Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Top 12 Albums of 2017

The Top 12 Albums of 2017

For the first time in the years of doing this list, I am posting AFTER the turn of the New Year, as opposed to right before. Some might think I waited until the very end to make sure I heard everything released up until 12/31. (they would be wrong) Others would opine that I was deep into the re-listen, and the order was changing daily. (closer….) A third group, would take thought two and add “and probably just hasn’t gotten around to writing it up”. (ding ding ding! WINNER!!)

That said, it’s been a pretty good year for new music, but nothing too extraordinary. (This past year pales in comparison to the awesome palate of 2016) It DID see a major return of three long forgotten (maybe?) bands, and more and more female voices being heard at a variety of different decibel levels. Before I count it down, a review of the Plourd – Rules for this list:

No Live Albums
No Best Of
No Compilations

I listened to / purchased over 50 full length albums this year, here are a few that JUST missed the top 12:

Aimee Mann – Mental Illness She is at the top of her game after a 30+ year career…yes, Voices Carry came out in 1985.

Gary Numan – Savage A concept album that falls a little bit flat on the back half. Still, an amazing run of music over the past few years.

Liam Gallagher – As You Were The first “proper” solo record for the former Oasis front man, it was the better of the Gallagher brother releases this year by a decent margin.

Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold Despite some inspired collaborations (Boys 2 Men!!) and some radio friendly “hits” scattered throughout, it felt a little bloated at times. Not BAD by any stretch, just not a classic Foo effort.

Beck – Colors The record that FINALLY made me a fan of Beck, but not enough to slot it higher than “the best #13”.

Two others that were not even close to the top….but need mention as I was incredibly disappointed by them.

Morrissey - Low In High School By a WIDE margin, my least favorite record of the year…and maybe of the past 3 years. (no, wait, that Andrew Bird record last year is STILL much worse…) Contrived (read: awful) lyrics, pointless meandering and uneventful instrumentation. Yeah, it is THAT bad.

U2 – Songs of Experience If I had NO clue who U2 was, and someone gave me a copy of this record, I would probably walk away thinking “That’s a pretty cool band, and a really good album”. So, with that as the backdrop, I would say this is more about not meeting expectations than anything. That is the curse of being one of the best bands of the last 35 years….I am hoping for near-perfect every time.

....and here we go.....

12 – Spoon - Hot Thoughts
Admittedly, I am a little late to the Spoon bandwagon. I have dabbled here and there over the years, but never really went all in. So, in very much the opposite way of the aforementioned U2 record, I went in with very low expectations. In fact, the day I bought it, I also picked up the new Shins record (decent)….and once they were each played front to back, Spoon didn’t leave the turntable for a few days. It’s an accessible sound, with jangly telecasters and dance inspired drumming. At 10 tracks, the album flows nicely, bringing the listener through peaks and valleys throughout.

Top Song – Hot Thoughts

11-Ted Leo – The Hanged Man
After years of releases with his high-energy backing band, The Pharmacists, and a tremendous record with Aimee Mann, (under the name The Both) Leo took some time on his own to write and record this solo effort. Self-funded without major label distribution, Leo had the freedom to take his time and craft what HE wanted to, and the results are quite stunning. Like Matthew Sweet’s 2017 release, (the should-have-been-10-songs album Tomorrow Forever) Leo explores many different musical styles, from the power pop punk of his earlier days, to a solo guitar rip that epitomizes his latest tour style. A strong effort from top to bottom.

Top Song – Can’t Go Back

10-Tigers Jaw - Spin
Continuing his stunning 2016, producer Will Yip launched a new label, Black Cement, housed under the legendary Atlantic record label roof. Will’s choice for first band to be released by the new venture? Scranton Pennsylvania’s Tigers Jaw. After being a traditional 4-5 piece band for it’s early years, Tigers Jaw has essentially been the duo of Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins for the past 4 years…and the results have been beyond fruitful. On Spin, they take their sound to a new height, riding the wave of sound created by soaring guitars, a solid rhythm section, and the sound ear of Yip. They continue to tour to support the record, and seem to be gathering a larger audience. Expect bigger things over the next few years.

