank him for that... somehow! Thank you for being so repulsive people are spending their hard-earned money on hating you! Think of all the posterboard being sold for protest signs! All the markers! The PUFFY PAINT and GLITTER!! Boy howdy, if you've ever wanted to invest in an arts and crafts store, now's your chance! MAKE JOANN FABRICS GREAT AGAIN!

guys... THAT'S LIKE THANKING SATAN FOR BIBLE SALES CAUSE HE'S MENTIONED IN IT! How do you even twist your brain into such a crazy-stuffed pretzel? I'd award a mental gymnastics medal for that feat, but such a maneuver can't possibly exist in our reality. That's some Matrix level shit right there.

And with that, I've used up my entire quota of capslock and exclamation marks for 2017. So enough politics and religion, and back to important things like music! (Well ok, I do think religion is important, but not to talk about on the damn internet.) It's funny though, cause I was thinking this morning about why, specifically, the events of the last year have made my brain shut down, aside from the obvious that it's awful. Lots of things are awful, why does this affect me so strongly? The injustice, the cruelty, the everything-about-it is enough to trigger the strongest person, but I think what really got me is the stupidity. The in-your-face, unwavering, double-down stupidity of it all. That's just something I can't deal with. But then I read that little piece of brilliance, and I actually laughed. I was able to laugh at stupid again, instead of burying my head in the sand. ...Progress?

Oh, and this woman has two kids and will probably have more. Sleep tight folks!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

tbt ~ me and Frankie Avalon

This song still cracks me up. And Mezmerize is one of the best albums of the 2000s. Endless replay value, even now. Maybe especially now.

Monday, March 06, 2017

New music Monday ~ Jaime Wyatt and Creeper

Some great country and rock to start off the week!

Jaime Wyatt's Felony Blues blew me away. I knew I needed some new music while waiting for Creeper's album to drop in a couple weeks, but I had no idea what, and this turned out to be exactly "it." I was really wanting to feel the country vibe again and there was a lot of buzz around this album oh and hey, it's only 7 songs! Which would probably explain why I fully delved into Felony Blues over the weekend and still haven't listened to all of Miranda's album yet. Sigh. (I've liked some of what I've heard though - more on that later.)

As Felony Blues is only 7 tracks I found myself getting into each one, from her gorgeous cover of one of my favorite Hag songs "Misery and Gin," to the rollicking "Stone Hotel," to the thoughtful "From Outer Space," which I related to quite a bit. For as short as it is, it feels very satisfying. It's the Snickers bar of albums! I have a special love for California based country, for obvious reasons. This will definitely make my favorite albums of the year list; we'll see where it ends up! (I've hardly listened to any new music so far this year. Umm. I've been listening to a lot of Tom Waits, System of a Down, 90s stuff like Liz Phair and Letters to Cleo, sort of all over the place. I expect that will change come spring, when I come out of hibernation and turn into a butterfly and all that good stuff.)

This album might be just the thing to pull me back into country after a very rock-oriented year. As I said once, I tend to listen to rock more when I'm sad/pissed off and country more when I'm happy, so with how the past year has gone it hasn't looked good for country. Felony Blues is a pretty rock and roll country album though, which isn't to say it sounds like rock, it just has the right sound and attitude for where I'm at. And I do think it will appeal to more than just country fans.

Of course rock and roll continues to save my soul, and this 3rd release from Creeper's upcoming Eternity in Your Arms LP might be their best yet. Powerful, theatrical but somehow down to earth?* with a chorus built to shout at sold out arenas. These guys are gonna be big, or at least as big as rock can be anymore, which is to say "considerably less big than mumble rap and pop songs that sound like they were written by two year olds**," but I digress. Mainstream music can go off the rails all it wants, why would I listen when there's stuff like this?

