Sunday, February 21, 2016

I Don't Think It Is - First Impressions

If you didn't know, which is very plausible because they were very silent about it (I didn't even know), Say Anything came out with an album this month. Overall, I'd say I Don't Think It Is a big improvement from Hebrews, which ended up growing on me, but barely.

"Give A Damn" - This is kind of a mash up between the Anarchy My Dear's "Burn a Miricle" and ...Is A Real Boy's "Belt". Good introduction to the album song, which Max Bemis usually can deliver pretty well.

"17 Coked Up and Speeding" - One of my favorite songs on this record. Definitely everything Say Anything are good at is in this three minute and thirty-seven seconds of awesomeness. I love the "Hey kid! You're not a kid anymore, you're not a kid anymore!" part too. And the guitar/keyboard part at the end - is this actually ...Is A Real Boy or what?

"Rum" - I love when Max Bemis does the talk singing - he did that a lot on Self Titled and Anarchy My Dear. Like "Mara and Me" on Self Titled, the band does a good job with this song changing tempo's and melodies but still making it a cohesive song.

"So Numb" - Very short, fast song and like Bemis screams, "No opinions here, no opinions here."

"Goshua" -  "I ask: Are we born into anger or does it bloom like a cancer?" We might not ever know, Max.

"Jiminy" - Good song, typical Say Anything, nothing really notable to say except I love the fact that he shouts out "every pop punk vocalist"!

"Princess" - Love the use of piano and possibly other string instruments in the background during the "you're dead to me" part...

"The Bret Easton Ellis School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" - Weirdest most Say Anything-ish song title on the album, lyrics are also weirdest most Say Anything-ish lyrics on the album. Love " I knew you when you went to shows and had more pins than a cushion." and "I knew you when you had a poster of Katie Holmes in your room / Because you thought she was the kind of girl who might realistically like you if you play your cards right."

"#Blessed" - Oh, here's Sherri! I was wondering when and if she was going to be on this. I have to give them props for at least saving it until the ninth track. Oh yeah, did you know they were married? Yeah, Max Bemis and Sherri Dupree from Eisley are married. It's so uncommon that they take pictures together or work together musically, so it might be a shocker, I know. Oh, and they have two kids. You didn't know? No? Yeah, they get that a lot. Sherri especially likes to be private about that. She doesn't post on social media all the damn time about how she's #blessed with her amazing life or anything. And you never hear her on a Say Anything song...not at all! I'm not upset at all about it, either. Nope...

Regardless of my rant, it is a good song.

"Wire Mom" - I feel like the lyrics are creepily about the time he had to stay with his mother around 2007 when he had a mental break down in a mall food court, had to go to a mental hospital for a while and then stayed with her for a good portion of that year. I could be wrong though, but this is what I gather.

"Attaboy" - Oh snap, now we're in In Defense of the Genre territory! Kinda sounds like an angrier "Baby Girl, I'm a Blur" Also, oh my god, this is over seven minutes long.

"Varicose Visage" - Another talk sing song that works. I love the "Serve it for breakfast / Totally reckless / Utterly feckless/ Pitch-corrected" part.

Friday, February 12, 2016

I want to listen to Ryan Adams...Where Do I Start?

When I woke up this morning, I was looking at the Ryan Adams Reddit and this post inspired me to write my own "Where do I start if I'm new to Ryan Adams?" post. Someone like Adams can be intimidating, since he has 15 full length albums and the man is only 41 years old. Most of these albums came out in the early aughts so he's been busy in his youth and it seems like his work ethic hasn't changed, releasing 1989 right after his self titled and claims there's another one on the way very soon. So here we go...a playlist to start with if you're new to Ryan Adams:

-"Stay With Me" - Self Titled (2014): I'm trying to think of his catchier songs first so it can get someone hooked, but also songs that reflect his true self. The sound of "Stay With Me" is why he gets so many Tom Petty comparisons - this could easily be something the Heartbreakers whipped up back in their day. I know he cites Bob Dylan as his biggest influence, but Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen come out when he's 100% on his game and "Stay With Me" is a good example of that.

-"Let It Ride" - Cold Roses (2005): This is my favorite Ryan Adams song hands down. Probably always will be. It's a little more country twang-y than some of his other stuff so it might turn people off. But I promise you, it's so worth it. Stop worrying about the steel guitar in the background and just get into it! It also tends to be a fan favorite.