Top Song – June

9 – Living Colour - Shade
Growing up in the 80s, my peer group and I could come up with multiple stories of cassette tapes either becoming twisted/tangled in a player (#2 pencil to the rescue!!) and in some cases, the tape actually disintegrating/stretched/broken from over playing. That happened to my copy of Living Colour’s debutVivid….twice! And then, not to be outdone, my first CD version of it ALSO stopped playing from over use. Needless to say, I was REALLY looking forward to their first new music in 8 years. (in 2010, they released the somewhat disappointing The Chair In The DoorwayLike their first 2 albums, Shade exhibits multiple musical styles, whether it be a Robert Johnson blues melody, or a tremendous cover of Biggie Smalls “Who Shot Ya”. The band is in fine form as well, highlighted by the ever imaginative guitar stylings of founding member Vernon Reid.

Top Song – Come On

8 – Slowdive - Slowdive
Another “comeback of the year” nominee has to be Slowdive, one of the bigger of the first wave of “shoegaze” bands of the early 90s. In 1993, they had their moment in the spotlight, when they released Souvlaki, a seminal record to be sure, and then, proceeded to sort of fade away. Their return in 2017 was fast and furious, with the reverb fueled guitars leading the way. And while those guitars are front and center, it’s the layered dual vocals with the stunning bass lines, that get me with every listen.

Top Song – Star Roving

7 – Turnover – Good Nature
This is the record that I struggled with the most in ranking. On one hand, there isn’t a song on the record that I don’t like. On the other, I am not sure there is a single one that I LOVE. So in short, it’s a very steady album, that plays better as a whole, than in parts. That said? I have to give you at least one “top song”. I continue to be impressed by how much growth Turnover has shown over the past 5 years.

Top Song – Super Natural

6 – Ryan Adams – Prisoner
And thus begins the top half, or as I like to call it: “every one of these sat at #1 for at least 1 day….”. Starting with Prisoner, an album that I really loved all year. I am quite confident in also saying, that I probably would have loved it even higher on the rankings, if not for hearing the single “To Be Without You” roughly 76000 times on the Spectrum. What Adams has done with this album, is two-fold:
1) He was able to process many an emotion, following a very rough and public divorce.
2) Produce 12 tracks that are SO different, yet so cohesive.
Amazingly, this is his 16th(!!) full length release, and he doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.

Top Song – Do You Still Love Me?

5 – Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
From the fuzz laced guitars of the first chords of track 1, Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee herself) announces that the listener is about to go on a ride of musical noise, with her sweet voice to guide the way. Crutchfield is not breaking any new ground here, rather, using elements of past decades to get her point across. Its heady, genuine and complex lyrical content make the journey even more interesting. From front to back, there is not a clunker in the bunch, as Katie takes the title of “Best Crutchfield-Twin-Sister album of the year”. (sister Alison released her 3rd LP earlier in 2017 as well)

Top Song – Never Been Wrong

4 – Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface
Following the 2014 release, Cope (and it’s partner LP Hope, an acoustic interpretation of the original) I was very excited to see where Andy Hull and company would go with the next release. Thankfully, every expectation I had was met (and more) with a grandiose record, filled with scintillating harmonies, tremendous orchestration, and lovely songwriting. With a line up that has changed a few times over the years, the constant, Hull, continues to push forward with new sounds and directions, and the results are quite spectacular.

Top Song - The Maze

3- Elbow – Little Fictions
When the announcement was made that founding member, drummer Richard Jupp, was leaving the band late last year, I was very anxious to see what would come next for Elbow. Jupp’s drumming was one of the staples of sound for them over the course of their 20 year career, and while replacing him, I am sure, would be “fine”, I was worried they would lose a lot more than just an imaginative back beat. Thankfully, it seems the other four members decided to go a little “extra” in Jupp’s absence, and produced their finest work since their masterpiece release, The Seldom Seen Kid. Guy Garvey, as always, is not just in fine voice, but writing lyrics of love, and hope, while maintaining his wry wit. Their use of strings is second to none in modern rock, and the arrangements of pianist/producer Mark Potter are just extraordinary. The record made me miss Jupp a little less.