*pretty much how I'd describe Creeper as a whole

**seriously, "I Hate U I Love U," fuck off with that. Who actually listens to that?? How does that speak to anyone? Yet more people will hear that piece of crap than anything by the two artists I mentioned here. Also fuck the Chainsmokers, for no particular reason except fuck them. *shrug* What're you gonna do. Just keep on supporting what speaks to you and it'll be okay, I think.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Feel the Love Friday ~ Daryle Singletary

I tried to not overload my "love songs" list with too much 90s country, but this was an unforgivable oversight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Here, have some love songs.

Okay, love songs aren't really my thing. I tend to prefer songs about different things, and most love songs I like are either about heartbreak or have lines like "I wanna die holding hands." Hey, that's romantic, dammit. But here are some actual love songs I do like!

How 90s country can you get? This is just so darn pretty and sincere sounding, I can't resist. "Me and You" and "Fall in Love" are good too, but this hits my heart just right.

So this guy's seen some weird shit, bro. He's seen "old men crying at their own grave sides, And I've seen pigs all sitting watching, picture slides." Damn, 1972! But he's never seen anything like you, woman. That's not a bad pick up line, at least in the context of the 70s. I'm sure I would have been flattered. Also, catchy as all hell.

Alison Krauss covers the Beatles, and it's pure otherworldly beauty. I've heard this a million times and it still gives me chills.

This might actually be my favorite Green Day song, off of Uno of all things. This is just pure 60s-esque pop rock perfection, a love letter from Billie Joe Armstrong to his wife. I can't even imagine all the shit they've been through over the years, but she'll always be his sweet 16. Awwww, you guys.

Classic. Classic classic classic classic classic.

I love the Ronettes, and this is one of the most evocative songs I've ever heard. It sounds like walking in a cool, refreshing rain with the one you love and laughing and the rest of the world not mattering and all that good stuff. D'awwww. Okay, that's about as mushy as I get. Back to songs about death!

You know I had to include the "I wanna die holding hands" song, right?

"The world says they'll never make it, love says they will." This song always struck me with how real it sounds, like these are actual people you would know. What I don't like about so many love songs is how fake and plastic lovey-dovey they sound. This is more the reality, and it's still pretty darn romantic. This is the kind of song that actually makes you believe in love in the face of, y'know... life.

This song is what love sounds like. Love in its purest form, like if love was a bird soaring above a mountaintop. I don't think the Toys ever had another hit, which is a real shame.

And finally...

It's been a rough start to 2017, and I've been listening to a lot of Tom Waits. He's probably not the first name you think when you hear "love song," but here it is, my favorite romantic song of all time. Of course it sounds melancholy as all hell, but oh man is it beautiful.

"Ain't no good thing ever dies
I'm gonna take it with me when I go."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday

Thing that makes me happy 100% of the time: finding new music I love.

Seriously, what else makes a person happy 100% of the time?? Even beer has its downsides. But music... I went through a period not too long ago when I didn't get into much new stuff. It can be daunting; there's so much out there. Sometimes too much choice actually works against you, cause it's so overwhelming. It can be disappointing; often things just don't "click" with you. Things that other music people are raving about and you wonder, what am I missing? But that's the beauty of music, if it hit everyone the same way it would be boring. So my advice for this Monday is to just keep looking, keep trying everything. When something hits, it's well worth it. There's not another feeling in the world like it.

And new music doesn't have to be "new." Some my favorite stuff I found the past year is from the 70s. It's kind of like the thrift shopping of music. I'M GONNA POP SOME TAGS. So yeah, I've found that a mix of new-new, old-but-new, and old-favorite music is the way to maximum happiness.

I know it's a pretty sad time right now, but this is the time we're on this planet and it's all we've got, so don't let the world take your joy. There's no shame in being joyful and celebrating the good. No one thinks on their deathbed, "I wish I'd spent more time being pissed off!" Life is a gift, in a much greater perspective than some stupid political or cultural shit of the time.

