Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Albums I'm Looking Forward To

For some reason, August was the month a lot of artists I really like came out with an album - Watsky, of course, K. Flay came out with an EP, Bayside, Of Montreal and Young the Giant. Oh yeah and Frank Ocean, I guess, people are really stoked on that, right? Apparently, Ocean's second album was delayed for many years and fans were going nuts...just look at r/music on Reddit and you'll see it! 2015 was still a way better year for me regarding new music but there are still some really solid releases coming our way the end of 2016 as well...here are the albums I'm anticipating. (Also: these are albums with a specific release date, some albums have been rumored to be released this year but haven't gotten a release date yet...I'm looking at you, Brand New).

Bastille - Wild World (September 9)
Bastille are one of those bands I'm a sucker for. Like, they seem very cliche and mainstream rock but I don't care, they're awesome. They're great songwriters - "Bad Blood" was amazing and the band just plays off each other really well, including singer Dan Smith. This is their follow up to their most popular album to date and their first major label release. Hopefully they continue to produce quality songwriting. Judging from their first single from Wild World, "Good Grief" it doesn't seem like they're going anywhere any time soon.

MIA - Aim (September 9)
 This is her LAST ALBUM?! Get out of here. LOL MIA WHY YOU LYIN'? She'll be back. London born, Sri Lanken MIA is a musician to her core, she'll always be producing music. I haven't been particularly jazzed with her albums as a consecutive piece since Maya but she always has some gems in there that I can appreciate. I just had to mention this because she claims it's her last album...come on, I don't even think she believes that. She won't be able to stay away for long.

Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me (September 16)
Let me just start writing about this by saying, "yaaasssss," as the kids do these days. I'm so excited for this album. It's their follow up to Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which was arguably one of the best albums they've done so far, and they're going on #7. I'll never say it's their best because Searching for a Former Clarity has a special place to me but if I didn't have that nostalgia, I would probably say Dysphoria is their best. Anyway, maybe Shape Shift With Me will be a contender for this title and it'll be so good, I won't be able to deny the awesomeness any longer.

Taking Back Sunday - Tidal Wave (September 16)
 TBS are still going strong with John Nolan, again, for their seventh studio album as well. Their last couple haven't been very awe inspiring but they've changed a lot as a band and as people - I'm hoping they'll eventually get their new shtick right.

Skylar Grey - Natural Causes (September 23)
I just love Skylar Grey so much - even when she was Holly Brook alongside Mike Shinoda on Fort Minor's most popular song, "Where'd You Go". "I Need a Doctor" with Eminem and Dr. Dre is one of my jam out in the car songs too. Anyway, I'm going to check this out because she's a great talent and a fantastic songwriter. Also, did I mention I love her?

Regina Spektor - Remember Us to Life (September 30)
You can't go wrong with Regina - she's one of those artists that delivers consistent, good albums. She's also going on #7 with Remember Us to Life and it's her first in a while (her last being What We Saw from the Cheap Seats in 2012). I've been on a slight Regina kick lately prepping for this album. I could probably listen to "Hero" at least three times a day, every day and not get tired of it. But I don't do that because it also reminds me of this scene...click if you want to cry.

 Sum 41 - 13 Voices (October 7)
 Sum 41 are still a band, you say?! Well, they had a few rough years but now they are finally coming back with their sixth studio album, 13 Voices. The only thing I'm bummed about is, here I thought "oh wow, they have Deryck Whibley back, they have Dave Baksh back, the gang is all here!" Except Steve Jocz who unexpectedly quit the band during the recording of this album - WHAT? No Stevo 32? No "Nevertheless am I dressed for the occasion / It's number 32 now here's the situation"?! Get the hell out of here, Sum 41. Get Steve Jocz back for an epic reunion and we can pretend it's 2003 again!!!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Happy x Infinity Day!

Google Play
Apple Music/iTunes
Amazon

Buy it, damn it!

I've been listening to it since last night and so far, it's very very different from his other stuff but quite enjoyable. More serious and varied lyrics/music. Go George!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Last.FM Randomizer Challenge 8.13.16

Hey! I had an idea...every once in a while I'm going to choose a random number between 1 and 50 with help from www.randomizer.org and the number that gets picked will be the number of the Last.FM artist that correlates with that number. I'll talk about that artist and my favorite songs, albums, etc.

This time Randomizer.org chose #33...according to my Last. FM most scrobbled of all time list that artist is...Death Cab for Cutie!