Top Song – Magnificent (She Says)

2 – Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights In previous years, this list has broken down (typically) in the same fashion. A CLEAR #1, followed by 4-6 records that could be anywhere 2-6ish, and then a distinct third tier to round it out. This album was #1 on the list on multiple drafts, and even writing now, I am STILL not sure. Suffice to say, this is an unbelievable breakout, for a 22 year old artist whom I hope the industry (and a greater audience) adopts and becomes a big star. Armed with a guitar (and some piano / keyboards as well) and an angelic-to-powerful-in-a-second voice, Baker has written an anxious, soothing, healing like-letter to herself. It is filled with tales of sorrow, yet hope, and anger, yet calm. When I saw her in April of this year, I sat in wonder of her one-woman “orchestra” she creates with her telecaster and pedal board, and while she was able to multi track for the record, the arrangements are poetic in nature. This FEELS like a record that should be bigger than it is, and I am hopeful that in time, it will grow in stature.

Top Song – Turn Out The Lights

1 – Ride - Weather Diaries
As mentioned….it was close, but in the end, the story of one of the most amazing comebacks, for me, has to end with Ride taking the #1 spot. Is Weather Diaries perfect? No, there are a couple of songs that, while good, are not “classic” by any stretch. But, like Nowhere and Going Blank Again before it (almost 25 years ago!) the album has hits for days. With “shoegaze” being a “thing” again, it only feels right that one of the pioneering bands (along with My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel and the aforementioned Slowdive) ascends to the top yet again. The beauty of Ride was always in a couple of key areas. First, the harmonizing dual lead vocals of Mark Gardener and Andy Bell have the ability to take a song great to supreme. Their voices fit perfectly together, even more so now than during their first run. Secondly, Loz Colbert may be the most underrated drummer of my lifetime. And while he has always been captured well on tape, THIS record finally captures the true essence of Loz in a live environment….and to boot, he makes his vocal debut on the simmering “Rocket Silver Symphony”. From the opening strains of “Lannoy Point”, landing in the beauty of “White Sands”, Ride has made a comeback record for the ages.

Top Song – All I Want

Thursday, December 7, 2017

My Favorite Songs of 2017 - Part 1

A random list of songs that really stood out this year, in no particular order, here are 10....

Passing Thing – Froth
Opening band for Ride in Boston, I was moved to the core by the power of the entire song. A band to keep an eye on, especially if shoegaze continues to grow

Love The City That Loves You Back – Pet Symmetry
I am a sucker for anything Evan Weiss is involved in, from the subtle sounds of his main project Into It, Over It, to this, a much more amped up jolt of pop punk.

Ugly Luck – Citizen
Just like above, and falling for anything Weiss, the producer of the Citizen record Will Yip, can do no wrong in my eyes. After achieving greatness with the Balance and Composure and Nothing records last year, I hoped for more from the Citizen record. Not great over all, but I really like this song.

Hot Thoughts – Spoon
So good, I also bought the (same version) 12” single on Record Store Day this year. They find a groove VERY quickly here, and don’t let it go at all.

Cherry Hearts – The Shins
The Shins, and frontman James Mercer, have never been afraid to forge new ground and sound, putting it on full display throughout the entire 2017 release, Heartworms. Of these adventures, Cherry Hearts is definitely the stand out track.

The Man – The Killers
As I write this out, I still don’t know if I even LIKE the new record - or think it is a lot of filler with one really great song. Nonetheless, The Man IS a really great song.

Happy To Be Here – Julien Baker
The words, the voice, the unexpected “get” of the fourth “then why”…..not many songs make every hair on my arms stand up….this is one

Lonsdale Avenue – Ted Leo
Like the Julien Baker song: the words and subject matter are moving as anything, solo voice and guitar, and I have had the pleasure of seeing it performed live.

Waxahatchee – Never Been Wrong
The Crutchfield twins, Katie (here) and Alison (solo in January) both released records this year. If it’s a sibling rivalry, score one for Katie and her band. Angst, fury, passion.

Magnificent (She Said) – Elbow
If I went deeper on the record to just throw a curve ball, I would be deceitful of the very name of the post. Since January, this has been one of my favorites, and I have only grown to love it more as the year has gone on, punctuated with a perfect rendition live in NYC in November.