This isn't a new song but it's one that fills me with pure joy. I liked it right away, but it's just grown on me more and more. I think this was only an honorable mention on my 2015 songs list and NOPE, this is top 10 all the way baby. Damn is this thing underrated, even by me. :( It was a hit, but I feel like it's one of those underappreciated hits that will go on to become a classic. You've just got to listen to it a few times to let all the different parts gel together. Then it stops sounding messy and starts getting into your bloodstream, all your major organs, even your spleen. Every part of this is amazing, from Macklemore rapping about mopeds, to the old-school dudes sounding fly as hell, to the sample of SAFETY DANCE, to the GLORIOUS voice on the chorus that turns this thing into MOTHERFUCKING GLAM HIP HOP, and if that doesn't sound like the coolest thing ever then you can just cut the bullshit and get off my mullet. Cause I'ma keep it hella nineteen eighty seven.

This is the Bohemian Rhapsody of hip hop. I think this is my favorite song of 2015, honestly, or at least tied with Exes and Ohs cause that song's dope as shit. See, this thing is contagious. And I'm not even much of a hip hop fan, but this is what hip hop should be. Nary a mumbler to be found here, just pure energy. This is #1 on my "Happy Songs for a New Year" playlist. You know what's so great about it, besides everything? It's a feel good song, but not in the standard way. This ain't "Fight Song" or its ilk. It comes at you sideways, like -- mopeds?? What? And then the vibe hits you. And then you want a moped, too. And you wanna carry that singer around in your pocket so he's there whenever you need him.

Can we have Macklemore & Ryan Lewis back, please? They're exactly what popular music needs right now to wake the fuck up from its coma.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Feel Good Friday

The triumphant return of feel good Friday, when we need it the most! On this sad, confusing day, let's celebrate finding common ground.

for reference

MST3Ks I've rewatched so far this year:

Women of the Prehistoric Planet
Stranded in Space
Attack of the Eye Creatures
Brain that Wouldn't Die
Teenage Strangler
Alien from LA
The Dead Talk Back
The Creeping Terror
Incredible Melting Man
Terror from the Year 5000
Future War
Blood Waters of Doctor Z
Track of the Moon Beast

Will update as I go along. This year I'm gonna finally try to get through the season K episodes. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One thing that occurs to me in this new year is how bloody sick I am of everything on the internet except this blog, youtube, and Rifftrax. I'm sick of twitter, sick of facebook, sick of all the same games I've been playing for the last 10 years. I need some new shit. I'm not sure what, but there's no time like the new year for a new start. I'll probably still use twitter, just not as much. I don't need to read 47 takes on the latest Trump outrage that will amount to nothing. It just fills me with hate and fear, and I don't want to be filled with hate and fear, I want to be filled with delicious caramel.

There's no point in following current events because nothing's about facts or fairness anymore, just "sides." We've sequestered ourselves into oblivion. Maybe there's still a coming-back point from this, I don't know. Right now it just seems to get scarier and scarier. Internet comments-section vitriol has become reality, maybe not in everyday life but in the very last place it should be, government. This is what years of people saying "but it's just the internet" in response to very real claims of harassment has wrought. It's bled into real life because, gasp! it turns out the internet was real life and real people all along.

So yeah, I need a complete mental cleanse. And lots of Rifftrax. And caramel.
You know, of all the pop "artists" I wouldn't expect to dedicate a post to, it's this Daya chick. The most notable thing about her, other than how she seems to be a sentient form of autotune, is that her album title rips off my favorite pop-country album, The Wreckers' Stand Still Look Pretty. Yes, I have a favorite pop country album. No, pop country ain't all bad. BUT I DIGRESS. And really, why wouldn't I. You can just stop reading here and go listen to the Wreckers; you'll probably get more out of it.

But here's Daya, and her song "Sit Still Look Pretty," the latest attempt at faux feminism from the Meghan Trainor School of well, Faux Feminism. Fauxminism, if you will. This woman is the less talented Meghan Trainor. Let that sink in. There's a line in here about how Snow White got the seven dwarves to do her chores, "cause that's not what a lady's for" - but that is what a dwarf is for?? What the hell? I'm not even gonna unpack all the downright uncomfortable stupidity in that lyric. Like Meghan Trainor's "Nah I'm just foolin'" bs, it's probably meant to be a joke. These people have no idea how humor works. Or Snow White. Or men. Or Women. Or music. Also, everyone has to do chores. It's like brushing your teeth; some shit you just gotta do. Can we maybe, idk, not say terrible cringey things in songs that are supposed to empower women? Cause you're not really helping the cause.