I have to say, my interest in Death Cab has wavered throughout the years...I would say a lot of those scrobbles last.fm has calculated comes from the 2008 Narrow Stairs - possibly my favorite Death Cab for Cutie album, which I know is sacrilege because everyone knows Plans and Transatlanticism are the best! And if you don't agree well then obviously, you're wrong. Right? RIGHT?! That's what people say anyway.

I love Plans, don't get me wrong, but Narrow Stairs had this maturity and honesty to it that I love. Before Narrow Stairs, Death Cab focused a lot on relationships and personal issues but Narrow Stairs told stories about other people and even used stories from literature ("Bixby Canyon Bridge") and current events ("Grapevine Fires"). If they did talk about relationships, it seemed to be written in more of a mature light than previous albums, "The Ice is Getting Thinner," most specifically. That song still makes me cry sometimes.
Then after this record, they released The Open Door EP which is also a favorite of mine and very similar sounding to Narrow Stairs (which makes sense because they recorded those songs while they were recording Narrow Stairs). In a way, I wish they just kept these songs on Narrow Stairs. "I Was Once a Loyal Lover"? "My Mirror Speaks"? Those are some solid tunes.

The last album I was really interested in by them was Codes and Keys, released in 2011. I haven't heard Kintsugi yet, which was their eighth studio album released in 2015 but I haven't heard good things and judging from the one or two songs I have heard from it, I don't really have interest. I don't know exactly what happened but it seemed with Narrow Stairs and Open Door that they were adjusting to growing up and making music that was still Death Cab, just a little more intricate. They will always be timeless though, and an important band to anyone who grew up in the early aughts. You can start singing "Soul Meets Body" practically anywhere and I'm sure, at least one person will finish the lyric you're singing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Concerts July & August 2016: Ryan Adams, Best Coast & Motion City Soundtrack

I realized right before Motion City Soundtrack that it will be the only show I'm going to in August...and because I didn't see Bloc Party when they came to Albany due to being really tired after running a quidditch tournament for the library, I figure I can just make July and August one post. I usually have a lot more concerts to attend in the Summer than any other time of the year but funny enough, it seems like Fall is going to be the busy time - Explosions in the Sky, Watsky, Henry Rollins, Ben Folds and Angel Olsen! And three of those are actually in the Albany area...which obviously are the best concerts because I don't have to travel. Anyway first up is a king amongst men (to me, at least) Ryan Adams...

July 24: Ryan Adams @ The Capital Theatre - Port Chester, NY
Opening Acts: Amanda Shires (who I officially worship after this concert)

I was probably 10-15 feet away from the stage...I tried to figure it out while I was waiting for Ryan Adams to come on. A couple minutes after I sat down, Ryan Adams actually came on stage to introduce Amanda Shires - I thought that was pretty cool of him since the artist usually likes to wait for the grand reveal during their set to say "here I am!" but not Ryan - he's like, "fuck those rules and you know what? Just rules in general." Amanda Shires came on and rocked her set - she's also of the alt country variety but more country than she is alt. She reminded me of Dolly Parton very much - especially her voice. She can also rock out on that steel guitar, which was her only instrument during the entire set. I can't stress enough how awesome she was. Please listen to her, if you think this might be your thing.
Then after overhearing the chatter of everyone around me after Amanda Shires' set, ("Damn, there's a squirtle somewhere around here and I can't find it,") especially the pretentious hipsters who were right next to me and probably students from my alma mater, SUNY Purchase, which is right next to Port Chester, let's be real, Ryan came on with The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm. Not his normal backing band, The Shining but regardless of that, they were fantastic. It definitely was a different vibe compared to when he plays with The Shining (he did the first time I saw him in Burlington, VT. last year). The stringdusters are 100% bluegrass and that's more of what we got but it was kind of cool to hear a song like "Give Me Something Good" or "To Be Young (Is to be Sad, Is to be High)" with a vastly different arrangement behind it. I was able to get some photos/videos but I tried to do it like a ninja because Ryan doesn't like people taking pictures because of his Meniere's disease and he doesn't want to risk the flash giving him an episode, which is understandable. He and his people specifically post signs EVERYWHERE in the venue during his shows that say "please no pictures, worried about flash going off" blah blah. And he's called people out for it too. I was so nervous my flash was going to go off and then Ryan would have scolded me from his stool and that would be the only and last time I would have actually interacted with one of my all time favorite artists. I say last time because I would be so mortified, I wouldn't be able to go to a concert of his again, let alone meet him. Wouldn't that have been great?! There's actually a picture I took that looks like he's looking at me and knew I was taking a photo...obviously I stopped after that.