Part 2 to come soon! And then? The top 12 Albums of the Year!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2017 - 1 quarter's what I love so far... (video form)

A little past the ¼ pole of 2017….here is a look at my favorite songs of the year so far. (in no particular order)

Elbow – Magnificent

Their 7th full length is right up there with their best yet, and the lead single is a BIG reason why…

Elbow – Little Fictions

Pretty obvious, I love the record…

Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Title track off another spectacular record…

Ryan Adams – Do You Still Love Me

There are like 9 different era’s of rock ALL rolled into 1 with the lead track from the new album…

Aimee Mann – Rollercoasters

Mental Illness is an incredible album…and this is my favorite from it…

Bonus – Look what I found
Ted Leo and Aimee Mann – Voices Carry

No words needed

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Top 15 Albums of 2016 - Part 2 (The Top 6)

If you missed part 1, you can access it HERE

Continuing on! Here are my top 6 records of 2016. As always, remember the Doug Rules:
No Live
No Best Of
No Comps

6 – Jimmy Eat World - Integrity Blues

Family men now
No longer in the Middle
Rocking once again

5 – Into It Over It - Standards

After two great ones
Evan delivers Standards
It's even better

4 – Nothing – Tired Of Tomorrow

Shoegaze and voice haze
Dominic writes his opus
No sophomore jinx here

(side note, I did a full review of this record which can be found HERE)

3 – Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

From Creep until this
And everything in between
Pure bliss and brilliance

2 – Bob Mould – Patch The Sky

One from the top spot
Record is no less awesome
Formidable year

1 – Pinegrove - Cardinal

Four words reserved for
The very best of the tippy top:
It Is Near Perfect

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The TOP 15 Albums of 2016 .... Part 1

I have been in agony...

This year has been great for music. Not great....TREMENDOUS for new music. And I have listened and fretted and listened more and fretted more. Why??
1) I committed to myself that I would rank a top X records every year since I started this in 2013. Seems easy enough....right? But...
2) There are SO many good records, I did not know what the cutoff number would be for a ranking....and then once I did....
3) I still had to RANK them and my goodness it was difficult. Any one of the top 4 has sat at #1 on some variation of this list, multiple times. Once I hit enter, I am sure I will want to change it again! And it's not as if 5-15 were easy to figure out either! the SORTA KINDA ranking done...publish right? Nope...
4) I am suffering through writers block! It happens to me from time to time, and this year, just happened at the WRONG time. I tried to go the short video route, but honestly, I looked goofy, so I scrapped that idea. And then, thanks to my brother's inventive Christmas Card message this year, the idea of short, haikus for each record seemed imminently conceivable! And thus, the list is finally ready to go!

So, here is the bottom of the top 15 list, with the top 6 to be published tomorrow. As always, normal rules apply
No Live
No Best Of
No Comps


14 - The Hotelier - Goodness

A small band from Mass
Pornographic album cover
Goodness it is great

13 – Paul Simon - Stranger to Stranger

Do not let Wristband
Be the song in which you judge
Record as a whole

12 - Green Day – Revolution Radio / Blink 182 – California

Two Bands, One Genre
Comebacks both, but close to same
Had to be a tie

11 – Dinosaur Jr – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not

Mascis and the boys
Continue on the journey
Acclaimed second act

10 – Teenage Fanclub – Here

Still Going Very Strong
Twenty Five years since Concept
Sounds like yesterday

9 – Bon Iver – 22 a Million

Vernon back to Bon
Falsetto his very best friend
Almost made top 5

8 – Gaz Coombes – Matador

Going by US date
Released last year in UK
Don’t care, it’s my list

7 – American Football – LP2

17 between
LP1 and LP2
Breathtaking emo

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Concert Review - Peter Gabriel and Sting - The Rock Paper Scissors Tour

When Peter Gabriel and Sting announced the forthcoming co-headlining tour at the turn of the year, my instant and first reaction was “who opens?” The name, “Rock, Paper Scissors”, seemed to imply that it would be that, a flip of the coin, a product of chance, (maybe) a rotating status from show to show. And even I, the avowed Peter Gabriel SUPER-fan had to have a good think: who would the crowd be there to see MORE? For as much commercial success as So brought Gabriel, even I, in an objective moment, would probably admit that Sting had the larger body of work, had the more POPULAR body of work, and had the more crowd appealing (for live performance) body of work. So, I was ready to acquiesce. Not grudgingly in the least, mind you, as I would put Sting in my top 15 favorites as well.