"I'm just a pretty girl in a pretty world." Okay, it's pretty lame to call yourself pretty, especially in a song about how you don't want that image, but whatever. "Pretty world" though... where are you living, the Disneyland Hotel?? That would explain the Snow White thing, but damn. Pretty world my ass.

And then we get to the chorus, slamming some guy for dreaming of "picket fences and trophy wives" and umm... you DO know it's not the 50s, right? While I'm completely cool with traditional gender roles, if it's what both people want, it's not exactly what's expected in 2017. I mean, maybe if you're dating a 60-year old. But "trophy wife" isn't really something that's out there being presented to young women, like by a world leader or someth---

OH WAIT. Oh God. Oh shit. In eight days the US is gonna have First Lady Sit Still Look Pretty. In eight days the planet might also go kafoom and we won't have to worry about any of this, but whatever.

You know what, you just carry on, Daya. Give 'em hell, or at least heck. Get some singing lessons though. Autotune is meant to be a band aid, not a life raft. And let's not encourage dwarf enslavement either.

I do apologize for all the political references lately, but, y'know...

That sign is my spirit animal.

And here's a good song to go out on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Okay 2017, we need to have a little chat.

Yes, already. Why? Because this. THIS.

That is the number one song this week. NO! don't click on it, you will most certainly get at least a mild STD. Apparently this song hit number one because of a meme and guys, really. Is this really how we want to start off the year, with more of this bullshit? I'd ask why the hell the charts can't keep meme/vine "hits" off and only count real songs, but maybe it's the same reason the US can't keep narcissistic lunatics out of the white house. Clearly, there are no adults in charge, and nobody cares. "Oh well!" They say with a collective shrug. So we get Trump and WHATEVER IN THE LIVING FUCK a "lil Uzi Vert" is. Is it anything like a "Lil Yachty?" I don't know, but I'm gonna make my own rapper and call him, say, Lil Banana Plug. I'm going to build him out of clay. And a banana. He will be HUGE.

Because people are stupid, no matter how many calendar pages you turn. *sigh*

Also, WTF is this crap? Didn't we send this kind of "country" packing about two years ago? I'd rather listen to The Weeknd sing about Brantley Gilbert. Damn.

No, don't click on that either. You'll get an STD and a meth habit.

We're not off to a great start here, 2017. It's kind of a cross between 2016 and 2014, and NOBODY WANTS THAT. Man, 2015 was a good year. I should have appreciated it more.

But it's still early! You have plenty of time to turn it around, 2017. That's why I'm talking to you now, before it's too late and you go full 2016 on us. No more meme shit. No more bro country, of all things. No more songs built on funny-sounding words like "juju" or "boujee." What are you, 6? No more lowest common denominator. Let's aim higher. At least, let's not pick the rappers with the stupidest names, cause I'm pretty sure they're just trolling us now.

Y'know, sometimes I look at the charts of yesteryear, and there's dated stuff, of course, and the occasional weird novelty hit that couldn't possibly be understood 40 years later, like "Disco Duck." But most of it, you can either say, "hey, this is still good!" or "well, it's of its time." This meme/vine crap has a shelf life of like, nothing. Not only will it be forgotten and met with a genuine "huh??" in 40 years, it'll be forgotten by the end of the year. (By all except those who make worst lists, anyway.) And sure, pop music by nature can be disposable. But it doesn't have to be. And this goes beyond even disposable; at least most things you dispose of were once things. They didn't start out as garbage. These meme songs are the only product I can think of to be actually manufactured as garbage. I can't imagine what people looking at these charts in the future will think. There's just no context to it; there's no context now. Just, "whee! garbage!" *throws banana peels around*

I hope this ends soon, or music charts are going to lose any meaning they might have once had. "Good," you might say, but honestly, looking back at the charts of the past can be kind of fun. I'm glad they exist. The same can't be said of today. So, Save the Charts, or something. It's basically a permanent record of music, and is this really what you want on your permanent record? Lil Bicycle Seat? Lil French Toast? Lil Paddle Boat? Okay, I could do this all day. Instead I'll go do something productive like pet my cats.