See? I had a minor panic attack...

Anyway, he was great, as usual. He played three new songs that sounded promising. I also love that he's now embracing his sense of humor onstage: "the drugs around here are fucking great, apparently," he said when two drunkies in the front kept yelling "LA CIENEGA!!!" And I know they must have been drunk because out of Ryan Adams catalog of beautiful songs, you pick "La Cienega Just Smiled" to yell out as a request?

July 31: Best Coast @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park (Albany), NY
Opening Acts: The Stargazer Lilies

Oh Bethany and Bobb, it's always nice to see you. I've seen this band a couple of times now so every time I get a chance to see them, it's like going someplace familiar - because they're pretty consistent with their set and it's a very relaxed vibe. Plus, Best Coast fans, from what I've seen, aren't rude and give you your space during shows, so that's nice...unlike the Motion City Soundtrack show I went to two days after this at the same venue, but I'll get to that later. The opener would have been better if they turned their speakers down, not to sound like an old lady but seriously, it was so loud their music was muffled and inaudible. Crank it down to 11 at least, Stargazer Lilies. Your set would have sounded so much better if you did so. Maybe that was what they were going for, I don't know but all I know is I saw a co-worker during the set, we tried to talk for a little bit and were literally yelling into each others ears and could still hardly hear each other. What the hell, Stargazer Lilies? They were very shoe gaze, which was cool, and I think I probably would like them better listening to their recordings.
Here's my little Snacks...my cat is so jelly.

Best Coast's sound person was way more on top of things. I know it wasn't the usual sound guy at Upstate Concert Hall for both bands because I know what he looks like because I work with him at the library so it looks like they had their own guys. It looks like Bethany and Bobb have added a second (technically third while Bethany is playing,) guitarist to their live band to give Bethany some freedom to not play guitar sometimes if she wants to walk around in her gold lame heels (seriously, you need to see these shoes - I don't think I got a good enough photo of them unfortunately) and play the lead singer role. They played a lot of stuff from Fade Away for some reason but I'm not complaining about that. I've been listening to Fade Away a lot more lately - like the last couple of months so I was pleasantly surprised. They also played a lot from Crazy for You - going back to basics. They don't have anything to promote during this tour, so I think that's why they picked songs they usually don't play - they actually had the opportunity to play whatever they wanted. Also, just so you know if you're going to a show of theirs soon, they're selling Snacks (Bethany's cat,) stuffed animals on this tour for $5!

August 2: Motion City Soundtrack @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park (Albany), NY
Opening Acts: A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Rozwell Kid
 This will be my last live show with Motion City Soundtrack...allegedly. Anything is possible in the music world. I'm still hoping for a White Stripes reunion and probably will get it eventually.
The band is on their "So Long, Farewell" tour and have promised to pack it in after this three or four month tour. I'm sad to see them go but I think it's the perfect time for them - they stopped before they burned out. Motion City Soundtrack still produce great albums, have good lyrics and songs that can still cut any teen suffering from unrequited love in the heart with a knife.
A lot of bands should really do this more often - I'm talking to you U2...and stay away from Apple too, while you're at it. Anyway, the band played a great show and included all of their hits with an epic encore of "The Future Freaks Me Out." My only complaint, and this is in no way the band's fault, was the crowd - some of the rudest people I've had the unfortunate pleasure of spending time with at a concert. There was this one girl who kept touching me and my friends hips unexpectedly as she passed by (she was one of those "I need a drink every 5 minutes but I also want to stay in front,") for no reason and people were dancing when there was no room to dance. Like, we're sardines here. What are you doing? By the way, I've had experience in crappy crowds before, if you would like to read more of my feelings about this.
The openers didn't impress me too much. There is a lot of buzz about A Great Big Pile of Leaves but they didn't really do anything for me. Sounds like a pop punk Tokyo Police Club.

The Summer is almost over, I can't believe it. It goes by quicker every year, I think.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Highlights from the Billboard Hot 100...or maybe not highlights after all because I hate most of it.

I figure I should probably try to write something other than the Summer Concert series this summer, so I thought I'd take a look at the Billboard Charts today and see if I find anything interesting...

Hot 100's Top 10 this week:

1. Drake feat. Whizkid and Kyla "One Dance" - I've never heard this song before until now. Have I crossed over? Am I too old? I did just turn 29 a couple days ago but I didn't think it would happen this fast...and I'm still in my twenties, albeit the last year! Yes, I never thought I would see the day where I know maybe two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 top 10. Okay, I know three actually. Or it could be that what is popular in pop music has been steadily declining and everything is sounding very similar so I can't differentiate. Also, since when did Drake become Jamaican? What's up with his accent in this song? Going back to my previous sentiment about pop music, I think I might have heard this beat on a Drake song a couple times before. He's way better than this. Get a new beat, Jimmy!