And then, something really great started to come out from both camps. This would be a different type of show. There would be no opening act, and neither of these legendary artists would have to pull the curtain for the other. It was to be a total collaborative effort. My first reaction was one of unreal excitement. YES! This could ABSOLUTELY work SO well. I started to list out in my head the reasons WHY, despite only sharing a stage for brief interludes at Amnesty Intl shows back in 1987, this would be seamless, and not present even the remotest difficulty. The criteria was so evident, I thought:

They’re both BRITISH!

They both left bands on somewhat bad terms to go solo!!


*more thinking*

*even more thinki….*

OH! OH OH OH! Sting played with Stewart Copeland in the Police! And Stewart lent his hi-hat talent to Red Rain on the So album….oh my GOD this is going to work!

So, of course, I started to let doubt creep in. Could it really work? Would it come across as campy? Would one clearly overshadow the other, and have a hard time erasing that look from their face? Would THEY have fun?

One of the last clips I watched, about 3 months before the tour was to kick off, Sting spoke two lines that made me think it was all going to be fine: “We’re going to play the hits…why wouldn’t we?” and “I may play a Peter song, he might play a Sting song”. With those two (paraphrased) notions, I was ready to soak it all in.

I attended the Rock Paper Scissors show at Nikon Jones Beach Theater in Long Island, NY on June 24th. What follows are a series of random (but somewhat cohesive) thoughts on the night. I can’t do the show justice in a traditional review format.

--- From the start of the evening, we noticed one thing pretty quickly. We weren’t skewing the demo up or down in anyway. We WERE the demo. 15,000 40-somethings, some in Sting shirts, some in Peter shirts (ok, I only saw ME in a Peter shirt…..) plenty of strap-on sandals for the guys, plenty of big sunglasses for the women. Conversations around us ranged from the Brexit results, to how tasty the lobster roll was from the food truck, to youth soccer..etc… If anything, this was not a crowd that was necessarily “ready to ROCK!”, but were buzzing with anticipation. (and probably the $15 Tito’s lemonades)

--- Seeing the stage, you could immediately tell that this was not your ordinary concert set-up. Two drum kits, multiple guitar and bass rigs, three piano/keyboard stations, and as the music kicked up, screens with the names of upwards of 14 musicians. (divided cheekily into “red” and “blue” teams for each band) It was Peter who came out first, but not with just his band, but also the backup singer and drummer from Sting’s band as well. For me, within the first 15 seconds, I was in heaven, as the opening tribal rhythm sounds of The Rhythm of the Heat pounded through the sound system. (with both drummers pounding so perfectly in time) I have never seen Peter do this song live, as it very rarely has seen a set list since the So tour 25+ years ago, yet it was the opening salvo for the many years prior. The red lights pulsed with the beat. The music swelled, Peter in fine voice leading the charge, and as people continued to file in, and the sun set slowly behind our seats, the tone was set.

--- Conversely, Sting came out (with a MAYBE 8 second lull in between songs 1 and 2) and launched right into a universally known, and easy-to-sing-along with “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”. Within the first minute, it was VERY apparent that he was here to a) have fun and b) (as promised) do the hits. The energy was a TOTAL dichotomy of the dark opener from Gabriel, and brought the crowd to a higher level, very quickly.

--- When the two addressed the crowd in the early stages of the show, they let us know, (amongst other things, such as the connective thread of dairy cows between them….I can’t believe I didn’t mention that earlier!) that this night was about fun, and a “karaoke battle between team red and team blue”. (capped by Peter referring to his counterpart as “Mr. Sting” for the first of many times, in many iterations, including “Mr. Sting Sumner” and “Mr. Gordon Sting”) The result of the song swapping ranged from tremendous to tremendous.
The highlights:

Sting takes on Shock The Monkey – A straight forward interpretation, Sting and his band made the song their own nonetheless. At age 64, Sting has not lost a step in the least. His vocals, powerful and commanding, brought a new voice to a classic composition.