EDIT: "To be fair," I think if the internet was around 30-50 years ago and the charts counted meme shit, there would have been just as much garbage then as there is now. I'm not saying "the good old days" were better, I'm saying the charts shouldn't count internet shit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Favorite albums I heard in 2016, part 2 ~ blame rock and roll

Before I get into the honorable mentions, a couple notes.

1. My list is weird, and not like the critics' lists. I don't listen to hip hop, or much pop beyond singles, so that stuff isn't on my list, no matter how good it might be. I don't have time to take in all the rock and country I want to, let alone genres that don't really speak to me.

2. "Um Melissa, you have Blink-182 on your list and not David Bowie, you are the shittiest music person in all the land!" When I say I'm a David Bowie fan, I mean it. But I'm specifically a fan of his 70s work - Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs. I love those albums. When an artist has a long career, not everything they do is gonna resonate with you. In the case of Bowie, he moved away from the glam rock I enjoyed and into a more jazzy sound, which is not my thing at all. I tried to listen to Blackstar, as it was the last album from a great artist and very critically acclaimed, but I just couldn't get into it. I like melodic rock and country; jazz and other dissonant music is not for me. So I'll enjoy his legacy in my way, and I'm glad that so many people with a wider musical palate than mine enjoyed his final work.

Okay! Honorable mentions, in no particular order.

Green Day - Revolution Radio
Probably nothing will ever live up to the glory days of Green Day for me - that's Dookie, Insomniac, and Nimrod. But this album is still damn good. I'd put it on par with 21st Century Breakdown, which I think is super underrated. Like Weezer, I've been into this band since the early 90s. I guess their "trio" was kind of the equivalent to Weezer's bad period, though the uneven Uno actually has some of my favorite Green Day songs on it. But yeah, basically the trio would have made one really good album, not three. So this is Green Day back in form - not revolutionary, but an overall solid album from a veteran band I hope never goes away. Favorites - Forever Now (an all time fave), Ordinary World, Bouncing Off the Wall, Somewhere Now, Outlaws, Revolution Radio

Blackberry Smoke - Like An Arrow
Following up Holding All the Roses was a tough task. It was my favorite album of last year, and destined to be a classic. That said, this is a really good album. BBS has a way of capturing that classic 70s country-rock sound and making it sound fresh, not derivative. They feel very comfortable, in the best way. My only "complaint" about this album is it doesn't have tracks that reach out and grab me in quite the same way as Woman in the Moon, Living in the Song, No Way Back to Eden, and the title track from Holding All the Roses. But I'm not sure that's really a fair complaint. So just taking this album on its own, it's a catchy, ear-pleasing, rockin' collection of songs, and probably the first thing I'd put on at a barbecue or tailgate. I'll be playing this a lot next summer. Favorites - Let it Burn (can't stop listening to this!), Like An Arrow, The Good Life, Ain't Gonna Wait, Waiting for the Thunder, Sunrise in Texas

Blink-182 - California
This was my surprise of the year. I like these guys ok, but I was never a huge fan. I only have one other of their albums, the self-titled one with "I Miss You." But this - this is pretty much like a new band. Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba replaced Tom Delonge, which of course was controversial for longtime fans, but for me it's an improvement. This album is just one hook after another, and I gotta say I love the production. I've heard some criticism of it being too "slick," but to me it sounds clean and well-suited to the music. *shrug* So yeah, I like Alkaline-182. Blink Trio. Whatever. Best set of songs I've heard from these guys. More mature, but not boring at all. Actually, more interesting. Favorites - Los Angeles, Left Alone, Bored to Death, Teenage Satellites, Cynical, California