-"So Alive" - Rock N Roll (2004): You remember this song. It was probably on a Honda commercial in 2004 or in a Meg Ryan romantic comedy. This song sold out hard. But it's a good song and because of that, on my list it shall be. It can take many forms, so I can see why it became a song advertisers went to for selling their product.

-"I Keep Running" - Jacksonville (Pax-Am Single Series Vol. 2) (2014): Oh yeah, along with the fifteen albums he's released, I forgot to mention the Pax-Am Single Series, a new thing he's been doing since he owns his own label. Basically it's a throwback to the cassingle and I love it. For a while in 2014, he was releasing them every month but now it's more infrequently. One of his earlier songs from this series, "I Keep Running" feels like it could be on his older stuff - Heartbreaker and Cold Roses, specifically. It's a little bit more country than I would like to expose new Ryan Adams fans to but it's so good, I can't really keep it off the list.

-"Lucky Now" - Ashes & Fire (2011): Here's a story: hey, did you see This Is 40? The kind of sequel to Knocked Up?  Remember that guy performing some song you've never heard of at the end and you were like, "I feel like I should know who this guy is but I don't." Well, it was Ryan Adams (he comes in at 2:49). And I actually squealed in the movie theater when he came on screen because I was 100% surprised - I had no idea he was going to cameo. He sang this song, "Lucky Now," and it really is a beautiful song. The song gets forgotten a lot of times by fans, however the album it comes from, Ashes & Fire, I feel is an under appreciated album in general.

-"My Winding Wheel" - Heartbreaker (2000): Most people would pick "Oh My Sweet Carolina" over this song but I think "My Winding Wheel" is a better song to introduce people to his music. They both sound similar, one doesn't have Emmy Lou Harris on it though. You'll just have to figure out which one that is, I guess.

- "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." - Easy Tiger (2007): This song has one of my favorite lyrics he's ever written: "If I could I'd fold myself away like a card table. A concertina or a murphy bed, I would but i wasn't made that way."

-"English Girls Approximately" - Love Is Hell (2003): This is a classic and a fan favorite. Like "So Alive," it sells out hard but it's because it's such a good song and people want to use it for their various things.

-"Sweet Illusions" - Cold Roses (2005): Cold Roses in general is an album that must be listened to but there are gems in this double disc with The Cardinals as his backing band. "Sweet Illusions" is one of these gems and a long time favorite of mine.

-"Strawberry Wine" - 29 (2005): Normally people wouldn't put this on a list to introduce Adams, hell, I don't think they would choose anything from 29 - it was a weird album. Definitely Adams at his lowest - not only as a musician but also emotionally and mentally. He released a trifecta of albums in 2005 - 29, Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights - Cold Roses and Jacksonville with the Cardinals. Sometimes, the outcome wasn't as brilliant as Cold Roses in 2005. However, I do have a soft spot for 29. It's dark - darker than his other stuff - not just the lyrics but even the instrumentation and general vibe just makes you feel uncomfortable but also interested. Anyway, "Strawberry Wine" is 29 at it's eeriest and I love it.

-"If I Am A Stranger" - Cold Roses (2005): Another fan favorite, I'm actually a newer fan of this song. I know for years I kept hearing and reading that "If I Am A Stranger" is probably one of his best songs he's ever written but I didn't buy it until recently. Definitely a grower and not a show-er.

-"Fix It" - Cardinology (2008): A song he's been performing live a lot lately - it's another one of those songs I haven't discovered until recently. It's very catchy and I love the guitar part during the verses.

-"Trouble" - Self Titled (2014): Another masterpiece with influences stemming from Bruce to Tom Petty from his self titled, "Trouble" is Adams at his strongest - a powerful chorus, lyrics that should be listened to and electric guitar Americana. It's damn near perfect.

-"Wonderwall" - Love Is Hell (2003): This is a cover of the infamous Oasis song, however, Adams puts his own spin on it, as he often does with covers, and it turns out to sound very different from the original. Both versions are great but I love this quality about Adams - that he can make a song his own, even one that is as famous as "Wonderwall". Hence why his cover of Taylor Swift's 1989 is also very good.

And just because I love's an extra from the first Ryan Adams album I listened to, Gold (2001)! And because I also realized none of the songs I listed are from Gold and that makes me a little sad but I understand why, Gold stems from a lot of bluegrass and country - very Willie Nelson and Gram Parsons. As I've said before, when introducing someone to Adams, I try to save the hard core country for later. By the way, his video was shot right before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.