Peter takes on If You Love Somebody Set Them Free– In direct contrast to the earlier exchanges, outside of the words, there was nothing recognizable to the original Blue Turtles era tune. And that is not at all a bad thing. In the vein of the Scratch My Back series Gabriel did a few years back (covering popular songs from a variety of artists, interpreted by him and the New Blood orchestra) Set Them Free took the sound and shape of a boozy, jazz club torch song, complete with Gabriel crooning in his lowest register.

--- Both men throughout their adult lives, have pledged support for numerous causes; performing for them, donating time and money, organizing benefits…etc… And on this night, they used their voice to recognize some of the goings on in the world, including:

Sting dedicating a tremendous version of Fragile to the victims and families of the Orlando nightclub mass shooting.
Peter shouting out Red Rain to the group in attendance, as well as the organization as a whole.
Peter singing a new song (and a beautiful one at that) Love Will Heal, to the memory of recently slain UK politician Jo Cox.

--- Back to Sting….my goodness. He has been doing this for 4 decades. Touring, and recording, and guesting, and more touring, and more recording…one would forgive him if his voice started to show some wear and tear. People would TOTALLY understand if reaching the high notes of Roxanne, or Message In A Bottle was just not possible anymore. But here is the thing. A total of ONE song was dropped in key. ONE! (Invisible Sun for the record) For everything else, it was as if you dropped the needle on Ghost in the Machine or Nothing Like The Sun, pitch perfect to the original recording. I can not state it enough how impressive this was.

And while we are here, the man ALSO knows his crowd. Whether it be the vast number of songs he pulled from the Police catalog, the solo hits he crafted thereafter, hell, even the songs he shared with Peter (Games Without Frontiers most notably) he just KNOWS the spot. That moment in the song that calls for a little audience participation. Whether it be a traditional call and response (ie: Message in a Bottle) or trailing off vocals to let the crowd take over (ie: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic) the man makes it look easy. And for us, all the better, as again, it’s “the hits”, we knew every word.

---They played almost 3 hours, they did 28 songs, it was prolonged moments of breathlessness….so in a bit of the finest nitpicking, one song from each that I WISH was played:

Sting - Little Wing - Why? Well, first of all, Dominic Miller, Sting’s longtime touring guitarist, is one of the most under-rated players around. He could handle the Hendrix stylings (although the Sting recorded version takes a lot of jazz-lite liberties with the original) with ease. Secondly, and most importantly, it took me 15 minutes to think of this one. The set list was THAT good.
Peter-Mercy Street - A little easier, as I could easily select Darkness to come off of the track list. BUT, I DO like that Gabriel broke out a song from the little appreciated UP record, so again, nitpicky

---Two funny lines from Peter:
As the bands left the stage following an incredible rendering of In Your Eyes to “close the show”, Peter deadpanned, back to audience, “this is when we pretend to go home”. The encore was obvious, of course.
The two vocalists shared responsibility for the (very apt for venue) tremendously overlooked Englishman In New York. Peter, who took the second verse, seemed to be having an issue hearing the music through his in-ear monitors, and was struggling to find the notes….and he let us know by concluding the verse with the adlib lyric “i am clearly not aware of what key”

---Best song from each? Tough to narrow down to one…but I’ll be short, and try
Sting - Roxanne - With it’s traditional beginning and end, but interspersed with a lengthy, running jazz line in the middle (complete with whipping in Aint No Sunshine as well) and, as noted, the crowd participation, it slightly ranks ahead of every other song, which are all tied for a close second.
Peter - Sledgehammer - This is a tough one, as this seems like such the easy pick, and I don’t always like going with the grain. However, here’s the thing…it closed the show, Sting took a verse, the place was dancing, and it made every emotion come all at once. Since it’s release over 25 years ago, it has held the mantle of a top 3 song for me, (yes, I did a post on that monstrosity known as “my favorite song ever”….) and it will STILL be there in 25 minutes, 25 hours, and another 25 years. It’s just that damn good.