The Struts - Everybody Wants
Another UK band I got into this year, this one has the distinction of a frontman who sounds like he is enjoying every single second of his life, to the point he must roll his r's from the pure joy of it all! There's one word to describe this album: fun. Fun and glam. If you want a dose of just unabashed rock for the sake of rock, put this on. Crank it. Favorites - Rrrrrroll Up, Kiss This, Could Have Been Me, Put Your Money On Me, Young Stars

Bleached - Welcome the Worms
Another dark horse late entry! Well this one was released in April, but I discovered them late in the year because of Honeyblood. Bleached is an LA trio of kickass women who clearly grew up listening to Joan Jett. Good old fashioned hooky 80s-esque rock. I needed this in my life. Favorites - Wednesday Night Melody, Sour Candy, Hollywood We Did It All Wrong, Sleepwalking, Keep on Keepin' On, Wasted on You

Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
I loved this when it came out, and while it didn't stay with me all year, I think we can blame rock and roll for that more than any shortcoming of the album. Rock pretty much took over my year, especially in October with its four big releases. This might have fallen by the wayside in the latter half of 2016, but it's definitely one I'll return to in the future, with Margo's beautiful pure vocals and Loretta Lynn-esque sharpness and sass. A fantastic debut, to say the least. Revisiting this album to make my list was a pleasure, and I feel inspired to listen to more country this year. Let 2017 be the year of balance! Favorites - Hurtin' On the Bottle, Tennessee Song, About to Find Out, This Town Gets Around, Hands of Time, Since You Put Me Down

A few more notes before I put 2016 behind me for good. Well, not these albums obviously, but the rest of it!

While that isn't everything I heard and enjoyed in 2016, it is what I think I'll return to the most. For instance, while I liked Sturgill Simpson's album, it isn't one I've gone back to a lot. Maybe that will change in time, who knows. (I have to shout out "Sea Stories" though, for having crazy Tom Waits-like lyrics set to a country sound. Amazing.) I also enjoyed Lydia Loveless' surprising, upbeat pop-rock album, but I listened to it late and it hasn't sunk in enough for me to know where it stands.

I also wanna quickly shout out three albums from 2015 that I didn't listen to until last year - Elle King's Love Stuff, Best Coast's California Nights, and The Maine's American Candy. These would have all made my 2015 list if I'd heard them.

Finally, some 2016 albums I missed and still want to listen to - Miranda Lambert, William Michael Morgan, Whiskey Myers, Dolly Shine, Mark Chesnutt - yeah, I really fell behind on country last year. I'm probably forgetting some too. And lots coming out this year, both country and rock, starting with Creeper next month!

Anyway, here's to a 2017 filled with good music and good vibes. The world is a mess, but there's still plenty to be thankful for. You can't control the outside, but you can control how you think, what you say, how you treat people, and what you choose to let in. Let's do good, and think positive. Remember - any change that comes with a new year is only psychological, but that doesn't mean it can't be real. ✌️❤️🤘

Monday, January 09, 2017

Favorite albums I heard in 2016

Just titling these lists is hard. Best? Favorite? Like, with hit songs there's a finite number, so it's pretty easy to say which I think are "best" and "worst." Outside of hits there's like a million different things, and even "favorite" sounds weird, as if I listened to a huge body of work like a real critic and went, "yeeees, these are my favorites." When in reality I listened to but a teardrop in the ocean. Though I did listen to more last year than I have in many a year, so heck it, let's just get on with it. Here's what I heard and liked, top 6.

My number one is a tie between two EPs. Yes, we're off to a rollicking start. But I figure, two EPs kinda equals an album, and these are my two favorite releases I heard all year, so pshaw to convention!

1. Letters to Cleo - Back to Nebraska, and Creeper - The Stranger

I love every single song on these two EPs, for a total of ten songs I love! For some reason melodic alt-rock is what I craved most this year, maybe because I was missing it so much and didn't even know it. Like, I've spent the last 10 years missing 90s country, and I guess this year I finally got around to rock. Back to Nebraska is classic LTC - they literally sound like they didn't miss a beat since "Here and Now." Every song is tight and catchy as hell. Four of them are pure fun, and the title track, my favorite of the year, will break your heart.

