Monday, December 19, 2011

Rock Albums Post X: 15 Favorite Albums of 2011

The following are the 16 album I enjoyed the most throughout 2011, these are the one's that kept me listening.

Yep, this post is titled the Top 15, but I added an extra album after originally posting this.

- Randall Webb



16. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ 

Genre: R&B
Favorite Tracks: Heart Attack, Stone Rollin’, Day Dreams
Trivia: Saadiq spent approximately one year recording this album, including writing the music and lyrics. On the majority of the songs Saadiq played most of the instruments, including bass, keyboard, guitar, Mellotron, percussion, and drums. He also produced the album.




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15. Joe Henry  - Reverie 

Genre: Alt-Folk, Acoustic
Favorite Tracks: Heaven’s Escape, Sticks and Stones, Deathbed Versions
Trivia: The bulk of this album was recorded in 3 days in Joe’s basement studio. In the mix the listener can hear bird chirping to the music through the open windows in the basement. Joe describes this album as a “raw and raucous and messy affair”.



 
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14. The Cars  - Move Like This

Genre: Alt-Rock
Favorite Tracks: Blue Tip, Sad Song, Free
Trivia: “Move Like This” is the Cars 7th studio album and their first release since 1987’s “Door To Door”.




 
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13. Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs. Evil

Genre: Art Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Rock
Favorite Tracks: Behold A marvel In The Darkness, The Merry Barracks, Super Duper Rescue Heads, Must Fight Current
Trivia: This album was part of a project called “Global Album Leak” in which 12 blogs from the internet premiered a song from the album one week at a time. The first song to be premiered was “The Merry Barracks” on October 8, 2010 on the U.S. website Pitchfork.



 
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12. Battles – Gloss Drop

Genre: Experimental, math rock, post-rock, new prog
Favorite Tracks: Africastle, Inchworm, Wall Street, My Machines (featuring Gary Numan)
Trivia: Midway through the recording of the album band member Tyondi Braxton left the band to pursue a solo career. The remaining band continued as a trio and rewrote and rerecorded the entire album with in 4 months. Considering the band’s relative obscurity the album was a moderate success reaching #48 in the UK, #73 in Belgium and #98 in the U.S.



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11. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What

Genre: Classic Pop, World Music, Folk
Favorite Tracks: Dazzling Blue, Rewrite, So Beautiful or So What
Trivia: This is Simon’s first album in 5 years and his most successful since 1991’s “The Rhythm Of The Saints”. Simon released a Christmas song from the album called "Getting Ready for Christmas Day", which premiered on National Public Radio on November 16, 2010. The song samples a 1941 sermon by the Rev. J.M. Gates, also entitled "Getting Ready for Christmas Day". Simon performed the song live on The Colbert Report on December 16, 2010.




10. Neil Young – Le Noise

Genre: Folk rock, experimental, garage rock
Favorite Tracks: Walk With Me, Love and War, Peaceful Valley Boulevard
Trivia: Okay so this one was released at the end of September 2010, but I didn’t buy it until the beginning of 2011. Neil Young received his second Grammy Award for the song “Angry World” which won for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance. Producer Daniel Lanois (who has also worked with U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris, Brain Eno and many others) brought a fantastically layered sonic soundscape to Neil Young. Thus moving Young’s sound into a new and uncharted territory. Young has always been one to experiment with new and unique sounds.





9. She Wants Revenge – Valleyheart

Genre: Alt-Rock, Modern Rock, Post-Punk Revival
Favorite Tracks: Up In Flames, Reasons, Little Star
Trivia: A product of Los Angeles, California “Valleyheart” is a concept album of sorts following the trials and tribulations of life in the San Fernando Valley.




8. Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and 
Christian Scott – Ninety Miles

Genre: Jazz
Favorite Tracks: City Sunrise, The Forgotten One, Black Action Figure
Trivia: “Ninety Miles” was recording entirely in Havana, Cuba. The result is a breaking of cultural barriers by bringing together musicians from varying cultures. The album’s producer, John Burk says, "This record is about the power of music to communicate, and break down some of the barriers that result from language and politics and culture."





7. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials

Genre: Indie Rock, Art rock, Baroque Pop
Favorite Tracks: What The Water Gave Me, Breaking Down, Lover To Lover
Trivia: Florence has stated that much of “Ceremonials” is based on scientific ideas, as several of her family members are doctors or are in school to become doctors so she is usually around a lot of medical and scientific conversations.




6. My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Genre: Indie, Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Favorite Tracks: Victory Dance, Circuital, Outta My System, First Light, You Wanna Freak Out
Trivia: The song “Wonderful” was original written by My Morning Jacket founder Jim James (aka Yim Yames) for the Muppets rock band Doctor Teeth and Electric Mayhem. The song was to be performed live on stage by My Morning Jacket and the Muppets. “Outta My System” and the former song were both to be performed in the Muppets tour, which was being planned and produced by Disney.  Jim James commented that twice Muppet glory was with in his grasp but eluded him both times. Shortly after the release of “Circuital” MMJ recorded the Muppets song “Our World” for the Muppets tribute album called “The Green Album”. “Circuital” has been nominated for the Best Alternative Rock Album Grammy Award of 2011.




5. Keb’ Mo' – The Reflection

Genre: R&B, Jazz, Adult Pop, Urban Soul
Favorite Tracks: The Whole Enchilada, Inside Out, Crush On You (w/ India.Aire), Just Lookin’
Trivia: “The Reflection” is the first album released by Keb’ Mo” (a former A&M staff songwriter) on his own Yolabelle International label. He also self produced the album.




4. Bjork – Biophilia

Genre: Electronic, Experimental, avante-gard
Favorite Tracks: Moon, Crystalline, Dark Matter, Mutual Core
Trivia: “Biophilia” is an experiment of sound. How the sounds blend together, how they bounce off the walls and between objects. It’s an experiment in physics similar to how planets and microscopic organisms work together. It’s an experiment of sound without humans. The album has made it into the Top 20 in more than 20 different countries around the world including Taiwan, Russia, Greece, Spain, Japan and Croatia.




3. Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis

Genre: Blues, R&B
Favorite Tracks: Progress (with Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket), Down In Memphis, Everything Is Everything, Representing Memphis (with Sharon Jones), Harlem House, The Bronx (with Lou Reed)
Trivia: “The Road From Memphis” works as a who’s who of music for Booker T. Jones. Musicians include Dennis Coffey on wah wah guitar. Coffey is best known for the 1971 instrumental hit “Scorpio) which reached #6 in the U.S. and was certified Gold for sales of more than one million. Also on the album are current day  soul/funk singer Sharon Jones, My Morning Jacket’s frontman Yim Yames (Jim James), the jazz-rap outfit The Roots and even Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) guests on vocals for the song “The Bronx”.




2. Adele - 21

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Genre: Pop, Soul, Indie, Roots
Favorite Tracks: Rolling In The Deep, Rumor Has It, Set Fire To The Rain, He Won’t Go
Trivia: “21” has spent 13 weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard chart and has also reached #1 in 24 other countries around the world. As of December 2011 “21” has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. Adele’s bus driver who was playing contemporary Nashville music while she was touring the American South inspired the sound of this album.




1. Gang Of Four – Content

Genre: Post-Punk, Rock, Punk-Funk
Favorite Tracks: She Said You Made A Thing Of Me, I Party All The Time, A Fruitfly In The Beehive, Do As I Say
Trivia: With “Content”, Gang Of Four recaptures their youthful rebellious values and energy. Several of the albums songs touch on the economic hardships our world faces. 
--> GO4 takes a jab at capitalism, in the song “I Party All The Time”, citing its lack of compassion. Many of the album’s tunes touch on the band’s notions of value and freedom.




2011 was a good year! 
Looking forward to an even better 2012!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The 70's: Guilty Pleasures Part I

The 70's was (in it's way) quite a diverse decade in music. hard rock came into fashion with groups such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and AC/DC. Classic rock hit huge with Boston, Styx and Fleetwood Mac. Punk, glam rock, country, disco, pop, adult contemporary and singer-songwriters all soared to the top of the charts in the 70's.

This series focuses on the (somewhat) guilty pleasures of the 1970's. I say "somewhat" because each person's idea of a "guilty pleasure" is different.

These are a few of my guilty pleasures...


Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting (1974)

Release Date: August 1974
Record Label: Pye Records
Chart Positions: U.S. #1, UK #1, Canada #1, Holland #1, France #1, Germany #1, Austria #1, Australia #1, Switzerland #2, South Africa #2
Certifications: U.S. - Gold
Sales: Worldwide 11 million
Trivia: "Kung Fu Fighting" was originally recorded to be a b-side to "I Want to Give You My Everything". They spent two hours recording the a-side and only ten minutes on the b-side. When both songs were played for the executives at Pye Records, it was suggested that Kung Fu Fighting should be released as the a-side.




Carol Douglas - Doctor's Orders (1974)

Release Date: October 1974
Record Label: Midland International (distributed by RCA)
Chart Positions: U.S. #11, Canada #1, France #4, Italy #8, New Zealand #6, Spain #2
Sales: Worldwide 2 million
Trivia: "Doctor's Orders" was produced by Meco, the American producer/musician who is best known for his 1977 space disco version of the Star Wars Theme. Although due to contractual complication Midland International VicePresident, Ed O'Loughlin is credited as the song's producer. 





David Dundas - Jeans On (1976)

David Dundas - Jeans On (1976)
Release Date: August 1976
Record Label: Chrysalis
Chart Positions: Germany #1, UK 33, South Africa #3, U.S. #17
Sales: Worldwide 1 million
Trivia: "Jeans On" originally appeared as a television advertising jingle for Brutus Jeans (the words used in the jingle - "I pull my Brutus jeans on" - were replaced with "I pull my old blue jeans on" for the single release).





Michael Franks - Popsicle Toes (1976)

Michael Franks - Popsicle Toes (1976)
Release Date: July 1976
Record Label: Reprise
Chart Positions: U.S. #43
Trivia: "Popsicle Toes" is one of the greatest innuendo songs ever recorded. The song was recorded with some of the finest jazz musicians of the 70's (and of all-time). Including Wilton Felder on bass, Larry Carlton on guitar and Joe Sample on keyboards.





 Steve Martin - King Tut (1978)

Steve Martin - King Tut (1978)
Release Date: April 28, 1978
Record Label: Warner Brothers
Chart Positions: U.S. #17
Certifications: U.S. - Gold
Sales: U.S. 1.3 million
Trivia: The "backup group" Martin used for "King Tut" was credited as The Toot Uncommons (Tutankhamen), but was really The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The NGDB is best remembered for their hits "Mr. Bojangles" (1970), "An American Dream" (1979) and "Make A Little Magic (1980).





Meco - Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band (1977)

Meco - Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band (1977)
Release Date: July 1977
Record Label: Millenium (distributed by RCA)
Chart Positions: U.S. #1, UK #7
Certifications: U.S. - Platinum
Sales: Worldwide 5 million
Trivia: To date Meco's "Star Wars/Cantina Band" is the biggest selling instrumental single in the history of recorded music. It is the only single to be certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than two million copies.





The Poppy Family - Which Way You Goin' Billy? (1970)

The Poppy Family - Which Way You Goin' Billy? (1970)
Release Date: December 1969
Record Label: London
Chart Positions: U.S. #2, Canada #9
Certifications: U.S.  Gold
Sales: Worldwide 11 million
Trivia: The Poppy Family was a duo comprised of Terry and Susan Jacks (a husband and wife duo).Terry and Susan divorced in 1973 and a few months later Terry released his first solo single "Seasons In The Sun" which reached #1 in the U.S., UK and Canada and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.








Meri Wilson - Telephone Man

Meri Wilson - Telephone Man (1977)
Release Date: April 1977
Record Label: GRT Records, PYE Records
Chart Positions: U.S. #18, UK #6
Certifications: U.S.  Gold
Sales: Worldwide 3 million
Trivia: Meri Wilson earned a masters degree in music theory from Georgia State University. for a short while she worked as a model before becoming a singer specializing in double entendre novelty songs. In the 1990's she worked as the director of elementary education in Georgia. She also recorded other novelty songs including "Dick the DJ", "Peter The Meter Reader" and her last release in 2001"The Internet Man" (an update of "Telephone Man". Sadly, Meri Wilson died on December 28, 2002 in a car accident on Georgia State Route 377.




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