I look down and see, I am already at 1900 words, and I feel like I could write 2000 more….and still not REALLY capture how near-pitch-perfect this night was. Granted, bias for me (my favorite artist, and another in my top 15 of all time) perfect company (her second Sting show – the first one being 25 years ago….which we were both at…but not together. And her very first PG show) an outstanding venue (holy WOW, first time for me seeing a show at Jones Beach in Long Island, definitely will not be the last….i could do 900 words on the food trucks alone) and outstanding weather. Without question, a top 3 show all time for me (of 200+ shows) and PROBABLY, factoring everything, my favorite ever.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Mid-Year 2016 Ultimate Summer Playlist

The Mid-Year Play List

It’s amazing how in some cases, time can stand still, and in others, it seems to fly by. The genesis of this list, definitely stems from the latter. From time to time, I struggle with a bit of writers exhaustion, my self-described deference to the word “block”. While putting together the top 10 of the 90s list, I suddenly felt this exhaustion. I WANT to write about #6….but the words are just coming out tired. So, Plan B as it may be, is to reflect back on the speedy half year of music and develop a summer play list. As most of you know, I am not the world’s biggest digital music connoisseur, as I would rather hold a record in hand, study the cover art, pour over the liner notes, and watch the needle of a turntable move closer and closer to the middle of the black circle. That said, I TOTALLY get the appeal of Spotify, Tidal..etc… for everyday consumption. In that spirit, what follows is a “one song per artist” list of my favorite songs of the first half of 2016….and yes….one of them IS in digital form on my iPhone. (and in the spirit of every mixed tape/CD I ever made, I also tracked the list for listening pleasure and cohesion purposes. Shuffle as you wish)

Pinegrove – Old Friends (from the album “Cardinal”)
Atop (the close relative of upon) most critics "best of the year" lists...with very due cause.

Steve Gunn – Ancient Jewels (from the album “Eyes On The Lines”)
I worried a few songs into this release, that I accidently bought a Dead and Friends record...still not sure to be honest...

Weezer – California Kids (from the album “Weezer – the White Album”)
Rivers and the boys take their talents to South Cali.

Mudcrutch – Beautiful World (from the album “Mudcrutch2”)
Surprisingly, my favorite from the record is not a Petty-led tune. And that's, ok.

Catfish And The Bottleman – 7 (from the album “The Ride”)
Is this the newest act to try and claim the UK throne? Wonder how they feel about BrExit....

case/lang/veirs – Best Kept Secret (from the album “case/lang/veris”)
"Who are three women who have never been in my kitchen, Alex"

Band Of Horses – Casual Party (from the album “Why Are You Ok”)
When I usually think Band of Horses, upbeat pop number falls about 34257th on the list of things i think...

Nada Surf – Cold To See Clear (from the album “You Know Who You Are”)
Matthew Caws and company return with a dynamic record opener...and a video ode to PowerPoint

Bob Mould – You Say You (from the album “Patch The Sky”)
Honestly, I could have chosen any of the first 4 songs of the album...and changed my mind a few times.

Nothing – A.C.D. (from the album “Tired Of Tomorrow”)
Still probably at the top of my list for record of the year...but, you know, 6 more months to go...

Real Friends – Mess (from the album “The Home Inside My Head”)
Token pop-punk tune for the list, other wise known as "Preston's ears perk up"

Into It Over It – Closing Argument (from the album “Standards”)
One of the best names for a band going...even if it really is just one dude making all of the music...

The Hotelier – You In This Light (from the album “Goodness”)
Winner for the coveted "Record Cover I'm embarrassed to have out and displayed in my home" award...but a damn catchy album

Gaz Coombes –Detroit (from the album “Matador”)
Going by the U.S. release date on this one, as it has been a hit in the UK for about a year now...

Radiohead – Daydreaming (from the album “A Moon Shaped Pool”)
Could have gone a few different ways off of this masterpiece of a return from Yorke and Co.

Paul Simon – Insomniac’s Lullaby (from the album “Stranger To Stranger”)
Still AWESOME after all these years...probably crazy too. And shorter, I really think he is shrinking...

So, there it is....

I like ending on a slow, soft, "goodbye" note, and the newest from Paul Simon does just that.


What if we wanted to keep it going....

...and end on the perfect summer song?


Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling (single edition)
Two words...Man Crush...