The Stranger was my introduction to up and coming UK band Creeper, and of course I immediately checked out their other two EPs. Everything they've put out has been good, but The Stranger is their most solid yet, which has me salivating for their upcoming LP. All five songs are brilliant, with "Astral Projection" being my top favorite. I'd say their style is kinda early-mid 2000s rock - fans of MCR and AFI will probably like them. But I don't really like comparing them to other bands, because their sound and aesthetic is so unique right now. I feel like I found a gem here, and if they blow up after their album drops, I'll have an opportunity to be quite smug. Hooray!

2. Brandy Clark - Big Day in a Small Town
A country concept album, performed by one of my favorite singer/songwriters. This pretty much couldn't fail, but it actually exceeded my expectations, right down to the album artwork. The cover art immediately pulls you into the world of this small town and its inhabitants, with each song being a stop along the way. I genuinely feel like I got to know some forgotten people after listening to this album. I had a similar experience with Don Henley's wonderful album last year, but this one takes the concept a step further. It's like driving through a small town and getting a glimpse behind the curtains, but in a non-creepy way. And I love her voice so much, it's just so natural sounding, everything she sings sounds 100% real. I can't overstate how refreshing this is in our world of artifice and faux "reality."

Favorite tracks - Since You've Gone to Heaven, Love Can Go to Hell, Three Kids No Husband, Soap Opera, Homecoming Queen, Girl Next Door (Brandy Clark does Carrie Underwood-esque rock country. If that sounds bad, I assure you it is not. It kicks ass).

3. Weezer - White Album

I'm gonna talk a little bit about Weezer, a band I got into at the very beginning, 1994!

Since LTC reunited, I can no longer say Weezer is my favorite band. But they're close, especially considering I once wrote them off about 10 years ago. Yeah, I can't stand Weezer's biggest hit, "Beverly Hills," or pretty much Make Believe as a whole. Which was disappointing as their previous release, the catchy, hard rock-edged Maladroit, was and still is my favorite of their albums. It was a startling contrast, and in the following years, I drifted away from this band I once loved. (I also got back into country big time, and kinda drifted from rock in general.) Which is a good thing, because I only like a couple songs in total from their following three albums. ("Ruling Me" and "Trainwrecks," both from Hurley, are amazing. The rest of their material from 2005-2010 is skippable, imo.)

Which brings us to 2014 and Everything Will Be Alright in the End, which has turned out to be my second favorite Weezer album. What a stunning return to form! I think there are only one or two tracks I skip, and everything else is a major standout. So when I heard they were releasing a new album in 2016, I was STOKED. I didn't care for the first single, but then I heard "Do You Wanna Get High" and "King of the World," and YESSSSS! And those aren't even the best songs on the album.

The White Album - and yes, I love that they had the balls to call it that since it actually delivers quality, unlike "Black Beatles" - shows that Everything Will Be Alright was no fluke. Weezer is back, making the catchy, quirky, melodic guitar rock they were born to make. And this one has a California beachy vibe, which makes it extra appealing to me. There are maybe two tracks on here that are "eh" for me, and the rest I love. I can't wait to see what they do next! I'd love another harder-edged project like Maladroit, which is possibly the most underrated album by a popular band ever, seriously.

Favorite tracks - California Kids, Endless Bummer, LA Girlz, King of the World, Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori, Do You Wanna Get High

4. Eric Church - Mr. Misunderstood

THIS ALBUM WAS "ACTUALLY" RELEASED IN NOVEMBER 2015. There, got that out of the way. I'm including it because 1. November, seriously. 2. All the singles impacted in 2016. 3. I listened to it in 2016.