2. Justin Timberlake "Can't Stop the Feeling!" - Look at J Timberlake making a feel good song and still making the billboard charts. I played a pop playlist at one of my summer reading programs lately, and this song definitely got the most conversation out of the teens - and that's when you know. "Oh, I like this song!" "I just like Justin Timberlake!" "Omgz so hawt." Anyway...this song is alright, I guess...

3. The Chainsmokers feat. Daya "Don't Let Me Down" - Oh, this song! It's on a commercial, I think. It's actually pretty interesting compared the the top two contenders here...it has a lot of diverse hooks to the song. The chorus and the "I need ya, I need ya, I need ya right now" bridge along with the blow horn sound DJ's like to use in the background, which I usually hate but used in this song, it isn't bad. Daya sounds like Rihanna and The Chainsmokers sound like every DJ out there trying to take precedent over the artist who is actually singing the song. Which brings me to the next song...

4. Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna "This is What You Came For" - Wow, I'm sorry but this is some contrived bullshit like whoa. There's no heart in this. Rihanna has produced songs that have that...Calvin Harris has at least been involved in better songs. This song however, screams "I just wanted a paycheck." And Rihanna's voice is so autotuned, it doesn't even sound like her...what the hell. WHY IS THIS POPULAR??? (Because Rihanna shits gold and Calvin Harris dated Taylor Swift!)

5. Sia "Cheap Thrills" - yay finally a song with artistic merit! We had to get to number 5 for that? No wonder why I don't look at this chart too often. I'm so happy that Sia is getting the credit she deserves - it's been a long time coming. She's a great pop song writer. I only wish she wouldn't buy into Lady Gaga syndrome so much but we can't have it all, can we?

6. Desiigner "Panda" - Reading about this guy right now and I'm already like "eeehhhh". He reminds me too much of Tyler the Creator and therefore I'm not sure if we can be friends. Apparently, "Panda" is his debut single from his debut album, The Life of Desiigner which is being released on GOOD music, Kanye West's label. Can you see my conundrum already? I'm also not a fan of his flow. I usually hate judging an artist based on one song and/or arbitrary things but...I really can't stand trap rap. It's just not my cup of tea. But we'll see how this guy does.

7. Rihanna "Needed Me" - Oh, no. I don't like this at all. Too many contrived pop tropes mixed together - also Rihanna, 1. Stop using Autotune, you're actually a good singer. 2. Stop dressing like Coolio. Nothing against him, Coolio is great but, you're Rihanna...not Coolio.

8. Twenty One Pilots "Ride" - I still can't believe Twenty One Pilots success. "Ride" is actually one of my least favorite songs on Blurryface but hey, I won't knock their spot on this list. I would have liked "Heathens" more in this spot but that is taking up room in the alternative and rock lists.

9. Kent Jones "Don't Mind" - I mind, actually. I really really do.

10. Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign "Work from Home" - It hurt my heart a little bit to type out "Ty Dolla $ign" - just saying. Also, no. I don't like this.

So sifting through the Billboard Hot 100 list, I've come to the realization that unfortunately, I hate a lot of what is popular right now in pop music. Pop music actually has some really inventive, interesting songs and only an exceptional few are represented here. Like, I was so disgusted at the end that I didn't even elaborate on my "no's" - I was just done. 

Also, you know what really gets me? It's the freakin' summer! The perfect time for a Summer pop anthem! It's kind of a standard in the music industry to make "summer anthems" during this time. Songs that are pure pop perfection and are everywhere you go - it's playing at Disney World, it's playing in the super market, it's playing at a childrens soccer game... I'm talking about "Hollaback Girl" - Gwen Stefani, "The Boy is Mine" - Brandy & Monica, "I'll Be Missing You" - Puff Daddy & Faith Evans ft. 112, "Umbrella" - an artist on this list that really needs to step up her game, Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, "Waterfalls" - TLC - there are so many others!!! For pop music, the summer is kind of a perfect opportunity to get that hook out there, make the monies and make a new classic pop song. And it just doesn't seem like it's happening this summer, judging from this list. Maybe Twenty One Pilots? Maybe. It is only the middle of July, so I'll be curious to look at the list later or listen to the radio to see if there is anything sprouting from the record company gardens.







Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summer Concerts June 2016: Against Me!

Due to my nose dripping liquids and tickle in my throat (thanks allergies,) for almost the entire month of June, we decided not to see Watsky in Boston. It was a tough decision but definitely the best one for me. Hopefully we'll have the chance to see him again and who knows, maybe it will be a concert and not a spoken word, which would actually be better! So because of that, this post will be short (but memorable!)- for this month I just saw Against Me!

June 25: Against Me! @ The Lost Horizon - Syracuse, NY
Opening Acts:  Tim Barry, FEA

During the day I spent my time at work, signing kids up for the Summer Reading Program (it was the first day of sign up), handing out free books and fro-yo pops (or you know, frozen go-gurt). 5:00 rolled around and my boyfriend and I were ready to go to a "destination show" as one of my co-workers who also happens to be a seasoned concert go-er called it (I think I'll steal that term from her too, I like it). Again, like June 2015's Jim Adkins show in Kingston, we kept thinking during the drive, "why the hell are we going to Syracuse for this? Did Against Me! owe a debt?" For those of you who are not familiar with upstate New York, Syracuse is a city that used to be booming with factories, a lot of jobs and a lot of people populating this Rust Belt-esque city. Then, the United States started moving most of our production to other countries, and like Detroit among other cities, Syracuse also suffered from this. So now the city is mostly known for Syracuse University and their mens basketball team. Anyway, we drove on I90 West the whole way and finally got to the venue at about 9:15...the venue was small and had about 10-15 parking spots...that were filled already. The only parking available was a huge lot down the street that was in between a strip club and a porn theater - nice to know those are still around, isn't it?! The parking lot distinctly said "PARKING FOR CUSTOMERS OF [INSERT PORN THEATER AND STRIP CLUB NAME HERE]" A parking lot specifically for these fine, upstanding businesses? Now, that's something you don't really see. Because I was annoyed that the venue only had 10-15 parking spots and didn't think of a backup plan when hosting Against Me! at their venue, I just said, "fuck it. I'm parking here." I found out after the show that luckily, a lot of other people attending the show had the same idea as me.

Right when my boyfriend and I got inside, the guy putting our 21+ bracelets on said, "you're right on time! They're starting in a couple of minutes." Therefore, we didn't see any of the opening acts but we weren't very enamored by the line-up anyway. Right when we walked into the main area, which looked like a basement - low ceiling, really small standing area, pillars randomly in the middle of the venue, Against Me! started. They were awesome as always but I think this might have been my favorite Against Me! show I've been to just because of the randomness of it all and because of the venue. Some people might have been unpleasantly surprised by all of this but we weren't - it felt like a high school Battle of the Bands only with a moderately famous and talented band. It was great! Also the venue was hot as balls - no ventilation whatsoever was going on in there. But that made the whole experience even better.

Against Me! had a great set - they played some of the old, ("Walking is Still Honest", "Baby I'm an Anarchist",) some of the new, ("True Trans Soul Rebel" - of course, that song is brilliant! and "Dead Friend" - one of my favorites on Transgender Dysphoria Blues,) and some of the in between. They played TWO (yes, TWO) songs from White Crosses - in the handful of times I've seen Against Me! I don't think I've ever even heard mention of White Crosses or any songs on that album. It's totally the black sheep of Against Me!'s discography, I think due to the harsh backlash they received from fans - which is unfortunate, because I don't really mind White Crosses. Sure, it's probably their weakest album but it's not terrible. Their other albums are just infinitely better.

video
They also tried two new songs on us - I don't know what the titles are because Laura Jane, while definitely more talkative than she was when she identified as Tom Gabel, doesn't really give us too much information - that's part of her mysterious mystique. They were really solid songs and had some promise. This also means new Against Me! music = new Against Me! album and who wouldn't want that?

It was an awesome experience and a "destination show" I probably won't ever forget. Included in this post is a video of them performing "Walking is Still Honest".

Stay tuned for the end of July - I'm going to two, maybe three (as of right now,) shows this month - Best Coast and possibly a random happenstance of Block Party performing in Albany and Ryan Adams in Port Chester, NY - two of my favorite favorites!



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Beyonce - "Sorry"



Beyonce just released a video for "Sorry," which was also featured in the HBO special. It might be my favorite song on the album - seriously though, who knew a Beyonce album would be a Top 10 contender for me in 2016? Because I sure didn't. To be honest, I'm not as big of a fan of Queen Bae as you would think. But damn, this Lemonade album is good.