So, Eric Church. An artist I had forever pegged as having "potential," until I heard this album and went, "Oh. Potential realized!" It took so long I was actually kinda surprised. This album is a love letter to music in many ways, with songs like "Record Year" the title track, and "Mistress Called Music," and it had absolutely no business being as big as it was in the awfulness that was 2016, but somehow it struck a chord. I credit Eric Church every bit as much as Chris Stapleton for the return of quality in mainstream country. Oh we have a long way to go, there's still a lot of boring dreck and inane pop, but I see the scales gradually balancing. And I'm really curious to see where Eric Church goes from here, now that I know he can do this.

Production-wise, this is the second appearance on this list for Jay Joyce, who also produced Brandy Clark's album. Looking at his previous work, he also did Cage the Elephant's first three albums, i.e., three of my favorite albums. So well done, Jay Joyce! In my reading I also learned that Eric Church was once kicked off a Rascal Flatts tour for playing too long, and that is rock and roll as hell so respect, man.

Favorite tracks - Record Year, Knives of New Orleans, Mistress Called Music, Three Year Old, Kill a Word, Mixed Drinks About Feelings, oh hell all of them. (The title track is great too, but it's reached overplay status for me.)

5. Honeyblood - Babes Never Die

Ooh, a last-minute dark horse! Okay, this album was released in November. Of 2016. So by my previous logic it should actually be on next year's list but oh fuck it, when have I ever let logic stop me? I listened to this in 2016, so that's that. Not only did I listen to it, I binge-listened, I listened to the hell out of this album, if I may borrow a Rifftraxism. So, I started following some alt rock youtubers in 2016. Most of them are about 15 years younger than me but hey, they have good taste. I mean, they're like me 15 years ago, which isn't really all that different from me now.

So thanks to that, I found Creeper. And UK alt-rockers Honeyblood, a duo of Scottish women with the kind of harmonies that literally make you feel like honey is running through your blood. Seriously, good name choice guys. Also, in case you didn't know they were from the UK, one of them has the last name Tweeddale and you cannot convince me that isn't a character from some whimsical British children's book, likely featuring umbrellas. The Grand Adventures of Sir Edmund Tweeddale. He has a pipe. He's also a bear. Okay, I'm done.

Was I talking about music, at some point? Right, so I was watching a video of someone talking about records, feeling a bit jealous because I kinda wish I could be one of those people who collects vinyl, but I also enjoy not being broke. Anyway, one of the records was Honeyblood's single "Ready for the Magic" with the B side, "Babes Never Die." I heard a few notes of "Ready" and it was like I was back in the 90s. The nostalgia was overpowering, so off to iTunes I went. A quick listen through determined I wanted the album, and it kind of snuck up on me how much I've played this thing the last month or so. It had to go on the list. Your enjoyment of this may depend on how fondly you remember girly grunge rock from the 90s, but I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy this even without the nostalgia factor. It's all very catchy, buzzy, lush melodies and harmonies, and standout lyrics like "Walking at Midnight."

"No one dares to ask where you've been
Feared of what you might tell them
No one dares to ask where you've been
They can only dream

Walking at midnight, midnight
Sink into the evening tide
Walking at midnight, midnight
Let the nighttime be a disguise"

Favorite tracks - Walking at Midnight, Babes Never Die, Sea Hearts, Hey Stellar, Justine Misery Queen, Ready for the Magic

6. The Pretty Reckless - Who You Selling For
A more diverse outing for The Pretty Reckless, whose first two albums I also really enjoyed, despite occasionally falling into rock cliché. This album has touches of classic rock, Beatlesesque acousticness ("Bedroom Window"), and southernish rock on "Back to the River." This album, I'd say, goes less for shock than their previous efforts, and more for a personal, confessional tone. The rock bombast is still there on songs like "Prisoner," "Oh My God," and the gorgeously intricate, classic-rock feel of "Hangman/The Walls are Closing In." I love Taylor Momsen's voice, it has the ability to sound both rough and fragile, like Chrissie Hynde. And yes, the frontwoman for this kickass rock band once played Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch. Life is amazing and wonderful, really.

Favorite tracks - Back to the River, Hangman/The Walls Are Closing In, Who You Selling For, Prisoner, The Devil's Back, Take Me Down

And that's the favorites! Honorable mentions coming soon.